Now that I have all that awful angst-y nonsense out of the way-
Time for some more flora.
I realized maybe five minutes after submitting my last post that I totally forgot some vital plants I’ve been digging
up since coming to SEA, including the national flower of Hong Kong (the Bauhinia, which is the same flower you’ll find on their flag), large bell-shaped white flowers in The Philippines, and the small lavender colored buds which grow from several of the tree branches in Chiang Mai. More recently there have been these sponge-texture plants blossoming through the city which smell like citrus/herbal tea.
Slightly less related are the brown vines which dangle from most trees in this city. You’re a bit worried at the time that these vines might leave some sort of brownish, bleach-resistant residue on your white school uniform, or be teeming with foreign insects, but as far as I’m aware they’re only cool, dead vines which remind you of those beaded door-ways your friends used to have in elementary school.
Those were cool. Moving on, because I don’t have too much more to say about plants…
Let’s talk fauna
Birds in this part of the world are rather impressive. Hong Kong and The Philippines have small brown birds which do not differ too much from the variety back home, but with different black wing patterns and maybe a higher pitch. I think I saw storks in Malaysia near the Malacca Strait, but they might have been pelicans since large birds don’t greatly impress me. Chiang Mai easily wins in the bird category; it has a sparrow-looking thing with a black hue and bright yellow tear-drop shapes around its eyes, as well as a bird with hipster-earring tail feathers which has a beat-box like call. You can’t make stuff like this up.
Reptiles have been scarce. I expected to see a few harmless snakes curled up Jungle Book style in a tree somewhere, but so far haven’t found one. There were these really cool lizards down in Malacca, which I found near the harbor. They were a bit bigger than a corgi, with a large flat torso and a dragon-shaped skull. They were totally not crocodiles; each one had a forked tongue, smooth leather skin, and patterns which you don’t see on crocs (yellow spots on black, desert camo, and cement white). Otherwise you have the infamous Jing-Jooks, which are little geckos that live everywhere in Thailand (and less commonly in The Philippines).
Dogs are funny in Chiang Mai. You can’t walk down the street without walking past at least three dogs in this city. I’ve seen a few of them form small packs and patrol around the CMU campus. There doesn’t seem to be any particularly strong breed. Relatives of my host-family had this mop-looking little thing with dis-aligned eyes which was the funniest looking dog I have ever seen.
Cats are less common just about everywhere except Malaysia, where I saw more stray cats than dogs. They meow in a different dialect (seriously) and tend to be skinny things. I happened to see one the other day with groovy blue eyes and a very serious face. I liked that cat.
DONE! Eight days until I’m back on familiar soil. Looking forward to English public library systems and pine trees covered in snow.