No white water rafting today (darn) – postponed until tomorrow. Today, we had an Amazing Race moment. Yes, we watch a lot of TV and Amazing Race is my favorite show. I think Kip and I could be the contestants people love to hate, but Tony and Ralphie would get the most laughs (Kelly has gone back to the US – she has other travel plans with her boyfriend that do not involve bugs, bites, or brothers).
We left our hotel this morning in search of a specific shop located on Rajdamnoen Road, the same road our hotel is located on. Kip asked if we should recheck the address, but I said, “No, I have a good sense of where it is.” After the first hour, we realized that every road within a six block radius of our hotel is called Rajdamnoen (possible translation, “damned if I know”). Luckily, Kip and Tony enjoy being lost as much as I do (not a great trait for an Amazing Race contestant) otherwise there may have been blood (Ralphie was asleep at the hotel).
We decided to ask someone. We asked an elderly shopkeeper selling fried coconut on a stick. Kip felt we should buy some fried coconut since we were asking a favor (unfortunately, we bought the fried coconut before she gave us directions). She had no idea where we should go (and why would she, all the streets are named Rajdamnoen). After one bite of the fried coconut, I decided I would not be able to do any of the food challenges on The Amazing Race. This is when we marveled over the fact that there are no garbage cans in Chiang Mai, yet the streets are spotless – where does the garbage go?
Eventually, we found the place we were looking for only to discover a locked gate and a faded sign, “Go to office # 2.” There was a map, but it had been rained on so many times, the street names were not legible (not that it mattered, we all know what street it was on). The three of us studied it carefully; it was conveniently upside down. Judging from the illustration: go to the dead end, then right, left, left or is that left, right, right? Answer: Rajdamnoen.
I forgot to mention that Rajdamnoen street(s) are not your typical streets – more like small alleyways. They remind me of Venice only very Asian, no canals, and tons of cars and motorbikes (in Venice everything floats – no wheels). We found office # 2 only to discover it was closed (Oh great, now we will have to spend the night here and everyone else will catch up . . . . A little Amazing Race humor).
The best thing about getting lost was everything we found: The Peppermint Café with excellent samosas, a great used book store, the lady with a wheelbarrow cart pushing some sort of pot and ringing a bell (reminded me of a hand held ice cream truck), the miniature dragon parade, the guy dressed in camouflage selling pineapple on a bamboo stretcher while his boom box played really cool Thai music, and most importantly . . . common ground.
BTW: I checked out three different Thai to English translators to find out what the literal meaning of Rajdamnoen is.