Wednesday, February 07, 2007

food, wats, more food, and baby elephant

Chiang Mai, “The Rose of the North”, Thailand’s second largest city. Built in 1296 when a king, thanks to some good omens and the advice of his astrologer and 2 other kings, determined this a good site for a city.

Feb 5: After Chris picked up Tanya we went out and ate “suki” at a chain place called MK. Basically its fish, tofu, seaweed and other things mixed in boiling water with veggies and some noodles. Kind of a soup buffet. At left is a pic of the yummy soupy lunch. We walked around a little bit and then went home and watched This Film is Not Yet Rated (great movie). We ate dinner at Mike’s (an American ex-pat who opened a burger joint) and hung out in cool café while Chris had a cookies and cream milkshake and kicked my butt royally in Othello (mom would be ashamed).

Feb 6: An exhausting and eventful day. I made breakfast for Tanya and Chris with some of the groceries I bought the day before. Chris had a test in the morning and needed something hardy to eat. Tanya and I hung out for a bit in the apartment and when Chris came back (after passing his test) we went out to downtown Chiang Mai.

Chiang Mai is an old city. The oldest part of it is enclosed in an ancient wall. We went to look at some bookstores (where I bought a cool Thai book called Jasmine Nights, the Catcher in the Rye of Thailand). We followed my tour book to look at some sites, including Three Kings Monument (see above story of how Chiang Mai was founded), and quite a few wats (or Buddhist temples). There are over 300 wats in Chiang Mai, one at every turn. The most famous which is Wat Phra Singh – an enormous one with multiple buildings and a very large school for monks. Each wat seems to house a school for monks. The monks are everywhere, of all ages, from elementary school age to senior citizen all dressed in bright saffron (the occasional monk in more muted colors).

Tanya, Chris and I also, in the middle of our long adventure in Chiang Mai got a Thai massage across from the women’s prison. The prisoners are taught a trade in prison: embroidery, massage, cooking desserts, other such things and this way they can have jobs when they leave. The prisoners were very nice and the massage was amazing (feet, legs, arms, shoulders and neck) – cost about $3!

We were so tired and went home and vegged until dinner. For dinner some of Tanya’s friends, Gig (a guy who works for free trade cotton) and his girlfriend, Aum (a nurse), drove us to this secret amazing restaurant that’s in this woman’s house. I took a picture of the food. Then we went to this market-type place that had desserts including buttered toast you dip in chocolate (a Thai dessert I am very fond of). While we were eating dessert some people came around with a baby elephant charging people about 50 cents to feed it. We felt bad for the elephant so didn’t support the people dragging the poor baby around the city. But it was cute. About the height of a small pony and the width of a Honda CRV. By then I was completely exhausted and collapsed when we got home. Overall a productive day. Took lots of pics but thought I’d just put in a few.



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