Part Three...Cooking & Fireworks
With a good trekking trip finished and after sleeping most of the following day, I rented a motorbike to drive out of the city of Chiang Mai to Doi Suthep Temple on the mountain. You know that feeling you get that ‘maybe’ not such a good idea – well, I didn’t listen. No crashes of any kind, just driving in a city during the holidays can be somewhat – crazy, let’s say. Making my way out of the city got lost then found my way again - I was making my way up the mountain ran out of gas. With a head shake & smile, I point in a downward direction and coasted for a kilometer until I stopped in @ the Thai park ranger’s station that was kind enough to give me enough gas to get me down further. After finally finding a proper gas station – thought – do I want to try again? Okay, why not? But ‘way’ too busy - cars, motorbikes, tuk tuks and people everywhere in throngs. Though did the climb up the ‘many’ stairs to see an amazing collection of temples, statues, monks on cell phones and a great view of the city. This being an iportant time for the Thai people, they bring gifts to the temples and give blessing to their Buddhist religion. Drive back to city was much calmer, parked the bike @ Libra, shower – head out for some dinner.
Sitting, eating on the side street, I noticed a line of floating lanterns coming from one area of the city – had to find out what was up? After walking through a couple night markets I turn into a temple finding people lighting lanterns, releasing into the night sky. Monks were blessing each one, chanting in the background, with a lit ambiance which created a beautiful scene. After a somewhat frustrating day – totally made up for it, funny how that works. And the only night without my camera – it was for me alone.
New Year’s Day – I was planning on heading north to Pai but decide to stay in Chiang Mai. After the lanterns the night before I couldn’t even imagine what they would do for New Year’s Eve. Another walk around during the day (always something to see in Chiang Mai) I decided to take a Thai cooking class in the afternoon. Baan Thai Cooking Class looked good to me. Arriving promptly @ 4:30pm I met my class; Australian lady with her two girls, a Polish, couple of English, two Czechs & the lone Canadian. Gai was our instructor; funny girl who laughed @ her own jokes. She first took us to the local market where we were educated in the local food & spices. Back to class where we chose 4 dishes to cook. One by one we cooked, laughed and after ate our own dishes. And I devoured my own cooking - surprise, surprise.
Back to Libra for a beer and head out for the night’s activities. Already the night sky was filled with lit lanterns floating across Chiang Mai. Hundreds of people were writing their wishes on lanterns & releasing with hopes of coming true; which is part of the ceremony. Most made it, others caught in trees while many had to be put out by stamping with feet. Fireworks were shot in the night once New Year’s Eve was upon us and was an amazing scene to behold; Happy New Year!
I headed back after a good night, traffic was chaos & glad my walk was not far. Next morning, I said my good byes to my Libra family who bought me a tuk tuk ride to the bus station. I bought my ticket to Pai which is my next destination to further north.