Sawadee kha one and all. We have travelled north to Chiang Rai and onward to Chiang Mai. Unfazed by jet lag we decided to spend our first afternoon exploring the city of Chiang Rai. We strolled the streets, moseyed through the market, visited the temples and marvelled at all the amazing sights and sounds around us. The company supplying gold paint in these parts has no concerns about keeping their business afloat, it is used everywhere, to dramatic effect. The main street in town is lined with beautifully ornate street lights in gold, with the centrepiece a spectacular gold clock tower. The temples too are filled with gold covered decorative statues and artwork.
The thing that first caught my imagination though, are the motorcycles, as well as being everywhere, there seems to be an endless list of adaptions and uses they are put to: Motorcycles are used as taxis or for transporting an entire family all at once, I saw small children traveling sandwiched between their parents and one small boy was asleep on the pillion as his mum sped along the road. A motorcycle can be adapted with a sidecar or trailer, the sidecars can either be a buffet style food preparation station or stall for selling wares and the trailers help for carrying loads of goods or people, in quantities you wouldn’t believe.
In the evening we visited the market again, this time with an expert, Suwannee, our Thai cookery instructor. We had arrange to join her evening class and along with three other guests we were first brought to the evening market to try out some new foods and to buy the ingredients for our evening meal. The market was an eye opener. It was thronged with people, many on their way home from work or school. There were stalls selling fruits, vegetables, meat, pancakes, fish, deep fried chicken’s feet, ant larva, bamboo worms….we were very brave and even tried a little ant larva omelette, not an easy thing to get ones head around. Having completed our shop we were taken to the cookery school, where we were given instructions in the preparation and cooking of a glass noodle salad, hot and spicy chicken soup, green chicken curry and for dessert bananas in coconut milk, each course more delicious than the last, the amazing tastes of fresh spices, lemongrass, fresh herbs and coconut milk straight from the coconut ‘dairy’ at the market. Needless to say we were full to bursting by the end of the evening.
While at the market, I happened to notice a elderly lady being, what I can only describe as tortured by a man, he rythmically grabbed flesh on her back between his knuckles and plucked with a slapping sound. It looked and sounded painful and by the look on the woman face and the raised red welts on her back, it was painful. We asked Suwannee about it and apparently it is a massage treatment used by some of the people especially from the hill tribes to improve circulation, cure headaches or other ailments. Tonight as we made our way through the night bizzare in Chiang Mai we were offered a massage in the middle of the market square, from my earlier witnessing of Thai massage you can perhaps forgive my hesitation. However, it looked more like a maassage I was used to so in the spirit of trying new things I decided to give it a go. I requested what I understood was a 30 minute neck and shoulder massage and I was escorted to a row of deck chairs right there in the middle of the square, with people browsing market stalls to the left, eating and drinking at food vendors to my right and I also had a front row seat to a Thai cultural performance on a nearby stage. My so thought shoulder massage started rather unusually when the lady assigned to my ministrations start to take my shoes off, quickly I realised there had been a misunderstanding and I was been given a foot massage, but go with the flow! It was wonderful, 30 minutes later I stood on feet which felt like air cushions, I was so impressed with the whole experience and fortified with dinner from one of the nearby vendors I decide to return to the chair and have the earlier requested neck and shoulder massage. I should have quite while I was ahead. While hubby watched from a safe distances and drank cold beer I was twisted, turned, thumped, slapped and massaged into various shapes and though not as pleasant and relaxing as the earlier event, I was left feeling like a new woman.
And so it is onward we go and so until my next installment, kop khun kha for reading and hope you enjoyed it.