Chiang Mai, again ...

As we turned into the lane, after the long drive back from Chiang Mai, our eyes searched yard and fields for signs of our greatly missed canine children. It seemed we had been gone for a week, when in fact we had left Tuesday, early, and returned late in the afternoon on Thursday. The non stop pace made the trip seem much longer than it was. I suppose they heard us before they saw us and all three appeared out of nowhere. Nice thing about dogs, the way they live in the moment, no pouting about us being gone, just so obviously elated to have us back. We had reports they moped around, while we were away, but things were soon back to normal, as if we had never left.

We stay at a friend’s house while in Chiang Mai and, in fact, only visit our Sister-City of the North, when she flies up from Bangkok. She helps us navigate our way to coffee shops, shopping, great food and puts us up in style and comfort in her beautiful home. With a body of the same general size, and taste similar to my wife’s, they have way too much fun shopping for clothes, furniture and household decorations. They tolerate my tagging along and accommodate my needs, occasionally, by finding someplace for me to get a massage while they talk and try on clothes.

Since both are quite pleasant to the eye, my ego gets stroked by the looks we get. Not being what they expect, in the form of Thai girls and a Farang, I enjoy being able to read the commentary on the faces of strangers, as we go about our business. Not often seeing foreigners where we live, Chiang Mai is a bit of a shock for us, too. Parts of the city feel very much like Bangkok and foreigners are everywhere. Somehow we can’t see Chiang Rai ever undergoing a similar transformation. Sure it would mean a greater selection of goods and services, but making things easier doesn’t always make them better.

The roads were worse than usual on this trip. There is a section in the mountains where the road construction seems stuck in a time warp, with no end in sight. There is a roadside factory, we have passed on several occasions, without the luxury of time to stop and check it out. On this day there was no rush so we pulled to the side of the road, as one does in these parts, and ventured in. The pottery on display out front would be enough of a draw, but my wife likes this stuff, so soon struck up a friendship with the owner. With his children, who normally do the sales, out for the day, he took us on a tour of the kilns, way in the back of the property.

With the feel of stepping back into antiquity we found ourselves surrounded by relics from a bygone era. He has kept old molds and samples from previous generations as reminders. Being a man of action and hard work, more than words, I’m sure he was a bit overwhelmed by my wife’s interest and endless questions. His smiles and openness revealed his pride in what he and previous generations of his family had built. He made a present of a small piece lifted from the floor near the kiln at the back. In good time we made some purchases at the front of the establishment as he called his children to make sure of the prices.  Though our encounter was brief, there was a feeling of leaving an old friend by the time we hit the road again. In my early years this kind of day was much more common. Seeing the world through my wife’s eyes and feeling her enthusiasm often brings back long forgotten memories of things that once felt so new and exotic. I would surely be a boring old fart, by now, without her to inspire me.