Back in April I did a 1.5 week trip to Thailand. I met up with Serena, who has become my regular travel buddy since we went to HK/TW a year ago. This time we were joined by two other friends: Danny and my sister for Bangkok and Chiang Mai then Danny and Jenie for Phuket (my sister went back home after Chiang Mai).
Since Serena and friends traveled a long, long way to Thailand, we decided to hit up as much touristy spots as we can in one go. We flew in to Bangkok and stayed there for two days, then went on to Chiang Mai for 4 days and to Phuket for 3 days.
I had been to Bangkok before, not just once but twice over the past two years, so this time around I spent my time sitting around getting a massage or reading in our hotel while my friends did the floating market and visited the royal palace. As for Phuket, I have also been there before and didn’t do anything different from last time, so I’m not going to write about these two places again.
Day 1 – April 25, 2012
We flew to Chiang Mai on our third day in Thailand. As soon as we landed, we were greeted by a HOT, dry 100-something degree weather that resembles Vegas in the summer. In fact it was so hot that my nose bled three times on the first day!
We arrived around noon, and took a (really cheap) taxi van to our hotel near the night market area. Everything in Chiang Mai is noticeably cheaper than Bangkok and Phuket. I think we paid 80 baht (US$2.40) per person for the taxi ride. As for our hotel, we stayed at Studio 99 at another 2 bedroom apartment, which was super spacious and cheap.
We asked for lunch recommendation and the hotel lady pointed us to Ratana’s Kitchen, which quickly became our favorite spot for the rest of the Chiang Mai trip and consequently the best Thai food I had in the entire trip! They sell Chang beer for super cheap, around 60-70 baht so Danny and I happily helped ourselves to a bottle with each meal.
One of the things to do when you are in Chiang Mai is to take a Thai cooking class, so we did exactly that. We booked a course through our hotel with Asia Scenic and were promptly picked up at 4pm on the same day.
Upon arriving at the school, which looks like an ordinary residential house, we were offered a traditional Thai appetizer called Miang Kum, pictured above. According to our guide, this appetizer is typically offered to a guest visiting your house as a welcome snack. You put any combination of the ingredients above (coconut shavings, peanuts, onion, chili, lime and ginger) into the lettuce and drizzle some palm sugar on it, wrap it up and pop them into your mouth. I liked it so much I had three servings of these!
After a brief introduction, we were asked to choose our own menu. Since we did the half day class we only get to choose one stir fry, one curry and one soup. I chose to make Chicken Pad See Ew, Panang curry and Tom Yum soup. After that, we were taken to a local wet market to buy ingredients.
Then the cooking begins. First up is the stir fry category, or Chicken Pad See Ew for me.
From the same category, you can choose other menu but will cook it at the same time with the rest of the class. Here is Danny and Serena hard at work with their own dishes.
Pad See Ew is done! it was relatively easy since the ingredients have been prepared for you, and all you had to do is throw things into the frying pan with fish sauce :P Mine was yummy!
Next up is the curry, which involves a bit more effort as you make the curry paste from scratch. This means mashing up some raw chili and other ingredients. I just let Danny do all the hard work…
After the curry paste is done, you cook it with some coconut milk in the frying pan
… and done! My panang curry was really yummy! I chose this type of curry because i’m a huge fan of nuts, and this curry calls for peanuts on top of all the chili so the resulting curry is this thick, nutty, super yummy red curry.
For my soup I chose Tom Yum soup, but since it wasn’t very photogenic I didn’t take a picture of it. Also mine was kinda a failure :( it just tasted like sour water with some salt…
And here is the complete meal. It was quite an experience cooking my own Thai food. I appreciate how simple – yet tasty everything was! Thai food definitely ranks high up there as my favorite cuisine.
After the class, we walked around night market looking for things to do the next day (Continue to Chiang Mai, Day 2).