I arrived safely in Chiang Mai, and what a welcome little drop in temperature. It's still in the mid-80's, warmer than I expected, but oh, what a difference a few degrees make. I've had the air conditioning in my apartment on for only a couple of hours so far.
I'm not crazy about my apartment. I'm told it's one of the nicer serviced apartments in Chiang Mai, but it's pretty old and not that well maintained. There's a big crack in my bedroom wall, the bottom of the bathtub is peeling, the venetian blinds in the kitchen area are warped and don't work properly, the TV's are old models and one doesn't work properly. The kitchen is supposed to be fully equipped, but I have only two glasses and two coffee cups. There's supposed to be a bar where guests can gather and socialize, but there isn't (not that I'd be there anyway, but it's the principle). And no one here speaks decent English, so communicating all these issues was very challenging! I met a Norwegian man who married a Thai/Chinese woman and lives in Bangkok. He and his two sons are staying here while his son attends a boxing school. His son speaks Thai and English, so he helped me communicate my problems to the hotel staff.
Anyway, the promised restaurant is on site, and I was pleasantly surprised this morning when I went downstairs to buy a cup of coffee to find that there's a breakfast buffet included in my rent, and the food here is even cheaper than it was in Bangkok. I had Pad Thai with shrimp and chicken for dinner tonight for all of $2.26. So I guess it doesn't matter much that I don't have a fully equipped kitchen, because I don't think I'm going to be cooking here.
Another guy I met in the lobby told me about a laundry close by (the hotel's isn't open for a couple more days), and he even gave me a ride on his motorcycle to drop off my clothes. It's going to cost me less than $3.11 to get 2 1/2 kilos of laundry washed and half of it ironed. I also get daily maid service and free toilet paper, kleenex, water, shampoo and soap, all of which I've had to buy before. So it all balances out, I guess. This is more a hotel than an apartment building.
I signed up for three all day cooking classes at three different schools, and I'm really looking forward to learning how to make some traditional Thai dishes. There's a huge mall within 2 minutes of my hotel which I'll explore tomorrow.
And there are only 150,000 people here versus the 14 million in the Bangkok area. Much less intimidating. I think I'm better suited for northern Thailand.