Welcome to Chiang Mai

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Chiang Mai, although not a very wine heavy trip (read: I had 3 glasses all weekend) , there was plenty of eating and even more coffee drinking.  Who knew the Thai were so into coffee?  My last visit to Thailand was nearly 5 years ago, a time when I was living in the coffee capital of the world, Seoul, so I suppose comparatively perhaps the amount of coffee shops did not stand out.  Or perhaps there are more now…

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I digress.  My cousins, Taylor & Erin, and I arrived in Chiang Mai Thursday afternoon and immediately went in search of some food.  We found some decent enough Thai at a coffee shop near our hotel, but it left me wanting something better.  More authentic & local I suppose.

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Which worked out because later that evening I met up with a friend of a friend.  Isaak has been in Chiang Mai for a month working on a new software app.  Apparently CM is the capital of the world for digital nomads.  True story.

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We met up at the night market outside of the Tha Phae gate into the old town.  Authentic itch scratched.  I got myself, with the intent to share, a grilled squid, papaya salad made to order, and egg & seafood omelette-y thing.  Unbeknownst to me my two dining companions were vegetarians.  Luckily I was hungry and had no issue cleaning my (Styrofoam) plates.

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Day #2’s lesson was that elephants are gross.  Our “trainer” Mr. Sun instructed us to feed the elephants bananas to win their trust.  This entails shoving your hand inside its mouth and is follow by Mr. Sun getting the elephant to “kiss” your face.

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I may look happy but everything inside my body is curling up in disgust.  Elephant snot stinks.  Like, seriously stinks.  Notice the schnazzy outfits we donned during the ride.

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After an incredibly long walk through the jungle atop Babook (I’m making that up because I don’t remember the elephant’s name), and a quick spray down- again more stink elephant snot-  from a 6 year old elephant–say Kwazzy–& it was time for lunch.

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I’m not generally a fried person, especially when it comes to spring rolls. They are generally the one thing on the dim sum table I won’t go near, but by this point I was starving and turns out they were quite delicious.

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Next up was a really tasty and not heavy pad thai.  Again not usually my favorite thing for all of the oil, but this was super yum.  And best part is that you can doctor it up with all sorts of chili oils and peanuts.

IMG_1958 Above: instructions on how to top your noodles with Mr. Sun. He was awesome.  If you are into elephants I would definitely recommend a 1/2 day tour with Mahout.  
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A nap later and it was time for another papaya salad- my favorite.

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Followed by my first and only glass of Thai wine at Riverside where we met up with Hong Kong friends Eric & Deanna.  I have no idea what this was other than  “white” but it was not terrible, which in my book is a win.  Earthy, and most importantly, cold.

IMG_1980  More scenes from the night market on our next trip back.  The next and final day in CM and I was on a quest for Khao Soi.  This chicken and noodle curry dish is a specialty of Northern Thailand and I felt it a personal mission to have the best one possible when in town.  Lucky for me I have great friends.
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Brian back in the states suggested that I go find Loco Elvis, head north, and if I see a place with Lord of the Rings paraphernalia, then I have found the best Khao Soi in CM.  Surprisingly, it was not difficult at all to find this place, Peter Jackson and all.

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There she is in all of her $1.50 glory. It’s not really my thing as the noodles are topped with fried noodles, but the chicken was great and the curry spicy- just as it should be.

More on Chiang Mai coming up….

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