We went to chabad for shabbat dinner and while it was perfectly nice it did feel a little bit like a machine. I don’t blame them at all for running it that way but had I known before I might have planned differently. The chabad houses that I have experienced in America are typically run on a smaller scale with a rabbi and his family welcoming you into his home. This was not the case in Chiang Mai. I think it is because of the number of Israelis who come through just to get a meal.
Everything was conducted in Hebrew as the rabbi was from Jerusalem originally. I actually liked this because it tested my Hebrew levels. It is safe to say I still feel comfortable speaking and I could nearly understand the entire drash. We were the only English speaking visitors there. Many Israelis came dressed casually with their large suitcases in hand just for dinner. I really enjoyed the services and the food was also decent but the entire shabbat experience did not feel genuine. I am still glad we went in the end because I think the act of having shabbat dinner is really nice no matter how it is done. Separating out Friday night from the rest of the week is a nice feeling.
We went from chabad to the night bazaar where I swear the designers from urban must come to gain inspiration. It could be the other way around but that seems unlikely. Almost everything I saw I have either seen at urban or will see at urban in the next few months. If Aaron or Eva had been there they may have both peed themselves with excitement. At least half of Aarons wardrobe was present.
I bought some things for very little money and bargained terribly and then we were off. The thing about bargaining is that while I understand it is a part of their culture, I find myself struggling with the idea of arguing over less than one dollar for an item I really want. Part of me wants to give them their initial asking price just because I know how valuable the extra 30 baht is for them and their families and how insignificant it is to me. I sort of wish they sold at a standard price and then asked for donations but I know that in reality it would not work out as it does in my head.
From the bazaar we drove back to the hotel, put our stuff down, and went to grab a couple of beers at a local bar. This was our first night going out together because none of us had been on the same page about drinking until that point. Noam brought his cards with him and we played some drinking games as we sat at a rooftop bar in the middle of the city. At one point, a very very drunk British guy came to talk to us. His name was Jake and he was from Manchester. Noam immediately asked city or united and I smiled and pretended to know what that meant but I still am too afraid to ask. I know it has to do with soccer but thats about it.
Jake joined us for a game and then invited his two other friends, Steve and John over. They kept asking me to say British slang words in my accent which I found to be hilarious since I find their accents way more interesting than my own. I suppose it makes sense but regardless, it was entertaining for me to see how amused they were by my lowly California accent. Things got a little weird from there. They decided instead of cards we should play “never have I ever.” The way they play is a bit different – you can say something you have done and then just drink as opposed to only saying things you haven’t done. This made the game very interesting and also pretty personal. I learned a lot about these men in a short period of time and most of it is not rated PG.
The rest of the evening was a blur. The bar closed, we walked back, I allegedly passed out immediately (which definitely sounds like me), and that was that.
We are headed to Pai later today which is about three hours north by bus. I have heard it is hippy and small and on a river. I am really excited to see it. The fruit bowl pictured is what we have had for breakfast every morning in Chiang Mai. We couldn’t leave without eating it again and I obviously had to document its greatness. I will update from Pai when I get a chance for now it is goodbye Chiang Mai.