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Chiang Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai was actually our second stop in Thailand but J and I both agree that it was our favorite.  Our first stop was in Bangkok but there was something quite magical about Chiang Mai.  It was actually more developed than either of us were expecting, equipped with as many conveniences that Bangkok had to offer but in a more serene, calm environment.

A comically accurate snapshot of Thailand with motor bikes parked in front of the ubiquitous 711 and tarot card reader on the left with homemade goods for sale on the right.

One of the aspects about Thai culture I found particularly intriguing was the preservation of the old alongside all of the shiny new.

Left: a lady hand making rich curry pastes.  Right: a girl hand weaving brilliant scarves.

What captured my heart and attention were the people.  Never have I been to a big city where such kindness prevailed.  It’s called the land of smiles for a reason.

For about 20 baht, I was able to enjoy an abundance of fresh local fruit between each and every meal.  You guys know how much of a fruit freak I am so this was a really big deal for me.  I love how different their mango is from ours in St. Croix and tried rose apple for the first time.  Juicy mini pineapples, beautiful longans and sugary sweet papaya {one of my faves} and even deliciously stinky durian were also daily noms.  However, the highlight of my fruitventure {sure, it’s a word} were these incredibly candy fragrant mangosteen.

Twist off its hat and what’s revealed are segmented lychee lookalike fruit {as seen in my video}.  I highly recommend them if they’re in season.

Little girl in traditional garb on the steps of Doi Suthep.

At the top of Doi Suthep.

J ate here at a commensurate rate to my fruit consumption.  The famed Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak lives up to its reputation for buttery, melt in your mouth pork which comes on a bed of rice with a side of pickled greens and boiled egg.  As a bonus, it was walking distance from our condo.

This would be a good a time as any to let you know that we pretty much exclusively lived on street food while we were there and did not get sick or die.  I highly recommend trying foods you haven’t had before and enjoying the authentic soul of these often humble yet extraordinary dishes.

Unbeknownst to us, our living quarters were situated right next to a Buddhist temple and we often enjoyed meals alfresco on the patio, listening to the bells ring {which was lovely except for the early morning dongs}.  Clockwise: J’s umpteenth helping of Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak’s pork and rice, panko fried chicken soaked in house-made chili sauce and green papaya salad.

These khao soi noodles have become almost synonymous with the cuisine of Northern Thailand and not only did the ones at Khao Soi Khun Yai come highly recommended, it was also another spot that was walking distance for us.  These buttery egg noodles are complimented by the creamy spiced coconut broth and nicely contrast with the crunchy noodles on top.  They’re served with pickled greens, lime and red onion.  J enjoyed these a lot which is saying something since he’s not typically a fan of either soup or noodles.

We attended a Muay Thai match, per J’s request and what I figured would be me witnessing a senseless bludgeoning or simultaneously rolling my eyes and stifling consecutive yawns actually turned out to be an interesting night.  I watched with fascination as each boxer prayed before their turn and how artfully each “dance” played out.  It actually wasn’t senseless.  Later after speaking to a trainer, I discovered that much of Muay Thai is also about mental discipline alongside its physical aspect.

The gorgeous waterfalls at Mae Sa.  We hiked up to all 10 waterfalls which took us about an hour each way, though it probably won’t take you as long since I bet you’re not as clumsy as I am.

We were able to spend an entire day with rescued elephants.  No riding the elephants or watching them entertain or do tricks, just feeding and washing them, just as it should be.

I highly recommend the Elephant Nature Park.  Left: feeding the baby elephant bananas {corn and sugar cane were also on the menu}.  Right: nursing baby.

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