Oh hello! I'm in Chiang Mai right now and despite the temperature gauge hitting 43˚C yesterday I am loving it here.
Some cities have a pull about them that just keep me wanting more, NYC, Portland, Tokyo to name a few, and now I can add Chiang Mai to the ever-growing list. Nick and I were here for one night before our amazing week at Elephant Nature Park and then for four nights afterwards. That should've been it if we had stuck to our super-vague plan but after leaving to check out Pai (more about that adventure soon) we then came right back here again for what we'd initially decided would be just a couple more nights and has swiftly turned into a week. This is without a doubt the best thing about long term travel, if I don't want to leave somewhere I don't have to. Within reason of course, other cities and countries are calling my name and my visa totally expires soon so I know that moving on has to happen eventually.
How walkable Chiang Mai is is definitely a big draw, despite the heat city explorations on foot have been a breeze (Oh, if only there were a real breeze!) and I love (LOVE!) seeing Wats popping up from behind brick walls as I aimlessly wander the city streets.
Stumbling upon somewhere fun and unexpected whilst walking without a destination in mind is one of my favourite travel activities and Ung Polaroid, Handmade Shop and Gallery was one of these finds.
Ung is located at one end of Khang Ruan Jum Road and is the home to photography exhibits, a store with some great polaroid postcards, and much more. There was even a cat to play with.
Food wise the city has been treating us right and I am over the moon with the range of options available. Taste From Heaven was our first stop as it was located near the first place we stayed and right next to this book store which we were more than happy to browse in.
Of course I ordered the Pad See Ew. I almost always order the Pad See Ew! It's been my favourite Thai dish since I first tasted it at Pukk in New York City and I've never regretted an order of the sweet noodles. Taste From Heaven's take includes TVP and whilst I would prefer tofu or perhaps mock duck it's still beyond decent.
I have since tried other things including this plate of Rard-Na Noodles with veggies and textured soya protein in a soya bean sauce which was the perfect comfort foodie meal on a day where I woke up with an inexplicable craving for biscuits and gravy. I blame Instagram.
The Fresh Spring Rolls are another of my go-to orders, I've ordered them literally every single time I've visited (Oh Parks and Rec I'm gonna miss you). Crisp lettuce and crunchy veggies paired with fresh flavourful herbs will always be a favourite of mine and I loooove that these come with a sweet tamarind sauce. Also, tofu. Love.
I'm always pleased when somewhere does a great job with a vegan dessert and oh boy does Taste From Heaven do it well. This is described on the menu as a brownie but it's really more like a superb slab of chocolate cake.
It's served hot so the chocolate chips are all melty and perfect, it's sharable but if you're hungry I'd strongly recommend keeping it to yourself.
Amrita Garden is one of my very favourite place in Chiang Mai. I'm a huge Japanese food aficionado, my travels there last year just amplified the situation, and I love Amrita Garden's take on everything from the super traditional to the Japanese twists on Western classics. Their burger, for example, is made up of a delicately flavoured vegetable patty topped with homemade tofu mayo, ketchup and mustard.
The cold soba broth is delicately flavoured with kombu, shiitake, soy sauce and sweet rice wine, it's absolute perfection in a bowl. I've never had quite such amazing noodles, they must be homemade.
Dessert wise they've got it going on and the green tea brownie is pretty much the best ever. Matcha and Almond are a dream team and I've been eating more of these than I could possibly count.
They also sell a Dark Cacao brownie topped with cashews which I don't love as much as the matcha brownie but Nick wanted me to let you know that it's his fave'. If cookies are more your scene Amrita Garden have you sorted on that front too with Oatmeal Raisin Cookies from Pim or Bitter Chocolate Cookies from Healthy Sweets.
These are both delicious and hit very different spots, the oatmeal raisin are your straight up classic cookie whilst the bitter chocolate biccies hover at the more sophisticated end of the spectrum. You need to watch out here because some of the goodies on sale at Amrita Garden have the vegan label but contain honey, just flip them over and read the ingredients before you buy. I wonder when everyone'll understand that if it came from an animal (including a bee!) that it just Is. Not. Vegan. Full stop. No further discussion.
One afternoon, fuelled up with plenty of energy from all of the delicious food, Nick and I made the trip out to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep which is 15km outside of the city with a couple of the new friends we made at Elephant Nature Park. It's truly stunning up there, especially on a clear day, and it's the perfect spot to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city below and to breathe some cleaner, fresher air.
At the end of our adventures we were rewarded with this wonderful surprise as we were leaving, a tiny puppy chewing a tiny shoe. Good lard. It really was too much.
Until next time friends! I'll catch you for part two soon.