It’s no surprise that we have been loving Thailand. We’ve been here more than two months now and seem in no rush to leave. The travel is easy, the people are friendly, the food is amazing and the beer is cold and cheap! It is also the first country where our budget and travel style match. We have been like kids in a candy store – doing anything and everything we want to do and still not blowing the budget.
Nowhere was this more apparent than in Chiang Mai, where we spent two weeks doing all manner of activities punctuated by days of lazing around, playing backgammon and drinking Thai whiskey.
Yes, we finally got some real mountain biking in. This is something we do a lot of at home and have been looking to do since we left. Although available in many places we have visited, it has always been too expensive. The best part of this ride was that it was all single track downhill…we shuttled to the top and dropped for 2 hours. A little bit technical, a little bit steep – it was a great ride.
We took two cooking classes while in Chiang Mai. This one was was at Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School. There are a bazillion cooking schools here – we chose this one because the owner is some kind of famous chef here and thought he gave the classes. Turns out he just walked through our class once…that was our brush with fame. The class was okay, the class size was a bit too big but the food was great.
One of the more controversial things to do here is to visit an elephant camp. There are many different types, from those that train elephants to paint and do tricks, to those that only allow natural interaction with them. We chose an in-between option that allowed us to be with them, feed them and then ride them bareback. They were amazing animals to be so close to…so huge and gentle at the same time.
The second cooking class we took was at the Thai Farm Cookery School. Set on a quiet organic farm out of the city, the school had smaller classes and a more varied menu to choose from. Here we even made our own Thai chili paste from scratch! The papaya salad I made was the best I’ve had in Thailand…probably because I didn’t use 10,000 chilies in it, just one. In a funny twist, the group we were with was made up of almost entirely couples doing long term travel – it was fun to trade stories and get some tips on places we’ll be going to soon.
Chiang Mai has plenty of markets. The famous night market failed to impress us – too many knock offs and not enough handicrafts. The Saturday and Sunday Walking Markets were pretty cool though. Traffic is shut down and blocks and blocks of the street are filled with vendors selling all manner of things and food. We spent hours walking around looking and eating and then eased our tired feet with foot massages.
Another fun activity was zip lining – it was a hoot to be flying through the jungle like a monkey. We loved it and hooted and hollered the whole way. This is a picture of us abseiling upside down after we said we wanted more of an adrenalin rush…it worked! That day definitely ended to early!
Our time in Thailand is finished now…today we cross the border into Laos – hopefully the good times and small prices will continue.