February 19th, 2010

wayfaring wordhack

Sukhothai, A Most Wonderful Day

Lesson learned from Ayutthaya, we spent the morning lounging around our hotel in Sukhothai, not braving the outdoors until mid-afteroon. After a late so-so lunch, we rented a scooter and zoomed the 14 km to the Sukhothai Historical Park. The sun was heading toward the horizon when we arrived, leaving the air cooler and the light softer.

We moseyed around the old city, enjoying the crumbling ruins and peaceful ponds.

What would be a Thai monument without a buddha?


And a lotus

After snapping reflection photos to our hearts’ content and full dark upon us, we climbed back on our scooter and prepared to leave the park. Music and strings of white lights drew us off the main road to a spectacle with dancers and musicians playing traditional instruments. We had a seat on the grass and enjoyed the free show.

The time for us to return the scooter was drawing nigh so we left before the show’s end and headed back, past many a tiny, private shrine decorated with light garlands, to Sukhothaiand the night market, where we ate some pretty scary things.

Ok, the ones in the photo there were too scary for us. I wouldn’t have touched those wiener things with a ten-foot pole, much less a six-inch wooden skewer. We did try hard-boiled quail eggs wrapped and fried in wonton noodles, though. Meh. Very bland.

Culinary disappointments aside, we did indeed have a most wonderful day.
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Chiang Mai, Thailand

 After another 8-hr bus ride (the first being between Ayutthaya and Sukhothai), we arrived in Chiang Mai. We had been pretty spoiled with the quality of the hotels we had stayed at up to that point, so imagine our severe disappointment when we were taken to a dump called Garden View Hotel, just south of the Old City. It was second in the Depressing Category of all the hotels we've stayed in around the world.  It would take a bit more for it to beat the nightmare that was the extreme Oasis Hostel in Sajama, Bolivia

No sooner had we shucked our bags then we headed back outside to find something a little more to our tastes for the morrow since it was only the first night in Chiang Mai that was covered by our "package" deal.  Not far down the road, we found an excellent address, The Castle. I highly recommend it. It was clean and charming; the service was friendly, prompt, and helpful (it's family-run); and the breakfast was far better than down the road. This link goes to a YouTube video they made for it. Their homepage took me a little while to open.

Our room booked for the next night and loath to return to the Garden dump, we rented a scooter to explore the city (reservation kindly made by The Castle staff). Map in pocket and a vague idea  of where we were (no thanks to the owner/manager? of the Garden), we promptly got lost. A kind stranger set us back on course but expressed his doubts (very politely) that the Garden Guy knew what he was talking about when he sent us off to "Chinatown." Apparently, where he said it was, it wasn't. :P

Instead, we headed to the Sunday Walking Street and enjoyed a night of strolling through the market and eating tasty steamed dumplings and papaya salad, Thai style. 

We bought two lamps, too! Let's hope they make it back to France.

The next day, we visited the post office--had to send the lamps back--and had an absolutely terrible meal on the top floor of some computer shopping center.  It was so bad, I couldn't eat it for fear of being sick.  We went down the road and paid too much money to have something that I wasn't afraid to eat.

With a weird tummy, maybe it wasn't the time to think about taking a cooking class, but I had no choice. With plans to leave Chiang Mai the next day, it was a case of now or never.

So, while Julien went off to take graffiti pictures, I went to learn how to make Thai spring rolls, pad thai, and chicken with cashew nut stir-fry at the Asia Scenic cookery school.

First, our teacher took us to a small local market where she explained a bit about the different types of noodles and the process of making coconut milk and cream.

We then had a wander around so we could take photos. Of course I had to show you "soup in a sack." The first time I saw this was in a bus in Bolivia. I saw people eating their food through a straw, neatly stuck into a plastic produce sack.

Then it was back to the kitchen and to work!


See how professional I look folding my spring roll:

The hands of a Master Chef! :P

And on that note, bon appétit... Time to eat! Another post on the trip from Chiang Mai to Chiang after lunch...or supper. :P
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The things I see - Chiang Mai, Thailand

At a local food market, pretty pink eggs, but....


...um, it being mid-February, I think it is safe to bet that those aren't Easter eggs. What is that black stuff? Nothing I want to put in my mouth, that much I can tell you.

Also in Chiang Mai: 

After my cooking class, I accompanied Julien to a little roadside eatery for his supper ( I got to eat all my dishes and was stuffed to the gills). Out of the gloom of the poorly lit street lumbered an elephant, a man in farmer's togs on his back.  When the great, dark beastie meandered past, we saw that his rider had thoughtfully attached a flashing red "warning" light to his tail, complete with a CD in guise of a reflector.