Chiang Mai, Thailand — Week 5: Routines, Interactive Art, and NYE Lanterns

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In retrospect, I’m pretty sure the massage places would’ve been open on Christmas and Christmas Eve, but I didn’t want to walk a half an hour for nothing, so I didn’t risk it. Instead, I waited until the day after Christmas to go back to Kad Suan Kaew. I had another two hour thai massage at Nuad Thai Jai Dee and my masseuse was a guy again, the third guy in a row. This massage was borderline painful. Sometimes he’d press into the pain and sometimes he’d back off when he felt me tense or flinch. Maybe everyone else was taking it easy on me and my knots weren’t going away as fast as I thought…

On my way back from my massage I had Alex meet me at MAYA for lunch. We decided to try something new and went to the restaurant area upstairs rather than the one in the basement. There was a place with pad thai for 35-40฿ ($1) and, surprisingly, we hadn’t had pad thai in a while, so we both got that. Alex got his first and loved it. When I got mine I was excited because it looked absolutely delicious, but it was so freakin’ spicy my mouth cried! Alex and I ended up swapping half our noodles so mine wouldn’t be so spicy. Still, my mouth burned for a solid ten minutes after I finished eating. Not cool.

One morning after I’d finished yoga and playing with some inversions Alex and I trekked to Guu Fusion Roti & Tea for breakfast. It was raining. It was the first day we’d been out in the rain since we’d been in Chiang Mai. It had rained one other time, but that day we just stayed in and avoided it. As it happens, I’d done laundry the night before and because it rained overnight, all our clothes were still wet on the line in the morning. Damn. It kept raining on and off and for the next couple days and we kept putting our clothes out to dry at just the wrong times. It took three days for all our clothes to fully dry! And this was the first it’d rained at all in over a month. What are the chances?

We decided to try a different place in the upper level of MAYA for dinner and this time I had a fantastic dish of stir fried vegetables and rice. It’s weird to think we’ll be leaving Chiang Mai soon. We’ve settled into a routine of sorts and things are familiar. It’s nice and I’ll miss it.

The day before New Year’s Eve I had my final thai massage. I told them it was my last time and they surprised me by adding oil without an extra charge. That was nice, and if I’d had more time/money I might have come back for a full oil massage, it felt so nice!

As per usual, Alex and I met up at Guu Fusion Roti & Tea for one last time and then we headed to Art in Paradise. Best. Museum. Ever! The museum is full of art made to look 3D. If you stand in a certain spot the paintings on the floor and/or walls look 3D around you. It’s amazing! We were there for three and a half hours and had so much fun! We took so many pictures it took me forever to go through them all and pick out the best ones. Here’s one of my favorite pictures:

Alex can float while meditating at Art in Paradise, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

After the museum we went back to the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar since it was nearby and had dinner at Pavilion Night Market again. I finally found flow-y pants that had two pockets and fit me, which were harder to find that I expected. They didn’t have elephants on them, but I loved the colors, and they were super comfy. Hello new pajama pants!

Every year, to celebrate the New Year there is a lantern festival in Chiang Mai. I’ve always wanted to be part of a lantern festival! On New Year’s Eve we walked to the east side of the Old City and could see the lanterns lighting a path in the sky along the way. It was magical.

Lanterns seen from the west side of the Old City, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

We made our way to the front of Tha Phae Gate, but couldn’t find anyone selling lanterns there, so we went back the way we came and bought two lanterns from the first lady we found. The lanterns were massive. Alex and I both could have stood inside one. We didn’t really know what we were doing, but we saw everyone else light their lanterns so we borrowed a lighter and we tried to light one of ours. We ended up lighting the first one on fire. Whoops. But at least it made a cool picture…

Our first attempt went up in flames…New Year’s Eve, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Thankfully, after that a kind gentleman helped us, step by step, to light our second lantern and send it off. I was so nervous. I really wanted our lantern to make it, to float up into the sky and join the others, connecting us to those around us, allowing us to be part of the magic.

Our second attempt (with help) was successful, New Year’s Eve, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

I’d read somewhere that the purpose of the lantern festival was let go of something from the previous year with the lantern to make room for something new in the coming year. Only when our lantern was already in the sky did I realize I’d forgotten to think of something to let go of. Maybe that’s the beauty of the lanterns. They remind you to live in the moment and enjoy each moment as it happens rather than fixate on the past or future. Whatever their intent, in the moment, surrounded by all those people, watching all the lanterns fill the sky and drift away, I felt connected to everyone and everything around me. I was so moved I cried.

One of those was ours, New Year’s Eve, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

It was a beautiful way to start the New Year and a wonderful end to our time in Chiang Mai.