Chiang Mai, Thailand
Today is my last day in Chiang Mai city. I’m not heading for home just yet but I am getting out of dodge which makes today my last day to tend to such finalities as gifts for home and posting back that which I can’t carry. Having well and truly exhausted the market offerings, I still hadn’t ticked everything off my list but had a couple of places in mind.
I’d noticed two shops in particular on Prapokklao Road only a few doors apart – one called I’m Fine with cool handicrafts including toys, bags, t-shirts and paintings; the other called Things Called Art with just my kind of original artwork and associated wares. If I had more money and a place to call home, I’d have been tempted to buy a piece or two. Instead I picked up a few gifts but one eluded me… a toy elephant for my nephew, Brendan, whose birthday I missed by extending my trip. Of course I’d seen plenty of toy elephants but none were quite right. Just as I was about to quit and find an alternative, I spied a little boutique at the back of a construction site. A small sign announced that Yuu Shop was open so I tip toed through the rubble to find my prize – the sweetest elephant I could imagine and just the right size! I snapped one up (and perhaps a soft toy interpretation of Salvador Dali’s long legged elephant for me).
Mission accomplished, I stopped for a blueberry smoothie before navigating the Thai postal service to send my excess home without me. It was funny to see the boxes piled high from the many who’d been before me with a similar packing dilemma.
The mornings chores done, it was time to retire once more to the Art Cafe to meet Becky who’d been similarly going about her business ahead of her silent retreat tomorrow. Although our intention in meeting up was purely social, it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in full planning mode for our project. What was just an idea yesterday had gained traction overnight on our mutual enthusiasm for it. We ended up spending hours at the cafe giving shape to our brainchild to such an extent that completing it is now just a foregone conclusion! Intrigued? Watch this space…
We’d been so engrossed in our plotting and scheming that we’d lost track of time and Becky still had gifts to buy. Back to the Night Bazar! It has to be said at this point that Becky is the worst haggler on earth! Perhaps the sweetest, but in terms of driving the price down, the worst! When told the initial inflated price, she’d typically gasp in shock at it being so cheap and worry they weren’t charging enough! As hilarious as it was to watch, I had to step in and make sure she understood the name of the game was for the price to go down and not up. I had to intervene and take over purchasing duties including of one very lovely black dress that unfortunately truly was one of a kind or we would’ve got an even better deal for two!
We shared our last supper at one of the ex-pat places along the market, Becky wanting to get her last decent meal in before the fasting she was facing over the next 10 days. We talked at length about such important topics as His Dark Materials vs Harry Potter (our first real disagreement, neither of us having read the others series of choice. Feel free to weigh in on the debate but just so you know, the correct answer is His Dark Materials!).
We chatted and chewed without the shadow of an imminent farewell hanging over us knowing that this is just the beginning for us. We parted ways though still in step. Tomorrow, after months of globetrotting, we both head off in different directions for a final retreat before facing blank futures in our respective homelands. With everything else uncertain, it’s nice to know what we started here is at least a chapter heading in two stories waiting to be told.