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Published: January 13th 2009
Well, we arrived home in NZ less than 12 months ago. Ready to stay put for a while, bought another house etc…. then decided we wanted to travel some more! So just 11 months after setting down in NZ, and after 6 very hectic months spent renovating our house from top to bottom - yes, floors, ceilings, roof, a few walls and all interior finishings completely stripped and replaced - completed literally the day we flew out… we were off again!
And so, our blogs begin again! Though there will be a lot less of them this time around as this time we actually have to work. Ugh, yes, work. Eeewwwww! Anyway…….. let’s get on with it!
Our first destination was Chiang Mai, Thailand. Having visited Thailand 6 times previously and always heading south, we thought since we were going to be in the South East Asia region yet again it was definitely time we visited somewhere in northern Thailand! We arrived into Thailand late on the night of 31 December! Yes, we watched midnight tick over in a Bangkok taxi…. We stayed a night near Bangkok airport before flying up to Chiang Mai at midday the next day.
Chiang Mai was great, famous Thai hospitality and genuine friendliness is still intact and in full swing. They really are such sweet people! We spent the first afternoon just cruising around the city, and found a cool little restaurant/bar to have a meal in - and Martin’s long-awaited first Singha of the trip! We then went down to check out the Night Bizarre, arguably Chiang Mai’s biggest attraction. Rip-off labelled clothing mixed with more traditional Thai artefacts (though no doubt still manufactured in a high output factory/sweatshop) abounded. The second day was again spent wondering the city and relaxing at the hotel - remember we’re catching up on months of not enough sleep after the previous drudgery of working on the house ;-) Martin was still waking up in a panic, thinking he had to get up and work on the house. Kristi had a great massage in the afternoon and that night we went to the night bizarre and did a bit of shopping then went in search of a restaurant for dinner. We stumbled across the “Kalare Foodcourt” which was a different experience - you had to purchase coupons which you could then trade with food stall
owners for their dishes, there were a multitude of food stalls and choices and the place was absolutely packed with people - mostly locals, but a few tourists were game. We chose the old favourite Chicken and Cashew Nuts and swear it was the best example of that dish we’d ever eaten…. All for $2NZD each ;-) Definitely recommended! Especially when our dollar seems to be quite low against the Thai Baht at the moment! We’re only getting about 19THB per $1NZD when I think the last time we were here we were getting almost 30THB / $1NZD.
Our third day in Chiang Mai, we had booked to do a thai cookery class with Baan Thai (meaning “Thai Home”) - it turned out to be loads of fun, really informative, and we cooked up an absolute storm! It was one of the best days! The class had a max of 10 people and basically you chose 6 dishes each (out of 18+ different options) to do and then went off to local food markets to learn more about their local fruit and vegetables, home-made noodles and the like. The market was pretty cool - we learned about heaps of
weird and whacky local produce (some appealing, some downright scarey…) but perhaps best of all was when our instructor/guide told us about the magic of MSG!! So funny, she showed us all these BIG satchets of white powder (Martin assumed it was cocaine… and said as much… ) but no it was good old MSG - banned in most of the western world but a staple in much of Asia. Our guide told us that if you bought fruit, kebabs, stirfry etc form a street vendor, the powder they heaped on was not icing sugar as we had assumed… it was MSG. Lovely. After picking up the ingredients we needed, and much gagging over the feral odours, we headed back to Baan Thai. Between us Martin and I chose Chiang Mai Red Curry paste(green was way too scary), Chiang Mai Noodles, Spring Rolls, Chicken in Coconut Milk Soup, Hot and Sour Soup, Pad Thai and Chicken with Cashew Nuts to be followed by Mango with Sticky Rice and Water Chestnuts in Coconut Milk. (yes Nikki! I can now make us Thai spring rolls!!!) For each dish we divided up into the groups teaching the meal we wanted to learn and
they showed you how to prepare the ingredients, then cook the dish, and then you would go back to your group of 10 people and eat the dish you created. Well, everything tasted wicked and needless to say about half way through the day you were already well full but with several dishes to go! ;-) The day absolutely flew by as we had a great time cooking up a storm in our woks and eating until we could no longer move ;-) Great group of people too, Aussies and Americans. It really was a fantastic way to spend a day in Chiang Mai! After spending about 9 hours there we headed back to our hotel - well they dropped us off, which is lucky because we pretty much would have had to roll home rather than walk ;-) No dinner needed that night!
The following day we had an afternoon flight out of Chiang Mai so we hired a tuk tuk in the morning and went for a look around at several Wats (temple complexes) the oldest and most impressive of which was called Wat Chedi Luang and was truly impressive. We then strolled back to the hotel.
Sad to be seeing our Thailand part of the trip come to an end, but never-the-less excited about our arrival in Luang Prabang, Laos!
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