I was once told, "you won't have to eat in a restaurant in Thailand, it's all on the side of the road". Never have words rung so true. Though the scents of food doesn't waft down every street and alley in Chiang Mai, there is more than enough to keep you stuffed.
Much like Luang Prabang we quickly developed a routine of sorts. Up early, after a small breakfast, which was free at the hotel. Unlike other folks we didn't load up on the free stuff, saving ourselves for later. We'd get on our way early. On our first morning, we headed off to the Chiang Mai Cultural Center. As we took the turn on Ratwithi an "escort" joined us:
As if he knew that we weren't from around these parts, this mutt walked alongside the Missus making sure we made our way to the Museum.
He guided us almost to the doors of the museum, and seeing that his duty was completed, he looked up at us, with almost a smile on his face, and went on his way. It was pretty remarkable.....
We enjoyed the Museum, and learned a lot, but forgot even more!
There was one display that was a bit too realistic. We noticed this display, and kept wondering what part the stuffed cat played in the display. Then the cat sat up and yawned! I almost jumped out of my shoes!!! It seems this cat has found the perfect spot to take a nap......after all, what better than the lap of a (semi-) human????
On the way back we passed a small booth on the side of the road.
It was obvious that they made the classic sticky rice with mango, but the Missus pointed to one of the pots and even though the couple didn't speak any English, they knew what the Missus was asking about. When the young man opened the pot, the fragrance instantly hit me.......
It was the making of Durian Rice! The Missus ordered some Sticky Rice with Mango and Durian and tapioca pearls with sticky rice.
Which we brought back to our room and devoured.......
After our "snack" and quick shower, we'd head off, and grab some lunch (we'll cover that later), and do something like head off and visit a few Wats. The Missus loved the Wats, and She'd take advantage of every opportunity to
accost talk to the Monks.
After the Missus saw this sign on the grounds of Wat Chedi Luang:
We returned the next afternoon, and while the Missus
high-jacked did Her hour and a half "Monk Chat" I walked the grounds.
A Buddhist University is located on the grounds so this was a great chance for students to practice their English, and the Missus to talk to the young men, starting with the inevitable "I thought Monks are vegetarians, and aren't supposed to eat meat, how come monks in Thailand eat meat?" Sigh........
The restored Chedi (Stupa) at Wat Chedi Luang clocks in at about 200 feet and is a good landmark when walking within the "Inner Moat" part of Chiang Mai. It was originally built in 1441 and was restored by UNESCO and the Japanese government. The Chedi lacks a spire because no one is really sure what it looked like. Another interesting tidbit. There are six Elephant sculptures along the Chedi, five of them are restorations. Only the one with no ears and trunk is an original.
After returning to our room, we'd head off for something to eat, often stopping off at Pratu Chiang Mai, or something up the street at one of the other markets.
There's always food in sight, and you will run into something. One night while walking up the Moon Muang we ran smack into a market, and a couple of food carts. One of which featured meat on a stick....who can resist?
These looked a spooky white in color....
OK, all the red specks were the only pieces of meat in this sausage......... it also tasted kinda strange....sour, but a strange sour.
And of course......
We could not pass a Kanom Krok cart without stopping. This Guy was busy, and couldn't keep up with demand. The Konom Krok we got was overcooked and solid in the center......it tasted fine, but was hard through and through. No molten, lip melting center for us this time.
Every evening after dinner, we'd head back to our room. But we'd always end up waiting at this stand a block from our hotel:
I'm walk over to the 7-11 (there's one on every block in Chiang Mai and Thailand) for water and some, uh, liquid refreshment, while the Missus would wait for
Her our 35 Baht ($1) Fried Rice.
For those who complain that Sab E Lee puts too much white pepper on their fried rice and Pad See Ew, check this out. This was soooooo good.....
And of course, there's always a Durian story...... On our second night we noticed a pick-up parked alongside the road, loaded with Durian.
The Missus couldn't resist! There was fresh Durian that had been cleaned sold on a folding table next to the pick-up. The Missus bought some, and declared it the best She's had to date. So of course we went back the next night and bought more.
While the Missus enjoyed the Durian, and the Montri did not have any "no Durian" signs posted, I felt bad for the folks cleaning our rooms. I tried to ease my guilt by leaving a bit of a larger tip everyday for the folks having to suffer through cleaning our rooms.
Chiang Mai was an interesting city. On one side quite the tourist town, with a bustling visitor industry. On the other, an ancient walled city........ with a real spirituality that we saw over and over. It was a fascinating balance.