After getting off our very long flight (1 whole hour) from Luang Prabang we took a taxi and headed to within the walls of Chiang Mai old town, specifically to soi 9 (street 9) off Thanon (road) Moon Muang where all the action is meant to happen.
We stopped of in a pub (always a good start) to get our bearings and a big Chang beer! We met two sisters from Weymouth (Emma and Limone) and so sat in the same seats, still with nowhere to sleep, for a good couple of hours. It was time well spent though, sharing our travelling stories.
Sense finally set in so i sent Dave off looking for (erm this is Dave adding that rach never "sent" me i went myself) a room and quickly came back (he'd only walked around the corner!!) having agreed to stay at the Brittania guesthouse (and i quote "he's an oldish guy, really friendly and he speaks english!) for 450thb/night which is slightly over budget but when i saw the room, i forgave him for that.It was really nice.
We didn't venture very far in the evening, literally just back around the corner to the bar, back around the corner to the guesthouse next door for our tea and then back around the corner to a different bar. still we managed to not go to bed until 3am as we met two lads, Keith from Essex and Joe Lemon from somewhere down south, and yes together they call themselves 'Keith Lemon' and as seen as Dave always gets called Keith Lemon they all got on very well.
The next day, a little hungover but determined, we walked the perimeter of the old walls. It was pretty disappointing as the only bits of wall still standing were the parts thatrepresented the four corners with nothing inbetween so it made for a long and boring walk. Never mind.
The evening was spent walking through the vast night market. I'm not kidding when i say even i was getting a bit fed up of looking at the stalls by the time we got to the end. It was good fun though, as you can see from the picture, an array of colours and lights. Some of you lucky few actually had your pressies bought from this market!!
The next day was the most exciting. We did a dull days cooking course with Thai Farm Cooking School. The day started by taking us to a market where they showed us all the ingredients we were going to be using in our cooking. Whilst trying to listen to what the lady was saying i was very conscious of some banging going on behind me. Definitely one of those times when you wish you hadn't turned around! The man behind me was a fishmonger and he was retrieving the live fish out of the water, smacking them in the head tostun/kill them and then weighing them out. DISGUSTING!
At the farm they showed us around the garden where they grow all their own produce so we learnt what all the different herbs and spices look and grow like. Then our teacher for the day said she was going to teach us how to cook rice. She washed it 3 times, drained it and then put it in the rice steamer, brilliant!!!! We learnt how to make our own curry paste from scratch, using a pestle and mortar to blend down the ingredients (Dave did green and i did yellow). Our second task was to make some form of soup. Dave made a vegetable soup, which we didn't really like and i made tom yam soupp with shrimps which was very nice, if i do say so myself. Next was to actually make the curry. Then we ate what we had cooked so far.
There was definitely no rest though and shortly after finishing our last mouthful we were back in the kitchen. This time we learnt to make a desert, if you call it that! I made the thai version of bananas and custard, which was bananas in hot coconut milk and Dave made sticky rice with mango (so basically took some of the rice out of the steamer, added a bit of coconut milk and fresh mango, some crunchy bits of something and voila!).
Finally i made a traditional Pad Thai and Dave made spring rolls, these we were allowed to take back with us because we were impossibly full.
So you can all look forward to some traditional Thai banquets when we get home!
The next day we travelled to Pai, so onto the next blog!