February 27, 2007

Chiang Mai Two

The last ten days have been very easy going for us. Some days we did almost nothing and others we were out and about. That does not mean we do not enjoy Chiang Mai; it is one of the nicest cities in Southeast Asia.

To view a Chiang Mai
slideshow, press HERE.

In the Textile Musem
Chiang Mai Textile Musem
Wat Suan Dok
 Wat Suan Dok
Wat Umong
 Wat Umong
Lazy Sunday in the Park
 Chiang Mai City Park
Wat Chiang Man
 Wat Chiang Man
Wat Meun Ngun Krong
 Wat Meun Ngun Krong
Elephant Camp in the Foothills
 Elephant Camp in the Foothills

Friday 16 February 2007:
We tried to visit a number of places on the outer edges of Chiang Mai. I visited a textile museum. They had a fairly large, well laid-out collection. As much as I enjoy examining textiles, seeing the art embedded in weavings, the care and quality of their production and design and the clothing and coverings that can be made from them, I am surprised at how little I really know about them. I should take a class or read some books on it. We saw some more of the local handicrafts at a hill tribe store.
We visited two Buddhist wats: Wat Suandork and Wat Umong. At Suandork we saw an extremely large chedis. A chedi is a worship tower that should contain a relic of the Buddha. U-Mong is very old, more that 600 years old. It is famous because part of it is underground tunnels.
There is an art University with a museum of what I believe to be mostly student art, but perhaps not. In their techniques, the themes and styles seemed very childish, but excellent compositions in their own way. I am not expert on art, so if you visit Chiang Mai, you should see these pieces for yourselves.
In the evening we ate at the Writer’s Club. There are a good number of ex-patriots here – especially on Friday evenings. We decided to forego Thai food this evening. Instead, I had a steak that was excellent and Betty had fish and chips that were just awful.

Saturday and Sunday were very slow days. I cannot even remember doing anything on Saturday. Sunday we went to a lovely little city park and played card. As nice as Chiang Mai is, it really lacks in parks. Because of this, the park is fairly crowded on the weekend. Still it is lovely and it is fun to watch all the folks resting and playing in the park. About an hour before dark, we headed for the river, where there are many good bars. It was a perfect setting for a sunset drink. The Sunday night market was great once again. We ate a lot of food from the vendors and looked at handicrafts. This market night brings all the small producers out with their homemade things. I really enjoy it.

Monday was a day of visiting wats, wats and more wats. There are so many in Chiang Mai that you could visit a dozen a day and not see all of them in the old city in a month. We visited the largest – Wat Meun Ngun Krong - and the oldest – Wat Chiang Man - in the walled city. And we visited the wat across the street from our guesthouse.
Tuesday was another low-key day. I went to the airport to check out the budget airlines. Then we both went to visit Lao Airlines. After learning as much as we could we went shopping. We were looking for a portable hard drive. They are quite cheap here and now. But we only looked and did not buy. After talking to Dain, I decide to wait and get one in the states, where it might cost a bit more – but at least I might get a guarantee good in the USA. In the evening we had dinner with Alan and Marijke. We ate at an excellent little restaurant called Kanjana. It always has lots of customers for its extremely inexpensive plates of Thai food. Typically, Thai restaurants cost about $1 per plate. The tourist places are 2 to 4 times higher.
Wednesday was another do-nothing day. I guess we were exhausted after the busy Tuesday!

On Thursday, February 22nd, :
We took a long drive around Chiang Mai Countryside. I had taken a similar route three years ago when I visited the city and my son’s friend Jason Dillon. We thought that we might visit the typical tourist spectacles. But we decided not view any of them. Everywhere they wanted a significant payment to see their game. There were orchid farms, and a snake show and monkey training camps and elephant camps. Had we visited one of each, we would have shelled out $34. We figured that the money would be better spent at the Minnesota Zoo. We did see the elephants from the road. They are impressive and I always admire them. The road wound back-and-forth through the foothills off to the west of Chiang Mai. In the afternoon we stopped at a lovely restaurant in the hills called Proud Phu Thai - or at least that is the way I remember it. Near 5:00 PM, the bike tire went flat. I had not run over anything, it just gave up the ghost. We quickly got it fixed and were soon back in town.

In the late afternoon on Friday, we went over to Alan’s apartment to see his slideshow on his January trip to Burma (aka Myanmar). They were the most amazing photos, partly because of his skills and partly because of Burma. The country is simply amazing. Unfortunately, it is run by a brutal military dictatorship that keeps the people in poverty and enslaves a good number to compete their projects. He and Marijke were torn about the visit. One does not want to support the government, but one does want to know and help the good people of Burma. His stories make me not want to go there, but his pictures are like a magnet that pulls you to the place. I am sure we will go there one day.

Saturday was a funny day. We did not do a whole lot. We prepared some photos for a visa to Laos and got them printed. We tried to hook up with Alan and Marijke to get our tickets to Laos, but the shop was closed. We had a very late lunch at Charlie’s English Fish and Chips. Charlie is retired restauranteur from Blackpool, England, where his family once owned a dozen fish-and-chips restaurants. He lives here now and decided some years ago to open a good fish and chips place here. The fish was brilliant. His place is just off Kampangdin and Thapae Roads.
Later that evening we had some wonderful barbecued pig at bar near Alan’s apartment. We watched them start the barbecue earlier in the day. It was a birthday party that we could go to and where great table of food was set. There was strawberries and ice cream for dessert.

Sunday we washed clothes went to the Sunday night market again. And Monday we visited one wat. Later we wandered around the Night Market that goes on everyday down by the river.

We reserved our last full day in Chiang Mai for a Thai massage. We had heard that the best place to get it was at the prison rehabilitation program down by the Three Kings Museum. We only had time for foot massages, which we thoroughly enjoyed. We are going back to Charlie’s tonight; and off to Laos tomorrow.

Posted by bill at February 27, 2007 05:00 PM

Bill and Betty,

Shorts!! Exposed feet? To answer your question, it can never be cold enough for us in the States. And I truly hope I can roof rake just one more time before spring arrives.

Love, Mickie

Posted by: Mickie Turk at February 27, 2007 11:50 AM