Day 168: Chiang Mai, Thailand. After a very late night, we had a very late start to the day. We woke to find all four wifi connections at the guesthouse internet not working – not great when you need to do a bunch of stuff online, including writing this blog post.
We headed out to a local cafe to use their wifi. While it wasn’t the strongest connection, it just about sufficed.
When we’d finished what we needed to achieve online, we headed out to take a look at a few more wats (Buddhist temples) and have another long walk. The town was noticeably quieter today; either people had headed off after yesterday’s main festival event, or they were still in bed with hangovers.
We walked to a nearby post office to post a letter. We took a ticket and sat in the waiting area. When our turn came, the lady behind the desk gave us two postage stamps, and a tube of glue. Here the stamps don’t come pre-glued – it’s a stick-it-yourself affair. We enjoyed our brief playschool moment.
Close to the post office there’s a cat cafe, similar to the ones in Sydney and Japan, where you pay a fee to play with cats and have a coffee. Interestingly this one also offers cat grooming, which we’d never heard of before. Do cats need or want to be groomed?
Next we walked through the complex of the Women’s Correctional Institute, an initiative that trains female prison inmates with skills such as massage, hospitality and customer service, so they’re equipped with skills to find a job when they leave prison. Each morning around 25 inmates leave Chiang Mai Women Prison to go to the Institute, where they work in a massage shop in a wooden house, alongside a restaurant with a small leafy courtyard. It’s a great initiative, that gets great reviews.
Further into our walk, Jim spotted a sign for a local bar with a sketch of a dog carrying a beer on its head, which he thinks is a great idea. Lil pointed out that taking a dog with us on our travels may be a little problematic, and a beer-carrying dog is unlikely to qualify as ‘a service animal’.
We stopped for a break in a park on the edge of the old town. The park shop was selling food to feed the fish in the lake. A little girl was having a heap of fun with her mum, until dozens of pigeons started descending for some free food. At which point the little girl screamed and ran away, deciding feeding the fish wasn’t such a fun thing to do after all.
We had one final wat visit to Wat Lok Moli, originally built around 1360 and long abandoned until the early 21st century when it was renovated. We watched a golden cockerel being raised and lowered on a pully, offering up a small container of holy water to the Buddha on the temple above, from a basin beneath the chedi.
In another part of the temple grounds, there was an impressive and huge display of coloured cockerels along a wall, and gathered around a shrine. Each of them had an inscription though we were unable to find out much more about the quite bizarre display.
We had dinner at an outdoor eatery, a really good red chicken curry, minced pork with green beans, and stir fried tofu and beansprouts. They mustn’t clean their woks too well in between different dishes, as Jim got a free piece of pork intestine and a prawn whisker in his. Needless to say, he scoffed the intestine.
Nearby, a guy was lighting and inflating a night lantern – the first time we’ve got close to the process – he made it look easy, but we suspect there are many singed tourists around town today.
After dinner, we went to the North Gate Jazz Co-Op for their weekly jazz jam, which was high energy and sensational. The evening started with a set from the house band, which was phenomenal, then continued with a jam which ranged from jazz through blues, rock and everything in between.
The place was packed and spilled out on to the street for the entire night. It was fabulous to see so many international musicians coming together, they hailed from all over the world including the US, Germany, Korea, Japan and Holland. Some very proficient musicians and some great singers, apart from two Koreans who introduced themselves with “we don’t sing so well, but we’re on vacation so we thought we’d give it a go”. They were right when they said they don’t sing well, my goodness. Jim’s beer service dog could probably do a better job.
We got home very late again, so tomorrow’s hiking plans may get shifted another day. Hopefully we’ll manage an early night tomorrow.