The last flight for the first day transported us to Kuala Lumpur, Malasia. A new stamp for my passport! We weary travelers boarded a bus and traveled one more hour to low cost terminal on the other side of the city. It was almost midnight by the time we checked in to our transit hotel. The Tunes Hotel was an interesting place and worthy of its very own story. Let's just say it gives a whole new meaning to "economy lodging." The Bennetts had a problem with their reservation. Apparently there wasn't one free room in the entire tower, so Judy shared room with Beck and I while Andy slept on the floor in one of the Myers'. There was barely enough space to move around inside, and that was before you added three people and their suitcases. You have to order your towels and air con and soap all in advance, and if you forget to do so you are out of luck. We were mostly out of luck on towels. Good thing we ordered the air con! Though it was one of the more interesting lodging experiences we have ever had (and this coming from a group of missionaries who serve in PNG), we were all thankful for a place to lay our head for a few hours.
Too early the next morning, we headed to the airport for the final leg of our journey. We were so happy to make it to our destination--all 13 of us and every piece of luggage successfully traveled on 3 airlines and through 6 airports in 4 countries without anything getting lost. Now that is amazing grace. In Chiang Mai, we were greeted by fellow missionaries who are serving in Thailand. They helped us to load all of our stuff into a songthaew, sort of a covered pick-up truck. Songthaew translates to "two rows" referring to two rows of benches for seating. These vehicles are the public bus/taxi service around the city.
We drove to downtown to the Royal Lanna Hotel where we would be staying for a few days before the conference began. It is an inexpensive hotel in the heart of the famous Night Market. It was a lovely place with clean and spacious rooms, especially compared to our previous residence. Royal Lanna is one of those older hotels with lots of character. And it was especially convenient to the attractions of Chiang Mai.
Despite our exhaustion, we were unwilling to waste even a moment of our time in Chiang Mai. I joined up with the Myers and we headed out to the Lotus department store, Thailand's version of a Super Walmart. It is a potentially dangerous place for FOBs (fresh out of the bush) who haven't been shopping in months. We found a few rather interesting items. Sea weed flavored Pringles, anyone? Yes, they are even green. I think I'll pass. Dairy Queen was more difficult to resist, however, so we finished our shopping spree with dessert.
After a bit of a nap back at the hotel, we all reconvened at Duke's restaurant. It came highly recommended by our fellow missionaries. The menu was a site for FOB eyes--everything from pizza to smoothies to Greek salad to burgers with the works. We ended the day by walking around the Night Market. Starting about 5:00 ever evening, the streets are lined with carts and vendors selling their wares. You shop for local handicrafts, t-shirts, gifts, souvenirs, knock-off Nike shoes and Gucci purses, or your very own Buddah. Aim, you would love this place! It was a fun way to end our first day in Chiang Mai.
"For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people."
~ Titus 2:11
* I am hoping to post some more pictures in the next few days. Check back soon!