Wednesday, 16 December 2015

More Chang Mai, Festivals, Massage, and good Samaritans - Nov 25 2015

Not a stellar start to a day with tourista and going to do a Thai massage course, with 3 hours of bending.  Oh my! One of my favourite clients wrote me today to inquire about my trip and if I can teach him massage.  Which one, I wonder, hot stones, Thai massage or old faithful? How about Thai Stone Fusion???

I just got smoked by the cabbie and it's my own damned fault for not learning the language.  I asked the front desk for my Thai word for taxi and the word taxi; unfortunately they are not the same thing.  The Thai word is the cheapest cabbie but Taxi is the big ticket ordering a limo at 200 baht, you know, $6!!!  Highway robbery.  Well, this poor driver earned his keep.  I gave him the name, the Thai name, and I showed him the Google MapMe so he could find it but he circled the downtown for what seemed like ages until he called and realized it was in the centre of a block, not to be seen from the road.  It really goes against my grain to not tip but I read about it and my hippy vagabond veteran of travel Daughter assured me you never tip, so I didn't.  I was almost late for the best class I've ever taken.  
By the way, take note, MapMe is the best ever app to download on your phones for getting around without WiFi.  Loved it!!

Back to Thai massage - there were only 5 of us so I was paired with a random Yoga student who spoke not a word of English.  Imagine telling the teacher to translate not to put too much pressure on the bra strap as "the sisters" were getting squashed.  Poor guy.  Miming was challenging.  It was only a three hour class for back massage but somehow, I was so interested that on every break, I would ask the instructor to show me the proper way to do....literally everything.  All the previous massages I had had that week since I had arrived prepared me for learning my favourite moves.  Now, I'm not passing judgment but one snot nosed physio gratefully lapped up the free info and then sneered, "you must be hell on your instructors when you are on course".  Bloody ingrate. 

I did show my gratitude by telling some casual inquirers for the course that they HAD to sign up here.  They did.  Passed out their flyers all day.  
The taxi home was a colossal failure of monstrous proportions.  I showed him the name of my guest house, in English and Thai, and the map again.  Daughter tells me they can't read maps although they put on a good show.  We stopped no less than 4-5x to recheck the maps, his paper and my computer.  I said Inspire and he repeated Spicy Thai hostel.   No, no no.  We circled for about an hour and ended up on the far side of town at the Spicy Thai.  After three other handsome dudes joined us with their own challenges explaining where they were going, I warned them they would be sorry joining my journey.  I was right.  We were sooooo lost.  They were this adorable gay couple from Arizona and wanted to know all about my B&B so I had to pull out yet another business card that happened to be handy.  You never know...
I was so late getting back to join Daughter at her Embassy visit across town, ironically almost across the road from the Spicy Thai hostel.  Outside our hotel, a tuktuk was magically there and the most wonderful partially English speaking driver (maybe that was the miracle) was waiting to take us cross town for next to nothing.  We jumped out a block early and he was worried so as we turned the corner, he parked, got out of his car and followed us.  While we were in line at the embassy, he caught our eye, smiled and waved, happy he didn't desert two nice foreigners left to their own devices. Wow, now that's customer service.  
Sometimes Mom is cool for travelling and other times, her questions are just plain annoying.  I wanted to get more info about the Lantern festival that night.  Everyone in town, ok the misinformed travelers, had too much conflicting information so I wanted to ask the so sweet Embassy dude who always had an accommodating smile.  He gave me the info and said it was an hour bus ride away, he knew because he lived right there.  I intentionally blurted, well wouldn't it be easier for us if we just carpooled with you when you get off work.  He agreed and we were beside ourselves with gratitude.  On the tuktuk over, I again mentioned manifesting a good, safe and available ride to the festival.  Woohoo.  We had to kill 45 minutes so we went to our first temple together, across the road.  Of course we must be dressed properly even tho there was only one other participant.  On went the capris pants and sweaters and shawls....

So we met up with dude and got a direct ride to the university, gave out our first Chinese Canadian maple syrup thankyou bottle and with absolutely no idea where to go next, and not a soul looking "like us" or speaking English, we were on to our next adventure.  I stopped on sole walker and said Lantern??? We got the best directions ever in Thai- the arm point and we were on our way heading down a 1-2 km deserted road with hope.  We were the only "loco" walkers, which was perturbing but the lineup of cars was rush hour long on the dirt, dusty road.   Finally, we joined a mass exodus to see this beauty.  

Here's the scoop.  The city sponsors a city lantern festival along with the floating flowers in the river.  People did it locally but supposedly the city cancelled that one, altho no one seemed to have gotten the memo.  The big one, one hour out of town, is sold out a year in advance at a mind blowing Thai perspective of $100 USD.  There is also another, it's all so confusing, one that the monks offer but they are a rogue breakaway group so we skipped that one.  The one we went to is separated by the big one by a narrow river.  

On one side, is the rich planners who bought a ticket and the other side is for cheapies like us who pay for one lantern and light it up three hours early with all the others and watch it float away, sometimes into the trees to catch fire.  We changed locations a few times and resat in dirt.  One time, we left and walked a ways to a new place.  Five minutes later, a young Thai lad walked up to me in the dark, no less, and asked if I was Miss Cathy?  Ok, come on.  This is getting weird.  When I left the last site, my only credit card fell out of my pocket or purse and he tracked me down.  There is no picture on it and there were LOTS of white people.  Perhaps it was my beauty... but more likely my age that made me memorable. What decrepit old lady travels to Thailand.   I was stunned.  
Our side kept busy for three hours.  Their side lit their 1000s at 9pm sharp and the sky exploded with beauty and fireworks and then they were finished in moments.  Next comes the long, suffocating sardine taxi ride home.  Oh boy, that's fun, and they don't close the rear door so if they slam on breaks, I have no idea if people fall out; oh maybe that's why we are wedged in there.  Imagine going from Cumberland to Kanata, the far side, in rush hour for $3!  

A typical day ends with a wonderful event, for this old broad but not the youngster in the group.  I have more pictures in my collection of early morning parties I was NOT invited to.  I'm getting a complex.  

Well that's almost it for the mainland.  Off to the islands to scuba dive and get Daughter certified and knock another item off her quickly dwindling bucket list.  
The local city random lightings of lanterns

You wouldn't believe how nice this hotel's marketing was for this room.  It was fine but our standard of living was improving.

This is some of the decorations for the parade 
Does your city have gargantuan floats like this.  Amazing!

The local floating of the candle food and flower bouquets.The streets are packed!

Our wonderful tuktuk good Samaritan driver.

It's official, temples won't catch fire when Daughters worship.

The temple

One of the first lightings.  Quite magical.

Perhaps this is better.  The paid side.

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