Go for the shrimp

I don’t know why but I’m finding it slow to warm to Chiang Rai. We’d hired a private car and driver to run us north from Chiang Mai over the mountains to Chiang Rai because the bus was booked solid for weeks.

After three and a half hours of rather tense switchbacks, the driver ignoring any guidelines that may have been painted on the road, we pulled up to a traditional-looking teak guesthouse called “The North.” The neighborhood, however, was adjacent to the large bus station and looked kind of like a collection of disparate warehouses with a small strip of businesses dressing up the front of the bus station.

There were a few eateries featuring breakfast and maybe lunch but unlike Chiang Mai, it was hard to find any vegetarian restaurants. As luck would have it there’s a night market that’s supposed to be, wait for it, behind the bus station just a few feet from our guest house.

Theoretically things were looking up. We were on the hunt but all we could see were rather seedy looking low warehouses. By nightfall we could hear and smell “night market.” Walking down a dark, but paved neighborhood alley, dodging motor scooters, we finally came to an open door and stepped through.

Miraculously we were hit with the brightly lit sights and sounds of a Southeast Asian night market.

The food vendors were in a huge open air section encircling the tables and chairs, with a large stage at one end.

Thai music was blaring, and on the stage were dancing beauties in dazzling ballgowns in their signature red.

The lead “singer” wore a gown with a thigh-high slit nearly up to the fine china, and she lip synced with enthusiasm and sincerity. I suspect she was not chosen for her voice.

There was a mouth-watering array of Thai food but Marce is having trouble finding vegetarian dishes that don’t slurp all over her tee shirt.

Before I could even decide on an entrée, the beauties were replaced by a somber young man whose guitar gently wept and who seemed to regret most of his life choices. After the colorful beauties it was a real buzzkill. I wish him well.

I went with the shrimp, 80 Bhat ($2.44usd) for a dozen medium, deep fried.

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