To make a short trip long in memory.
【The Guest House】
To better experience local Chiang Mai, we booked a Guest House in the old town. The GH is a Lanna style building with a small courtyard beautifully decorated with delicate plants and crafts by the sister owners, Nusarra and Narissa (sound like flora names).
By the end of the corridor there is a small but airy dinning hall where you can sit and chat with Nusara about local things when she is not busy. Outside the dinning hall is a small porch, comfortable to to have breakfast there and enjoy the outside green.
早餐8点才开始，等你从菜单里选好Menu后，Nusarra 再亲自做，你便先得耐心地啜着咖啡或锡兰茶，慢慢等着早餐做好上来，大概是让你先适应清迈的慢节奏吧。(倘若当天有活动，事先告诉Nusara, 她也会提早备好早餐)。早餐很精致，Nusara的鸡蛋饼煎得软嫰可口，意式鸡蛋饼特别好吃。当没客人了，她会和Narissa 两人坐在餐厅里吃早餐，一样地讲究。
Breakfast begins only after 8am. You got to choose one option from the menu, then sit idly outside and sip your coffe or Dilmah tea, waiting for Nusara to prepare your breakfast and a girl to serve, seems to be a good start to slow you down to Chiang Mai pace. (If you have early program, you can tell Nusara in advance, she will then prepare the breakfast early). Breakfast is served beautifully. Nusara makes good omellet, especially this frittata, looks healthy and yum. When she has time to sit down with Narissa for breakfast, she arranges their meal beautifully as well.
The GH is in a typical Chiang Mai lane not far away from the Chiang mai Gate. The narrow lane allows only one Tutu to pass. Along the lanes there are many hourses with courtyards not so well manitained but have exuberant woods. We once saw a squirrel leaped from a carved door lintel to a tree and disappeared in the dense leaves. The neighbourhood is quiet during the day but not so after midnight when a rooster's crow breaks the quietness of the night and wakes up the dogs, which then bark angrily. The crowing and barking last until daybreak.
Compared with Thailand's matured tourism industry, its public transport is rather rudimentary. In Chiang mai, the practical way to go around is to flag down a truck-modified minibus called songthaew, or tuk tuk, a roofed motor tricycle. Usually after a few back and forth haggling, both the driver and the passenger would accept the fare with satisfaction, you then jump into the car and the driver would push the engine hard and roll off the road gaily. When price is not a sensitive issue, haggling can be fun.
Taxi is rarely seen in the street. Uber is available, you can also ask the hotel to call a cab, or book at ctrip for airport transport. TAXI fare is normally far more expensive and not commensurate to the distance. Maybe the best way to get about in the old town is to rent a bike.
【清迈大学】Chiang Mai University,CMU
清迈大学建于1964年，是泰北最重要的高等学府，医学和工科较为出名。主校区位于素贴山（Doi Suthep Mountain）脚下。从清迈门搭双条车到清迈大学，车费两个人讲价到80泰铢。清迈大学门口有游校园的电瓶车，每人60泰铢，路程约半小时。
Chiang Mai University was founded in 1964. It is the most important university in the northern Thai region. The main campus locates at the foot of Doi Suthep Mountain. We took a songthaew from Chiang Mai Gate to Chiang Mai University with 80 bahts for two. From the main gate of the university you can take a half-hour electric car tour of the campus, 60B per person.
The campus is big, most of the buildings are plain and simple. Only the lawn and the big trees make the campus look like a natural park. The big lake deep in the campus maybe the biggest attraction, as the electric car dropped us there for 10 minutes. The lake looks not different from the others, but when you get a closer look, the reflection of the blue sky and white cloud on the lake is striking. NATURE has its magic by a few brush strokes.
Is it a ritual of the students?
Maybe the hot weather made us weak to walk for long, or maybe we were too picky to find a right restaurant for the allergic guy. We soon left with not much impression of the Nimmanhaemin Road except a bit shabby street hourses. Correct me if I am wrong.
【契迪龙寺】Wat Chedi Luang
If you visit Chiang Mai, don't miss Wat Chedi Luang. Also called Temple of the Big Stupa, this relic temple was first built in 1411, and is as prestigious as Wat Phra Singh. The pagoda behind the large viharn (assembly hall) used to be given the great honor of housing the holy Emerald Buddha (now kept in Wat Phra Kaew, Bangkok). it was toppled halfway in an earthquake in 1545 and was rebulit several times afterwards. The ruined pagoda has four sides, each with a niche approached by a monumental stairway guarded by stone nagas (mythical snakes). Six elephants stand guard midway up the platform( there must be more that have been missing). The one on the right side is the only original brick relic left.
The pagoda looked striking and mysterious in the evening glow.
The city pillar that protects Chiang Mai was moved here from other temple in 1800., Behind is one of the three great Dipterocarp trees in the temple. Legend has it that if this tree falls, a great catastrophe will follow.
The large viharn (assembly hall) is Lanna style architecture with upward flying roof and Naa Ban above the entrance that has sophisticated decorative pattern.
【周末夜市】The Sunday Night Market
Chiang Mai is famous for its handicraft. The Sunday night market along the Ratchadamnoen Road is definitly a fun place to look for bargains of handicrafts and souvenirs. The walking street is not far away from Wat Chedi Luang. After the temple, MM dropped DD at the end of the street where a stage was set up and hurried down the market to grab some souvenirs. A habit formed over the years of travelling is to buy things you like at first glance without a second thought. You only have to follow you instinct. Buy what you like instead of what is cheap is another skill to learn.
The wooden frog was found in the night market. the bargaining was confusing. I offered a final 60B, and the vendor though we both agreed at 50B, OK, good for me. The bracelet was handmade by the sister of the store owner, for her sister's sake, she won't give much room for haggling, finally for her sister's sake too, she sold it to me.
【Pantawan泰菜烹饪课程】Thai Cooking School
DD said if you want to learn(or experience) something, take the best, so we signed up for the most expensive one. Without comparison, I don't know if this school is the best, but it was really a good experience.
Our first stop was to visit the local market and learn Thai food ingredients. The market looked like any shabby countryside market in China, dim and greasy.
The guide from the school encouraged us to try fried pig skin shreds with green peper sauce. It's a local snack that people eat while watching TV, just like foreigners having chips with ketchup. The girl from San Francisco was brave to eat a lot.
We also ate the curry flavored Chiang Mai sausage, which is a must for visitors to Chiang Mai, and of cause you need to know the right place to get the best sausage.
Thai ginger(galangal), turmeric, lemon grass, kaffirlime and ???, the spices are the soul of Thai food.
Pantawan is a family run cooking school on the outskirt of Chiang Mai. Cooking is taught on the "second floor" of a Thai stilt hourse which is opened on four sides without a wall. The garden is exuberant with pleasant verdant green.
Gun is the name of the chef. He speaks fluent American English. This guy is really funny and confident.
Gun showed us how to prepare grilled fish wrapped in banana leave. To soften the leave for easy wrapping, burn it very quickly over the fire until it's surface turns glossy.
Again， spices are the soul of Thai cuisine. Besides the familiar garlic, chili（birds eye chili the hottest）, shallot,coriander, mint and lime, there are many more unfamiliar or unheard of spices such as galangal, turmeric, finger root, lemon grass, kaffirlime.....In many Thai food, the first step is to prepare spice paste, that often means to smash and grind the spices in stone mortar with stone pestle (wooden mortar and pestle are usually for squeezing) to fully release and minger different aroma. In the old times, the girl who could make the most resonant sound of smashing spices in mortar was supposed to be a good wife condidate, and therefore lads of the village would wonder around, listening to smashing sounds coming from the neighborhoods, looking for their girls. That girl who could smash the mortar hard and loud must be healthy, and healthy should be the top criterion for selecting mates in the old days.
Kao Soi Gai(Chiang Mai Curry Noodle with Chicken) was rated by us to be the best course of the day. Boiled egg noodles in the soup absorbed rich coconut milk and curry flavor. Fried noodle topping added an extra crispy texture, super yum. I'll keep the sophisticated coconut milk curry soup recipe to myself, but here are two secrets to share. Tip 1: after adding chicken chunks to the boiling soup, don't stir until the chicken turns white, otherwise the soup will smell more chicken than coconut milk and curry; Tip 2: add a small lump of pulm sugar to the soup.
Time to enjoy the meal. Picture time, and, CERTIFICATE ! ! !
【帕辛寺】Wat Phra Singh
Wat Phra Singh is also one of the oldest Buddist temples in Chiang Mai. Wihan Lai Kham， the main hall,houses an important Buddha statue: the Phra Buddha Sihing. The murals are remarkable. The golden pagoda was first built in the 1600's.
Before dusk, the dazzling golden shine from the pagoda penetrates the air, reflected on the floor its golden glare.
Who could decipher these mythical ancient creatures?
Ho Trai, the Beautiful temple library.
In the old town of Chiang Mai, You can easily go into a quiet temple at the corner of the street.
【老城门和护城河】The old city gate and the moat
Tha Pae Gate is the one that best preserves the ancient gates.
Chiang Mai Gate and the moat。
【芒果糯米饭】(Khao Niew Mamuang)，glutinous rice with mango and coconut milk
【未完待续】To be continued
I have always yearned for unknown destinations and backpacking, and have always enjoyed making full schedule and plans. For this Thai trip, we decided to slow down and not to worry about missing anything. Our trip was later interupted by DD's unexpected serious alergy. Let me keep this plan for next time. DD owe my an island trip.