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As a preamble, and like in so many stories that are predicated by sound decision making, I need to explain the Chang Rating System that was devised by my husband and me during our trip to Thailand. As anyone who has traveled to Thailand will explain, one of the many wonders of the area is that the best food is enjoyed on the street, made by vendors who supply tourists and locals alike. Not only is the street food the most flavorful in the Country, but it’s also the least expensive. It’s also accompanied by another fun discovery — the street vendors ample stock of inexpensive BEER. A street meal, made up of a chicken skewer, side dish with noodles, egg and vegetables, along with a cold frosty, will run you about 180 Thai Baht. 6 bucks. And next to the street food vendors all over Thailand were massive craft markets full of everything from fake rolex watches, hand carved elephants and rows of chairs with would be masseurs offering one hour of leg and shoulder kneading for 60 Baht (2 bucks). Now these areas are full of people, crowds becoming shoulder to shoulder by 9:00 at night. I found that as a Westerner who appreciates boundaries and a nice arm-length of distance in conversations, these circumstances could be somewhat uncomfortable. I have also learned over time that if I am going to be able to get any productive shopping done with husband in tow, it is best accomplished when he is in a slightly lubricated state. So, clearly, a little alcohol is in order.
The beer of choice in Thailand is the local brew, Chang. Which is like Budweiser’s cousin from the bad side of the tracks. Same taste, but a little more kick. Our rating system, which resulted in optimal handicraft shopping, is as follows:
Chang low — no Chang, no sale. Much grumbling and querry, “Do we need this.” This question does not bode well on handicraft shopping adventures.
Chang High — Not recommended. Could lead to poorly thought out tribal Thai tattoo applied expertly with a coconut mallet and sharp bamboo stick in a sterile road side setting.
Or channeling your inner Andrew Zimmern at the food court.
Copa Chang — Ka Ching! Copacetic. All is well, shopping bags begin to swell. Happiness.
That leads me to preamble number two. My husband and I traveled to Chiang Mai, handicraft capital of Thailand in hopes of finding wonderful items to bring back for our online store. We did plenty of research before selecting a hotel, and found one well rated on trip advisor. This particular hotel allowed us to meet a family who has been based in Chiang Mai (and thus provide recommendations for products and vendors) and also featured an evening meal where we could meet others traveling in the area and get their recommendations. Here’s where things took an unexpected turn.
At dinner on our first night we met a friendly gentleman from England who was staying at the resort for about a month. We asked for his recommendations. We learned about some interesting elephant treks, cooking classes, and . . . . the fish spa. What is this? Noting our furrowed br
The next day was the famed Sunday Market in Chiang Mai, and our hotel offered a free drop off and pick up which we enthusiastically accepted. Just to set the mood, a free, or even public paid ride in Chiang Mai, consists of a sitting cattle style in a pick-up truck fitted with two vertical benches. So we’re off.
Once in Chiang Mai, we came to the rapid conclusion that our level was decidedly Chang Low, particularly for the shopping venture at hand. We took to the food vendor area and found some amazing spicy and wonderful Thai food that we washed down with ample Chang beer. Once Copa Chang, we ambled merrily down the street until we stumbled upon, yup, the fish spa.
Honestly can’t say that I noticed a big difference in my feet, and I won’t share any before and after pix, (you’re welcome again).
But I can say that it was fun to get outside of my comfort zone and to try things that I never imagined that I would. But isn’t that what makes travel so amazing?
Here’s a related story about Travel in Thailand that you might enjoy:
Koh Chang Thailand – Things to do and Where to Stay