We’ve been having a good time visiting various markets. This evening we attended Chiang Mai’s famous Saturday Walking Street. It is a market setup south of the Old City, where the streets are shut down so that people can wander. It goes on for at least a mile in each direction, with lots of little streets filled to the brim with food and merchandise. The Satuday Market is in an area of town known for it’s silver, leather and handicrafts, so we were especially happy to see this one. It did not disappoint!
We took Evey in the carrier, as the market starts around 5pm, so it’s cooler, and the streets get too busy for a stroller.
We started off with a cold drink. We spotted a vendor making smoothies from Durian fruit. Durian is a specialty in Thailand. It is an odd fruit with a hard exterior and colourful yellow interior. Many of our hotels ban Durian in the rooms because of the pungent smell that is released when it is opened. We’ve been told once you get over the smell, though, the fruit itself is quite flavourful. So, we decided to give it a try.
It was flavourful, but maybe not how we had imagined. While not horrible, there was a dirt and rotting taste before turning sweet. Neither Chris nor I could get over that taste, despite sipping on it for a little bit to give it a chance. We didn’t end up finishing the drink, and opted for beer with our dinner instead.
We found a little food court setup with seating.
After dinner, we continued shopping about and finally stumbled upon a Temple we had been meaning to visit: Wat Sisuphan. It has an Ordination hall entirely covered in silver, aluminum, and nickel embossed panels. It is a remarkable building, truly captivating under the evening lighting.
Every inch of the building is hand-etched by the monks.
Chris said the inside was just as captivating. Unfortunately for me, women are not permitted in certain special buildings at most temples.
Here’s a man embossing some aluminum:
As we made our way back to the entrance of the market, we found ourselves combating a wall of visitors. Quite literally hundreds of people visiting the market at the same time. We were happy to be moving out of this area. Evey relished in the oncoming traffic who waved as they passed. She regaled them with chatter and arm flapping. I actually had to hold her arms down so she wouldn’t get caught by passersby.
Overall a great evening, but they don’t lie in the tour books when they say ‘get there early’. The crowds are shocking!
It’s easy to forget you’re 8 months old.
With your large personality
And infectious laugh.
Your strong will
And your powerful little body.
It’s easy to forget that your entire life surrounds simple principles:
Like food, sleep and clean diapers.
It’s easy to forget you’re 8 months old.
You show so many adult qualities:
Glee, anger, curiosity and indifference.
It’s easy to get frustrated when you have a meltdown:
You were so reasonable just a second ago.
In your very mature way
Tagging along in our adult world.
It’s easy to forget you’re 8 months old,
And there’s practically nothing a nap won’t fix.
We walked along a dirt path next to the beach. The tide was low. Longtail and speed boats alike moored close to the shore. Landlocked after a warm day at sea. There were people far out in the muddied water, taking advantage of the low tide to search out crabs and other sea treasures. Young children back from school were digging in the sand, their uniforms getting wet from the sea water.
We pass several fishermen repairing their boats. The smell of paint wafts over us as a boat receives a coat after being refinished.
Some men toil away at fishing nets while others sit nearby eating dinner.
As we approach a row of small restaurants, we notice one where a young child is crouched down in the dirt. Her mother is holding her pants down while she pees into the dirt next to the restaurant. We smile politely as we pass. When the girl is finished, she and her mother wave to our daughter in the stroller.
We walk past several restaurants with meager store fronts, and priceless seating. Every seat is sea view, just steps from a row of fishing boats. We pass restaurant owners waving and making faces at our daughter. We stop to chat with some. One has a 5 month old son, who drools and smiles at us.
As we make our way to a dead end, we turn right onto a paved road, then left. Up a road with no sidewalk, the cars and motorcycles swerve to give us room. Maybe 25 meters and we arrive at a building advertising Massages: Massages ‘by blind people’. We are intrigued, but the shop seems to have gone out of business.
We arrive at a restaurant called ‘Rawai view Café and Bar’. This restaurant, perched on a hill overlooking the sea at low tide, has incredible views of the entire town and surrounding islands. We can even spot a Navy ship in the far distance. We share the view with only one other table of guests.
As we order our meals, we see the skies darken and thunder sound. When ur meals come, the waitress asks us to move from the uncovered patio to under the thatched roof. We oblige and then watch as the staff hurriedly tie down all the furniture with heavy plastic sheets and clips. This isn’t their first rainstorm.
From our covered viewpoint, we watch as the storm rolls in, moment by moment.
The Navy ship and islands that were once visible disappear behind sheets of rain.
As we are enjoying some of the best curry we’ve ever had, the rain hits the Café in a thunderous way. We are asked to move tables inwards again, as the wind blows inwards.
The waitresses are apologetic, like there is anything they could do to help the weather. We are thrilled, and order another drink. Here we are, in paradise, watching mothr nature from a warm, dry, viewing gallery with delicious food and a whole bar to ourselves.
As the storm passed, a rainbow formed over an island. This rainbow probably only visible to the select few of us lucky enough to have this view point from the hill.
After about an hour, the storm receeded and we decided to walk back to our hotel. It was cooler than when we came, the rain moistening our skin as we walked.
We couldn’t have planned a better last night in Rawai.
Evey woke up early this morning, around 6am.
Our hotel in Chiang Mai has thin walls, so I took the opportunity to get out of the room and let Chris (& the neighbours) sleep in.
Evey and I strolled the streets for a little while, visiting a temple before it opened. The cool morning air, with so few cars whizzing by made it a great time to be out. We wandered by shops that hadn’t yet opened, before their merchandise took over the sidewalk space. We saw some monks performing their morning prayers.
By 7am we were able to catch breakfast at our hotel. Evey flirted with all the waiters and properly greased up the table with toast-fingers.
After breakfast we continued our roaming. We visited yet another temple, this one the oldest in Chiang Mai. A monk opening the temple stopped to make faces at Evey. There were some women near the entrance to the temple who had basket-cages with birds in them. I stopped to show Evey. The birds were doves, 3 or 4 to a cage, and sparrows, 5 to a small cage. One of the women explained that for 100 baht, we could release the birds from 1 cage, and this symbolized good luck. I was immediately torn whether to buy them all so they could be freed from their tight quarters. It was already getting hot in the morning sun beating down on them. I knew, though, that paying would mean more birds would take their place, so I declined.
As we walked on, we found some quaint side streets with coffee shops, hostels and stores just opening up. As we passed, I relished in the peacefulness of the morning. Evey must have felt it too, because she fell asleep. So I found a little coffee shop, ordered an iced cappuccino, and watched as the city came to life before my eyes.
This was by far the best way to start the day. I think I’ll try to do this every morning while we’re here!
In the end, what we’ll remember are thesemoments.
Moments marked in time, yet unremarkable.
Together, endless days, aimless wanderings.
Enjoying the world through each other’s eyes.
Feeling our way through a world wholly new.
Slowing our pace for each other.
Deciding to do nothing at all
Still ends up creating a moment.
A moment in time we’ll never get back
But we’ll hold with us forever.
We had planned to go on an island adventure today.
We were going to hire one of the longtail boatmen on the beach across from our hotel. We would pay 1000 baht for a morning trip to James Bond Island, where the 1974 film ‘The Man with the Golden Gun’ was filmed.
Formerly known as Kho Phing Kan, the island is about 30 minutes by longtail boat from Rawai beach, where we are staying. We would have left in the morning and come home around lunch. The island has a restaurant and a beach. We bought Evey a lifejacket for this type of occasion.
I was going to have fodder for this blog. Fantastic photos of the limestone deposits, gorgeous beach, and glorious views of the sea.
Except, I woke up this morning and decided this particular adventure was not for us. I couldn’t help thinking about why we needed that lifejacket. The water is choppy. The waves get big. And sometimes, I’m sure, boats capsize or sink. It’s rare, I’m also sure. But that’s why they have the lifejackets. So I couldn’t help imagining what it would be like if this rare thing happened with my baby on board. We would survive the wait for an alternate boat, but she would surely drown under the waves. She is just simply too little. I would never forgive myself. It may sound overly dramatic, but I just couldn’t put this thought aside.
My mommy brain working in overdrive. But it’s the ‘what if’ with an outcme I can’t live with.
So today we stayed inland and we didn’t have an island adventure. And I’m ok with that.
We tracked down a taxi at 9 am (a small feat in this up late, late to rise town). Everyone but the fishermen seem to sleep-in in Rawai, where we are staying. We wanted to head to the Phuket Botanical Gardens before it got too hot to walk around.
After speaking to the taxi driver’s friend on the phone to help translate the location, then negotiating the price, we were on our way.
We were greeted by a staff member from the park the moment we got there. We then asked the taxi driver if he would wait 1 hr for us to come out. We’ve been finding that the drivers prefer to wait, so they can be guaranteed the fare back (as they have to go back, anyway).
The gardens were spectacular.
It was gorgeous garden after gorgeous garden, all under a canopy of greenery which kept the temperature down and allowed us to walk the huge park. We were there early enough to be the only tourists there, aside from one woman who was having University grad photos done.
The gardeners were toiling away, also taking advantage of the mild weather.
The park had educational sections all over, such as a garden with dried native herbs, samples of juices from native fruits, and a coconut station. I haven’t seen this at other botanical gardens I’ve visited in Canada.
We all had a great time visiting a giant pond filled with koy fish. For 20 baht (less than $1 CA), we had fun purchasing a bag of fish food. Evey squealed each time we fed them. I’ll have to upload some videos from our other camera.
By 1030 am it was already getting hot, so we admittedly skipped a few sections. We also had to stop in a garden for an emergency diaper change (travelling with baby, am I right?!).
We made it home in time for afternoon naps and pool time 🙂
Our quiet time in Phuket.
Something interesting is happening to my child on this trip.
She is becoming remarkably more confident.
It could be developmental: she is learning new things like crawling, walking, talking. She is developing her personality.
But we’re seeing the changes in public. Our baby who was once selective about who she graced with a smile, now searches each stranger’s face for a welcome smile.
The troubling part is that with her confidence in public, she has found her voice. And, oh, she has found it!
When we go for breakfast, she spends the meals ‘chatting’ with the waitresses in shrieks.
When parents come in with their children: forget about having them sit near us, because Evey will scream their head off.
We ‘shhh’ her. We try to distract her. We even cover her mouth occasionally, when the shrieks are especially loud.
We try to explain ‘inside voices’, but to no avail.
At these times, she is happy and ‘talking’ is her way of showing it.
She loves to hear her own voice (ahem — I don’t know where she got that from).
With these 2 months in Thailand, we are so rarely in a place that she can be loud. Hotel room: someone might be sleeping. Restaurant: people are trying to enjoy a meal. Taxi: the driver has the right not to be shrieked at or distracted.
I feel badly for my developing girl. I don’t want her to be stifled, taught to be silent, only speak when spoken to. But isn’t there some happy medium?
Tomorrow we’ll go to the beach. And we’ll chat. We’ll scream. We’ll let out all that energy over the rush of the waves. And I think I’ll stop caring so much what others think in public places. My child is gaining her voice, she is exceedingly happy, and that’s what babies do.