As you know, we are in Chiang Mai after having arriving in the morning on the overnight train. Our guesthouse is just lovely. Built in traditional styling up on high poles to catch the breezes, the bathrooms and living areas are outdoors. The bedrooms still have air-con though, much to our relief! Stella has been a little unsure about it, as it’s such a different style of accommodation compared to what she is used to. I thought she’d love it – you never know what things will appeal to kids or tick too many of the “different” boxes.
After settling in to our room we headed into the central part of Chiang Mai. We are staying in the old city, so many sights and attractions are within walking distance. Like in Bangkok, it is HOT here. I’ve never drunk as much water, or as much watermelon juice. There are numerous stalls selling tropical juices of many types, where they juice the fruit for you on the spot. So fresh and so cool!
There are also many roadside food stalls. The kids were particularly impressed when I bought what turned out to be a huge potato chip on a stick, where a single potato had been cut into a long, long spiral then fried. We also tried a few different sweet treats. I really enjoyed the little coconut pancakes. There are plenty of foods available that are familiar to the kids, such as waffles and ice creams, and fried chicken. There are plenty of foods available that are not familiar to any of us!
One woman had tiny birds in cages. I think that the idea was that you paid to have them released and watch them fly away. We declined, as we assume that if we let them go it just encourages more to be caught to repeat the cycle.
Outside the Lila Thai Massage Centre, we decided that we should sample their massage menu and headed inside. As per the brochure: The Lila Thai Massage was established by the former director of the Chiang Mai Women’s Prison to help support the lives of newly released inmates in society. Prior to their release, carefully screened inmates go through an extensive massage training program so that they can make a living and contribute to society. Despite their training, many employers would not employ them and consequently they would often find themselves returning to a life of crime. Therefore the Lila Massage Centre was set up to provide them with employment. Back to the brochure: it is our cherished hope that you will see these former inmates in a positive light, and your kind patronage will allow them to proudly start a new life and support themselves and their families.
No matter what their background, these women certainly know how to do a massage. Both of the girls had a one hour foot massage. And yes, Stella fell asleep on the massage table before it was over. Dan and I both had a traditional thai reflexology massage, incorporating feet and legs, shoulders and arms, and heads. I’ve never had a thai massage before, and never would have believed that my body could be twisted, poked, pushed and bent into so many different positions that seemed way beyond the range of normal. It actually felt amazing that my muscles could be stretched as much as they were. Beats the myotherapist any day! Our massages took an hour and a half, which gave Stella some extra snoozing time. And all up – the massages for the four of us cost 1000 baht, which is around A$35. Oh my, we’ll be doing that again.
When we emerged from the massage centre, the streets were being set up for the weekly Sunday Walking Market. This is a market that is full of scarves, clothing, wood carvings, textiles, leather sandals, original artworks, t-shirts ,jewellery, and other creations from local crafters. Melbournians, it is similar to the St Kilda Market. Plenty of tourist offerings, but also plenty of other items that we didn’t see around Bangkok, with a handcraft focus. And plenty of food stalls. There were street vendors aplenty, as well as chairs set up for foot or shoulder massages if you got tired while shopping and eating.
The market got incredibly crowded after a couple of hours, and by then we were exhausted and headed back to the guesthouse with our tummies full and some shopping done. Stella chose a lovely little top and skirt combination that are quite distinctively Thai without looking like a costume. Poor Clare was desperate to find some clothes but she is right at the size where she is too big for most of the kids clothes that were on offer and too small for the adult offerings. I have assured her that I will be purchasing some fabric and will make her something to her specifications.
The rain has poured down for half an hour or so this morning, but is clearing up. I’ve had a cat purring on my lap for a little while, and am enjoying some green tea as I type. And yes, the rest of the family are still snoozing. I rather like having the early mornings to myself! No plans yet for today (Monday). Back to the guide book I go!