Friday, July 27, 2012

Chiang Mai, Thailand

I arrived in Thailand a few days before the Elephant Adventure so that I would have time to get at least partially over jet lag.  I stayed at a FABULOUS resort in Chiang Mai, Thailand.  This place cost about what a Holiday Inn would cost but the rooms and grounds were gorgeous and the restaurant was top notch (mmmm, apple pancakes).

Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand.  I was in the historic old city sector.  The old city is surrounded by remains of a wall and moat.  It makes it relatively easy not to get too lost.  The streets are narrow, though, and the signs are in Thai script so I couldn't read them when there were street signs.

Fortunately I figured out early that my hotel was two blocks from the biggest Wat in the area so all I had to do if I did get lost was to find that Wat and I was good to go.

The first morning there I was wandering around and two young women came up to me.  They were college students who had an assignment to talk to a native English speaker.  So I got interviewed.  As I wandered around I was approached several more times for the same reason so I had to learn to politely decline or I could have spent my whole day demonstrating how to speak American English.

There are several night markets in Chiang Mai.  These are a collection of shops that open at night and sell, well, everything.  I went to the "Walking" market.  This one gets put up on a street once a week - the street is closed and the vendors have canopies or just tables lining the streets.  It's the "walking" market because it moves to a different place every week.

The vendors sold lots of tourist stuff but also food, shoes, clothing and other things the locals might want to buy.  It was a crowded street scene so no good pictures.  The weirdest thing at the market were the places selling old CDs - they would blast out (mostly bad) 80s pop and easy listening.  

I only found one stall selling insects as food.  It was surrounded by tourists who would pay a few Baht (the Thai currency) to sample the insects and have their friends take their pictures.  I did try the crickets (no photos, sorry, I was by myself).  Crunchy and lightly flavored with spices.  Not bad but not exciting, either.

The street food was pretty good.  I had some delicious quail eggs with a soy sauce based sauce.  Yum.  And a fruit smoothy that was freshly made.  You picked out a cup with cut up fresh fruit and they blended it right there.  Best smoothy I've every had.

The clothes for sale included some really neat looking skirts and pants in beautiful fabrics.  Unfortunately I am a tall American woman and I towered over the local Thai women.  The clothes were made for the local women.  

It's quite the adventure to stroll down a street market at night in a foreign country.  I wish John had been there with me so I could have egged him into sharing my snack of insects.

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