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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is kind of the capital of northern Thailand. It is a really nice city full with Buddhist temples and with a huge offer of activities to do.

As soon as we arrive we head on to eagle house 2 hostel. It's a really nice place, the room has A/C and hot water, all for only 290 bhat/night.
After checking in, the first thing we do is booking a thai food cooking course for the next day. 900 bt to learn how to cook 5 dishes from a list of about 20.
We spent the rest of the day visiting temples. It is quite impressing the amount of temples, history and monks that this city has. In the evening a couple of beers while listening to live music, close to the hotel made up for the rest of the evening.

We then spent most of the next day learning how to cook Thai food. I had some problems with our chef's good morning mood (i'm normally quite grumpy in the mornings) but once the real action started everything went fine). First we went to the market to buy fresh ingredients. The teacher showed us a lot of the different herbs and fruits they use. Some are familiar others not quite. It will probably be a pain in the hass to find these things back home, but I hope for the best.

Here is the list of dishes I chose: hot and sour prawns soup, pad thai noodles, pat paneng, chicken souffle and golden parcels.

We prepared and ate 3 dishes in the morning what left us full and sleepy. So we spent the 1h break resting. After the break we prepared the other two dishes but this time saved them for later.

After the cooking course we just rested.

1 day lifestyle tour
The tour consists of a visit to a butterfly and orchid farm, a visit to a village where 4 different tribes live (including the long neck woman), an elephant ride, a 2h trek to a waterfall, white water rafting in river Pai and bamboo rafting.

Lets just say I didn't see any butterflies, in the village I felt like I was in a human zoo, the elephant safari was boring and the beasts kept asking for food and the bamboo rafting was more like paddling a boat with water up till your waist... The trekking was great mostly because when we got to the waterfall we jumped in and relaxed there for a while. The white water rafting was great fun! I had been planning to do it for years.

It was a funny group that took part in the tour. We met some of the people in the evening and had a few beers.

By scooter around Chiang Mai

The next day we rented two scooters and explored some of the monuments around the city. We visited the ruins of Wiang Kum Kam and the temple of Water Phra That Doi Suthep, which is located way up in the mountains north from the city. This is a very relaxing place, with a great terrace overlooking the city and another one in the shadow that was the best option due to the extreme temperatures.

After returning the scooters we got ready for dinner and for partying. We decided to go and have dinner at the night bazaar. The night bazaar consists of a huge street market, that spreads for several streets and quarters. It took us sometime to find the food section. We first found the prostitution market, then the shops, the sea food market and finally some food...
Since it was still early and we had bought some stuff in the bazaar we decided to go to the hostel, grab a beer on the way, before going to a club. Well when we were relaxing in the room the lights suddenly went off. We immediately thought of Nepal and the permanent black outs. As I come outside I see some strange blue lights in the main street. I moved closer and saw a huge fire going several meters above the roofs! This was only 20 meters away from our hostel! We went out to the main street. The fireman were doing their job and everyone was surprisingly calm! After 30 min the lights came back, the fire turned to black smoke and there was one restaurant less in Chiang Mai.

We then finally went out. We went to Space Bubble. 100 bt to enter including one drink. Well going out in Thailand can be really funny! I sat most of the time observing what was going on. Westerners showing off with their escorts, groups of Thai girls looking for a western and hitting on everyone (yes including me). Drunk old hippie looking guys just enjoying themselves in their own world. I just laughed a lot until the place closed down. In the end since we couldn't find a taxi we took a ride with one of the girls that was dancing inside and that was drunk like hell...

We spent the last day in Chiang Mai visiting a few more temples and relaxing. The trip to Koh Phagnan takes two nights by bus and one day is to be spent in Bangkok.

Below you can find some pictures of Chiang Mai and surroundings and a video of our chef.

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