There are squirrels leaping from tree to tree in front of me and skittering along the branches. The trees bend and sway with their weight. They are so fast, I have no hope of getting a photograph. Their bodies are quite small and their tails long and fluffy. When I look to my left I can see two sleek cats slowly pacing along the verandah edges. I can see that they have some birds in sight, but of course the birds are too quick for them and quickly fly away well before the cats are in striking distance. The roosters have almost finished crowing, the sun is now well and truly up, and I’d better get this blog post written quickly!
Yesterday we slept in. The kids didn’t make it to breakfast until after 10.00am. I took the following series of photos on my way over to breakfast, to give you more of an idea of where we are staying and how it is set up.
Baanbooloo is a compound of buildings made of timber, on the owner’s family property. It is essentially a series of two or three story buildings, all made from wood, and surprisingly they are all relatively reconfigurable. Because it is a building for a hot climate many of the rooms don’t have full height walls or sometimes full roofs. Much of it is open air, with balcony railings, and the floors are timber platforms. Even structural elements are reclaimed and repurposed, using sets of doors and windows that were once part of other buildings.
And of course, there is so much detail. SO much! This overwhelmed Stella the first time that we visited, as she ha a preference for “modern”, but this visit we have all settled in to it quite easily. It is rustic, but unlike much of what is often termed rustic everything is clean and swept; the many leaves that fall each day are swept up, there are no cobwebs around the buildings, and everything is kept in good repair and working order.
I find it interesting to read reviews on travel websites. So much comes down to expectations. Baanbooloo is definitely not cheap – especially in a country where you can get bargain rooms – but I think that it is definitely value for money! I don’t come here expecting television – and there isn’t one but there is excellent wifi – and sometimes things don’t work quite as they should. But if you let management know they will fix it! This is Thailand – the plumbing is septic, not sewered, and the electricity and wiring isn’t at the same standard as many of us in the west are used to. Most people who stay here at Baanbooloo give it a five star rating – and in my opinion it is absolutely worth every star and every baht. The atmosphere and the attention from the staff is first class.
Dan took himself off for a midday massage while the kids and I continued to laze around. Clare was on to a second novel in a series, and Stella was catching up with her favourite youtubers. It’s a good thing they’d had a rest – because our next activity was a Muay Thai class for all three of them! No, I didn’t participate – someone had to be available to take photographs and provide mum support if needed.
Wikipedia informs me that Muay Thai is a combat sport of Thailand that uses stand-up striking along with various clinching techniques. This physical and mental discipline which includes combat on shins is known as “the art of eight limbs” because it is characterized by the combined use of fists, elbows, knees, shins, being associated with a good physical preparation that makes a full-contact fighter very efficient. Muay Thai became widespread internationally in the twentieth century, when practitioners defeated notable practitioners of other martial arts.
So yes, I sent my kids off to a class to learn to fight. Hmmmm. As it turned out I knew many of the basic moves from when I used to attend Body Combat classes at the gym way back in the day. It was a two hour class at Chiangmai Muay Thai Gym. I was actually rather impressed with the setup and the instructors.
They were all taught a variety of basic techniques. Apparently you learn a defence move for every type of attack move. There was boxing, striking with elbows, and a variety of kicking movements.
It was a two hour class, and both kids conked out after an hour and a half. They really gave it a great go though! Clare said that she really enjoyed the feeling of strength as she punched and kicked. However, after she hurt a toe she also realised that she definitely did not enjoy the feeling of being sweaty and stinky, and we headed back to Baanbooloo for a shower. Dan stayed for the rest of the class, evening managing something resembling a bout in the ring.
By last night he was EXTREMELY sore. Can’t wait to see how he feels this morning once he wakes up!
I found a window of opportunity to go back to Lila massage for an oil massage and facial. I really do find facials incredibly relaxing. I don’t know precisely how many applications of different smelling lotions and unguents were applied to my face them removed again, some warm, some cool, some creamy, some smooth and watery. But it was delightful. When I emerged from the peace and quiet to meet the rest of the family outside I found myself right in the middle of the Sunday Walking Street Market.
Chiang Mai is famous for this market. Every Sunday night a couple of main streets are blocked off and vendors set up stall selling all manner of things, both goods and food and drink. It didn’t take long to become packed with people, but there was a terrific atmosphere. Most things are fixed price with the prices on display, so it’s not stressful to shop, and there are definitely plenty of bargains to be had. Staff at Baanbooloo confirmed that the locals shop there too.
Unlike the night market in Luang Prabang, where there were basically around ten types of stalls in multiple with a small number of buyers, there was a massive variety of product available. On our last trip to Chiang Mai Dan had just been retrenched from his job, so we were rather frugal. This time we enjoyed saying “yes” to the kids when they wanted something, and also enjoyed saying “yes” to ourselves! Clare is finally large enough to fit into the smallest size of the women’s clothes that were available, so she bought a few bits and pieces, as did Dan and I. Stella only chose one dress. She’s not especially in to things but it more interested in experiences and fairy floss.
Hopefully these photos give you a good idea of the hum and the buzz of the market. I normally hate crowds, but we just relaxed and went with the flow. Dinner was a mixture of fruit shakes, buttered corn, nutella waffles, doughnuts, meat on sticks, fried gyoza, and fairy floss. Excellent. Each little food or drink stall just sells one thing – meaning it’s super fresh and prepared right in front of you as needed.