January 27, 2007

Rocky road

Tapas in the bar at Chedi came with the package so we segued from cocktails in the club lounge to a complimentary bottle of house wine with a goat cheese salad and some local sausages. The upstairs bar was stunning, all done in dark wood with stone wall carvings dribbling water. The use of light and water in the Chedi would impress Steve Wynn. The most important things to me in a hotel are sleep comfort and Internet access so when I find myself repeatedly noticing the serene beauty of a place it’s remarkable.

We visited a local tourist attraction, a hot springs where people liked to bathe and cook eggs. Mike and I hit the main pool and soaked awhile. Amazingly, even Thailand has non-smoking laws and this place had signs saying you couldn’t even smoke outside! We had dinner at an uncrowded local Thai restaurant on the outskirts of town. We were the only farangs there.

The next day Mike asked if I’d like to drive up into the mountains and I said sure! We took a pleasant winding road up Doi Suthep past the Phuping Palace and a commercial hill tribe. Most people were turning around but Mike followed a dirt road to a place where Chiang Mai university was doing research into coffee growing. “You can have a cup of coffee and a delicious cookie,” Mike said. As a rule I don’t eat dessert but I had coffee and looked out over the field where they were growing it.

We continued down the road and the terrain got more and more rugged. We were bouncing around in all directions as the truck managed the rutted unimproved trail. The pick-up had no trouble with it but we did. Mike had to pull over every few minutes due to motion sickness and I was feeling a little queasy myself. It seemed like it took forever to get down but finally we found asphalt. “I have a new respect for paved roads,” I told Mike as we pulled out by a large lake with fishing and swimming areas. “Let’s take this drive again, say, when we’re fleeing an imminent nuclear explosion and this is the only road out of town.” We made it back to the Chedi and relaxed till cocktail hour. I couldn’t think of a much nicer place to come home to.

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