Book cover La permaculture en pratiqueIndeed, the dogs wake us at 6:30. Christophe congratulates me on my 50th birthday and gives me a lovely card with a beautiful and sweet text. He had already given me a gift before we left Barcelona. I had asked for a book (La Permaculture en Pratique) that’s too heavy to bring all the way to Asia and back. That’s certainly something to look forward to when we get back to Europe.

We get up and Heike also congratulates me and then we go out to walk the dogs. And to see our new surroundings for the first time by daylight.

The dogs want to play with a cow:

Paradise is here

We’ve landed in paradise for sure! The garden with the pool is beautiful. Exotic with banana trees, coconut trees, bamboos and many unknown yet beautiful plants and flowers. Loads of birds too. White herons and storks for example, though the storks are smaller than the European ones. They are more grey than white, and have a grey beak and orange legs. There are several other, smaller birds that we don’t know. Together, they produce the type of “noise” that we typically associate with the tropics, based on movies and documentaries.

Fish in the pond:

But now it’s for real. We are actually in the tropics! We sleep with all the windows open (but with mosquito screens firmly in place), with the constant chirping of crickets outside. And in the morning, the birds add their voices to the choir.

View from the bedroom window on the morning of our first day in Doi Saket

View from the bedroom window on the morning of our first day in Doi Saket

Thai rice fields

We accompany Heike and the dogs Wan and Dtaem, and get an idea of the surrounding land. There are a lot of little roads, and we even cut through a rice field that has recently been harvested. These rice fields look very different from the fields I was expecting from pictures and documentaries. Those are terraced fields while here, the land is flat. When you take a rice ear in your hand, the rice grains easily fall off.

The rice harvest by hand:

Sawatdee

Many Thai are already on their way, mostly on scooters. We learn how to greet them: Sawatdee, where men add “crab” (Sawatdee crab) and women kaa (Sawatdee kaa). And at the same time, touch our hand palms together, with the fingers just under the chin, and make a small bowing gesture. The Thai very much appreciate it when we greet them this way. They all smile and greet us back.

Heike has been living here for over nine years now, and speaks quite a bit Thai, so she engages some people in small talk. We are duly impressed, because to us, Thai sounds like… well, just random sounds.

Neighbor garden house…
…with very friendly people

Birthday presents

After a leisurely stroll of about one an a half hours, we are back at the house. We prepare breakfast consisting of greek yoghurt with loads of fresh and dried fruits. As we are ready to sit down and eat, both Christophe and Heike appear with presents. Beautiful earrings, necklaces, bracelets, a mini power bank and two pair of wrap pants. I am so spoiled 🙂

We spend the day doing nothing in particular. I catch up on some sleep while Christophe and Heike go to the village, we swim in the gorgeous pool, and Christophe and Heike announce that we will be going out for dinner.

Dinner at the River Market Restaurant in Chiang Mai

At the end of the afternoon, Inn, the woman who cleans on Thursday, comes to keep the dogs company and we leave for Chiang Mai. En route, Heike shows us the what’s where in the city. We go to the River Market Restaurant where we are greeted by Anna and Hugo. They are a Swiss couple who have been living in Thailand several decades now, and friends of Heike. We have another delicious meal in good company.

Karen at the entrance of The River Market Restaurant where we celebrate her birthday on our first day in Doi Saket
Karen and Heike at the entrance of The River Market Restaurant where we celebrate her birthday on our first day in Doi Saket
Karen on the bridge behind The River Market Restaurant where we celebrate her birthday on our first day in Doi Saket
Birthday flowers
View from the restaurant
Our delicious dinner for Karen's birthday

Afterwards, we check out the Sunday evening market, which is as lovely as everything we’ve seen here.

Beautiful handicraft:

Back home, we each let fly a floating lantern into the night sky, accompanied by our silent wishes for the future. I’m pretty sure we wished for the same things 😉

Karen with a lantern full of wishes:

Our first day in Doi Saket, celebrating my 50th birthday, was one of the best days of our lives 🙂

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