The weather has been great…a little muggy the last few days but Chiang Mai is a little cooler.
I even wear long pants at night instead of shorts.  This is a great City..;.cheaper, cleaner, better
food, better everything…I could stay here a while…well 9 more days anyway.  
I went for a walk last night after checking into my $9 a night room with shower and toilet
…sink outside on porch. I have a fan but no A/C.  I am located within the walls of the old city.
 I walked by the place where David Watts , the CouchSurfing Welchman invited me to stay.
I emailed him that I would contact him in the morning as it was late tonight.  The downtown
area has a Night Bazaar
with a lot of nice and cheap things.  It was busy and I was hungry and tired so left the
and headed back.  I noticed a Wine and Cheese shop with a few people sitting around chatting
so stopped in for the first reasonably priced glass of wine I have had in Thailand.
 The house wine was from South Africa and another from Italy.  I had one of each along with
a small (turned out to be large) cheese platter with passion fruit, apple and homemade
excellent bread.  I chatted with a man from Manchester , England and John from Lochobie
Scotland.  John joined me and we talked about our travels.  He just arrived and had been
traveling in Canada , Montana, Nebraska, and into the Rockies.  Lots of snow so he headed
for Thailand.  We hit it off well and decided to meet for Breakfast in the morning. I returned
to the room.  It was so cool last night I requested another blanket.  
This morning I met John and we had breakfast .  He invited me to join him visit the Hot
Springs but I was to meet David Watts at his home.  I went to David’s and his gracious wife
took me through their massage parlor and up four flights to the roof top garden
complete with a Koi fish pond.  David was listening to classical music , smoking his cigar and
reading. Living the good life at 69 years of age.   He made us some Tea and we chatted about
his travels all over South and Central America.  He gave me some tips on Burma and then
took me to his travel agent.
 She was very helpful but Burma was out. To get to Burma I have to return to Bangkok to catch
the flight and would take 7-10 days for the Visa because of Christmas holidays.  I’ll try after I
do Vietnam…I am going to the Golden Triangle the 21st.  
I moved into better accommodation in the Old City where I am located.  Lots to see here.
 I don’t care about leaving it except for day trips. I depart for Luang Prabang Laos, two days
after Christmas .  Three days by boat after an overnight at the border then on to Vientiane,
the capital,  for a day or two before flying into Hanoi on the 5th. I got a better room for $2.50
more…in a different location for security reasons…this place appears safe but I could easily
get into my room without a key.  The new  place is really nice.
Very clean with flat screen TV ,
internet access , A/C but the beautiful bath and shower is down the hall.  I can deal with that.
I meet John again for Wine and we will split the cheese platter tonight. I hope he will join
David and I at an Irish bar where we will compete in a Trivia contest.  David invited me over
to his home this afternoon but I wanted to explore my neighborhood.  Lots of Wats or
Temples built in 1500 that I will take some pictures of and visit in the next few days. Chiang
Mai was founded in 1200 I believe.
 I met John at the Wine and Cheese place and we share a Cheese with Homemade bread and
Fruit platter before taking a TukTuk to the UN Irish Pub to join David in a Trivia game.  We
were a bit late and missed out on the first round but I got to introduce John  to David.  John
and I
formed team…Taylor and Houston and fell flat on our face…we actually placed last and didn’t
care but everyone got a prize.  The prizes were all wrapped as Christmas gift and ours was
250 Baht gift certificate and a bottle of water.
 David…took first prize but got less than us.  It was a real fun affair.  David introduced me
to a Chiang Mai CouchSurfer from Homer Alaska named Lorrayn. 
She has been living in Chiang Mai for over  a year and helps organize a lot of the get together
with the local group.  David and I agreed to meet at 3pm at his home the next day.  John and
I paid our tab with our bootie and left to have a couple of night caps at a local bar on the way
home.  We agreed to meet again for breakfast at 9:30 am . John quickly said David…get out
your camera there is an elephant coming down the sidewalk
…I turned to see an Elephant coming at me as I took a quick picture then another as it passed
by.  Both out us agreed that we would never see that back home!  We parted and I packed to
move the next day before checking my email and retiring.
When I awoke in the morning I thought it was 9am so jumped out of bed, showered, shaved
and since I was packed I decided to get a Tuk-Tuk to my new place, drop the bags and
continue on to meet John.  I checked in to the the Bateau Irve and met Demetri the owner.
 He used to be a ship captain for an oil company in Africa and was very pleasant.  He then
went over to the front entrance where the neighbors dog was taking a leak on his flower pot.
 After looking around to make sure no one was watching, he kicked the dog right into the street.
  I then took a Tuk_Tuk motor taxi but got my bearings wrong.  I had told the driver I was
going to Thapae Rd where David lived but was going the next one over.  I thought he took me
to the next one over when I told him so insisted I get off.  When I looked around I realized it
was Thapae road and now had to rush to meet John.  I took a short cut and walked for about
15 minutes when I came back out on a main road I thought I was to meet John at and
discovered I had done a complete circle and it must have been 9:30 already.  I started out
again but varied my direction hoping I was going where I was supposed to when I ended up
on the main road close to the hostel I just moved out of!!   Now I at least knew where I was
and another 10 minutes later arrived at the meeting place but no John.  Did he leave when
I didn’t show?  I asked a taxi driver the time and he informed me I was 30 minutes early…it
was only 9am.  John arrived early also so we ate then went to my Tour Agent to see about
getting him to Bangkok and on to the Bridge on the river Kwai.  She arranged all that , we
exchanged addresses and I returned to my new digs for a nap. 
Later that afternoon I visited David a bit then browsed the shops before returning for dinner . 
Went for a long walk wearing my long pants this morning.  It was great .  Visited a lot of
and chatted with a monk
for a while. Stopped by a Guitar shop called Eagle.  He had a big collection of old electric
Gibson and Fender guitars.  There were autographed photos of Eric Clapton and the Eagles
and a few others on the wall.  I asked if I could take a photo…he declined.  I visited a local
food market then relaxed with great Cappuccino and Mango Pancakes
after a pick me up Fresh Pineapple and yogurt shake while reading my Bangkok Post.  The
Post is a great paper.   I read David Carradine died in Bangkok last June.  He died at 72 of auto
erotic asphyxiation. I always liked him and remember watching his Kung Fu TV show where
he would battle the bad guys with nothing but his Kung Fu…he is the one that made it so
popular back then.  
There was a guy in Bangkok riding around in the street on Roller Blades (extremely
dangerous) dressed as Santa passing out Christmas Cookies to people in there cars and on
I returned and took a brief siesta after receiving a call from my daughter Jennifer on Skype.  
It was like 1am on Friday in Buffalo and 2pm on Saturday here in Chiang Mai. The landlord
sent a crew up to install curtains in my room .  The noise of the construction made it hard to
take a nap.  I had plans to visit some events that evening but when I arrived at the UN Pub.
It was empty so I started walking toward the night bazaar then past that to the river and
crossed the bridge.  There were lots of fishermen.  I counted 37 rods in the water but never
saw anyone catch a fish.  I walked along the river then came back another bridge where lots
of young people gathered to chat and hang out.I stopped at a few shops and noticed bamboo
stick incense burners where the smoke came out the elephants mouth at the top of the burner.
It was 300 Baht and very original.  I was headed for my cheese and wine shop when it started
to rain a bit.  I didn’t pay much attention until it started to pour a lot.  I ducked into the Wild
Boar.  It was another Brit bar with Plymouth playing Liverpool in a live football match.  I
thought it was snowing in England.  The bloke explained that was in London.  It was cold
and I ordered the Chicken Patay with a beer while waiting out the rain….then another beer.  
I thought I ordered a Satay but it was a Pate.  Still frozen! While I was in the Wild Boar, an
old lady came in from the rain selling Lai’s.  Like you get in Hawaii except smaller as gifts to
the spirit house or Buddha.  I bought one and gave it to the bar girl to offer the Buddha.  The
woman could have been my Grandmother and had a charming smile.  When she arrived in
from the rain, she started tapping her foot to the Disco music and rocking back and forth.  
Then 3 Street Urchins came in from the rain selling Red Roses.  They were from 8-11 years
old , barefooted and had a smile to melt you down.  The bar girls bought all the flowers then
tried to get their boyfriends to pay.. Didn’t work. They didn’t care and the children left smiling
as they came in except with no flowers but barefooted and into the rain. I regret not taking my
camera and won’t leave home without it for now on. I put it on toast with some lettuce and
tomato and ate it like a meatloaf sandwich then , when the rain subsided, dashed up the street
to my Wine and Cheese bar.
  I had 100 Grams of Danish Blue, a fresh loaf of homemade cracked whole wheat bread, and
a tall glass of Italian Merlot for $7.50.  The rain started again so I took the cheese and bread.
with me and hailed a Tuk Tuk for $1.25 to my Guest House. We passed right by with the rain
and my eyesight before I got him to stop.  I walked back.  
Got a newsletter from Couch Surfers and a testimonial from Kitty in Duluth Mn
recommending Janet in Chiang Mai…I sent Janet a note in hopes she can take me to the
Elephant preserve…she is a teacher here and I hope to visit her school and meet some of her
Thai friends….another world traveler to compare notes. Got to get some sleep…lots to do.
I met Anne from Switzerland this morning. She is living on the top floor and taking Massage
Classes. Classes on massaging babies, pregnant women, energy forces, and all kinds of
amazing things taught by Masters.  She has a bike she rides around Chiang Mai and told
me that the Buddhist Abbot of Chiang Mai and all of Northern Thailand is being cremated
tonight.  The celebration starts at 3 this afternoon.  Janet contacted me and wants to go.  This
is a big event as he was like the Pope here or actually the Abbot  I’m meeting her in the parking
lot of the police station and hopefully we will find Anne in the crowd.  My street is also blocked
off from traffic every Sunday for a huge market.  I hope to visit that afterwards but the
cremation doesn’t take place until 7:30…he is wrapped in his sarong and placed inside this
wooden sculpture of a Elephant I think.  They burn the whole thing at the temple.  I haven’t
been to this temple but see Monks arriving from all over the country to pay Homage.  They
wear silk saffron robes instead of cotton. I did some shopping this afternoon and had the best
coffee in the world at Black Canyon Coffee!!!
I met Janet at the Police station and we visited the Temple to see the Funeral Pyre.
 It was not at all what I expected.  The Abbot died 100 days ago and they have him wrapped up
inside this immense structure they built to burn him in.  People come from all over the world
for this guy. We decided to return to the market and see some of that.  While there we ate
 get a foot massage.
  7:30 in the evening, we returned and took up a ring side seat on the grass in front of the Pyre.
 We were surrounded by Monks and fellow Buddhists that came to pay tribute to the Abbot.
 They gave EVERYBODY a huge book with his whole life history as a gift for coming.  It took
forever to pass them out.  Prayers were said for over an hour then around 9pm they had some
ceremony with dancers
and all the lights went out and the fireworks
started along with the fire.  It was quite an affair and one I shall never forget.  I walked Janet
to her car then retired late. 
I got up early to get my Mini Bus tour to Chiang Rai and the Golden Triangle.  The Bateau
Irve was void of anyone at 6:30 am so I ventured across the street to the UR Chiang Mai…a
very exclusive and beautiful hotel.  
The waiter informed me that for $7.50 I could help myself to the buffet and also order any hot
item on the Breakfast menu. I choose the Eggs Benedict.  Cappuccino was included.  

I had two.  When I ordered the second Latte I told the waiter that I wanted another coffee
before I left and as soon as possible because the taxi would be here shortly.  He asked if I
wanted the Special Coffee and I assumed he meant the Latte I had previously.  What he asked
was did I want Espresso Coffee because I was obviously in a hurry…and that is what I got.
 I will be eating there again.  I came back to the Bateau to wait for the taxi and Demetri was
there to greet me.  He said the tour agent called last night for instructions so they should be
arriving any minute.  When any minute came and went, he called them for me to let them
know I was waiting.  Shortly after, they called him and said they had been driving around
unable to find the place so he gave them directions again and they picked up the last of 13
passengers for what turned out to be a disappointing long day.

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