Tagchiang mai

Chiang Mai food

I’ve already talked about the live shrimp and the bugs, so this food post is going to have normal stuff.

The first stop is a food market not far from where we stayed. The curry dish isn’t as spicy as it looks and is very flavourful. The beef noodles is pretty similar to pho, but with their Thai spin on it with the herbs that they use. I’d say it had a bit more umami than the typical pho. The Pad Thai I thought wasn’t as flavourful as I liked, and was actually kind of plain. The other two dishes are highly recommended though!

Clockwise from top left: panang curry, pad thai, beef noodles
https://goo.gl/maps/UEaeswTuJGpKNCeDA

As far as fruit smoothies go, the fruit seemed to be so much more flavourful. I know that with bananas they are harvested before they’re riped so they can last for a few weeks as they are transported, so it’s possible the same thing is happening with these fruits. But since these fruits are local, they get to fully ripen on the tree.

I also saw them add a little bit of salt to enhance the existing sweetness and acidity of the smoothies. It made it perfectly sweet, without being overpowering.

From left to right: pineapple, mango, and honey queen orange

Next is probably the most famous dish in northern Thailand: Khao Soi. It’s a noodle dish with soft noodles in the soup and deep fried noodles on top. The soup itself can vary in spiciness, but is made of a curry-like sauce with meat, chilis, lime, and coconut milk.

The main attraction about this dish for me is the spiciness of the soup. It isn’t just a big spicy attack on the senses, but rather it’s nuanced because it’s balanced by the coconut milk.

https://goo.gl/maps/XSJwL5seVhNWdPRA9

Last but not least, we had some tom yum, yellow curry, and morning glory. This place is an actual restaurant with western style ambience, so naturally there was a price premium to that.

It’s kind of difficult to comment on how the yellow curry and tom yum tasted because it was way too spicy for our senses. I definitely tasted the spiciness and sourness of the soup, but the spiciness overpowered me quickly. The best by far as the morning glory. I just really like leafy greens with crunchy stems. The chilis added gave it a slight zing.

From left to right: yellow curry, tom yum, morning glory, pad thai

As usual, Mike has made a video!

The food I miss most is definitely the fruit smoothies. When I came back home, I had constant cravings for those smoothies for weeks. To see the other parts of my trip in Chiang Mai, click here.

A day trip to Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai

After eating weird things and going to street markets, this excursion took us to a more mainstream tourist site: Wat Phra That Doi Suthep.

Shoes aren’t allowed here, and since it’s so hot, the floor literally cook your feet as you walk around

We took a Grab (the Southeast Asia version of Uber/Lyft), which costed only ~$15 USD for some 30 km, which is super cheap. I have no idea how the economics of that even work since the cost of a car is about the same everywhere. The driver dropped us off at the base of the temple and we had to walk up a long flight to stairs in the burning heat.

Trying not to break a sweat while walking up these stairs when it’s 35°C outside is impossible

The temple grounds has a lot of rooms like this for worshipping. They all have big golden statues in them too.

The Thai royalty is also a big deal too.

Not far from the temple was the palace gardens of Bhubing Palace. It was a nice scenic walk, but otherwise there isn’t much to see.

When walking through the trees, I could hear cicadas chirping everywhere

As usual, Mike has made a video about this part of the trip. Check it out!

On the way back, the same driver who took us here to begin with was still hanging around, apparently looking for people to drive back. When he bumped into us, he offered to drive us back for a rate less than what Grab charged (way to cut out the middle man)!

Because it’s apparently okay to drive along the shoulder for over 100m if we’re making a left turn…

That ends our touristy day trip. See more of my trip to Chiang Mai here.

Eating grasshoppers and crickets in Chiang Mai

I have a rule where I eat everything at least once. So when I saw the bugs in the Chiang Mai street market, I knew what I had to do.

They had different sized crickets, grasshoppers, silkworm larvae, and water beetles. Having already tried the latter two, we got a bag of crickets and grasshoppers.

They honestly don’t taste like much. They’re crunchy and have a texture like a potato chip, but without the deep fried potato flavour. It’s got a pretty neutral taste. I can’t say I like it though since I really can’t ignore the fact that I’m eating a literal bug. My buddy Mike has summarized it really well in his video.

That’s about it for this post. See the rest of my trip to Chiang Mai here.

Chiang Mai elephant sanctuary

People hear about Thailand and immediately think “oh you can go ride elephants!”, but in reality, many elephants in that business are not treated well by their owners. The various elephant sanctuaries in Thailand purchase elephants (funded by donations) from these owners to save them from abuse. We got the chance to visit one of these elephant sanctuaries. It costs ~$100 USD per person, but it’s cool to see elephants up close and the money goes to a good cause.

Each elephant has a story of what it spent its life doing while in captivity such as elephant riding, or illegal logging, etc. Some even have injuries like broken hips from their past abuse. But now they get to live out the rest of their lives in the sanctuary.

The santuary is not just for elephants, but for cats too! There are also dogs lazing about as well.

We started the tour off with feeding the younger elephants. Even though they’re only a few years old, they’re still huge. It was cool to feel the elephant grab an entire bunch of bananas with its trunk and put it in its mouth. For a brief moment, I felt the scaly skin of its trunk, covered in dirt, brush against my hand. The reason elephants are covered in dirt is because the dirt protects their skin from the sun.

We got to pet a few of these elephants. I learned that elephants actually have hair! Some elephants had less hair due to their abuse. The guide explained that when they are used as riding elephants, they tend to lose a lot of hair from people climbing on and off of them. Their skin feels scaly as one might expect, but the sparse hairs are quite stiff – kind of like the bristles on a toothbrush.

It was so hot that day, they went playing in the river. It was probably the hottest day of the trip so far. So hot that I really didn’t want to move out in the sun.

This guy came running right for us. The guide said some of these elephants were the same ones we fed, and so it was possible they recognized our scents thinking we had more food. There are no fences in between humans and elephants, and there are attendants everywhere that the elephants listen to.

The guide told us that the more sunken in the elephant’s head is at its temple, the older it is. As it ages, the air inside the elephants skull slowly leaves, which causes the sunkeness. I definitely noticed this between the smaller/younger elephants and the larger/old ones.

Be sure to check out Mike’s video about the elephant park. It’s got clips of us feeding the elephants and us trying to dodge them as they charge toward us. There’s even an elephant that peels the bananas before eating them!

Going to this place was totally awesome and I definitely recommend it for anybody travelling to Chiang Mai. For the rest of the pictures of the elephant sanctuary click here.

Chiang Mai street markets

Street markets are set up over the city selling stuff like fake brand name clothing, tourist trinkets (magnets and such), arts and crafts, food/snacks, and even tailors. We walked around some of them, but they go on for blocks and blocks so it can take quite a bit of time to see everything.

There are even drag queens! I thought that was a thing that people went to Bangkok for.

I finally found deep fried insects!! It seems kind of strange to buy food from vendors where their food appear to have been just sitting out in the open for hours in the burning heat, but that seems to be the norm here.

Would you like some rubber poop?

When the rainstorm hit, the shopkeepers were fully prepared. We weren’t. I walked around drenched wearing a T-shirt and shorts.

But I don’t think they were prepared for the wind…

My buddy’s YouTube video gives a pretty good tour of the street markets too. Check it out!

Otherwise, that’s it for street markets in Chiang Mai.
See all the photos here

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