We’ve been away from the UK now for 8 months, and in that time, the nearest I’ve come to cooking is putting some wontons on a plate, and assembling Negronis. Both of us were ardent cooks and have fleetingly missed spending Saturday evenings with a kitchen full of implements , a pheasant, and a copy of Kitchen Diaries. Luckily, the vast majority of the time the amazing South East Asian food more than makes up for it, but worrying that we might totally lose the ability to cook at all if the hobby remained dormant much longer, we signed up for a Thai cookery course at Thai Cottage cookery school. Our instructor Gae took us around a local market doing helpful impressions of the ingredients (see photo below) as she went, before we headed back to her kitchen laden with baskets of picture perfect fresh vegetables and spices. In 4 hours (and with a lot of chat) we managed to make a variety of dishes – Penang and Massaman curries, Tom Yum soups, papaya salads, spring rolls, Pad Thai, Jeow , and then ate them all. They were all delicious, and I’m not at all biased.
After a power nap/food coma we headed off on our bike for some culture – namely a handful of wats and Chiang Mai museum (not recommended unless you have a big interest in town planning or insomnia). We were lucky enough to arrive at prayer time, and knelt in the temple to watch about 100 chanting monks.
Every Saturday and Sunday evening, several streets in Chiang Mai turn into “walking markets”, lined with vendors selling everything from silk to sushi. There were hundreds of stalls of local handicrafts, tourist tat, great street food and smoothies and bars were open until midnight and spilled onto the streets with tables of Thais and tourists sitting on the pavements watching proceedings. After initially denouncing the experience as “dreadful…full of tourist tat”, several wontons / bits of patisserie later andy came round to the idea and was soon furiously bargaining with stall holders for an owl t-shirt.