We’ve been in Chiang Mai, Thailand for about a week now, and we love it! This means more when you consider that durian is relatively scarce here (though for us it’s not too too hard to find because Lindsay has a keen nose and a biological durian compass). Regardless, it’s a charming city.
Nestled in the mountains of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai is currently enjoying its hot, dry season. This is excellent for us because we love the heat, but it is also when the rice farmers burn their fields. So when we arrived the sky was a smoky grey and the sun a gorgeous red disk.
Lindsay, though, felt oddly at home in the dry heat and the smoke. It reminded her of summers growing up in southern Oregon. But the last few days here have cleared up a bit so we’ve enjoyed some blue skies, too.
|Lindsay at the market|
So what’s to love? The Thai people are quick to smile, sweet and polite. Our accommodations are comfortable and comfortably cheap ($5/night!). There’s a morning market within a half mile walk from our hotel, where we load up on super-cheap coconuts. These coconuts are seriously out of this world delicious, with rich vanilla creaminess and even a rare one that reminds me of butterscotch or caramel. At 30 cents each, we’ve really indulged, too.
|nom dak mai deliciousness|
Best of all, it’s mango season! We’ve been enjoying a nearly gluttonous quantity of nom dak mai mangoes – the famous golden mangoes of Thailand. The street vendors have piles of them from as low as 40 cents a pound, so why not? Lindsay’s favorite salad right now is a colorful mixture of mango, diced tomatoes, lime juice, and a little coconut meat.
I have been busy bumping up my weekly mileage, running laps alongside the moat that wraps around the old city. It’s a pleasant 4-mile loop, along a shady tree-lined canal. Lindsay usually joins me for a lap in the morning, and then splits off to grab some goods at the market before it closes. I generally run another lap or two, depending on my energy. I am gradually working up longer days to build more strength. Chiang Mai has been a great place to do that. One day, I ran 20 miles in the morning, and then joined Lindsay for another 6 in the evening. So I celebrated a personal record, my first marathon day!
And of course, the durian. Just out for a stroll along the Old City moat, we found some really massive ones. Lindsay’s durian tuned shnozz lit up, “There’s durian somewhere!” She had detected them from across a 3 lane road! Each one of these suckers must have weighed 7 kilos. But they were as crazy expensive as they were large. At 150 baht ($5) a kilo, we opted to just share one of the packaged pods, and in the name of science! Each seed was enormously fleshy, but again it had pretty lackluster flavor. Another flop for Thai durian. But it’s not even close to durian season in Chiang Mai, so these babies were likely picked very early for the long journey from southern Thailand.
The craziest thing I experienced here was Saturday night Muay Thai boxing. For the most part the fighters were small guys who moved fast and threw as many knees as punches. At least the punches are softened by boxing gloves, but even remembering those knees to the abs, I wince. The intermission lightened things up with a free for all including two regular sized Thai’s and a midget, all blindfolded. A fourth man pushed the blinded fighters toward each other to increase the chaos, and sometimes removed the little guy’s blindfold. It was entertaining, if a bit shameful, to watch. Still, I’m glad we checked out this iconic Thai sport.