Chiang Mai was full of new experiences. Quickly after getting to Thailand, one of the first things you realize is that they drive on the “wrong side” of the road. Even more of a difference that you realize is that when walking down the street, you have to carve your own path because there are very few sidewalks. On our first trip to get lunch, we wove in-between the cars parked on the side of the street and the cars driving on the road.
Because of the time zone difference, by the time lunch was over it felt as if I had stayed up to 4:00 in the morning. After a 3-hour nap, it was time to hit up the night market. On the way there, we took a songthaew (red taxi with an open back end). It made it easy to see how the other cars all get super close to each other. At the market, there was all kinds of fresh food, Thai clothing, and most importantly persistent ladies who tried to sell you their toys. After the market, I watched a street show with fire-eating performers.
The second day was filled with walking around temples. The temples had many beautiful buildings and if you wanted to go inside any of them, you needed to take off your shoes. I wore the wrong pair of shoes for this, often making my peers wait a long time for me to put my shoes back on or take them off. The temples were all interesting and had more than the shoes rules, such as being careful not to point your feet at Buddha images, avoiding public displays of affection in front of the images, dressing in “appropriate clothes”, and not allowing women in specific buildings.
After the temples on the first day, we got the chance to partake in a cooking school in Chiang Mai. There we learned about the many ingredients that are used in Thai cooking and learned how easy it is to cook at home. From Pad Thai to Curry and Spring rolls, I got hands-on experience making and of course, eating traditional Thai foods. My favorite part about the cooking school experience was when we added the spicy ingredients into the recipe and immediately everyone started to cough over the overwhelming smell. Following cooking our own lunch, we got to speak with a monk to learn about their experiences. Before leaving Chiang Mai we also got to take a trip up to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep. After driving up a mountain for 45 minutes and walking up 300+ steps, the view of the city was breathtaking.
Chiang Mai had a lot of extravagant things to see and I’m excited to see what the rest of Thailand has to offer as well.