Currently sitting in a cafe in the quaint city of Chiang Mai, the second leg of our trip. Sitting in a coffee shop surrounded by rustic walls, wooden tables and other tourists taking in the laid back vibe of Chiang Mai. Reminiscent of a hipster cafe on Main street. Having come from Bangkok for the last 4 days the change of pace is what I needed. More on Chiang Mai later. First let’s get to Bangkok.
Almost 6 movies later, a 5-hour layover in Hong Kong, we finally made into Bangkok at midnight. With it being 3 am by the time we finally settled into our Airbnb, we headed to 7-11 for a quick stock of snacks and some dinner, having 7-11 being the only thing opened.
Starting Bangkok the unconventional way we headed to a Corgi Cafe the next morning. Google top 10 things to see in Bangkok and the Corgi Cafe will not be on any lists. Arriving slightly early to queue for our tickets, we had our first Thai meal at the restaurant right beside the cafe. Excited for authentic food in Thailand, the restaurant stirred up a flavourful fried rice dish that hit the spot to start things right.
For any corgi lover, which Ryan is, the Corgi Cafe is easily a 2-hour experience worth doing. Before heading into the cafe, you get to pick a few items off their food menu to accompany the corgi experience. With over 12 corgis on the loose, each with its unique name, it’s something that you should check out. For those planning to head there, it’s definitely a bit of a trek from the city. Following the corgi experience, we decided to head to something a bit more traditional. We were on the hunt for the best mango sticky rice and finished the afternoon with a Thai massage.
Entrance to the Corgi Cafe!
What’s Bangkok known for? Street food. That’s exactly where we headed on the first night, Rot Fai Ratchada. Filled with tourists filling the streets finding items that caught their eye, one thing that caught our eye was crickets and maggots. What started as a joke ended up as a purchase to go along with our pad thai. To our surprise, neither tasted horrible. Crunchy, earthy, and oddly flavourful with whatever the lady seasoned it with. Would I do it again? Sure. Just in small quantities. We didn’t have the guts to try the scorpion. That’ll be saved for another time.
Day 2 of our trip was highlighted by a popular restaurant featured on the Netflix series Street Foods. Jay Fai, dubbed the “crab queen omlette” has a Michelin star. With the restaurant not opening till 3 pm and not able to get reservations, we went early to line up at 10:00 am. By 11:00 am a line stretched from the door entrance about half a block with tourists ready to experience this popular eatery.
I always try to taper my expectations especially with things with such hype. How good can an omelette really be? After killing some time, we got back just before 3 pm, with the crowds surrounding the restaurant. Having been second on the waitlist, we still weren’t sure how long the wait would be with the reservations ahead of us. One by one groups were called out, and shortly after we finally got a table. A sense of relief and anticipation. The moment we sat down, you could hear the crowds outside murmur as the 73-year-old Jay Fai stepped out onto the kitchen floor. Her arms outstretched wide, as her employees helped her into her signature goggles and arm sleeve. A quick sip of coke, a small wave to the crowd and the charcoal stove was fired up.
We went ahead with only three dishes which I quickly regret. Although the dishes were premium costs compared to other street vendors, you could tell the quality and passion put in the dishes. As a one-person show, with only Jay Fai cooking, the wait is longer than most places. However, without a doubt, it’s easily worth the wait. The omelette cooked to perfection. Just the right amount of crisp on the outside, with a bit of a runny yolk on the inside with, the crab still perfectly moist packed with flavour. The drunken noodles, accompanied by prawns, squid, and cuttlefish offered just as much flavour, with the right amount of spice. I definitely appreciate the passion and perfection in each dish. With stomachs full, we finished the day heading to Chatuchak Market for some more local food and shopping in the evening.
Photos of the Grand Palace in Bangkok before heading to Jay Fai in the morning
The wait outside right when the restaurant opened.
Jay Fai’s accolades in the restaurant
The morning after we took an uber out to a famous market place, Maeklong Railway Market. What appears to be a normal marketplace, is quickly interrupted as a train runs through the market. Spectators gathered around as vendors of the marketplace quickly pack their things and pullback the awning as soon as they hear the horn. With less than a foot of space between the train and the pathway, it makes for a tourist spot to checkout. Last to do on our list, was the Amphawa Floating Market.
The pier littered with stalls and boats selling different goods. We arrived about an hour early as stalls were still being set up so we decided to take a boat cruise out to nearby temples. Nothing to write home about as we took the cruise to mainly kill some time. Getting back to the pier, we grabbed some small bites, before making our way back to the city as the clouds were starting to roll in. For those visiting the marketplace, transportation is a bit tricky as uber only goes one way. We couldn’t find a taxi but ended up finding a ticket booth for a bus back to Bangkok which took about 2.5 hours.
A photo of the train passing by (on the left side of the photo) into the marketplace as vendors and spectators stand by.
On the way to Amphawa Floating Market
Wrapping up our last night in Bangkok, we spoiled ourselves with a seafood meal. A restaurant recommended by our friend, we ordered, chilli crab, fish, and fried rice! Definitely a nice way to wrap up our Bangkok trip!
So, I’m home now, writing the second portion of this trip. Right off the bat, Chiangmai was very different from Bangkok. What you would love about Bangkok, Chiang Mai was the polar opposite. Quieter and less hustle and bustle. The change in pace was definitely welcomed. Along with a new city, we were joined by a few others on our trip from our team visiting from an array of different places. On our first few days, we took to the streets! Sightseeing with our stomachs… and actual sightseeing.
The view from our Airbnb Jet Lin Villa
Without going day by day of our trip, I’ll highlight a few of my favourite parts of Chiangmai. The majority of our meals were mainly food stalls. The one meal we didn’t enjoy at a food stall we cooked ourselves. It was a unique and fun experience to learn about the different ingredients used in the dishes we were consuming on a daily basis. Our friend Aaron booked us a great cooking class, Aromdii Cooking School suggested through us from Airbnb. Our instructor, Aek picked us from our Airbnb. We kicked off the class at the marketplace going through the unique ingredients we were going to be choosing based on the items we wanted to cook.
Following the marketplace, we made our way back to the cooking school where his wife Nok had prepared a lovely space for us to start cooking. The total time of the cooking class was about 4 hours where we each cooked and prepared 4 dishes. For myself, I had prepared pad thai, salad roll, yellow curry, and mango sticky rice which was more than enough food. Definitely, something everyone should do while visiting Chiang Mai!
The day after was something on my to-do list! There’s been a lot of talk about finding the right elephant sanctuary as riding elephants now is strictly prohibited. Even a lot of places that call themselves sanctuary use chains and hooks to control the elephants. However, at Maeklang Elephant Sanctuary the elephants were free to roam around. A new baby elephant was recently added to the family as well. For about an hour we were able to bathe and feed them. A surreal experience.
Part of our tour included a beautiful hike along Pha Dok Siew, a trail located in Doi Inthanon National Park the highest mountain in Thailand. We were a bit skeptical as the rain had started to come down. However, the covered forest made a safe haven for us, before the sun finally came out. We were accompanied by a lady from the village where our tour would eventually end. Along the hike, she would point out interesting points, and even a snake at one point. The sun peeked out as we exited the forest, to a scenic field where the villagers grow rice, coffee beans and strawberries! The tour concluded at the village, where we were able to sample the coffee they make themselves. The black coffee had a very bold and unique taste which I really enjoyed.
Freshly brewed coffee from the beans the villagers grow.
The week in Thailand was a great way before we headed to Hong Kong for our tournament. I won’t be writing a blog post about that part of the trip, as it was mainly for the tournament. However, we did end up winning the tournament and met lots of people from all over the world along the way! Here are a few photos from the Hong Kong portion of the trip. Oh and some photos of the Rosewood Hong Kong where we got spoiled!!
Pool view from the Rosewood Hong Kong
To wrap it up, I loved Thailand for food and culture. Like Hoi An in Vietnam, I think I liked Chiang Mai for the quaint city it is. Maybe it’s because on both trips I started in a busier city, and the change of pace is nice. Regardless of the location, the people are what really makes the trips. So thank you to everyone I met along the way and the familiar faces back home in Vancouver. Perhaps this will be the last trip in a while as it’s time to save up for a wedding… so my fiancé says. Maybe 1 more? Who knows? Stay tuned for another travel blog posts in