I made it to Chiang Mai! The hour flight passed quickly, I took a cab to my hotel and immediately set out to get to know the area. I had been reading my Thailand tour book on the flight and mentally folded down a few corners of things I wanted to do today.
I meandered through the streets until I found the massage place recommended by Lonely Planet. It only employs masseuses that are blind. I felt a little odd about it but it was close to my hotel, the book recommended it, so I thought I'd give it a gander.
The whole experience felt a little different from the get go. I had to change into green scrubs and lay on a bed with bedding that said:
Errr??? haha It totally made me laugh and I had to sneak a picture before I left. I was on the middle bed in a room sandwiched between two other gentlemen getting massages. One was playing Youtube videos on his phone the whole time. He was blasting Thai music and his masseuse occasionally sang out loud to it. So much about this massage experience was unique to me. I'm used to overly tranquil environments with no talking and the smell of lavender flooding the room. That was not what happened here. haha
What I have learned about Thai massages is either I have a low tolerance for pain or thai masseuses don't play. haha There was one point when he had me on my side and was putting his body weight into my inner thigh via his knee. I was literally wincing through parts of the massage and during the inner thigh extravaganza, I breathed out in pain and said, "ow". haha Yeah, the masseuse rubbing down the youtube DJ next to me laughed and asked if I was okay. Occasionally throughout the massage, the masseuse working on the person next to me would ask, "Madam, are you okay?". haha Yeah, that's not embarrassing or anything...
All in all it was an amazing $6 massage. But man oh man it did not tickle.
For lunch, I ducked into the "See you soon" cafe down the street, ordered myself a mango smoothie and panang chicken curry. I didn't even know what time it was for my body or what meal I should be eating but oh well! The smoothie tasted unreal. It's the type of place I would probably frequent if I lived here. Wooden tables, funky decor, a fun vibe.
Afterwards I grabbed my trusty guidebook/map and found my way to the nearest Wat (temple). It was immaculate. The detailing on the outside was gorgeous. They ask that you cover your shoulders and knees as well as remove your shoes before entering the temple. It was a cool experience to go through the process of showing respect for a place that is sacred to a lot of people. It helped set the tone for the type of experience I had inside.
It is roasty toasty here so I'm all kinds of sweatilicious. Be warned. I've just had to embrace that I'm not going to look like I'm going to prom in these photos and that's going to have to be okay. haha
I kept hearing tinkering above my head in different tones. It turns out all along the roof, they have little bells hanging that ring softly when breezes pass. It was kind of cool.
There were a couple of times today that I passed signs with funny english translations. I've started collecting them. This particular one wasn't a strange translation as much as it was happy to see.
I came back to the hotel and cleaned up to get ready for a trip up the mountain to the Doi Suthep Temple. The taxi driver was an adorable man that was really friendly and spoke English pretty well. I wish I could bottle up his laugh. I realize that sounds very Ursula of me, but he had the most peculiar chuckle. He's a really quiet man and his laugh was a quiet, quick laugh that was over soon after it started. It was kind of fun to make him laugh just to be able to hear it.
The "taxi" itself was pretty laughable. Lots of people drive little red pickup trucks with enclosed bodies. It's the size of truck that my dad had when I was little and would sometimes let us ride in the back. But he says he fits up to FOURTEEN adults back there at a time. I don't know how. I rode in the passenger seat with him in the rikety truck. As soon as I hopped in and reached for the seatbelt he said, "No have". haha Sounded promising. Also the A/C in the car only works if you're going downhill, apparently. I watched him throughout the 45 minute drive up the mountain continuously wiping sweat off his forehead. At least it wasn't just me.
I have been feeling pretty guilty about not being able to communicate with the people here in their language. I try english, my next instinct is to try italian but I usually resort to gesturing and things work out. All the same, I wish when I traveled to different countries that I could always speak their language to them.
The taxi driver pulled over half way through our drive up the mountain to show me one of his favorite Watts. It's beautiful. Green. You can actually hear birds chirping. It was like hearing sounds that I haven't heard in the longest time. The main things I hear in Harlem are police sirens and
sporadic screams from a man that wanders around our neighborhood late at night.
After about a 45 minute drive up this mountain, we made it. I just had to climb these 306 steps first. :) My siblings and I used to watch this movie "Surf Ninjas" when I was a kid. In one scene, a character gets pushed down what seemed like a never-ending set of ancient stairs. It was humorous, as a child, as they would keep going back to the character rolling down the stairs as other story lines had progressed. Anyway, point being, I felt like that's what I was climbing. It's hard to see behind me but they keep on going and going.
This is what awaited me at the top. We, again, had to take our shoes off and I hurried through as my cab driver was waiting at the bottom to take me home.
AAaannnddd their advice on our way back down the infinite stairs. I had several friends tell me I need to try the fruit and the fruit smoothies. I tried to kill a little time by wandering around the shops for a bit and then headed home with my cab driver.
We stopped half way down the mountain so I could catch the view of Chiang Mai.
Also, I collect pictures of grafitti in New York, it only makes sense that I do the same thing here in Thailand. :)
Aaannddd to cap off the evening, after coming home from the mountain, I grabbed some Pad Thai, sticky rice and strawberry smoothie for, not joking, 2 dollars. Yeah, the thrifty soul in me is very happy about this. I wasn't super hungry when I bought it since my body thinks it's breakfast time, but I wanted to have a few bites to try the local food while I'm here. It was delightful.
I'm exhausted. I don't know how much of this blog is even going to make sense when I've caught myself nodding off on two separate occasions while writing this ruby jewel.
I've got to go to bed now. I have a date tomorrow with an elephant and I want to look my best. :) Til tomorrow,