Painting Classes in Chiang Mai: Noina’s Art Studio

Painting Classes in Chiang Mai: Noina’s Art Studio

While volunteering three times a week kept me fairly busy, I still managed to find myself with enough leisure time to rival a resident of Downton Abbey. Luckily for me, Chiang Mai is full of ways to help the idle expat while away the day. Walking around Chiang Mai’s old town, I saw a sign for painting classes for only 200 baht (8 dollars) at Noina’s Art Studio. I’d spent a fair amount of time painting before my trip, (though usually just alone in my bedroom, with an appropriately angst-filled mix playing) but never found the time to take actual classes. Given that eight dollars would barely buy a brush set in the United States, I easily rationalized room in my travel budget. The space is a giant open two-story room down a quiet alley in the old city. The walls are covered in Noina’s and her students’ paintings, ranging from photo-like charcoal drawings to colorful abstract animals. Several people sat quietly at easels working on sketches. After signing up, Noina asked if I’d ever painted before. I was torn between wanting to impress her and wanting to lower expectations by feigning total ignorance. What came out was a confused and vaguely defensive: “I’ve painted before. Maybe.” Unfazed, she set out a canvas, acrylic paints, and brushes. She then had me choose a photograph for inspiration from a box of hundreds of postcards and polaroids. I selected a picture of an empty hallway and handed it to her. She nodded and left me to my canvas. After a few frozen moments of panic, I randomly picked shades of yellow...
Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai: It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood

Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai: It’s a beautiful day in my neighborhood

When I first got to Chiang Mai, I stayed in the walled “old city,” where backpackers, guest houses, and harem pants with elephant prints run rampant. But when I started looking for an apartment, my volunteer organization suggested the trendy Nimmanhaemin Road area. After I made the move, I found that I’d traded tour signs for elegant wine bars, and now end up impossibly underdressed everywhere I go. Ten years ago, the neighborhood — Nimman for short — was nothing more than old apartment complexes and noodle shops. But, a revitalization of the area left it bursting at the seams with almost painfully hip cafes, restaurants, and boutiques. Hints of its history remain, making my new home a mix of authentic Thai and quirky new commercial...
24 Hours in Bangkok

24 Hours in Bangkok

I woke up on my first day in Bangkok before the sunrise. Jet lag and adrenaline had gotten the best of me for most of the night and I’d hardly slept. I grabbed my camera and peaked through my curtains to do some early morning people watching. No one seemed to mind the crazy lady in the window taking pictures of them at 6am. Three women brought out baskets and sat in a circle tossing peels of something into a giant bowl. Cars, scooters, and tuk tuks slowly started to flood the tiny street. I opened the window and the air smelled like warm fruit and exhaust…decided it was best not to inhale too deeply. I only had one day in the city before heading to Chiang Rai, so I took the ferry up the river to visit some of the temples. With some helpful advice from the hotel staff, I was able to avoid the ticket booth with the giant english sign BUY TICKETS HERE, and pay a third of the price for the local boat. I felt a small [giant, huge, did a dance] victory at outsmarting the other tourists on their fancy boat. After twenty minutes on the river, I got off at my stop and made my way to the entrance of the Wat Pho Temple, home of the famous Reclining Buddha. It is very large, very gold, and very relaxed, just as you might imagine.  It’s also impossible to take a picture of in its entirety. So the picture to the left is of a different set of more photogenic statues. After a few hours...
Afternoon in San Francisco: champagne, duct tape, and tacos (not as kinky as it sounds)

Afternoon in San Francisco: champagne, duct tape, and tacos (not as kinky as it sounds)

Before moving to Asia, I spent 10 days with my boyfriend in San Francisco. I made this “postcard” after an afternoon in the city that he had so lovingly planned (and I had vaguely demanded).  He started out the day in the kitchen, duct-taping a champagne bottle inside a plastic pitcher of ice. He wouldn’t tell me where we were going from there, but once champagne and duct tape are involved, its hard to imagine things would end poorly. Our first stop was Nick’s Crispy Tacos for lunch. Taco place by day, dance club by night, we grabbed a circular red booth underneath one of the crystal chandeliers and prepared to feel swanky even while eating from a plastic basket. We each ordered two crispy fish tacos “Nick’s way,” which means they adds of piles of guac and cheese on top of deep fried fish, slaw, and some sort of tangy magical white sauce made of unicorn dreams and possibly sour cream. Highly recommended. I can only imagine how amazing these would taste at 2am after hours of drunk dancing. Fat and happy, we drove over to Baker’s Beach, southwest of the city. Despite the fact it’s a bit cold (sweat shirts, not bathing suits, appear to be the beach gear of choice in San Francisco), it’s a pretty gorgeous beach. To the right you can see the Golden Gate bridge and to the left the Bay opens up into the Pacific ocean. We laid out a towel and he unpacked the duct-taped champagne cooler and two travel coffee mugs. We toasted to our awesome last few days together and our...