Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai

Our first few days in Thailand were pretty hectic, one night here, one night there, so it was nice to settle down for four days. We didn’t realise that it was Chinese New Year the day we arrived so we struggled to find places to stay, but eventually did in the middle of the old town.

Our first few days we pottered around town, checking out the temples: Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang and Wat Phan Tao (all free). The plus side of it being Chinese New Year were the decorations that were all over the temples, celebrating the year of the horse. Katie got involved in temple restoration and donated THB 20 for some gold leaf to apply to one of the buddhas.

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We’d heard about Monk Chat from the LP (where the monks get to practice their English), but people were lining up to chat to them so we had to give it a miss.

On Saturday we got dressed up ready to hit the town, seeing a few good looking bars the night before, but due to the election on Sunday there was a state wide alcohol ban from 6pm, presumably to reduce the chance of alcohol-fueled violence. Loads of places closed and the whole town was very subdued, so we headed back to the hotel and caught up on The Bachelor on the Slingbox.

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On Sunday a large area of the Old City is turned into a pedestrianised street market called Sunday Walking Street. Time for tack! We picked up a couple of Thai beer tanks, eight sets of chopsticks and Katie added to her bracelet arm. We hung around and watched this comical singing policeman supplement his salary.

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After the market it was massage time. There are massage places everywhere and we settled on Lila, as it was one of the biggest, wasn’t fully booked, and both got a one hour traditional Thai massage (THB 200pp).

I’ve never had a proper massage before and I heard that these ones can be pretty painful. It wasn’t as painful as I was expecting, a lot of strange stretches, but there are definitely painful parts. They use their body weight to apply pressure using their knees, elbows and arms. Katie’s masseuse must’ve been all of 80lbs whereas mine was probably 180lbs!

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It was fun and I wouldn’t mind doing it again, despite the pain. It was definitely a very Thai experience.

On our final day we’d signed up for a cooking class with Basil (THB 1,000pp). It had good reviews on Trip Advisor and the menu offered a lot of choice. They picked up the students, eight of us, and drove us to a local market to pick up our ingredients. Benz talked us through unique Thai veg and how they have about 14 types of rice for sale. Apparently the older jasmine rice is the better it is.

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After arriving at the school it was straight to it. They portion all of the ingredients for the dishes for you and take care of the washing so all you need to do is chop and cook. Katie did a Pad Thai and I did Drunken Noodles, both of which came out great.

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Then it was on to soups, appetizers (where we did Spring Rolls), curries (making the paste from scratch in a pestle and mortar), stir fries and finally dessert. We each picked different dishes so that we could try them all and it was great that there wasn’t a pre-defined menu like at some schools.

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It was a lot of courses and we all left extremely full. It was a fantastic day and I’d recommend it to everyone.

That evening we watched a replay of the Super Bowl at the U.N. Irish Pub and had a fantastic time watching the Seahawks embarrass the Broncos, whilst reliving our culinary exploits.

Next up Pai, in the northern mountains. Until then…

– M

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3 thoughts on “Northern Thailand – Chiang Mai

  1. Can’t wait for my authentic Thai meal when I come visit you inEngland! The gold leaf thing reminds me of some of the challenges they have on Amazing Race. You two should apply! You’d be perfect!!! XO

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