Chiang Mai walkabout

I wanted to balance out the previous day’s driving around with some good old foot time, so on Thursday morning, D and I walked to the bus station (1.3 miles as the crow flies, but quite a bit longer by road) and then he grabbed a songthaew back to the hotel to meet up with mom and I headed off on my own. Aside from poking my nose in various local shops, my first stop was for lunch at a roadside restaurant that our driver had said had the best khao soi in Chiang Mai. I must’ve looked like an idiot trying to figure out how/where to order (I just kept saying “khao soi” to everyone I saw until someone waved for me to sit down). It was indeed delicious, and maybe a bit spicier than the night before’s. My lips were burning but it was awesome.

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After lunch, I headed into the old city to check out a few of the temples there in town. On the way, I passed some chiles drying in the sun.

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As I was on my way to the 3rd temple on my list, I saw a sign for thai massage by experienced blind masseuses. One of my ebooks had said blind massage was the best, and at just $6 for an hour, it seemed like it was worth a try!

I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, but it definitely was different from massages at home. A dimly lit room with a row of tables with pillows (not like the circle you put your face in at home). They had loose fitting pants for the girls who came in with skirts or short shorts, but I just kept my street clothes on. The massage was painful at times (they use a LOT of pressure here), but as the guy worked on my feet and legs, the 9 miles I’d walked so far that day fell off. Magic!

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After my hour was up, I made my way to the 3rd temple on my list and found the tables where visitors could talk with monks — it was a very informal, low-pressure setting for the monks to practice speaking English and for cultural exchange. I know woefully little about Buddhism (and a few minutes with the monks didn’t answer all my questions) but I did learn some interesting things:
– monks are not vegetarian (though they can’t kill anything or eat it if they see or hear it being killed)
– there are 10 kinds of animals they’re not allowed to eat at all. Among them: cat, dog, forest dog, tiger, zebra (and at about this point in the list, both times I heard the monk naming animals, someone would comment about dogs or tigers or zebras so I didn’t ever hear the full list)
– “You can’t even kill mosquitos?” I asked with a smile. Well…if it’s instinctual (cue slapping shoulder like he’s being bitten)… But you can’t try to kill them (hands clapping together)
– All 3 of the young monks were studying at the local university and planned to take off their robes (stop being monks) and become “normal people” after graduation.
– 1 was from Laos, 1 from Cambodia, and one from southern Thailand. They have never seen snow.

I think I need to read more about Buddhism before my next monk chat, so I can ask more informed questions!

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After the chat, I headed back to the hotel to meet up with M&D for dinner. We walked through a night bazaar but opted for a less chaotic local food option a few blocks away.

I used the “map my ride” app to track my route for the day. It drained my phone battery pretty quickly but was nice to see that I’d walked around 13 miles!

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