Asia | South East Asia | Thailand | North Thailand | Chiang Mai – Overfed but Qualified
7.12.2003, Sunday, Chiang Mai
Its over. Its all over! Ive got my certificate saying that I am able to prepare and cook a variety of Thai dishes and desserts, but what Ive also acquired over the last four days of intensive slaving over the stove and eating six meals a day is a rather firm resolution not to eat anything Thai for at least a week. English breakfast tomorrow for me, please. If I feel like eating at all, that is. I must have eaten enough for an army by now and it doesnt make me feel heavy at all. Round rather. As if I could roll down the streets. Just give me a push.
9.12.2003, Tuesday, Chiang Mai
Ive somehow managed to make the last two days disappear. I think of them and the first thing I see is meeting Ian and Celine again last night. But what happened to the day?… I do not know.
We met up with Nick, an Australian whom Celine got to know at her cooking course, and went to the place of his choice, a rooftop bar in a building just opposite the Tha Pae Gate. Climbing up the stairs was an experience in itself, as they were narrow and far in between, with gaps that made me think I really didnt want to be going down them after a couple of beers. Especially that we all had to take our shoes off before climbing, and there was a cool, slippery feeling to them as we did so. Once up, I crossed the room on soft legs, as the floor didnt seem particularly stable. It gave way a bit when trodden on. But when we sat down, cross-legged on the flat pillows, the floor proved to be covered with beaten bamboo and straw-mats and it was due to them that walking on it felt like walking on a mattress.
We hadnt been sitting and talking for a long time, but when I looked up suddenly there were seven or eight of us already, all friends of friends, and quite a cheerful company at that. Nick had just invented a competition for mobile phone users that was bound to bring him millions and was explaining the idea to all of us. It came down to taking pictures of all the wats there are in Thailand and every week choosing one to display. The participants would then have to guess its name. I thought I would laugh my head off.
Have I already said that I stopped going on any sightseeing trips because I couldnt tell one wat from another? With their green-trimmed, red-tiled, golden-garnished triple rooftops and white walls, all the Buddhas inside and orange-robed monks everywhere, all I was getting was a bad case of amor vacui.
Although I like taking my shoes off before going inside, no matter if it is a wat or a bar, the necessity of going barefoot makes the event more special to me. Yet there are only that many wats one can go to and still be interested. And Ive done my share for now.
Instead, Im off on a four-day trek tomorrow. All preparations that Ive made so far was the purchase of a sarong to take my baths in. We were told the local people find it insulting if somebody goes into a river in a swimming suit only, and women should always wash themselves wearing a big piece of cloth wrapped around them. In this way not only them, but also the sarongs get clean. I can comply with that. As well as being decently dressed, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers. I am nevertheless recklessly careless when it goes about the rest. The sleeping bag and a backpack I was given by the guide, whom we met a couple of hours ago to discuss aforementioned female decency and our requirements in the food department (a big slab of rare juicy steak for me, please… and a heap of french fries would be nice). But no such thing, Im afraid. Im going vegetarian! According to Ian and Celine, who have just returned from their trek with the same company, thats the sensible thing to do. Out of the ten people on their trip nine got seriously sick. The only one spared was a vegetarian. A good question – how does one keep the meat fresh on a four-day trek through an area with no electricity whatsoever?
Although we should be nicely preserved overnights, as the forecast is 6-10 degrees Celsius at maximum. Our first stop tomorrow is a local market just before reaching the mountains, and we were informed we would be able to buy woolen hats and gloves there. And Ive thought I was going on a holiday in tropics! Silly goose…