First stop, Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai has already left a footprint on my heart of a place I have fallen in love with and we have only been here three days. They don’t call it the gem of the North for nothing. One of my best friends Katie says that it’s the people that make the place, and I’d have to agree with her on this one.
We decided to couch surf our first three days in Thailand and I couldn’t imagine a better way to begin a trip in a new county. Our hosts were Ralph and Cat, a retired no-filter-kind-of-guy from the UK and his quiet and super nice Thai wife. We arrived by taxi to their house in Doi Saket which lies about 25 minutes outside of the main city in Chiang Mai. They live in a beautiful house with a lush garden surround, maintained by Cat, who upon our arrival was planting a new tree in her backyard that she found on her morning walk.
A river with pink water lotus’ is a stones throw from their back patio terrace where breakfast is ate in the mornings surrounded by rice fields. Not another house is in sites view.When we walked in and saw our surroundings we wonder how we got so lucky.
Our hosts were incredibly accommodating during our first three days and it was pretty much an instant feeling of friendship. Upon our arrival Cat had breakfast made for us, Ralph lent us rides into town, took me to the hospital (long story..first night spent in Thai hospital..ugh) and on our last night staying with them they took us to his favorite bar in Chiang Mai, Boy Blues Bar. It sits in the night bazaar area and is second level with an open rooftop. Ralph seems to be a local celebrity at the place as he was called up to sing a few songs with the local band once we arrived. Two words: Couchsurfing Rules!
We took Ralph’s motorcycles on our first day in town to see some of the mountainous beauty of Chiang Mai. We stopped at a botanical garden and snake farm to see a Cobra show put on by local Thai boys.
As we are riding in the mountains we saw two elephants cross the roadway with their mahouts, which are caretakers. They were riding bareback on the elephants, and at this point in time it really set in for me that I was in Asia. Elephants crossing the road? WHAT? IN WHAT WORLD? Def a world I want to live in.
Thai Cooking School
We took a full day cooking course at a local Thai’s place outside of the city, called Siam Rice Thai Cookerywhich began with a fresh market tour learning about local fruits and veggies. This is definitely a must for anyone who has an extra day to spare and want to learn about local food and flavor. There’s over 30 different cooking schools in Chiang Mai so it was hard to select which one we wanted to go to. We ended up choosing Siam Rice Thai Cookery School which is at the owners house outside of town.The cooking school was an amazing experience, but I really think our instructor (Pot,the owner) made the whole day worthwhile. He was personable, hilarious, and shared beers with us after class sharing his life stories.
We learned to cook 7 dishes and the ones I selected were:
Spicy soup with sweet basil
Chicken with Cashew Nut
Sticky rice with young coconut.
Friends, get ready for a feast when I get home!