In the 9 weeks that we’re in India, we’ve received one 4-day weekend off to travel and/or relax and of course, I chose travel (which relaxes me) so it all worked out.
I was joined by 5 other co-workers for a jam-packed weekend of culture, delicious foods, wild personalities, and gut-wrenching adventure..literally!
We arrived Saturday morning, July 26 to the Chiang Mai airport and immediately went to our hostel, the Green Tulip House, where were we greeted by our super enthusiastic host, Stella. Our day was supposed to be a very casual, laid-back day — starting with a traditional Thai massage, then a trip to up to Wat Doi Suithep, and ending with a 7 course Thai dinner cooking class.
My first Thai massage was in Bangkok, January 2013, and I’ve been missing them since! Thai massages are a bit different from other massages, as the masseur or masseuse will use his or her whole body in massaging yours. They’ll massage you with their feet, elbows, forearms, and even knees — sounds bizarre, and it’ll most likely leave you sore, but I promise it’ll end up loosening up your whole body afterwards.
After our massage, Stella arranged for a tuk tuk truck to take us up to Wat Doi Suithep, the most famous temple at the highest point of Chiang Mai. After 300 steps to the top, we wandered around the temples and sampled some of the yummy street foods! (To enter the temple, foreigners were supposed to pay an entrance fee, but as Stella told us not to pay, we just walked around to the back entrance. I doubt there’s an official fee at all.)
I tried grilled pork on a stick and fried bananas, while my friends tried chocolate waffles on a stick and fried coconut pancakes. None of it made us sick, and all of it was delicious — a pleasant change from our culinary experience in India.
We also bought some birds to free.. which was a weird concept for me, but it was quite rewarding to let them go. Apparently, it’s good luck.
Anyway, after taking some pictures of the view/temple/market, we headed back to our hostel to get ready to be picked up for our cooking classes with Basil Cookery School, which I’ll detail in my next post.
Overall, our first day in Chiang Mai was great, and a welcomed change of pace. Unlike Bangalore and the other Indian cities we’ve visited, Chiang Mai had lanes, very clear traffic rules, minimal honking, and everyone was generally very, very kind. I guess they don’t call it The Land of a Thousand Smiles for no reason.
Not to say Thailand is better than India, I just found it to remind me a bit more of home somehow. I almost found myself feeling a bit guilty to be so glad to leave India for a while, but I think the important take away for me on our Chiang Mai trip was that it’s okay to help yourself and okay to know that you need a break.
Working in India is very different from anything I’ve experienced in the States. I missed home, I missed my family, I missed familiar foods; the culture shock was rough. I knew I needed a break, and I’m so glad that Chiang Mai was able to provide that for me. I didn’t have to feel guilty. I was just doing what I needed to do for me.
So stay tuned for my post about our cooking classes! Thanks for reading! Comment below if you’d like (: