March 31, 2018
January 9, 2018
Chiang Mai, the capital of the northern region of Thailand, was the second major stop in our trip through this diverse country. It has a completely different pace of life than Bangkok, and it has a clearly defined old center. If you stay in a hotel in this old town, go visit the temples in this part and also go for your meals here, it’s very easy to forget that you’re actually in a major, modern city.
But visiting the tourist attractions in the old part of Chiang Mai is only a small part of what you can do here. There are dozens of other activities on offer, from kayaking (which Daniel did twice during our stay in Chiang Mai), to all types of massages at all possible price tags, to visiting elephant sanctuaries (which I wrote about in the previous post), to trekking in the forests close to the city, to tens of cooking schools, to a tiger safari (where you get to spend time and take photos with real live tigers, no cages, no separation between you and the animals. I wonder if this is legal anywhere else in the world. Needless to say, we passed on this one.)
We spent one day in a Thai cooking class, which started with a visit to a local market, where we got explanations of what the different types of rice are and how to judge their quality (the particular booth where we stopped had 12 (!!) types of rice on sale) and what the typical Thai spices and oils are.
After the market visit, we drove to a farm a bit outside of the city where we had the actual cooking class. Here we were first shown some typical Thai herbs in the organic garden of the farm and then it was time to roll our sleeves up. We each had an own cooking station and, following the teacher’s instructions, we made a Thai soup (Daniel and I chose Tom Ka, a soup made with coconut milk), vegetable spring rolls, a red curry and a cashew nut stir-fry. Of course, we all ate what we made ourselves, plus a papaya salad and the classical Thai dessert of mango and sticky rice, which were made for us. It was a fun day, but the food was waaaay too much. Some of the course participants chose to take the remaining food in doggy bags with them.
Daniel and I had taken a cooking class in Bali before, but there we didn’t get to do much ourselves, we were mostly just shown how the various dishes were made. In contrast to that, now, in Chiang Mai, we made most of the food ourselves and had to bear the consequences if something didn’t turn out as expected. But no one in the course complained that what they made was bad :)
While Daniel was off on his kayaking adventures, I visited two of the major temples in the city. They were both quite lavish and obviously prosperous enough. Two things were special though here, compared to the temples we saw in Bangkok:
And finally, here are some photos of the temples: