The local Chiang Mai noodle dish – Khao Soi – at a tiny restaurant called Khun Yai at the northern gate
One of the best parts of spending a month in Chiang Mai was exploring all of the different food they had in the city. In addition to the typical pad thai and fried rice dishes, you could find an assortment of awesome curries for about $1.50 a plate. The local speciality is Khao Soi, which is a coconut-based noodle dish. I ate it at least 20 times at different places. Then of course there are the Saturday and Sunday night street markets, where you can try lots of different dishes for fifty cents each and get stuffed in the process.
I also took a cooking class with Zabb-e-Lee, which was an incredible experience. I made a ton of delicious food, including the best fried spring rolls I’ve ever eaten. The recipes were much more accessible than the fancy food I made at my cooking class in Laos and I actually think I could repeat some of it. I just need to buy a wok!
The third and final batch of street art photos from my month in Chiang Mai! There’s some more POAS tags and murals as well as other identified works. I found a lot of really great, colorful pieces, such as the owl on the left, on the road stretching from the northwest corner of the old city toward Doi Suthep as well as a couple of smaller pieces scattered throughout some side streets near my guesthouse.
If you like these, take a look at the first and second batches.
A baby monk statue at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep
A “must do” half day trip from Chiang Mai’s old city is to go up Mount (Doi) Suthep and see the temple and palace, and perhaps some of the national park, that lies up the mountain. I kept putting off this trip waiting for the “perfect moment” and then ended up going on nearly my last day in town! I did end up having a lovely day, especially touring the very impressive gardens at the palace.
The White Temple in Chiang Rai, Thailand
Since I’m in Thailand for more than 30 days, I had to take a trip to the Burmese border to get a new tourist stamp. It’s very easy to do this from Chiang Mai, and I signed up with a pre-arranged tour for transportation, lunch, hand-holding during the border crossing, and visits to a couple of sights along the way.
I visited the extremely popular Wat Rong Khun, or White Temple, which is an artistic endeavor in Chiang Rai that was undertaken about 15 years ago and is still a work in progress. Absolutely gorgeous from afar, the temple is actually pretty disturbing up close. There’s hellish imagery juxtaposed with Buddhist figures, and in the interior of the temple – where photos are not allowed – there are murals of pop icons and terrorist attacks, including the burning Twin Towers. I was completely unprepared for this; I had thought I’d be visiting just another wat and had no idea that the White Temple was actually a modern building making some kind of statement. To be honest, I found it a bit distasteful.
The tour also stopped at the Golden Triangle, which is a section of the Mekong River that touches Thailand, Burma, and Laos. In the past it was an opium hot spot. This part of the day was much less offensive, and it was nice seeing the Mekong again! Now I’ve seen it in four of the six countries it passes through.
All in all, it was a successful day and I was happy to get my new 30 day visa stamp so I can spend more time in beautiful Thailand.
A view of the hills of Pai
From Chiang Mai it’s just a 3-4 hour bus ride up to Pai, a small mountain town filled surrounded by waterfalls and hot springs. I spent a few nights there as a break from Chiang Mai and had a lovely time staying in a quiet bungalow with resident chickens. I rented a motorbike for the first time ever and drove on the left – also for the first time ever! It was a challenge, and in retrospect it may not have been entirely smart to go off by myself for the day, but I survived the experience.
I loved hiking in the Muang Pai stone forest – a site that’s not commonly mentioned among backpackers but I saw some signs on the road near the elephant camps so decided to stop. The changing colors of the leaves and the crunch of the winter ground reminded me a lot of hiking back home. That is, I was reminded of home until I stumbled upon a bunch of banana trees!
I also had a fun night celebrating Australia Day at SpicyPai hostel. There was a delicious BBQ and good company. Nobody, though, not even the Australians, could explain what Australia Day actually is.
A colorful mural with a positive message in Chiang Mai, Thailand
Here’s the second batch of street art photos from Chiang Mai! There’s a few more from SY as well as some from POAS, another artist whose work can be seen throughout the city.
I love some of the wackier pieces of work that I saw, such as the walking birds and the bomb doing archery. I also like the Kurt Cobain angel, which is actually a stencil that pops up all around the old city and its surroundings.
You can see the first post of my Chiang Mai street art photos here. Yet another batch of photos will be coming soon!
A cyclops painted on a wall in Chiang Mai
For the past few weeks I’ve been hanging out in Chiang Mai in northern Thailand, taking a bit of a break from living out of a backpack and hopping on buses every few days. I’ve rented a room at Phra Singh Guesthouse for only 3,500 baht and it’s so nice to have a place to call home for a little while.
I’ve taken advantage of this time to explore some of the less touristy streets and hunt out some street art. The culture here isn’t huge on graffiti and murals, but the few artists that do work around here are pretty prolific. SY is one tag I have seen at least 30 times, and I think he is responsible for the 3D blocks that dot the walls around the city.
Here’s the first batch of photos, another batch coming soon!