Travels in Thailand: Chiang Mai

Have returned from a two-week jaunt to Thailand, jet-lagged, tanned, and 1000+ photos the richer.
My mind is still a-swirl with images of vibrant textiles, lumbering elephants, condensation dripping down glasses of fresh watermelon juice, brown dogs sleeping like the dead by the side of the road (oblivious to the scooters and trucks zooming past), night markets smelling of fried bananas, orchids and flower petals strewn across hotel sheets, golden buddhas glowing in the shimmering midday heat...

Our first stop was the northern city of Chiang Mai. We no sooner stepped out of the airport into the humid afternoon than we were whisked off to a hotel for a quick shower and then plunged into the dizzying throngs of the famous night market. It is probably a good thing I was still reeling from the 14-hour plane journey at this point, otherwise I could easily have spent my entire stash of Baht (Thai money) on the first day. The colours! the patterns! the sparkly bits! As it was, my only purchase here was a beaded belt strung with metal disks and little bells.

a sort of Thai version of s'mores, with a gooey marshmallow-esque substance in a crunchy taco-shaped wafer

don't let the cute pink pig fool you -- these "mini balls" are spicy as all get-out

The second day was spent visiting each of Chiang Mai's 300 temples. Okay, maybe not all of them, but after a while the relentless sun made everything blur together. Bright reds and yellows, ornate designs highlighted in gold, ochre robe-clad monks walking the grounds (seemingly impervious to the heat), quotes from the Buddha painted on plaques and pinned to the trees, roosters and stray dogs seeking shade, and in the background always the drone of cicadas.

The day ended with a (very much for tourists-only) dinner and dance show. My favorite part was getting to eat sticky rice with my hands (utensils are overrated).

Next post: our day at the elephant nature park, in which I suddenly realize that elephants are, in fact, rather large.


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