Chiang Mai is gorgeous sometimes. I woke up at sunrise today and headed over to two of my favorite temples to enjoy the quiet of the morning.
I love that the temples are living places of study and worship, not just museums. I've been seeing a lot of young teenage boys in monks robes. Someone told me that most Thai boys go through some sort of initiation and live as monks for a little while.
These girls from London were getting their feet....cleaned? By lots of little sucker fish. It was so surreal I had to stop and watch for a bit. Didn't try it.
This is where I like to get massages. 150 Baht (or $5.00) for an hour of awesome Thai massage. There's often 7 or 8 people getting massages, plus all of the foot massage people. Rarely does anyone request a curtain, so it's all going on around you. I like that.
In Chiang Mai massage is everywhere. Temples offer it, the women's prison offers it (rehabilitation for a new career) and there are places like this all over. I'll be very sad to leave it behind.
As unaesthetic as the Healthy Massage place is, this is right next door. Those are real orchids and many of the seats are actually swings! It's so beautiful. I've never actually eaten there though. The menu is really heavy on the meat, and somehow it's not a place I want to eat alone in.
Last night I hung out at the Tha Pae Gate square and it was a scene. People are gearing up for Loy Kratong and I actually did see three lanterns get launched (despite the posted notices that it's strictly prohibited in this are). I was amazed at how big they are and how slowly they rise. and they just keep on ascending! Even three made a gorgeous spectacle.
This morning, on impulse really, I caught a bus up to Chiang Dao, about an hour and a half away up in the mountains. This is were we went on our first trip to Thailand almost eight years ago. The first place we were able to relax and sink into the beauty.
So all afternoon I've been revisiting old haunts....had lunch at the Chiang Dao Nest, visited the amazing dream-like temple on the mountainside just up the road. It was getting late but I checked out the Cave Temple complex which has the most amazing cemetery ever.
So it's mosquito time and I'm hiding out in my little bamboo bungalow, waiting for them to go away so I can go get dinner at the Nest 2. I once had a bowl of fish soup there that was so good I almost started weeping. It's definitely one of the best things I've ever had to eat. Of course I'm not expecting it to be THAT good tonight. But here I am.
On edit, the Nest 2 kitchen was closed on account of a big wild boar BBQ up at the Nest 1. As my guest house wasn't serving I took the walk up there in the warm dark and was treated to one of the best meals ever. I was worried because there was no way I'd eat pig (or any mammal) but they had BBQ mussels, salmon, shrimp, aubergines, peppers, mushrooms, etc. etc. and a beautiful salad and a hot cheesy pasta dish, etc. etc. etc. Totally gourmet.
A nice Belgian couple I'd met on the trip up here invited me to eat with them and we had good conversation even! We all had fourths and talked until late, when alas, it began to sprinkle.
Did I mention there has been amazing thunder and lightening down the way from us? Well just as I began the walk home it began to rain in earnest. I thought maybe it would pass quickly but no deal! Not content to simply rain, the skies really opened up. For the first time in Thailand I was cold! and it was a long walk back and I was nearly soaked already.
Just then a car came down the road from the temple and offered me a ride! This seemed like a miracle to me. It was late and this road doesn't get much traffic ever! They saved me from practically drowning. I was so grateful.
So it's morning, and despite the really hard Thai style bed, I had a wonderful sleep. It rained for hours but there's also a fountain and birds calling and now it's time to go for a walk before breakfast.