Chiang Mai 3/3: Return Of The Buddha

Trip Start Jan 03, 2012
Trip End May 02, 2013

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Where I stayed
Kavil 2 Guesthouse

Flag of Thailand  ,
Tuesday, April 10, 2012

We called our previous guesthouse before leaving Pai and they were full so we prepared ourselves for a hunt.  The highway back to Chiang Mai was littered with fallen trees from the extreme overnight storm.  Thankfully the clearing crews were out early so we had minimal delays.

Our search for a room led us to the northeast corner of the old city.  We tried several guesthouses but they were either too expensive, too dirty or lacking some of the amenities (like wifi) that we desired.  We finally found a suitable suite to call home for our last three nights in Southeast Asia. 

Shortly thereafter we booked a cooking course for the following day at Thai Farm.  Then it was back to our place for more New Zealand research.  Once again Jason started the Excel document, then passed out as Sylvia took over and after a marathon session that outlasted the storm we had a pretty good idea of our itinerary.  During our dinner break at Grace, Sylvia had vegetarian pasta in coconut milk soup and the ingredient list was endless, including broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, carrots, long beans, snap peas, zucchini, green pumpkin (with the skin on), baby corn, tomatoes, king mushrooms, wax gourd, bird's eye chilies, cashews, tofu, garlic, galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and onion.  Jason slurped his first fantastic tamarind shake.

Dramatic daily afternoon-evening thunderstorms began days before in northern Thailand, bringing much needed rain to the area and cooling temperatures off dramatically.  This made for more comfortable sleeping conditions.

The next morning we split up for breakfast, then crossed the street to the Thai Farm office.  A sawngthaew hauled us over to a local market.  Our group of six included a retired Canadian couple from Victoria, an American woman, a Chinese man and the two of us.  Our guide showed us some of the ingredients we'd be using later and gave us free time to roam around.  Although we knew we were in for a day of heavy eating, Sylvia couldn't resist a couple of treats, including mouthwatering black sticky rice with custard in a banana leaf.

We arrived at the farm and took a brief tour of the garden. All the essential fruits, vegetables and herbs were growing right outside the cooking area... farm to table in its purest form.  A second small group joined ours and they were a complex group of personalities.  Only a couple of them were actually interested in cooking and the rest were full of drama.  All of us (including our instructor and the staff) were glad when they bowed out early.

We made five different delicious dishes each (red and yellow chicken curries, Tom Yam and coconut milk soups, cashew chicken, sweet and sour chicken, pad thai, pad see ew, pumpkin in coconut milk and mango with sticky rice) and were so full by the end we each took one home in a bag, plus our new cookbooks.

Throughout the day we had inspiring conversations with our newest Canadian travel mates.  They retired at 50 and have been on the road almost non-stop for the past dozen or so years, usually spending half the year in Asia (mostly Myanmar) and the other half exploring Canada or other parts of the world.  This was especially noteworthy for Sylvia as the husband is also a stroke survivor.

With full bellies and a gift list to complete we made our way to the Chiang Mai Sunday walking street market.  We found a few gems but about half way along another storm hit, stranding us and hundreds of others under any shelter we could find.  An entrepreneur made a fast profit selling ponchos to those who couldn't wait for the rain to ease off.  Thankfully the deluge was short-lived and we resumed our shopping stroll to cross off a few more items.

For breakfast the next morning Jason had a large plate piled high with muesli, homemade yogurt and a wide variety of fresh fruits, including banana, mango, pineapple, passion fruit, watermelon, honeydew melon, sapodilla plum and papaya for 70 baht.  Then we did our laundry in alleyway machines and alternated shopping and waiting for it to finish.

For lunch we dropped in on a local favourite with no name for khao soy.  It was so good we made plans for a repeat visit the next day.

Jason absorbed his last massage, then lugged a 5 kg box of souvenirs wrapped in his backpack rain cover through a mini-monsoon.  We finished our last bit of gift shopping and headed for the post office.  This was the third package we sent home in three months and possibly the last for the next three months.  Jason watched Masters highlights from the road with his last big Chang in hand and we had our last dose of street food for dinner that night.

After our last bountiful breakfast in Thailand we visited Wat Chiang Man, home of the tiny crystal and marble Buddhas and our last temple stop.  Colourful murals lined the walls of the main building and massive elephant sculptures guarded the perimeter of the chedi.  The beautiful flowers of the omnipresent frangipani tree shined brightly in the morning sun.

Our last checkout was slower than usual as we simply shifted our things to the restaurant downstairs and waited for our last tuk-tuk ride to the airport.  We took advantage of the free wifi one last time and then were on our way to tackle the four leg, four airline flying marathon to New Zealand.
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Jane Skelton on

I've enjoyed following you along throughout SE Asia. You have had some very memorable experiences and I look forward to following you along the next leg of your journey.

Good luck and good travels in NZ.

Valnrick on

We found your blog and will now be avid followers!

henniterness on

Hey -wasn't it Thai New Years just recently? Did you partake in any water-fight activities?

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