Dragon Food and Drama Queens

Dragonfruit in the foreground.

Dragonfruit in the foreground.

I had my dragonfuit shake yesterday morning, as promised. Cut up and thrown in with crushed ice, like the apple one I had the other day, it’s definately a great way to start the day. The woman who made it for me is lovely and has taught herself ‘good english for her business’. I told her that my kids call me ‘Dragon’ sometimes (family joke) and thus this was an appropriate drink for me, and she and I discussed how mums have to be part dragon and part angel. Same the world over…

We went around the corner and I had an amazing fried rice for breakfast at my favourite-from-last-time local place. It’s honestly the tastiest food I’ve ever eaten in Thailand there. And that’s saying something! I love how they have little pots of condiments on the table – chillie vinegar, chilli paste, garlic in light oil, sugar, fish sauce etc, so you can flavour your own meal. But this one was perfect and needed no flavouring at all. Ahhh, ecstatic sigh.
Ursula went walkabout and decided to move to ‘Honey’s House’ which is a cute little place around the corner, with only 2 or 3 rooms to rent. Her room is on the second floor, with a wooden-lined interior, wooden shutters that open out to a view of lush greenery, and exotic photos of people in hilltribe situations – or some such thing. I, not being keen on dragging my ponderous suitcase up steep Asian staircases in these sauna-like condtions, decided to remain at Malak. Last night I saw something creeping up my bathroom wall there. I didn’t quite catch what it was, but I’m presuming slash hoping that it was a gecko, which I choose to take as being lucky. Anyway, there’s a computer here and free internet, plus an awesome rooftop garden, so I’m happy enough. Plus I have my Happy Time moisturizer and Magic Spell body wash, so that has to be good, right?

On the balcony of Honey's House

On the balcony of Honey’s House

Round to the tailor at the back of Sompet Market – a food market redolent with the odour of fish. When I walked into the tailor’s place I actually choked on the fish and chilli smell arising from someone’s breakfast on the table. Not the most graceful of entries…
After being measured up and playing ‘I wish I could understand what you are saying’ for a while, we grabbed a tuk-tuk to Wararot Market (where the locals shop) and I played the same game with several shopkeepers there. Some either ignore you or refuse to serve you, as it’s in the ‘too hard box’ for them linguistically. Even the shops that aren’t super narrow are crowded with merchandise and you spend a lot of your time squeezing past people or trying to get out of their way. This, compounded by the scorching heat and a backpack that kept knocking things, challenged my patience to the max very quickly and it took only 5 minutes or so to begin visualizing throttling people…
Several challenging hours later, we landed back at our Soi (lane) and I went back to the tailor, played some more with her then stumbled back to my room and collapsed with exhaustion onto my bed, after mistakenly throwing myself under a cold shower. The shower was cold, for a moment or two, then it turned, rather spitefully I thought, into a hot shower as the water came through that had been sitting in hot pipes all day. I’ll not write what I said here because my father will be reading this. Hi Dad… I wasn’t feeling all that reasonable yesterday, after the tailor and market battles, and Ursula said later that it would be compulsory for me to have a coffee this morning so I could ‘get back to my happy place’. I guess the looks on my face kind of said it all to her. Doesn’t matter how many times I’ve been to Asia, I still hate being in super-crowded shops doing the ‘scuse me dance all the time. Remeniscent of many years living in a housebus with 3 kids, 2 dogs and a parrot, and ongoingly having to walk sideways I think…
Late-ish dinner last night down the road – I had stir-fried vegetables and pork with rice and Ursula had a Tom Yum soup that she reckoned lifted the top of her head off. The people at the table next door had some also, and it became a bit of a rite of passage to finish the bowl. They managed it – Ursula didn’t. Chicken that I am when it comes to searing my taste buds, due to an experience I’m not in a hurry to repeat in India one time, I didn’t help her. So we sort of lost that challenge and had to gracefully concede to the superior bravery of those at the other table. God love ’em for their intestinal fortitude!
On to the ‘walking night market’ on Wualai Road. This market is held every Saturday just outside the Old Chiang Mai City wall and is about 1km long. One of the first things we saw was a lady carrying a chihuahua in a baby front pack. Never seen such a thing in my life before! The dog actually seemed okay with it – but then God didn’t exactly endow chihuahuas with enormous dignity to start with, so there we have it. We didn’t make it all the way along the market, as we got there fairly late, but we bought one or two things each and I found the Thai ice cream stand, where I first experienced that wonderful stuff for the first time in 2009. The king has decreed that all people from the Blind Institute are allowed to busk at the markets for free, so a lot of them line the centre of the road and seranade you as you walk along. I’m not sure if that decree applies all over Thailand or not. We took a Songthaew home – they’re good fun. You get to ride all over the place with tourists and locals alike, and you get all the carbon monoxide you can inhale for free. (Good reason to wear a scarf at all times.)
Oh – one nice thing that happened in Wararot Market – a lady in one of the material shops gave me 200 baht to donate to the elephant centre on behalf of her family. I was very touched – it was a nice gesture and also very trusting. Bless her heart.
We found a different local place this morning that served both real coffee and real Thai food. Had to try their fried rice – not quite as good as the other place, but still very nice. The place had wooden-lined walls and it sort of felt like we were sitting in a small barn. It had two old Coca Cola and Pepsi dispensing machines, and several Lord of the Rings pictures on the wall. When the owner finally understood that we came from ‘Middle Earth’ he seemed very pleased. When we walked in, there was a ‘ladyboy’ and a couple of American guys having rather a loud discussion, which resulted in the ladyboy doing rather a flamboyant exit, shall we say. I now see where the term ‘drama queen’ came from. Another kiwi was at the next table, and we chatted about different Thai foods while eating. He was recommending ‘Kow Soi’ soup – apparently a local thing, and then the owner’s wife came up to us with a small bowlful each. And yes, very good. I will Google the recipe when I get home and learn how to make it. Oh, the coffee was good by the way, so I’m in my ‘happy place’ today. Ursula is pleased. *grin*
Afterwards, on our way to the money exchanger, we happened upon a parade. We had no idea what it was in aid of, but it was highly entertaining- marching band, traditional Thai drummers, etc. A little girl behind the glass at the money exchange place had herself a great time telling us what to do in Thai, until her mother walked in and told her off. Over the road to look at a Wat (temple – beautiful and redolent with gold and dragons), down an alleyway or two then back home with an apple shake to chill until later, when we do the sunday market and go for dinner with Somart and give him our books. My guesthouse rang the elephant place and organised for them to pick us up from outside the front door tomorrow morning, so we can relax a fair bit about things today. And it’s not even stinking hot – only quite.
Hopefully I’ll be able to do this from the elephant park. Cross fingers. Otherwise we shall be under the radar from the 24th and you all will have a rest from my rantings.
La gorn na.

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