Finally starting to relax...the last few days were a little challenging since Léa had a high fever and no appetite, she slept on and off for a few days, and is better today. Adapting to the time change has been challenging for her so she was pretty run down. We were on hold with what to do after arriving on the night train and had to make some decisions about how long and where to stay in Chiang mai, but now all is well and we will be here for the next 9 nights to take in the 3 day Loi Krathong festival where offerings are made to the water spirits in thanks for the rainy season waters prior to the dry season. Kratongs, lotus flower shaped offerings carrying a candle, incense and a coin, are floated down a river or canal. There is a spiritual ceremony but like many religious holidays around the world, it has expanded to include food, parades, music and lanterns all over the city. Looking forward to it!
I've been thinking about how to describe Chiang Mai and am struggling to come up with words to paint the picture of this city of 140,000. In some ways its like Banff x100...with elephant viewing/riding replacing bear/elk sightings, and with fruit smoothies on every corner replacing ice cream cones. You can do everything here, from sticking your head in a tiger or crocodile mouth, to trekking in the hills to local villages, to bungee jumping, to elephant shows or riding.
So far we have opted for a visit to an elephant sanctuary (where you learn about the elephants and feed and clean them but don't ride them), a Thai cooking class, and a guided bike ride through the countryside...this is all yet to come this week. The kids took a painting class yesterday which they will finish today, and if they get enough "school" work done today we will take them to a climbing wall this afternoon (which looks on paper to be even bigger then the one in Canmore!). We need to exercise indoors as its way too hot out in the afternoon (31 is the high all week).
As part of my goal to relax I'm trying to have a massage a day...so far very painful but as tension slowly decreases it should get to be more enjoyable! The kids and Steve decided a "fish spa" for their feet and legs was enough for them...you will need to wait for the photos to see what that is all about!
In a nutshell this place is all about tourism, temples and Thai massages...with lots of fantastic food mixed in (and enough western options when the kids don't want another pad thai or soup!). But there are many authentic neighbourhoods, such as Chinatown, where you can totally loose yourself in the markets and not see another tourist. The challenge here is to be ok with doing nothing, which I managed to do this morning...many people will know how challenging this is for me!