Traveling to the north: Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Mae Sai – Pai (October 2011)

Five wonderful days in which I saw how silk was made, learned how to ride and command an elephant, hiked to a waterfall, got licked by a cow, crossed the border into Laos, visited The Golden Triangle and fell in love with Pai, a small town with a very laid-back attitude.

Day 1 – Chiang Mai

I’ve heard only good things about this city. Everyone I talked to encouraged me to go there for a visit. It’s surprising that I didn’t get there sooner, considering the fact that I’ve been living in Thailand on and off for more than ten years but somehow the beach was always where I would end up on my holidays.

The trip was short – a little over an hour by plane. It was almost as if we hadn’t left Bangkok at all. Chiang Mai is in the north of the country and it’s one of the most visited cities in Thailand. Once there my friend Kaitlyn and I left our luggage at a hotel and went to visit the famous Doi Suthep temple.

It was a cool day, so very different from Bangkok days where the heat and humidity can make it challenging to survive without air conditioning. The temple was up on a hill and we had to climb a number of stairs before we reached the entrance. Proper attire is required: no short skirt or uncovered shoulders. Kaitlyn was offered a sarong to cover her legs, as she was wearing shorts.
We walked around for a couple of hours, took some pictures and admired the view from above. The temple is beautiful but nothing special, or maybe I’ve just gotten used to them along the years.

On the way back we stopped at a silk factory where we got to see the whole process of making silk, from the actual silkworm to the looms where the fabric was woven. Here a bamboo basket with worms eating, there another one with cocoons, then the cocoons being boiled and the silk thread being spun on a wheel and then bleached with natural dyes. I wanted to touch a worm and I did, gently. It was very smooth and soft. It lifted its head as if wondering what was that giant creature (me) and what did it want (just to see what it felt like). No silkworm was harmed. 🙂
I had never seen the whole process before and I found it interesting.

We arrived back at the hotel tired but not ready to sleep yet. A visit to the Sunday Market proved to be a great idea. I’m a big fan of handmade products and I bought a cloth-covered notebook, a bracelet and a…heck, I don’t know what it is but Kaitlyn found a very apt name: the bamboo jar. It’s light as a feather and I had never seen one before. The saleslady told me it can be used to store foods like boiled rice. I thought it would be great to use as a piggy bank or to keep my bills from buying books. Maybe someone can come up with a better idea. 🙂
For dinner we stopped at a local restaurant and tried Khao Soi, a special dish served in northern Thailand. A big bowl of yellow noodles in a rich coconut broth, slightly sweet and spicy and very delicious. I wondered how come I’ve never tasted that before.
Here are some pics. Next post, day 2: learning how to ride an elephant.
Double click on the photos for a larger size.

Chiang Mai – 1

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2 Responses to Traveling to the north: Bangkok – Chiang Mai – Mae Sai – Pai (October 2011)

  1. Vishy says:

    Enjoyed reading your post, Delia! Glad to know that you enjoyed your trip! That bamboo jar looks so beautiful! Loved your description of Khao Soi and the picture of it you have posted – it looks so delicious! I have never tried noodles in coconut broth – it sounds so wonderful! I will add it to the list of things I want to try 🙂 Beautiful pictures! Can’t wait to read your next post, on riding the elephant!

    • Delia says:

      Hi Vishy.
      I’ve wanted to go up north since last year and now I finally got my wish. While Thai food is not a great favorite of mine, there are some dishes I like and Khao Soi is among them now.
      Stay tuned, part two coming up soon. 🙂

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