Chiang Mai Day 1: rain, tailors & fabric

Last night, I managed to score some mangosteens at the Chiang Mai Gate market (one end of the Saturday walking street market). I didn’t think this was mangosteen season, and I definitely missed it last year, so I am super happy. We ate them with our breakfast.

There are few things yummier than mangosteens!

It was rainy when we woke up on Sunday, though, so Matt made the last-minute decision that he and Jennifer should go to the Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School, where we had also gone several years back. The van picked them up after breakfast, and I was on my own. It was great!

My first order of business was to head for a tailor shop I’d read was highly recommended, near the opposite end of Loi Kroh Road. Unfortunately, although they were very helpful in general, they are not able to copy my beloved favorite dress. They recommended how I could get the right fabric near Wararot Market, so I headed out again.

Wararot Market is always an adventure, but I didn’t stay there long. I only stopped in each fabric store I found around it, until I finally found some fabric that seemed similar enough to what I needed.

Since my dress is black, one store manager wouldn’t even look at what fabric I was needing. He said, “because of what has happened,” and I know that he means the King, but I didn’t really understand why he wouldn’t sell me black fabric. I thanked him and continued on, though. 

I found the fabric, and then I needed to find a tailor who would copy my dress. That turned out to be harder. I found one in the end, just as I was needing lunch, and he recommended a khao soi place nearby. 

Khao Soi (spelled various ways), for those who’ve never been to CM, is a delicious soup (sort of) specific to this area. It has a red curry/coconut base, soft noodles in it, and fried noodles on top. It is usually served with fresh onions, lime, and pickled vegetables, although it sometimes isn’t, and sometimes has other things too. At some point in the next few days, I will be sure to get a picture, but I didn’t think to on Sunday. Instead, I took pictures of the rain outside, since a major downpour happened while I ate.

So much rain came that the street filled with several inches of water. After considering my options, I decided to slosh over to the next strip of sidewalk. As it warmed up again in the next hour, shopkeepers swept excess water down drains. Soon you could hardly tell it had been there! This is the end of the rainy season, just as the temperatures start to cool off for winter. I find it a pretty good time to be here, having gotten here just a couple of weeks later last year. There are fewer crowds of tourists, but it’s pretty easy to manage the temperatures and the rain.

Here are some lovely pictures from a bit of the day’s walking:

Near Wararot, where I had to return for more of the same fabric that I had purchased, there’s a very comfortable upstairs cafe called Thanel Coffee, which feels like an oasis of calm in the business of that area. I learned about it last year, so when I needed a break, I went there for passionfruit juice (another favorite, and in season right now).

When I was all done with the day’s errands, I returned to the hotel for a cooling swim in the pool while waiting for Matt and Jennifer to return. 

Everyone rested, we headed out later for the Sunday walking street, for more street food dinner and general shopping. 

Edit: I forgot to mention that at the beginning of the market, we first partook of one-hour Thai foot massages. It was one of those typical market stands, lots of people, everyone chatting and on their phone, people walking by constantly and commenting or chatting with the people giving the massages. Jennifer said it was so different from what she thinks of as “massage environment.” 😀 I love it. 

You may notice that pictures in the Chiang Mai portion are not as great as before. That is because I made a deal with Matt. Since I have been in CM many times before, he can use the new fancy camera while we are here. I am using my phone, and mostly forgetting to. Sorry.

We were exhausted when we returned to the hotel, looking forward to the next day of adventures!