By Samir

We took the bus back to Chiang Mai and settled in to the guesthouse. Our first guesthouse without air-conditioning – just a large fan. It was somewhat noisy, but actually worked very well, keeping the large room cool at night. We decided then that a fan room could be something we consider for future guesthouses (especially since they tend to be cheaper than AC rooms!).

We were still looking for a sense of comfort, something normal, and perhaps, something alcoholic. We’d managed to have beers, wine and Thai whiskey in Chiang Rai, but something was missing. A true bar experience where you could eat pub grub with your shots of whiskey. Where expats and tourists and travelers met up.

After wandering around town, and getting lost, we ran into the French sisters from the train from a few days before. We briefly chatted and then got directions to the strip where we could find bars. On an online tip, we ended up at John’s Place.

French fries, an all tourist crowd, and a big alcohol selection. Finally. We stayed late and had several drinks. Thai whiskey was always served with a soft drink mixer, in much greater proportion to the amount of liquor served, but the buzz came regardless.

The next day, perhaps emboldened by our find of John’s Place, we decided to be a little adventurous – so we rented bicycles! 50 TB each for 24 hours. We cycled around town, all over town. Since there are no bike lanes in Thailand and sidewalks have 12 inch curbs with no ramps at the corners, we had to ride on the street. We noticed that drivers either let us set the pace or went around us. It was awesome. Such a friendly place.

While on the bike ride, we stopped off at a park in a corner of the Old City. We saw about 20 people doing acro-yoga – where people do yoga, mid-air, while balancing off each other. They were all in their 20s. It was mesmerizing.

Also while on the bike ride, we found a night bazaar area, so we decided to check it out on foot later that evening. It was there that we saw “fish therapy”. I remember hearing about it a few years ago – you stick your feet in a tank and little fish nibble the dead skin off of you. It was 120 TB for 15 minutes. Rachel wanted to give it a shot, though I was a little apprehensive. Our experience couldnt have been more different. The fish were ticklish. Every 5-10 seconds, Rachel would flinch, bust out laughing, and remove her feet from the water. I kept my feet in the whole time and had at least 100 fish going at me. I will admit the fish thing was weird. And not very productive, as I still had lots of dead skin on my feet afterward. On that note, I suggested we have seafood for dinner. As you can imagine, that remark just got a stare. Hah.

We walked over to O’Malley’s Irish Pub. We looked at the drinks menu and inquired about “Thai Whiskey Set”. They gave us a bottle of Sang Som brand Thai Whiskey, 300 mL (about 8-10 shots worth), two mixers and a bucket of ice for 250 TB, and we could keep the glass bottle if we didnt finish. We were drinking it up. We played billiards for a bit, and then wandered home.

the bottle says Special Rum on it

All the familiar sights and some new ones. We felt very much at ease at this point.