One More StopJune 15 in Thailand
Our nine days in Chiang Mai have literally flown by and we've packed our bags for a three day layover in Bangkok before heading back to Vancouver.
I haven't posted any blogs while we were here simply because we had very quickly fallen into our usual comfortable Chiang Mai routine of exercise, shop, eat sleep and repeat. Okay, it wasn't that mundane, and there were several highlights, but nothing in particular that warranted the creation of a separate post.
Since we were here for only a short time, we decided to splurge a little and stay at Thanyawintra Boutique Hotel, a brand new four star hotel close to Muang Mai and Warorot markets. In the end, we regretted the decision since the hotel was still undergoing some growing pains and really didn't offer any added value for the money we paid. Live and learn. On the plus side, we loved the area and took the opportunity to scout out potential nearby accommodations for future trips.
We ate at a number of excellent vegetarian restaurants and stuffed our bellies with fruit at an all you can eat buffet at the Maya mall. Khao Soi is a Northern Thai specialty that is typically made with pork or chicken. It's a hearty soup with egg noodles and a mildly spicy coconut broth. We went out in search of the best vegetarian version and decided that amongst the samples we tried (Reform Kafe, Fuang Vegetarian, Goodsouls, Freebird Cafe and Thai Lotus Vegetarian) the clear winner was Reform Kafe. So good, in fact, that we returned for a second bowl on our last evening here.
The fruits in Chiang Mai were better and less expensive than in Rayong, which we found puzzling given Rayong is touted as Thailand's fruit basket. We rarely found mangoes in Rayong, yet they were cheap and plentiful here. We saw ripe, eat me today, mangoes here for as little as 10 baht ($0.40cdn) per kilo.
The all you can eat fruit buffet at Maya was another big highlight. It was put on by the local Rimping Supermarket and featured Monthong durian, mangosteen, mangoes, rambutan and pineapple. All the fruit was perfectly ripe and of very high quality In the ninety minutes we were allotted, we each ate way more than our 349 baht admission price. The best part was that we were virtually the only people there. There was no waiting for fruit, no crowds and no people trying to elbow their way to the front of the line as we experienced in Bangkok. At the end of our feast the skies opened and torrential rains poured down for at least fifteen minutes before we were able to find a break in the clouds and run inside for cover.
This is low season in Southeast Asia, which is obvious by the reduced number of tourists everywhere.
The Sunday Walking Street, or night market, is a Chiang Mai must do, even for long term residents. During the winter the streets hosting this event are so crammed with tourists, locals and vendors one can barely move. Personally, after about an hour of this mayhem, I've had enough and call it quits. This year, however, with the reduced tourist traffic, it was all quite bearable. Yes, there were fewer artisans than we see in the winter, but there was no shortage of food stalls and clothing booths selling everything from doggie coats to elephant pants.
The last time we were here we spotted an elderly Thai woman sitting on a little stool in the middle of one of the walking street's busy intersection. She was surrounded by oodles of Thai cookies and goodies for sale and, despite her advanced age and frail appearance, she was there all alone to fend for herself. We have no idea how long she had been sitting there nor how she managed to bring all her wares to the market.
She was there again this year, one year older, and still hawking her sweets. We couldn't resist buying a package of crispy rice cookies from her and supporting her cause. She quickly returned the correct amount of change from my 100 baht note and returned to her quiet vigil.
She's so precious we had to take her picture, but that proved to be more difficult than we anticipated. Although he never leaves her little stool, she's constantly in motion, looking this way and that, or taking a bite of one of her sweets. The photo I've posted is the best of six or seven we attempted, but it really doesn't show the true person, the one you want to call grandma and give a big hug. I only wish I could speak Thai and learn her story.
Low season also enabled us to always find a seat in our favorite restaurants or walk into any massage shop and immediately have a foot massage. Unfortunately, the weather was not so agreeable and actually looked a lot like winter on Vancouver: constantly overcast and often sprinkling rain. The silver lining is that the cloud cover kept the temperatures at around 25°C, which made walking around very bearable.
And so we say au revoir to Chiang Mai once again and head off to a three day stay in a five star Bangkok hotel. Other than a shopping trip to the Saturday Chatuchak mega market, we may never set foot outsideRead more