Breakfast was included in our room rate, so we walked over to the restaurant.
Left: Me outside the main lobby building.
As I mentioned in Part 1, Chiang Mai was pretty deserted as this is the off season. The population at the resort was similarly sparse.
The restaurant staff did a really good job of maintaining a wide selection of items in the buffet without putting a large amount of food out. For example, instead of a basket full of muffins, there was a banana-leaf tray with six of them. They were neatly arranged, had a flower as decoration, etc. but you could tell they didn’t want to waste food.
The tree, with its many vines, roots, and Northern Thai-style lanterns (the white ones, below) hanging from its branches, was the focal point of the resort. The owner wrote in his welcome letter that he selected the site of the resort specifically because of the tree.
After breakfast we looked around the resort. We learned that the annual staff party would be held that evening, so the restaurant would close at eight. This was fine as we had other plans in mind for dinner. We also noticed (“we”, “we”, “we”… as if Tawn doesn’t have his own blog – maybe if I stop writing “we”, he’ll update his blog), that the staff was conducting a ceremony at the base of the large tree. It seems that they were replacing the spirit house with a new one.
I’ve spoken about spirit houses before, but a brief explanation for those who are unfamiliar: While Thais are mostly a Buddhist nation, many animist, Brahmanist, and Hindu beliefs form a sort of quasi-religious subtext. One of the more common of these is the belief that the land, trees, mountains, etc. have spirits living on or in them.
When the land is developed to build a house, shop, or other building, you are obligated to erect a house – a “spirit house” – in which the displaced spirits can live. This is placed in an auspicious spot, is appropriately sized (huge ones outside malls, smaller ones outside residential houses), and the residents and tenants regularly pay respect to the spirits by offering incense, candles, drinks and food.
In the entry located here, you can see me making an offering to our condo’s spirit house on the day we moved in. Also, the most famous spirit house in Thailand is the Erawan Shrine. Read more about it here.
A little online research didn’t yield many satisfactory answers as to why the peacock motif is so prevalent in Chiang Mai, although I did learn that in both Hindu and Buddhist mythology, the peacock is symbolic of the worldly realms of appearance whereas the swan is the symbol of the higher realms.
Also, in Buddhism the peacock’s tail is associated with the Wheel of Dharma.
How’s that for a whole lot of additional trivia that you probably didn’t ever expect to learn?
Below, Tawn takes a picture of a beautiful three-dimensional mural of a peacock in the outdoor dining area.
We started the day with a massage, which is always a fine way to start. Afterwards we wandered over to Tha Phae Road, on the north side of the Night Market, looking for a tea house that Khun Ken had recommended. Along the way we found some interesting shops, including the Sun Gallery, pictured below.
The downstairs area had a wide variety of objects and paintings for sale, but the owner, Khun Veeraphat, opened the upstairs area for us. It was this beautiful space, one side of which can actually be used by painters to create their works and the other side of which displays more paintings. The light and volume of the space were really nice as there were balconies at the end of the rooms providing natural lighting.
Just down the street we found the Siam Celadon Tea House, housed in a two-story teak building of neocolonial design that dates to 1915. Khun Nit Wangwiwat, owner of the Raming Tea Company, bought the house in 1986 and it was eventually renovated for use as a shop and restaurant.
The highlight of the building is its central atrium, which floods the space with diffused light. No air conditioning is used and the design, which includes high ceilings, lots of open grilles at the top of walls, and good window placement, allows for visitors to comfortably enjoy their tea with a nice breeze.
It is a pleasant space with a lovely garden in the back and we enjoyed a light bite to eat and some tea. The shop is located next to a small khlong or canal and every so often the hint of an unpleasant smell wafts over on the breeze. That was the one downside.
We headed back to the resort mid-afternoon and I was able to get a swim in at the pool until I was interrupted by the rain.
That evening we enjoyed an Indian meal at the Whole Earth restaurant, located adjacent to the resort. I’ve eaten there before and they used to have a branch in Khrungthep that has regrettably closed.
Located in a beautiful Thai-style building pictured to the left, the food is well-prepared with an extensive vegetarian menu and other meat selections. We had a fish tikka and a curried okra dish that were amazing. The service is attentive, too.
Pretty tired from all our walking around – how is it that holidays are so exhausting? – we stopped by the front desk of the hotel and borrowed the Michelle Pfeiffer film, I Could Never Be Your Woman. Even thought they had several dozen films, they were all things we had either seen before or had no interest in seeing, so we settled for this 2007 comedy. It was okay, but I’m glad I didn’t pay 100 baht for it in the cinema.
Sunday morning was sunny, with blue skies finally breaking through the clouds. Our flight was just after noon so we didn’t have a lot of time.
The one last thing on my list was breakfast at Bake & Bite Bakery. A Chiang Mai fixture with three locations, this is a straight-up American style breakfast place with an emphasis on homemade breads, bagels, muffins and cinnamon rolls.
When Ken and I were up in Chiang Mai a year ago, we enjoyed nice breakfasts here a couple of times. Since then, I’ve concluded my quest for an American style breakfast place in Khrungthep with Little Home on Thong Lor, about which I have yet to write.
For some reason, I ended up fully satisfied with my breakfast while Tawn was not satisfied with his at all. I think some of it was that Tawn’s stomach wasn’t feeling terribly well. But part of it had to do with the chef’s inability to hard boil an egg. Tawn ordered two hard boiled eggs and the first ones that came out were really soft and spilled all over the place upon cracking the shells.
He pointed this out to the waitress who apologized and brought out two more eggs a few minutes later. Same problem. Needless to say, Tawn now doesn’t understand why I like the restaurant.
After breakfast, we packed our bags and said goodbye to the friendly staff of the Yaang Come Village, who all lined up and wai’d us as we left.
Our short flight home was on THAI Airways, a different airline from our flight up because Tawn was originally going to be up in Chiang Mai on business and I booked the same, slightly more expensive flight back as he had.
Even though the flight is only an hour from takeoff to touchdown, they serve a snack service that, while not gourmet, certainly puts to shame the “hospitality” offered by any US-based airline.
Below left: Tawn special ordered a fish meal, which ended up being cold fish sticks with tartar sauce. Below right: I ate the standard meal that was being passed out, a pork laab patty (kind of like chicken salad but with pork and Thai spices – it is normally served as a salad and not formed into patties) served with fresh veggies. As with many of our meals this weekend, mine proved to be the better choice.
And thus ended our weekend in Chiang Mai. We’ll have to travel somewhere again soon as there is so much to explore here in Thailand.