Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Chiang Mai: Boob Massages and Fish Baths

Chiang Mai, a place I was worried about after my buddy Jenny Hensley hated it, was such a little delight.  After the kind of frenetic pace of Bangkok--not us, who don't move very quickly ever--but the traffic and the transportation by BTS trains over the city moving below us and the escalators through air conditioned malls and the scooters darting in and out of lanes of traffic--Chiang Mai was a small-town surprise.  We loved our hotel, Rimping Village, set in a little section of Chiang Mai that reminded me of Martha's Vineyard, or some small American town.  Little spas, a gourmet grocery store, a pizza/burger place called Duke's that the kids naturally loved, were all in walking distance.  But so was the market with the frogs and the snakes and live eels and khao soi in a bag (curried noodles with a thousand condiments thrown on top) that we hardly felt like we weren't in Thailand.  Oh, and my first boob massage.  Now I'm not in Kansas anymore.  I tried explaining it to Laura, my friend back in Baltimore.
While Redding and I were getting some strange massages,
the others got a very pedestrian foot rub

Ok. First I'm just going to say that I'm going to nag you from here until eternity to get your ass in gear and bring Alex on the road with us one time. We are in Chiang Mai, Thailand right now getting ready to put our fat butts on some big elephants and ride them through the rice paddies to a river where we get off and bathe them with a huge scrub brush. Ok. Maybe that last part will not entice you. But...we've had four massages each including one for Redd who had to strip down completely and had his butt cheeks rubbed. Which at first he said was weird. But then he liked it. She put a small piece of cloth over his wiener and then proceeded to do his inner thighs. But getting your boobs massaged vigorously by someone whom you can't identify as make or female?  That's unforgettable and life altering. (That's what was happening to me as Redding was getting his soup stirred. Sam and the other two were safely getting their feet massaged in the safety of the front room.)  I did not see the boob massage part coming.  Frankly, I had my eyes squeezed shut the whole time out of humiliation so I didn't see anything.  Including my masseuse.  Until the last minute.  And then I think it might have been a man.  Or maybe a woman.  Either way, they saw my boobs.

Bo's highlight in Chiang Mai was convincing the family to join him at the fish baths.  This is where you sit on a bench dangling above an aquarium while hundreds of small sea creatures eat the dead skin off your extremities.  Once the squeamishness is over it's actually kind of nice.  You get out of the tank feeling very exfoliated and soft. Kind of like a baby's bottom.  Mason and I headed upstairs for another massage while Redding prowled the mean streets of Chiang Mai looking for a pair of knock-off LeBron James sneakers.

Getting Back to the Blog After a Summer on the Move

It's been seven weeks since we left behind Bangkok--the noodle shops, the meat on a stick, the cheap massages and the world's most beautiful pool.  We headed to Chiang Mai and I swore I'd keep up with the blog--my journal for the family--but we landed there, were handed cold towels and cool water bottles and taken to a small hotel in a village called Rimping with free bikes and a make-your-own cappuccino machine at the breakfast buffet.  Two blocks away was a local market that sold, among other things, live frogs and snakes in large plastic tubs covered with nylon nets so they couldn't jump or slither out.  The exotic surprises and the small unexpected distractions started in earnest. 

Sitting at my computer, which isn't actually a computer but the awful little screen of my iPhone with its miniscule keyboard and obnoxious autocorrects (summer, due to some combination of keystrokes, always gets changed to smear).  So I left it all behind and just enjoyed the moment.  Which for me is hard to do.  So here we are--seven weeks later having moved through Thailand, Laos and Cambodia--in Bali on the vacation's last week, in a villa more gorgeous than I could ever imagine.  No one is leaving.  There's nothing we need to do anymore but relax and look back on this life-changing adventure we've had since June 13.  Now it's catch up time.  Why not do it here overlooking the Bali Sea?