After just a few days in Bangkok, we took the one hour flight to Chiang Mai, a vibrant and dynamic city snuggled in the foothills of Northern Thailand. We liked Chiang Mai a lot for its old walled quarter filled with temples, craftstores, markets of all kinds, and of course massage parlors. We stayed inside the old city in a small apartment (for a decent price), complete with a beautiful kitty guarding the gate, and ended up renting a scooter as it is the main way to get around-as insane as it can be.
On our first day since we arrived around mid-day, we took it easy and just got some good food at a nearby recommended joint called the “Bird’s Nest cafe”. We ate delicious sandwiches and Sylvie tried the banana mint lassie (yogurt shake like drink). It was delicious.The next day we visited 3 of the main buddhist temples: Wat Phra Singh , Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phan Tao. The temples were beautiful and ornate as was the Grand Palace in Bangkok. We also witnessed a monk prayer session at Wat Phra Singh honoring the king (they do so every 5th day of the month) and to us it really did not feel very authentic or sincere as the monks were getting lattes while praying and others even checking their cell phones or talking between themselves.
After templing around, we headed to Chinatown for a crazy ride on the scooter. Chinatown was bustling with a beautiful flower market, food stands where we tried some banana rice goodie, and shops of all kinds. Below: vendor climbing on her dishes to reach more inventory Above: banana & sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf – yum!Cockroaches anyone?
The next day, Sylvie really wanted to get a haircut and color so after a late breakfast at Bird’s Nest, we went to the famous lady in town named “Ma”who is renowned (locally anyway) for cutting hair. Neither Ma or her staff speak English so it was a pretty stressful experience. Also, Sylvie does not like to get her hair done anywhere else but her salon in Portland, Urbaca, and cut/colored by Jasmine, her wonderful hairdresser. But she had gone almost 6 months without a cut and done her color herself (OK with James’ help) so it was time. The hair washing was OK, a bit rough perhaps, but then the staff asked Sylvie to pick a hair color- which back at home doesn’t happen this way, they just pick a color that matches your own. So she picked one… and after 10 minutes or so, the coloring stage started to take on what looked to be a disaster – Sylvie’s hair was turning pink! Then the cut and blow dry came and Ma seemed to know what she was doing so Sylvie felt slightly better. In the end, Sylvie’s color did turn out funky (brownish on roots and dark brown/black for the rest of her hair) but the cut was fine . Oh well, it will grow back anyway.