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After three days of intensive city soaking, it was little surprise that Saturday and Sunday nights brought cats and dogs down from the sky, almost as if St. Peter up there also wanted to play along at the Songkhran festival, but came late.

Preceeded by strong winds, the rain on Saturday caused everyone to hurredly pack up their booths, leaving the wonderful markets deserted that night. Fortunately, Sunday's rain wasn't so strong, and the famous Sunday night market in Chiang Mai did take place after all -- when the first showers had settled, almost all merchants came back out onto the road and the shopping could continue.

I witnessed a funny moment on the market in the afternoon: the speakers, which are installed on almost all lamp post and sometimes blast horrid music onto the streets, started playing the national anthem. In response, everyone stood up and still for its duration, almost as if time had been frozen. When the last chord stroke, the the people continued at what they were doing and the familiar buzz was quickly restored.

We spent yesterday in cooking school, the same one I had been to a year before: the "Thai Chocolate Cookery Centre", which I can recommend to anyone. I chose this place again because I did not want to run the risk of ending up at one of the tourist ripoff places, but next time I shall try a different one; apparently there's a cooking school outside the city on a farm, where yuo get to harvest all herbs and fruits yourself prior to the cooking, instead of the market tour commonly done in the beginning of the day.

On our way home, stuffed after 8 dishes of Thai food spread throughout the whole day, we stoped by our guesthouse from last year: the "Chiang Mai Garden Guesthouse", to say hello to the owner, Pissamorn. I was happy to find her remembering me, and all the more happy when she honestly advised us not to try "just any bamboo rafting" -- I had been spoiled by the trek she organised for us last year, which involved a morning of bamboo rafting down a river from the middle of the jungle, which you cannot reach by car. I have no problem believing her that the other travel agencies which organise rafting trips dump you just somewhere along a road on slower rivers with a far less beautiful scenery. Unfortunately, neither time nor the heat really allow us to go on the three day trip through the jungle, so we postponed the rafting to our next trip.

Nevertheless, I feel very good about having Pissamorn as a reliable contact in Chiang Mai, for future trips, and in case of any problems! She also referred us to a Thai silk factory and told the owner to treat us with respect, so today (Monday), we let them pick us up and placed an order for a bunch of comfy trousers, and some silk button-down shirts; Aline got herself a nice blouse and a wonderful dress.

We now have two and a half days left in Chiang Mai and have no real plans. A 1-2 day trip to Pai still seems like an option, but it's supposed to be unbearably hot up there. We'll see.

A keep having recurring thoughts about my dream to move to Southeast Asia (Hanoi, to be exact) to start a computer school, and even though there are no concrete plans yet, I feel like my motivation to finish the Ph.D. rather sooner than later is on a steep incline. I could imagine tearing down my "tents" in Switzerland and to go to Vietnam for half a year or a year of language school, then see whether I manage to meet the right people to allow me to set up an existence. Alongside the computer school, my dream includes visions of a nice and comfy guesthouse where you get what you pay for, concentrating on quality rather than quantity, which by the way is what the Chiang Mai Garden Guesthouse seems to be doing. For me, that's the only way to go about anything if you want success and satisfaction, be it consulting, teaching, or a guesthouse in Asia.

Again, thanks for reading along.