Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Honeymooning: Chiang Mai, Thailand Part 4

So, Chiang Mai was downright magical. We arrived right before the Lantern festival began, or Yi Peng. Loy Krathong and Yi Peng coincided with each other, so it was actually two festivals in one that we were about to experience. You know all those photos you see on Pinterest with hundreds of lanterns being released into the night sky at once? Yeah, it's not really like that when you stay in Chiang Mai. If you want to see that, you find your way to this college outside the city, pay the tourist price because this isn't the real festival (they set up a separate festival, strictly for tourists, apart from the actual religious ceremony.) We decided to skip that because a) traffic is terrible and b) we wanted to stay where all the action was. So glad we did! 

There were crazy parades multiple nights in a row, with magical glowing orbs floating above us like little golden stars. Thailand takes their parades very seriously, and even when it down-poured one night (like holy crap, tropical downpour), they still marched on like nothing was happening. 

Also, there were lots of fireworks! Not like here in the US where things are set off by pro's and you just are a comfortable distance away. No, everybody and their bro were setting off firecrackers left and right. Attaching them to their lanterns (!!!) or just sending them into a crowd of people. So yes, watch your back! It was (a friendly) mayhem on the streets and it was AWESOME. 

Sunday Night we went down to Tha Pae Gate for the night market and found the entire (giant!) street shut down for the biggest craft fair I've ever been to. So, we bought all the things. Quite the magical night strolling with hundreds of other people underneath a full moon and little golden orbs. Lots of food stalls set up (I found a strictly veg Pad Thai cart set up and another little cart with mini coconut pancakes that were adorable and quite nom-able) and lots of people-watching was had. After shopping our little hearts out, we walked down to the riverfront, where people were releasing their lanterns into the sky and their little flowered krathongs into the river. We released a lantern (harder than it looks in the wind!) and just wandered around soaking in all the festivities. It was nuts. 

It was hard to take photos of the lanterns in the sky. I didn't bring a tripod with me, and there were some harsh street lights everywhere, so at some point I just put the camera away and just tried to commit it all to memory, which is what you should do anyways, right?

Parade watching. Little lanterns in the sky overhead. Also, full moon at the top of the pic. 

Had to get the 7-11 in the shot.

Floating orbs.

Motorbikes whizzing by and lanterns in the sky.

Everyone was watching a lantern that had gotten stuck in a tree and had caught on fire. This happened a lot and no one seemed to care? The fire eventually tapered out, but I was generally feeling a bit anxious every time I saw it happen. 

Night market was CROWDED. 

Outside Tha Pae Gate.

Releasing our lantern! 

Friday, January 17, 2014

Honeymooning: Bangkok, Thailand Part 3

One of my most favorite things that we did the entire trip, was take a cooking class at May Kaidee's. Seriously, this was so informative, fun, DELICIOUS, and made me so excited. May Kaidee's has two locations, one in Bangkok and one in Chiang Mai. Our class was made up of nine adults and two little kids (one was a baby, and the other kid was around 3-4 yrs old.) Half of the class was from Holland and half was from the U.S. We all donned our aprons and went through eight different dishes, taking time to eat and enjoy each one after cooking it. It was so great. We were each setup at a wok, sharing it with one other person (so, Nik and I were together,) and they would demonstrate the recipe first, and then we would make it ourselves. We would switch places at each dish, so that one person would be assisting with ingredients and reading the recipe, and the other would be in control of the wok. We made Tom Yam soup, veg stir fry, Pad Thai, Massaman Curry, Green Curry, Fresh spring rolls, Som Tam, and Mango with black sticky rice. So, all the favorites! The class lasts the whole morning (or afternoon, if you choose that time slot,) and fills you up! Everything was vegan, except you had the option to put an egg in your Pad Thai, if you were vegetarian. 

I've already made a few curries and some soup since I've been back and I looooove how confident the class made me feel in making some very basic dishes. Very much looking forward to expanding on Thai cooking this year...

I took some photos, but only with my phone, so excuse the blurriness in some of these!

Making Tom Yam Soup

Tom Yam Soup

Basic Stirfry

Pad Thai

Making Green Curry, my fave!

I could eat Green Curry for weeks.

Nik making Massaman Curry

Massaman curry. Loved the surprise addition of pineapple in this dish. 


We made spring rolls with a peanut sauce on top. They had us "decorate" our own. This was mine...

...and this was Nik's. Hee!

Nik shredding the young Papaya to make Som Tam, or spicy papaya salad

Som Tam in the making.

Plated Som Tam

Mango with Black Sticky Rice. This was SO GOOD. SO GOOD! 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Honeymooning: Bangkok, Thailand Part 2

Nik and I arrived at the Grand Palace right when they opened, to beat the inevitable crowds and the scorching heat that gets worse as the day goes on. I thought I was super-prepared when it came to proper attire, but I definitely wasn't. I had on black jeggings, a short skirt over, and brought along a rather large scarf for my shoulders, but this was not enough and I ended up having to rent some clothes to be allowed to enter (you put a deposit down and it was returned to you in full at the end of your visit, so it wasn't the end of the world.) So! Don't wear "tight pants" and a scarf to cover your shoulders does not cut it if you are planning a visit here; they are super-strict!

We were lucky enough to have an overcast day, so the sun wasn't too much of a killer for us, but it was very crowded (I was pretty good at NOT including people in my photos.) Walking around with our mouths gaping open and taking in the old temples took most of the morning into the afternoon. There is so much detail in every single surface area here, but I found it pretty interesting that they regularly paint/refurbish every single thing. We came upon many workers painstakingly touching up old murals or applying stencils on ceilings and columns. Weird! I guess I thought everything would just be preserved as is...

Anyways, the Grand Palace lived up to it's hype and was one of my favorite sights that we saw on our trip! 

Loved these pointy roofs

Don't mess.

Bling Bling! Note tiny golden tiles that make up the entire thing...

So. Much. Detail.

Loved these murals, but I was the only that did apparently! There was never anyone checking them out and they were all over the place. The art history lover in my geeked out over them.


Small scale model of Angkor Wat, in Cambodia

Holy detail!

So much gold. 

Even on the ceilings! Insane!
Really pretty grounds outside the Grand Palace walls. 

After we finished walking around the Grand Palace, we moseyed over to Wat Pho, or the Reclining Buddha, which is pretty close by.  The giant Reclining Buddha was cool, I guess, but you spent the majority of the time fighting other tourists to stand in the few spots where you can get a good photo. So, a little annoying! But, I LOVED the rest of this site. Everyone pretty much comes to see the Reclining Buddha, and then books it outta there, but Nik and I wandered around for a long time and were pretty much on our own. And in a crowded city like Bangkok, that was pretty golden. I kinda loved how the grounds of this place were not as pristine as the Grand Palace, and had more of a run-down ancient feel to them. We enjoyed the silence and the little hidden corners and temples we kept stumbling upon. So glad we explored the rest of this area. 


Honeymooning: Bangkok, Thailand Part 1 can be found here