06 June, 2011

International Traveler - Day 3

Two nights ago a French American woman and a regular American woman went to Chiang Mai's famed Night Bazaar. It was their first proper night in Chiang Mai ... in Thailand, even. They had just met each other that morning. And they were both jet lagged and tired, but excited to be beginning their respective journeys.

To make short work of that story, I will tell you that the Night Bazaar is overcrowded, overpriced, and overhyped. This, of course, makes it like most tourist attractions the world over. Patricia and I had a bite to eat. I wasn't too hungry, so I just had a sticky rice and mango. (And it was delicious!) Then we trolled around a bit to see what there was to see. But, there was sooo much to see and so much of it was the same stuff repeating every block or so with only slight variations in presentation. We pretty quickly got our fill of the Night Bazaar. Feeling the jet lag begin to weigh in on us we decided to stop for a nightcap before returning to our guest house. We decided, pretty randomly, on an Irish Pub called, rather unimaginatively, O'Malley's. We took a table on the patio. Patricia had a beer and I had a gin + tonic. As we were reaching the bottom of our glasses, what did appear but two strange fellows at our table. One was an Iranian gentleman (by way of France, America, and who knows where else), named Nate, who has been living in Thailand for, I think, 5 years now. The other guy, Charlie, was a recent ex-pat from the greater Boston area, who had been only 3 months here. Charlie was very enamored of Patricia. He made no attempts at hiding his intense desire for her, nor did he try to conceal his complete disregard for my existence. (The latter bringing me a good deal of joy since Charlie is one of the biggest douchebags I have ever had the displeasure to meet ... arrogance, machismo, rudeness, egocentricity ... this man appears to embody of all that is ugly in this world.) Nate was respectful and interesting in conversation, but I had no interest in entertaining, or being entertained by, strange men ... especially on my first night in town when I'm exhausted and overstimulated by all the sights and sounds. Patricia, however, was interested in making some Thai connections. Charlie invited her to a "party", so I gave her leave to go with full assurance that I would be fine getting home on my own. I was so relieved to be removing myself from the company of Charlie that I probably would have bunny hopped the long way back to Chaba House if necessary. As I hopped in my red taxi (song taew), I said a silent prayer that Patricia would be safe, and then came home and welcomed sleep with sprawling arms.

(In case you are wondering, Patricia was fine.)

The next day, which was Saturday, I braved the busy streets of Chiang Mai on foot. I walked from the guest house to the massage school. It took me about an hour, during which I may have lost around 10 pounds of water weight in sweat. The streets are a little treacherous if you aren't careful, but I have never really been one to shy away from traffic. Besides, my favorite way to travel is on foot. I find it is the best way for me to get a really intimate look at the environment around me. Case in point, I discovered a charming little yoga studio near my school. I was having trouble finding the new location of the school. (They relocated the educational portion of the organization a couple months ago. The old location now just houses the spa.) I stopped in the Satva Yoga studio + cafe to ask for directions and found a warm and gracious English-speaking woman who answered all my questions and gave me directions to boot.

When I arrived at the school I was able to tour the building on my own. The receptionist was a very sweet Thai woman. The classrooms are lovely, and there is a little second floor patio with fountains and foliage and seating areas. There is a charming little fountain at the front entrance, as well. I am really looking forward to starting my training tomorrow, even more so after seeing the beautiful digs.

After resting back at Chaba House for most of the afternoon, I went in search of dinner. It was Saturday night, so I thought it only appropriate that I take myself to a nice dinner. I walked about half the distance to the school to a place called Santitham Guest House. The exterior decor had captured my fancy as I passed by earlier that day, so I decided to stop in and try dinner in the restaurant there. It's really beautiful. I don't quite know how to describe it. The best I can offer is that it seems to be decorated in "elegant disco". That might sound ridiculous, but they use a lot of mirror mosaics and mirror balls to decorate, but it still remains elegant and clean and not terribly flashy. Hopefully the photos will help you picture it better than my severely lacking description. I got there just in time. On my walk there I had been noticing a gathering of dark clouds that kept growing more and more ominous with each step. (It was very Hitchcockian.) And not even five minutes after I sat down and ordered did the skies open up and release a heavy summer rain on the town. It was wonderful in that it was helping to cool the overheated night, but the lightning and thunder were not such happy thoughts when I remembered that I had to walk home.

I put the worries about the rain aside when my food began arriving. The waiter immediately brought me a complimentary crudite appetizer served in a martini glass with a light and tangy remoulade sauce. (This made a very pretty presentation on the mirrored tabletop.) And it just kept getting better as each dish arrived: sauteed Chinese kale in oyster sauce, deep purply-brown rice, clear egg drop soup. It being Saturday night I allowed myself a glass of white wine. It was a little sweet for my usual preference, but worked really nicely with the spiciness of the thai food. I tend to like my Thai food pretty spicy (ped mak). So, I attempted to ask the waiter for some hot sauce or other heating condiment that I could add to my soup to up the heat ante. This turned into a fun game of charades and broken english and very broken thai before he realized what I wanted. He brought me some red chili flakes with the warning that they are very spicy. I guess many farangs (foreigners) don't typically like very spicy dishes, because I had to add quite a bit of the chilis to the soup to get it spicy enough for my likes. But once I did ... it was super delish!! After eating my fill I debated over whether or not I was going to wait for better weather, or just head out into the rain and face the elements like a true nomad. I opted for the latter. And I'm glad I did. Aside from being a really refreshing walk home - there's nothing like a stroll through a summer rain - I was able to test the mettle of my new Chaco sandals and my new Arcteryx rain shell. Both, I am glad to report, earned their price tags by performing beautifully and protecting me well in wet weather. Whew, that's a relief!

This morning I awoke at around 3:40am, and was unable to get back to sleep. I did some reading until time for breakfast at 7am. Mr. Pathom was off today, so his young assistants handled breakfast for us. Still very delicious.

Disco Elegant ...

My fancy Saturday night dinner.

A view from the Sunday Market.

Chef Peak. What a friendly fellow!!

1 comment:

  1. That looks delicious! And from the pics, it is definitely elegant disco with a twist of tiki. And for the record, I LOVE that you used the term "douchebag." xo!