Today, Laura and I got to experience the big city! When we were planning what we wanted to do many months ago, the one thing that continued to come up was going to a spa. Since the exchange rate is very in our favor over here (100 baht = about $3 USD), we definitely wanted to take advantage and do things we could not really afford in the US. So, when we had to plan our three days with our driver, going to the spa was the very first thing we wanted to do. We then decided to go to the zoo and our driver Pim, Randy’s friend, encouraged us to visit the big market in the city.
We ended up going to Fah Lanna Spa and chose to get traditional Thai massages and pedicures. The spa itself was very nice and esthetically pleasing. Very zen. It was fun to feel kind of rich for a day! The traditional Thai massage was very different from an American massage. Instead of laying on a table, we were instructed to lay on a thin mattress on the floor. They also gave us a massage uniform to change into that looked similar to hospital scrubs. The way they describe Thai massage is a combination of pressure and stretching which I had read before-hand, but wasn’t really sure what it meant. The only way to describe it is that is was very “interesting”. The masseuse literally used every part of her body to massage and stretch ours: her feet, her hands, her elbows etc. At one point, she was literally sitting on top of us! It was one of those things that you just had to close your eyes and enjoy for what it was because it felt really relaxing, but looked ridiculous. (I snuck a peek every now and then and sometimes regretted it) They also took stretching to the next level. We were stretched in ways we did not know possible! Laura found out that she is not as flexible as she thought. Overall, it was a very cool experience and we were both very glad that we did it. Everyone at the spa was very impressed with Laura’s Thai; showing these people that you are putting in some effort goes a long way!
After we ate some lunch, we headed over to the zoo. It was fun to walk around for the afternoon! We did not realize that it was not normal to walk around until our driver Pim, looked at us like we were crazy when we declined her offer to drive us to the different exhibits. In our minds, the only way to experience the zoo is to walk, so we just did! However, we were pretty much the only ones walking around. Most people were on a bus tour or in a car. After returning hot, sweaty, and thirsty, we understood why. The animal pens were very open as in the animals could literally jump out of the pens, so that was a little sketchy.
Pim then took us to the big market in Chiang Mai. If you have ever seen a market while watching a movie or something, it is exactly like you would picture it. It is insanely busy with people, cars, mopeds, animals, and tons of items crammed into very small spaces. Plus it is over 100 degrees! The market had every single thing you never knew anyone needed. If you can think of it, you could find it there. Clothes, shoes, bags, Buddha statutes, hats, bins, rakes, ties, hair accessories, etc. It was actually kind of fun to walk around and just see what people were selling! Because Laura and I are obviously foreigners with our white skin and light hair, most vendors got very excited if we ever showed interest in a product. It is kind of frustrating because you know you are getting ripped off, but neither of us bought anything for more than $3 USD, so that made it a little easier to pay the foreigner price. It is tempting to buy a lot because it is so cheap, but it is also pretty cheap quality, so we both were pretty good about keeping our money in our wallets. Plus this is the first week of four- we will probably go to many, many more markets! We are trying to pace ourselves!
The market was split into two parts. One side was stuff and the other side was food. Laura loves one of the native fruits here and got a kilo to bring home and made me try it. I am someone that has never really been a fan of fruit and is just a major wuss when it comes to trying new foods in general, but I have been trying to be good about at least trying everything here. It actually wasn’t too bad, but you won’t see me take it out of the fridge for a snack later!
On the other hand, I love vegetables and am getting absolutely spoiled with fresh veggies and pork every meal. I mean seriously, how good does that look?!
The heat here is very exhausting, so Laura and I are very tired after our long day! Tomorrow we are going to do some hiking and check out some local temples which should be fun. It is a nice change to be exhausted due to fun instead of work or school. I could get used to this!