Oh my, Chiang Mai ….chill time in the north.

Warning: This is a food heavy post..but there are lots of pictures..enjoy.

So Chiang Mai, Thailand Part 2. People rave about Chiang Mai and we soon found out why, it’s great! It’s a great spot for backpackers because it’s super cheap and for anyone else who has a bottomless budget there are plenty of pricey places and experiences for people to do. We however we just chilled out here, ate cheap food went to markets, caught up on blog posts, read books, did laundry (it was almost prohibitively expensive for us to get laundry done in Myanmar so we had to handwash what we needed as we needed it) and most importantly attempted to catch up on sleep.

Our hotel room- rather romantic with a four poster mosquito netting. There were no mosquitoes in the room- and the netting blocked all the good effect of the fan! We used it one night and then pinned it away.
Our hotel room- rather romantic with a four poster mosquito netting. There were no mosquitoes in the room- and the netting blocked all the good effect of the fan! We used it one night and then pinned it away.
These were a bit weird, Kanom Krok-  coconut milk custard pancake sort of thing with sweetcorn (also comes with pumpkin or spring onion). It was nice but not so nice as I'd have it again.
We went to the market for tea and picked these up as dessert. These were a bit weird, Kanom Krok- coconut milk custard pancake sort of thing with sweetcorn (also comes with pumpkin or spring onion). It was nice but not so nice as I’d have it again.
Got our first haircut since leaving the UK...
Got our first haircut since leaving the UK…
She did quite well I think!
She did quite well I think!
chicken in oil (basically fried chicken), we had this a few times- Gav occasionally had the crispy one too.
braised pork leg
Roti! With banana and chocolate, yum!
Roti! With banana and chocolate, yum!
One morning we went for breakfast in a market. The lady who ran this place was a bit of a kleptomaniac I think...
One morning we went for breakfast in a market. The lady who ran this place was a bit of a kleptomaniac I think…
...seriously that was where she fed people!
…seriously that was where she fed people!

Ok we had to do something right? We were in Chiang Mai for a week! So of the many things to do here we opted for the cheapest option of a Leather making workshop!

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Our masterpieces
Our masterpieces
Us, our handiwork and Suranat our patient teacher!
Us, our handiwork and Suranat our patient teacher!

Suranat who taught the class filmed us- if you want to see us look “engrossed” in our work and not at all slightly uncomfortable about being filmed click here.

And of course you cannot go to Thailand and not do a cookery class! We opted for Siam Rice Cookery School, basically because they had tons of courses and a market visit.

Coconut milk and coconut cream.
Coconut milk and coconut cream.
Some bug snacks
Some bug snacks

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Northern Thai sausages.
Northern Thai sausages.
Eggs- the pink ones are similar to the black eggs in China.
Eggs- the pink ones are similar to the black eggs in China.

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So it begins! Preparation of Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles- our first dishes...
So it begins! Preparation of Pad Thai and Drunken Noodles- our first dishes…
There were I think 4 options for noodles- Gav was the only Pad Thai, I was one of 6 Drunken Noodles
There were I think 4 options for noodles- Gav was the only Pad Thai, I was one of 6 Drunken Noodles
I had to marinade the chicken...
I had to marinade the chicken…
Then we got to cooking..
Then we got to cooking..
Cooking!
Cooking!
For the drunken noodles- Nancy the host told us that we would do something special, but only for here not for home as we would need a new house. Then this started...
For the drunken noodles- Nancy the host told us that we would do something special, but only for here not for home as we would need a new house. Then this started…
Lucky I had all that experience with Bring the Fire p Project...
Lucky I had all that experience with Bring the Fire 
Project…
Burned for ages!
Burned for ages!
Noodles complete...
Noodles complete…
Red curry paste- there was mention of how a Thai man picks a wife here based on her handling of the pestle and mortar...this wwas the start of my red curry paste
Red curry paste- there was mention of how a Thai man picks a wife here based on her handling of the pestle and mortar…this wwas the start of my red curry paste
..and Gav's green
..and Gav’s green
The results plus a yellow one from the girl next to me
The results plus a yellow one from the girl next to me

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Curry ingredients for Gav's green curry and my pumpkin curry northern style
Curry ingredients for Gav’s green curry and my pumpkin curry northern style

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As the group next to us were messing and not paying attention (much shouting from their teacher) we got shown how to do fancy stuff with tomatoes...
As the group next to us were messing and not paying attention (much shouting from their teacher) we got shown how to do fancy stuff with tomatoes…
Yep we can now make roses.
Yep we can now make roses.
The half day class left, then our great group merged with the group of messers. There was one in particular who was a pain in the ass, luckily he calmed down when he had no one to bounce off and started to listen..
The half day class left, then our great group merged with the group of messers. There was one in particular who was a pain in the ass, luckily he calmed down when he had no one to bounce off and started to listen..
Then we made soup- Gav made a hot and sour soup and I made a rather boring but nice coconut milk soup.
Then we made soup- Gav made a hot and sour soup and I made a rather boring but nice coconut milk soup.

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Gav's chicken salad
Gav’s chicken salad
My mango salad
My mango salad
Dessert in progress- sweet sticky rice.
Dessert in progress- sweet sticky rice.
Mango sticky rice- my first time trying this and was hooked!
Mango sticky rice- my first time trying this and was hooked!
There was also another course- we were too full to eat so took it home. Chicken with cashews and chicken with holy basil
There was also another course- we were too full to eat so took it home. Chicken with cashews and chicken with holy basil

So what other than classes can you do in Chiang Mai? Well if you have the cash- ziplines (as was in the news recently), elephant rides, or days with elephants not riding, segway tours, there is a tiger park also up the road in Mae Rim- not heard the best things about that one, then there are more spas and massage places than the whole of the British Isles! Most of these things however we thought were a bit expensive for this trip so we just went mad with all the markets, markets and more markets! However we also did some other bits including exploring the city, Night Bazaar and trying to sort out a bike to Pai- more on that later. Also during our time in Chiang Mai we discovered iced coffee. Neither of us had seen the point of them when we were in the UK and it was purely by chance we had one here when Gav ordered a cappuccino and forgot to ask for it hot. They are so good in hot weather! I prefer an iced mocha myself!

Khao Soi Kai from Khao Soi Khun Yai. It was not the last time we went here. Everything made from scratch.
Cheap breakfast of the local speciality- Khao Soi Kai from Khao Soi Khun Yai. It was not the last time we went here. Everything made from scratch.
Random riverside sculpture.
Random riverside sculpture.
Gav in  the sun
Gav in the sun
While wandering back from the bike hire to Pai place we came across Warorrot Market. This was Tea- chrysanthemum to be exact
While wandering back from the bike hire to Pai place we came across Warorrot Market. This was Tea- chrysanthemum to be exact
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Warorrot Market
Random graffiti
Random graffiti
Longan and Lotus root drinks at our Khao Soi place again
Longan and Lotus root drinks at our Khao Soi place again
this time I opted for the chicken noodle soup- that is crisped skin ontop
this time I opted for the chicken noodle soup- that is crisped skin ontop
Safety first..
Safety first..

The food ones we frequented daily but if you are there at the weekend the streets come alive with the walking street markets on both Saturday and Sunday! Sunday was the biggest one but these are snaps from both (mostly Sunday though).

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Sweet potato balls- I quite liked these, Gav felt they were a bit tasteless.
Sweet potato balls- I quite liked these, Gav felt they were a bit tasteless.

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Pork from...
Pork from…
..this man
..this man
coconut jelly.
coconut jelly.

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...with tomato and chilli sauce!
…with tomato and chilli sauce!
Bacon wrapped mushrooms...
Bacon wrapped mushrooms…
With all the walking on the Sunday we needed a foot massage. Gav got a great one, I unfortunately had one of the worst ones in my life.
With all the walking on the Sunday we needed a foot massage. Gav got a great one, I unfortunately had one of the worst ones in my life.
Silk cocoons
Silk cocoons
mini burgers
mini burgers
European food
European food

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3 for 2!  Pork burgers!
3 for 2! Pork burgers!

In general we loved Chiang Mai! Its so easy to live cheaply here!

Another Mango sticky rice with coconut- the rice was also green...
Another Mango sticky rice with coconut- the rice was also green…
Segway tour- if you have a spare $50 or so to spend.
Segway tour- if you have a spare $50 or so to spend.
The main way to get around apart from on foot were these things- the red songthaew- between these and the tuk tuks you got a bit hounded, but not as bad as Bangkok. If you can manage to get on one without chartering it. Otherwise it is 3x the price. We chartered only when we needed to get somewhere they don't go. Bit of a nightmare otherwise. Still as a tourist its a cheap way to get around if you are on a two week holiday.
The main way to get around apart from on foot were these things- the red songthaew- between these and the tuk tuks you got a bit hounded, but not as bad as Bangkok. If you can manage to get on one without chartering it. Otherwise it is 3x the price. We chartered only when we needed to get somewhere they don’t go. Bit of a nightmare otherwise. Still as a tourist its a cheap way to get around if you are on a two week holiday.
The other option was yellow- they were 20-30 B and went some routes. We never managed to get one, only a red and green ones.
The other option was yellow- they were 20-30 B and went some routes. We never managed to get one, only a red and green ones.
Snack on the way home...
Snack on the way home…
Fish ball pancake things with mayo and seaweed.
Fish ball pancake things with mayo and seaweed.

So after a very, very lazy (almost a) week here, reading books (Gav), catching up on Myanmar blogs (me) and generally eating and wandering around it was time to leave and head to Pai.

Pai (coming soon)

Monastery (coming soon)

So after two weeks away in Pai and the monastery, with the rainy season starting to make its presence known we returned to Chiang Mai for 5 days.

We were still recovering from the monastery so again did very little, returning to Kikie’s House Guesthouse again.

One day we did attempt to go on a temple tour, the temples here are amazing but when you have overdosed on temples in Myanmar it’s quite hard to trawl round them with the same enthusiasm as someone with fresh eyes. Below are some of the ones we saw. You’ll see some similarities with the temples at Bagan for one of them as the area was part of Myanmar for a sizable chunk of its history and the remains of Bagan-like temples are dotted throughout the city.

Stairs to Wat Rachamontian.
Stairs to Wat Rachamontian.
Wat Lok Molee
Wat Lok Molee
Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh
This is a map of Runcorn..yes Runcorn, in a Wat in Chiang Mai! (Wat Phra Singh)
This is a map of Runcorn..yes Runcorn, in a Wat in Chiang Mai! (Wat Phra Singh)
Buddha in Wat Phra Singh
Buddha in Wat Phra Singh
In Wat Phra Singh a creepily life-like statue
In Wat Phra Singh a creepily life-like statue
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Wat Chedi Luang
Reclining Buddha at Wat Chedi Luang
Reclining Buddha at Wat Chedi Luang
Monk with interesting story at Wat Chedi Luang...
Monk with interesting story at Wat Chedi Luang…
...his story
…his story

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Wat Inthakin Sadue Muang
Wat Inthakin Sadue Muang
Buddha in Wat Inthakin Sadue Muang
Buddha in Wat Inthakin Sadue Muang
Three kings monument
Three kings monument

We spent quite a bit of time in the 7-Eleven trying stuff/or retrying stuff:

The abbot at the monastery gave us one of these each on a hot day while we were doing chores- it tasted lovely then. I tried it in Chiang Mai, tasted ok. Just shows how nice thing are in certain situations.
The abbot at the monastery gave us one of these each on a hot day while we were doing chores- it tasted lovely then. I tried it in Chiang Mai, tasted ok. Just shows how nice thing are in certain situations.

After much deliberation we decided we needed a second e-book reader. I attempted to get one through the Chiang Mai buy, sell etc. page but got no response so we located a shop in a nearby shopping centre Central Festival. It was about a 5km walk- not so far really, so we headed off. About 1.5 km in we hit a heavy rain shower, taking cover outside a china shop. The rain didn’t let up so we decided to go inside and located at the back was in fact a nice tea shop (but a bit pricy), we had found Raming Tea House.

The Raming tea house-my Green trip tea- lemongrass, padang and jasmin green tea, Gav's Chai tea plus cake..
The Raming Tea House-my Green trip tea- lemongrass, padang and jasmin green tea, Gav’s Chai tea plus cake..
Brownie and Lapis herb cake :)
Brownie and Lapis herb cake 🙂
This photo was taken the following day of the  Raming Tea House.
This photo was taken the following day of the Raming Tea House- a lovely colonial building.

Eventually with the rain easing we headed off, grabbed a green songthaew most of the way and bearing the deluge for the remaining 500 m but we had arrived! Central Festival is basically like any other shopping centre anywhere, it has almost all the shops in Liverpool One plus local ones. Unfortunately our hunt for an Ebook reader ended in failure when they wanted 8000B ($233/£150) for a Kindle Paperwhite, no Nook or Sony in sight. A ridiculous price when the shop next door is selling iPads just over that price! We did however manage to get a small tablet, an Acer one which was about half the price you get it for at home and well less than half the price of the kindle!

Other than that we also got food here..

There was a bakery. This seemed like a good idea- sweet potato cake- a sort of bread roll with sweet potato and black sesame rolled in cocoa. It was weird, not sweet but not savory.
There was a bakery. This seemed like a good idea- sweet potato cake- a sort of bread roll with sweet potato and black sesame rolled in cocoa. It was weird, not sweet but not savory.
There was a lovely supermaket with A-class fruit and veg. Also it stocked tons of cheese and waitrose stuff, 10 types of maple syrup and loads of other western comforts.
There was a lovely supermaket with A-class fruit and veg. Also it stocked tons of cheese and waitrose stuff, 10 types of maple syrup and loads of other western comforts.
Total fruit perfection
Total fruit perfection
Biggest mango I've ever seen!
Biggest mango I’ve ever seen!

During one particularly wet day I got a massage at the Women’s ex-prisoner Massage parlor 1. I had tried to get one at the prison but they were all booked up! It was a phenomenal massage (I fell asleep) and I’d highly recommend going there. Bit weird that they are positively stigmatized as ex-prisoners though and they are really busy in comparison to the other 3 massage places on that particular street

So that was Chiang Mai, all in all we spent 11 days here and I was quite sad to leave it. Life is very easy there, the food is good and cheap and provided you don’t go nuts in the markets (which is easy to do) it is a great stopping point to recover your budget (even with buying electronics) without feeling like you are missing out.

The next stop was Chiang Rai…

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