Thailand - Northern

Gap Guest House

Thai Cooking Class

Naga Staircase

September 23, 2001 (30-days)

Sawat-dii Kha (saw-wa-d ka),

On my second visit to Thailand, I started in the north at Chiang Mai, did a trek to the northeast and headed south to the island of Ko Tao.

I spoiled myself in Chiang Mai with a beautiful room.  It was huge and loaded with antiques.  The restaurant and bar were equally quaint. 

I had a lot of massages and took a Thai cooking class.  My favorite dishes are Hot and Sour Prawn Soup and Phad Thai.  Hopefully I'll be able to duplicate the flavor.  I also learned how to make daisies out of carrots.

I made friends with Khae (Car – use Boston accent); my cooking instructor and she took me to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep the most sacred temple in the north of Thailand.  The Naga – dragon-headed serpent – staircase with 300 steps is impressive.

After visiting the temple, Khae put me in a red truck – locals’ bus.  Another woman got in and started speaking to me in Thai.  I asked her if she knew English and she asked where I bought my Thai skirt.  We made small talk.  When it was time to get out, the woman said she paid for me.  I was suspicious at first, wondering what the catch was.  When I realized it was pure kindness, I smiled all the way home.  I couldn't believe she paid for a complete stranger. 

I've seen prostitutes in my travels, but nothing like the high concentration in Chiang Mai.  They were at every bar I walked past.

I went on a 3-day trek northeast of Chiang Mai.  We hiked through the jungle and spent the first night at Hui Ya Sai with the Lahu tribe.  The magic word which means hello, goodbye and thank you is "A Bo Ja" (Ah-Bo-Jia).

After dinner, the women and girls descended on our table and opened shop.  There were seven of us and twice as many of them selling purses, bracelets and other goods.  It was crazy.

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