Chiang Mai the sweet
Trip Start Jun 16, 2011
69Trip End Nov 10, 2011
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However. And this is a big huge however. Chiang Mai is also very small, with most of its activities either within the fortified old town walls or immediately outside. With the exception of the riverside - Ping river - where you can find many thai and western restaurants, from the most modern looking one to the most typical old Thai style, passing through places where you have a lousy thai singing thai pop songs.
When I got to CM, I first wanted to check out the area and found quickly about the western style bars (with two great reggae bars : Babylon and Roots Rock Reggae). However, tired by my trip and not so much on the mood for party, I went straight to bed, not before telling Ines (you know, my Portuguese young friend I met in Pakse) that I had arrived and that we should see each other !
The next day I met ines in town and off we went for lunch and then for a long walk in CM. While she was giving me a nerd tips for the town she had been staying in for the last month or so, learning techniques for Thai Massage, I was giving her tips for Bangkok where she would be the next day, meeting with her boyfriend that she hadn't seen for three months. They are off to a week on an island. She promised to tell me all about it ! Good stuff because Celine and I are still wondering what we will be doing after the diving safari... :-)
We ended our evening at the night market, buying all sorts of stupid things... I was really happy to see Ines again. She is great fun, extremely joyful yet not overboard and we really get on well. When we parted company later in the evening, we promised to keep in touch (she'll be in Paris soon for three or four days and I have to go back to Portugal... It's been way too long since I didn't visit my darling Lisboa...)
The next day was totally lazy, just walking around when I gathered the courage to leave my room...
The following day was much more interesting : I went for a cooking class. The kitchen is situated in the countryside in the middle of an organic fruit and vegetable garden, surrounded by rice fields. Tough day ahead, as you can imagine. We went to the market first though, because the teacher wanted to show us the main ingredients that we were going to use that day.
So the market was all about curry paste, fish sauce, mushroom sauce, oyster sauce but also all the vegetables and other ingredients we were going to use : lemongrass, galangal, ginger, chili, turmeric, chives, thai parsley, coriander, kaffir limes and leaves, etc. Pretty interesting for me to discover mushroom sauce and other marvels. However I knew most of this stuff already, to my great pride.
At the farm, we started cooking. I chose green curry paste. So I know now how to do it ! No need to buy it already done anymore ! Hehehe. Right after that was obviously the green curry with coconut milk. There again, despite the fact that I already cook this dish quite often, I learnt a couple of tips... Next, I learnt how to do... the infamous Tom Yam soup ! Mum had already taught me but I wanted to learn their way and to see if there is a lot of difference. There is some, mum I'll let you know ! Next I prepared a stir fried dish and chose chicken with basil leaves (they have several types of basil and the one they use for this dish is the holy basil). Then came what i had been waiting for : Phad Thai noodles ! Thos who know Thailand know Phad Thai ! It is the most consumed dish by foreigners :-) and last but not least, a dessert : Mango with sticky rice ! Yummy !! I could have this for breakfast every day !!
During this great day, I met Helen, from Belgium, roughly my age, what a great woman ! I had a lot of fun with her and we went for drinks in the eveningn after that. That was a cool evening : talking with a woman your age, who also travels alone and has the same questions about her own life... Nice girlie evening !
Oh, I also met Christele, a French girl who made me laugh a lot (but also scared me a bit) when she told me she didn't know mango, had never tried it and didn't even know what it looked like !
On Sunday, Celine arrived from Paris. She had spent the night in Bangkok at some friends' place. There she learnt that about 60% of the country's industry is under water. Those friends were expecting the water to come in their home in Bangkok at any moment... I cannot believe I went through all this without seeing any (or so little) suspicious water level... Wow. Southern Laos was about the worst I have seen in my trip in terms of flooding...
Seeing Celine really was a happy moment. I have been traveling for four months soon now and I met Aldric and Morgane for one day in Vietnam, and yes, I met really great people but it's also so cool to see and spend sometime with someone you really know well. Moreover, it's our first holidays together, our first time diving together (soon !) so yeah, we are excited !
We found a nice hotel where we are sharing a double room. It's lovely, balcony, trees, far from the main roads yet in the heart of the old Chiang Mai. What a treat ! We went straight for the Sunday market after we settle in our hotel and really went into a shopping frenzy :-))) put two girls together, give them a wallet with money in it and go !
The next three days were quite busy with... training. We took a three day course for thai massages with a reallllllly nice and competent teacher. This massage technique is fantastic and really, really, I want to continue the training when I come back next year ! I am going to practice as much as possible when i am back in France. You have no idea how much exercise this is for the masseur. It is comparable to yoga positions in many cases and it is a great workout, while also proving good care to someone else. Win, win. Amazing... It made me also confirm that Bao, my viet masseur in Paris, is an amazing thai masseur...
So yeah, not much time to linger on the blog as I am now in full social mode with Celine and also busy with giving and receiving tons of massages... Oh my ! What a life !
Today was the last day of our training and we received a beautiful certificate ! After some spa treatment and some more shopping at the night market, here i am, back at the hotel, in bed. Celine is sound asleep next to me and I should do the same as... we are leaving tomorrow for a three day trek in a national park :-) My backpack is nearly ready, everything is organized. I just need to sleep now :-)
Good night !!