The Joy of Visiting Friends...

When friends are scattered far and wide it takes a little more effort to see them.  Sure FaceBook and Line make keeping in touch easier than in the past but to actually visit and spend time with someone you care about takes time and may include travel.  These days I really don’t have friends separate from my wife and we enjoy the company of the same people.

So every once in a while she will tell me friends are going to be in Bangkok or Chiang Mai and we are going to visit them.  I help out by booking tickets or hotels in Bangkok or driving through the mountains to Chiang Mai.  These are always exciting times and I look forward to a change of scenery and interesting conversation.

Our last trip was to Chiang Mai to stay with our friend Pom as she had a few days off from work in Bangkok.  Despite a high pressure job and a hectic fast paced lifestyle, she still finds time to spend with us and we really enjoy our time with her.  Her parents are great too and always make us feel welcome in their home.
Our host in a thoughtful pose.

This last trip went something like this.  After arranging for the care of our pets and house we got an early start.  We made one stop on the way to town to pick up something for our friend’s mother and then we were off on our roughly three and a half hour drive through the mountains to Chiang Mai.

The first stop was to drop off our stuff at the house and wait for Pom to come pick us up for a day of adventure.  I never know where we are going but she always comes up with interesting things to see, do and eat.  Our first stop since we were all hungry, was Woo - Cafe . Art Gallery . Lifestyle Shop.  While we were there my wife found a few new ceramics to add to her collection as well.

After a fair amount of driving around we found ourselves at a popular place called the Grandcanyon Chiangmai.  It is the kind of place you are unlikely to find in a more highly regulated country.  It is basically an old disused quarry which has filled with water and is now a tourist hotspot.  Access is through very narrow lanes, barely wide enough for two cars to pass.  There is no organized parking so you do your best to find a place in the dirk on the side of the road.  Some people are there to take pictures while others relax in the water and the more the adventurous launch themselves from the cliffs into the water far below.

From the Grandcanyon we went for a two hour massage in the Nimman area of town and bought some groceries at the Maya Mall.  For dinner we stopped at a local roadside diner near the house.

The next day it was my turn to drive and we headed for the mountains where four wheel drive was more appropriate.  The plan was to first visit The Giant Chiang Mai to have coffee in the giant tree house but they were closed for renovation and we had to change our plans.  We ended up going to Mae Kam Pong and having coffee at a small but popular shop, Chom Nok Chom Mai Coffee, perched precariously on the edge of the very narrow and steep road overlooking the forest below.

Not far down the mountain we stopped again for lunch in a tiny little roadside village.  Again parking was an adventure in itself as we struggled to find a safe place to park the SUV.

The Teentok Royal Project was our next stop on the way down the mountain.

Upon returning to Chiang Mai we decided to stop at the Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai for a light snack at the bakery courtyard.

The next morning we had time for one more stop before the long drive home and ended up at the Anantara Chiang Mai right on the river.  Pom caught her flight back to Bangkok and we enjoyed our drive home through the mountains arriving home around sunset greeted by our cats and dogs.

Living where we do, these trips and a chance to see distant friends mean a lot to us.  Tomorrow we are flying down to Bangkok for a few days but after we get back to Chiang Rai I am guessing we might need a little down time.  Besides there is nowhere like home.