Monday, January 3, 2011

Food, markets & Buddha: Chiang Mai first impressions

A new countdown has begun on 74 days— this time, it's how long until we're back in the States. As of today, we'll be home in 2 weeks!

But until our flight from Shanghai to Newark, we have places to go and temples to see!

Wat Phra Sing, day 59

On our second day in Chiang Mai, we took in what makes this city famous: ancient temples by day, and markets after the sun goes down.

Chiang Mai night bazaar, day 58

Indeed, the nighttime market scene in Chiang Mai is legendary among those who have traveled in this region.

Chiang Mai night bazaar, day 58

From the Saturday and Sunday walking streets to the daily night bazaar, there are plenty of opportunities for foreigners and Thais alike to haggle for scarves, clothing and mini Buddhas.

Chiang Mai night bazaar, day 58

There are occasional live performances...

Chiang Mai night bazaar, day 58

And always plenty to eat. Always.

The breadth and quality of the street food that we've encountered in Chiang Mai puts all other cities to shame. And yes, I am aware that we're going to Malaysia and Singapore after this and I'll inevitably have to eat my words. No pun intended.

Roti in Chiang Mai, day 59

And while we're on the subject of food: Rotee? Whoever came up with this street food deserves a medal.

In Thailand, rotee is a thick fried crepe mixed with banana or strawberries and then covered with the topping of your choice. Will's been enamored with the chocolate (which is literally Hershey's syrup) while I prefer the "traditional" topping: sweetened condensed milk. Yum.

Thai iced tea, day 59

While finding a decent cup of coffee has gotten considerably more difficult since we left our Bangkok hotel, (conveniently located across the street from a Starbucks, and before you ask, yes, this was on purpose) there's no lack of caffeinated drink options in Chiang Mai.

I could write Thai iced tea a sonnet, I love it so.

Pad thai at Wat Phra Sing, day 59

And of course, our first trip to Thailand wouldn't be complete without sampling some authentic Pad Thai. We bought these for 60 baht (2 dollars) at Wat Phra Sing, the most revered Buddhist temple in Chiang Mai, so they were deliciously vegetarian.

Wat Phra Sing, day 59

Just as there's no shortage of delicious food in Thailand, there's also no shortage of moments of repose, to witness first hand the ancient spirituality of another culture.

Wat Phra Sing, day 59

As we looked at these young monks and contemplated living out one's formative years in a monastery, Will put it best: "Wow. Imagine when they're like... 60. They are going to be sooo good at meditating."

Yeah. Definitely.

But all joking aside, as we sat upon the temple's grounds, I thought back on all of the worrying I had done while planning this leg of the trip, how nervous I had been to come to Southeast Asia and how much time I had devoted to planning against the hypothetical.

I also thought about my friends and family back home, and contemplated how for some of us, occasionally even everyday concerns can seem impossibly overwhelming.

Wat Phra Sing, day 59

And I wondered if maybe these sandal-footed adolescents in orange already know much more than we do. And if we can emulate how they live out their lives even a little bit, maybe we can all find the inner-peace that we so desperately desire.

1 comment:

  1. Wise words as always <3

    Also, I just got a new years card from a thai client, it looks JUST like your picture of the temple!


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