#72 - back in chiang mai again!

Chiang Mai Travel Blog

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Sunset over a wat.

March 13th - March 17th
So, I actually ended up staying in Chiang Mai longer than I had originally intended (it's a long story & if you remember to ask me when I'm back from my trip - I may just tell you...) BUT regardless, the point is...I've had some time to get to really hang out in Chiang Mai and it's been AMAZING!  Here are some of the highlights of my week so far (and by the way, as I type this, I'm listening to monks chanting at the wat that is right next to my guest house - they are having a special opening or they have redone something, I can't really figure it out, but there's a huge celebration this weekend and there are all these special monks in town.

Oh yeah - making stir fry or pad thai or something at May Kaidee's.
  VERY cool)  I will be here through Tuesday the 17th - so I will also have time to go to the Sunday Market (funny how things work out sometimes - I really wanted to do that but was in Pai last Sunday) & to take a foot massage course!  :)

MAY KAIDEE'S:  This is my favorite restaurant in the neighborhood!  Duan is the owner -(May is actually her sister who has the same restaurant) is so sweet and Noon is the happiest, smiliest waiter I have ever met.  I took a cooking class here & it ended up being a private class.  Duan took me to the local market and explained all the spices, vegetables, noodles, etc. that we needed to buy.  We then proceeded to make TWELVE dishes!  My favorites were Tom Kai, pumpkin hummus, peanut sauce for the spring rolls, & pad thai.

Khwan!! My friend at the Herbal Massage place!
  I had met this Swiss guy (I keep meeting the Swiss folks) named George the night before at May Kaidee's & invited him to come eat lunch with me after my class because you end up with allllll this food.  So, George showed up when my class was over & he helped me eat the food for lunch.  Such a nice guy who just started his travels & will be in Chiang Mai for about a month.  So anyway - May Kaidee's in general has been a highlight and this class just added to it.

CM BLUE HOUSE:  I love my guest house.  It's clean & comfy & the owners, Tim and Tony, are super nice.  They are a couple from San Diego and have been super helpful! 

HERBAL MASSAGE PLACE:  I am not even sure of the official name of the place, but I LOVE this massage place.

Me & Khwan - he LOVES his Obama button.
  I have literally been there EVERY day that I have been in town for at least one type of massage....I've actually done 2 a couple times as well.  hee hee.  I figured out my favorite combination last night though....it's to ask for a Thai massage, but for them to do more feet.  So, she did a half hour on my feet, then Thai massage on my legs & back & then a head massage.  It was HEAVEN.  You also get this really yummy tea after each massage.  I may need to buy some to bring home!  :)

KHWAN, OWNER OF THE HERBAL MASSAGE PLACE:  so, I have defintiely bonded with Khwan.  He is SO nice.  He owns the massage place & we sit and chat for a bit each time I go in.  He is now the proud owner of one of my Obama buttons.

That's the tree where they put donations to give to the wat.
..it was so great, one night he just brought it up...he said, "Obama.  I love him.  He smart.  Got brains and heart."  So, I gave him a button & I also asked if I could video tape him talking about why he loves Obama.  So we did that & it's precious.  I will have to show it to you at some point!  Also, Khwan always shares with me little stories that his father told him growing up.  There were two he told me the other night....
-one was about when his father asked him who the two most perfect people were in the world?  Kwan thought about it & said it was him, his father & his mother.  His father said "no"  So Kwan had to go think about it for awhile.  Well, Kwan didn't come up with the answer, but his father eventually told him that the two people in the world who are perfect are 1) the dead and 2) the unborn.
Where I spent a lot of my time in Chiang Mai!
  So obviously he was saying that people aren't perfect and you are only considered perfect are before you are born & when you are dead, but while someone is living they are giong to be imperfect.
-the second story was about how to raise people.  He said you needed to raise people like rice.  When a rice stalk is healthy there are lots of rice kernals on it & it gets so heavy that it bends over.  People should be like rice....bending over....being respectful.  If a rice stalk doesn't have rice on it & it's too straight - if a strong wind comes along it can break it.  It needs to have a lot of rice on it to be able to bend and be okay in the strong wind.
He told both stories beautifully and I just loved taking it all in.  I told him his father was a very smart man (his father passed away awhile ago) and Khwan said, "I love my dad.
Da Bakery!!! Where I had breakfast most days. :)
  Yes, a very smart man".  And then he told me he thinks of his father when he hears the song "Pa" by Kenny Rogers.  I don't know the song...but he then proceeded to sing it for me. It was quite possibly the cutest thing ever.
Every day since I gave him the Obama button, he has been wearing it.  He proudly says, "I think this is the only one in Chiang Mai"  (I don't have the heart to tell him I had given one to a cab driver before!)  He is just the cutest. 

DA BAKERY:  There is this amazing bakery right next to the CM Bluehouse (I seriously could just exist in the radius of a couple blocks with May Kaidee's, the massage place & the bakery).  They bake FRESH breads every day - banana, mango, blueberry.
getting a little elephant hug!
All yum.  And fresh fruit juices - today I had cucumber, lemon & honey.  And of course the prices are ridiculous.  The fruit drinks are less than a dollar.  Just nuts.

MAHOUT TRAINING:  Elephants are just the coolest.  It was really amazing to be around them for a day.  I wish I could have spent more time with them actually. You just know there is stuff going on behind those eyes.  It's funny - I'm afraid of horses becuase they are so big and elephants are MUCH bigger than horses but I was so so comfortable around them. They are just the best. 

THE DAY WHERE I SAW THE SKY:  It's true - it's been very smoky here and I haven't really seen much of the blue sky.  One day - it cleared and it was AWESOME.

YUM> I treated myself to one - it tasted REALLY good.
  The sun was setting and I just kept walking, almost like I was hypnotized, towards the sun to be outside in the fresher feeling air & to see the sun set.  It was an amazing evening.

TRIPS TO THE MALLS:  So I had to go to Tesco Lotus (a bit Walmart type store) to stalk up on some toiletries, etc.  AND I needed to go to the Airport Plaza to get a cell phone & a camera battery charger (yes, I left all my chargers in Pai & it was a minor headache trying to figure out what I needed to replace - oh well - I knew something like this was bound to happen at some point!).  I loved my trips to the malls though.  It was so fun to see what they were like in a town like Chiang Mai.  I also have to admit - I got an Auntie Anne's pretzel at the Airport Plaza and it was GOOD.
dancing over to the wat!
  I realized I hadn't had a bread product in so long.  It was a nice little treat.  :)

I'm sure there will be more highlights to come since I still have a few more days here...stay tuned!

Okay - I was right, more highlights from my last days in Chiang Mai

CELEBRATION AT THE WAT: I went to the wat that is right next to my guest house to see the celebration they were having on Sat night.  There were all kinds of thai dancers, music playing, free food & just people & noise & people & noise everywhere.  It was really crazy!  So fun that I ended up running into George - my Swiss friend from May Kaidee's the other day.  We hung out and watched the festivities.  Then, I remembered that Khwan, at the massage place, told me to come to his place that night because he was making food & having all his friends & customers over.

That's the monk with the money donation.
  They were also planning to bring their donation to the wat that night.  Each business in the area had these money tree things (I have pictures of them) where people make donations to the wat.  Then, when they present it, they go with this band, dancing their way to the wat.  They then present it to one of the monks...everyone kneels before him with their hands in prayer position.  The monk says some sort of blessing (I am guessing) and sprays everyone with some holy water. 
Sooooo - I was actually a part of that whole ceremony.  It was SO. COOL.  I loved hanging out at the massage place with all the Thai folks - I had actually now gotten to know some of the massage ladies & some of the other customers - so I felt very at home.
that's me & jine - my foot massage teacher. :)
  And then being a part of the celebration to bring the donation to the temple was just an unbelievable experience...one of those that you could never ever plan.  After we presented the donation to the monk & received the blessing, he passed out these tiny little budda statues to everyone.  Needless to say, I'm going to cherish mine - it was so special.
George and I hung out at the festival for the rest of the night - just absorbing it all - eating pad thai that cost about 30 cents - trying rotee (banana & egg in this crepe thingy with coconut milk in it....YUM...so NOT fattening....right).  :) 
The whole night was just so so so so cool.

FOOT MASSAGE COURSE.  I took the class with one other woman, Nounou - a very nice woman from France.
the sunday market - so cool!
  She was traveling on her own too & it was very fun to exchange travel stories.  She is traveling for closer to TWO years though.  Wow.  Anyway, Jine was our teacher and she was so great!  She didn't speak a ton of English - but she was still an excellent teacher & it was fun spending 2 days with Jine and Nounou.  At the end of our session, my ankle was bothering me a bit and Jine sat with me for about another 1/2 hour or so working on my ankle.  She is just so sweet - and when I thanked her profusely she said - MAI PEN RAI!!!  (no problem!)  :)

SUNDAY WALKING STREET MARKET:  Wow - I have never seen such organized chaos in my life.  There were SOOO many people that came out for the market.
i bought a silver bracelet from her. she was so nice!!!
  They close down a bunch of streets and have so many cool things for sale - wooden carvings, paintings, herbs, jewelry, food, etc. etc.  And it's so amazing because in many other cities people would have been pushing & shoving.  But not here.  Everyone patiently walks down the street - and there is definitely the "right" direction to go, otherwise you feel like salmon swimming upstream.  So you just kind of go with the flow of all the people, checking out all the wares.  I definitely went to town & bought a ton.  At least I thought.  I am so bad at shopping at these markets...inevitably, the next day I'm like "oh - I should have bought blah, blah, blah"...ANYWAY - I did get a lot of stuff that I will excited to see back in San Francisco.
Banana cinnamin raisin pancake. YUM.
  (I just shipped a package back so let's pray it actually arrives in a couple months!)

MY SECOND TO LAST MORNING IN CHIANG MAI
I had the coolest experience at my favorite bakery this morning.  So, there I am sitting at Da Bakery - yes, that's what it is called.  And as I sat there drinking my coffee (GREAT coffee from the hill tribes) and eating my banana, cinnamin-raisin pancake....I actually had THREE people go by the bakery that I knew!  I really felt like this was my neighborhoood.  First, I saw Noon (the smiley happy waiter from May Kaidee's) bike by - I screamed his name, but he didn't hear me.  Then, Chien - the guy that works at our guest house rode by.  And then Duan, from May Kaidee's walked by as well.
I bought that veggie steamer/sticky rice cooker from these two - it's a father (he's 82) and her daughter
  Then, when I walked down the street to the market - one of the fabulous ladies who has given me a massage from Khwan's place was there - so I said hi to her.  It's not really surprising they were all there because they all work close to where I was - but it was so much fun to feel a real part of the place.  :)

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Sunset over a wat.
Sunset over a wat.
Oh yeah - making stir fry or pad t…
Oh yeah - making stir fry or pad …
Khwan!!  My friend at the Herbal M…
Khwan!! My friend at the Herbal …
Me & Khwan - he LOVES his Obama bu…
Me & Khwan - he LOVES his Obama b…
Thats the tree where they put don…
That's the tree where they put do…
Where I spent a lot of my time in …
Where I spent a lot of my time in…
Da Bakery!!!  Where I had breakfas…
Da Bakery!!! Where I had breakfa…
getting a little elephant hug!
getting a little elephant hug!
YUM>  I treated myself to one - it…
YUM> I treated myself to one - i…
dancing over to the wat!
dancing over to the wat!
Thats the monk with the money don…
That's the monk with the money do…
thats me & jine - my foot massage…
that's me & jine - my foot massag…
the sunday market - so cool!
the sunday market - so cool!
i bought a silver bracelet from he…
i bought a silver bracelet from h…
Banana cinnamin raisin pancake.  Y…
Banana cinnamin raisin pancake. …
I bought that veggie steamer/stick…
I bought that veggie steamer/stic…
Yum - Roti!
Yum - Roti!
Duan explaining chilis to me.
Duan explaining chilis to me.
Duan & all kinds of eggplants.
Duan & all kinds of eggplants.
Thats ginger & garamet (?)
That's ginger & garamet (?)
Stuff for TOM YUM.  Yum.  :)
Stuff for TOM YUM. Yum. :)
Thats me & my basket of produce f…
That's me & my basket of produce …
PUMPKIN HUMMUS!!!!
PUMPKIN HUMMUS!!!!
Spring rolls and YUMMY peanut sauc…
Spring rolls and YUMMY peanut sau…
Viola!!  Everything I made.
Viola!! Everything I made.
George - my Swiss friend who helpe…
George - my Swiss friend who help…
Just so funny....Sausage, Cherry, …
Just so funny....Sausage, Cherry,…
Thats Noon!!  Hes normally so sm…
That's Noon!! He's normally so s…
Ironic right?  a whole thing of re…
Ironic right? a whole thing of r…
just some cool signs.
just some cool signs.
i had to go the mall & was surpris…
i had to go the mall & was surpri…
check out the ingredients on their…
check out the ingredients on thei…
California Wow is their gym.  Hila…
California Wow is their gym. Hil…
Wat Lam Chung.  This is where the …
Wat Lam Chung. This is where the…
JD pools.  Just took this one for …
JD pools. Just took this one for…
random city shot.
random city shot.
Gorgeous night!
Gorgeous night!
Love taking pictures of the scoote…
Love taking pictures of the scoot…
More of the scooters.
More of the scooters.
I will call this one Scooter & re…
I will call this one "Scooter & r…
Such a cool shot!!!!
Such a cool shot!!!!
Tour of the elephant dung factory.
Tour of the elephant dung factory.
Yep, elephant poop.
Yep, elephant poop.
Thats me smiling holding a mound …
That's me smiling holding a mound…
Making poop into paper.
Making poop into paper.
Voila - poop paper!
Voila - poop paper!
The Poop into Paper Process.
The Poop into Paper Process.
At the elephant dung factory.
At the elephant dung factory.
Me & Susanna at the Elephant Camp.
Me & Susanna at the Elephant Camp.
feeding the elephants!  so fun!
feeding the elephants! so fun!
waiting for some sugar cane!
waiting for some sugar cane!
you know, the typical elephant sw…
you know, the typical "elephant s…
and thats an elephant kiss - i wa…
and that's an elephant kiss - i w…
that was our little elephant crew …
that was our little elephant crew…
thats me - being a mahout.
that's me - being a mahout.
bananas & sugar cane, the elephant…
bananas & sugar cane, the elephan…
they had the cutest little puppies…
they had the cutest little puppie…
elephant scratching his tush on th…
elephant scratching his tush on t…
so fun.
so fun.
giving my guy a little bath/
giving my guy a little bath/
this is was the old male...apparen…
this is was the old male...appare…
wat lam chung!
wat lam chung!
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
traditional thai dancers at the ce…
traditional thai dancers at the c…
SO cute.  i love the ponytail acti…
SO cute. i love the ponytail act…
this adorable little girl dancing!…
this adorable little girl dancing…
Khwan during the wat celebration
Khwan during the wat celebration
Our money donation for the wat
Our money donation for the wat
I tried to get a picture of what w…
I tried to get a picture of what …
Khwan & his friends mom
Khwan & his friend's mom
Getting the blessing from the monk…
Getting the blessing from the mon…
More donations coming in...
More donations coming in...
Not-so traditional thai dancers.…
Not-so "traditional" thai dancers…
trying to capture what the wat loo…
trying to capture what the wat lo…
they had this cute little festival…
they had this cute little festiva…
random pic of someone getting pad …
random pic of someone getting pad…
pad thai - 10 baht!  thats like 3…
pad thai - 10 baht! that's like …
a cool wood carving i bought from …
a cool wood carving i bought from…
chocolate covered fruit.  YUM.
chocolate covered fruit. YUM.
i bought a couple paintings from t…
i bought a couple paintings from …
the sunday walking street market!
the sunday walking street market!
trying to capture more of the sund…
trying to capture more of the sun…
i bought my foot massage stick fro…
i bought my foot massage stick fr…
sunday market outside a wat
sunday market outside a wat
grilled rice!!!  5 baht.  SO delis…
grilled rice!!! 5 baht. SO deli…
lots to look at!!!
lots to look at!!!
these just looked cool to me - i d…
these just looked cool to me - i …
egg & banana & hoenny.  love it.  …
egg & banana & hoenny. love it. …
i bought a cool necklace from them.
i bought a cool necklace from them.
black jelly.  they eat this with a…
black jelly. they eat this with …
you can even buy bunny rabbits!!!
you can even buy bunny rabbits!!!
My internet cafe is behind the bir…
My internet cafe is behind the bi…
This cracked me up - sign says yo…
This cracked me up - sign says "y…
The daily market.
The daily market.
Yummm - pommellos
Yummm - pommellos
I bought cashew nuts from her.
I bought cashew nuts from her.
More cool signs.  I like the one t…
More cool signs. I like the one …
Cakes from my favorite bakery
Cakes from my favorite bakery
More from my favorite bakery.
More from my favorite bakery.
Khwan picking me up at dinner to t…
Khwan picking me up at dinner to …
My last din-din in Chiang Mai
My last din-din in Chiang Mai
Noon, at May Kaidees
Noon, at May Kaidee's
May Kaidees
May Kaidee's
Chien, at the CM Blue House
Chien, at the CM Blue House
Tim, at the CM Blue House
Tim, at the CM Blue House
Chiang Mai
photo by: Stevie_Wes