Alaska Team 2006 travel blog

Wyatt celebrates the New Year

Our devational began at 8:00am with breakfast at JJ's Bakery a short walk from the hotel. Here we dined on lemon crepes, traditional American breakfast, fresh breads and pastries, and of course, fresh fruit drinks!

Then it was off the the Central Mall in another song-tow ride for a shopping spree while Terry and Jocelyn took care of errands to exchage some funds and purchase a cell phone for the team. The mall consisted of several stories, and in some ways, looked very similar to most western-style malls we were accustomed to. The top level is a movie-house, with several theatres. The next two levels down are equipped with escalators and a few restaurants that we all recognized such as Baskin & Robbins, The Sizzler, and McDonalds. We all had some time to shop and spend our Thai Baht, and then decided upon The Sizzler for a steak or seafood lunch. Then, of course, we had to have ice cream for dessert!

We then returned to our hotel to get our bags ready for tomorrow's road trip, enjoy some rest time, and be ready for the New Year's Eve celebrations. Our bags and action-packers were soon sorted as to what travels with us and what stays in town at the Partner's office so we all caught-up on our journals, and made ready our cameras.

From our 5th-floor view point we could watch the New Year's Eve celebration activities in the open square across the street. People were busy constructing a large stage, setting-up large TV screens and speakers, and placing rows of chairs near the stage. We were informed that this would be the first televised celebration in Chiang Mai. On the street to the right of our hotel, over 20 blocks were closed and transformed into a night market with street vendors lining both sides.

We enjoyed dinner outside the hotel about 6:00pm, and then split-up into small groups to shop among the street vendors. Shelly and Wyatt were not feeling well, so both chose to rest in their room. About an hour later, we all met together at the hotel, dropped our parcels in our rooms, and checked on Shelly & Wyatt. We entered the hotel lobby to see the entire staff staring at a news report on the TV screen. One of them informed us that several bombs had exploded in public places in Bangkok, and as yet no one had taken credit for them. We immediately called our friend, Sharon, in Bangkok and were very relieved to find that she was fine.

We then walked to the open square to take in the festivities. We shopped at more street vendors, snacked on fresh-made foods, and watched hundreds of Chinese lanterns being launched, and of course, we had to launch one again ourselves. We secured ourselves in a good place to watch the stage entertainment, but after about a 45-minute wait, were informed that all festivities had been canceled due to the bombings. Evidentally, there were a total of NINE bombs exploded in Bangkok, and authorities had determined that all festivities should be canceled in Chiang Mai for public safety. Even the 20-some blocks of street vendors were forced to disperse!

We then retired to our rooms in hopes that the fireworks had not also been canceled. We watched the crowds slowly disperse from the square, and more lanterns being launched.We even witnessed one lantern exploding into an electrical transformer, which resulted in a sudden power outage for half of the city!

Soon, though the larger explosions of fireworks began all over the city. Some were even being launced from the ancient wall just across from our hotel! Fireworks could be seen all over the town for the next hour, and it was quite a colorful sight! We all wished each other a Happy New Year as we hung out our hotel windows to take photos. Mark had found a cool gift for Wyatt, so he was able to celebrate in style (see photo).

Then we crawled into bed to try to sleep after such an adventure, with anticipation of our next adventure of the road trip.

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