Day 21: Following in Karl Pilkington’s Footsteps

We saw a fair amount of Chiang Mai yesterday, so the only plans for today were to see a couple of wats and have a drink at a bar. It’s always good to take things slowly, especially when you have to get up at 3AM the next day for a flight…

Breakfast this morning was traditionally Thai, i.e. a noodle-based meal. It was nice, but it felt far too heavy for the morning. Can’t complain though, it’s free, and I’m a sucker for soy sauce.

We headed out to a local coffee shop, because coffee can be grown locally in the area, and we wanted to try some. I must not have very fine tastes, though, because frankly they all taste the same to me. The difference between my Thai iced coffee and my usual Greek frappe was minimal, the only notable thing being that my coffee was served in a cool glass:

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We also had Chiang Mai cheesecake, which is almost indistinguishable from New York cheesecake. Just a little “cheesier”.

Next stop was one of the city’s most central wats, Wat Phra Singh. We looked for the “lion Buddha”, but couldn’t find him. What we did find were some gap yah-type white people talking to some monks, and an out-of-place Google Maps image of Cheshire. Apparently they are twinned with a Wat there, in an unassuming Victorian building. Home feels like a million miles away, though.

After that, we headed to wat Chedi Luang. Built in the 1300s, this old yet gigantic wat really interested me. I’m not a fan of ancient European history (sorry Romans, you’re dull), but since I wasn’t taught much about Asia at school, it’s as if I learn something new every day. Examining how things were constructed differently to European buildings is interesting, too, because you get a new perspective on how best to go about a task.

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“Ye Olde Wat”

On our way home, we decided to spend a bit of dollar (or baht) getting a Thai massage. I had a massage at a spa in Bournemouth once, so I thought “great, this might help my anxiety a bit”. Perhaps I should have recalled Karl Pilkington’s experience in Chiang Mai. Like him, our massages were done by former female convicts as part of a re-integration to society programme. They were very friendly, although they didn’t speak much English, which was occasionally a problem. For an hour, I lay on the bed as a matronly woman climbed all over me, twisting my limbs this way and that, and on occasion Vulcan death-gripping my shoulders. For me, it was not at all relaxing, and my body tensed up in response to such strange probing. Tarryne found it relaxing, though, so each to their own. Nonetheless, it’s still a good way to give these women an occupation and a skill for when they do get back into society.

The whistle stop tour continues tomorrow as we catch a stupidly early flight to the beach resort of Ao Nang. 3AM start tomorrow, and a 5AM start the next day. When I get back to the UK, I’ll sleep for a week straight, I think…


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