It is day 3 of our Thailand trip and the morning after our first day in Chiang Mai. Yesterday, was probably my most enjoyable day so far. Chiang Mai feels different and slower-moving than Bangkok. It moves at a slower, gentler pace. It is cleaner, and people so far have been very kind and patient with our inability to speak more than three Thai phrases.
Last night after we spent the day visiting tigers and deadly venomous snakes in an unnerving proximity, we asked to be dropped off at one end of the town so that we could walk back to our hotel on the other end. We wanted to experience the local market and see the city. It was pleasant and very family-oriented experience. The market stalls were almost always manned and operated by family members. Elena commented that she felt very safe walking the streets and even the smaller, darker alleyways. We meandered down a small one-car wide street peppered with hostels and all the accommodations such travelers require. Good, cheap restaurants. Corner stores selling cold beverages. Pharmacies and laundry services.
Dinner was a highlight for me because we used Trip Advisor ratings to find a restaurant that specialized in grilled fish over open fire. Tour operators, and pharmacies. 24-hour bespoke suit shops that will make a suit in 24 hours. it was a love a family-run business with the father and oldest son manning the grills and preparing most of the dishes, while their daughter and wife took very good care of us in the on-street dining area.
I’ve probably never had such an Anthony Bourdain experience. it was incredible. From the interactions with the family to my dishes of simple yet flavorful grilled meats that were just the perfect amount of painfully hot chilis to the two large bottles of perfectly cold local beers. I was very content. WE ended the night with a beautiful 15-minute stroll down artist and vender-lined streets back to our hotel but not before we found Elena a cool pair of light-weight pants to add to her wardrobe.
Tomorrow, we travel to a working farm and cooking school to learn a few recipes of Thai cuisine.