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So in early December, on Mark’s birthday to be exact, we had a bit of a shock when after having forgotten to rebook our rooms (the place had been empty for months so we hadn’t really thought it necessary), reception phoned us to remind us to check out. We asked to extend and they told us the room was booked. This was a bit of a concern, not least because we had been living in the room for a few months and so had unpacked almost completely for the first time on the trip and so there was stuff everywhere. Mark went down to speak to reception as I hurriedly threw things into bags and cases. Luckily they managed to find us another room but this could only be booked until early january and we’d planned to stay until february. this in itself was not such a tricky thing, more the fact that we were due to go away for a week the beginning of january and had intended to leave all our stuff in our room as our flights were only for carry on. Coupled with the fact it had taken us so long to find the best place we could find for a reasonable price and length of time and the stress we’d gone through to do such – this was not the best birthday for Mark. After all that, a week or so later they managed to sort it out much to our eternal greatfulness. In some ways it was a real bonus to have moved. The air con worked properly in this room – oh joy. We had a washing machine – oh double joy. Best of all, we don’t pay to have the room cleaned so we got a bran spanking new clean (well, as much as they do here) place to move into. It’s lacking some comforts of the last place, like a sofa (we take it in turns on the arm chair), but it’s pretty good all round.
We found the lack of utensils interesting when we came to do some cooking but learned that the flat cheese grater just does the job of a spatula for cooking eggs.
Christmas in Chiang Mai was obviously weird. Our second christmas away from home but without the euphoria from last year when we’d only left home a few weeks before.
The Thai’s love a bit of decoration and New Year is pretty big here so there were some decs about to keep things festive and I received some xmas decs courtesy of friends and family, including a home made card xmas tree, courtesy of a my niece, so our room had a festive feel. But despite the collection of christmas songs i put together and watching as much christmas tv as possible it couldn’t help feeling equally flat and equally tortuous as we were so god damn homesick.
We’d decided to take both Christmas Day and Boxing Day off from doing any work and to get some food in that would be considered a special treat for us here and we had some skype sessions planned with home.
Christmas Eve turned out to be a delight – I sailed into the almost empty shopping centre and around the supermarket having a very quiet stress free time. I didn’t miss the christmas supermarket hideousness of home that is for sure. In fact as communication from people at home became more and more fraught with stress about everything from shopping, to travel and logistics and of course weather, I began to feel a bit better.
We ended up with a bizarre mix of ‘treats’ – some bread, cheese and cold meats, bit of chocolate, some crisps. It was all a bit random really but as we only wanted stuff for a couple of days and were trying not to blow the budget, we had an interesting mix I think. We spent double our usual £20 supermarket shop which Mark was quite horrified by. My desperate need for some cheese straws didn’t work as usual – they were a bit sweet. It is my holy grail of asia
This may look like an unimpressive collection of things but it is really expensive stuff over here so things we just don’t buy/eat normally.
So the day itself was a bit of a heart twister but pleasant enough. We got some fireworks – not sure if that was for christmas enough but never get sick of that and these were the most impressive I’ve seen in a long time.
Life was pretty much back to normal on the 27th but we were going away for a week on the 31st and some stuff in the hotel and around was closing for new year. Mark went to the gym on the last day before it shut down and had the real delight of them doing not only a spring clean, spraying all the cleaning sprays around to polish all the machines, but they were spray painting over one of the machines which had gotten worn to. WITH THE WINDOWS ALL TIGHTLY SHUT!?! this was because of the air conditioning of course. He just had to get out of there. They were shutting in a couple of hours for a few days, so why they couldn’t wait. Just crazy! It’s an ok gym but at home health and safety people would have full on fits. My favourite is the ping pong table. It’s not the most fun to have a ping pong ball drop onto your running machine when you’re running full pelt I can tell you. Anyhow, I’m not going to be all ‘ex-patish’ and slag of anything Thai but sometimes things like this, especially when you’re feeling a bit homesick anyway, make you shake your head in wonderment. Still, Mark survived the day without keeling over, so all was ok.
Oh, what I hadn’t mentioned is that were off the booze. We hadn’t had a drop since back in September and we were trying to go for a few months, partly for health (being on one long holiday can certainly take it’s toll) and partly for money reasons (being on one long holiday can certainly take it’s toll there too).
So we may well have had a more ‘merry’ christmas if we’d been able to actually partake in the christmas ‘spirit’ (oh so many puns). Not that drink of course makes life rosy in anyway, but we would have probably been down into the old city, making friends for the night and it would have just felt a bit more celebratory. Not that much of the christmasy booze would really work here. The baileys would curdle, the red wine served cold. Just doesn’t work.
We watched endless downloaded bbc programs which just frankly tortured us. Every cooking program going which left us drooling and pining messes.
Mark had never watched Nigella before properly and he banned her pretty early on. I have to watch her at xmas as her stuff is always so good so I just take a deep breath and ignore all her nonsense.
Apart from my family and friends who I missed desperately and painfully, these are some of the things I missed:
– proper christmas dinner obviously
– my mum’s sausage rolls
– rachel’s cheese straws
– cindy’s brie & cranberry parcels
– cold turkey
– the christmassy booze – mulled wine, baileys, southern comfort etc
– quality street/roses – i don’t even like choc much the rest of the year but these are just perfect for xmas
– brandy butter (not fussed about the christmas pudding so much) and again – my mum’s homemade.
– buying presents
– christmas tv – we could download only bbc and there was the odd, sporadic christmas movie on
– what everything looks like (apart from the rubbish council lights) at christmas in brighton
– the hatter family quiz/price game and ensuing chaos
– escaping from the cold into a warm, fairy light sprinkled pub playing christmas music with loved ones
– the kids excitement in the run up and constantly being able to use being good for father christmas as a threat
I’m getting dreamy and bleary eyed thinking about it so to make me feel better…things I didn’t miss so much:
– crazy consumerism chaos – shops and advertising to the point you want to blew your brains out
– buying presents
– spending huge chunks of december and january in the car stuck in traffic whilst visiting various parts of the country
– the kids once they have been overwhelmed by presents, sweets, people and are flying about like they are in a pinball wizard machine
– the weather
– the eternal darkness
The Topps supermarket xmas catalog was an interesting read sometimes things like this are curiously interesting.
They offered loads of hampers which have lots of lovely names like ‘the highest respect’, ‘genuine respect’, ‘spirit of trust’. There were about 50 choices which had either ‘respect’ or ‘trust’ in the title, along with a little bit of ‘love’ and ‘health’. Who wouldn’t want to receive a hamper called something like that?
Then we had the charity thing which raised funds for bullet-proof jackets for troops down in the troubled areas of the south. Slightly alarming they need to raise charity funds for this to say the least. Different from putting your green waitrose button in the box for a group of donkeys to get an easter fete. Not that I don’t adore donkeys or anything and always made sure I used my button, but you get my drift.
Japanese xmas elvis:
Keen enjoy and drink wine – this massive banner was outside a new restaurant and bar that has recently opened down the road.
A cute tree made up of empty water bottles: