Sawadee kha from Chiang Mai!

We are still loving life here and plan on returning next September. I have taken a couple of tours, which shockingly (not) revolve around food! We also took a train journey to Bangkok, and then continued to Kanchanaburi. Other than that, life continues as normal:

  • lots of walking
  • drinking coffee
  • people-watching
  • scooter riding
  • massages (less than $10 for an hour!)
  • pedicures (about $5)
  • delicious food

 It is smoky season here, and all over SE Asia. Farmers burn their crops making very poor air quality. We are staying indoors a bit more as well as running an air purifier to keep the crud out of our lungs. N-95 masks are used outdoors, not for COVID protection, but as a health precaution due to pollution.

I am valiantly trying to learn a little Thai. It’s not easy – Thai is a tonal language, and the same word can be pronounced five different ways, with five different meanings. The letters are a challenge, and the words are not separated by spaces. They say it’s important to keep your brain active and challenged as you age; learning Thai qualifies! I do know a couple of important phrases: mai pet (not spicy) and pet nik noy (a little spicy). We are acclimating to the spiciness of much of the food and now actually add spice such as prik nam pla (fish sauce with chilies) or just ground chilies if the food isn’t spicy enough for our palates.

Since getting our Thai driver’s licenses, we have only been pulled over once. The police officer that pulled Clayton over was delighted to find that he had an actual Thai motorcycle license. He even high-fived Clayton before allowing him to drive on! As for me, I think the police officer either didn’t believe that my license was legitimate (an old, white foreign woman, properly licensed and riding a motorcycle???) or he was extra-disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to charge me a fine. Either way, he questioned me extensively and examined both my Thai and US driver’s licenses before scowling at me and sending me on my way.

We are pretty cautious about eating street food, given the lack of refrigeration that exists for meat. Nonetheless, I wanted to try some different foods so thought it was a good idea to take a street food tour. That way, the places I tried should be safe. There are several companies that offer tours; I settled on Chiang Mai Foodie Tours. They offer both a morning and an evening tour. I opted for morning, given that there is a bit of walking on the tour and mornings are much cooler than evenings. Also, I don’t like to eat much in the evening. It was a fun activity, and you can read about it here.

If you follow my blog, you know that I have taken three different cooking classes on previous visits to Chiang Mai. This year, I opted for Smile Organic Farm Cooking School. The class took place on the farm as opposed to most classes which are located near the old city and include a visit to the local market to teach about the vegetables used in Thai cooking. Since I visit the local market several times per week, I thought it would be more interesting to take the farm class. My friend, Mary Jo, as well as a couple of her friends took the class together. My post about the class can be found here.

Clayton and I love taking train trips, from traveling from south Vietnam to north Vietnam by train (36 hours of beautiful scenery), traveling around Europe on a Eurail Pass for a couple of months, or taking the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Beijing to St. Petersburg. We wanted to visit Kanchanaburi, which is located several hours from Bangkok. There are many ways to get to Bangkok – fly, night train, day train, bus, and private car. We wanted to experience the train. We opted for the day train so that we could enjoy the scenery. The journey is supposed to take 10 hours and costs less than $20 per person. In contrast, one can fly to Bangkok for around $31, so not much more expensive (but way less scenic). We spent two days in Bangkok and then took a train to Kanchanaburi: a 2.5-hour ride in a 3rd class, non-air-conditioned train. We loved the Bangkok to Kanchanaburi train, the Chiang Mai to Bangkok, not so much. If you want to read about our experiences as well as some of the history of the death railway and Hellfire Pass, or if you just want to browse my photos, click here.

2 thoughts on “Sawadee kha from Chiang Mai!

  1. Glad you’re enjoying your time there. Pretty sure I’m most impressed with the driver’s license. Every time I watch a movie or visual story about the streets and drivers of SE Asia, I get panicked from the comfort of my couch!!


  2. If my hair were not already white, riding my scooter here would turn it that way! Driving here is crazy for sure and not for the faint of heart. The secret is to drive like a Thai so others know what to expect from you. One of my favorite things is how people park wherever they want. Picture driving down highway 99 and someone in the right lane stops and parks in the lane, despite having lots of cars behind them. It happens all the time here. Everyone just goes around!


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