Chiang Mai Surprise

By Perrin

Our new bodyguard. We took a picture from behind to avoid bothering him. A good charity that works to keep elephants in natural habitats (and out of cities) is Golden Triangle:

“Eh…” I sputtered.

We were sipping cokes in center city. We had been haggling for nuts with a vendor, but I froze when I noticed something behind Anne.

Before I could say “Elephant,” Anne and Dumbo stood face-to-face. Anne shrieked. The elephant tooted merrily, amused by the success of his sneak attack.

No, he didn’t tip-toe up; we just hadn’t expected to see a walking mountain stoll by at the local bar. Shock factor is enhanced around low light and blond tourists.

Chiang Mai is full of surprises.

While markets tend to follow themes (daffodils, amulets, dim sum), there are no barriers to product entry. At one market, a shopper can scan twelve tables proffering Buddha figurines, and then stumble across a table of used dentures. A surprise lurks amidst every market. Owls, acid-inspired Hello Kitty paraphernalia, and second-hand teeth have all startled us during our stay.

Used dentures, from $3, at a flower market

The city’s smells are equally unnerving. Each five-to-twenty-meter stretch boasts a unique aroma. Odors transition fully and without warning. Every five-hundredth meter, a nice smell stuns passersby into respectful silence.

The biggest surprise for me came when someone yelled, “Perrin!” I walked on, because someone shouting, “Perrin!” outside of my stomping grounds is as common as meeting an elephant at your local bar.


Anne and I looked around to see JetSetZero cameramen Bogden and Evan scrambling our way. JetSet reunion!

JetSetZero cameraman Bogdan Tiflinsky and his new 'stache

To celebrate, we found some live music. The group danced through the wee hours, while an androgynous musician encouraged us. True to lady-boy form, the singer sounded equally authentic bellowing “Ring of Fire” as he did singing “I Will Survive” (a widespread international favorite, apparently).

Thai boxing or Thai dancing? This guy did it all.

Next, Evan and Bogdan introduced us to Cowboy Mom. Cowboy Mom is their name for their choice food cart. A pretty Thai lady sporting a Texas-size cowboy hat cooks, and her disgruntled daughter serves. Fried rice? Fifty cents. Cowboy Mom was indeed a suitable temporary mother.

Anne and I ended the night aboard Bogden’s motorbike. I should mention that, since the Italy season of JS0, “Big Bog” has grown a handlebar mustache and a fondness for petite scarves. He has also refined his finesse at scooter handling.

That night, as Bogden whizzed by locals, he laughed a snooty French hooligan laugh and howled, “Filet mignon, Chiang Mai!”

Filet mignon is the only French phrase Bogden knows.

We were a surprising set of winners.

"Filet mignon, Chiang Mai!"


About sistersbailey

We are Perrin and Sarah Bailey, collectively known as “The Sisters Bailey”. The moniker was born out of a crazy weekend at the 2009 New Orleans Jazz Fest and it was the first time we had ever been referred to as one unit. We grew up in Alexandria, VA together and then separated for college - Perrin to The University of Pennsylvania and Sarah to Northwestern University – and somehow landed together in New York after graduation. It was in the midst of the hustle of Manhattan that we became friends for the first time in years. Somehow we landed jobs in the same industry - Sarah worked in marketing at HBO and Perrin managed creative digital promotions for her media agency’s main client, Disney - just three blocks from one another. One day we decided to leave our jobs, sell our belongings and travel abroad with a backpack and a collective savings of $10K. The stories of our continuing adventures and those of other fearless travelers are here to inspire you.
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2 Responses to Chiang Mai Surprise

  1. Jeremiah Ortner says:

    I’m disappointed I didn’t get to meet you guys! Small world though!

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