Temples, Temples, and more Temples

Trip Start Jul 31, 2008
Trip End Jul 31, 2010

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

Hal and George had a successful flight from India and we all met up at the check in counter. We had an uneventful flight up to Chiang Mai and go to our guesthouse on the river.  It was very nice and in a great location.  We got settled, and then walked to the night market down the road to explore and have dinner.

Sunday we hired one of the taxi drivers from the night before to drive us around for the day.  We went to the elephant center and watched the elephant show.  They did some tricks, played soccer, and painted pictures.  It was fun and then elephants seemed well taken care of.  Then we walked down to see the baby elephants- super cute!  From the elephant show, we went to a snake show for Jerry.  There were tons of snakes in cages and they did a show with cobras, a python, and a few other types of snakes.  It was entertaining to see people including George and Jerry squirm when the snakes got a little too close for comfort.  Then we went to the orchid and butterfly farm, which was great.  The butterflies were beautiful and the orchids were outstanding.  They were huge and had vibrant colors.  We also had a buffet lunch with in the orchid garden, which was nice.  After lunch, we went to a few factories that were not that impressive, but then we went up the mountain to Doi Suthep- a beautiful temple on top of the mountain with 306 stairs to get to it.  It was stunning with a great view Chiang Mai below.  (George has a majority of the pictures from Chiang Mai. I tried to get them before he left, but somehow only got the videos- which I have to figure out how to make them into smaller files to upload.)

After Doi Suthep, we were dropped off in the Old City to experience the Sunday Walking Street.  It was one long road with an outrageous number of people on it at the same time.  It was hard to walk and even harder to look at the stands that were selling things.  There were also some people in the middle playing instruments and dancing to make money.  It was a mixed emotions kind of experience.  We made it back to the hotel where we cleaned up and then went to dinner at "Just Khao Soy," which is a local noodle soup/curry.  The restaurant brings the soup on an art palate with little side dishes of flavors you can add to the soup- shallots, lime, banana, chili paste, sugar, coconut milk, and a few others.  It was very nicely displayed and quite enjoyable.

The following day, Mom, Hal and I went to a cooking class.  We started out going to the market and getting a little lesson in the differences between rices, noodles, vegetables, and saw coconut being freshly shaved.  Then we went back to the “house” and chose what dishes we wanted to make.  We all had to make a curry paste and curry.  Then as a group, we selected three of the five categories left- appetizers, noodles, soups, stir-fry, and dessert.  Our group chose noodles, soups, and stir-fry.  Within each category, we could choose one of three dishes to make.  It was really nice because we could all choose something we were interested in making while seeing how each entre was being made by the others.  All the dishes within each category were very similarly made as well.  While we were waiting to go look at the garden out back, we had a snack.  The snack was a beetle leaf, which you fold to make a pocket.  Then you add a shallot, small piece of lime with skin, roasted coconut, roasted peanuts, a piece of ginger and then add a sweet palm sugar sauce.  You eat the entire thing altogether to create a sense of all five flavors in your mouth at one time- sweet, sour, salty, spicy, and bitter.  It is quite a delicious combination.

Now it garden time and then cooking time.  First, we made our noodle dishes.  We were able to eat these while preparations for the next three dishes were being done.  Then we prepped the soup, stir-fry and curry paste so we could cook them all at the same time.  This was the one downfall of the class.  Since we made all three dishes and then ate them, the stir-fry was cold, the curry was warm and the soup was hot- changing the flavors of the dishes.  I know it takes a little longer, but we would have enjoyed what we made more if we were able to have eaten them while hot.  Gay, the owner of Asia Scenic, and our guide for the day was excellent though. She spoke great English and had some funny stories to share as well.

After our cooking adventure, we met up with Jerry and George for some walking around in the Old City and found some amazing temples.  One in particular was extremely memorable since it had a new temple you would see from the street.  As you walked behind it, there was an ancient temple.  It was beautiful and was refreshing to see a temple in its original state not, completely covered in glass and stones- although those are beautiful as well, but this temple gave a different vibe.  We continued our temple hunt until they closed at 6pm.  Then we found dinner and walked through a different part of the night market stopping at the end for a massage.

On our last day in Chiang Mai, we wanted to go to the national park and do some hiking but realized it was a two-hour drive out of the city and didn't seem worth all the travel time for a two-hour hike so we stayed in the city.  We walked along the river coming upon a flower market, which Hal and George had discovered the night before.  The flowers were gorgeous and it is always amazing to see so many in one place at one time.  We walked through a small market and stumbled upon a temple with jade Buddhas.  There were also paintings along the ceiling telling the story of Buddha.  The temple had an English translation of the paintings, which was really nice so we could read and understand the story instead of just looking.  From the jade temple, we headed back to the Old City for lunch and more temples.  

By 4:00 we were getting a little templed out and tired from the heat, so we headed back to the guesthouse to relax and rest for a little bit.  In the evening, we headed back to the night market for a few things we had found earlier that we wanted to get.  Jerry and George tried bamboo worms- Jerry didn’t mind them, George, well his face in the picture tells it all!  We had street food at the night market for dinner- some chicken on a stick, som tom (papaya salad), and a cucumber salad.  All were excellent!  After dinner, George and I indulged in the Fish Spa.  There are tanks with fish that “kiss” your feet and legs taking off the dead skin.  It tickled a lot at first and then became soothing.  We drew quite the crowd when we started and our feet were nice and soft afterwards!  The market extended down the street so we continued as we made our way back to the guesthouse.
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