Chiang Mai is larger than Chiang Rai, and is definitely geared up to tourists more, and therefore we had a list of things we wanted to see and do during our time here. Most of the main tourist parts are within the old city walls, which is a huge square surrounded by a moat on all 4 sides, where there are endless temples, tour shops, bars and markets.
Sadly, we only did about ½ of the things we wanted to see and do as we took the opportunity to unwind and chill out a bit more after the hectic previous 2 weeks where we only had a couple of days in places. Well that and we also discovered Black Rat Cider and Toni’s bar…which ended up messy on a few nights of our stay.
We then took a walk down one of the busier areas out-with the old city walls, which was full of bars with neon lights, blaring music and bar girls. Finding one that had decent music called Power Bar, we stopped for a quick drink and they also had Black Rat, so we ordered one each. These types of bars are not normally aimed at ‘couples’, but the girls were friendly, and we got a bit of banter with them. It also had a great choice of music, from which you could choose what you wanted on from a whole load of counterfeit CD’s from behind the bar that you used a pool cue to point at.
These girls try to drag all the single males/groups of males in to spend money (same as a lot of bars here in CM), and it’s a good laugh watching this.
But we only stayed for one drink, then went around the corner to another bar called Carnival where the same same happens.
By now it was getting late at around midnight, so a quick check on Google Maps and we found a little side street that took us back to the hotel. Except it took us past a half-shut bar (which we later found out was called Toni’s Place), and we decided to stop in and ask if they were open for a quick drink before bed. It turns out the place is owned by a Thai lady called Toi and her ex-pat Aussie partner called Malcom. We got chatting to them both and the others in the bar and had a good chat and laugh with them all. Malcom would sit with his tablet taking requests and playing some right good music, there was a pool table, bar girls and buy 3 get 1 free beer offers... what was not to like!
Before we knew it, it was now 2am and time to go via the 7-Eleven for some toasties and then to bed a bit drunk.
The ones we went to see were Wat Jedlin, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Phan Tao, Wat Phra Singh Woramahawihan, Three Kings Monument and Wat Chiang Man. By the time we had seen them it was far too hot to walk around plus we were feeling a bit ‘Templed’ out again, so after a quick soft drink at a lovely Vegan café called Free Bird we grabbed a taxi back to the hotel.
An afternoon of research and sorting out the blog/photos awaited, plus a bit of a power nap as it was Saturday today and with a trip to the market planned, we thought it might have been a late one again. The Saturday Walking Street Market in CM takes place along Wua Lai Road, which lies on the outside of the city walls on the south side, so not far from our hotel. It takes up the whole length of the street at around 1km long and has a good mix of goods on sale plus a few street food areas. We gorged on a few snacks from there such as sushi, a weird cheese roll thing, fried chicken plus other bits and bobs. We declined the chance to eat cockroaches, beetles, water bugs and grubs, and although we have seen similar stuff on our travels, we haven’t seen quite a big selection as there was here… am sure in Bangkok in a few weeks we will see a lot more of it!
Sadie had managed to get a few gifts for her family here and with the market getting more and more crowded in this narrow street, we called it and headed to another little street nearby that has a few bars on it. First stop was a little cheap bar called Lost Hut, a mix of music and travellers/locals kept this small bar busy.
After that, it was a repeat of 2 nights ago, where we went to Power Bar and had more cider and a laugh there with the girls and then back to Toni’s Place where Changs seem to flow well and time seems to fly, plus Sadie even met a fellow Trekkie!
And yet again it suddenly was 2am and another trip for more drunken toastie eating then bed!
We didn’t leave the hotel till about 6pm that evening (yeah pretty much another day wasted!) and again it was time to go to another night market. The Sunday Walking Street Market is even bigger than the previous night’s one and takes place this time inside the old city walls, based along Rachadamnoen Road and its surrounding side streets.
Most of the same traders are here again, but this time I managed to buy a pair of fisherman’s trousers that I had been looking to get, and the lovely Jane had even given Sadie money to get them for me 😊
Thankfully we had decided to have a quiet one this evening, as we had an early pick up the following day for our full day cooking class, so it was back to the hotel after dinner this time!
The days itinerary was that they pick you up from the hotel, then we would go to a local market to shop for some ingredients we needed. Then we would head to their farm, about 17km outside of CM where we would be shown the organic produce we would be using and to pick some of that from their fields that we would use in our cooking. After that, we would begin making 5 dishes from that day’s menu and eating them as we went along. Then they would take you back to the hotel around 4pm. At £30 each for the full day, it wasn’t cheap, but we hoped we would learn enough about Thai cooking to hopefully take that back to the UK and use.
We had a full kitchen to our group of 9, and there was another 2 or 3 groups there too each with their own little area. Surrounding these kitchens was lots of lovely greenery and we quickly spotted all the various fruits, vegetables and herbs we would be using.
But first up was a welcome drink and a quick hello from everyone to introduce ourselves, before we ran through the menu we would be preparing and creating today, which was
- Red, Green or Yellow Curry (including making the paste)
- Jasmine Rice and Sticky Rice
- Tom Yam Soup or Coconut Milk Soup
- Fried Spring Rolls
- Stir Fry with Cashew Nut
- Mango Sticky Rice
First up was making the paste, which was hard work using the pestle and mortar to smash up the ingredients to make it into our chosen flavoured curry.
Then it was learning about the different types of rice and how to cook them for our dishes later, so we did a lot of Jasmine Rice and Sticky Rice.
We then got on with making our soups, which were simple and should be easy enough to do back home. They also supply a full colour recipe book of everything we will make so that will also help, plus Wass gave us a list of some alternative ingredients should we find them hard to source in the UK. After making our soups, we sat down for a break and enjoyed them as a group, which would happen throughout the day. This was a far better approach too than the one we did in Hoi An where we made everything and ate it all at the end. It just meant we got lots of breaks to eat food… win-win!
We then made our spring rolls, which were also easy to do, then fried them and quickly stuffed them into our gobs. Next was to make our curry from scratch and the stir-fry and these were both ready to eat at the same time. Finally, it was time to make the Mango Sticky Rice, which was delicious and after all that, we felt so full it was uncomfortable!
Wass was a brilliant guide and chef and we had a good group to get along with and am sure we all learned from the experience. And then it was time to head back to the hotel and after getting in around 4pm, we were so full we had a little nap.
Around 7pm we headed back out again, not hungry so we went for a few beers first. Fatal mistake as we ended up going to see Malcom, but he wasn’t there, so had a couple there then went to Power Bar again for more cider, before bumping into Malcom on the street and saying we would go to his bar and wait there for him to come back for a few drinks to say goodbye. It will come as no surprise at this turned into yet another messy night, Sadie was even up dancing with the local bar girls and I’ve no idea where the time went to, but this time it was nearly 3am and am sure we had outstayed our welcome, so went back to our hotel worse for wear!
Link To Chiang Mai Photos