Friday 26 June 2015 – Chiang Mai, Thailand
Those not already awake were woken at 6.30am by the broadcast through a network of loudspeakers of some sort of advertising combined with a government or news ‘information’ bulletin. I’d also heard similar broadcasts, albeit at a more distant remove, from my room in Kanchanaburi. Not absolutely sure what it was, but presumably some sort of ‘nation building’.
Our young friend from the lantern launching came and said goodbye to everyone, offering hugs and smiles, before running off to school. We were called back to the kitchen to prepare fried rice and see other sweet rice dishes, coloured bright blue with butterfly pea flowers, and a delicious coconut milk custard, plus fruit and the steamed dessert from last night, for breakfast. None of us was overly keen on the banana leaf dessert, which had a very gluey texture.
Well breakfasted, we packed and were ferried back to Chiang Mai. Some of the group visited a hospital for injured and sick elephants on the way (Intrepid does not endorse riding of elephants). We spent the day at leisure and I wandered the streets of the old city and visiting various temples. Lunch of a not-very-exciting chilli basil chicken at a touristy café, which cost about three times as much as the much better one from the street-side stall in Kanchanaburi.
We reconvened as a group late in the afternoon for a final, farewell dinner. Soon took us to a barbecue buffet restaurant (all you can eat for 159 baht). It used Korean-style grill plates which combined a stock pot. Meat was grilled on top using blobs of pork fat, while vegetables, noodles, pork balls etc were simmered in the stock. Lots of marinaded meats to choose from and the deal included appetisers like spring rolls and ice-cream with Thai toppings like coconut jelly and palm seed. Fun and quite tasty, but tricky & fiddly. I think I’ll stick with my Chinese style hotpots at home.
We were dropped off at the night market. I went with Jacquie and Nicola to the Kway Taowy (ladyboy) cabaret show. Lots of lip synching and silly choreography, lots of glitter and feathers and false eyelashes like five-inch paint brushes, especially ‘Miss Chiang Mai’. One can see that all the practice decorating glittery temples pays off for these girls!
After the show we re-joined some of the others at a bar for a final farewell. A band of local boys played 90s hits by Nirvana, Oasis, Blur and Bowie (via Kurt Cobain). A three-piece they were musically very good. I wondered how well they understood the lyrics. As young Asians find their cultural identity, I hope that skilled and talented youngers like these can channel their unique cultural perspectives to create original and vital works that will go out and take their place on the world stage.
As most of the group departs tomorrow, we said our goodbyes and hugs all around, with promises to stay in touch and offers of accommodation when passing through each other’s home towns. Most were intrigued by Tasmania so I won’t be surprised if a few take up the offer at some point.
Had planned to do some shopping at the market but by the time we’d finished our farewells, the stallholders were packing up.