We have just had a wonderful week in Chiang Mai with our dear friends Mark and Melinda and their wonderful three teenage children. Melinda and I have been friends since year 7. She came to Sydney from the US with her family for four years and we became firm friends. We have been each other’s bridesmaids and shared many times together over the years.
They have only been in Chiang Mai for five weeks and have moved about five times in the last eight years. They have been to Indonesia and China, the US and now Thailand. They have come from Vienna, Virginia and landed in a city of 1.5 million people and taken up residence in a small community close to the Grace International School. Melinda is a networker extraodinaire – I could not believe how many people she has met and could tell me so much about in five weeks. We met parents sitting watching different volleyball games at the school – they were friendly and welcoming. I hope that I am similarly welcoming when people come to our community.
We had a week of talking and catching up and exploring and discovering this beautiful city. I became a deft hand at navigating – despite the fact I know no thai. Melinda and I managed to get our haircut – a new experience for both of us in this city. She assured me that having a friend with her would be a help – now she knows how to get there on her own!
We visited an amazing garden and learnt so much about plants in Thailand – the creator of the garden is a Swede and his knowledge of all things botanical was incredible and he was a great teacher.
There are the “sticky falls” where you literally stick to the waterfall. Perfect for mountain goats who want to climb – so counter-intuitive to put your feet where the water flows fastest. It was a fun day out.
We went to one of the International churches with them – Melinda has already taken on the role of supervising the 2-3 year olds program. We also managed to catch up with Andrew and Bec who have just left our church and living in the “inner west” of Sydney to live and work in the “inner west” of Chiang Mai. You can still get good coffee here – just look for where the Aussies hang out! We saw their new home, spent time with them and their gorgeous boys, had dinner at a local restaurant and then visited the Walking Street Markets. This is quite an experience with two very blond boys who are adorable in a very Thai area. Micah was particularly adventurous and we all had to keep a sharp eye on his fast get away tactics.
We did a half day cooking course which involved visiting the local market to obtain fresh produce. We made different types of curry paste from scratch and then got to eat the fruits of our cooking – three different dishes each. One of the highlights were the other participants in the course – all young backpackers – four from Wales, one from England and then Switzerland and Italy. They reminded us acutely of our children and it was fun to share this experience with them.
Chiang Mai is a monsoonal place and it has been sunny, hot and humid and we have had sudden downpours of rain – mostly at night. However, the absolute highlight has been spending time with this family. It really would not matter what we had done – we talked and caught up on each others lives and shared thoughts about our lives and experiences.
Anything I missed – and there are many more things I could do, simply means another visit to this beautiful city. The Carlson’s are here for three years….