Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Thai Shopping, Street Food and Getting Around

The hotel shuttle dropped us off at Nimmanhaemin Road and we decided to walk, sight see and look at shops. We found this block of shops that sold Northern Thai styled items. These included a lot of handmade hill tribe bags and linen. Chiang Mai is known for its hill tribe people like the Hmongs. It's a great place if you want to buy some hand stitched goods. Everything they make is so intricate and beautifully colourful. These shops however, were more on the pricey side, you can get cheaper bags from markets like the Night Bazaar or the Sunday Night Market.

The best way to get around Chiang Mai city is to catch the local red taxi. These are called songthaew. It has two long benches on the sides making it possible for large groups of people to sit inside. They're distinctly red, so you won't miss them, there's dozens of them driving around the city centre. What amuses me about Thai taxi drivers is that they beep and shout from their vehicle to get your attention. Some of them also manage to illegally u-turn busy streets so that they can offer you a ride. It kind of gets awkward when you don't need a taxi, especially when they slow down in front of you and stick their arm or head out gesturing. Most taxis charged us 20 Baht per person for a short ride around, I'm not sure if they were ripping us off, but when 20 Bahts aren't even equivalent to one Australian dollar, who cares really? I loved riding around in songthaews, it's all open, exhilarating and you're able to view the streets commotion while zipping through the city.

For lunch, we decided to eat at what seemed to be a local restaurant. The people working there didn't speak or understand any English and we found it amusing although hard to communicate with them. They gave us English menus but it was obvious that the menu did not have the same or as many dishes as the Thai one. We really wanted to eat fried noodles and after a while of trying to explain and ask what they serve, we finally settled back in in to our chairs and the humidity. It started to rain quite heavily while we waited for the food! The noodles were a simple flat rice noodle stir fried with egg, chicken and bean sprouts, with some lettuce on the side. It was such a simple and yummy dish!

Most Thai eateries feature several containers holding amazing condiments. The usual salt and pepper that is common at cafes here, was replaced by white sugar, smoky chilli flakes, green chilli in vinegar and fish sauce. If you come across these condiments in a Thai restaurant, I totally recommend sprinkling a little bit of everything on your dish, it enhances the flavours and gives it a wonderful salty, spicy and sour-ish kick! So good!

While walking down Nimmanhaemin Road we stopped by this cafe called Mont Nom Sod, or just Mont. We decided to head in to this chain milk and bread cafe because of the giant mountain of margarine sitting at the window. This woman was buttering dozens of white toast and there was a queue at the cashier, which made us super intrigued! What they do here is simply buttered toast with different toppings and a selection of milk based drinks. The bread was that delicious white fluffy bread that is commonly found in Asian bakeries, it's a little sweet and extremely soft. We decided to get toast with condensed milk and green kaya, which is basically a coconut egg custard. The kaya might be a little daunting for some, but trust me, it's amazing, it's subtly sweet and coconuty. We also ordered some hot milk tea. Both went extremely well together! This snack was actually one of my favourites during our trip! It was so simple, it was crunchy, soft, buttery and sweet, just amazing! The interior of the cafe is very much like a fast food chain and it seemed like a very popular place for locals to come and eat delicious food after work.