I have to start the third day kinda in the very end of the second day. You see, I came back nicely intoxicated, fell asleep for an hour, then that's when the noises started. Around 3:30AM, a dog directly under our hut started barking. Not only did this dog bark, but it barked consistently for 2 hours straight without missing a beat. We all were tired and semi-grumpy so we of course talked about how it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world to eat a dog. As the dog slowed its barking, a rooster chimed in with consistent annoyance. At this point it was pitch black, yet the rooster was crowing. Must have been retarded. Anyways, at this point I thought it was just funny. Then came the pig, the crying baby, and the last was the idling truck outside. It was the worst night of sleep I've got in a while, but it was a great experience.
In my groggy state, I climbed down the bamboo ladder to get to my shoes, which were now wet from the over night rain storm. I headed down to breakfast, bought some last minute trinkets from of the villagers, and we bid our new friends farewell and headed back to the Vdara Resort to get our bags and get some lunch. The ride from the village to a paved road took FOREVER! It was like being in the slowest bumpy wooden roller coaster you've ever been on for about 60 consecutive minutes. This time, we had the presence of mind to shut the side windows on our drive back to the Vdara, so we avoided at least 50% of the water thrown at us. But, 50% of 2000 gallons of water is still 1000 gallons. We got soaked anyways. At lunch, Russ filled us in on the political uprisings in Bangkok and assured us that we shouldn't worry about it. Honestly, I didn't have a single worry in the world, but apparently a lot of the parents at home were freaking out a little.
We refilled the water guns and made our way into downtown Chiang Mai for our two night stay at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. After sleeping (or lack thereof) in the village it was heavenly to get to my single air-conditioned room. I took a brief cat nap, then met some 13 of my group downstairs to go get my first Thai massage. A Thai massage, like all my other experiences in Thailand, was an experience. We all walked into the same room with 13 mattresses to accommodate our gang. We changed into the most ridiculous outfits consisting of a shirt that reminded me of the frilly pirate shirt on Seinfeld, and these one size fits all silk pants. For 300 baht (about $6.50 US), I got the most intense hour long massage of my life. At various points in the massage, the masseuse was yanking on my leg and opposite arm while sitting on my back. Like I said. Intense. I came out of the massage with mixed feelings. I felt like i just played every minute of a football game, yet I've never been that relaxed in my life.
We boarded the buses and headed back to the hotel to prepare for the REAL Sangkron water festival action. We changed into our bathing suits and immediately went to buy bigger water water guns. I learned my first lesson in haggling in that i didn't try, and paid 60% more than the girl next to me who bought the same gun. Oh well. I think i lost $3.00 in the deal. So, we are already soaked by the time we fill our guns, but we have experienced nothing yet. The city of Chiang Mai is actually surrounded by a moat, and the area inside the moat is called Old City which is the area we were headed to. Within 10 blocks of the moat, I could begin to hear the madness. Once we arrived, I couldn't do anything except stand there drop jawed. Picture a medium sized city like Pittsburgh shutting down completely, and 200,000 of its residents (plus people from all over the world) stopped working and just joined in the largest Super Soaker battle of your life. Well, welcome to Chiang Mai. Within seconds, i was barraged by a British man and a guy from Siberia. Each wielding a bucket of icy cold water, they nailed me. After spitting out as much of the water as I could and wiping my eyes, I looked up to seeing them smiling and laughing. I couldn't help but do the same, so we wished each other a happy Sangkron and good luck for the New Year. Repeat this process several hundred more times, and you had the next hour of my life. I ran into my friends Ben, Scott, Carrie, Diana, and Christian near the moat, so we all teamed up and attacked as many people with our super soakers as possible. The best way I can describe it is that I actually remembered what it felt like to be 6 years old again. We were just constantly smiling and laughing, not a care in the world, having the water battle of our lives. The bars were leaking into the street, cars couldn't get through, techno music was blaring. All of us stopped at a bar on the corner to watch a Thai lady boy grinding up on a 60+ year old white man who was too drunk to realize what was happening (all the while, just getting completely soaked). We even stayed to dance to the techno version of "The Final Countdown" in the middle of the street. With all of us squirting each other with dirty moat water, singing at the top of our lungs, and dancing and jumping around, it was one of those moments I won't forget as long as I live. It was the most fun I had in Thailand.
Exhausted and looking too pruned to even be considered prunes, we walked back to the hotel dripping wet. The hotel staff knew what was up, and they were waiting for guests at the door with towels to dry off. I went upstairs and took a nice hot shower, and before I knew it, it was time to head to the Walking Street. Unlike some of the other gimmicky rip-off/look alike markets in the streets of Thailand, the Walking Street is a local market where local artists and vendors bring handmade, unique crafts to sell every Saturday and Sunday night. Many of the local people come out to this market for cheap food, nice clothes, and nice souvenirs. In a really obscure way, it reminded me of the Lewisburg Farmers Market. This night overlapped with the Thailand Group #1, so I got to hang out with Laura, Sydnee, and Amy in the market. I bought 5 t-shirts, a bunch of stuff for my family, a 20 baht dinner ($.50 US), and Laura and I shared squid on a stick at the end of the evening. Somewhere in the middle of the evening, I picked up a large Singha beer from a little shop. Again, it was one of those cool surreal moments where I was walking in a crowded arts market in Thailand with good company, sipping a Thai Lager beer. It felt like a movie. I was waiting for one of the food carts to explode as James Bond drove his Aston Martin through the crowded streets while being chased by 5 men on motorcycles. Go ahead, make fun of me...I am just stating it how I feel.
Most of the people went back earlier in order to go to the Chiang Mai bars, but me and my crew were having too much fun at the market, so we just wandered around the area checking stuff out. We saw a play of some sort going on in the street, so I watched that for a minute or two. Laura and Sydnee had been on a quest all night to find the lady who sold them mango smoothies earlier in the night, and we finally came across her stand. The hype was real. Although it was only mango and ice, it was one of the best drinks I've ever had. We took our smoothies and started walking back to the hotel. About half way home, we saw two guys walking an elephant down the sidewalk. It was like walking down South Street in Philly, except there was a freaking ELEPHANT on the sidewalk. Apparently this is normal, but we were all pretty excited and took a bunch of pictures. I was going to go out, but I was straight up exhausted, so I said goodbye to the people from Group #1, and went to bed. This is one of the most fun days i've ever had.