I was really happy to talk to you on the phone today. I had just woken up, so I was a little out of it! I'm in a writing mood these days. The post office gets really crowded, so now I mail my letters at the Sheraton Hotel. Much easier!
Not much of a Christmas feeling here in Chiangmai, but there are some decorations and holiday music in the stores. There are also a lot of churches, which is surprising for a buddhist country. On December 24th I visited a leprosy rehabilitation institute location along the Ping River just outside of Chiangmai. Students from Payap University put on a Christmas program complete with a choir, Thai dancing, a biblical play, and even a Santa for the kids! Lots of fun, and the people loved it.
I'm moved in and settled in my new house, which has a lot of space and privacy. I've adopted a little Siamese puppy named Booty. She peed on my bed last night!
I have been thinking hard about doing business here with Thailand, Japan, and the US, but it's too hard and frustrating. Something will come, but I think I'll forget about it for a while ... until after the New Year's anyway.
Thailand produces some beautiful things: woodcarvings, lacquer, paintings, furniture, silver. Exporting, however, isn't very easy and it's already being done by a lot of people.
It's quite cool in the morning, so I usually ride my motorcycle on small country roads outside of Chiangmai at around 9 AM. It's warm in the afternoon, but it's cool again in the evening, and it's pleasant to eat outside in one of Chiangmai's garden restaurants.
Chiangmai is quickly growing and developing into a city. Bangkok, the capital and largest city in Thailand, is a big and sprawling metropolis with millions of people. Chiangmai, in contrast, seems more like a big town, with mountains, trees, parks, and so many buddhist temples. The center of the city, though, can get quite congested with cars, bicycles, motorcycles, and 3-wheeled taxis called tuk tuks. Twenty minutes away, however, one cane be in the countryside picnicking at a waterfall, climbing mountain roads, or watching farmers grow rice.
December 28, 1988
I bought a motorcycle a little while ago, which is more economical than renting because I can sell it when I leave Thailand. It's a Honda Wing 125. It's a small engine, but a more powerful one is not practical in Thailand because they are difficult and expensive to repair. It's enough power, though, as I can cruise at 110 kilometers per hour.
I've been slowly breaking in the bike, and every day I take small trips around the Chiangmai area. Today I went about fifteen miles to Lamphun, a very pretty town with many temples, a river, and lots of trees and flowers. I then took a dirt road for fifteen kilometers to a town called Pasang, which is the cotton weaving center of northern Thailand. Lots and lots of beautiful things! I bought an amazing hand-woven bed cover for about $25 ... you wouldn't believe it! It would have cost a fortune in the States.
When I returned to Chiangmai I had done five hundred kilometers on my bike, so today I had its oil changed. I then went over to Chiangmai University, which has a large attractive campus. I was exhausted when I got home, so I napped for a few hours.
Not much else happening. New Year's is in a few days, but I don't have any plans.
Write! So far no one has written me at my new house ... every day my mailbox is empty. I'll write again after the New YEar.