Adventures with Janelle in Chiang Mai
I'm going to try and make this post more of a picture post than a story with a few photos.
Janelle and I didn't have a long together, 3 nights and 2 full days gave us some adventure mixed with buisness but not as much as adventure as we wanted.
So let's see, Friday night when Janelle arrived and got her luggage settled in at the hotel we took off in search of food and a massage. Only a massage happened, we both decided we weren't starving but she walked me to her favorite Indian food restaurant and apparently THE BEST one in all of Chiang Mai according to her. What makes it the best? The food and most definetly the amazingly friendly Indian family that owns it and rembered Janelle each time she visits. Excellent food and service!
Next to this Indian place, right next to it in the direction of where I'm standing was a very unexpected night club scene. Never would I have suspected this kind of a club atmosphere in Chaing Mai! Maybe Bangkok, well yeah definetly Bangkok. It was a row of clubs all with bright lights and differ t types of music blaring out of their open aired buildings. It was a road of dueling music and a peaceful little Indian restaurant only feet away from all this craziness. I bet they get some good Buisness from hungry drunks though.
After walking around a portion of the old city we came across a massage place that was still open. I mean it was after all 11pm and I really didn't expect to find anything at all open. Janelle got a half hour Thai massage and I opted out. I decided to just wait for her in a chair only feet from her massage bed.
I don't tend to have the best luck with Thai massage because of the operation I had on my back. At the end of a Thai massage they sit on the bed behind you on their knees. They have you sit on your knees in front of them and then they take you from just below your shoulders and bend you backwards, cracking your spine. My back no longer bends like that. It can still crack in areas and it feels great when that happens but it rarely happens. I tried to explain to them that I had a back problem but they didn't totally get it.
So Janelle had this crazy half hour massage that we were both laughing about during the session and all the way back to the hotel! She had 2 people working on her at one time which is very much NOT a common thing! She said she felt like she was being man handled and couldn't tell whose hand was where and it was just the most awkward thing. It was great to watch and really I should have taken a photo.
The guy masseuse that worked on Janelle with another lady, didn't speak good English but he tried talking with me after he was done with Janelle. Not so much talking though as it was him just grabbing my arm and kind of reading the energy from it. He said to the lady masseuse that he could tell I had a surgery and then he turned me around and tried looking at my back. I was a little impressedeven though I also wondered if he had understood me earlier when I declined a massage. He worked on my back just a little bit for free and then I decided I trusted him enough that I'd come back the next night for a massage. He was currently studying physical therapy somewhere in Chaing Mai so that also intrigued me. I may have been a sucker for agreeing to see him the next day but it was only $5 for a Thai massage.
The next day was the Kings official birthday. The country had been celebrating it all week but this was the big day! We started our day off late so that Janelle could try and get a little extra sleep and then we hired a red song tao to take us to the French bakery market. Janelle had never been or heard of it but saw my Facebook photos and asked if I could take her there. Well, between waking up late and our driver getting lost we never made it. It ran out and closed down before our driver even had a chance to find it. However he called them and put me on the phone with them. They had a little satellite bakery very close to where we were so we went there instead. WAY smaller but at least I got my last croissant fix and another kombucha and Janelle was blown away by the prices.
We ate our pastries on the ride back into the city and then went for a run around the inside of the city walls. Completed with a trip to Addy's happy smoothies for a beverage and walked back to the hotel for a shower.
Janelle and I met two of my friends at a Mexican restaurant outside the gates called Salsa Kitchen. We met up with Moana and Teresa who I had met whike staying at Carol's house the first few days of my Thailand trip. Janelle met them for the first time and we had great Mexican food in Thailand. It was seriously awesome! Janelle and I split a plate and oh man! My favorite thing on it was the mango chicken quesadilla.
Like I mentioned some time earlier, it was the Kings birthday celebration week and for the night of the actual birthday there was a bigger celebration. Music, singing and dancing around the city gates. Above is a photo from a live music stage with performances.
Billboard like signs with pictures of the king were also EVERYWHERE and you could pose in front of them like it was your prom night. As you can see below, that's just what Janelle and I did. We re created pro, night!
This was a birthday book signing area. People would sign the book and have their photos taken standing next to the book signing area afterwards.
After the birthday festivities we headed to the night market to find a bracelet vendor that Janelle is doing business with. This photo makes the Saturday night market look pretty tame but it's get busier around certain corners.
And you never know who you will run into! Some nights there's ladie boys and other nights there's just solid mobs of tourists and backpackers. Yes! There is a difference between the 2.
We found the bracelet vendor and had a great time going through all her styles, playing with them as accessories other than bracelets. The lady was so sweet! She bought us a snack and offered us waters while we were there. I found a 5 wrap bracelet of hers that I absolutely fell in love with even though I had no intention of buying anything. They were a bit more money than most Thai items but I was considering breaking my budget a bit for this. Then the lady surprised me by telling me I could have it as a gift from her. I tried to pay her, insisted that I didn't mind but SHE didn't mind either so I walked away with a beautiful gift.
In this picture... Notice the guy to the left lying down., he was my masseuse and the other lady was Janelle's.
So here we were, Saturday night back at the massage place we had found the night before. Janelle and I were both getting one this time. The shop was good but if ambiance is something you are after then this place is NOT recommended! They have an open door policy for any of their friends and family members it seems. It's also close to the bars so dunk travelers seem to make their way to the door steps frequently. So Janelle and I both laid down in beds next to each other and the guy went to Janelle and some new lady came to me. Thank goodness Janelle was looking out for me! I wouldn't have known. What to do but she knew I wanted to come back to see the guy so she told him to work on me and for the lady to go to her. The massage was alright, he basically gave me a leg massage the entire time and that was a little annoying. When he did finally make it to my back he barely touched me. This is why sometimes I'd rather just lay down on a table, not say word about my condition and just let them work on me like a normal bodied person.
During our massage the front door was open and there were curtains hanging around our beds. We heard this guy talking about all sorts of off the wall stuffy hat we didn't fully understand but we both had good ideas. Janelle and I both started laughing uncontrollably inside our individual curtained rooms with our masseuses! We chatted back and forth about what we thought they were all discussing but most importantly, THAT one guy! The guy who was saying, " oh yeah brah, that was just like straight up epic! Best night ever right there! Like the best night ever!!!
Janelle asked me what I thought he looked like and wouldn't ya know, I described him to a T!
White, Canadian, sun bleached blonde shoulder length hair that was starting to dread and blue eyes with a lean body around 5'8
We if finished with the massages and went out on the front steps of that little hole in the wall shop to see our surfer Canadian dude. He and his bros tried to get us to go out with them but we made some excuse up of why we couldn't.
Cool street art I found.
Janelle and her coconut ice cream cone bought off a street cart and this cute little side street!
Oh I already miss all this fruit! So much goodness!
Fresh Coconut water and passion fruit juice at Khun Kae's juice bar, the best juice bar in Chiang Mai!
We both just discovered this place and loved it! We also met a German guy here with a Thai girlfriend and together they own two guest houses in the old city, Kiki's house and one other. He's also 6 months away from completely the construction of an Eco resort outside of Chiang Mai in the hillside. It's made up of these gorgeous igloo like buildings that aren't very big but are each rooms and then a common room. I'm thinking about contacting him in the near future and maybe hosting/ leading an art backpacking group to Thailand and we could stay there and have some small group art classes as well as a few days to go out and explore. We did vaguely discuss it in person at the juice shop and seemed open to the idea.
This itty bitty swing was just down from the juice bar , maybe by a block. We spent way to much time here taking photos of each other and discussing how small and enchanted it felt. There even crystals in the ground next to the swing and...
This beautiful flower! Seriously! It's so bright and I've never seen this before except I have seen the center dried up and in arrangements.
The dinner food tour began! We started with some really crappy snacks as we passed through a portion of the Sunday night walking market. Janelle bought them so I'll give her full credit since she also chose them as well. She bought a cup of buttered corn off the cob, a Choclate pastry, something else I'm forgetting and then a snack sized waffle for both of us.
Then better choices started happening. For example this green curry at a pretty good Thai restaurant we stumbled across and
Morning glory from the same place.
Then into the Sunday night market we went. I've never seen it so busy. It was shoulder to shoulder crowded! I would have left if it wasn't my last night but I felt the desire to walk thru most of it.
spread out from each other was blind musicians playing for tips. This guy was good. Playing the strings and with his foot the tambourine.
There were several lines of these foot massage areas down one street of the market. It made me laugh to see everyone in line like this for their cheap foot massage.
A glass blowing booth with a live demo and a few pipes that seemed to be a big hit.
We caught a red song tao back to the hotel because where we finished the market at had us confused. We had no clue where we were at and played a game of who can recognize our whereabouts first. I won amazingly by recognizing a city gate that we were approaching but it took a very long time for either of us to do so.
I exchanged the last of my Thai money with Janelle back at the hotel. I sold it straight across for the American dollars she still had. A pretty brilliant idea on both of our parts.
The next morning I headed to the airport at 5:30 with the help of the front desk guy helping me flag down a red sing tao and getting me a good deal on a ride there.
Once I was boarded on Thai smile to Bangkok I struck up a conversation with my seat mates. A couple, one from Thailand and one from Germany. Both ladies had been living in Thailand for the last 6 or so years Dan were now moving to Germany. We shared great stories and pal'ed around at the Bangkok airport together during all our 4 hour layovers. Mine to Vietnam and theirs to Russia if I rember right. I helped get their suitcases re organized so they wouldn't have to pay as much for luggage. I had lots of tips that they seemed to really need.
This is inside the Bangkok airport. It amazed us how much glass cleaning we going on as there were 6 more guys up there. I seem to see this everytime I have been to this airport. I feel like it's not a normal thing at most airports even if they had all that glass.
The girls and I parted ways after exchanging information and I texted with my dad as I headed to my terminal to wait for my plane.
I discovered this guy and I knew exactly what he was doing and really loved it! He was carrying these little toys around and taking photos of them in different locations as he traveled. What he does with the photos I'm not sure. Maybe he has an Instagram account just for these travel photos.
While I was waiting to board this young guy walks up to me and very loudly says, "where are you from!?" He smelled like body odor something fierce with surfer style board shorts on and a Thai tourist tank top. He had cash and his passport loose in his pockets and he was dropping it everywhere! He was a complete mess and so loud! He was told me all about the night prior and how he got stupid drunk and lost all this stuff and that he was from Australia and headed to Vietnam as well and wanted to meet up with me. Everyone started thinking we knew each other. It was truly embarrassing. I could t help but wonder if I was going to get seated next to him. This kid was making backpackers look like a bunch of party animals who smell bad.
I wish I knew this guys story but clearly something had happened be adore I got on because the young Asian couple across the aisle from me couldn't help but hold back their laughter when I expressed to the man that I was his seat partner. He made funny noises, gave funny looks and did odd things all through the trip. An example, he put the middle seat tray down in between us for no good reason and then gave me a really weird look as he did this.
When the food was coming he looked at me and said, "the FOOD is coming!"
I felt like he wanted to get my attention for a conversation but something told me I should keep to myself. He also kind of rude to the flight staff, always asking them for things when it wasn't an appropriate time for them to get them.
When we landed a flight attendent asked him to stay in the back of the plane and wait tell everyone was off, so yeah I think there was something going on there.
This was our Vietnam food in flight. I think it may have been the worst meal I've ever had on a plane. I really didn't touch much. It was fish and gravy, the salad to the left of it... Oh man! Who knows but it looked so gross! And the desert was some kind of a weird jello which I just couldn't do either. Normally I'm not that picky but there was just something about this.
Once off the plane I had to get my visa so as I sat in that waiting area I hear a, "Casey!" And then 2 more name shouts right after another. When I looked over I saw him sitting!!! On the floor with all his left over belongings layer out in the floor in front of him as he help his place in the customs line. He just pushed his belongings further along and scooted himself up when the line moved. He yelled over to me asking what I was doing in that line. I just responded, "getting my visa" and that was all the conversation that was exchanged. I didnt see him again after that.
After I took this photo I saw a sign that I wasn't supposed to take a photo in this area. Ops!
This was the bridge connecting the more country side areas of Hanoi to the city of Hanoi.
It was so nice to have my visa in hand, passport stamped for 30 days and with my backpack heading out to look for a driver with my name on paper, held up indicating my ride to the hostel. I paid $15 extra for this service but I wanted it. I wanted piece of mind and not to have to deal with a new country and the unknowns of their taxi and bus system.
From what I saw though, the taxi system and the mod of drivers that usually hits you in Asian country's seemed pretty non existent here at the Hanoi airport.
My driver was very nice but didn't speak any English nor did he really want to try. So we rode in silence for 45 minutes from the rural location of the airport into the city of Hanoi.
After the craziness of scooter watching out my window, non stop honking and a possibly fatal scooter accident; I was dropped off at the front door of the Freindly backpackers hostel and greeted by the owner, Pearl.
Being welcomed to the city by this lovely Vietnamese lady was perfect and her English was so good that it made everything a breeze!
Northern Vietnam, I'm finally here!