16.2.2017 Chang Mai Shopping Spree

We awake a little blearily, however are both surprised we don’t actually feel as bad as we feared. I google best coffee in Chang Mai and we follow MapsMe to Overstand, a coffee house, run by an Aussie. The coffee beans are arabica from Northern Thailand (in case you need to know!), it is robust flavour, not dissimilar to Laos coffee. We also treat ourselves to brunch. Chorizo, herbed tomatoes, hummous parmesan eggs on sourdough bread. The sweet, spicy taste of the chorizo is like a familiar old friend we haven’t seen for ages and had forgot quite how special they were. We also have salmon, eggs, radish, capers on sourdough. It’s been a long time since we ate off a wooden board.

Oddly enough, for a hangover, we both feel like shopping. Usually the thought of shopping is enough to send me to the pub, but we get Guys wallet out and have some retail therapy. Several dresses, items of jewellery and hats later we  have our daily visit to Boots. The first time we went into Chang Mai Boots we thought there was some Chinese geocashing going on, it was rammed with Chinese youth. Now we realise they have no Boots so need to buy up baskets of whitening creams, make-up etc.before going back to the Non Boots China. If Boots were in China they would make a fortune.

Shopped out, and ever so slightly concerned at how the hell it was all going to fit in the rucksacks, we found ourselves in a restaurant with a bowl of Khao Soi and a couple of Leo’s.

 

Our hostel has a beautiful little garden, so we sat in dappled sunshine, admiring the koi in the pond and enjoyed a Chang, or maybe 2. An entertaining half hour was spent WhatsApp’ing friends in Ireland on their way to work.

Guy had planned to go to a meditation evening, it was something he had looked forward to all week. However, beer and meditation don’t mix. He decided to live in the moment and have another beer.

We wanted to try Lanna food again, so we go to Huen Phan restaurant. We have a grey curry of bananas flower and pork, it is fishy tasting. A Nam Priik with fish which is tasty, a raw looking pork and egg fish which tastes ok but I can’t get over the look of it, sausages which are lush, and baby aubergine salad which is fishy and spicy. We both agree we are not keen on this cuisine and have a Mai Tai (Guy) and GandT (me) to celebrate this discovery. 

We end up in a bar round the corner from our hostel, it has live music on and expensive beer. We are about to be sensible and call it a night when the guy plays Radiohead. It ends up being a late night with many beers being drunk and many conversations had. 

15.2.17 Chang Mai – local food

This morning was a repeat of Monday, yoga for me, peace and quiet for Guy.

Lunch was at a restaurant across town, it had opening hours of 10 -2. I would love to work in that kitchen. It is a small street stall selling 2 items; Khao Soi, a Chiang Mai curried coup, and Tom Yum. We order one of each and wait. Every table is full, the turnover is quick, you sit, order, eat and go. Someone takes your place straight away. The sign of a good street stall.

The Khao Soi was creamy from the coconut, spicy with chilli, rich from the crushed peanuts, it is accompanied by a wedge of lime, pickled green and raw red onion. Only the raw onion remained a few minutes later. The Tom Yum is equally well balanced, sour and spicy and we do our usual photographing and sharing of food. It doesn’t take long to eat and we make room for the next clients.

Slow meander back through town, and we take it easy for the rest of the afternoon. 

Evening meal is at a Lanna restaurant, near the student area of Chang Mai, about 3km from our hostel. 3km at home is usually walked in 40 mins or less. Here is takes longer due to obstacles, trip hazards and generally walking at a slow pace due to heat and the fact we are both so chilled out we cannot get above 2nd gear. 

We walk slow enough to view restaurants and bars at our leisure, and notice a Writer’s and Wine bar… Wine!!! It is out of a box, but at this stage of the trip we don’t care. Half litre of their finest red is ordered and we are happy. We WhatsApp mates to inform them, they are all really happy for us, as they are all at work on a dull Thursday in February, apart from Paula and Dave who are poolside in Vietnam, drinking cocktails and having massages……

We continue our walk to the restaurant, it is ‘bird bed time’, the birds are noisily chattering away in the line of trees we are walking under, the noise is incredible. I can’t believe we didn’t get one bird pooping on us.

The restaurant has the usual queue outside it. We are given a number and menu and wait for about 40 mins for a table. Lanna food is from the north of Thailand and Burma area, it is made up of lots of vegetables, and a heavy hand of fish sauce. We are adventurous in our choices and order Burmese pork curry which is tasty and delicous, similar to a mussaman curry, ant egg and herb soup which is fiery, ants egg’s are tiny (unsurprisingly) and taste of the soup, green chilli Nam Priik, which is a chilli paste dip eaten with steamed vegetables, young jackfruit salad which is spicy, hot, sour and good. Finally we have the local BBQ sausage, we can’t resist them, it is pork and lemongrass and fab. It is an interesting experience, the heavy use of fish sauce reminds us of Burmese food, which we struggled with. But it is just the right side of fishy to not be revolting. Isaan or Southern Thai food is still preferable.

I have a massive blister on my foot so we treat ourselves to a tuktuk back to the night market near us. We negotiate the price, have the usual feeling of being ripped off, then zip along the roads feeling like you are being driven along by a hair dryer. 

The market is full of tourists looking for a bargain buying patterned clothes. I do wonder what Thai people think of our dress sense, all the ‘ferang’ loll around the country in tie dye, brightly coloured clown trousers, hippy bags and gaudy tops. I hobbled around, then pleaded to go home, we had a beer in our garden. The hostel owner was sat with two friends enjoying their second bottle of johnny walker and a german family were enjoying a bottle of Thai rum, so we decided it was time to fit in. Guy went out and purchased a small bottle of Thai rum and we chatted away under the stars, putting the world to rights.