From overcoming fears, defying the odds, challenging myself, trying traditional food, learning to trust, making new friends to discovering myself; It is a journey that has astounding memories and incredible stories.
Do check out my previous post(s) on Thailand travel series listed below.
In my previous post, I spoke a lot about a chain of strange moments Ashok, and I experienced in the first few hours of our entry into the city Chiang Mai. I held off my travelogue at a point where I was going through one of the craziest moments of my life. So, here we go! I am back to continue the excitement as promised.
To tell you the truth, I never expected I would reminisce all those uncanny bits and feel glad that I experienced each and every one of those strange moments that somehow transformed into beautiful memories. There is a saying that, ‘few things inspire travel like a good movie, culture, customs., etcetera.’
In my case, the inspiration was FOOD!
So, at a time when we felt famished because of an exhausting journey, if we had traversed the city by ditching the food, then it would be somewhat similar to picking a cart before the horse! Hence, without a second thought, we chose FOOD. Truth is I didn’t leave much of an option to Ashok in that matter as I was not in a mood to explore anything until I had something to eat first. We set out of the hostel to find something to eat after freshening up and fitting our bags in a confined space.
As we set out we questioned ourself; how are we going to reach the destination? As we thought about it, another million-dollar question popped in my mind. ‘Well, where should we go? And, furthermore, what do I do if I didn’t find anything vegetarian to eat?’ Many such questions started to bombard in my head and made me feel hungrier than ever! Just then, Ashok suggested, ‘Why don’t we take a walk and look for a street food outlet on the go?’ As it made sense, we started walking on the unknown roads. We were pretty confident about finding our way back. The credit goes to the most incredible ‘Google Maps’ here! (Wink).
Frankly, I was in no position to walk. If it were not to calm down the hurricane set out in my stomach, I would have gladly stayed back and had a good sound sleep. Alas! Somethings cannot be ignored, so I gathered my strength to walk. One could instantly figure out how tired I was by the sound my feet made as I shuffled on the surface one step at a time. However, being tired didn’t stop me from noticing all the glamour the streets had to offer; especially at night.
Though mostly we were looking for food outlets, we couldn’t possibly miss seeing various shops that fulfil different purposes. Even at the mid of night, one has to witness to see the streets that are buzzing with activity. There were people literally everywhere. And, the atmosphere was filled with their laughter and discussions. It would be so foolish of me to miss mentioning how each and every store was lit with colourful bright lights; some of them were dangling from the roof, which made them slightly swing by the impact of air. Many stores decorated their place with wind-chimes and the cool breeze carried the subtle sound made by the wind-chimes along with it.
In our search for food and the feast for eyes we did not realize that we had already covered 2km!
As we wandered through the mesmerizing streets we heard music resonating from a corner of the street we were walking in. We approached the place with a curiosity and found a band playing ‘Didgeridoo’. At first, I was unaware of the instrument and the band playing. After a quick research, I found the name of the instrument and the band playing, which is ‘Tuku band’. Like other conventional musical instruments, it didn’t have those sharp notes. On the contrary, the sound was somewhat bass and heavy, which is unique! It would be an understatement to just say we were drawn to it!
We ended up joining others who formed a circle around the band and started cheering and dancing.
In all that excitement we missed to notice where we walked into. We were standing in front of a historical monument, the ‘Tha Phae Gate’ which dates back to 13th century. The community events that happen in the enclosure of the crumbling monument makes it a cynosure once more.
We spent some time there listening to the band’s music. Well, I couldn’t possibly fool my stomach forever; so, I felt it was time for us to move on. We saw a lot of activity around the shops that were on the opposite road of the Tha Phae gate and started walking towards them. After walking for a couple of minutes in the lane, we entered the night bazar which didn’t seem to have an end.
Many lanes turned into a market altogether, and there were literally hundreds of stalls that had everything from clothes, food, raw food materials, kitchen accessories, home decor to electronics. Seeing that gave me a hope to find vegetarian food at least at one of the stalls.
Ashok is a non-vegetarian, so naturally he had many options in food. But still, he patiently walked along with me in a hope to find something for me to eat first.
We literally stopped at each and every food stall to check for vegetarian or eggetarian options, but somehow, we were not able to explain any of the street vendors what we were looking for. It was past 1AM. So, I convinced Ashok to first pick something to eat for himself as by then my case seemed like a lost cause. I found a stall at the start of the Night Bazaar that was selling fresh fruit juices. I picked up a bottle of watermelon juice in the start which helped me survive our food quest until we made it to the end of night bazaar.
As Ashok went around to get food, I lost hope and sat on a bench nearby to rest for a while. Suddenly, my attention was grabbed by a fruit stall nearby. I was quick to be on feet again and walked to the stall. The stall was selling skewers of fruits dipped in melted chocolate. I was so relieved to find something to eat at last and was happy that after all I was not going to sleep on an empty stomach. So, within a blink of an eye I took two skewers of strawberries that were dipped in chocolate. Ashok was back by that time, holding a plate filled with Pad Thai or Noodles in his hand. I genuinely do not quite remember what was on his plate as, by that time, everything was a blur and I didn’t notice much.
Ashok was very excited to see chocolate-dipped strawberries. By just looking at them, one could tell that they were juicy and fresh. The reddish-pink colour of the strawberries was so deep just like I saw in a TV show, ‘MasterChef Australia.’ Quite naturally, tempted by the sight of strawberries, Ashok very innocently asked if he could have a couple of them from my plate. I just couldn’t say no to him, at least not after seeing that spark in his eyes at the sight of strawberries. So, I ended up sharing a couple of them with him from the little I had. I went back to the food stall to buy another fruit skewer but by they had nothing left. So, we headed back to the hostel after that.
Though the first day in Chiang Mai put me through a lot when it came to finding food, it was really a worthwhile walk as I got to see many interesting things along the way.
As I laid back on the bunker bed (which was a dream of mine to sleep on one) reminiscing about the few hours we spent in Chiang Mai on that day, my thoughts quickly took me back home and I started to giggle softly. The reason for it is a funny fact about me. I am a person who never shared food with anyone when hungry myself. But here I was, standing in the middle of the street with little food in my hand and for the first time I too was sharing it with a smile. Even today whenever Deepthi (my sibling) mischievously asks me for a share from my food it reminds me of that funny incident when I shared strawberries with Ashok. Brooding over all these thoughts I slipped into a deep sleep in a jiffy; accompanied by snores to go with it, I presume!