Massage and Sunrise in Chiang Mai

The long-awaited massage photos from Chiang Mai are here.

Monday, my third and final day of massage class in Chiang Mai, passed without incident or injury despite attempting some trickier maneuvers.  Most crazier moves seemed to involve receiver of the massage lying on their side.  One, for example, required performing a gentle knee press to the kidney, grasping their leg with one hand and their shoulder with the other, and leaning back so that the knee acts as a fulcrum, stretching the abs, chest, and quad of the receiver.  I got photos of me practicing two other good ones, on on Jed and one on Ines.

Note in these photos that all participants are fully clothed.  This was the case throughout massage class, and during Thai massage in general.  It has been called to my attention that I may have previously omitted this crucial detail, causing some readers to imagine a considerably more scandalous scenario with Jed than the reality.  Apologies to those who were scandalized; In my defense, I’m an engineer. Verbal descriptions aren’t my thing.  Give me equations or my attention to detail goes out the window.

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Me, Jed, Aa (right), and Wee (back).

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Pants ON.

Tuesday was a busy day.  I woke up early and watched the sunrise from Doi Suthep, then went back to practice more massage.  In the afternoon, I connected with Tamber after believing I had left her stranded at the airport.

Doi Suthep is the large hill nearest Chiang Mai.  A steep road wound up the mountain.  I was in awe as I sped past many bicyclists who were making the grueling journey before dawn.  I reached an observation point just as the sun rose and enjoyed the view, though the city of Chiang Mai was barely visible through a layer of haze.  After the sun was fully visible, I continued up.  The road narrowed from three lanes to one and I did a double take as I passed a sign advertising the Phu Ping Palace, a tourist attraction that clearly needs to hire a Western marketing consultant.  Despite my curiosity, I decided that whatever is inside couldn’t possibly match the entertainment provided by the sign alone.

Ten minutes later, I reached a fork in the road.  My map indicated that the left fork would end after a short way at a Hmong village, and the right fork would continue indefinitely with nothing marked along the way.  I parked to  consider these options and a Thai woman in a sedan drove up beside me with window down.  I had not asked for her help, but she emphatically pointed me to the left fork and said something I did not understand.  I pointed to the right fork and she shook her head vigorously, then pointed to the left fork again and smiled.  I didn’t appreciate her self-righteously assertive directions so I continued to give her a vacant smile until she drove off, then headed right.

The road now just wide enough for two motorbikes to pass side by side, I knew I had made the right choice when a spectacular beam of light broke through the trees in front of me.

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Quick, someone queue the Hallelujia chorus.

I had an appointment at Jera massage so I was forced to turn around shortly after this message from above. Though Monday was my last official day of class, I came back again on Tuesday to practice a bit more and take better photos (I wasn’t happy with the light in my first efforts). Aa was happy to accommodate, especially since she can use the photos for advertising.  So, I lugged my flashes down to Jera massage and performed more maneuvers in better lighting conditions.  As usual, more photos available on Flickr, though I just found out that Flickr has a 200 photo limit for free accounts.  I may switch to Picasa soon.

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Trying one of the more acrobatic moves on Ines, the German friend of Aa and Wee.

I was a few minutes late to meet Tamber after her flight from Bangkok.  It turns out that her flight was delayed, but I didn’t discover this until I had attempted to return to my guest house from the airport to see if she had already gone there to meet me. I got lost on the way back to the Chiangmai Backpack House, only to find upon arriving that no, she was not there either.  Thankfully, my second trip to the airport was timed perfectly with her late flight.

When I told her about my week, Tamber was eager to repeat the sunrise trip up Doi Suthep.  Fort the first time in recent memory, Wednesday morning I was up before dawn the second day in a row.  This time I brought a flash so we could get better sunrise pictures.

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Chiang Mai is hidden somewhere underneath that pink haze in the distance.

Unlike the day before, we had no time constraints and so continued further along the road.  Still chuckling about the Phu Ping Palace, we found this campground soon after the point where I had been forced to turn around the day before.  The place even had a restaurant where we had breakfast of delicious fried rice.

Campground

We deduced from the consistent tent models and telltale bent grass that most of these tents are here permanently. Campers can drive in and rent a ready-to-go campsite complete with tent, breakfast cook, and jungle sunrise.

Sign: Do not fire on the lawn.

We were careful not to violate this rule.

Though awkward due to our poor planning, we decided that it would be great to ride the train together back to Bangkok overnight.  Just like old times in China.  Tamber had already purchased her return plane ticket, but luckily was able to change it with minimum hassle.  After making this change and going to the train station to get our tickets for that evening, we suddenly had just an afternoon left in Chiang Mai.  Since we had already rented the bikes for the day, we decided to spend the time on a final trip into the countryside.  We set out, map in hand, without a clear destination in mind.  After a short hike we ended up at this very nice little waterfall.

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Thailand's Umptanum Falls.

 

Unfortunately the layout was not conducive to swimming, plus the water looked dirty. I will have to wait for a future trip to check ‘swimming at the base of a jungle waterfall’ off my bucket list.

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