Chiang Mai, the city of flowers and wonderful food! It is the largest and most culturally diverse city in Northern Thailand.
We rented a motorbike (scooter) for a week so we could provide our own transportation, rather than depend on the schedules the public buses and taxis which are inexpensive, but can be quite limiting. Highlights of Chiang Mai include colorful hill tribes with "longneck" women, cooking classes, mountains, waterfalls, elephant shows, orchid farms, and enough shopping at the night market to entertain you for weeks! With only two weeks until India and the opportunity to send “stuff” home with my dad, I started shopping! It was sooo much fun! Hundreds of women from a local tribes come to the night market and sell bangles from a basket and follow you around strumming a wooden frog to get your attention (it really does sound like a real frog!). The night market is stuff galore! Belts, bags, shoes, goofy t-shirts, teeky lights (I love lights!), and just about everything else you could possibly imagine. Of course there are bargains to be found, but you have to negotiate everything for at least half of their starting price... just the way it works, haha.
We spent a whole day on a bus to go out to the hill tribes with "longneck" women and then a whole day cooking up a Thai storm at cooking classes. I ate enough food for a week! Not to mention, the quantities of coconut cream, milk and sugar included had to clog my liver in the worst way. It was delightful, however. Between the two of us we learned to cook dishes such as: pad thai, green curry, yellow curry chicken stir fry, papaya salad, chicken satay, khao soi coconut soup, tom yam soup, steamed spring rolls, fresh spring rolls, vegetable stir fry, panang curry, black sticky rice pudding and my favorite coconut sticky rice with mangoes and we learned how to cook with what the Thai call “big flame”. Also, we lucked out and just happened to be in Chang Mai for the annual flower festival. We enjoyed the parade and a local style street market with all sort of foods from scopions to worms, crickets, and grasshoppers. I told Blaine if they had a deep fried tarantula I would have ate one (I saw it on the travel channel, but haven't been able to find it yet!)
I made the rose out of a tomato, isn't it cute!
Grilled cockroaches, a local delicatessen