To save you from boredom of yet another post about food, markets, and my insatiable gluttony for trying new dishes, I thought I’d go get some formal culture on my last morning and a visit a museum. Nah just kidding!
I did start the day with a look around the Lanna Folk Life Museum for half an hour. It’s a quiet and cool place to be on a hot day, the building is a beautiful old teak design and the displays interesting – but not enough so to keep me there for long. The museum is at opposite ends of the same street as my favourite market and I soon found myself drifting back that way, squeezing past the long line of tourists who’d just disembarked from a huge bus and were following the flag of their guide on the narrow footpath.
I’d never made it to the Bumrung Buri Market when it was in full swing, always arriving too late when stalls were closing for the day. It was bustling at 10am – another cooking school group in their orange aprons were rushing through; local ladies filling their shopping carts; and the odd tourist like myself sampling a few wares and taking lots of photos.
The first stall that caught my eye was a very modest stove on the ground with trays of charred-grilled veggies cooking. Oh, how I love these. I bought a skewer each of roasted tomatoes and garlic cloves, eating them on the spot. Today’s rule was only to buy what I was going to eat immediately, as I’d already cleared the fridge in the flat and had to check out by mid-day. Besides in order to clear the fridge I’d had a massive sugar overload of fruit and sticky rice for breakfast.
I could live quite happily nearby this market and take a plate down every day to dine with the locals while watching the passing shoppers. You can buy bags of ready cooked dishes, including a good selection of vegetarian ones; a huge variety of sticky rice and a vast array of fruit, veg, herbs and curry pastes plus eggs, fresh noodles, meat, and fish. Maybe I’ll back a plastic plate and my thermos next time.
Just one small 20 Baht serve of salted veg with egg found its way into my bag, and one more banana dessert to try so I could take a photo. Chiang Mai is my foodie heaven. Friends said I would enjoy it and how right they were proven. I reluctantly wandered back to the flat along leafy alleyways to chuck the last few things in my bag, put my flying clothes on (respectable getting in to airline lounge clothes) and polish off this morning’s market food. The salted veg with egg was so good I’d come back just for that!
A ride to the airport in the back of a red truck was a fun experience, having avoided anything but walking since being here. One hundred Baht for the ride was considered expensive by my landlady Fon, but minimal cost for me and I had plenty of cash left over. Once inside the airport, check-in was smooth and I tried my luck at the Bangkok Airways lounge with my Qantas FF membership. No problem Madam, “Come in”. I was the only one in there and refreshments were limited to tea, coffee, sandwiches, and sticky rice in banana leaves (how apt). At least I got some quiet time and good Wi-Fi to commence the final post.
Many have asked how I can afford to travel so much. I have a great and semi-flexible job as a bookkeeper which is portable to some extent; I live a simple and frugal life at home; travel lightly when I arrive at my destination; have plenty of long service leave; and set myself a budget. For a quick trip like this my limit is AUD $1,500 from door to door, most of which goes in airfares from Alice Springs. For this trip the airfare was $1130, a stop-over in a Sydney hotel $95; train from Sydney airport return $35; Airbnb flat for 5 nights in Chiang Mai $150, spending money on the ground around $70 – just made it within budget! Also, I keep a good eye on any flight specials with my favoured airline and travel outside of peak times.
There are now three of us in the Bangkok Airways lounge and a large number of mosquitos. The sounds of us swatting them bought the attendant running with insect repellent, an electric zapper, and plenty of laughter from all of us as she ran around making popping noises with each slain creature.
I survived the onslaught of mosquitos and a crying baby in the seat next to me on the flight to Bangkok. Checked in to the Emirates lounge after a marathon walk to find the Qantas one at Bangkok airport after being told they closed theirs a couple of years ago. Perhaps I was on an Emirates flight last year so came straight to this one. French Riesling in hand and a bowl of nuts to nibble on these are the finishing sentences to be typed on a fabulous trip to Chiang Mai. Will I be back again? Hell Yeah! With some eating buddies in tow.