We have been in Thailand for roughly 3 weeks, and this morning as we rode the moped through the little streets of the Old Town in Chiang Mai I was thinking that life was almost starting to feel a little bit normal. Or maybe not normal, but like a life I could get used to. We eat breakfast in our room or downstairs at our hotel, we hop on the bike and go somewhere to work, we grab lunch nearby somewhere, work some more, go home and rest a bit, find dinner, and hang out with friends.
Now don’t let me fool you, the past few days have been far from normal. They have rather been a whirlwind of looking at apartments, finding decent internet, and lots of sweating. But yesterday we signed a rental agreement, and today we purchased a month-long membership at a co-working space, so I can see the comforts of a routine forming.
I still find myself thinking of home often. What are my old roommates doing? How are Mac & Carmelle’s wedding plans coming along? What has Caitlyn been baking lately? Have all of our friends gone to the pumpkin patch and drank apple cider? I find that the things I miss most are the yearly traditions that really start happening in the fall. I’ll just appreciate them that much more next year, I guess.
On this side of the world, instead of cider and pumpkin bread, we are eating piles of Thai food. I have now twice enjoyed khao kha muu, a dish of stewed pork leg – so tender it falls apart and the fat just melts in your mouth – with rice, served with pickled mustard greens and occasionally a perfectly soft boiled egg. The second time was from the famous “lady in the cowboy hat” which is apparently the best in Chiang Mai.
Khao soi is another dish that you’ll find on almost every menu here, and while we haven’t found “the best” khao soi (there are of course differing opinions on where to get it), we have enjoyed a couple bowls of the sweet, curry soup with soft egg noodles below and crispy egg noodles on top. Jonah also expertly ordered a “dry” khao soi the other day, which wasn’t quite dry, but instead of soup was more like extra saucy noodles, and which was also really really good.
Last night I went out to dinner with my friend Kylie to a place near our hotel (and also near our new apartment that we’ll move into this weekend), and we had some marinated grilled chicken, catfish salad, and a spicy pomelo salad that was much like the papaya salad you find at some Thai restaurants at home but with pomelo instead of papaya. It was served with a healthy scoop of peanuts to help with the spice, and some kind of lemongrass…salsa? Anyway, it was the highlight of the meal – limey, crunchy, nutty, spicy, funky (thanks to the dried shrimp). All around great.
We have indulged in a couple of non-Thai meals, and the other night Jonah guided us to a Japanese restaurant he had passed on his moped. Similar to Korean BBQ places I’ve been to at home, you order a bunch of raw meat and vegetables and cook it on a grill at your table. Except here, instead of the grill being safely secured in the center of your table, the grill is made of heavy stone (or cast iron, perhaps) and is hauled to your table full of hot coals by one of the sweet gals working there. It was perhaps the sweatiest smokiest meal we’ve enjoyed, but also one of the most fun.
We’re continuing to settle into life here. The next orders of business are finding a yoga studio we like and, of course, a place (or three) for good cheap Thai massages. And in just a few short weeks, the visitors start arriving.