Mountains and Festivals
Super swanky taxi van in Chiang Mai.
We arrived in Chiang Mai just in time for Loi Krathong. A major part of the festival involves lighting lanterns – either floating on the river, or by launching them into the air. It worked out perfectly that we were here during this time. It was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Our hotel was tucked away in a quiet corner of old town Chiang Mai. It was a perfect home base to explore the town from.
The markets in Chiang Mai were crazy busy and huge.
The crowds got pretty crazy as the night went on. There was so much to see and so much going on, it became a little overwhelming at times.
Fresh seafood at the market.
We saw these ribs on a travel show and had to try them. They were pretty good. Not southern BBQ good, but still pretty tasty. Eating ribs with chopsticks was a little challenging.
Coconut ice cream!
It was hard to capture the size of the crowds and the market in a photo. It kept going and going.
Lisa trying durian for the first time and describing it. It wasn’t my new favorite thing.
Decorative lights for sale in the market.
It was nice to get away from all the crowds and craziness towards the end of the night. It was exciting but exhausting.
Passing by a chedi, away from the crowds as we walked back to our hotel.
We had lunch at a spot that Lisa found outside old town.
Crossing over the moat outside the walls of old town.
Just outside the city walls. This float moved about 10 feet over the course of a day.
This is the street our hotel was down. Nice and quiet, and away from the crowds.
The festival was just getting started. We crossed the river and had dinner at a restaurant on the river banks.
Crossing back into old town.
Approaching the Ping River in during Loi Krathong
We had a Burmese beef dish that was so flavorful.
Lisa with our lanterns. We launched them on the river after we were finished with dinner.
The next day, we took a day trip out to the mountains. We stopped at a waterfall for our first stop. We weren’t expecting to be blown away by it.
The highest spot in Thailand. This is one of the only spots in Thailand that locals can (occasionally) experience snow and colder temperatures.
This shrine was built for the king the mountain was named after.
The second stop on our tour was a nature walk/hike through the mountains.
We had a guided tour, where our guide pointed out local vegetation, described local traditions, and provided a little history of the area.
Our guide explaining the medicinal properties of a special plant.
There were more waterfalls along the trail.
A random green pit viper next to the trail.
These fields were once used to grow poppy for opium production. The previous king helped the locals to convert to legitimate crops like strawberries.
More fields that were once home to poppy growers. They grow marigolds and rice here now.
The marigolds grown here are used by buddhist throughout Thailand.
Rice growing on a hillside with a pretty amazing view.
The mountains in northern Thailand were beautiful.
Another crop they grow in the area is coffee. Arabica beans are grown here specifically.
Our hike ended in a local hill tribe village.
We were able to try some of the local coffee in the village.
Plants growing in the village.
We left the village and went up to the chedis dedicated to the king and queen
Inside one of the chedis. The acoustics were unreal in here.
All of the grounds were immaculately maintained. It was very peaceful here.
The views from the chedis. Much different than the tropical beaches you normally associate with Thailand.
We left the chedis and stopped at another hill tribe village and market. It was bustling.
The hill tribe village.
After we arrived back in Chiang Mai, we made our way back down to the river for the festival. This was the big night for celebration.
As we crossed the bridge over the river, we saw our first lanterns being launched into the air.
Lanterns being launched across the Ping River.
We launched another lantern on the river. There were a lot more people out tonight, and many more lanterns.
Most of the lanterns were being launched across the river.
The sky was starting to fill up with lanterns.
After dinner we walked in the direction where the lanterns were being launched from. There were thousands of people, and just as many lanterns filled the sky.
The sky was filled with lanterns, about as far as you could see
We searched and searched for lanterns, and Lisa finally found one.
It was a little tricky to launch. You have to hold it up, with a giant flaming ball inside, for a while.
We had a couple of failed launch attempts, but it finally took flight.
That’s our red lantern in the center!
The following day, we took a cooking class that turned out to be amazing. The instructor took us through a local market in the morning where we got to sample food and learn about what to look for in produce.
So much local, fresh produce!
We learned about what mangos to look for specifically for mango sticky rice (the ones on the left).
This is a local northern Thai/Burmese sausage that we had tried a couple of times up to this point. This was by far the best. It is super flavorful, with kaffir lime leaf and other spices.
We cooked several courses. The first was thai eggrolls. Lisa volunteered to man the wok.
Our (extremely spicy) som tam. Lisa has made this countless times since we first started dating, but it was fun to try it a slightly different way.
We made som tam next (green papaya salad). Up to this point, we hadn’t had a lot of super spicy food. We thought we were in the clear, so we each added two peppers to ours. It was tasty, but a big mistake.
Lisa made a red curry, and I picked the massaman. They were both really good, and it was fun making them completely from scratch.
Getting ready to make our curries from scratch!
Making pad thai. I make it at home quite a bit, but use a pre-made sauce. It was fun making it from scratch.
Enjoying one of our many courses.
We visited Doi Suthep, just outside the city during our last evening in Chiang Mai. It is on the mountain overlooking Chiang Mai. You can see it from many spots in the city, but it’s still quite a drive to get there.
The view of Chiang Mai from Doi Suthep.
The steps to the temple.
One of the great culinary discoveries of both of our lives – khao soi. Words can’t express how delicious it is. It is specific to northern Thailand and Myanmar, and consists of both soft and crunchy noodles in a coconut masaman base. It’s sweet, spicy, and perfect.
Lisa was excited to try a crepe from a street vendor
Trying her crepe!
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