Tuesday, November 19, 2013

11-16-13 Ness's Family in Chiang Mai

     Our double-decker bus drove fairly quickly to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. Our bus ride probably shortened from 10 or 11 hours to 9 and a half hours, but I barely slept the entire way because the speed, oddly enough, kept me awake. 
     Okay, so why would I take a bus for about 10 hours just to reach somewhere where I’ll stay for a single night? Well....
     Loi Krathong, the lantern festival, took place from November 15th to the 17th in Thailand this year. It is a celebration of good luck and wishes to the Buddha, when people put krathong, or little boat-like things filled with flowers, into rivers or ponds for the water spirits. However, in Chiang Mai, they have the largest celebration--which also includes floating lanterns. Ever since I watched Disney’s Tangled, I wanted to see a true lantern festival. During our 3-week course in Naiharn, Phuket, the Thai instructor gave us a cultural training for a day and told us about this festival, and that was the one holiday I wanted to witness and participate in, no matter the cost. Hence, the 10-hour bus ride for a one-night celebration (seeing as I need to return to school on Monday and have to travel back for another 10 hours or so). Can you imagine? All flights were booked, but if I went by plane, it would have just been 1.5 hours.
     We reached Chiang Mai at approximately 4 in the morning and because Jess and I had never secured a place to stay, we started wandering the streets. We visited several hostels and even some expensive hotels that were charging $299 (yes, US dollars!) per night, but they were literally all fully-booked. Even with suggestions for other places in hand, we called them and to no avail because there was just no space left. Trying and failing until about 6:30 in the morning, I used Jess’s internet to reach out to Ness because I knew his family lived in Chiang Mai; I wanted to see if they could at least suggest a place to stay, seeing as we had none at all for Saturday night. At that point, we were seriously contemplating just sleeping on a park bench. 
     Calling his godmother and finding out she was a bit outside of the old city (where we were located), we found that we could stay a night at Tong House Resort, a place her family owns, because the people occupying the place had just left--lucky us! We told her we would eat some breakfast first and then take a red taxi car over to Tong House.
     As we navigated the streets searching for a place called Blue Diamond, we walked past a few temples and decided to stop in. Of course, Jess, being the photographer she is, and me, being an inept photographer yet too-avid-documenter of every single detail of my life, took at least fifteen minutes in each. We saw about 3, so that was at least 45 minutes gone. 

This was the first temple we visited: Wat Umongmahatherachan

I love these ruin types of buildings!

The Buddha inside :)

The dragons along the stairs

The Tunchai Buddha

Sign of the Tunchai Buddha

Tadpoles in one of the pond urns :)

The three parts of the temple

I think my mom will find this adorable :)

We also went by Wat Panping (Wat #2 on our walking journey)

I'm not sure what this is, but it was pretty nonetheless. I fear that this is more for the deceased.

Even the grate has a Buddha on it!

On the side of one of the towers


Jess and I walked past this, and I thought it was hilarious. At first, I thought it was a hostel, so I thought it was a bath, baby, and hospital for people... but then we actually paid attention to the "Thai Elephant Conservation Center" part of the sign :)

One of the other temples we visited

I just liked this; I think it was by another temple we walked past but chose not to explore.

An interesting mural we walked past. Pay attention to the biggest fish lol :D

Elephants! :D

Aren't they cute? This was behind the temple we didn't visit.

     We then made our way for real to Blue Diamond, which was located in a very strange small street that curved, turned, and seemed to keep splitting.

Walking along, trying to figure out where Blue Diamond is...

Cute name lol

     It was SO adorable and quaint! It seemed to focus entirely on foreigners and that was definitely the clientele. I decided to order the most boring thing on the menu because during breakfast, I rarely want to try new foods: muesli with fruit and yogurt. Jess ordered an Asian-influenced salad with a smoothie. Both orders were delicious and very fresh. We were even surrounded by organic hair and skin products alongside very health-oriented foods, like nuts and seeds. But that’s not all! For sweet-toothed people like me, there was a bakery of fresh homemade goods, including cake, muffins, cupcakes, breads, scones, and all this other great stuff that I really need to stop typing about because I’m starting to get hungry just thinking about it.

Look at the pathway! I didn't get pictures of the actual place, but it was really adorable!

Part of the entrance

My breakfast of muesli with fruit and yogurt. It was really fresh and tasted super healthy!

     We ended up buying a tiramisu, macarons, and cupcakes for Ness’s godmother and godfather to show them how much we appreciated their hospitality. Of course, at this time, we were really supposed to be on our way to her, but I really wanted to purchase gifts first. Before we left, we also enjoyed a raw cake. I forget the ingredients, but it was really tasty!

Delicious raw cake. YUM. (And it's not raw like egg yolk raw, so don't get any ideas!)

     His godmother had told us to take a red car, which is a type of taxi structured like a songtaew. We hopped on one that told us he would take us to what I heard as “Talad Myea Hyea.” (It was actually Talad Mai Hai--well, something similar to that.) After they took us in a large circle for about ten minutes, a man told us it was too far and they would charge the both of us 400 baht. It was too expensive, so we hopped off angrily, having wasted so much time. 
     Waving down another red car, I put Ness’s godmother on the phone with the taxi driver and he agreed to drive us there for only 200 baht total. Geez. What is with people trying to overcharge farang?! I know it makes sense, but it a really jerk thing to do to take us around and THEN to tell us they were refusing to take us to our destination. What a waste of time! 
     Ness’s godfather had an appointment at 10:00 and as this red car drove us...and as I also protectively held on to the cakes and kept them out of the sun (the tiramisu was starting to melt :( ), my phone clock told me it was 9:55 before long. Surprisingly, we reached the intersection we were supposed to meet them at just as the godparents were coming out of that same intersection. 
     ***Let me shortcut godmother as GM and godfather as GF in this post. It will just take me forever to type that out each time I mention them, which I know will be a lot in this post.***
     Ness’s GM took us to the resort, we settled in and I took my much-needed shower, and she came back to take us to see the Night Safari by their house. We took some pictures, and then she drove us a little bit inside. It was adorable! Deer walked around on the streets within and were unafraid of people. I wanted to pet one! The real Night Safari ride was only open later on in the evening though, so the GM said she would try to secure tickets for us for free, since the tickets for farang are 800 baht (over $20), which she said was not worth it. His godparents really are so kind; I really loved meeting them and spending time with them. I hope in the future I can return the favor a lot better...

Night Safari entrance

Opposite those elephants

     We headed back toward the house and saw GF (I apologize, I will also make my sentences not make sense either) walking back, which shocked GM because she thought she missed his call so had decided to walk back from his appointment on his own. He hopped into the car and we drove around. At first, I wanted to try Ness’s favorite noodle place, but because Jess is a vegetarian, we instead went to the airport area. Surprisingly, not a lot of Thai people offer any vegetarian options at all. Almost everything has some type of meat or seafood in it--Jess laughed about this, saying that the most extreme she saw was that they had sprinkled bacon bits on some dessert once.
     Anyway, we walked around OTOP (a tiny version of the one I had walked around in Impact), saw no vegetarian food, then went into Central Plaza, and went to the fourth floor. Jess ate rice with veggies, I ate a Chiang Mai noodle dish, and GM and GF ate some noodles. Also, instead of the traditional thai mango dessert with sticky rice covered with coconut milk, I really enjoyed a durian one. It was SO good! 

My Chiang Mai noodles: Khao Soi
They were delicious and a great recommendation :)

MMmmmmmm delicious!!!! :D
     I know I talked about this in a previous post, but I love mangoes--in fact, they are one of my favorite fruits--and I also love sticky rice, which I can even enjoy plain. However, with the mixture of coconut milk, I don’t quite enjoy the combination. But with the durian, which seemed to work very well with the coconut milk, I was in heaven and finally started enjoying the dessert!!!
     Feeling crazed for sweets, Jess and I also bought a crepe with chocolate, almonds, and bananas; it was soft and filled with whipped cream and ice cream. It filled me up so much that I walked out of the place bloated and feeling in need of a run.
     At this time, it was only about 2:00 PM. Time seems to slow down in Thailand sometimes, but I really enjoy it on the weekends. :)
     Separate post coming about the rest of our day... I can’t believe this is almost 3.5 pages long already on Pages lol 

At the resort with the motorbike Ness's godparents so graciously lent us :)

Thank you so much for everything. We honestly had no place to stay, had no way of getting around without spending a lot of money, and I am so glad to have had such amazing and caring people make sure we were so well-provided. As I said above, I really do hope I have a chance one day in the near future to treat them back for everything. They truly deserve it for being the kind and giving people they are. :) Thanks, Ness, for having great family and inviting me to join you all :)

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