I’ve probably had upwards of 50 or so massages since we arrived in Thailand and while I’ve had a few mediocre massages, I can’t say that I’ve ever felt awkward (not even when the ladyboy masseuse got caught checking out my package). Last night was the exception.
We got really spoiled at Pai Massage in Chiang Rai and we’ve been hoping to find a similar shop close to our new place. We’ve tried 3 or 4 different places since we’ve been back and finally had a pretty decent foot massage at a new shop a few kilometres down the road.
I tweaked my back playing badminton yesterday so I figured it was a great time to try an oil massage. I headed down late yesterday evening hoping for a relaxing massage before bed. Well, before I even got undressed the masseuse started calling me “sexy man” in her broken English. In and of itself I wouldn’t mind (who doesn’t enjoy a little flattery) but every time she said it, she followed it up with a loud slurping sound and would say something in Thai. It was perhaps the only time since we’ve arrived that I was glad I didn’t speak the language. Ever have one a nervous laughs? Last night was my time. Did I mention the massage was bad too? Fortunately, it’s not much of a loss when the massage was only $9.
My wife and I are both creatures of habit, when we find something we like we tend to stick with it and that has definitely been the case with food in Thailand. One thing that I really miss about Chiang Rai is our favorite spot for Khao Soi. Since we’ve arrived back in Chiang Mai we have been making it a point to try new spots. Unfortunately, we’ve tried 3 different spots for Khao Soi since we’ve been back (plus an old favorite) and none of them come close to satisfying our taste buds for this Northern Thai specialty.
We ventured out this evening to try and find some Khao Soi at one of the small, local shops in the area. Since we can’t read the signs we look for pictures as we drive down the street. We pulled off to stop at one restaurant this evening and I said “kao soi” with an inquisitive look on my face, to the woman who greeted us at the curb. She gave me an affirmative nod and we plotted our butts down on the small wooden stools in the ‘dining area’.
When the woman arrived to take our order, we said “kao soi” but the she kept asking if we wanted fried rice or something else. We finally agreed on Som Tom (mostly due to her persistence) which is a spicy papaya salad and left it at that since we were planning on a late dinner. They bring out 2 small cups of white rice followed up by our Som Tom shortly thereafter. We thought it odd that they brought out 2 cups of rice but we figured it was just something they did. We finished up the Som Tom, (mouths on fire) and another 10 minutes goes by and still no Khao Soi. I figure either they don’t like farangs or perhaps there was something funny about our order. Sure enough, in Thai, the difference between rice and our favorite coconut curry dish is the duration in the pronunciation of “soi”. After a collective effort and quite a laugh in the restaurant, we realized that they didn’t offer Khao Soi at this particular restaurant.
We stopped at another restaurant a few doors down and struck out again, but they did have a yummy Khra Pao and the owner got a kick out of our Khao Soi story, so our adventure was not a total loss.
So now that we’re in Chiang Rai where it’s not quite as crowded and we aren’t walking distance to ………. well ……… anything really, we decided to rent a motorbike. Renting the actual motorbike was another interesting experience vs. what one might experience in the US. I think I signed my name on one form, gave the nice lady a copy of my passport, one month’s rent and she handed over the keys.
Thank god for automatics because I’ve never been on a motorized bike before. But ‘When in Rome……”
After a week of navigating the streets of Chiang Rai we up’d the ante to a 125cc motorbike. Pimpin’ aint easy.
Anyone that has cycled in a major metropolitan area knows what navigating traffic is like on a bicycle …… let me tell you ….. driving a motorbike in Thailand is in a class all by itself. While we haven’t seen any accidents, I can understand why it is ranked 2nd in the world as one of the worst places to drive. Lanes are merely guidelines, it’s not uncommon to see motorbikes going in the opposite direction on the shoulder, parents with children (3 – 4 people total), passengers sitting sideways using their phones, etc. are all regular occurrences. And, we still haven’t figured out how right-of-way works at a 2-way stop.
The ironic part is we rarely hear horns, haven’t seen any rude gestures, nasty comments or even ugly looks (we may not be able to identify these things either so maybe I am being naive). Never the less, if I had to describe it, it’s organized chaos with a hint of Zen. It’s not for the faint of heart, that is for sure. I actually enjoy it and I’ll tell you why …… it requires that I be present fully, it’s almost meditative in many ways.
Parking at the mall around the holidays got you down, get yourself a motorbike.