Thursday, January 15, 2009

Chiang Mai Lovely

Chiang Mai was a change from Nan. It's a wonderful city and I love it now, but at first it was hard to adjust after a quiet town. It's crawling with farangs. They're everywhere and everything is in English. I'd forgotten how touristy this country is. When I first got here I decided to walk around. I got lost trying to find a certain market and the exhaust fumes where horrible. I walked and walked and eventually realized I was starving so I ducked into a nice vegetarian place. Then I got a back massage and felt much better. I wandered to the night bazaar which is full of stands selling goods from wood carvings to bootleg dvds. I wanted to buy everything, but didn't want to stuff it in my bag for the next 3 weeks. So i just wandered. I did buy a scarf because it's quite cold at night and Laos will be even colder. Then after getting lost trying to find an Indian restaurant, I just went back to my hostel. I'm staying in a great little place called Ginny's Place. The room is simple, but there's a nice restaurant, free wireless, travel advice- all for $3 a night. When I sat down to eat, an older man came over. He said, "dont' eat the burger lovely, and join us". Us consisted of him, two young brits, an Italian and the owner of the hostel. Turns out this owner is from Seattle so we started talking neighborhoods and hiking trails. The older chap spoke in an English accent, then an Australian one, then a German one... turns out he's Canadian. Quite a character. It was great to meet people and get advice on what to see and do.

One thing that was recommended was to take a Thai cooking class so that's what I did today. They picked a group of us up and took us to a Thai market where we learned about and smelled typical ingredients.
After the market we went to the school where we chose 6 dishes to make. I made phad thai, tom yum soup, papaya salad, holy basil stir fry, red curry and sweet sticky rice with mango. It was awesome! They had all the ingredients ready for us so we chopped them all up on our wood blocks with big knifes. We made the curry paste with a mortar and pestal and coughed when we breathed in the chilies.
We cooked two dishes at a time and then ate them. It was delicious! And a lot of food. I was stuffed! The group consisted of 3 Americans and 3 Brits so we had a cook off at the end. I finished my curry first, but I had the advantage of tofu taking less long to cook than chicken. We also learned how to carve pretty things out of vegetables. Here's my leaf cucumber:We also asked for beers and drank our large size Changs out of the bottle while cooking. The hosts said we were the first group to do so :). It was a blast and I'm bringing all the recipes back home. Group Red (curry):
Red Curry:
Tonight I went out with folks from the hostel. The same brits, an American girl and the Seattle owner. We went to a big restaurant on the river called Good View. The food was good... I can't believe I ate again after the class... until I bit into a chili pepper. It was green and looked like a green bean. It was NOT a green bean. I promptly spit it out, but it was too late. Tears started streaming down my face and my mouth was on fire. People handed me water, rice and even tequila swearing they all worked. Nothing worked. The burning didn't last too long, but my lips were on fire for ages. It was so intense. I had eaten many of those chilies chopped up in dishes that day, but biting into one whole one was brutal. I suppose everyone's got to experience that at some point in their life.

The bar had a great live band playing all English songs so naturally we were all dancing. Every Thai person looked at us like we were crazy, but it was great. I hate to leave these folks and Chiang Mai, but I've got to head on. I wish I had more time to travel! Everyone I meet is traveling for months and there's just so much to see. I'll be back.


  1. Hey there-
    Looks like you are having a great time. I will pay you for those recipes when you return. The best thing to eat for hot food is peanuts, the oils help cool the acid. I'm still so jealous, keep posting and taking those great images.


  2. Can't handle the heat eh? We are playing in the Idaho snow and graciously welcome all the heat we can get. Sounds like you are having a fabulous time and write down the recipes so you recreate them in our apartment.


    Matt and Em