R & R

Trip Start Dec 07, 2009
Trip End Sep 26, 2010

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Friday, May 14, 2010

After India, and even Bangkok to an extent, I still felt like I needed some time to relax and refresh myself and just rest for a while. Enter Chiang Mai stage right. When I was there originally it was one of the places I felt most relaxed and I enjoyed it there so I decided to go back.

I wasn't sure how long I was going to stay at first but as the days kept rolling by, I realized I didn't really feel any great urge to wander around and visit more places I hadn't been yet so I just settled in and decided to stay for a while. I went back to Libra guesthouse where I stayed the first time I was in Chiang Mai. I enjoyed the company of the people there and was happy to see Dao and Bee again. I've been here 12 days now and I haven't accomplished much but that is OK because I haven't wanted to.

I've read. Lots. I've been through 4 and a half books already and have 2 more waiting for when I'm finished the current one. I have had a lot of massages. Everything in Chiang Mai is cheap so I never feel guilty when I treat myself to an hour long foot massage when it costs 3 dollars and a handful of change. It is easy to justify getting a massage every day or every second day when it costs less than 5 bucks!

I went back and visited my favorite restaurant many times. It is just a little hole-in-the-wall restaurant down a random soi (back alley) but I decided when I came back to Chiang Mai that I wanted to try so many things on the menu so I have been going religiously every day. I have successfully eaten my way through the entire menu, trying all sorts of interesting and delicious things. From the standard Pad Thai and Pad See-Uw and other noodle dishes, to my favorites: Pa-Nang curry, hot pineapple curry, bamboo curry, pumpkin curry, and hot Indian curry. Not going to lie, I also did indulge in some fried strawberry ice cream which was obviously delicious.

I've been back to 2 Sunday night markets to browse some more and picked up a few knick-knacks along the way, sampling more street food as well like kebabs and ancient ice cream with interesting flavors like durian, black bean, taro, and red bean. I also went on a mission to find breakfast sticky rice which had coloring from a flower on top making it blue. I read about it in a guidebook and I made it my mission to find this blue sticky rice. So I discovered it could be acquired at a morning market not far from my guesthouse so one morning I woke up at the ungodly hour of 5am and walked there. It was quite an amazing experience since it was clearly not a tourist draw and I was the only foreigner there browsing all the stalls and shops. Most of it was food and I finally came across a man to help me in my quest. Unfortunately he explained that it was no longer sold regularly and had to be placed on special order but he did take me to the best sticky rice stand in Chiang Mai. (those were his words!) I bought some sticky rice with durian, banana wrapped in sticky rice then cooked inside banana leaf, sweet potato wrapped in sticky rice and cooked in banana leaf, and an egg custard cake with fried shallots on top, to be enjoyed with a morning cup of coffee. I got through most of it and saved the egg custard cake till the next day and it was still quite nice.  Also during my two weeks here I've tried some new interesting fruit including mangosteen and durian. Never thought I would try durian since it smells so awkward but I went for it. It is definitely strange, but I must say I enjoyed the mangosteen quite a bit more.

One of the few real adventures I managed here in the last two weeks was Jungle Flight. This is a day trip adventure in the jungle treetops. It is mostly zip-lining but also included abseiling and canopy treetop walks and spiral staircases. I enjoyed this activity alot since it was a beautiful jungle setting and had some fantastic views of the surrounding jungle area from some of the zip-wires. The longest zip-line was 300m long and there was a 40m abseil. Overall great value and great fun.

The other really cool adventure I had was renting a scooter the other night then waking up at 4:45am and driving to Doi Suthep. Doi Suthep is a very impressive temple situated very high up a hilltop 20km away from the city with amazing views back towards the city. The drive up there on the scooter was awesome, the road was extremely winding and hilly, and since it was so early in the morning there was virtually no traffic, so it was fun zipping up to the hilltop on my bike. I went that early so I could catch the sunrise, and it did not disappoint. The view was stunning and I enjoyed my time at the temple. Biking down was much more of a challenge especially once I got back into the city with the bustling traffic, but I managed.

I'm planning on seeing a muay thai boxing exhibition tonight with 8 fights, so that should be very interesting. Tomorrow I am planning to catch the minibus to a small town about 3 hours away named Pai.

That is it for now!

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