Published: December 31st 2010December 31st 2010
After a lovely sleep on the overnight train, we arrived in Chiang Mai. The good news is that we actually arrived on time! I guess this is the same story in all 3rd world countries – you get a 4 hour window of when you may arrive at your stop. The bus was there waiting for our group to bring us to a really nice hotel. This is probably the nicest hotel I have stayed at on any tour. Anyhow, we had about 2 hours to eat breakfast and shower. We headed to Wat Phrathat temple up in the mountains. This is a 300 stair walk up to some very cool looking statues and buildings and of course the monks! What we learned about the monks is they are the closest thing to g-d in the Buddhist religion. They gave up hundreds of things to become monks. In Thailand, they actually have reserved seating for monks. We learned that you have to let the monks go ahead of you and never EVER try to touch the monks – if you are female. The monks are never allowed to come in contact with women, not even a handshake. We were lucky enough
to get blessed by a monk (and have white strings tied around your wrist). The monk will tie the strings around the boy’s wrists; however the girls were tied by the monk’s assistant. We had to crawl on a hard floor on our knees – but moving with our knees without the help of our hands. I was not graceful as I fell over 3 times and starting giggling. I was embarrassed as I was being blessed for heaven’s sake (I admit – I felt a tad disrespectful, but it wasn’t on purpose)! I can’t shimmy on my knees and it was realized quickly I wasn’t the only one. For about 20 minutes after the blessing everyone was a little uncomfortable. The good news, we had some free time in the afternoon after the temple. I swam in the pool and relaxed in the sun for a bit.
At 4pm we headed to Thai cooking school! We broke off into groups where we headed to the local markets to learn all about Thai ingredients. We then got to pick 4 dishes we were going to learn to make. I really hope I can find these ingredients at home, because
we made some amazing eats! The night was almost 4 hours of cooking each dish, then eating it. It was wonderful! Our group is still feeling each other out and so far so good. There doesn’t seem to be any drama queens and everyone is super friendly which is making my time extra sweet. Following cooking school, we took to the night markets! YAY! Negotiating, bargaining… all part of the experience.
As this is my last 2 weeks, I am obsessing over buying everyone gifts. I don’t think it will all happen, as I have no more room in my luggage. Even though I made 2 shipments home from Vietnam… I either need to buy another bag or buy very small gifts. Either way, I love shopping so this is fun, but I hope my family likes their gifts! At 10pm, we met up with our group as Dean (the tour manager) had a surprise for us! We went to see Thai boxing AND we went to a ladyboy bar. This was one of the most fun and hilarious nights ever! The boys got so into the ladyboys – it was ridiculous. The smiles on their faces were surprising,
but made me smile just bigger to see how happy this bunch was. I joined in on the YMCA and danced with the he-she’s for about an hour. My new American friend, Nicole and I decided to take advantage of 1 more hour of the night markets as they close around midnight. So a little more shopping and then a nice walk back to our hotel. GREAT DAY!
There are more photos below