Thailand travel 14. Sunday Walking Street Chiangmai and artist dinner
Sustained by an icy coconut shake “no sugar, no syrup” (I have learned to explain in sign, as just the fruit blended with the ice, no matter what the fruit is, is sweet enough), I stroll back from my massage floating. Amazed torture results in such bearable lightness of being.
An S&M secret, I wonder?
Not too far from the facility, which was at least an hour’s walk from my lodgings, the streets are being closed to traffic. I check on my map. Then in my Lonely Planet. And ah ha, realize this is the Sunday Walking Street set-up.
Cameos to snap. Temples, crafts-people, Buddhist monks, tourists, locals all in a bustle preparing for a long and busy night.
It starts at 4pm. I have a dinner appointment at 6pm. In the general direction of where I was last night. With a Berkeley artist. Connected by my Zen friend, Mark.
“Buppha and I would love to have you for dinner. At 6:00. We live on Papharo Road. Phonetic Pah Pow. Most taxi drivers know how to get here,” Terry says in reply to my email, sent just this morning.
He draws me a map and sends that, too. It is as abstract, to me, just like his art.
Plus I don’t listen, do I, to his instructions to catch a tuc-tuc? It looks pretty close on the map. The receptionist at the hotel concurs.
Why walk when taxi madame is the call of the day?
Why walk, someone might ask if I were not traveling solo and when “taxi madame” is the call of the day and the night? I am lucky that I don’t have to explain how much I love to walk. In unknown places. Not knowing where I am going. Not knowing what I might see. Stride out. The liberation of it. Urban hiking. A reason to be alive. And not something you can do in every city or every country. So make the most of it.
But an hour is not enough time to get there. Again I am a monsoon by the time I concede defeat. Am past where the map indicates he lives, when I show the address to a woman standing with friends down an alleyway. She calls the number. She talks in Thai. She tells me to go stand on the corner I just rounded and someone will fetch me.
And so it is I meet Buppha when she picks me up on her scooter. Takes me to their house. Serves two scrummy dishes she’s cooked, fresh, spiced, nutted, then goes off to her shop near the night market.
And I get to sit and hang out and hear why Terry sold up. Left Berkeley. Moved here to make his art.
I jot down notes, knowing I need to write this one for a magazine…
Buppha has organized a tuc-tuc for me. I see reason at 10pm when it’s time to go and jump in. Get home to my lodgings (because home is where the heart is and I’m carrying mine with me) and note in my journal that I have been in Thailand for one full week. How could one make “at home” weeks as full as travel weeks?
© Wanda Hennig 2016, words and photos.
Coming next: Thailand travel 15. Onward from Chiangmai to Chiang Rai.