Friday, 15 October 2010
In any case, the colour, combined with its intricate floral flourishes, makes the Vieng Joom On Teahouse something of a landmark along Charoenrat Road (also spelled Charoenrajd by some) which houses art galleries, boutiques and many popular Ping River-side watering holes.
It's something of a time warp to enter Vieng Joom On. The floor-to-ceiling stacks of ornate tea jars and wonderfully designed tea-related paraphernalia make one think of Olde England rather than Newe Thailand.
Yet is at once utterly Asian too. The whole history of tea harks back to the ancient Chinese, when an errant leaf fluttered into the boiling water of a resting warrior and he found it to be good. Jing Jing!
Vieng Joom On is a revelation. The cozy store opens up at the back into a large outdoor indoor/outdoor garden area where love seats, day beds and tables nestle under sprawling trees along the river. It exudes quintessential Chiang Mai charm.
Groups of mainly youngish beautiful people (and me) titter and chat amiably as they sip on tea and mainline a sugar-hit of scones, chocolate cakes and banana and ice cream desserts.
The tea menu includes the usual blends, caffeine-free variants, herbal concoctions that wouldn't be out of place on a gardening show, fruity blends, and other specialties such as 'Sweet Dreams' and 'Love'.
The ever-smiling waitresses pad about in shocking pink tunics over rather frumpy 'maiden aunt' brown dresses, as the water feature gurgles, couples snap away at romantic pics, and a cruise boat chugs up the river. This coffee-free zone really is a cool place to watch the world go by.
It's a little bit England, a little bit China, but completely, wholly Chiang Mai. And, no, you don't have to be gay to appreciate that.