Street Food and Street Crossing
09.12.2015 - 09.12.2015 94 °F
Today began with yet another helping hand from our Air BnB host, Surat, who called us a cab to take us to the train station from his apartment. While we waited, we spent time chatting with his wife, Carol, and their 10 month old baby. Carol is from France, met Surat seven years ago in Thailand and decided to stay. Even though we could have avoided some of the difficulty navigating with cab drivers if we had stayed in a hotel, we are really glad we stayed with Carol and Surat. They live in a cute little neighborhood where everyone knows everyone and people set up shop right in front of their homes to sell food and trinkets to passersby. We enjoyed walking the streets and getting a peek into day to day life in a small neighborhood of Bangkok.
After arriving at the train station where we would eventually catch a ride to the airport for our flight to Chiang Mai, we had some time to kill and we were hungry. We found a food market right under the station that turned out to be one of the more authentic places we've encountered, bearing no English subtext in the menus for westerners. There were dozens of food vendors with goods ranging from fresh fruit, soups, curries, coffee, smoothies and some things I couldn't even begin to guess what they were. After browsing the options, we settled on a vendor offering steamed rice and a choice of two sides for the competitive price of 30 THB (about $0.83)! We split a plate (after all it was only 10 AM) and it was delicious! We ate every bite except for a few unidentified objects, one of which may or may not have been some type of bean, and another that we think was cabbage, but had the vague appearance of a tentacle. We are trying to be adventurous here, but you have to draw the line somewhere.
Jump ahead five hours and we arrive in Chiang Mai, the unofficial capitol of Northern Thailand. From what we had heard, we expected Chiang Mai to be this sleepy, quiet town, and that is not even close to the case.There is still no way we are getting behind the wheel of a moped, or even a bicycle here. Just like in Bangkok, even crossing the street as a pedestrian is a sheer act of bravery. We can see how it could be described as "chill" (as Surat put it) in comparison to Bangkok, but there are no doubts that it is still a big city. Our guesthouse is not the nicest, but is really cheap and has a nice pool, and outdoor restaurant that has a menu so large it literally has a table of contents. We are staying just outside of the "Old City", a historic square that was once enclosed by a wall of which only some remnants remain, but is still surrounded by a moat. So far, we've really enjoyed the availability of restaurants and bars that line the streets here in comparison to where we visited in Bangkok. For dinner we found a vegetarian cafe and got some of the best curry we've ever had. John ordered medium spiciness as I stared at him in horror (I had heard that medium here is like extra hot in America) but we were actually able to handle it. The nights here are definitely cooler, and we enjoyed sitting in our guest house's outdoor lobby and splitting a Chang beer to finish off the night.