Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Chiang Mai massage

There are probably more places you can get a massage, per square kilometer, in Chiang Mai than anywhere else on the planet. Where throngs congregate, there are bound to be massage chairs set up. No where is this more evident than on the weekends, around the walking markets. And why not? After a couple of hours trudging along narrow congested paths searching desperately for that special item for Aunt Tillie, what would come in handy more than a foot massage?
That's 60 baht for half an hour (about $2.00).

We were introduced to "fish massage" roughly eighteen months ago in some backstreet marketplace in Siem Reap. More an "attraction" than a massage, it's exactly what travelers seek. "... and here I am at the fish massage". "The What?"

You cleanse your feet, soak them in the tank, and while you're surfing away on the internet, small fish pick away at your feet. Doesn't it just send chills up your spine?
How much you say? Three one hundred, I was told. I took that to be 300 baht ($11.00) for a full hour of fish picking fun.

Thai massage, although relatively new to modern day spa menus, evolved over 2500 years ago. First developed by Buddhist monks in Thailand as a healing modality, it's rapidly become a favorite therapeutic and relaxing pastime for tourists and locals alike.
Traditional Thai massage is done on a mat or futon laying on the floor. It involves passive stretching and gentle pressure along the body's energy lines to increase flexibility, as well as relieving joint and muscle tension.

The usual "foot massage" doesn't involve any real pain, even though a rounded wooden peg may be jammed into that most sensitive part of your foot. Oil is often involved and the long slow gentle use of pressure may go up as far as your knee.

There are of course plenty of high end spas offering a full menu of massage delights.
After a two hour, four hands, herbal compress, oil massage, you will indeed be a new person.
Yes, sign me up indeed.

Massage weapons.
The Thai Herbal Compress (Luk Pra Kob) contains up to twenty traditional Thai herbs including Camphor, Kaffir lime, Lemon Grass, Galanga, Tamarind leaves, Prai Ginger Zingiber, Cassumunar, Cinnamon, Turmeric oil, and Aromatic Salisb.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Chiangmai - what to buy?, what to buy?

Chiangmai, like most other places where tourist congregate, has night bazaars where you can indeed pickup some rather bizarre items.

Coconut animals lights. Why not.

Dog outfits, more for locals but really, who can resist? Once the temperatures get way down into the low 80s, out come the jackets. You wouldn't want your dog to freeze.

Hilltribe merchandise has become very popular with tourists, although I've never actually seen anyone actually making a purchase. We first noticed the pointy hats a couple of years ago and now they're everywhere. OK, on the head of tourists.

The night bazaar in Chiangmai is mostly for tourist. There are an abundance of tourist type items such as t-shirts, luggage, and soap carved into flowers. You don't find many locals shopping here. They can usually get the same items, if they wanted them, somewhere else cheaper. Try down around the Wararoot Market.

Chiangmai also has street markets on the weekends.
Wualai Rd, also known as Silversmith's road, on Saturdays, and Ratchadamnoen Rd., which cuts down the center of the walled city on Sundays. These have become known as the "walking street" markets, although the term crawling street might be more appropriate. The crowds during the high season are unmaneuverable and you just have to inch your way along with everyone else. Not a place for someone who is claustrophobic. But none the less, if you enjoy shopping or looking for "nick-nacks", or some little strange item to take home to friends or family, you'll certainly enjoy being out and about soaking in the people and scenery.

String lights. Yes, a shameless way to get your attention.

The weekend walking streets do have a higher percentage of locals shopping along with all the tourists, and the selection of items offered do reflect it.

OK, who doesn't need pillowcases?

So you may as well shop and buy while you're traveling to Chiangmai. Otherwise you'll regret not having bought that item you bargained so desperately for and ended up not purchasing.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chiangmai lights

Festival of lights at Wat Pan Tao in Chiangmai.

A ceremonial event to beckon in good wishes for the New Year.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Out and about in Chiangmai

New Years is coming so offerings are being made at temples all over town.

It's not actually snowing in Chiangmai, but hey, what's the harm in getting into the holiday mood. This is actually a promo a local mobile phone company. Mobile phones are very popular in Thailand and practically everyone has one.

A parade for money offerings. Just another way for people to make their New Year's offerings without actually having to go to the temple.

What's the big deal? It's only a guy dressed up as a girl. So what.

Drag shows are very popular in Thailand, even with the locals.

And quite a beautiful girl at that.

A mobile monk. Loudspeakers blaring down the streets make the announcement that the mobile monk is coming. Twenty baht (75 cents) is all that's asked to receive a blessing.

Probably the closest thing to a holiday tree in Chiangmai.

Temple offerings for the New Year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year Chiangmai

Happy New Year from Chiangmai. Hope you all have a fantastic 2011.

We, along with everyone else, send our lanterns up into the skies with the hope that the new year will be filled with happiness and good luck.