Unlike Bangkok, Chiang Rai is in the mountains, where the air is cool and clear and sweet.
After a nap, we snagged a hotel shuttle downtown, wandering the streets and retracing the steps we took during our previous visit. We wound up back at our old hotel — the dowdy, fussy Wiang Inn — and had a nostalgic Mai Tai in the Lobby Lounge.
Afterward, we strolled the night market, where every trinket you’ve ever seen in Asia was in sale in bulk at a discount. This trip’s prize find was a bizarre t-shirt featuring a hybrid cartoon character: SpongeBart Simpsonpants. (Not something I would buy, but something I enjoyed seeing nonetheless.)
The real treat, though, was having dinner in the Night Market’s Central Restaurant. We took a seat at an open-air table and ordered up steaming bowls of seafood soup, cashew chicken, and crab fried rice, washed down with icy water and a can of Pepsi. Total cost for our little feast, with tip: less than ten bucks.
There was live entertainment, too. The crowd loved the local girls, who performed traditional dances to Thai classical music … but I liked the musical trio that played Thai translations of American folk songs on traditional instruments. You have not heard “Puff, the Magic Dragon,” my friends, until you’ve heard it in Thai on a classical guitar while noshing on fried cashews beneath a fingernail moon.