May 262012

The luckiest thing that happened to us in Chiang Mai was that we happened to be there during the city’s annual Intakin Festival.  It takes place over a week and celebrates the city’s guardian pillar at Wat Chedi Luang.  It was going on May 17-23 this year, so every night we were there!  At night, all these stall vendors lined Phrapokkloa Rd selling delicious treats.  One vendor that we wouldn’t eat off of was the sushi vendor – not off the street in the hot weather!

Street Sushi? No Thanks

What we did eat for dinner was delicious khao soi!  Yay!  We’ve also come to the conclusion that khao soi is definitely not as widespread as we thought.  Only a few places have them (well, local places—not counting tourist restaurants).  But we came across a street vendor selling khao soi at the festival.  So good!  Much better than the last one we had.  Not as sweet and more curry flavor.  Just $1 for the bowl, success!

Delicious Khao Soi!

At another one of the street stalls, Mike tried the fried larvae, ick!  He saw Thais eating it, so he figured it was okay.  I tried a couple too, tastes like fried crunchy things.  Not bad, but I couldn’t eat more than two.  Mike polished off the whole bag.  Me?  I got myself some Lanna Thai sausage of course.

Crispy Larvae

Next door to the temple there was a small carnival set up.  Everyone loves carnivals!  It was really cute watching all these Thai families there playing carnival games and winning huge stuffed animals for the little kids.

I remember loving the balloon dart game as a kid

Inside the Wat Chedi Luang temple complex, it was completely packed with people.  You walk clockwise around a shrine and drop flowers and light candles along the way.  The air was buzzing with energy and it was such a happy celebration.

Packed Temple - There was a line to get in!

There was one giant banyan tree that everyone was stacking with flowers.  It’s said that the banyan tree acts as a solid foundation and if it were to ever fall over, Chiang Mai would surely fall after it.  People were lighting candles (you get one for the day of the week you were born) and placing lotus buds at the chedi as well.

Lighting Candles at the Base of the Chedi

On the stage, there were lots of young girls performing: dancing, singing, and sword dances.  Yes, sword dancing!  They were so young and I’m sure the swords weren’t sharp, but still fascinating all the same.  I could’ve watched the dancing for hours but I think Mike was getting bored. =)

Dancing with Swords

Traditional Thai Dancing

This was probably most fun we had walking around Chiang Mai.  It was nice to walk around surrounded by Thais instead of tourists and watch their celebrations.

May 192012

In Chiang Mai, there’s pretty much 3 big main things to do: temples, elephants, and eat khao soi!  Chiang Mai is known for khao soi, which is a noodle soup dish with a spicy nutty curry as the broth.  It usually comes with a side of lime, shallots, and picked vegetables.  I did plenty of research of course on where to get the best khao soi, you know me!

I had it narrowed down to a couple of places, and for dinner last night I made Mike come with me on a forced march to hunt one down.  It’s called Lam Duan and south of Wat Faham.  I would tell you exactly where it is but we never found it.  After walking around random dark roads for 30 minutes and asking several people, we put together that it’s supposedly only open from 8-5pm (and it was 7pm by now).  Doh!  Mike was getting grumpy at this point since he was getting hungry and it seemed like we were walking around aimlessly. =)  He doesn’t get my quest for delicious food!

So then I suggested we walk south to another place that has good khao soi, near the Night Bazaar so we could walk around there afterwards.  Fast forward another 20-30 minutes and no luck for Khao Soi Islam either.  Strike two!  Boy, was I in trouble now.

Okay, so I gave up and we just ate at the next decent place we saw.  We ended up getting dinner at Sil-aat in the Kalare Night Bazaar, which is a huge sprawling night market where you can buy everything you can possibly imagine.  We got the chicken khao soi at Sil-aat—well, you have to order it now since we just searched for it for an hour!  And we tried the lanna sausage dish with fried pork rinds—also a Chiang Mai specialty.

Chicken Khao Soi

The khao soi was good, but so incredibly rich!  I guess now we have a base line to compare to, but I’m still determined to get to one of those places I researched.  Mike loved it and ate every single drop.

Lanna Sausage with Fried Pork Rinds

The sausage had thai chilis in it as well as kaffir lime leaves, so it had a sweet/spicy taste.  It came with green chili paste which was delicious but super hot!  Fried pork rinds well, is delicious fried pork.  Overall, it wasn’t bad, but since it was in the touristy night market, it was a bit pricey ($15 total).