Since our first cooking class in Koh Lanta, we had been planning to take another course when we got to Chiang Mai. As we were searching for a guesthouse upon our arrival we stumbled across the Asia Scenic Cooking School. John asked the students if it was any good and they gave a unanimous “yes.” That settled it for us and before we knew it we were booked for the Wednesday full-day class. This was a very thorough class that included education on herbs, a visit to the local market to buy the produce for the day, the cooking of seven dishes, and our favorite part, of course, the eating. Our instructor, Gay, was fabulous. She had incredible English and it also helped us that she has a friend who lives in Oregon and she knew what ingredients we would be able to easily find at home. So, once again we ate our way through the day enjoying sticky rice with mango, massaman curry, khao soi, spring rolls, pad see ew, and other tasty dishes. This class helped reinforce some of the techniques we had learned down south and made us even more excited to come home and cook for ourselves and our friends. We even got to try out some of our new dishes on our friends in South Africa–the sweet and sour chicken and deep friend bananas turned out better than the first time and we are well on our way to having a banana stand at the Old Fashioned Festival this year (if we don’t have other means of employment by then).
In the short amount of time we had in downtown Chiang Mai we did find a little time to check out some of the wats (temples). We saw the tallest wat in Thailand (we believe). The wats of northern Thailand were much different than those in the Bangkok area, being constructed more frequently with wood rather than cement and ceramics, and having more of an ancient, authentic look. They seemed more like what we expected a Buddhist temple to look like (not that we have spent a lot of time imagining Buddhist temples). That evening we went to the night bazaar, found the local dish we had been seeking out, khao soi, did some shopping at the street stalls, had one more fruit smoothie, and enjoyed a relaxing foot massage in the open air looking up at the stars–well, at least what should have been stars if the lights hadn’t drowned them out.
Chiang Mai was a cool town, although very western with Burger King, Haggen Daaz, Starbucks, Subway, Pizza Hut, McDonald’s, and a Tesco Lotus which is very similar to a Fred Meyer’s or Super Wal-Mart. It was weird to experience a little bit of culture shock while in SE Asia, but having come from Laos, there was a big difference. Knowing that we are spending the next two months in Africa, it will be interesting to see how shocked we are when we land in NYC.