Welcome to Chiang Mai, northern Thailand’s populous city (1 million counting suburbs compared to Bangkok’s 8 million and Dubai’s 2 million) and popular destination. When the overnight train rolled in right on time, we and countless other white people with backpacks, GoPro cameras and hipster hats descended on the town. Well accustomed to the daily infusion of westerners seeking solace in the northern mountain climate, the songthaew pickup loaded us up in groups of 8 and deposited us at guest houses throughout the old city.
The overnight train put us in early, allowing us to unload bags but not fully check in to our room. With the morning to explore, we finally profited from local strength: massage time!
$6 and one hour later, we were new people.
“She walked on my butt,” I told the husband when we left the calm of the parlor. I was still awed by her balancing skills and strength.
“She cracked my toes. All of them,” he replied. My sister did that for me for free when we were kids, which has resulted in some long toes.
Massages done, we paid our respect to Buddha at another temple. We should probably bet know on how many temples we will see on our tour, but gambling isn’t Buddhist. So instead, we’ve been trying to educate ourselves. The naga or snakes often mark the entrances and adorn the sides of the temples, while the Garuda (or supanna) winged creature marks the top of the temples. The two creatures are historic enemies, but it seems the Garuda is winning the race as it is the national emblem of Thailand as well.
For meals here, we set out to find a restaurant and when we failed, we likely landed in a better spot! The mother daughter restaurant treated us to the local special dish khao soi – soft noodles topped with crunchy noodles in a curry sauce. Yum!