The cooking class this morning was totally worth it. We were picked up by a little Thai lady and driven in a tuk tuk to a huge food market full of actual locals instead of tourists. We picked up a few ingredients that we would be using – one highlight “this vegetable is called morning glory – it doesn’t mean the same thing here as it does in England”. Oh how we laughed like children. Slightly strange moment when we walked into the meat section and on top of a tub of live fish, was a bag of frogs. Alive and just chilling in their mesh home. They didn’t look super happy.
Then we motored 15 minutes north of the city to her house. In the garden, under a cover luckily for my super pale skin, she has a number of gas burners and prep tables. Over the two hours we prepared and cooked: tofu pad thai; chicken with cashews; chicken massaman curry
and made our own vegetable spring rolls with sweet chili sauce. Then we gathered around a big table for lunch to sample everything we had made, with
leftovers being packed up for dinner – super handy when you’re about to get on an overnight train. Being on our feet for so long had tuckered us out so we spent a few hours relaxing at the hotel with beer (sadly no Beerlao, just Chang) and our books.
We were on the 6pm overnight train to Bangkok and I was a bit hesitant – will it be clean? Safe? Comfy? Turns out I had little to worry about. A few hours passed playing cards and reading before our seats converted into bunk beds. I presumed it would be laid out in cabins, but this train just had benches/beds along both walls in a long line. I quite liked this as it felt a bit like a big sleepover. Most people turned in early (like 9:30pm early) so I snuggled under my little blanket and had some quality
Dexter time – spoiler alert: the book series ends just as disappointingly as the TV series. They main carriage lights have been left on, very happy I’ve packed ear plugs and an eye mask! Let’s hope I get some sleep tonight.
So after the grasshopper incident in Laos, I was hoping for no more wildlife in my room. Alas, this morning I woke up and in the middle of my morning wee I noticed a toad sitting in the corner of my bathroom, who then hopped away and left through a crack in the wall. [current Jenny – it only struck me when I got back to England that I realised my room was on the first floor…] Decided against a shower at that point. Another early start (seriously, these tours aren’t designed for anyone wanting to relax and have a lie in!) and we jumped in yet another mini van and drove to Chiang Rai’s White Temple. Before I explain about the temple, let me take a moment to discuss the mini van. There were stickers saying what was allowed inside, a selection include karaoke, smoking and naked ladies. Got to love Thailand.
Anyway, temple. A must see. Wat Rong Khun was designed and built by artists Chaloemchai Khositphiphat – who so far has spent 40 million Thai Baht of his own money on it, about £800,000. The outside is all white (funnily enough) and decorated with hands rising up from the ground symbolising human’s unrestrained desire. Crossing the bridge and entering the temple is like entering a different world. The stark white outside contrasts the busy fiery inside. Murals adorn the walls – demons and fire mixed with pop icons such as Michael Jackson, Harry Potter, Superman, Batman and Hello Kitty to name but a few. Seeing the temple is free thanks to the artists so if you’re ever in Northern Thailand check it out.
The trip from there to Chiang Mai was another few hours (a lot of this trip was spent in a bus) of farmland and winding roads, with a toilet break at ‘Cabbages and Condoms‘. Yup. That’s the name. This afternoon was spent in a sweat as we had a little wander and looked at various temples. Wat Chedi Luang in particular was pretty spectacular. We were lucky enough to witness the monks praying and chanting in one of the most beautiful buildings I’ve ever seen. Arriving back at the hotel mere minutes before dinner (we might have got distracted by an incredibly strong mojito…) we headed out to the night market for food and shopping. Others went on to a Ladyboys show, but exhausted and knowing we needed to be up early for a Thai cooking class, we headed back early to chill out.