Monday, March 2, 2020

Safely Home

I had an interesting journey home from Thailand this year. We flew via Qatar Airways, and I had a 19-hour layover in Doha on the way home. After contacting a friend regarding a hotel recommendation, I was invited to stay over with Craig and Lori. Craig's parents taught at Woodstock with us in the 1970s, but I hadn't seen Craig since he was about 9 years old. They met me at the airport just after noon on Friday and we drove to their apartment on a compound where teachers at the large international school live. We found plenty to talk about.

In the afternoon we drove out to The Pearl where we walked around and stopped at a coffee shop overlooking the marina. The weather was balmy and pleasant, in the upper 70s with a nice breeze. It was a relief after the high temperatures and pollution in Chiang Mai.

Our nephew Jon and his wife Rani also teach in Doha and live in the next building over. After a bit of rest, we met up with them and all went to an Indian restaurant for dinner.

We all had masala dosas, which were delicious -- and large!

We scheduled an Uber pickup for 5:00 Saturday morning. I had a good night's sleep in a real bed and had an easy time getting to the airport and onto the plane. The flight was long and I watched a lot of movies, with time out for a 4-hour nap. 

Dirk met me at O'Hare and we headed home. We are sorry that the bus service we have used for years to get to and from the Chicago airports has shut down. But glad I had someone to pick me up!

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Around Town

We ate dinner a couple of nights ago at a place called The Faces. It is tucked behind the Chiang Mai Gate Market and I walked past it many times. The ambience was amazing; it was like being in a forest fairyland. The food was very good, but not remarkable.

A non-linear collection of photos:
Frogs ready-cooked for your dinner

Lily pads on the moat

Peppercorns for sale at the market
Veggies at the market
Salt and pepper shakers at a restaurant

Offerings at the stupa I walk by daily

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Flowers and Food

This past weekend was the annual Chiang Mai Flower Festival. Sometimes we have gone to the park where many displays are put up, but didn't get around to it this year. I decided to go to the parade on Saturday morning; I found a ledge to sit on but lasted less than an hour. By the time it gets to our area, it's been going for a couple of miles and the marchers and floats are widely spread out, with lots of regular traffic in between. I saw about three floats and number of marchers, including a band. I think what I enjoy most are the various kinds of regional dress various groups wear.

Part of one float

A group of marchers

Flowered dolphin decorating a traffic island
There is a large, lighted sign in the soi (alley) next to our building advertising the Chang Restaurant and Cooking School. We never tried it, so one evening recently we went there. It was a lovely location, lots of wood in the decor. The food was OK, fairly bland. The best thing we had was a plate of tempura veggies (but not great for a photo).

Chang restaurant interior
... And more food:

I've seen this fruit at the Saturday Walking Street Market several times. Last week I bought a bottle of the juice. It tasted exactly like Hawaiian Punch (or my memory of it; it's been many years since I tasted it).

We've added passion fruit to our breakfast concoction of muesli, yogurt and fruits.

Another Saturday evening market photo -- the size of the shrimp is amazing!

I've seen crickets, grasshoppers, etc., but this is the first time I've seen scorpions for sale. No thank you!

As an appetizer, we got some shrimp dumplings. Delicious!

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

A Special Lunch

Our friend Ming's family home is in Chiang Mai, although we met her when she was a student in Goshen. She recently completed her Ph.D. from Purdue University in Food Systems. (Congratulations!!) She has been here with her family for a visit and we were able to get together for lunch on Monday. She picked us up and we drove out to the edge of the city to a northern Thai place her aunt recommended.

When we arrived, the place appeared attractive. After a bit of confusion as to which place we were meant to be, we were seated.

Dan took this photo of Ming and me.

We ordered a plate of assorted northern Thai appetizers. The bowls had sauces, the brown one being ground pork and the green one being chilis. Two kinds of sausage, a tan-colored kind of solid pork pudding (? not the right word, but I can't think of another way to describe it), pork rinds, and some slightly cooked vegetables, including purple sweet potato.

We got a Burmese style pork curry, which we've had before. It is slightly sweet and very good.

I don't know what this dish was called, but it was a kind of green cooked up with egg and something else. It was fairly mild and a nice flavor.

There was also a small salad bar and we had some cucumber, carrot, and some very unusual greens.

There is so much variety of food available here and I am a bit embarrassed at how narrowly we regularly eat. So thanks to Ming, we really tried some different things!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Adventures in Busing

Last week at our lunch with Marti, she told us about the new(ish) CM Transit bus system. There are four routes, two of which basically circle the city, one clockwise and one counter-clockwise. The other two are on the north side of the city, going between a large mall and the far northwest.

So on Sunday my neighbor and friend Barbara and I decided to try out the bus, planning to ride the red circuit and see where it went. There is a bus stop very near us on the moat road and the sign says the bus comes there every 20 minutes. We got there at 10:09; were about to give up at 10:45 and it finally arrived at 10:50! The bus is very nice, air conditioned and spacious. We were almost the only ones on it the entire trip. We headed south with a stop at the Airport Plaza Mall and then the airport. The driver told us we had to get off and go to the other bus that was parked there, so we did (he gave us transfer slips). We got settled on the new bus and soon realized that it was going the opposite direction and we would shortly be right back where we started. We talked to the driver, got our transfers back, and headed back onto the first bus. The driver probably thought we were a bit crazy, but oh well.

After a bit of a wait we headed off again, past the Airport Plaza Mall and up the west side of the old city, which is just over a mile square. We turned on Suthep Road as expected, but then had terrible traffic. After sitting for quite a while (thank goodness for air-conditioned buses), we saw students walking down the sidewalk wearing academic robes and hats. It was Chiang Mai University graduation day and we were right in the middle of it! It took at least 45 minutes to get through there and to the Maya Mall.

After the Mall we did a turn into the old city and came out near Tha Pae Gate. Usually the route goes through the Chinatown and Night Market area, but because it was Lunar New Year weekend, we headed straight back to our starting point, almost two hours after we started. I will definitely use this bus again, probably to go to one of the malls.

We went to the Cozy restaurant and had lunch; mine was a club sandwich on good bread and a mango yogurt smoothie.

Monday evening we tried a new restaurant, the Organ Bar (not sure if that is the instrument or a body part...). Dan had garlic shrimp and I had broccoli with shrimp. Both had rice, too, and were very good.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Thursday Food

Today we went to a Middle Eastern restaurant called Hummus over near Tha Pae Gate. It was my first ride on the motor scooter during this visit, but it's farther (and hotter) than I care to walk. We met up there with Marti, a former student from Woodstock. Marti lives in Australia (where we visited her six years ago) but spends a lot of time here, where she worked for many years. She regularly comes to Chiang Mai for her dental work and we usually manage to meet up at some point.

I ordered the house drink, a lightly flavored minty lemonade. It came in a clever bottle.

We ordered quite a few dishes; they all sounded great and they all tasted wonderful. This picture shows the hummus plate, falafel (very light and tasty), pita, condiments and a pickle that tasted somewhat Indian.

These fried eggplant slices came with a creamy cheese, delicious. A tabouleh salad barely shows in this photo. Dan also ordered shakshuka, a tomato dish with eggs. We brought home the leftovers; they will make a tasty meal tomorrow.

We've been eating pretty lightly for supper. Dan often goes to the nearby market and picks up ready-made rice or noodles, sausage or chicken, and salad. These are pad Thai-flavored noodles and a Chiang Mai sausage.

The salad I like best comes in a bag, has lettuce, fruit pieces like apple, and grated carrot. It has a small bag inside with beans, barley and corn to sprinkle on top. The dressing is lemon-flavored, light and good. The bag has enough for two decent servings.

Dan prefers the cucumber salad, shown here in its bag. I would like it better if it weren't quite so spicy hot; you can see all those flecks of red pepper.

Monday, January 20, 2020

Miscellany (again)

I try to keep my eyes open for unusual or interesting things to photograph. So here are a few I've caught in the last week. (Plus, I know you all like food pictures!)

One evening I had a beautiful shrimp pad thai.

Chiang Mai Gate Market has so many things; here are a group of ready-made spice mixtures for the various Thai curries. When I took a cooking class, we had to make these masalas from the raw ingredients; it's good to be able to buy them freshly made by someone else.

I walk by this shop daily; they sell stands for vending of almost anything.

Did you see the sandal I posted earlier sticking up out of a grate? Well, I found its mate a few blocks away, not so easily removable.

Here's some fruit from one of my early morning forays. The bananas are quite small, about 4 inches or so, the mangoes are large (big enough for two for lunch), and the pomelo is skinned and sectioned.

Dan started getting passion fruit to add to our breakfast. It is a bit sour, but very flavorful, goes well with muesli, yogurt, and banana.

This house is just down the street from us. I noticed it today because there were Chinese tourists posing and taking their photos in front of it. The bougainvillea is amazing.