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Saturday, January 18: Day 271 – Walking Streets

At each stop on a local train to Chiang Mai, a group of ladies would come on board to sell their home-baked goods or locally grown produce. I bought some sticky rice mixed with coconut milk and beans that is cooked in bamboo. They are always surprised when a Westerner (Farang) buys local food.

I have had it before while traveling in Southeast Asia, and it is always good and filling.

Rob took a picture of me eating it. Note the photo baby butt bomb, sights only seen on a slow moving train.

We are back to living in a hostel. Rob, the travel agent, doesn’t remember why he reserved it because it was long ago. Usually it is because of reviews. Obviously, none of the hotels are completely to his standard. This hostel called Family Home Chiangmai was greatly praised! I was happy to have a bed to crash in.

My favorite review is when a hotel boasted that their property had a view of the pool. One disgruntled reviewer said that you had a view of the pool alright but it was a view of the neighbor’s pool!!

Rob booked a private room. We heard many sounds outside from animals. There was a dog barking contest, a cat serenade, and some bone chilling squeals where Rob and I said wide-eyed, “What was that?”

We needed to have our laundry done. Our hostel does laundry, but they dry it on racks out front. I don’t have a problem with that. I just didn’t want to air my “clean” laundry for all my hostel friends to see and comment. Ha!

We dropped the laundry off around the corner at another hostel. She said to pick them up at four today. Rob said 6? She said no. Four with a smile!!

For a quick snack, toasties at the 7/11 were on Rob’s menu. I saw a hot dog on the roller that are often seen at a convenience store and decided that was for me.

The worker picked it up with tongs and put it in the microwave. Hmmm. I assumed that it was already hot enough. After a while, he opened up the microwave, and the hot dog had swelled up. Then he took it out, sliced diagonally into little bite size pieces, threw them in a little plastic bag, and inserted a long wooden skewer. Well, that’s a strategy.

While we were eating we passed by the Yupparaj Wittaryalai School where it sounded like a marching band preparing for a half time show. Listen here:

We had a much anticipated ride in a songthaew. We can now say: “Been there, done that, and we won’t be doing that again.”

One basically gets in the back of an enclosed red pickup truck crammed with 9 other people and no air conditioning. Our ride was an uphill winding road to the most famous temple in Chiang Mai called Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. One says that you haven’t visited Chiang Mai unless you have visited there…so away we go!!

After 30 minutes, we arrived and were allowed to get out. The other youngsters jumped out, and we brought up the rear a little addled and nauseous. We had to take break and shake it off. We sat in a little restaurant and each ate a Magnum Classic ice cream bar. A cure for all that ails you. Yummy!

When we climbed over 300 steps up the Naga snake stairway, we were met with this sign. We felt a little profiled. The place was overrun with tourists.

The history behind this Wat is that a monk was charged with the task of locating a Buddha relic. One day he was walking in the woods and came upon the shoulder bone of Buddha. Hmmm. He said that it glowed and could sometimes vanish. He presented it to one king who didn’t witness any special powers of this relic.

He took it to another king where it either broke in half or replicated itself. One piece is in a wat in the old city of Chiang Mai; the other was placed on the back of a white elephant who climbed up Doi Suthep, stopped, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead. This was interpreted as an omen. King Nu Naone immediately ordered the construction of a temple at the site.

After the ride and climbing the steps, I understand why the poor elephant collapsed!

People are circling this shiny gold stupa three times while reading words printed on a card.

Here is the queue of Buddha devotees.

At one time, the famous Emerald Buddha was housed in this wat. There are many green Buddha copies here.

After a blinding time at the top we came back down the stairs to look for our songthaew. I loved this sign. Strange alliance. He was the sound man for the karaoke singer behind him.

We had bought a round trip ticket and were most happy to see our red truck and driver. This time they squeezed Rob, me, and a sweaty girl (Me, too) from Germany in behind the driver’s seat. Thankfully, I could look forward AND there was air conditioning…but too much. I was freezing.

I was amused to see papers, pictures, and advertisements glued to the ceiling of the truck.

We ate at Huen Phen restaurant and had the famous Chiang Mai dish called Khao Soi. It is mildly spicey curry with coconut milk. It has noodles topped with fried noodles. Then a chicken leg is tossed into the delicious noodle soup!! It is always served with a “lemon” on the side (I call it a lime.) and onions. This dish had little hard-boiled quail eggs on the side.

On our walks to and from our hostel, I am always snapping interesting pictures. Here is a cool window made from a wagon wheel.

These dogs are doing a great job protecting the property. Their heads never get stuck, but there is lots of barking through the numerous holes.

I am not sure why this upper torso mannequin is in the middle of the road…advertisement? but I can see no nearby business. Hmm.

Or why this truck is wearing a blanket outfitted with loops that go over the mirrors. It is parked under a shady tree. Bird poop protection??

Here is a statue of three kings of this region which is a reminder of the Three Kings from the Orient.

On Saturday and Sunday nights they block off two different streets to sell interesting items to the many tourists. These are apparently named after us: Walking Streets. There are thousands of people lined up getting foot massages.

This popular group of talented young blind men were present on both nights. The lead guy had a great Stevie Wonder vibe.

Here are a few craft stalls. I am a Boston Terrier lover, and here was a booth dedicated to the breed. I haven’t seen any Bostons here. I asked the shopkeeper if he had a Boston. He smiled and said No. Me, neither!

This young lady embroiders items using long single threads as an artist would use a pencil line. Her products were fascinating.

This woman is decorating lacquer bowls. Her hand was steady despite the chaos around her. The pieces were beautiful.

Here are some of the food offerings:

These eco-friendly banana boats contain the beginnings of an omelet and are placed on a grill over hot coals. One adds ingredients to the cooking eggs.

These are called Thai crepes. The batter is put on a griddle, then coconut fluff (similar to marshmallow fluff) and shredded coconut are put in the middle. When golden, they are removed and folded over. The outside is crispy like a fortune cookie!!

These Japanese dumplings are called gyoza. They were delicious. They had a small space behind this stall for their patrons.

When Rob went to sit in his plastic chair, he missed and took out a table or two. The stall owners were attentive and apologetic. Shocked patrons helped him up and set things up once again. Fortunately, no blood or broken bones… just a little embarrassment.

Speaking of falls, here an update on my dad: After a long wait, Stewart had surgery at 4:00pm on Friday. By 6:30, the doctors informed Amy that all went well. We are thankful that Humpty Dumpty has been put back together again.

Prayer: The next best thing to being there…only better. Pray for recovery and wisdom on aftercare.

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