Thai massage and watercolours

Going back to the real world was a little tough. We were back in traffic, honking cars, hot streets and shops with souvenirs. To make the most of that comeback, as soon as we got off the 6am bus that brought us to Chaing Mai, we had cappuccino and chocolate croissants for breakfast. Marveling at the taste of chocolate after a week on vegetables, we decided we had to go someplace quiet. We took the first minivan to Pai and the same afternoon sent Chiang Mai a kiss for goodbye.

Pai turned out to be the right size. Even though it was low season it was still very touristic. We’d prefer someplace without kitsch souvenirs and tour operators on every corner, but Pai had other advantages. We found a nice bungalow looking over a river. We had all the privacy we could get and started each day with meditation and yoga. Then went for a healthy breakfast of wheat grass, chai and something tasty in Good Life Tea House and pass our days on sweet doing nothing – drawing, writing, reading and biking around.

Pai had interesting surroundings and even though it was the peak of dry season, there were still a few places to see. First we paid a visit to an art space and had a chat with the owner. He built gallery and bungalows with money from donations and whatever he earned from his artwork. It was a great space, airy, green and colourful. Can’t say the same about the art though. Afterwards we went to cool off in two waterfalls and managed to dip in the little water that was left in them. Refreshed and recharged, we headed to Pai Canyon, which was actually very impressive. We half expected just another over-hyped tourist attraction, but it was definitely a place worth visiting. We got dirty, dusty and sweaty climbing up and down its sandy formations, but it was almost sunset and our next stop was cold shower and food, so we didn’t mind that at all.

Pai was small enough to feel like in a village and big enough to give us everything we needed – good coffee, vegetarian food and a few good bars to chill out. Well almost everything. We wanted to use our time productively – join a massage course, yoga retreat or drawing classes – but there was very little on offer in Pai. If we wanted to do something more than just watch sunset from a hammock, we had to go back to Chiang Mai. And so we did.
Ale signed up for a massage course at Old Medicine Hospital, while I devoted all my time to drawing and watercolours. Alessandro’s course was a week long, so I had a few days for my newly discovered medium. While he was learning Thai massage from morning to late afternoon, I took drawing classes and practiced at a different cafe every day. The room in our guesthouse was unbearably hot and it was impossible to stay in it between 10am and 7pm. This gave me a good excuse to try cappuccinos in various bars across the city. There are so many cafes in Chiang Mai that I could try a new place every day of a month and I still wouldn’t try them all. Coffee was pretty good too. Not close as good as coffee in Italy or Australia, but we’re in Asia, coffee standards are different here.

Alessandro on the other hand was busy with his course. He was getting so much into it that he practiced new moves on me every evening. I happily oblidged trusting he wouldn’t pull my muscles. Well, he was close once, but only because he was practising on a huge muscular German guy all day and forgot to lessen the pressure when he switched to me. “One, two, three, four, fiiiiiiiiiiiive,” he imitated his massage teacher with a teasing voice. His teacher was evidently gay and, in my opinion, had hots for Ale. On the last day of the course Ale asked him for a complete two hour massage (which I recorded) and I must say sometimes things were getting really hot!

To finish off our stay in Chiang Mai, I joined an intensive two-day watercolour course at a known art gallery. I tried another teacher earlier that week but was left dissappointed by her lack of professionalism. Luckily, the one in the art gallery was great. My teacher (Master, as others called him) didn’t speak English though and he was accompanied by another teacher from the gallery who acted as our interpreter. They both had a great sense of humour and were far from being serious professors so we laughed all the time. The six hours with them were hard work, but fun. At the end of the second lesson we even played a match in badminton. Ale came around too and they kicked our asses.

All these days in Chiang Mai we were staying in Nocky House guesthouse. We knew we’d be staying for 10 days and we persisted on finding a guesthouse with a kitchen so that we didn’t have to eat out three times a day. Nocky House was the only one we found and we took it even though the room was hot and the cleanliness of the whole place left a lot to be desired. It had a nice common area in a garden and a shady terrace and they outweighed mice in the kitchen and weird smells. Plus the house had a social life of its own, which I observed with a lot of interest. There was a Chinese guy who didn’t say a word to anyone, just sat in a corner, smoked cigarettes and looked into infinity. There was a French guy who had been there for a few months already, who made friends with everybody by offering them papaya and who knew the cheapest places for anything one may need. There was also an old demented German bloke who run around the guesthouse half naked with a towel on his waist and had a great talent of annoying everyone. Last of the permanent residents of Nocky House was a 20-year-old French guy who collected his unemployment money in France and lived a good life in Chiang Mai, partying until early morning hours and making creaking noises with a different lady every night. One morning we woke up to a female voice talking loudly outside of his window. He ditched her, she wanted money from him, he told her to kiss his *** and continued his business with a lady that was with him in the room. It was a soap opera scene. It was too interesting to miss it and I’m sure the whole guesthouse was listening intently to their conversation.













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