New Year's Day in Chiang Mai

After breakfast, we were in the mood to try a Thai massage, so Mom directed us to Lila Thai Massage, a really great business that gives newly released female prison inmates  a 180-hour training course in massage.

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The program was created by the former Director of Chiang Mai Women’s Prison and helps support the lives of ex-inmates, who often have a really difficult time making a living. The women are carefully screened and trained, and there are six branches in Chiang Mai. We each got the 2-hour “Lila Thai Complete Massage” – 30 minutes of foot reflexology and calf massage, 15 minutes of arm and hand massage, 30 minutes of back/neck/shoulder massage, 15 minutes of head massage, and 30 minutes of brutally hot herbal compresses. All of the massage is pressure, pulling, and stretching – there is no oil, and it’s all done through clothes that you are given to wear when you check in. Some of it can be quite painful while it’s happening, but I felt terrific afterward. I wasn’t crazy about the hot compresses at the end – my skin is sensitive and I felt like I had a mild sunburn for about twenty minutes following the massage. The two-hour massage only cost 550 baht ( around $15); I could get used to getting them on a regular basis!

We found a little pub called Archer’s  for lunch after the massages, and we both ordered falafel burgers and mixed fruit shakes, which were quite tasty. In the afternoon we walked around and saw more of Chiang Mai.

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We spent a good amount of time at Wat Lok Moli just outside the north moat.

img_6716 img_6723Parts of this wat have been around for at least 650 years. There was a monk pouring holy water on a Buddha statue positioned far up the chedi. He was using a pulley system and a golden rooster carrying a container of the water; it was really interesting to observe.

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We stopped by Wat Ratcha Monthian just inside the city walls and across from Wat Lok Moli, but it was starting to rain so we headed back at a brisk clip.

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In the evening we had booked a Khantoke dinner and cultural show with my parents. It was raining pretty hard at that point, so I think the experience wasn’t as good as it could have been.

Hill tribe woman selling her wares
Hill tribe woman selling her wares
Lanterns at the entrance
Lanterns at the entrance

In nice weather, it looked like there were tables set up in a big open area right in front of the stage, but because of the rain we were all off to the side at covered tables with hardly any view of the performers. The food was great, though! We started with a clear broth, and then dinner was brought out on a big platter containing Burmese beef curry, very spicy minced pork curry, deep fried pumpkin strips, very tasty stir-fried veggies (mostly cabbage), pork rinds, crispy rice noodles, and fried chicken, all served with both sticky rice and regular rice. Dessert was fruit and rice cakes.

img_6765The dancers and musicians had a rough go of it with no visible audience, and we watched from the side for a little bit and then decided to head home.

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