Friday, February 27, 2015

Last Things

It's Friday afternoon and we are finishing up. Our flight goes out Saturday evening. We've used up our breakfast and lunch foods, the last laundry is out and will be returned this evening. The weather is definitely getting hotter; it's time to leave.

There is a nice-looking hospital I walk by every day (English-speaking doctors 24 hours). It's been comforting to know it's so close. The other day as I walked by I noticed they have handicapped parking. Maybe there isn't much call for it.

We've become quite the regulars at the Doo Dee Restaurant. They have a large menu and everything we've had there has been delicious. Below is Lek, our waitress. When we walk in, she asks if we want the same drinks as usual. She has a nice smile. A bonus to eating there is watching Fox Sports 3 -- recently it's mostly been Motocross. If you've never seen it, tune in sometime. It won't make you want to ride a dirk bike!

This is the Doo Dee from the other side of the street. There are tall tables with bar stools outside, a large seating area upstairs, and a smaller one downstairs. We usually sit on a bench just inside.

We haven't usually gone out for lunch, but we did on Friday. There is a place on the way to the massage school that has a sign out "Sukothai food." We weren't sure quite what that would be. Once we tried to go there in the evening but discovered that they are only open for lunch. So we met up there today between our last massages -- Dan's in the morning, mine in the afternoon. It's a very open place, with a roof and barely any walls. The cooking area is behind the wooden wall shown here.

The table tops are decorated with a nice mosaic pattern.

Just outside where we sat there were lots of plants, including this tree with birds' nests hanging from it. They are not in use, but are the genuine article.

Once again, we were part way through our meal by the time I remembered to take a picture. So I took them of the menu. This spicy noodle dish was the main thing they offered. It can be ordered with or without the soup (broth), so we ordered it without. The broth then comes in a separate bowl and you can add as much as you want as you want it. You can also choose among four types of noodles -- yellow (egg) and three widths of rice noodles. I had the first one shown below and Dan had the second. He is more adventurous in the meat area than I am!

I think this will be my last post from Thailand. We'll be spending a few days in Spokane with family before heading back to Goshen. We hope we'll be able to get our car out of the snow in the parking lot where it has been sitting!

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

An Unremarkable Weekend

This weekend there was no Flower Festival, no cooking class, nothing special scheduled. Saturday we went out for lunch (big departure!) at a nice-looking bakery/cafe just across the street. It appears to be brand new, and in fact, I think it opened while we've been here. They have wonderful looking desserts in the glass case. I was grabbed by the option of a mango burger on the menu and Dan decided to have their all-day breakfast.

Fancy interior of the cafe

Mango shake!! (Eat it quickly before it melts onto the table.)

Mango burger -- not much to see; slices of mango under the beef patty, very good

Breakfast (minus one egg and toast already eaten) -- notice tiny dish of baked beans near top
I keep forgetting to take my camera along to the top of the building when I go swimming but today I remembered. I wanted to photograph these interesting tree/bushes with such bare branches. The first one with only leaves earlier had only a few white blossoms. The second still has no leaves, but the blossoms are lovely. I've no idea what they are.

Looking down from the pool to the southwest, I can see these shanty-like buildings. One has a thick layer of orange bougainvillea growing on the roof. The hotel in the background is the Chaing Mai Gate Hotel and you can see a corner of their pool. I don't think it gets much sun, so the water is probably much cooler than ours.

I did have a massage Sunday afternoon and Dan spent a good part of the day at the UN Irish Pub watching the India-South Africa Cricket World Cup match. 

Friday, February 20, 2015


Trees, shrubs, plants are everywhere here. The temperate tropical climate is excellent for growing things (see Flower Festival posts!). Last evening on our walk to dinner at the Blues Pub I saw these three shrubs in front of a nice-looking home. The first is bougainvillea, but I've no idea what the others are. Many yards have banana trees and a few have papaya.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Thursday Post

The last two evenings we had very different dining experiences. On Tuesday we went back to an open-air restaurant in our neighborhood where everything is very cheap. In the photo below, Dan's back is right on the street. It appears to be popular with the locals. They do have printed menus. The cook (a woman) is easy to watch, as the cooker is at the left rear of this picture. I had Pad Thai, which wasn't very photogenic, but tasted delicious.

Dan's dish
On Wednesday Dan came home in the afternoon with a "snack" of mango and sticky rice. His Thai language teacher told him the best place to get it and he has been there several times. It is truly delicious! So we were ready for a lighter supper. We went back to the Doo Dee, where the manager greeted us warmly, "You came back!" I had a Greek Salad, which was very good;' it even had feta cheese and olives. Lots of cucumber and ripe tomato, with some lettuce in the bottom. Dan had Pad Thai, which was again delicious.

Just across the street from the Doo Dee is this old stupa, which is beautifully lit at night.

Walking along the moat, I saw this lovely tree in bloom.

I've been interested in the vehicles found on the streets here. There is an unusually high number of large pickup trucks, which I didn't expect. The majority have a four-door cab and do not generally have anything being hauled. I guess it must be a status symbol. The large majority of vehicles are scooters, as I've mentioned before, but there are plenty of cars, too. They are almost all Hondas and Toyotas, with a sprinkling of Mazda and Isuzu. The occasional Ford or Chevy can be found, as well as a luxury BMW or Lexus. Oddly, I haven't seen any Korean vehicles; Hyundais are numerous in India.

The vehicle below is a song tao, a pickup truck fitted with seats in the back. These do not have routes fixed in stone, but tend to congregate in certain places and will go where the riders want to go, if they are heading in that direction. In our area, they seem to be mostly red, although there are yellow ones, too, and some green. It is a fairly cheap ride ($.70) and lots of people use them. There are city buses as well, but they do not seem to be crowded.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Dinner with a Friend

Monday evening we met up with our friend Marti, Woodstock class of '71. We saw her in Mussoorie in 2011 after 40 years and renewed our acquaintance. On our trip to Australia last year, we stayed with her for a few days in Mullumbimby. So seeing her here was the third time and in the third country in four years! We rode the scooter to the area where she stays, northwest of the old city. We ate at a new place, Cainito Homemade (no idea what the name means). It is in the location of a long-standing place called the Pasta Cafe, which we found on our map. We enjoyed visiting so much we forgot to take any pictures of us together! We ordered three dishes to share. The first one out was steamed pork, which turned out to be bacon. It looked totally uncooked, but had actually been steamed.

They served red rice, which is more nutritious and flavorful than white.

The shrimp curry was very tasty.

Again, the fried fish was pre-filleted and cut into pieces which made it easy to eat.

Below are a few random photos. The first is a money tree for sale on the street where I usually buy fruit. I don't know, but suspect it is related to Chinese New Year, which is celebrated this week. We've heard that more than 200,000 Chinese tourists are invading Chiang Mai for the week. Fortunately, the majority of them are not staying close to where we are. Many people here are not happy about the visitors.

By the used clothing market in the plaza near Chiang Mai Gate, I saw this woman doing a Tarot Card reading. The customer was just leaving as I grabbed this shot.

There is a temple on the soi where my Tai Chi class is held and I walk by there nearly every day. There is a row of praying figures along the top of the fence. The paint is fairly old and the colors vary due to aging, but this one had quite a lot of its turquoise coloring still showing.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Thai Cooking

On Saturday I attended an all-day Thai cooking class at the Asia Scenic school. It was held at an organic farm about 20 km outside of Chiang Mai. Everything used in the cooking classes is grown on the farm. There were eight of us in the class, three from Belgium, three from China (parents and 12-year-old daughter), one from the Philippines and me. The Filipina woman was with a US man who was an observer (and taster). Our teacher was Em.

Our first stop was at a local market where we learned more about the things we've been seeing. There are many varieties of rice, including red and purple and several kinds of sticky rice. Prices shown are baht per kilo; 40 baht would be about $1.30.

A few of the many vegetables (limes in front)


Tiny eggplants -- they also use light green ones

Packaged vegetables -- cooked sweet potatoes in the center

Some kinds of sweets -- very colorful!

There were 5 or 6 of these mixtures, not sure what they are

It's Thailand, so there are always flowers
The placemat also served as a menu showing the options we had. We would all choose one from each category. 1--Stir Fried:  Pad Thai, Cashewnut with Chicken, Pad See Uw, Hot Basil Stir Fried; 2--Salad:  Chicken Spicy Salad (Laab), Papaya Salad, Glassnoodle Salad; 3--Soup:  Tom Yum, Coconutmilk, Tom Sab; 4--Dessert:  Sticky Rice with Mango, Banana in Coconut Milk, Deep Fried Banana; 5--Curry Paste:  Red, Green, Panang, Massaman, Khaw Soi; 6--Curry:  same names as pastes; 7--Spring Roll.

Before starting the cooking lesson, we took a tour of the extensive grounds.

Dove cote


Vegetable garden (kale, I think)

Arbor with dried zucchini hanging (I didn't understand the explanation)

Mushrooms growing inside shed, picked every morning
The first food item was a welcome snack as you might receive in a home. A betel leaf is folded into a cup and chopped lime, garlic, onion, peanuts and roasted coconut are put in. A small spoon of sweet sauce is added and the whole thing is popped into the mouth. It was quite tasty! I liked it better than Indian paan, which is similar.

We were shown how sticky rice is made. It is soaked for at least six hours, then steamed in a bamboo basket over simmering water for 30-60 minutes depending on its age. The helpers cooked it for us.

Our first dish was the stir fry. I chose Pad Thai, which I'll be most likely to make when I get home. We chopped the chives into one-inch lengths, tofu into small pieces, and garlic. The carrots were already shredded and given to us mixed with bean sprouts. 

We each had our own wok on a gas burner and cooked the stir-fry dish of our choice. Below is my plate of Pad Thai. Each recipe was just right for one person. It was nearly noon by this time, so we were happy to eat.

Below is the work table with Em showing us how to wrap our spring rolls. One person stir-fried the ingredients and let them cool. The wrappers are laid out on our round wooden cutting boards. We each had a large sharp cleaver to use, too.

Ta-da! My first handmade spring roll.

The next item was our salad. I chose Glass Noodle Salad. The glass noodles are made from mung beans (I learned a lot of new things!). The noodles are cooked ahead and then everything is mixed together.

Below is the prep plate for the Tom Yum Soup. The lemongrass, kafr lime leaves and Thai ginger are torn or smashed to extract the flavor but these ingredients are not eaten. Mushroom, onion and tomato are cooked and the lime is used at the end. This was my least favorite dish.

We had to make our curry pastes from scratch using a large mortar and pestle. Red, green and massaman were in different mortars. It took a long time to get the paste pulverized enough to suit Em.

The red curry paste was separated for Khao Soi (curry powder mixed in) and Panang Curry (peanuts mixed in). 

My Panang Curry beginning to cook.

My panang curry turned out wonderfully. Coconut milk is the liquid base, as it is for many dishes.

Tom Yum Soup
For dessert, I chose Mango with Sticky Rice. One of the class members cooked the pre-cooked sticky rice with coconut milk and palm sugar until it was a sticky mass. The helpers plated it and prepped the mango.

What a day! I was thoroughly stuffed by the end and didn't want anything else in the evening. I got back to the hotel about 5:00. I am hoping to use some of these recipes once we are home. I probably will not make curry paste in a mortar and pestle, though. It took a good 15-20 minutes of pounding.