I’ve moved on. I spent over three lovely weeks in Chiang Mai, cycling daily from cafe to restaurant to crossfit to live music, and doing almost every excursion imaginable: a thai farm cooking class, an elephant park, elephant Mahout training, ziplining, Tiger Kingdom, the night safari, and of course, Poopoopaperpark. Oh yeah, I also visited a hilltribe and a coffee plantation, and did a bit of barrista training. After three weeks the only thing left to do was ride a motorbike like a local, so I did that too.
I was sad about leaving the cafe-crawling capital, but this tiny town called Nan has a certified hipster cafe. I personally certified it when the barrista complimented my Herschel laptop bag. As if the name didn’t give it away, Vespresso. Half Vespa gallery, half cafe.
The Canadian embassy in Bangkok gave me an update: at least 10 more days until my new my passport will be ready. Even though I lost my passport, drivers license and a handful of cash, and I’m waiting 3 weeks for a new passport, I actually feel like I’m winning! Yesterday I tried my 13th cafe in Chiang Mai and arrived just as a coffee cupping class was beginning. I asked,
“Can I learn how to do that too?”
“Right now. Come come.”
So I learned coffee cupping, the art of smelling and tasting coffee. During this I met Pauline from France who invited me to visit her in France this summer. Deal! Then Pauline introduced me to a latte art afficionado who offered to train me in latte art later this week. Double whammy. Happy St. Patrick’s Day, I think I found the pot of gold.
People always ask this. Is it just part of a routine? “Hi, I’m Dora. What’s your name? What do you do?”
What do I do every day?… I eat delicious food, drink cold beer, meet interesting people, take pictures, and go to crossfit. Technically that’s what I do. But what I really do is learn something new every day. Today I learned about Ayurvedic herbs like Jiaogulan, Moringa, Noni, Cordyceps, Sprouted Purple Rice and Mangosteen skin. These superherbs are packed with vitamins, nutrients and even protein. While I was drinking my ayurvedic smoothie, I also learned about the back-end structure of wordpress sites because one of these days I’m going to design my own templates. So although I’m technically unemployed and homeless, that’s not “what I do”, and the next time that phrase slips out of my mouth I promise to slap myself.
Creative And Meeting Place. That’s what CAMP is! It’s also a brilliant idea. Located on the top floor of a fancy new mall, CAMP is a cafe designed for students or nomads like me to study, create, or meet, and eat. If there weren’t a million other great cafes in Chiang Mai I’d live at camp.
Yesterday I went to a gallery-district cafe with heavenly coconut cream pie. Today’s gem has macaron and honey lattes, and a tree growing through the roof. Since I’m back on the coffee bandwagon I’m spending my afternoons looking for the best little cafe in Chiang Mai. Two down, twelve to go. Tasty times!
Coconut Heaven Pie from Cake Baan Piemsuk, “Happiness you can eat” in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Photo by Amy Jacobs, Flickr.
I just devoured a massive slice of coconut cream pie and a coffee with coconut milk. When I ordered this the barrista looked at me like I’m nuts. “Coconut milk in your coffee? Not milk?” I nodded and the look on his face said “Ok crazy lady.” How can Thailand not use coconut milk in coffee?… It’s the great land of premium coconut milk and mediocre coffee, yet they don’t put them together?! Who’s crazy?
I’m more likely to lose something important by forgetting it somewhere than by getting mugged.
I’m short $500, my driver’s license, a debit and credit card, and my passport. It’s about time to get that tattoo I’ve been thinking about: a ribbon around my finger.
————— update —————-
I got my passport photo done at a local photo studio. The ladyboy running the shop asked if he could touch up my face. Hah. Hello Thai glamour shot – he applied foundation, eye shadow, bright pink blush and rosy lipstick. He also tied up half my hair and sprayed down my frizzy curls. My new passport will forever remind of this fabulous experience…
I’ve seen many Buddhist temples over the last three weeks so when I learned we were going to another temple yesterday I thought “here we go again…” But yesterday’s guide (a local ex-monk of 10 years) took us to a secret temple, unknown to any tourist map. It wasn’t spectacular or ornate like the others; it was simple and purely serene. Built among trees and a waterfall, this Wat’s small cement building for “the old monk” was carved like a tree. Each of the three young monks had his own little 5×7′ hut with a small porch and matching terrace overlooking the city. Their orange umbrellas hung from the rooftops like trumpet flowers.
I learned a few new things at this temple, including how to sit and meditate like a monk (legs crossed right over left, hands resting flat right over left), and that Buddha statues are always men and may look like women because they’re designed to look beautiful. But the most interesting thing I learned is that (according to my Thai ex-monk guide), a Buddha, among other things, is a monk who has achieved enlightenment by realizing the truth about Trikaya. When a monk is a Buddha he can sense things, see his past lives and his future – for some this includes the day he will die. The last Thai Buddha died about 10 years ago. Three days before his death he announced he was going to die. People didn’t believe him, until he was found dead in his bed. Then he was cremated and the proof was in the pudding – his bones burned many colours.