Sunday, January 20, 2008

Chiang Mai

Is that a chill I feel in the air this morning? Why yes it is! It is Saturday morning and I am looking out over the courtyard here at Baan Orapin and listening to a cacophony of exotic bird sounds. Baan Orapin is a quiet oasis amid the bustle of life here in Chiang Mai.

We arrived mid-afternoon yesterday and wandered along our street looking for some street food. We stumbled into a little outdoor shop ( a kweh teaoy)and had a beef noodle soup and a chicken specialty of the north with rice called ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­cow mann gai There is a ritual as to how you eat this dish. First you clear your palate with a spoonful of broth that comes in a separate shallow bowl. Then you take another spoon and spread some of this special green salsa over the chicken. Then be sure you have the right amount of the rice nearby (it has been cooked for you in a special broth of chicken fat) and scoop the chicken, the rice AND the salsa into your mouth. YUM..

our lunch spot in Chiang Mai

A combination of allergies and weariness sent me and Jim back to the room to rest while Hunter went exploring. I settled in under the canopy bed with the fan whirring overhead and fell into a deep sleep that was hard to rouse myself from. But by 8:00pm we were hailing a tuk-tuk and headed for the “acceptable” portion of the Chiang Mai night market at Anusarn. All the while we were racing through the night traffic in our little “death wagon,” I worried at each turn … each acceleration if the collective weight of the three of us would send the vehicle into a tip over. Not the case and we were deposited into a lighted wonderland of sounds and smells. Hunter bought some nice shirts and Jim and I both bought a pair of “fisherman’s pants.”

Then we found ourselves in a large open air beer garden arrangement. Traditional dancers were on the stage. I had my first Pad Thai in Thailand … Hunter had a pork satay with peanut sauce and Jim had another traditional northern chicken dish called khao soy. It is a broth with chicken and egg noodles and coconut milk. When it arrives at your place you dump in a little dish of picked cabbage and then squeeze lime over it and spice it to taste.

We had hoped to end our evening’s meal at a mango sticky rice stand, but when we got there at 10 she was all sold out. So we went to a roti stand where a vendor made a yeasty crepe with bananas in the middle and then squirted some chocolate sauce on the top.

But the BEST part of the whole day was the ½ hour foot massage we had for 80 baht. OMG !! What a treat to lie outside under the stars with the sounds and smells of the market all around you and feel the tension in your feet and legs just melt away under the skillful hands of the masseur.

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