Friday, December 7, 2012

Chilling in Chiang Mai

Night markets, organic vegan restaurants and restaurants supporting the persecuted Burmese groups, yoga classes, massages and haircuts, parks to relax in, daytrips to elephants, quirky insect museums, birthday celebrations, wats to oggle at... oh yes, I could get used to Chiang Mai. It has been the perfect place to chill for the last six days.

I got a haircut at a place where they didn't speak any English--strange for Chiang Mai, where a lot of the signs are fully English--but I drew a little sketch of what I wanted, and a Thai woman getting her haircut was able to translate for me before she left. During the twenty-minute wash phase, my head was shampooed no less than five times, and each round involved vigorous (and at times quite painful) scrubbing, and when she was toweling off my hair, she gave me a head massage which included some interesting karate chop moves on my forehead. Then she dried and styled my hair for another twenty minutes, to the point where I was worried I hadn't communicated that I wanted a cut, and was trying to figure out how I would ask for one. But then after the styling, the salon--which had been abuzz with conversation--got real quiet, and all attention turned to the stylist, and the disconcertingly quizzical looks she was giving my hair... Then a lot of discussion and pointing and tentative snips, but I'm not sure what the hesitation was for, because it's one of the best haircuts I've ever had. I spewed as many mispronounced dee mark's (very good) and khap khun ka's (thank you) as I could to show my appreciation as I was leaving.

Chiang Mai is foodie central--there are so many good eats! Because of the proximity to Burma, there are many Burmese restaurants, and we enjoyed the food at The Swan so much that we went back for more the next night (where there was a cat playing with a very dead, very stiff gecko directly beneath Mark's chair). We also found a cool cafe, the Free Bird Cafe where the profits (from the food and the thrift store) support the Shan community in Burma, whose plight parallels that of the Karen people I've talked about.

Today we visited a quirky museum, The Museum of World Insects and Natural Wonders, and the woman that welcomed us after being buzzed in, was Rampa Rattanarithikul. Little did we know, until we began exploring the museum that Rampa is a world-renowned taxonimist and entomologist, who is responsible for the discovery of 13 new species of mosquito in Thailand. She created the museum with her husband Manop, whose love for mother nature is clearly evident. Inspiring quotes sit alongside their extensive collection of insects, shells, rocks and other curiosities (like pumpkin-shaped driftwood). It is a feast for the eyes and the imagination.

Tomorrow we begin our journey into Laos. I can't believe it's been two weeks already! It will be strange having to learn a new currency and key phrases; I'm really starting to get the hang of things in Thailand... More from the other side of the border!

Sunday night street market. It just went on and on!

View from our window.

Yummy coconut smoothie and Thai milk tea. Yum!

Rented a mat for 10 baht and relaxed in Buak Haad Park

Post awesome haircut!

Dusk casting mauve light on wats

We stumbled upon this performance of song and dance

Our street: Moon Muang, Soi 9

Durian! We haven't tried this infamous, fabled fruit yet, but there is a sign
at our guesthouse forbidding it to be consumed on the premises!


  1. Jealous of all your delish culinary experiences!! Haircut looks great:)


  2. Great haircut!!!! I would have been petrified. I believe a lady and her family( on a blog I read) are living here right now in Chiang Mai. Sounds like a fascinating place.