- We flew to Chiang Mai from Bangkok. All the trains were sold out due to the holidays.
- We hopped aboard a songathew – another new mode of transportation. We drove in circles and stopped in the middle of nowhere. When I inquired about what was happening the driver asked for more money. I refused, smelling something fishy, and he backed off. He took us to our destination, but it left a bad taste in our mouths.
- We checked into the Mojito House hostel.
- I began the quest for Khao Soi – a dish well-known in Northern Thailand. I ate it for lunch and was hooked from the first bite! It’s a yellow curry dish with egg noodles and chicken in it, topped with fried noodles. Similarly to Vietnamese pho, you can add spices to customize the flavor.
- We tried and failed to go to a nighttime flower exhibit. Transportation in Chiang Mai is more difficult than in other places. Prices for a long distance and short distance trip are essentially the same. We paid almost the same price to get to the night market (~6 min trip) and to get to Tiger Kingdom (~45 min away, plus he waited for us while we were there AND he took us to the post office on the way).
- We hit up the night market and watched a free cultural performance.
- I ventured to Wat Phara Doi Sutep and the Royal Palace Gardens. It was a beautiful view of the city and was quite peaceful. I had a better experience with songathew drivers for this trip.
- When I returned, Mandy and I continued the quest for Khao Soi. We found a place called “Just Khao Soi” and they served (you guessed it!) Khao Soi. Their menu had the history of the dish (Burmese/Thai fusion) and mentioned that they are going to be opening franchises worldwide. Hopefully they’ll open one in San Diego!
- I figured out how to call internationally over Wifi. My original Skype plan failed me. Download “Viber” if you want to chat!
- We went to Tiger Kingdom and played with baby tigers. It was scary and exciting to be so close to such powerful creatures. Talk about big cats!
- For dinner, we took a Thai cooking class. I learned how to make 4 Thai dishes – we even made curry from scratch. I, of course, opted to make Khao Soi (yum!). It was fun to eat your own cooking afterwards. Our guide gave us all the recipies to take home.
- We took a tour out of town to do some elephant training. There are many elephant tourism opportunities in Chiang Mai, but we wanted to select one that didn’t mistreat the animals. Many of the programs were sold out, so we selected a smaller one with a guy named Woody. His family has been taking care of the same elephants for years and years. You could tell he really cared about the animals.
- We learned elephant commands – “yoot” means stop, “yop kah” means leg up so you can climb on to them.
- We fed the elephants banana plants and picked up their giant poop with scoopers. Then we climbed aboard and went for a ride.
- After they ate more, we bathed them in a nearby pond and swam with them. It was absolutely an unforgettable experience.
- In the evening we found a rooftop bar where we ate and I had a Tom Yum-inspired cocktail.
- Then we went to the Brasserie for a live cover band – RHCP, Oasis, jammin’.
Photos of Chiang Mai coming soon