I slept most of the 3.5 hour Mini Tour Bus ride to the Golden Triangle except for some
announcements and brief stops along the way.  The first stop was the Hot Springs
that John wanted me to see with him.  People buy and boiled their eggs for lunch. Some are
regular chicken eggs and others baby quail eggs.He made it sound like a paradise.  It wasn’t.
 I think Scottish are impressed with Ceramic Dwarfs and cheap tourist attractions…
no offense. I liked the HoJo’s.  The street vendor.
 We called them HoJo’s when we in Nam for Howard Johnson’s.  He had roasted nuts of
some kind. Charcoal roasted Purple Sweet Potatoes , a sticky rice with coconut milk stuffed
in a bamboo tube and roasted, and other things?
Another hour or so and we stopped at the White Temple.
 A privately owned tourist trap but quite nice and different. We drove through Chiang Rai
and arrived at the Golden Triangle.  
I would have loved to see some of the country side but instead there was a Disney world
like Buddha
with some sculptures amid vendors selling assorted junk at inflated prices. The pubic toilets
have no paper…you wash yourself.  Try that on these toilets is impossible without taking off
all you bottoms and even then it is difficult. I saw vending machines at a Shopping Plaza
toilet that dispensed toilet paper for 1 baht or about 3 cents.
 We dallied around for about an hour while some took a boat ride in a circle then back.
 We then stopped for our buffet that was included. The tourist took everything that was free
until there was no more
then we left for the Long Neck Village.
..with other tribes thrown in to help educate us on how to spend our money.
A three hour ride later and I was dropped at the night bazaar in Chiang Mai to do some last
minute shopping before I mailed as much as I could back home the next day. I vowed never
to do a group tour again!
  I rose late the next day.  Demetri was bugging me about his web site.  He just put it up on
the internet but every time he tried to search for it by Googling ” Guest House in Chiang Mai”,
his site never came up.  The company that created it told him it takes time for the registration
to go through and for the Google search engine to pick up on it.  He came to my room and
asked if I could sit with him to help.  I promised the next day around 10am I would try.  I
took all the stuff I didn’t need to the Post Office to return to the USA.  Half was souvenirs and
the other half was too much stuff I packed when I left.  $200 worth and it cost me $100 to
mail it.  
That evening I went to a Guitar Concert
that had about 12 people playing different guitars and music.  It was an international audience
and they served snacks during intermission. I bought some more stuff that I could have
mailed with the rest.  I may have to visit the post office one more time before I leave!  I
stopped at The Writer’s Club and Wine Bar to get a bite to eat and have some wine.  When I
was getting ready to leave two older Brits and a German were having a lively discussion at the
bar so I introduced myself and joined them for last call.  An hour later and a bottle of wine
along with some Gin and Tonics , we were asked to leave so they could close up.  Wolfgang,
director of his own company in Hong Kong, had been showing us , on his computer, photos
he took of Northern Laos . He rented a driver and a jeep to visit and then camped in a tent.  
They were fantastic pictures.
I woke late the next day .  Just in time to be confronted by Dimitri and his website.   I helped
him a bit. 
  Then I went to a great photo exhibition of the Golden Triangle area and of all the tribes that
inhabited the region.  These were done by a lady from Chicago to document these tribes while
they still exist. It was held at a very nice place called Tamarind Village
just down the street.  I bought some more stuff then had lunch at Chillis
before taking a siesta.  My trip to the Royal Flower Gardens was postponed.  When I got up
Dimitri was talking to the wine salesmen and wanted my opinion of California wines.  I said
I only drank box wine and took off.  I think he is gay and wants to do me.  
I had my first hamburger in months at the Writer’s Club.  The beef here is Bahama cattle that
was first brought here from the USA. It is part of the Angus and Hereford  and was being
raised in the U.S. at the turn of the century.  I have to admit that is was one of the best
Hamburgers I’ve had. I had some wine then came home and sat on the porch with my
computer and lost $100 playing Poker until Midnight.  
This morning I went for breakfast across the street at the UR Chiang Mai, the really nice
hotel with the big buffet.  I had some yogurt, granola, fruit, juice, Spanish cheese omelet ,
bacon and coffee and espresso.  
Great start on the day so went for a long walk…over 3 hours in the neighborhood
then branched out and explored other areas.  
I stopped in a Mega Mall for some thing that resembles a dumpling.  I have had them in
Phoenix but they are a Thai specialty.  It is a bread that is stuffed with custard, beans,
vegetables, or whatever and steamed until is cooks through.  
Dutch Chocolate milk from Haarlem, Holland topped it off. 
 I finally broke down and hired a taxi to take me to the Royal Flower Garden.
Half of China was there too.  They arrived on 100’s of these tour buses and were like ants.
 I took a trolley that does a tour of the place.  
He spoke in Chinese of course.  Everyone got off at the Chinese Garden so I did too.  Bing
Crosby was singing White Christmas over the loud speakers while I was surrounded by these
Chinese ants talking a mile a minute while photographing each other.  The garden had
different exhibits or Gardens from all over the world.  Arab Gardens, India, Dutch, English,
China, Laos, Thai, etc….It was beautiful and well tastefully done.
 Alvin and the Chipmunks serenaded me with Jingle Bells as I crossed the parking lot to me
my taxi. My driver was waiting to take me home for some Pad Thai lunch and a siesta. My
laundry was waiting for me. I gave it to the maid the day before and got it back all clean,
pressed and still warm from the iron. $1.30!!!
Now to go celebrate Christmas Eve.  I do feel a bit melancholy tonight.  The best Christmas
Eves were home with Mom and Dad and then to visit Grandma and Grandpa the next day
with all the Aunts, Uncles, and cousins for Dinner.  We never forget that.  Last Christmas I
celebrated dinner with one of three of my Aunts and Uncles that are still alive.  We had a
great time around the Christmas tree with Snow out the window while opening presents.  
It was the week after Mom passed away.
Well yes that was sad and it did make me cry.  I decided to get out and enjoy Christmas Eve.
 I went to the Gardens down the street where they have many restaurants and Fargangs.  I
sat in the Garden and ordered a Gin and Tonic but it was 14oz of Tonic
and one shot of Gin.  I was feeling lonely so took a Tuk-Tuk
to my Wine and Cheese Bar.
 I saw the owner again
He is in his late 50’s but was an athlete all his life.  Now he walks his favorite golf course
three times a week.  I met a man from Melbourne.  He lived nearby me and was here for
a month holiday.  He comes every year.  I also saw two Chinese ladies
that I shared breakfast with this morning.  They live at the exclusive resort across the street
from me.  
I returned to the Writer’s Club in hopes of seeing Wolfgang, the German Photographer I met
before but the owner said he was there last night and still had a bottle of wine he bought
waiting for him so may be back on Christmas.  I got talking to the owner who almost qualified
to be a Mayflower Society member because he was related to the Howlands that came over
on the Mayflower.  He was denied because he was not a direct decedent of the Howlands…only
a relative.  He flew to Plymouth where I used to live and did a documentary film about it.  
He visited Plymouth Plantation and stayed at the Holiday Inn that I tried to transfer to in
Boston.  We chatted a long time about Gin and his experience living in Majorica Spain…where
they have a very special Spanish Gin.  I had never heard of this but hope to try it when I return
with Marjorie this summer. He has owned the Writer’s Club for 6 years now and had a lady
friend named Alician from Kerry Ireland.  I chatted with her and we all took pictures
…it was Christmas Eve.  Also there was a couple celebrating there Honeymoon.  Neither had
a camera so I took photos…she was from Cornwall and he was from Hastings.
 I promised to email them the occassion.
I had my usual breakfast buffet then went to the Post Office to drop a card. I asked Demetri
where I could buy a pillow to sit on for the boat ride long two day boat ride I had coming up.
 “Well z take z taxi to z market.  This is where I buy all z pillows for z Bateau.  I buy
all z furniture too.  Very cheap.  You don’t think I like to spend money…you should know
I am very cheap.”    I took another Tuk-Tuk
to the Central Chiang Mai Market
to buy a pillow for my 14 hour two day trip on a wooden boat seat.
 You sit up in the back of the Tuk-Tuk and don’t really get to see anything because the roof
comes down around you. Believe me…that is a good thing. Notice his fancy seat cover.  Great
idea…an old recycled T-Shirt.  It costs me $3 round trip to buy a $1 pillow. I might treat
myself to a massage by one of Santa’s elves. FOOT MASSAGE!
I did none of that.  I walked to the garden up the street but there was no Jazz music that was
advertised.  I argued with a Tuk-Tuk driver about his price.  I said that where I wanted to go
was only a short distance and I could walk.  He told me to walk…so I did.  I visited the wine
and cheese shop again but only had one wine and some cheese.  I met a  couple from Michigan
that has lived and worked in Australia for the last four years.  They were on a two week
holiday and was leaving for Laos tomorrow.  I might meet them there but I leave day after.
 Their favorite SE Asia country was Vietnam.  I bid the owner goodbye and thanked him then
went to John’s rooftop restaurant
in the old city where I was staying.  
I had Shrimp Toast and wine then joined Wolfgang at the Writer’s Club. 
 He was just finishing eating when I arrived.  We chatted a lot about travel. He had been all
over the US…mostly California, and Oregon.  Did a lot of business in Boston, as well as
Chicago and traveled to Mississippi and Tennessee in the 70’s.  Very enjoyable conversation
that was joined by another Chiang Mai expat from Buffalo N.Y.
 He was conversing with a retired Anthropologist that was from Columbia University.  She
had been living in Chiang Rai for years.  Lovely lady that radiated warmth.   Got lots of good
input on where to go and what to do in Laos.  It was late when I left to bed down.  Got to pack
tomorrow and leave the following day.
I visited Black Canyon Coffee for breakfast this morning.  I love sitting inside and watching
the world go by outside. It is great. All the people from all over and so much activity. 
Saturday morning must be street cleaning day. They sweep the street all day everyday but
this morning they wash it with hoses and workers go along scraping old paper signs off the
electrical poles
and washing the phone boothes, The sweepers carry 5 gallon metal square cans that are cut
in half diagonally to form a scoop with a handle they tape on it.  They sweep up everything
with homemade brooms then deposit into old burllap rice bags or used pet food bags…all
recyled.  That evening I bid goodbye to everyone and finished packing.  
PS.  This is where the Buddhist Abbot was Cremated:

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