Aug 27, 2006 – Hanging out in Chiang Mai

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We spent a week in Chiang Mai, sightseeing and regrouping from Mr. E’s whirlwind tour. We found a comfortable guesthouse for about $13.50 a night situated just outside the east moat. Chiang Mai is a great city with lots to do in and around the city. We spent the first day and a half updating this website, sending a few emails and just hanging out. Then we took the risk and rented a couple of motorbikes. I’d say that on Chiang Mai’s roads there are more motorbikes than any other type of vehicle. The traffic patterns are confusing if they exist at all. There are no speed limits, no lane markings and red lights are only obeyed if there is actually traffic in the way. Keep in mind that here they drive on the left side of the road – most of the time. That’s why renting a motor bike in this town is a risk. But we did have a lot of fun with them (Yes mom, Torin wore a helmet (I couldn’t find one big enough) and we’re all safe – no accidents). The first day we took them up to Doi Suthep and even higher up Doi Pui – a mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. The next day we took them in a different direction – off the tourist trail and found ourselves an incredible cave to explore and hotsprings to enjoy. That night we got back into the city after dark which added a whole new dimension to biking in Chiang Mai!

That night we experienced another first – our first Thai massage. How could we resist at 150 Baht an hour (that’s about $4.50 Canadian Leanne!!! ;-)). The three of us went in together – lay side by side as 3 Thai women pushed, poked, elbowed, kneed and even walked all over us. Torin got a little worried as his masseus worked her way up his leg – but was relieved when she stopped just short of embarrasing him! “Relaxing” or “Soothing” are definately not words that I would use to describe the experience.

We had a great time one day at cooking school learning to cook several Thai dishes from Wa-Wa and Nan. It was quite entertaining as Wa-wa was suffering from an identity crisis and Mary had a most embarrasing tendancy to call her “him”. She (?) had a great attitude though and kept us laughing most of the day. Torin didn’t participate in the cooking part but, of course, was there for the eating part. He is actually wanting to take a cooking course as well and has expressed a lot of interest in cooking once we get back. Hopefully that interest holds for the next 11 months. And can you believe the pictures of Mary cooking??? Has anyone ever seen that before – Mary in the kitchen!

Saturday was the day we chose to summit Thailand’s highest peak. It was an arduous 5 hour affair during which we sweated, got rained on and suffered from a shortage of breath. While the preceedign statement is true, it’s not the whole truth. In reality, the Thais don’t like to hike so they built a road right to the top. Apparently there is a path somewhere but we couldn’t find any information about it so we ended up going up Thai style and not Canadian style. The shortness of breath came from the fumes puking out of the little diesel truck that took us to the top. Unfortunately, the top was socked right in that day so there wasn’t a view to enjoy.

Mary had her birthday while we were in Chiang Mai and celebrated it by going to a spa for several hours. Her gift from Torin and I was that she got several hours away from us (believe me, there was a lot of value in that gift) and she chose to spend it at a spa. I chose to use the time to cut 98% of my hair off! I may have got a little carried away but it’ll grow.

Monday we took a mini bus up to Pai.