Travel Blog: Week 48

Chiang Mai

Week 48: 07.10.2013 – 13.10.2013

Monday:-

I woke really early when it was still dark. Willow was no where to be seen and I couldn’t hear the little bell on her collar – she’d found somewhere else to sleep. I rolled over and went back to sleep.

I was woken again a couple of hours later by a little cold nose in my face. Someone was trying to tell me it’s time for breakfast.

I slobbed around all morning. Breakfast was smoothie and marmite on toast. I could get used to this. I unpacked, took stock, considered my finances, and did laundry.

  

This house has three floors and on the top floor was a proper high tech washing machine. I washed pretty much everything as nothing was really fresh anymore. The house was owned by a couple and they had two children. The third floor with its large balcony was used by the man as an open air yoga studio. This was also where I could hang my washing. The view out the back was just overgrown greens. Trees and large plants, many of which were covered in creepers, and then nothing but large leaved ground cover plants. Butterflies were everywhere, and although they weren’t easy to spot, there were birds too.

  

I showered in a proper stand in shower with a glass door (complete with resident gecko) and changed into the only things I thought I could get away with not washing for another day.

Waew popped round about 2 and visited with a friend who gave me a herbal massage. Just what I needed after yesterday’s flights. I was massaged on the floor of the living room which felt a bit odd as Waew was still there so I had an audience! Once Waew and her friend had gone I made a very late lunch, brought in my now dry laundry, and put in the final load of the remaining odds and sods. At this point I should explain that all the windows and outer doors have a screen layer. So when you open the main door to outside you need to open the screen door first. Why do you need to know this? Well firstly because it’s important to close the screen door to keep the Mosquitos out, and there were loads on the third floor, and secondly, I discovered if you close the main door to the third floor balcony, instead of the screen door, it automatically locks. Yep, in a pair of shorts, skimpy t-shirt and no shoes, and with my phone sitting pretty on the kitchen table, I’d locked myself out on the top floor balcony. And on my first day! And it was dusk! And there was no way back in! (Mum, you should sit down at this point – but know I’m OK and made it safely back in) I could hear Willow meowing on the other side of the door – I think she knew! Shit! I have to admit, I did panic for a moment thinking – how long will I be here before someone finds me? Then my inner Lara Croft kicked in.

I managed to shimmy to the next door balcony and bang on the door. I knew the neighbour was a little old Thai lady, what I didn’t know was that she wasn’t in. After banging 5 times and shouting ‘sa was dee ka’ (hello) I realised I’d needed a plan B. Did I mention I was on the third floor!

  

I could see a way down to the next floor but it would mean hanging off the balcony, sliding down a sloping roof and landing on the top of a wall one brick width wide. I did have to reassure myself out loud, and I didn’t commit on my first attempt, but on the second try amazingly I made it. Now to get down to the ground. From the top of the wall I had to cross a lean-to roof. Made of the wavy corrugated tiles that look suspiciously like asbestos and corrugated plastic. It was only a lean-to and had minimal support. I crept along the edge where I could see the bolts attaching the roof to the rafters. It creaked and groaned but thankfully held my weight. It was still a long way down but under the lean-to on this side was some kind of canopy. It had a metal frame and it was strong enough for me to use to slide almost to the ground, there was loads of junk under the canopy and I used this to help me down the last 4ft. I was down. I found myself in the back yard of the grandest house. I snuck around to the front using the garden shadows, and across the sweeping drive way, only to be confronted by a huge white metal gate which was locked. I was just considering scaling it when the curtains of the small house in the grounds twitched and a little old lady looked out. If you’ve ever seen the movie ’10’, she was like the Mrs Kissell character only Thai. She spoke no English and was visibly confused by my presence. Almost bent double with age she slowly moved towards the main house and painfully up the front steps. Eventually, a smart looking Thai lady came out – she spoke a tiny bit of English but not enough to understand my garbled explanation about locking myself out. Anyway, she got the key, unlocked the gate and let me out. I just had to get my bearings and find the house now. Thank goodness I hadn’t locked the front door. I was covered in dirt but I was unscathed and safe. Willow was very pleased to see me – it was way past her dinner time and she let me know it. It all felt a bit surreal. Had I just dreamt that bizarre turn if events?

I rinsed off and did the only thing appropriate. Had something to eat. My last load of washing had finished by now and so carefully closing the SCREEN door I went back up to the third floor to hang up my clothes. I think that was more than enough for one day. Willow and I retired to the bedroom and I updated this blog.

Tuesday:-

So I awoke on my second day in this dream house – not in name but in nature. Willow was swiftly by my side demanding attention and breakfast.

I was easily settling into this life in a tucked away corner of Chiang Mai. And loving it!

I pottered the morning away had a very light lunch and then set off for the Nimmanhemin district. I had an appointment with Marian. She and Irene had moved to a new place so I had to find my way. The bike hadn’t been used for a while so after leaving it running for a moment I climbed on and was on my way. It coughed and spluttered its way down the road and hesitated when I wanted to pull away at junctions, which is never a good situation when pulling out into Huay Kaew road. Anyway, the scooter soon found its power and we whizzed along. After 3 weeks away I’d forgotten what the roads in Chiang Mai were like. I found the house with only one circuit around the block, parked up, and said my hellos to Marian and Irene.

My session went well and I felt like I’d just woken up from a good nights sleeps when it was all over. Another one would most definitely be on the cards in a week or two. Back on the scooter, which now behaved itself, and back to the house. Willow of course was pinned to the other side of the front door in some vain hope of escape when I came in. I was already wise to her and so she didn’t stand a chance. I had the usual frustrated meowing and pacing for the next five minutes and then she was my friend again. All was forgiven!

The one bin for the street (Soi) was positioned at the end of the street. Because of the high temperatures I decided to empty the bins in the house every other day. The bin in the street is emptied daily which probably explains why on the whole the town is relatively clean and tidy. I was just walking back towards the house when Leo arrived. This was the first time in a few weeks that we’d had the chance to catch up in person. The couple of hours she stayed flew by and she soon had to leave for her theatre rehearsals – she’s really found a life here and is a busy bunny.

The effects of the earlier session were beginning to show themselves. I ate early, treating myself to steak (oh my Buddha it’s been so long since I had a steak), potatoes and corn. Not what you’d call a traditional Thai meal but that made it all the more wonderful. Willow and I played that well known game of ‘you pull a piece of string around the house and I’ll chase it’ which kept us both entertained for a while. It’s the simple pleasures that make me laugh.

After that I called it a night.

Wednesday:-

It wasn’t the best night’s sleep. I think my body was re-aligning itself following the treatment I’d had. My energy levels were still precarious and so the slightest changes seemed to have a big impact. I would just have a longer lay in. Or so I thought. Willow on the other hand had different ideas. She was in full voice around 7 and was very persistent about having breakfast. I got up!

Once I’d cleaned away Willows overnight conquest (a rather sad looking, partially eaten gecko) I had a very enjoyable and leisurely breakfast, then went back to bed. My muscles ached and my head was pounding. I’m so lucky to have this wonderful place to stay and the chance to go back to bed on a week day. It’s been nearly 11 months since I left home and I cherish every day, appreciating the opportunities and freedom I have.

It was a very lazy day and I didn’t even leave the house. I read, emailed and finally in the evening found the ‘John Carter’ movie on DVD stashed away on a shelf, so sat and watched that. All the while Willow keeping me company.

Thursday:-

So, Willow is getting earlier – 6:30!!! Needless to say, today I put her outside the bedroom, closed the door and went back to sleep. Or at least until the meowing started about an hour later.

This morning’s nocturnal victim was a small cockroach which thankfully was much easy to clear up.

Breakfast was the best I could rustle up as, by now, I’d eaten my supplies. I did make a smoothie with the last remaining banana and dragon fruit but the colour was a rather unappealing grey. Still tasty as long as you shut your eyes.

After a long and luxurious shower I actually did some housework and took out the bins. Leo came round about 11:30 with a delivery of Papaya leaves from her friend Paul. These are supposed to boost the liver and get rid of Dengue. After talking for a few hours we headed out to get some lunch. My place was just down the road from where Leo takes her Thai language classes, so we popped into one of the restaurants she knew. She showed off her growing language skills by ordering in Thai – very impressive! The time had flown and so Leo dashed to her class and I crossed the road to make a required stop at Tops. I also had a quick browse around one of the floors on the Shopping Mall. Tops was in the basement but there were at least another three floors. Grocery shopping complete I walked the 10 minutes back, buying a hand of bananas from a tiny little stall I passed, and settled in for the afternoon. Leo had lent me a hard drive packed with movies and a few DVDs. It was going to be a movie afternoon. I watched the ‘Life of Pi’. I have to say so much better than the book.

Leo briefly stopped round after class – she had taken an exam and passed. Wooo hoo! This meant she’d be moving up a level. I continued with the movies, made a light dinner and then toddled up to bed.

Friday:-

This morning I woke early again, chucked Willow out of the bedroom, closed the door and went back to sleep.

I had a good breakfast, and had just finished when Waew pooped round with a mango smoothie and flowers. She’s been so supportive. We chatted a while before she received a phone call and had to go back to Dream House. After doing the washing up….washing up I ask you…. I decided to boil up the papaya leaves and start my home remedy programme.

  

The papaya leaves were wrapped in banana leaves and were a bit pongy. The instructions sent with Leo were to boil them up in water. No other directions so I just grabbed a bunch, stuffed them in a big saucepan with some water and left them boiling for 10 minutes. Once cooled I strained off the greeny brown liquid, which was still pongy, into a bottle (which went into the fridge) and a glass which was going to be my dose for today. It was bitter tasting but palatable. I gradually and cautiously emptied the glass. I wasn’t quite sure what effect it would have on me, but all was fine.

I think I might have mentioned Willow can be a little tricky. I suddenly realised the house was very quiet – no jingling collar bell. I searched the house. She was nowhere to be seen. How could she have got out? – the answer was , so couldn’t. I researched the house eventually finding her sitting up in the rafters of the outside lean-to. She’d been watching me the whole time, little rascal!!

I was having hot flushes today, something I was now quite used to since the dengue. And so when Leo suggested a trip to a nearby hotel pool, I thought it was a great idea. The hotel was right next to the shopping mall and quite grand. The pool was free for hotel guests, so although we were paying visitors today, I got a feel for the place and would try to balls it out next time and get in for free. As Leo said ” you just need to look like you belong here”. As it was, it costs 150THB (£3 ish) to get in and for that you got a towel and could use the hotel gym. An all round good deal. The pool was outdoor, large and clean. We sat in the shade and chatted, swam and just enjoyed the joie de vivre. The cool water was perfect for doing a few lengths and really cooled my body down. Three hours passed by in a blink and I headed back via Tops .

 

Waew dropped by again ladened with fruit and a fresh coconut. Bliss! She had news. She’d managed to rent out the ground floor of Dream House. It was a huge space and barely used. Someone wanted to use it as a restaurant. It had a small equipped kitchen and was a safe option for someone wanting the start a business. Chiang Mai was on the cusp of the high season and so this was a good time to start a new venture. It was a great idea – Waew is a canny business woman and it would help her meet the Dream House costs. We talked through the things which should be included in the rental contract and decided on the value of the deposit required and the length of the initial contract. Things were moving in a positive direction for Waew.

It’s never a dull moment with Willow around. Just as Waew was leaving a small gecko which had been running around on the ceiling under the beady eye of Willow, lost its grip and fell to the floor. Quick as a flash Willow had it in her jaws and it was making some rather alarming sounds. I opened the door to let Waew leave and as I did a small frog jumped in. Fortanely Willow’s mouth was already full but that didn’t stop her taking an interest in the frog. After waving Waew off, I found a cloth to catch the frog, which had hidden under a cupboard and was now fetchingly covered in fluff. It also stuck to the cloth! I threw the cloth, and hence the frog outside, quickly closing the screen door as Willow and her gecko were trying to escape, needless to say the gecko had no choice in that matter. Now…..could I save the gecko?

As all cats do, Willow was taking great joy in releasing the dazed gecko and then snatching it up again moments later when it attempted to move. When I tried to grab her she ran into the downstairs toilet where the gecko had managed to escape and hide under the mat. Willow was pouncing on it from above as she saw movement under the mat. I grabbed Willow, checked on the state of the gecko which was still whole and there was no trace of blood, and closed the door. A few hours later when Willow was eating her dinner I went back and lifted the mat. The gecko was still there and looked up at me with a pleading look. I left it alone again.

Dinner was minced meat and potatoes. Wow, what a treat! (And another glass of papaya water)

We both retired to the TV room where I watched a movie and Willow watched the moths and geckos do their nightly dance on the window screens.

A quick shower then bed.

Saturday:-

Bless her! Willow learns quickly. She left me alone and I woke just before 8.

I gave Willow her breakfast and while she was preoccupied I opened the front door to let in the air and the light but keeping the screen doors shut. I also checked on the gecko situation in the downstairs toilet. Thankfully it was nowhere to be seen. With any luck that meant it had recovered, learned a valuable lesson and hidden somewhere safe. These two things are so much easier when you don’t have a crafty little cat I the vicinity.

I had my breakfast and downed a glass of the papaya liquid. I hope this is doing me some good. Just like the wheatgrass shot, it’s not the tastiest.

After yesterday I wanted to take it really easy. I’m learning that I need to be cautious on the days I feel good as that’s when I can over do it and then take a step back. Slow but sure wins the race!

I did a bit more housework and emptied the bins. I even swept the leaves away from the outside of the house. Sweeping is a daily ritual in Thailand. As I looked out onto the road I could see it had been swept clean apart from a neat square of Tarmac just outside the house – that was my duty!

I watched movies for most of the day and had a snooze. In the evening I had arranged to meet up with Taywin at the Gad Suan Kaew shopping Mall and so walked the 10 minutes or so and met him at the front entrance. We just chatted at the coffee shop and caught up on news before he went of to work and I headed back.

Sunday:-

Willow found herself locked outside the bedroom door again this morning. Strangely I wasn’t ready to get up at 5:50!!

Once I was up, we followed our now morning routine. I get much more done in the few minutes when she’s eating breakfast so I make the most of it.

I started an exercise routine. It’s pretty basic but I want to start off slow and build up. My body temperature is already high so it doesn’t take much to elevate it further. I did sit ups, push ups, and used the steps of the stairwell to do one of the exercises Taywin had shown me all those weeks before. I spent the rest of the morning updating this blog and Willow and I sat in the office/TV room, which is at the back of the house, and just listened to the wildlife in the green space below.

The rest of the day passed without much excitement, although I did manage to Skype Mum for a quick catch up. A few movies, beans ON toast for tea, and the discovery that the papaya leaf tea I’d been drinking was better taken as a papaya leaf smoothie. I rinsed some of the leaves I had left and whizzed them up in the blender – absolutely disgusting!

As I’m getting back into a routine, from next week I’ll just be sharing the highlights from each week.

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