Posts Tagged With: Chiang Mai

Eating in Chiang Mai

The cuisine in the north is more aromatic and has a stronger taste than that of central Thailand, which visitors like me are more familiar with.  Spent 10 nights in Chiang Mai and tried to eat as much variety as possible aside from all the food I cooked in my 3-day Thai cookery class.

My favorite is the northern sausage which is chockful of herbs.


Tastes really nice grilled rather than fried.  Talking of grills, many times, a simple stall grilling meat on skewers satiated my hunger pangs in the evening.


Yup, even sticky rice is grilled.


For something more substantial, I headed to restaurants.  Took my chance and headed to popular and always packed Kajana   at the old town for lunch and lo and behold!  Found empty tables.


The pork sausage with eggs and glass noodles was soooo good I immediately wrote down the recipe the way I understood it based on taste and look.


The roast pork in curry is a little sweetish but oh so tender you can pick it with just a fork.  Warning:  if eating alone, don’t order another dish like what I did coz the portion is big. 

On the two times I lunched at Aroon Rai  the food was always delicious. 

Portions are generous and the staff friendly. Because I was always hungry whenever I came, I always headed straight to the pre-cooked food counter rather than ordering a la carte.  

A surprise discovery was Yummy E-San which I always ignored due to its cirny name.  Too touristy so maybe the taste is touristy too.  Hunger and convenience drove me there one night so I took a table.  The Tom Yum with coconut milk was really delicious with just the right amount of sourness balanced by the coconut milk.  


However, it was the Fried Tofu in Tamarind Sauce that won me over.  Melt in your mouth soft tofu so perfectly fried it was delicate to the tongue.  Dipped in tangily sweet tamarind sauce, it was heavenly.


Good Taste  kitchen just as its name suggests has really good taste both in interiors—cute wooden tables for a homey feel— and food.

Seriously good Green Curry Fried Rice.


Wat Phan On with its spacious grounds that hosts a few food stalls was also my go to place if I needed something simple and hot such as a bowl of noodle soup.  I just added the pork cracklings on the soup.

Speaking of pork, the Thai make crispy pork so perfectly.  Just the right thickness and fried to a crisp.  Not too salty.


Wat Phra Singh was also hosting a small market where I had some som tam, the ubiquitious Thai papaya salad.

I guesss wats not only provide spiritual nourishment but physical too.

Off Rachadamnoen Rd at the old town was this Mango with Sticky Rice. The blue rice is naturally tinted with butterfly pea flowers.


Of course, I had to have my  khao soi,  Chiang Mai’s signature noodle dish.  This  was courtesy of a stall at the Sunday Night Market at the old town.

In case, you need some Western food, there are burger places and lots of Italian restos.  Had a pizza with smoked ham and smoked cheese at La Fontana.  Good value at TH 200.  

I didn’t eat too much breakfast  as   I had a stash of fruits.  Was thinking of going to Fueng Fah for their TH 289 breakfast buffet was too lazy to get up early.  I did get to try the eggs benedict at  Art Cafe just across Thapae Gate in the morning I arrived by plane from Bangkok.  Looked pretty on my plate but it had the most tasteless Hollandaise sauce ever.  A better breakfast was at The Garden where I had a tasty breakfast sausage, some really good wheat toast with jelly, and pan-fried potatoes.

Breakfast fare is  mostly Western perhaps as a break from all the local food.  Besides, the farang may not take to noodle soup or rice porridge in the morning.
The quiet soi in the old town and even the night bazaar area where my hotel wad is home to small quaint cafes that beckon the weary temple-hopper to take a break and just watch the world go by.  At Nam’s, I could have sat on my wooden chair forever.


A cool leafy spot at Coffee Corner Kitchen.


Rachadamnern Cafe near the Chiang Mai police station has good coffee and pastries.  Went to Angel’s Secrets for the famous carrot cake but the place was packed and no cake in sight.  

So skip the big chains like Starbucks, Black Canyon, and Wawee and look for these hidden gems. You also get to support local independent businesses.
Surprisingly, I didn’t hav much desserts. My sweet tooth was asleep perhaps.  I did have a cup of white chocolate gelato at   Gelato World   but only just because I was too embarassed not  to buy after looking at the display far too long.  I did buy some traditional Thai desserts.


Many places to eat but not enough time to try.  The bane of solo travel also is you can’t order much. I guess I should just have to make a return trip.

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Solo in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a place that grows on you.  Spent 10 nights here and I could have stayed for more.  For a solo traveller who is not very sociable nor into group tours, that’s saying a lot. After all, what can you do alone?

Plenty.

I took a 3-day cooking course (just 5 of us in a class) at   Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School  and had a great time with my classmates while discovering the secrets of Thai cuisine with a fun instructor named Pon. 


Visited beautiful temples and enjoyed some quiet moments,

colorful sights,


religion,

​and local culture.


I did book a taxi for a day to see the usual elephant shows (big mistake) and hill tribe people (enjoyable).  


I even got to listen to a sample of traditional Lahu music.


Though I did not get to experience the Flight of the Gibbons, I got to pet one.


I spent most of my time at the old town where there were loads of things to do perfect for a solitary traveler.  Like learning about Lanna culture at the Lanna Folk Life Museum and taking my sweet time moving from gallery to gallery.


Resting my feet while getting some quiet time at nice quaint cafes where servers are always smiling.


Spent a morning with  a musician in his shop and tried to play the pinpia.  

Speaking of music, caught this performance at Thapae gate on the last night of a travel and wellness expo.  Entertained me for an hour or so.


I took plenty of long walks and in doing so unearthed Chiang Mai’s hidden charms.


Temples oblivious to the tourist crowd.


Hidden cafes.


Leafy lanes.

and snippets of local life.


New Year’s Eve was spent with the monks (and hundreds of other people).  Magical and solemn.  Unlike anything I have ever experienced.

Spent a couple of hours shopping at night market and the Warorot Market.

My favorite indulgence — 2-hour massages at a spa.  Went 4 times. 

Of course, I ate and ate my favorite Chiang Mai sausages.

Lots of sausages and other delicious bits off street stalls.


Chiang Mai has many experiences to offer.  For solo travellers, particularly those looking for quiet moments, Chiang Mai has lots to give.

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Soi Delightful

Step away from the main roads and into those narrow winding lanes called soi  and find a different world of tranquility where quaint coffee shops brew aromatic beans and guesthouses invite repose.

I’ve since taken the soi  even if it takes longer to my destinations.  It makes for a delightful walk.




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Waiting for Forever

Sitting at this wooden table at a quiet neighborhood just a few meters away from Loikroh.  


I had just come from Warorot Market and I need to park my heels for a while.


I only have TH 80 left in wallet so all I can afford is a single cup.of coffee.  It comes hot in a terra cota cup together with some fresh milk in palm sugar.  


60s American pop music wafts from the inside while a soft wind rustles the branches of the huge tree where I sit underneath.  A few leaves fall on my table but it’s okay.  It adds more atmosphere.   It’s just me and the cat.  The owner and the waitress are at the back of the cafe. 


I wish I had found this cafe much earlier and had spent many mornings or afternoons here.  It’s in small places like this where Chiang Mai is at its most charming and enjoyable. In some quiet soi you can claim your own piece of forever.

Note: Nam’s cafe is at Kotchasarn Rd. Lane 3. 

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Wat a Day

Stayed put at my hotel room today to work on some new choreographies for my Z Step class.  Gotta ease myself slowly back to reality.  Headed out to the old town for lunch and made a beeline for Kejana and look what I found—- empty tables!


My attempt for dinner a day ago was in vain as all tables were taken and it would take at least 30 mins for take-out.  

The pork sausage with egg was delicious. Glass noodles stir-fried with chunks of pork sausage.  Quickly jotted down my guess for the recipe.  Ate it with some pork cracklings I brought with me.​


It was filling and by the time the curry roast pork came in, I knew it would take some time to finish the substantial serving plus a cup of red rice. 


Make that a star of red rice.


Prices were higher than usual but judging from what I ate, it justified the price.  The small resto is run by a mom and her daughter and it’s really popular. Total bill including a small bottle of Coke was TH 270, the most expensive meal I’ve had in this trip so more.

With such a heavy meal, I decided to walk to Wat Loko Molee outside the old city near Champuak.  On the way, I discovered a lovely quiet wat, Wat Monthien.  Actually, I needed to go to the toilet and I know that  if there’s a wat, there are toilets.


Might as well check out the temple.


It was cool and quiet inside.


So cool that these soft sofas invited me to sit . . .


and stare at the vibrant red ceiling.


Spent about 20 minutes inside enjoying the emptiness.  


The door beckoned and I had to go.


Back into the heat of the day.  Crossed this lovely bridge to Wat Loko Molee.


This centuries-old wat is known for its beautiful wooden temple. I loved the  very graceful roofs.


There were more people here praying and making offerings.  Still quiet though.


Novice monks by the entrance.


Quite a bit of walk to the center of the old town.  Found this sweet cafe called   Coffee Corner Kitchen for   some coffee and to while away the time. 

As always, ended the day with a massage at Chaya Spa but instead of the usual 2-hour hot oil massage, got a 1.5 hour aromatherapy massage followed by 30 minutes of Thai Herbal Compress.  I’m gonna miss this place and the friendly owner.

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Rainy Day in Chiang Mai: Brunch at The Garden, Another Massage, Sunday Market

After doing the laundry (see my other post), I headed to The Garden, an 8-minute walk from the hotel and highly recommended at Trip Advisor.  The rain shower hadn’t ceased yet so walking generated a little heat as it was quite cold.

The Garden That’s Really a Patio

Well, if you’re thinking of a garden with lots of plants and outdoor seating, The Garden was really someone’s (the owner’s) patio surrounded by potted house plants and next to a garage.  In fact, I was seated a few steps from a parked vehicle and moto.



In spite of this, the checkered cloth covered tables and wooden benches and the overall homey feel of the place still managed to make it cozy.


I ordered toast, omelette, sausage, pan-fried potatoes with onion, and coffee.   Food was good, servings quite big, and the coffee was served with steamed milk.  Big big plus.  Breakfast also came with a small glass of orange juice.  Everything was just perfect! 


 It was such a quiet enjoyable breakfast until a not so elderly man came from the house, sat at a garden chair by the moto, and started watching tv on his gadget.  In a single instance, my tranquil morning ended.  Such a pity because I could have sat there the entire morning drinking coffee.  Just rested for a few minutes then paid my bill and left.
Headed to the old town and followed the sound of music instruments playing to Wat Phan Po where a children’s group was playing.


Took a Grab car to Chaya Spa for my 5pm appointment (Uber was at 1.7 surge rate) and was fetched by a guy with his wife and baby girl in a Honda CRV. Had another 2-hour hot oil massage.  The masseur wasn’t as good as my previous one, though.  The rain showers were still falling when I came out of the spa and took anothet Grab to Thae Phae Gate.

Walking (while trying not to step on another person) at the Sunday Walking Market

The length of Ratchadamnoen was packed.  The rain showers were probably falling without hitting the ground.  It was almost impossible to see the goods on the opposite side of the street.  Ducked into a wat where street food vendors had set-up. Ate this crab dumpling.


I wanted to eat some more but the place was crowded.  Headed to Wat Phan Po to eat some more.  The children were still performing.  Got some sausages and fried pork.  How to eat them at outdoor seating without getting wet?

Bought all of my gifts at the night market.  Everything was cheaper here.  I suddenly felt cheated after comparing the prices of some stuff I bought at the day market at Wat Phra Singh a couple of days ago.  Also noticed the discrepancies in prices between stalls.  The bookmarks were at TH 10/piece and TH 100/12 pcs while another stall had them at TH 30/piece and TH 100/4 pcs!  The fruit-shaped soaps were TH 39/pc at stalls closer to Tha Phae compared to TH 79 at stalls further down the road.  It was food that generally had the same prices.

The stalls started dismantling past 10pm as the crowd was thinning out already.  

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First Day of the Year and I’m Doing My Laundry

I woke-up at 9am and light rain was falling on Chiang Mai.  I remember back home in Manila, there was usually a light shower on the first day of the year.  Could it be all that smoke from the fireworks?   In the case of Chiang Mai, all that lanterns?  Anyway, in Manila it was a welcome respite as it cleaned the smoggy air.  Here in Chiang Mai where it isn’t smoggy (there were very little fireworks), it was coooolllldddd.  Brrrr.

Decided against going to Lanna Music House and stayed put instead to do a week’s worth of laundry.


The hotel had a 24-hour laundry on site so I took my smelly clothes and stuffed them into one of the washing machines. Next, where to put the detergent.  Fortunately, one of the Thai girls who came back to check in their laundry saw me looking perplexed so she offered to operate the machine for me. Khapun kha!


Loading the dryer was easier.  I just didn’t realize it would take that long to dry about 3kg worth of clothes.

Cost of the use of the washing machine (7kg load) including detergent was TH 30 for 30 minutes.  The dryer was at TH 10/10 minutes.  Took about 50 minutes.  Saw some laundry shops on the road by the Le Meridien at TH 30/kg while those at the soi of Loi Kroh were at TH40/kg.  There’s also a coin-operated laundry about a hundred meters from Thapae.

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Lanterns Over Chiang Mai

No fireworks at Thapae gate to bring-in the New Year.  Lanterns, a Chiang Mai tradition, filled the skies over Chiang Mai instead.  Huge huge crowd at Thapae gate and nearby areas.



The lanterns seem to go up at a considerable height.  I wonder how planes avoid them considering the airport is not very far from the city.

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Meeting the New Year with the Monks

Just got back at the hotel room after the New Year’s Eve celebrations at the old town.  Fortunately,  the only bar at the soi  where the hotel is has turned-down its music.  No more thumping bass.  The bars along Loi Kroh are still in full swing.  Why oh why had I forgotten that getting a hotel room at the bar area is not a good idea? Anyway, spent the few hours of 2016 at Wat Phan On which is famous for its unique way of greeting the new year.

The temple complex was beautifully lit with candles and gaily festooned with tung, those flags hung from the ceiling from a string net to ask for wishes.  Because it was for the new year, the tung featured images of animals of the Buddhist zodiac sign.




Chairs were set-up in front of the area where the novice monks were going to chant.  It was already filled with people.  In spite of the crowd, the mood was one of solemn reverence fit for a temple.


I was actually in the temple a little past 9 and there were still many vacant chairs and not too many people.  Even sat on one.  Bad decision to leave and go back to my hotel to get my power bank thinking my 50% battery life wouldn’t be enough (it did last).


So when I returned around 10, the place was packed.  Had to squeeze so I can have a good view of the main area. Found a spot at the back by the stairway of a small temple being built.  At 10:30, the novices came out in a line along the bamboo walkway that lead to the dirt ground with a buddha under an enormous tree.

Beautifully lit by candles, the novices sat under the tree.  Two monks were under a bamboo structure on the side.


It was mesmerizing just listening to the chanting amidst the reverential silence of the crowd and the flickering of candles.  As explained later by one of the monks, reciting the Buddha’s teachings is a fitting way to usher in the new year.  After about 30 minutes of chant, the chief monk (I just call him that because he was the one leading the chanting)
A  few minutes past midnight the chanting ceased.  The new year  was greeted by the sound of the temple gong.  No shouting or clapping.  Just the low sound of the gong and the monk’s voice.  Beautiful.


People then took one of the many dangling white strings  and wound it around their heads for good luck while a monk blessed the crowd.  


The abbot gave a short speech about being a good person in the new year which was translated in English by a monk.The ceremony ended with the novices exiting in a single file.

I joined some people in taking the white strings and tung as souvenirs.  Nice keepsake.  

Leaving the old town, I passed by one of the wats and joined the locals in ringing the temple bells.

It was past 1 am when I made my way back to Loi Kroh.  The street market along Rachadsmnoen had wrapped-up.  At Thapae gate, lanterns were still being lit and set-out.


Happy New Year!

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Wat Phra Singh: Old Walls and Modern Toilets

At the end of Randammnoen Rd is Wat Phra Singh  one of the most important temples in the old town. 


Saw these people making offerings and getting blessed by a monk.


Why not drop a few coins in the alms bowls of these three novices?  Maybe the one on the right needs fund for eye glasses.


Real or not?

It’s the wat to go if you want to see centuries-old wall paintings inside these little structures.


Oh my! Someone just heard these two ladies gossiping about her.

​ 

​Hmmm… these two guys faces seem too close to each other.


Outside is a huge golden stuppa where locals walk around with offerings to make merit.

Food and souvenir stalls had been set-up at the grounds and that’s where I had my first som tam (papaya salad) (TH 40) for this trip. 


Took a seat at one of the bamboo tables under large Ban So umbrellas.

Time to go to the toilet.  Temples usually have clean modern toilets as many tourists go there. Wat Phra Singh’s was exceptional however.  It looked like a mall toilet. Rows and rows of urinals and toilet stalls equipped with toilet rolls and a bidet faucet. 

In between piped-in music,  a speaker blurted out, “Hello.  You are at an international level toilet . . . ” Just to prove how serious that claim is, there’s a board full of plaques.


You need to leave your shoes on shelves by the entrance and wear rubber slippers provided.  There’s no toilet fee but the voice-over reminds you to make a donation.  After all, international level toilets need their maintenance.

If you’re in the area and you need to poop badly, you know where to go.  As soon as you enter, turn left on the rows of structures on the side of the complex.  

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