Thailand, Chiang Mai

Last week I flew to Singapore to meet my friend Yu Sian, share dinner, spend the night and then fly to Chiang Mai.

Of course when in Singapore you must go eat Chili crabs and black pepper crabs. We went to have a drink at Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar, 170 Dempsey Road, this restaurant has a very Japanese feel. You will find special gadgets for the bar and gifts that you will want to own.

This project was where the army barracks were for years and now has been turned into a great place to gather with friends and enjoy great food in a beautiful park setting. Next door is LONG BEACH SEAFOOD @ Dempsey is the restaurant for those Chili Crabs.

Up early for our flight to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. We grabbed our luggage and headed to our lovely small hotel, RACHAMANKHA, 8 Rachamankha. This hotel is located in the old city with easy access to many shops, restaurants and great spas.

Our first lunch was at Ginger/house restaurant, 199 Moon Muang Road.

Crispy rice cakes with Sa-Teh sauce

With our taste buds excited we decided we needed to walk the old city and just wander until we grabbed a TukTuk for a ride back to the hotel, $1.25, our driver was named Ped and we called him often to get us back to our hotel. The old city is a maze of streets, shops and little places to get a foot massages. After a couple of hours rest we met my friend Lance in the small cool bar in the hotel.

Lance would be our guide for all the secret places in Chiang Mai. I knew Lance from Seattle and was thrilled to reconnect in Thailand. We wanted to see where the locals ate, so off we went to BAAN NUB DOL. this very local restaurant is off the grid about 20 minutes outside the old city. Lance ordered 5 dishes, including Miang Kham, fresh leaves from a local tree or you may use lettuce cups. The leaves are filled with shredded coconut, peanuts, red onion, lime pieces, ginger,dried shrimp, and sweet tamarind sauce. We would see this great appetizer often just love this picture and wanted to show it.

The whole dinner for the 3 of us was $20.00, no wine or beer here just great food.

Top of our list was to tour all the markets. First the flower market, many of the fresh flowers are in stored coolers since it is hot even in the early morning. Then the vegetable market where it is the beginning of strawberry and mango season.When we arrived at San Pa Khoi, the food market, it was a full overload of spices, fresh fruits, meat and fish.

After I bought the little chimes for my granddaughter we headed out to have lunch at a beautiful small hotel, 137 PILLAR HOUSE, a 30 suite hotel set in the middle of lush gardens. Pillar is near the Ping River and the Na Wat Gate. Our lunch was in a beautiful room with food presented perfectly, especially the pomelo salad with soft shell crab on top. The dishes here are not as spicy as traditional Thai food, this was much more American pallet.

After our big lunch we got out Tuk Tuk back to our hotel so we could prepare for our spa service. One of the greatest thing about Chiang Mai are the many spa services offered at top spas or simple street locations. We booked at a beautiful upscale spa, MAKKHA, located 2 blocks from our hotel. Makkha offers a large selection of services. We chose a one hour leg and foot massage, followed by a one hour Thai massage, then you finish with a one hour hot stone and warm oil massage. Now after 3 hours of being pampered we sit and sip a perfect spice tea and pay the bill, $90.00.

Back to our hotel to sit by our pool under umbrellas, read our books and regroup before we met Lance for dinner.A little change of pace, Lance took us to his friends restaurant CHEZ MARCO. Chez Marco is a fusion blend of Mediterranean flavors. We had been eating so much Thai food the duck confit was a fun change, the father son team has created a wonderful mix of local and Italian, French flavors.

The next morning after another lovely breakfast in our hotel restaurant we started our walk to another market and then just wander the streets. I believe to get your best feeling of a city and the people that live there is to walk their neighborhoods, explore their shops and of course have a plan for your next meal. Our lunch stop was at a great restaurant, WOO, as you enter the courtyard you can already feel the energy. Flowers everywhere, as you go in the door you will realize the magic of the decor and watch the plates of food being served. These photos show how beautiful each dish was served the sticky rice salad was mixed at the table and the tower of watermelon topped with what they call cereal, crisp rice and noodles with dried shrimp. AMAZING at every turn. We finished lunch and the wandered through their great shop before heading back to our hotel for a rest from the heat and all the food we had just eaten.

Our last evening was spent at my friend Lance’s home where he created a dinner for us with hundreds of orchid stems woven together creating a canopy above the table. Lance had turned his carport into a dining room, invited 12 other interesting guests and several local women to design a dinner to remember. Dinner was 8 different dishes plus starter of Miang Kham, the dish we had eaten many times while in Thailand, however this was perfect. The fresh vine leaves or little lettuce cups stuffed with shredded coconut, peanuts, onion, ginger. Lime rind, dried shrimp and topped with sweet tamarind sauce, I can still taste it. Followed by different curry dishes, pamela salad, slow-cooked pork stew, a prawn dish and more.

Thank you Lance and friends for a wonderful send off since we had to leave the next day back to Singapore. If you have a chance to go to this part of the world Chiang Mai must be on your list, a city that welcomes everyone.

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