Hello Chiang Mai
Tarynne Mingione, May 28 2014
Friday, April 18, 2014
I like budget airlines. I’m not saying that just because my bank account agrees, but because budget airlines have this raw glamour-free way about them. Budget airlines let you simply pay for a seat on the plane, not the luxury of a brilliant website, six peanuts and a complimentary swig of Sprite onboard.
Air Asia has been just what we needed. But on this particular morning, Alfonso in baggage check was giving us a hard time. After some very amusing conversations with him, we forked over some extra ringetts, our 13 kilo bags and chaotically boarded our flight back to Kuala Lumpur.
Part of me wished we would miss our connecting flight so we could spend the evening toasting with John and Jude to our own incredible vacation poolside on the aLoft rooftop. Unfortunately we landed back into KL on time, meaning it was time to say goodbye.
It felt far too soon to already be saying goodbye. It was exciting to get to know them both and I can honestly say we had more fun hanging with them than we have in a very, very long time. It meant a lot to see James spend time and enjoy his parents. I’m grateful they took the initiative to make it out here, and pretty flattered that they wanted to spend time with us budget backpackers. It was such a real reminder of how important relationships are, how you can’t be thankful enough to have parents you get along with and love, and how we might all underestimate how lucky we truly are.
I’ll never be able to thank John and Jude for their visit. It was what James and I both needed emotionally and physically, and I know we both didn’t know how seriously we were suffering from a lack of these things until we had to say goodbye. They’ll never know how they brought us back to our version of reality, clarity and reminded us that all of the world is not bad.
James and I boarded our next flight to Chiang Mai. When we landed the hot air temporarily paralyzed our lungs and sent my hair into a worse fit.
The Green Tulip off Samlam Road would be our home in Chiang Mai. Our first night was spent walking around Old Town. We ended peacefully walking up Bamruang Buri road toward the Chiang Mai gate.
Wandering through food stalls we decided to introduce our tempermental tummies to Thai cuisine in a sweet little café on the corner that lent to amusing people watching. For hours we talked about James parents, our trip to Borneo and our trip in general. A little lady outside the window worked efficiently making up dozens of batches of kom kompak (coconut pudding cakes). Little did she know we would be visiting her multiple times daily for the rest of the week.
I liked this place. I decided then that I was quite happy to be there.
Saturday, April 19, 2014
Saturday night in Chiang Mai hosts the most darling market in the world.
Yes, I said the word darling.
The market was overflowing with canvas totes painted delicately with pastels, tee-shirts with pixar cartoons, handcrafted jewelry that actually looked handmade in that ‘Etsy’ sort of way (instead of the garage sale rusty junk appeal that Indian goods offer), and lanterns I would fill my backpack with if I knew James wouldn’t notice.
If you are in Chiang Mai, forget the nightly market and just be there on a Saturday for the best picks.
Sunday, April 20, 2014
We spent our Easter Sunday inside a Thai kitchen all day. We signed up for a cooking class with The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School.
We stopped at the market to pick up some fresh ingredients before we made our way to the farm where we would spend the day. Our teacher led us around the farm, letting us steal lime leaves, make funny faces after offering us strange sour fruits, lemongrass and suck on chives before lighting up our woks.
We learned how to make jasmine and sticky rice before diving into our individually selected menus.
A day in the kitchen experimenting with different spices, herbs and creating foreign flavors was precisely what I needed to feel right at home and Pharrell happy.
To sum up our time in Chiang Mai, the week was spent in Kaldi Café, night markets, getting a painful 200 baht Thai massage, inhaling 60 baht pad thai for breakfast, lunch and dinner, passing by and in temples, sweating in 35C plus heat, and me having an initial Skype interview with a hospital in Seattle.
On our last day we rented a scooter for 200 baht and headed straight for the mountains. A few hours were spent slowly walking in and around Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.
Chiang Mai – you are surprisingly sweet. Thank you for the kind SE Asia re-introduction.