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Spicy Bangkok to Chilled Chiang Mai

A tale of two cities- you'll want to visit

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The first thing we found out was that the name ‘Thailand’ depicts it’s history. Having never been colonised- unlike all the other surrounding countries, Thailand was originally a part of Siam with many tribal groups. After WW2 a border was put in place that “wrapped” these tribes up under one name - Thai= free (not been taken over) so “freeland”.
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Bangkok

Our first stop was The Raweekanlaya hotel in Samsen Road near Ramma V111 bridge- a little boutique oasis of calm in the chaos of Bangkok. Located out of the hub of the old city, this area really depicted typical day to day life in Bangkok. A watch repair man worked out of a tiny metal stand, ladies with their sewing machines did repairs on the street and of course many many street food sellers with all kinds of things that we had no idea what they were. Things were a little tainted though as my belly had contracted a reaction to something and I didn’t really want to be too far from a toilet!
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Thewet market is a fantastic local’s market close to the local ferry terminal. It sells much live produce, from fish, terrapins and frogs to other meats, as well as vegetables and herbs. It was certainly an attack on the senses with all kinds of fish and insects writhing around in bowls.
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It took a while to find, but we managed to locate and get a table at Steve’s Cafe right on the rivers edge - pretty popular and a wonderful river breeze in the early evening. By our budget, it was a little on the top end but not outrageous. But the best thing was the walk there and back down tiny side streets opening up onto an unexpected temple - Wat Devaraj. People selling their food from their garages, wares or sitting with a beer in each others houses - a real taste of everyday life.

Wat Aran

Being immersed in so many temples in Cambodia gave us slight “temple fever”. On arrival we were welcomed by the sheer volume of mosaic tiles, bells and steep steps glistening in the sunlight- a contrast to what we had seen before. There was obviously a bit of a thing for all things symmetrical here- reflective, rotational and transformative- a primary maths teacher’s dream.
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This was easy to roam around as we had arrived before 9.00am and it was still quite quiet. We enjoyed peering into the temples and around the grounds- just as beautiful as the actual temple. Lines and corridors creating new angles. Using door frames as picture frames is just as important here as in Cambodia.

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Royal Palace

We loved it here, make sure you are early- the crowds were large and snaked all around the grounds within and the heat was pretty intense. It is breathtakingly beautiful though. Golden statues, glittering buildings, pillars, influences of Europe; a fusion of east meeting west in many architectural structures. We were lucky to see the changing of the guard.

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Wat Pho Reclining Buddha

The grounds are very peaceful. It is easy to enjoy the grounds, and little hideaways and alley ways to explore. It is a little busy going into see the Reclining Buddha at around 50m long and wrapped in gold leaf- pretty impressive.
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Our “Tuk Tuk evening Bangkok and food tour”

was great fun. From our hotel it was a heck of an adventure to get to the meeting point - a ferry ride and then walk across Chaya Praya River, through the local park with all the locals boxing, running and working out! Our itinerary was:

Local market and tried some pork balls
See into houses of locals
Wat Prayoon - new to being on the world heritage list
Thipsamai - Pad Thai. This is the birth place of pad thai- endorsed by the king- it was amazing watching the chefs with their skills of wrapping the noodles in a delicate basket of egg on an open fire sending sparks everywhere.
Reclining Budha (enjoyed even more at night time- as it was lovely and quiet in the grounds)
Flower market
Desert of mango sticky rice
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We had breakfast at a local (one dish) place- noodle soup- yummy. The lady was so smiley which really made our day start in a happy way - and for $2 a head this was the best food we had yet. Packed with flavour.

We travelled to Pak Kret (market) by ferry to stop 30. Bicycle tuk-tuks are the main form of transport and the area is certainly back to basics! We ventured through the market- they’re so big here in Thailand. The market had most things- from clothing to frogs, gutted and skinned. It was not for the squeamish.

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The ferry jetty had endless boil ups of fish destined for dinner table. That evening we had a bbq fish backed in salt crust from a local street food vendor- absolutely yum!

Chiang Mai

We arrived at the POR hotel - a great spot- very quiet road just outside city walls (water moat) which meant an easy walk, tuk-tuk or taxi in to town.
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After we had chilled a for bit we went for Korean BBQ where we didn’t have a clue as to what we were doing. Great fun and really tasty. Not sure what we were eating but all good!

The “cultural Lanna region people and heritage centre” was quite interesting, giving us a bit of a back ground into the local people and culture.
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Saturday night market was massive! 1 km long with side streets. Fhi and I had an amazing massage too.

Waiting for the washing, Fhi used the time productively to wax my back!
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Thai cooking class: Thai and Akha Cooking Class in Chiang Mai
We were picked up in the Songtaew (Red Pick Up Truck Taxi)
https://www.tripadvisor.com/AttractionProductReview-g293917-d11485481-Thai_and_Akha_Cooking_Class_in_Chiang_Mai-Chiang_Mai.html

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Eating ants and their eggs and pig's balls!
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This course was amazing; great cook, Nita, who was also our guide through the village before hand. She led us through a local market and guided us into eating what we would not normally buy. Pork scratchings with beetle dip, pigs balls (very tender I have to say), Century eggs, ants (live) and their eggs. We tried all the chillies and after getting the ingredients travelled to the kitchens for our cooking course.
She was so talented, as there was a hotpot of nationalities all cooking different things. The people also made this tour awesome as we all connected quickly.
We made, pad thai, tom yum, massaman chicken, chicken with basil, spring rolls, mango salad and sticky rice with mango. Absolutely yum!

The tears from an elephant is not because it is crying but that’s its sweat gland. Kanta elephant section is a place where the elephants who have had hard lives come to get treated well. There is no riding allowed. We fed them snacks and washed and bathed them in the local stream. What an opportunity to get close with these magical and highly intelligent creatures.

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Of course the cooking course and elephant experience was amazing, but we both probably enjoyed the opportunity of sitting and eating, and people watching from the local eateries. Typically serving only one dish, the food left your mouth buzzing with flavours and memories of some lovely people.
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And we also found a great local gym….. to make sure that we’re not piling on the pounds too much with all this eating! Thailand over… next stop Sri Lanka

Posted by PhilFhi travels 05:38 Archived in Thailand

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