The depth of things to explore in Chiang Mai were beyond what I was able to do within 6 weeks. Hardly venturing out of the 4 walls of the inner city, I road via motor bike just one hour on the outskirts to the most beautiful hidden cove where a lone weathered cottage sat on stilts in the water. The woven hut held an eclectic clan of 11, all in need of nurturing, rest, and soul to soul time together. We played on the wake boards, swam, jumped off "cliffs" (ok, just 10 feet or so but it felt high!), shared meals and local fruits, gave and received Thai massage, sang "Wagon Wheel" by bonfire, and enjoyed what nature had to offer sans any electronics other than our music. This might be the very definition of bliss. Bliss.
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Thai Coconut Ice Cream
You're bound to work up both a sweat and an appetite walking around Chiang Mai, so take some time to stop at one of the carts on the street where the locals sell perfect portions of delicious coconut ice cream.
Coffee Tastes Better When it Grows on Top of the World
The temperature was dropping quickly as we wove our motorbike up the windy mountain in the foothills of the Himalayas. Despite the threat of impending rain we decided to continue our journey north from Wat Suthep in the mountains around Chiang Mai. We wanted to explore some of the Hmong villages said to exist further up the road. Shivering under our rain ponchos, we rode on and on taking in the beautiful views below and the surrounding forests.
After about 45 minutes, we finally rounded a bend, and saw small houses along the road. The rain had officially started, so there wasn’t much activity around. But then a glorious, yellow sign caught our attention – it read simply “Coffee.” My shivering bones leaped with excitement as we wondered down the pathway toward promising warmth.
As the bushes and trees cleared, we found ourselves standing on a beautiful wooden deck overlooking acres of coffee plants reaching far down into a valley. There were tables and benches on which to sit and a small “counter” with coffee making utensils strewn about. A small women with a big smile came from behind a nearby house and motioned for us to sit down. We did, and she began to prepare cups of fresh, smoldering coffee directly from these grounds.
I don’t know if it was the cold, the gorgeous view, or the fact that I’d never had coffee this fresh in my life –but that hot cup on top of the world is something I’ll never forget!
I’m an American. My rice knowledge includes, white, brown and Jasmine. Little did I know that rice actually comes in a vast variety of types, colors, quality and prices.
While taking a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai, we stopped at this local market to pick up supplies for the day. Our instructor took us through the market teaching us about the many Thai ingredients and how to determine the quality of rice based on its shape and length.
It was an extraordinary day learning how to make our own curry paste, eggrolls, soups, Pad Thai and some other favorite dishes. But the highlight of the day was definitely visiting the local market and gaining a greater understanding of what makes Thai food so delicious!
We did our Thai cooking course through the Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. It included a visit to the market, cooking instructions held on an organic farm, and a recipe book to take home. I would definitely recommend booking a day with them!
At local markets all across Thailand, like this one in Chiang Mai, you can find all the fresh ingredients & spices necessary to cook traditional Thai meals. If you're feeling less ambitious, let them do the work for you and take your pick from rows of locally prepared dishes.
My friends and I knew that there would be lanterns filling the sky for the Yi Peng festival in Chiang Mai, but we were unaware that the city would be decorated during the day as well so we were surprised to find row after row of colorful lanterns filling the main square as we were exploring during the afternoon.
In the markets of Chiang Mai you can pick up some fresh fish stuffed with all kinds of delicious spices. And if you're too hungry to wait until later, you can point to the fish of your choosing and one of the local vendors will grill it up for you right on the spot.