A Slice of Daily Life in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Which one will I choose? I am selecting a ‘picture on a plate’ cake from the amazing array at the dessert buffet at the Dhara Dhevi Hotel in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

No, not one but five delights are carried back to my table. Chocolate encased tubes oozing with a chocolatey sticky concoction, creme brulee, petite bowls of rich, creamy custard that tickle the taste buds, shapes and flavours of all descriptions that take your fancy.

©Pamela Manning

We gorge on these little delights until we are almost sick. But oh, how heavenly this dieters nightmare can be! This has cost us just $20 for all you can eat.

“I want to be free, I want to be free,” I say, “I am too tight, I must loosen up.” (I have done three drawings of magnificent temples in Thailand but I am too concerned with detail). “Please let me just draw a few lines that tell the story.”

I am talking to my drawing teacher. My class is part of a lifelong learning programme run by Payap University. For $60, I get five lessons.

My teacher throws her arms about me and gives me a huge hug to try and pacify my frustration with my overly controlled approach. “Just keep at it,” she says, “You’ll get there, don’t worry so much. Jai yen yen!“ (Thai for “keep it cool”).

How much there is to learn even at my ripe old age of 77.

I square up, I keep my head down, I swing. POW! There it goes, that little white ball that has a will of its own. That little white ball that messes with your mind. That little white ball that will not do as it’s told. Oh, but what a wonderful time I have trying to get my swing back after a 50-year hiatus.

I have a professional golf coach for about $10 an hour and he is fantastic. He even knows how to fix my “golfers elbow” and how not to hurt my wonky knees. I am proud, I am glowing. I am chuffed and puffed with myself. I can hit a ball 160 metres, almost as good as when I was 17!

Later, I have a massage to ease my tired muscles. It’s bliss. What a reward for having fun with the “little white devil” that likes to tease.

My massage man is blind but his fingers are magic and find every screaming muscle and eases the pain away. He has cured my chronic back condition of 40 years that kept me awake for harrowing hours every night and that no doctor could fix or was remotely interested in. I am sleeping like a baby—how good is that?

I am in an amazing land that has alternative approaches to health problems that work even at my age.

I’m so happy. My life is so good, rich, full, entertaining and enlightening.

What a lovely sound we make in our Lannacapella singing group. We are a mixed group from countries around the world… Japan, America, England, Canada and—of course—Australia.

We sing our little hearts out and feel goosebumps when we get it right, the serotonin surges to our brains, we are on a high! It’s the drug of choice for the day, for folks in the autumn of their years who want to enjoy and define every moment they have left.

Our musical director is very talented and squeezes amazing sounds from our vocal cords. We make our music and we dream of years gone by. It’s a beautiful moment in our day.

She charges about $4.50 for a one-and-a-half hour lesson. We get together every week and I have been singing in our little choir for three years.

We even get gigs. How about that!

“Exploring the maze”, that’s what I call it. The old city of Chiang Mai is intriguing, small and compact. The roads are thin and winding and around every corner you are greeted with unexpected pleasures and delights.

The many temples, the old wooden teak houses, the markets, the people busy with their chores… they’re all going about their business and are fascinating to watch. I walk these streets often to take photos of this old and gracious culture. It gives purpose to my daily exercise regime.

Chiang Mai has a sacred mountain called Doi Suthep and a sacred shrine to Buddha glowing golden from its peak. It overlooks the city and for many years I have used it for navigation purposes, it gets me home. It also has a spirit that seems to envelop us all here.

As well as a 700-year-old moat, there’s a crumbling wall surrounding the old city with five gates and many bridges to cross to find my way around. The moat is filled with light and fountains which create a lovely ambience at night.

The days, the months, the years fly by and every day is Sunday. You relax and move through life at a different pace. It’s good for the soul and longevity. I’m enjoying every second of this wondrous land I choose to live in. It satisfies my every need.

I am indeed a lucky one to have been brave enough to have made the change and find my dream life in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

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