Doing Time

Well, we made it. Three flights and 24 hours later, we arrived in Chiang Mai. Our first flight into Taiwan (14 hours) was delayed so we missed our connection. Luckily, EVA Air is amazing and they rebooked us on new flights: Taiwan to Bangkok (4 hours), Bangkok to Chiang Mai (1 hour).

I highly recommend Hinterland joggers to wear on flights. Locally made, super comfy, excellent fit and very warm. Shout out to my sister and her husband for gifting them to me.

Upon arrival, we walked off the plan and followed a sign for “International Baggage Claim.” We sat near the entrance of the plane, so the only people in front of us was a small family with adorable young children. Thai police ushered us in the direction of baggage claim, then through some double doors and down a long hallway. More Thai police arrived, we kept following the Thai family, and eventually, we found ourselves in a private lounge area. Definitely not baggage claim. One Thai officer immediately made eye contact with us, and we all acknowledged that something was amiss. He politely led us back to the real baggage claim while profusely apologizing. We never found out who that family was or why they had so many Thai police with them, but we love to think we were Thai VIP for a few minutes.

My wonderful parents met us at the airport, even enduring an hour bus ride to do so. For those of you who don’t know, my parents have been living in Chiang Mai since August 2018. They live in a small apartment in the Santitham neighborhood. Of course, the first item on the agenda is food. After checking into our guesthouse, we walked down the street to a fried chicken vendor. Absolutely delicious fried chicken: chicken nuggets, chicken knuckles, chicken wings, etc.

The view right outside our guesthouse.

We toured the neighborhood with my parents as tour guides. I’d give them a 5-star TripAdvisor rating if I could, they are amazing guides (nepotism aside). They know their neighborhood very well, and you can sense their love for Chiang Mai.

They continued with the highlights this morning (Day 2) by taking us to one of their favorite spots: Chiang Mai Women’s Prison.

My parents explain it well in their blog:

The center and its patrons provide a way for them to learn a marketable skill, develop ease with the public, and earn some money from work and gratuities. Hence, through the center, the massage is the medium…of hope and a better future for these young women.

Travels with George

The women are low-level prisoners serving time for minor crimes. You have options of 1-hour foot, 1-hour full body or 2-hour full body. As odd as this seems, I highly recommend visiting if you are ever in Chiang Mai. The foot massage was great and very relaxing. The staff is exceptionally polite and we never once felt uncomfortable or unsafe. Arrive early to book a slot, enjoy some coffee or walk around the block to some see some wats while you wait. Mark and I plan on going back for a full body massage.

While we waited for our appointment time, we toured the local wats. My dad told us Buddhist sagas and history lessons as we admired giant Buddhas and stupas. Wats are amazing. After a few, you think “I’ve seen a wat, I get it.” But then you see another, and you find yourself surprised again. The Buddhas take my breath away every time with their peaceful demeanor and calming presence.

After our massages, we walked to a local lunch spot called Khao Soi Kun Yai which specializes in a dish called koi sua. The name means “cut rice”. It’s a soup-like dish made with a mix of deep-fried crispy and boiled egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, limes, round chilies fried in oil, and meat in a curry-like sauce containing coconut milk. Fantastique. Hearty and spicy, it was the perfect lunch.

We all ordered a large koi sua with chicken. The small plate has shallots, chilis and some picked veggies. Seems like odd combinations but it’s crazy good.

Tomorrow is set to be another big day: bus rides, markets, more wats and more food! This place is awesome.

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