Hi Chang Mai

Pleasant flight from Bangkok.  Noticed the Air Asia flight attendants wearing black arm bands as a sign of mourning for the king.  Got an airport taxi (TH 150) and arrived at the Basic Line Hotel at a soi in Loi Kroh Rd at around 9am.  I was told it is too early to check-in so I left my big bag at the storage room and headed out to the main road in search of breakfast. Skipped McDonald’s and Starbucks and took a table at Art Cafe just across Thapae gate.  It looked nice and comfortable.  The menu offered Western  food including Italian and Mexican.  Saw many farang   eating too when I passed by it earlier.    Took a table and orfered some eggs benedict and fried potatoes. Quite good and filling.  Thus came my introduction to Chiang Mai.

Enrolment Time

First order of the day was to head to the office of the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, Chiang Mai’s first cooking school and established by celebrity Chef Sompong.  Located just across Thapae gate, it was easy to find and even easier to book.  I just chose which of the 3 out of 5 courses I wanted, checked-out the days they were offered then wrote my name on the sign-up sheet and paid.  The female staff was very pleasant too answering all my questions with a smile.

Since I was at the old town already, checked out a couple of sights.

Lanna Architecture Centre

This beautifully restored house is a quiet oasis in the bustle of the old town. There’s a shady garden in front and a small cafe.  Pleasant spot for some book reading.  The galleries have models of Lanna architecture with brief descriptions.  Nothing much to really look at except enjoy the house’s airiness and the feel of antique wood on your bare feet. Interestingly, as indicated on the information board, the house was built in the 19th c and its terrace was built in the Manila style.  

Could it mean that it was inspired by the bahay na bato of the Manila illustrados? Hmmmm….

Wat and Wat

Further down the road turning left are Wat Phan On  and Wat Chedi Luang.

Phan On’s wooden structure was very atmospheric evoking days of old. The picture below reminds me of the temples at Luang Prabang, Laos with the exception of the roof as Luang Prabang temple architecture had roofs that sweeped closer to the ground.

 The ceiling inside was festooned with hundreds of tung, Buddhist flags, hung by worshippers.

 By the entrance of the temple complex is a small wooden shrine which like so many shrines in Thailand, had interesting figurines.

More magnificent is the ancient crumbling temple of  Wat Chedi Luang  looming over the entire complex.  Though lacking any friezes such as those found in the temples of Cambodia, it still made for an imposing sight.

After all that wat, it was time for something more earthly—a 2-hour massage.

Chaya Spa

Came recommended at some websites as having both male and female therapists and more importantly, offering good clean massage.  In Thailand, the latter makes all the difference.  A tad more expensive (TH 600/hour  for hot oil) than those at Loi Kroh but there are private rooms with showers. I called for an appointment and to reserve a male therapist as they didn’t have that many.

I arrived at 6pm and was greeted by the friendly manager who gave me a TH 100 discount.  A female therapist gave me a quick foot scrub then I was led to one of the private rooms at the back.  It was quite lovely.  There was a tub and a shower and some decorative details screaming “Thai!” My masseur, Pom, arrived and proceeded to give me an imvigorating massage that ironed-out all my tight spots, particularly on the legs. “You walk a lot? Very tight,” he commented as soon as he kneaded my calves.  The massage was very very good and I was reluctant for the 2 hours to end.  

Back at the reception, while waiting for my Uber ride (Yup there is Uber in Chiang Mai!), I made small talk with Pom and learned he worked at the Bangkok Mandarin Oriental for 2 years. No wonder he was that good.  Chaya Spa isn’t at Trip Advisor so I couldn’t leave a good review.  Too bad.

Shopping at the Night Market

Feeling invigorated, I went to the night market and did some shopping.  Snagged these really cool indigo fisherman pants. 

Went inside the Night Bazaar and saw a show.

That ended my first day in Chiang Mai.

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