Published: January 13th 2012January 13th 2012
Me getting ready to make coconut vegetable soup.
The past several days we have spent in Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is a popular tourist destination nestled in the low mountains of Thailand. It is a medium sized town of probably 150,000 people. The town itself has a city center of a few square kilometers that is surrounded by a moat with remnants of the brick wall that sat behind the moat still visible today.
Chiang Mai is known for a few different markets all of which we have had the pleasure of visiting. The Saturday Night market was a very busy market with some really neat things and excellent food. The sterling silver jewelry was one highlight as were the different types of lamps and lighting devices. As for food, one of the most unusual things we tried were palm hearts, which were a dessert. I’m not entirely sure how they are made, but we did see the actual palm heart from which the dessert is made, the center looked like the meat of a cooked spaghetti squash. Although they were a dessert, they were not too sweet, but just enough to be satisfying. After having them we have looked around Chiang Mai to try
Old Fort Wall
Part of the wall remaining that surrounds the moat that surrounds Chiang Mai.
them again as they were so unique and wonderful. It took us until Thursday to find them at a local food and clothing market.
Sunday brings another night market in Chiang Mai and it was almost as large as the Saturday Night market. Many of the same items that were available at the Saturday market were available at the Sunday Night market. However, it seemed like there was more art at the Sunday market. For food, we enjoyed some Thai herb spring rolls that were absolutely delicious and were our first introduction to Thai herb spring rolls (fried spring rolls are more readily available). Since having the fresh spring rolls at the Sunday Night market we have had them each day except one.
Amy has done yoga nearly every day for the past week. Every class starts at 7:30am and it takes a little while to walk to the yoga class, so our schedule has shifted from late nights to early mornings. I went for my first run since Hong Kong (over a month without a run). The moat area that I previously mentioned provides a great area for running but I must say that after not running
A typical breakfast, the picture doesn't show scale but this bowl is huge!
for a month I felt out of shape!
Tuesday I took an all-day cooking class at Thai Cottage Cookery School where I was able to choose six dishes that I wanted to make. The class had a total of seven people in it, each person can choose from a list of 18 dishes so I actually learned more than six dishes as I was able to watch and ask questions about all the dishes being prepared. Thai cooking is actually very simple, they use a few unique ingredients, but many of the ingredients are the same across the dishes. I made a vegetable coconut soup that with instruction probably took 30 minutes to make, but on my own I could probably make in 15 minutes or less – and it was delicious! In addition to the vegetable coconut soup I made fried spring rolls, curry paste and vegetable curry, pad thai, and sweet sticky rice with mangoes. Overall, I spent about 7 hours cooking and eating the food I made. At the end we were given a cookbook with instructions for all 18 dishes we could choose from! I had a great time and now I have some new
A spa in Chiang Mai
dishes to add to our cooking repertoire back in the states (in addition to the Indian dishes).
Fresh fruit is widely available in Thailand and we consume a rather large amount on a daily basis. Most mornings we share an enormous fruit, yogurt, and museli (similar to granola) bowl. I would say that the bowl of fruit has no less than two cups of fresh cut fruit. Typically the bowl has mango, pineapple, dragon fruit, papaya, banana, apple, watermelon, and maybe a few other fruits thrown in. In addition to the bowl of fruit, we usually share a fruit smoothie that probably has one to two cups of fruit in it. The bowl of fruit, yogurt, and museli and the smoothie combined typically costs around $3. I’ve taken a particular liking to passion fruit. Passion fruit by itself is actually a pretty sour fruit, not nearly as sweet as most fruits we eat in the States. Typically I combine the passion fruit with banana or mango or something like that, but it still has a nice strong passion fruit taste to it. When fresh fruit is so readily available and so cheap it is difficult not to eat so
This is the night market that takes place every night, the decorations make it really beautiful to walk around.
much of it – and we are indulging and loving it!
We had originally planned on going to Pai in Northwest Thailand but we have noticed that finding a room in Pai and Chiang Mai over the internet and on foot, respectively, has been difficult. The high tourist season means that rooms are full and we were unsure about finding a descent quality room up in Pai. In fact, we were unable to stay past our original requested time at our first guesthouse (CM Bluehouse) in Chiang Mai. We decided we wanted to stay a few more days so we started looking for a new place to stay on Wednesday. We found a place called Dream House that held promise but they were full, so we would have to check them out the day we had to leave CM Bluehouse – which was no big deal. As it turns out, being forced to leave CM Bluehouse was a blessing in disguise! Dream House (located on Ratchapakinai road for fellow travelers reading this) is at least twice as nice as CM Bluehouse and it is cheaper! Our room may be the best room we have stayed in throughout all our
Coconut Vegetable Soup
Finished product from cooking class - delicious!
travels and it is about $13/night – a steal! The room is rather large with gorgeous hardwood floors and a nice breakfast nook in a huge bay window. The bathroom is the nicest we have had in Thailand, and it also has a refrigerator, free wifi, air conditioning, and free breakfast snacks (tea, toast, coffee, etc.). It is great!
Since arriving in Chiang Mai, Amy and I have had two massages. As I mentioned in a previous blog, massages are more a way of life in Thailand than a luxury. Our first massage was at one of the night markets and we had a foot massage, again wonderful! For our second massage we splurged ($8) and had a one hour full body massage. I know, traveling is tough J We are going to try to take a foot massage course that teaches reflexology and Thai massage techniques.
Another week or so in Thailand and we will be heading to Laos, hard to believe!
There are more photos below