Friday, January 27, 2012

Thursday in Chiang Mai Jan. 26, 2012

What a lovely city this is, we are loving it!  A little about Chiang Mai:

Chiang Mai is in the north of Thailand, and is the second largest city in the country.  It was founded in 1296 as the capitol of the Lanna Kingdom, and formally became part of Siam in 1774.  Old Chiang Mai was surrounded by a moat and a defensive wall to protect it against raids from the nearby Burmese.  You can still see part of the wall today.   We are staying in the "old town" area, which is inside the original wall.

Although it's a large city, it doesn't have the frantic pace of Bangkok.  A big plus for us: it's at least 10 degrees cooler here!  We are enjoying the gracious,  helpful and friendly people--they are just delightful.  The staff at our hotel, market vendors, waiters and just everyday people on the street--they all smile and want to know "where you come from".  In all our travels, I'm most impressed with the lovely Thai people.  It's no wonder they call Thailand "The Land of Smiles".

So, on to our Thursday in charming Chiang Mai:

We woke up fairly early, after a fitful nights sleep on our very firm mattress.  We had a quick breakfast at our hotel, then took our first "tuk-tuk" ride over to the Warowat Market.  A tuk tuk is a small 3 wheeled vehicle, kind of like a golf cart on steroids.  They zip all over town like crazy!  Here's David discussing the fare with the driver, it was under $2!





And a few shots along the way, taken when I could pry my hands away from the hold bar!



David also shot a video of the ride, listen for the putt-putt-putt of the tuk tuk!
video


This market is a huge daily market, filled with just about everything you could imagine.  It's where the locals shop, and we didn't see many other farangs.  (Farangs is what Thais call foreigners)  Like most markets, it's a maze of narrow alleys and streets with hundreds of shops selling a fascinating variety of goods.  We do love a market, and this one did not disappoint!

We explored the market for several hours, especially enjoying the food market area.  Just look at these strawberries--don't they look scrumptious??




I think these dragon fruit are pretty, I've never tried them--I wonder what they taste like?:


After a couple of hours, I decided it was time for a snack.  I passed up these crispy crunchy fried wiggly things in favor of a small packet of dried tropical fruit.




The meat and fish area was interesting, with many different kinds of sausage, lots of chicken pieces and parts, many types of dried fish, and fresh fish that really looked good--it was so fresh it was still wiggling!


There was a vendor with live eels, turtles and small birds.  The birds were all ready to take home, each in their own little woven "basket".  I'm not sure if the eels and turtles were for cooking, or as a pet?  I don't think I want to know! 



So many types of mushrooms, both dried and fresh:


This vendor sold only garlic, shallots and onions.


 Beautiful fresh veggies--just look at this baby bok choy.  Sure wish we had a kitchen to cook in this week:



 HOT chili peppers!


There were several vendors selling fresh cooked foods.  These were interesting--especially the blue ones!  The lady was very nice and explained what they were--a very small crepe with a filling of sweet/salty peanut butter.





We couldn't begin to count the many kinds of deep fried pork rinds!  Big ones, small ones, some spicy, some not.  B-I-G bags of them:


In the meat section of the market, we found this vendor carefully preparing pig's heads.  They don't waste any part of that pig!  I'm not sure what that red one is all about.....


I think my very favorite food item were the freshly made curry pastes.  Big bowls and pots of them, all  different kinds and colors.  They smelled wonderful, just deeee-licious!  Sure wish I could bring some home.




We'd wandered around the market for almost 4 hours, and it was time for some lunch.  We didn't find any likely (read: acceptable!) restaurants at the market, so caught another tuk tuk back to our hotel.  We had our usual cold beer and mojito at the Terrace Bar.  The mojitos are refreshing and delicious, and at only $2.50 each they could be dangerous!

We decided on a small restaurant across the street from our hotel for a late lunch.  We'd wanted to eat dinner their last night, but it was just packed with locals and a few farangs.  We sat down and ordered, a curry stir fry for David and a noodle stir fry with basil sauce and fresh basil for me.  The were both super-delicious.  Add a beer and an iced tea, and our bill came to a whopping $4.00!  That's for both of us, not each!

After our lunch we decided to explore the wat right next door to our hotel--the one we can see from our
window.  Wat Phan Tao was built in the late 1700's, and is a small, rustic wat built of teak wood.



The temple grounds are very serene and peaceful, with beautiful gardens and a pond.











A beautiful butterfly:

After our nice peaceful visit to Wat Phan Tao we walked back next door to our hotel.  Time for a little afternoon "siesta" and a rest for my poor, blistered toes.

After a nice rest, we flagged down a tuk tuk again, we're off to the night market for dinner and shopping!
There are hundreds of vendors that set up each evening--just right on the sidewalks.  There is also a large indoor night market area selling mostly Thai handicrafts.  We browsed around for an hour or so, enjoying the fun atmosphere.  Didn't buy a thing, but was fun looking.

There is also a "food court" set up in the indoor part of the market--the Thai version of our mall food courts!

We both had a noodle stir-fry dish, and for desert we tried something new; mango with sticky rice.  The sticky rice is cooked in sweetened coconut milk  It was delicious:

By now it's 9 pm or so, and it's been a long day for the Lunds.  We decide to head back to our hotel, again in one of those crazy tuk tuks,. This was the craziest ride yet!


Tomorrow in Chiang Mai:  The zoo!

6 comments:

  1. What? You mean strawberries aren't just grown in the U.S.? Love the umbrella picture and all the mushrooms. I think I might have to find a way to visit Thailand. What an adventure.

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    1. Wat Phan Tao in your own neighborhood...it looks so peaceful and clean and pretty. I especially like the woven "birthday cake" and the tall bamboo poles with the umbrellas! Sorry your feet are taking a beating (no pun intended) hope they are healing & you will be blister free soon. Hang on those tuk tuks sound crazy!

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  2. Hi Di
    Am really enjoying reading your blog. My husband and I (both in our late 60's) are going to Thailand at the end of Feb for my son's wedding. We will be in Koh Samui first then Chang Mai and finally Bangkok. Reading your blog has help us decided what we should and shouldn't make an effort to see. Your photos are great- what camera do you use? By the way, my husband spent some of his high school days in Bothell. We, however have lived in New Zealand for 40 years. Thanks for all your effort in writing about your travels. Linda

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    1. Thanks, Linda.
      The two cameras we've used on this trip are : A Sony Cyber Shot Model DSC-HX1, and also a Nikon Cool-Pix S6200. The Nikon is a very small "pocket" camera with a 10x zoom lens-new this trip. We've been very happy with the picture quality so far. The Sony is a bigger camera, a little heavier to carry around, but it has a bigger zoom. Hope that helps!

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  3. The sticky rice with mango looks so good. And those strawberries in the market...Its fun to see all the food and how they present it. Oh and those crunchy wiggly fried things, looked like worms to me! Ugh The Tuk tuk rides are exciting, I bet you have to hang on tight most of the time. And the post was fun and interesting. Especially the history background on Chiang Mai. Can't wait to see your post on the zoo. I'm glad its cooler where you are. Take care of those toes. How's that mattress, getting any better? I'm sure by now...your Thai accent and grasp of the language is perfect. Until tomorrow....

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  4. Anither great looking market. The strawberries looked so good. The tuk tuk sounds like it would be an adventure. I am sure your poor blistered feet appreciated the ride. Yum, lunch snd dinner both sounded good. I bet the aroma in the market with the curry pastes was wonderful. I made Thai Chicken Curry Soup a little over a week ago---love the aroma of the panang curry. Not sure about all of the crunchy things--I agree that they look like grubs or worms. Hopefully e turtles and birds were destined to be a et and not lunch or dinner. Really enjoying your posts and it is definitely making us think about following in your footsteps, or would that be tuk tuk tracks, and travel to Thailand. Love you guys and hope your blisters are better soon.

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