Departing from our usual habit of exploring Thailand's beach communities, last weekend, we flew to Chiang Mai. Chris and I have wanted to visit Chiang Mai for ages. Well, maybe not ages, but at least ever since we arrived here in BKK eight months ago. Frankly, I hadn't heard of the place before! Anyway, we wanted to see elephants in conservation parks, the large zoo, the famous night market that we imagined full of wonderful crafts from the north of this country. And we wanted to eat lots of khao soi. Chris had been told that Chiang Mai is the place to go for good khao soi.
The khao soi was, indeed, very yummy. It's my new favourite dish in Thai cuisine, though I am sure that the amount of coconut cream in it contains my weekly allotment of fat. The night market didn't live up to our expectations at all. I'm not sure why we expected it to be different than the other markets that we see, hawking t-shirts, counterfeit handbags, and assorted tacky souvenirs. Very busy, but without the huge handicraft section that makes the Chatuchak weekend market here a wee bit appealing. The zoo wasn't the magical place that I had imagined taking our kiddo to. It clearly needed a winfall of new funding for upgrades, and frankly, after seeing that the penguins weren't enjoying an Antarctic climate but a balmy 21 degrees C (the sad birds were literally standing in front of their air conditioner), our party headed for the exit.
There were several thing about our trip that exceeded my expectations. Our hotel was a lovely new place in the city that had a pool as nice, if not nicer than some of the beach resorts we've visited. A good pool is apparently the key to having a happy holiday with my three year-old. At breakfast one morning, Chris noticed that the pretty dishes that our hotel used were from a local celadon factory, so we planned a stop there ourselves, admired much, and made tentative plans to upgrade our current dinnerware. My parents came to Chiang Mai with us, and it was really swell to hang out with them (I swear I haven't been on a holiday with my parents in about eighteen years), and it was awesome to have so many grown-ups around to keep an eye on M that I could take as many photographs as I wanted to, really, with my new fancy 16-105 mm lens (though apparently, it vignettes at certain distances).
We were in Chiang Mai for three days, and really, we felt that two days would have been enough for us. On the third day, we really had no idea what to do. The five of us hung around our hotel under check-out time, trying to figure out a plan. It was kind of baffling - we'd heard that spending at least a week in Chiang Mai was the thing to do. I think that some of the usual attactions of Chiang Mai - massage lessons, cooking classes, hill-tribe trekking, and meditation school - just weren't the right fit for us. Meditation? Trekking? Not with our kiddo!