Around-the-World 2010 travel blog

Lobby of our hotel - Riverside Guesthouse in Lampang

Amy and our friend Jay-Jay at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang in...

An early 18th century jataka mural (depicts stories of the Buddha's previous...

Amy and Jay-Jay in front of the mondop at Wat Phra That...

Lanna-style chedi at Wat Phra That Lampang Luang. Raised in 1449, and...

Well, that slow third-class train ride finally got us to Lampang.

We had planned on picking up our motorbike the next day and starting our trip through the Golden Triangle. That’s not the way things turned out, but we’re not complaining. We stayed in Lampang an additional day and night, talked into momentarily delaying our motorbike adventure by a friend. We had a great time.

When one travels as we do, one meets a lot of people. Amy and I have made friends and acquaintances around the world, and we’re always looking to meet more.

When we’d been in Lampang earlier in the month, we’d stayed at the Riverside Guesthouse (see photo of the view from our window which is included in my previous Lampang entry). During that prior visit, we’d befriended the manager (or did she befriend us?), an outgoing Thai woman by the name of Jay-Jay.

Amy had a favorite shirt, purchased here in Thailand during a trip in 2006. A combination of excessive wear and rough handling (we wash and wring-out our clothing in a hotel sink) had reduced the shirt to a barely-intact, threadbare specimen with the strength of wet paper. The beloved shirt was on its last legs.

We’d looked and looked for a similar design here in Thailand, and just couldn’t find a replacement that fit the bill. Finally, I suggested that she just take the shirt to a tailor and have a replica made.

Amy showed the shirt to Jay-Jay and asked the whereabouts of a tailor. Jay-Jay loved the shirt. ‘I want to have one made, too!’ she exclaimed. ‘I’ve got some beautiful cloth that I bought in Chiang Mai. I think there’s enough for your shirt, too. Let’s go!

Jay-Jay took Amy down to a lovely older Thai couple, whose shop and home was located just down the narrow soi from our hotel. There they sit all day, surrounded by bolts of cloth and jumbled pieces of scrap material, sewing busily on antique sewing machines. Amy and Jay-Jay had the kindly couple make their matching shirts. Amy’s share of the bill cost us a fortune! Not really. Only five USD!

Now, upon our return to Lampang, Jay-Jay was excited to see us again. She ran over, hugged us both, and immediately convinced us that we should stay two nights instead of the one that we had planned. What the heck. It’s not like we have a schedule to keep. We agreed.

The following day, she insisted on taking us to her favorite lunch spot to eat kow soy. Kow soy is a spicy, flavorful noodle soup that is a specialty in northern Thailand. Although we’ve eaten kow soy many times in Chiang Mai, Jay-Jay assured us that we have not really eaten kow soy until we’ve tried it at her restaurant. Loading us into her car, off we went.

The restaurant was a cavernous building, open in front. Family-run, it was obviously popular with the locals. And Jay-Jay was right - the kow soy was fantastic.

As we were finishing, Jay-Jay went over to speak to the owner, with whom she was obviously well acquainted. Unbeknownst to me, she paid for our meals. No amount of protest on my part could convince her to let me reimburse her. Oh well. We’ll be back, and the next meal is on me.

Amy and I had intended to use our extra day in Lampang to ride our motorbike to a famous Buddhist wat that is located eighteen kilometers south of Lampang. Jay-Jay wouldn’t hear of our riding the motorbike in the rain. ‘I’ll take you’, she said. ‘I’m not doing anything anyway. I don’t have to be back to work until five.’ So, loading us in her car once again, that is just what she did. We had a great afternoon and a guided tour of the wat, narrated by Jay-Jay.

She saw us off the next morning – again with hugs – as we began our 1000 km trip through the Golden Triangle. We look forward to our return.

© 2010 – Stephan M. Heinz, MD

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