Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Day 4- part 2 Chiang Mai!!!!!!!

I was SO excited to head to Northern Thailand!  It was a place Graham had never been, and we both had a lot of things we wanted to see and do (me- cooking school and elephant riding, him the same, plus a more relaxed life).  We had been told how much slower life is in Chiang Mai and how the people there, tend to be the true "Thailand land of smiles" type of people.  After 3 days in the big city of Bangkok, we were thrilled to see a much smaller city and what adventures it had to offer!

We arrived at our guesthouse, Lai Thai, right in the centre of Chiang Mai, after being picked up by a free shuttle (YAY FREE!) from the airport.  The guest house is gorgeous!  The beds were really creaky, but had the most detailed headboards I have ever seen!  We were surprised by flowers all over the bed, and rose petals leading to the balcony and the bathroom!  So sweet!

We went to a tour company right after checking in, so that we could ensure we had our spots for 2 of the 3 days we were here.  The tours were all day tours, so we needed to make sure we got in while we could.  We booked the tours with a guy named CHET, who was so helpful and even recommended tours that were better, cheaper and more "Thai" than the ones we originally were there to book, so BONUS points for him!  We booked a tour called the Mae Tang Trek (elephant riding, waterfall hike, orchid farm and bamboo rafting), and a cooking class at Baan Thai Cookery School.

Graham ended up getting "Thai" tummy as we liked to call it, shocking, as he has a stomach of steel and I usually can't handle new foods very well!  I was feeling pretty good, so we weren't sure if it was lunch, or the water we were drinking now or what.  Either way, typical travel tummy always comes at some point!

We were recommended to go to a restaurant called "Riverside Restaurant".  We were told it had some of the best northern food, with a relaxing, but incredibly warm view.  With a recommendation like that, we were anxious to see what awaited us.  That and it was nice to go somewhere for a sit down meal, that wasn't in a plastic chair on the side of the road or standing while eating in a market.  It was supposed to be a 15 minute walk (people always over estimate RIGHT?!?!?), but it took us over 30 and we were tired!  We got to the restaurant, and it was even more beautiful than we imagined!!!  There are rivers and fountains weaving all around the town, making it just breathtaking.

Graham ended up having the most delicious long island iced tea, and I am NOT a cocktail person.  I had a refreshing beer, to go with a much cooler night (we were elated that it was at least 5 degrees colder in Chiang Mai than Bangkok!).  Beer here is DIRT cheap, but cocktails are quite expensive, so it worked out that at least one of us drinks beer.  To give some context, beer is around 40BAHT= 1.25, while cocktails are around 250BAHT= $8.  Needless to say, I might have REALLY enjoyed drinking beer on holidays!

We ordered a "not spicy" green papaya salad, or Som Tam in Thai.  It is a northern salad, that is now popular everywhere and is made with unripen green papayas, 4-6 bird's eye chilis (YIKES!), peanuts, LOTS of lime, long beans, tomatoes and a few other things.  It is the perfect example of Thai's- sweet, spicy, sour food.  It was HOT HOT HOT, but YUMMY!!!  Graham then had the BEST paenang curry (Thai red curry with coconut milk and peanuts) he's ever had, while I had the Thai basil chicken (again not spicy, and this time they got it right!) and VERY sticky rice!!!  It was one of the best meals we have eaten in our lives, and with 2 cocktails, 2 beers and all our food, it came to $20!!!!!!!!!

Som Tam Salad

No!  That's not all mine!  Thai Basil Chicken and Paenang Curry!
We were so relaxed sitting at the river, eating and enjoying each other's company.  I remember looking over at Graham at one point, over candlelight, so thankful that he is now my husband and that we made it through all the chaos, bumps and time apart and are now married.  It was a feeling I want to feel for the rest of my life.  I had never seen him so relaxed, content and full of enjoyment/excitement!

We walked to the night bazaar, as we couldn't find a taxi (they are open backed trucks here!!!), and I was overwhelmed when we stumbled upon it!  It was HUGE, BRIGHT, FULL OF CULTURE and spanned at least 10 blocks around!!!  It was full of handicrafts, dried fruit, homemade coin purses, Thai art and lots of clothes.  I was excited to see dried tomatoes again and it was a MUST buy to bring as a gift home for Mom and Dad, as we thought they would love them!

At the end of the night, we were so exhausted, so we treated ourselves to a 1 hour foot massage... notice a trend here?  Massages are extremely cheap in Chiang Mai and for 120 BAHT= $4 for a 1 foot, shoulder and head massage...who wouldn't treat themselves every chance they got?!?!??!?!  GLORIOUS!

This place, this street and these ladies, were our all time favourite!

We hope for a GREAT night's sleep tonight, and to adjust even more to the time change before getting up for cooking school in the morning!


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