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!
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?:
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!
So many types of mushrooms, both dried and fresh:
This vendor sold only garlic, shallots and onions.
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:
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:
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!