One year ago today I was celebrating Thanksgiving in Thailand. This was actually during the Lantern Festival (Loy Krathong) in their country. It was a week long festival that started while we were leaving Bangkok that Tuesday. When we arrived that afternoon, the festival was well under way within the walls of Chiang Mai where we ended up staying in one of the many *hostels.
Our day started out with Matt and I leaving Drew behind. Drew, being of Viking origin, does not take kindly to heat and humidity. The poor bastard was stuck with chaffed inner thighs and a bit of sun poisoning...maybe even a bit hung over.
We hopped on the first Tuk Tuk and ventured to the National Museum of Chiang Mai. Sadly, this was pretty run down and in the middle of renovations that wouldn't be complete until 2016. But it was free! It seemed where there was some cool artifacts there was incomplete information and where there was information, there was no artifact. Therefore any education from this experience was a bit discombobulated. Matt and I decided to take the 45 minutes to just walk back to the city and get a better lay of the land outside the walls.
Chiang Mai is great, but this is a city with some history that kind of turned into this walled up place for tourists. It was interesting to see all the variations of other cultures within these walls. We saw pizza places, burger joints, Mexican food, even an Irish tavern. I think the quisine I fell in love with the most was a restaurant called The Swan. It's actually a Burmese restaurant and was one of the first places we landed at to grab food upon our arrival earlier in the week. That Thursday after our tiny morning adventure, we had lunch there again.
Afterwards we made our way back to the hostel for naps until the weather cooled down. At one point I left to go sign up for an excursion and a **cooking class.
The Three of us hit the road in the evening and enjoyed a little more of the festival. At one point I mentioned going to a tailor shop and getting something made. I ended up at CM Custom tailors while the guys chilled next door at a hostel and had a drink. Inside there was a large group of British people arguing about how their stuff should be free. I grabbed a seat thinking to myself that it may take a while. 20 minutes later, another gentleman walked in, sat down at the table, and got immediate help. So I ghosted.
My anger was quickly quenched when I sat down with Drew and Matt next door. Can't go wrong with Smoothies, beer, booze, and food. Drew, I have to admit, is very good at being unabashed in dealing with people. He was able to quickly make friendlies with some locals that frequent this particular hostel to drink. We ended up buying these guys a round of Thai White Whiskey which came to .28 per shot. We were having a great time trying to figure out what they were saying and getting our stories out. Also, we had a laugh at some hipster taking dumb-face selfies with his computer at a table nearby.
Round after round, the matriarch of this establishment would bring us snackies. Though it isn't her name the title of Mama-san became the endearing title we attributed to her. After rounds of puff snacks, boiled peanuts, and cheap whiskey, Mama-san ladled us some bowls of her chicken parts curry. I think she tried to get as much of the "tame" bits as she could into the bowl. Luckily Matt, Drew, and myself are no strangers to strange parts in our foods. We thanked her kindly and enjoyed the searing heat and aromatic spices of these hot bowls of curry along side our newly acquired Thai friends.
Whiskey gets you frisky.
Some Kiwi by the name of John showed up to the group. We drank, talked about tattoos, lifted some shirts, and some butts got grabbed. One, or both of us, may have gotten propositioned for sex. When things started getting too far south, we slowly parted ways. Mama-san made sure that the heavily inebriated Thai fellows got on their Tuk Tuk/walking in the right direction safely. We gave our hugs, our thank you's, and our goodbyes to Mama-san as well, and made our way on to new adventures for the night alongside John the Kiwi.
We got nachos at one point. The cheese was strange but oddly good. Almost like a more watered down Chihuahua brand queso cheese. Then we ventured to an Irish pub around 1am. I think John left us after a round of beer (or two?) and then I started growing weary. Matt and Drew dropped me off at the hostel before they wandered more of the dark and festive ally ways of Chiang Mai.
I'd do this all again for Thanksgiving if I could. Chiang Mai, while I may despise large crowds of people and cringe at all the tourism; your streets, your food, your locals, sure are a hell of a lot of fun.
* Even during the Festival of Lights we were still able to find a place to stay for the week upon our arrival.
** Went through BaanThai Thai cookery school. Easily one of the best experiences in Chiang Mai the whole week.
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