Six months, nine countries

8 June 2014

We started our last morning in Bangkok by taking a visit to the local market around the corner from our hotel to savor some delicious tropical fruit for what may be the last time in a while. We picked up a small service of jackfruit and a ½ kilo of mangosteens to enjoy before our flight early in the afternoon. With the more pressing matters of the day taken care of we started our wandering to find a good spot for lunch. We had seen a noodle soup stall set in a small alley the other day that we had wanted to try, but unfortunately when we walked up it was closed due to it being Sunday so we continued our wandering to see what we could stumble across and were we ever lucky that place ended up being closed. We ended up stumbling across a small stand (the guy had 3 tables max tucked inside a small gap between buildings, alley would be too generous of a description) selling a noodle soup we had never heard of before. We’re still amazed that after all this time in SE Asia, there are so many different varieties of what are essentially the same main ingredients of noodles, broth and meat. This stall specialized in a pork soup that had the most tender pork (I’m guessing it was tender due to the fact that it was just sitting out in the warm temperatures) combined with a delicious broth and some wide thick rice noodles that all came together to make a perfect last meal for Bangkok and SE Asia. It truly is a testament to the food in this amazing city that you can just pull up to a small cart in the middle of an alley and have what is one of the better soups of your life. After slurping up the last of our lunch we made our way to the Siam Center dessert center for one last batch of mango sticky rice before heading back to our hotel to pick up our luggage and head to the airport.

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It is hard to believe that we are entering our ninth country. We had a good laugh as when we touched down in Hong Kong and started to walk thru the terminal some culture shock immediately snuck in. First we saw a plane that had just arrived from the US and we simply stopped and stared as we watched all the Americans deplane. It was one of the oddest feelings to see so many Americans after what seems like months only seeing a handful. I’m sure we must have looked like crazy people as we were staring at all the deplaning passengers like they were the most foreign thing we could imagine. And then I walked into the bathroom where the toilets flushed automatically, the paper towels were dispensed with the wave of a hand (they have paper towels?!?!?) and there was a warning sign next to the soap dispenser (wow, there is soap) about it containing antibacterial components that may not be suitable for people with allergies and to so see the toilet attendant if you have issues. We’ve spent the last few months carrying around a pocket size Kleenex as backup for toilet paper, so this was all a little much to take in.

After snapping back to reality we made our way to immigration control and they simply handed us a movie size ticket stub. No stamp! So lame! Soon thereafter we boarded the bus and we were on the open road where we were again taken aback by the guard rails, fairly empty roads and the speed at which we were traveling, a frantic 60 mph. After spending so long in countries where getting up to 30 mph is traveling quickly it will take a while to adjust back to this speed of travel. We arrived at our hotel after about a 40 minute bus ride and soon we were heading out the door to find dinner at a local restaurant.

Today’s Travel: Bangkok to Hong Kong via Air Asia from DMK airport

Accommodations:  Just as Inn. Situated just past he A21 bus stop and near the Tsim Sha Tsui metro we easily got here on the bus from the airport and just had to brave a few steps in the pouring rain. Up on the 8th floor of a very unassuming apartment building the rooms are small but nice and very clean. I thought we had stayed in some small rooms on this trip but this one is by far the smallest, but with a few well-placed storage spots our stuff takes up just a small portion of the room and there is enough living space, plus a small desk for writing.  There are also many good restaurants within easy walking distance and public transportation at our doorstep to easily get around.

Thailand: Home of the hipsters

7 June 2014

We may or may not have planned our return to Bangkok around the weekend so that we could once again wander the JJ market. This time we arrived, without an extended detour (aka it was cheaper but we still felt compelled to pay the same to the taxi driver) or the driver asking us for directions, on the opposite side from our last visit which was the home décor/furniture section. I only wish shipping was cheap and that I had an actual home to decorate as many of the shops in the home furnishings sections put West Elm to shame. Maybe we will just have to buy a home here.

As we wandered further thru we found the vintage/second hand section of the market. Where I could have picked up any pair of Converses, Jack Purcells or Doc Martens that I had donated in the early 2000’s here. Or if I really wanted to I could have picked up a Wisconsin Badgers tee or Cal tee or even a Kentucky tee, or what had to provide the best WTF moment, a GEICO t-shirt.

You too can own a geico t-shirt for just $2

You too can own a geico t-shirt for just $2

It was then that I realized Thailand has way more hipsters than the US and they are so much cooler. Unfortunately I was on a quest to find some cute pants, but everything I tried on as preparing me for the flood or if I tried to sit I would have ripped the seam. I guess 5’8” ladies with butts aren’t the common customer here.

It was then on to the pets section (I thought it would be cool, but it was really just depressing), a section with lots of cool paintings for the home and of course no trip here would be complete without a stop for a fruit shake, mango sticky rice and coconut ice cream, oh and some noodles too.

And because we are so close and it is now officially a tradition we made our way to Siam Square to catch and movie and cool down. This time we saw X-Men: Days of Future Past. Apparently seeing Marvel movies is our thing when we are in Bangkok.

After we waited in the world’s longest taxi line and when we finally got our cab it was over an hour to go 5km. I guess the lesson learned is don’t try to get from point a to b when it is just a few hours until the military ordered curfew.

Luckily we make it back, after some power walking, to the family that sells the rice flour coconut balls before they closed up for the evening. Since it was our last night they started to prepare our usual two boxes (yes when we arrived they held up 2 fingers) we asked for two more, you should have seen the looks on the older women’s face. It was somewhere between shocked, impressed and pride as they started talking between themselves about how much these crazy white people like their dessert. I know we are going to miss this place and will have to say ‘until next time!’

Today’s Travel: Around Bangkok to Chatuchak, Siam Paragon to the movies and down the street for our last flour rice and coconut balls

Accommodations: Feung Nakorn Balcony

The land of smiles

6 June 2014

So I never fully understood how much a mood of a city can affect you until coming back to one of the friendliest cities. In just the few hours we have been here I have caught myself a few times where I didn’t immediately give a smile and small bow which is so incredibly odd for me. I can’t really express how great it is to be here after the last few weeks and see so many people smiling and being welcoming.

We started our day with a walk thru the local market. This time we took the back alleys and side streets. It is so crazy to see how different this city is now that the razor wire and police blockades are gone. There are more street vendors, shops open and people going about their daily business than just two months ago. Maybe that has something to do with the weather, it is much cooler, or the fact that the kids are back in school, but it does appear that life has returned to a more normal state here. Wandering thru we also found a favorite new dessert (shocker…not!). I have no idea what it is called, but it involves coconut and sweet caramel like flavor.

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Fully sugared up we continued on our way to a few tourist sites that we have yet to venture to.

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One of the Buddha streets where they make all the Buddha statues

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Our first stop on our afternoon tour was Lohaprasada. Walking from the local market to the temple along many back alleys, including the place where we had organ soup, we arrived at the temple. The structure is very unique and there is no other temple in the area that we have seen that looks anything like it. From what I can remember this style was a replica of a design from a temple in India. For me I enjoyed the various quotes from the teachings of Buddhism and the peace a serenity of the place (we only saw three other people while we were there) plus I had a chance to practice a walking mediation on one of the floors as that is what it was designed for.

Lohaprasada quote

Adam loved the place because there were so many great designs to photography from the stupas to the Buddha statues and of course all the cool lines created by the buildings design.

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After a few hours of wandering the temple we made the walk across the road to the Golden Mountain. Well it looked like it was just across the road but the reality was there was a river in between so after a short walk thru one of the older neighborhoods in the city that still had wooden homes we made a giant u-shaped detour to finally make it to the entrance to the mountain.

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This is the face you make when you realize you rang a bell really loudly

This is the face you make when you realize you rang a bell really loudly

As we climbed the steps the views became even more impressive but that almost meant the wind started to pick up.  Quick tip: it is hot and windy at the top so avoid wearing a short flowy dress and if you use an umbrella for sun protection, make sure it is a sturdy one. But with a broken umbrella and holding tightly to my dress we made it to the top! And the views were well worth it.

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Making our way from the mountain back towards our hotel we took a detour to the Ban Batra neighborhood which is well-known for the handmade ‘batra’ – a bowl carried by a Buddhist monk to receive offerings of food.

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After a few wrong turns we were back on track as you could tell you were approaching the street by the sound of a hammer hitting steel.

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I have no clue how these craftsman have their hearing. We chatted with one of the craftspeople Krisana Sangchai who explained to us the three day process to make the smaller bowls and three weeks for the larger bowls. And of course as we told her where we were from she wanted to continue with some small talk and made mention of how she really liked the show Law and Order: CI. Now this is my kind of lady! I am glad we bought a bowl from her.

After a dinner of some delicious noddle soup we began our evening walk thru the Phraeng Nara neighborhood when we came across a crazy game of what looked like volleyball until we saw the men kicking a small ball with moves that prior to this I thought were reserved for kung fu masters.

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Short clip of a sepaktrakaw game in Bangkok from Amy Hicks on Vimeo.

As we watched with awe a gentleman came over to explain to us that what we were watching was a game of sepaktrakaw. We sat for a while chatting it up with the man that is known as Mr. Leg learning about the rules, the players (some of these guys are in their 50’s) and the usual where are you from questions. We took a brief pausing in watching to go pick up a few beers at 7-11 and grab our camera. When we came back Mr. Leg was impressed that we were both drinking Singha and asked if it tasted like what we had at home. When I stated that it was similar I could tell he didn’t understand the meaning, but when I repeated that it tasted ‘same, same’ he completely understood. And at that moment I think Adam realized that ‘same, same’ is going to officially be my new favorite phrase and I will probably use it until he bans it.

Upon our return, Mr. Leg sent one of the guys off to buy him beer and snacks, when he came back he offered us some peanuts and I gladly accepted. Clearly Mr. Leg is the man as he proceeded to tell me that if I needed anything I should just let him know. As we chatted with Mr. Leg we briefly talked about how different the city was compared to April. I made mention that it did seem like more people were out and he even stated that it is better now. While I am sure he doesn’t agree that the current state of politics is the best, it does appear that the city residents are returning to their new normal.

Watching the last game we noticed the player ratio had changed as it was now 2 on 2. I asked Mr. Leg why and he explained that this was now the betting portion. As we watched one of the other guys started talking to Mr. Leg and gesturing towards us. I of coursed than asked, “is he telling you we should play,” and sure enough he was. At that moment we realized that we can now totally kick ass at charades and body language/gestures speaks much more than the actual language when you are a foreigner. So Adam took the guys up on the offer and did his best.

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Being barefoot and kicking a hard plastic ball, he only lasted for just a minute or two, but we all got a good laugh as one of the local guys took his shoes out there to give to Adam only to realize that they were a little too small. But the real laughable moment came when we were asked our ages, and at first the numbers were lost in translation as I think Mr. Leg he told the group I was 40 and Adam was 29 which got lots of ‘omg, no way’ looks and ‘awes’ from the group. So I said my age again and he corrected, but you could still tell that these guys were completely shocked. For me it was hilarious and maybe for Adam a moment of feeling like a total badass.

Today’s Travel: Around Bangkok to the local morning market, Lohaprasada, Golden Mountain and the Phraeng Nara neighborhood

Accommodations: Feung Nakorn Balcony

So excited to go back to Bangkok

5 June 2014

We set an early alarm to give us enough time to head out for one last breakfast at our favorite pho shop before we headed back to our hotel to catch a cab to the airport for our flight to Bangkok. After three weeks in Vietnam we officially have a love/hate relationship with the country. While there are many great sites, beautiful scenery, great food and some friendly people, we left with a feeling that this was one of our least favorite countries so far. While we did encounter a lot of friendly people the overwhelming impression is one in which you are treated simply as opportunity to make money (there is no walking down the street or through a market without being attacked by the ever popular ‘you buy something’ with crappy shirt shoved in your face) or be scammed. It’s a constant battle in every transaction to make sure you’re not being charged too much, receiving back the proper change and constantly being on guard to other scams. It’s unfortunate because it takes away from a country that on the whole has a lot of amazing aspects.

In searching for flights to our next destination, Hong Kong, it ended up being the same price to fly to Bangkok for a few days before flying onto Hong Kong so we decided to make a small detour back to what has been one of our favorite destinations of our trip so far. Needless to say we were excited to get back to Bangkok and bask in the warmth and friendliness of the Thai people.

Had a good laugh at this donation box in the Vietnam airport. Amy's parents would have been able to claim a good portion of these funds.

Had a good laugh at this donation box in the Vietnam airport. Amy’s parents would have been able to claim a good portion of these funds.

After we arrived and dropped our stuff of at the hotel we set out to explore the city and of course get a massage to help our muscles recover from our trekking in Sapa as well as our not too pleasant blind massage. Walking thru Saraanrom Park to Wat Pho was a nice reminder of how lovely this city is, with people exercising in the park and a feeling that you didn’t have to constantly watch your back or have someone try to sell you something. After we found lunch, one of the spots we enjoyed was closed so we found something else close by, we made our way to Wat Pho for a nice relaxing massage. If I haven’t gotten the point across before, well then maybe when I say that the massage therapists at Wat Pho should officially be renamed to miracle workers, it will do the trick to describe why it is worth the time to come here. Plus there is a really rad reclining Buddha here that tourist flock to see.

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Our “best of tour,” as we like to call it, would not be complete without daily stops for toast. After our much deserved toast at Mont, we began our walk back to our hotel. As we passed by an older gentleman he said a few things in Thai to us and bowed with a big smile. I could only assume that he was very thankful we were visiting his city. You can tell that tourists aren’t making their way to Bangkok right now as many of the street vendors around the tourist sites are gone, but in contrast there are plenty more in the schools and markets which worked out well for where we are staying. And on the topic of safety in this marvelous city, with the protestor camps cleared out of the government buildings, the razor wire gone, streets open and traffic flowing to us the city felt even safer than our prior visits.

And of course our evening wouldn’t be complete without visiting the local street food stall across the street for some pad kee mao, and then heading down the street for some coconut rice balls.

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The chef’s (yeah, we like to think it’s that fancy of a dessert) at the coconut rice ball stand recognized us from our previous time in Bangkok a few weeks ago and we managed to communicate in broken English and hand gestures to each other that we were back for a few nights and would see them each night to get our daily intake. All in all I think we had a great welcome back day!

Today’s Travel: Hanoi to Bangkokvia VietJet VJ 8911

Accommodations: Feung Nakorn Balcony. Our second home; we really do love this place are very happy to be back. There really is something to be said for knowing your surroundings.

And to Laos we go

24 April 2014

The day started with a five hour bus ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong. With such a long ride we decided not to torture ourselves by taking the dreaded minibus and picked the ultra-plush (even by US standards) Green Bus. As we watched those minibuses take the curves like speeding maniacs I was so thankful to be in my reclined seat with plenty of AC, water and tons of leg room as we slowly took each turn so that for most of the ride I could actually sleep. After a stop in Chiang Rai and some other small town we made it to the ‘bus stop’ in Chiang Khong aka across the street from the 7-eleven on the outside of town. On our way in we had passed the shiny new bus station that was about 3 km from the border. I guess the town didn’t want to put out the tuk tuk drivers completely out of business by building the stop at the new border crossing, since that would just be too logical and easy for travelers. After about a 6km tuk tuk ride we made it to the Thai border crossing.

Thanks for the memories Thailand!

Thanks for the memories Thailand!

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As we boarded the bus on the Laos side of the boarder we were quickly thrown off as we boarded on the right side. And for a half second as we drove off I panicked for a minute as we were driving on the right side of the road. After four months driving on the left side of the road it was odd to be back on the right side.

That evening as we were lounging in our room the sound of pop music in Lao started to blare and I thought that maybe we had this sleepy town all wrong and at night it was over-run by the party crowd. So Adam walked out to take a look only to tell me with a big grin of course that I needed to walk down the hall to see for myself. As a neared the window I could see that at the elementary school across the street the playground was servings as the gym with a Zumba class in progress and the ladies of the community were having a great time. At that point all I could think of is ‘why would you work out in this heat’ only to have to remind myself that tomorrow and the day after I will be trekking in the mid-day heat. At least these ladies were smart enough to wait until after sunset.

Sunset over the Mekong

Not a bad view from our balcony, sunset over the mekong

Today’s Travel: Chiang Mai to Chiang Khong via the Green Bus and across the border to Huay Xai, Laos via a few tuk tuks

Accommodations: Kaupjai Guesthouse. This basic a clean guesthouse did the trick for a one night stay. It was on the southern end of town (a town that is about 2km long) and had a great view of the Mekong River.

Crusin’ around Chiang Mai

23 April 2014

After breakfast we walked up the street to pick up a scooter for the day. This time we got a ‘fancy’ scooter with 125cc engine that would provide us with plenty of power for the trip up the steep winding hill to Doi Suthep.

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View of Chiang Mai from the road up to Doi Suthep

View of Chiang Mai from the road up to Doi Suthep

Doi Suthep Ride 2Doi Suthep Ride 1

And thanks to our friend we were given the advice to stop at the stunning Wat Palad on our way back down into town. From the very old temple buildings to the river and rocks that cut thru the property this by far was one of our favorite temples.

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Once we made it back down the hill we stopped for a very healthy and tasty lunch at a hidden little gem called Food 4 Thought where I had my new favorite sandwich: pumpkin, banana (or apple), lettuce with a raisin compote.

But the day would not be complete without one last temple spot. After taking a scenic detour, if there were street signs/easy to see signs maybe we would have missed the scenic tour, we made it to Wat Suan Dok. With a section of the grounds under construction we wandered the inside of the temple which was lovely. From the iron design to the large standing Buddha we saw so many new designs and art that we had yet to see at the temples we have visited.

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That evening we went out for our last meal dinner in Thailand. Of course we had to head over to the north gate to have pork leg from the lady in the cowboy hat. The slow cooked pork with all its glorious fat and salted egg made for a good gluttonous last meal. And since we the pad Thai stall was just behind us and well we had yet to try any in the last 36 days here we decided to order a few dishes for the table. While it was tasty it wasn’t anything special considering all of the other great dishes we have been enjoying. The friends we were with saw their friends across the way working on their soon to open hostel. So we got an early peak at the almost complete hug hostel which had a great location, views and we even learned some local history about the temples around the area; including the one across the street which was once the home of the victories of war and home to the king’s horses.

As it was getting late we decided to head back home and we found ourselves quite sad to have to say goodbye to so many great people. On the brightside many of the friends we made are Californians so I know we will be seeing them in the future. Chiang Mai and Thailand really did become a home for us.

Today’s Travel: Around Chiang Mai to Doi Suthep, Wat Palad, Wat Suan Dok and to the North Gate for dinner

Accommodations: Arte House

Things that make you go awweee

22 April 2014

There is pretty much nothing more adorable than baby elephants. Maybe baby elephants and puppies and as luck would have it today we got the chance to hang out with both.

After just a one cup double Americano morning our guide from the Elephant Nature park arrived to take us on today’s adventure.

After about an hour on the road the park was finally within view. And as we pulled in we were greeted by some pups as there is a shelter at the entrance before we saw the first group of elephants just wandering the grounds. We were told by our guide that it was one of the family groupings. As these are all rescued elephants from various locations such as former logging farms, small villages, etc they aren’t blood family but have formed various tribes and the group we were looking at included the oldest elephant they had which was about 70 and the youngest at 17 months.

After arrival we were escorted to a grouping of elephants who were clearly awaiting our arrival as we were the ones that would be handing out morning snacks. The elephant trainer’s carried over a few large baskets of watermelon, bananas and pumpkins to hand out. We were then shown the proper technique for feeding, place the food just in front of the snout.

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Once snack time was over we followed our guide out into the open field were they allowed us, with guides in tow and each elephant with a trainer to roam free together. The only warnings: don’t approach an elephant from behind, don’t stand between two and of course approach the baby but let it approach you. It was pretty unreal to be that close to such beautiful and powerful animals who just seemed so gentle.  A few played in the mud to cool themselves off while others walked around with their trainers but most could care less about us since we no longer had food and were just walking around.

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Smelling to see if I have any food

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Sweet elephant boots

Sweet elephant boots

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With the temps rising we were then lead back up to the shaded terrace and served lunch. After which we viewed an informative but very heartbreaking video on the lives of working elephants and the transition they made from working as loggers to street performers/entertainers as their owners still needed them to provide an income. It really did make me appreciate the work that the woman, Phi Lek, has been doing for many years so that these beautiful animals can live in peace.

Once the video presentation was over it was time for some elephant Songkran! As we made our way towards the river we were introduced to a few elephants and met the girl we would bathe. I can’t recall her name but she was one of the blind elephants. She seemed to enjoy her bath and we both had a great time splashing buckets of water on to her sides.

Elephant Songkran!

Elephant Songkran!

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Then it was back up to the terrace to wait while the trainers brought out more snacks for the elephants, yes snacks as their actual meals are prepared elsewhere. The area where they kept all of these snacks –bananas, watermelons and pumpkins was massive.

Snack room

Snack room

Once the elephants were fully occupied with food they allowed us to go back down to mingle. We watched from a distance as a few elephants jockeyed for the king of the mountain position at the snack hill and others decided it was much better to cool down than continue to eat so they headed for the mud.

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The baby trying to take over as king of the hill

The baby trying to take over as king of the hill

They were all so playful rolling in the mud and spraying it onto their backs with their trunks. The babies of course were the funniest to watch.

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At one point the little guy spotted Adam and thought he would be fun to check out. While it made for a few great pics I was a little nervous that mama might not like that, but she didn’t seem to mind, whew!

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One of the cats who lives on the farm also has an amazing mustche

One of the cats who lives on the farm also has an amazing mustche

Later in the afternoon we were able to meet up with one of the babies who was about 18 months old. And in true toddler fashion was doing his best to cause trouble.

Looks like he has pumpkin rabies

Looks like he has pumpkin rabies

First he found an empty food basket and decided it would be fun to throw around and make this trainers chase him for it. Then it was time to walk where ever he wanted including getting close to all of us just watching him. At that point the trainers were of course trying to send me towards the group who really didn’t mind our presence as they were chomping away on bamboo stalks. But the little guy thought that he was now playing a game with the trainers.

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At one point he wandered off and tried to walk over a half fallen branch. Well with such little stumpy legs it was a challenge but he eventually figured it out after a few tries. At that point the cuteness overload was in full effect.

Thailand

It was then off to another section of the park to see up close the family we had seen on our drive in.

Crazy eyed water buffalo

Crazy eyed water buffalo

And of course the other elephant toddler was also up to no good. He was doing his best to run from his trainers as they were trying to get him to stay with the group and he too thought it was a fun little game.

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After walking around the park a while longer we headed back for one last feeding session with the elephants. The elephant we got to feed clearly preferred watermelon as anytime anyone would give her bananas or pumpkin she would take it and then set it to the side waiting for more watermelon.

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Note the bananas on the ground as she only likes watermelon

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Soon it was time to pack up and head out. I had no idea that time could fly so fast as it seemed as if we had just arrived. The day was filled with so many fun memories!

Today’s Travel: Around Chiang Mai and out to the Elephant Nature Park

Accommodations: Arte House

Every time someone orders pad thai in Thailand, a puppy dies

21 April 2014

Now don’t get me wrong, I like pad thai, and most Thursday’s (the day I didn’t pack my lunch box) back when I was working for the man that was a my go to meal from the lovely Sorrento Valley food court. However, when you are in Thailand there are so many different delicious dishes that too many backpackers never experience because they only order pad thai. So no we’ve reverted to making the above joke whenever we see backpackers lined up for their ration of pad thai. So in our spirit of embracing the cuisine we wanted to learn how to make some of the delicious food we’ve been eating.  After a little over a month here in Thailand we decided it is about time we took a cooking class so we can do our best to replicate some of the great dishes we have tried when we get back home (fingers crossed we will remember how after another 6ish months of travel). After a great breakfast and a two cup of coffee type of morning (yep I am slowly becoming an addict), we were picked up by the team from Pantawan Cooking.

Our first stop was at the Mae Hia Market to sample a few dishes and of course check out where many of the locals in this section of town come to buy their fruits, veggies, and meats.

Anything you could need

Anything you could need

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There we had what was deemed the #3 sausage (I can’t remember the type) in Chiang Mai. And it was so damn good. I can only imagine what the number one and two would taste like as this to me was pure perfection.

The best sausage

The best sausage

We also sampled a dip that has us dreaming of salsa verde. It tasted so much like it but with an added hint of sweetness that I could close my eyes and pretend I was having Mexican food. And no trip to the market would be complete without some dessert which included a now favorite burnt coconut jelly. After wandering thru and learning about the various spices, vegetables and of course meats available at the market we were on our way to the cooking school.

It was a beautiful classroom with spacious individual cooking stations with everything you could need including all the ingredients ready to go.

 

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I think I would like cooking a lot more if all the ingredients were laid out simple ready to be chopped and used. As we learned about each dish we watched the instructor walk us thru the ingredients, how to prep and the sequence in which to add and a few tricks to cooking.

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The chef’s cooking station

Then we were off to cook at our stations. In all we made four different dishes. These included the traditional northern dish of Khao Soi (who doesn’t love fried noodles as a topping), Nam Pring Ong (tomato pork dip), Abb Pla (fish in banana leaves), laab (hot and tasty minced chicken – I can mince meat by knife now too!).

Adam helping with a curry

Adam helping with a curry

Abb Pla

Abb Pla

Adam's dream come true, barefoot in the kitchen

Adam’s dream come true, barefoot in the kitchen

The end result

The end result

For the rest of the afternoon we just hung around Arte House and really enjoyed how much this place is like home to us now.

Arte House Cafe

Arte House Cafe

Today’s Travel: Around Chiang Mai

Accommodations: Arte House

Back to Chiang Mai

20 April 2014

I once again survived the 762 curves on the road and thanks to the motion sickness pills even managed a nap at the end once we hit city traffic. I am not sure anyone in my family would ever believe that to be true, but I have Adam as my witness. However there was one girl that wasn’t doing so well and started puking just before we made past the last curve and on to the straight section of highway.

We were both very excited to get back to Chiang Mai to hang out with a great group of people and of course explore the city now that the holiday was over and shops were once again open.

As soon as we got back we were both starving since we were not too keen on eating before we hit the road. We made our way back to one of the restaurants we had visited at the end of Songkran with friends. As we devoured our first two dishes, our third was brought out and the waitress noticed we had requested the other two spicy and realized that this one didn’t have a lot of spice so she brought over a small bowl filled with small fresh chilies. She watched intently as we poured the peppers over our dish and was happy to see our smiles as we loved every bite. We still have to laugh when locals watch us eat with peppers and ask us multiple times if we like it and always comment,‘oh you like spicy.’ The California version of Thai spicy has really spoiled us and prepared us better for what we thought would be super spicy Thai style.

We met up with our friends soon after and to beat the heat we decided to join them on an adventure to the Central Festival mall. Plus there was talk of an amazing donut from Mister Donut called pon de ring so we had to go check it out.

Today’s Travel: Pai to Chiang Mai

Accommodations: Arte House