Even Monks Need a Break

Every once in a while we like to take a break from the go go go.  It helps us reset and fulfill our intermittent want of stability and routine. It also gives us better insight of the culture and allows us to work on mini-projects. So far since we left home, nine months ago, we have rented an apartment in Buenos Aires where I took photography classes and Adam had a Spanish tutor; Sydney, where we were in a detox-working out phase; and now in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We arrived Saturday night from the gulf Islands. It took us two long days and one rough night on the train to get here.  The first thing we noticed was a temperature drop (score!).  Derek, our new landlord, was waiting for us in the 7-eleven across the street. Luckily for our shoulders, the building was only two minutes away.

He showed us the 7th floor apartment; it was perfect! A bed, little desk, couch, cable TV, A/C and a balcony with city views (score again!) He gave us a cell phone, a map, and told us about the 1001 things to do in town. He’s been living here for a while; one day got tired of the corporate life in Ireland and decided to leave for good. We’ve come to realize he is an amazing host and couldn’t be happier with our choice to rent here. We had a perfect start: a new city ready to be explored, recommendations from a “local”, and our own apartment where we can stay in our underwear all day if we want.

Even Monks take breaks :)

The next day, eager to explore, we headed to the Sunday Market. It was the biggest, cleanest and most organized market I’ve ever seen! Food stands, neck and foot massages for a few dollars, arts, crafts, colors, and all the goodies you can imagine.  We walked there for hours and ate everything we found until we couldn’t eat or walk anymore.

During our little outing we noticed that Derek was not the only expat in Chiang Mai. It started to be obvious that this particular city attracts many foreigners that end up staying long-term. I don’t blame them; it seems to be a happening place, cosmopolitan, progressive and artsy, but with a touch of grunginess from a developing country, so far I like it.  It’s also a great base to explore northern Thailand. A quick trip and you are in the country side, Pai or Chiang Rai. It’s a welcome change of scenery from all the island hopping we were doing earlier.


Learning how to eat Moo Kata style

A few days later, we visited a traditional Moo Kata restaurant recommended by Derek. It’s similar to Korean BBQ where you cook your own meats. Our waitress placed a sort of charcoal grill in the middle of our table, imagine a metal dome filled with holes surrounded by a circular trough. The heating element is tucked away under the dome. She poured a secret broth into the trough, filling it.  Meanwhile, we chose the meats and veggies we wanted to eat from a huge buffet bar.

During the process of barbecuing the meat, tasty juices and seasonings flow down the sides of the dome into the trough making a tasty broth. Then you add veggies and noodles to the boiling, flavorful soup. It was loads of fun, entertaining and delicious.  We have been there twice now and have our favorite lady-boy waitress and our favorite (and only) English speaking waiter that has shown us some of the finer points.

Last time we went he mentioned that we are cooking like professionals, looks like we’re leaning to be locals! It’s also kind of cool being the only foreigner in the restaurant (even though they always think I am Thai).

It’s been almost two weeks since then. A few entertaining events have happened in between, most notably a 36 hour trip to the border of Myanmar for a visa run (my next post) and a day in Chiang Rai. As you probably know, I have also been working intensely on the re-design of the blog that was finally released a few days ago. It was an absorbing process and yet there are many things I still need to learn. The truth is that you never stop learning because things are constantly changing.

More pics…

Sneaking in a Sunday ceremony at a Buddhist temple

Our home in Chiang Mai



Related posts:

Goodbye Thailand
On the Mekong in Laos: Photo Essay
Riding Solo to Konglor
Cambodian Genocide

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