This could be a philosophical post about how I came be be studying Thai massage as the only Student (currently) at a massage clinic specialising in the therapy aspects of the practice. But actually it’s just going to be about the walk I’ve been making each morning. It will be heavier on photos than dialogue.
I’ve been having a cup of black tea, then showering and getting my things together and leaving the Chiang Mai White House at about 7:50. The guest house is on a narrow soi (usually translated as lane) which is just about wide enough for one car or truck. If two need to pass then someone has to back up. I cross the main road and continue, turning right onto another soi which takes me to Sompat market.
This is a little market which does very well out of the fact that several Thai cookery schools take their students there to lecture them about Thai ingredients. It is also surrounded by guest houses so the majority of customers are tourists and the prices reflect that. Opposite the market is JoJo’s, where I get a breakfast plate of fruit sprinkled with museli. This morning’s arrangement featured banana, papaya, mango, dragonfruit, watermelon, grapes and some sort of yellow plum.
I read over breakfast and then walk to the end of the soi where it meets the wall of the old city. The walled city of Chiang Mai was almost a perfect square, surrounded by a moat. Inside the moat is an anticlockwise ring road which I cross by waiting for a gap and going for it. I cross the moat to the clockwise ring road, which is even bigger and at this time in the morning has no breaks in the traffic so I walk to the light and press the button. It changes to green and the light stops the traffic for exactly ten seconds – you don’t hang around when it tells you to cross.
From here I walk along the ring road to the north-east corner of the city where some of the old wall can still be seen just inside the moat. The moat has fountains which throw a fine mist of water into the air which seems to help cool things and maybe cuts the pollution a little. It’s about 30C by this time.
At the corner I turn off and walk around a rather splendid looking temple, which I’ve not had the opportunity to visit yet. At which point the road gets a bit barren, and as there are sections with no paths around corners one has to pay attention. In about five minutes I turn left at the next lights and onto Muang Samut. This is the road the clinic is on, but first I have to pass through what is locally called “the big market” and is officially Muang Mai Market.
This is the market where the restaurants in the town send their buyers to get just about everything. It stretches for about six soi and several covered warehouse areas. There are fish and prawns swimming in tanks, mounds of chicken piled up a metre high, and enough green coconuts to build a house with. I bought two double hands of little finger sized bananas, probably about 50 fruit in all, for 30 Baht which is 75p. I could probably have offered less.
The soi of the market itself are a complete traffic jam of people on foot, barrowboys with carts stacked high and buyers on motorbikes, sometimes piled equally high. Sometimes I walk through the market and up to Thara Massage by the back soi, but it takes quite a bit longer as movement often comes to a complete halt.
Just beyond the market is a section of metalwork and motorbike repair shops. Guys have workbenches on the pavement where they are hammering away at some old water pump whilst a woman in a grease soaked apron fetches parts from the stores inside.
Finally I get to Thara Thai Massage at number 72 around 8:50. Not that I’ve noticed numbers on any of the buildings. And just a word of warning if you are trying to find it out of hours: the shutters that come down when it is closed cover the name so you could quite easily miss it. The walk from my breakfast spot to the clinic takes just over 15 minutes.