We are in the city of Chiang Rai about 500 miles north of Bangkok and close to the borders of Laos and Burma. The city is a friendly melting pot of several cultures including Thai, Lana, Chinese, Lao and Burmese.
The province is known for its great natural beauty, trekking tours and the many hill tribe communities that are sprinkled throughout the region.
When we arrived on Tuesday, we got oriented to the textiles and crafts of the region by visiting the Hill Tribe Museum where we met Ati, who uses traditional methods of spinning and weaving to make beautiful fabrics, shawls, blankets and bags. She is so loyal to her craft, she hand rolls the tassels on blankets and uses only natural dyes.
We have had a few mediocre meals in Thailand in our search for street food that works for both of us (ok, the truth is that any street food works for Mags including roasted crickets). But we found the perfect sea food barbecue at the night market, where we sat with local Thais for a performance of cross-dressers doing Judy Garland-type numbers. Some of the other tourists were at a restaurant on the other side of the food stalls listening to Thai covers of Peter, Paul and Mary, so we knew we were in the right place.
Yesterday, we took an all-day tour with the NGO that operates the Hill Tribe Museum. The tour included stops at an Akha village where we saw a traditional dance and a demonstration of weaving and spinning, and walked through the tiny hillside community. We also saw an organic tea plantation, a temple (or “wat”) and visited an outdoor market in the hill town of Mae Salong.
Today, we signed up for a great cooking class that started with a tour of the local market. We enjoyed some amazing snacks, including donuts made with mung bean paste and rice flour, banana leaves stuffed with ginger, peanuts, coconut, chilis and dried shrimp, and cakes made without baking — it is too hot here! Mags found some really excellent curry pastes to take back to Spain (where they don’t sell curry paste) and we shopped with our hostess, Suwannee, for a four course meal.
In addition to learning about Thai foods and cooking, I bought two frogs at the market who would have otherwise been enjoyed by the monks at a later date. We released them into Suwannee’s pond to live out their natural lives with a turtle and five other frog friends.
Happy Halloweenie to you! I enjoyed all the pictures in this post enormously, particularly the one with you and your frogs. It was a perfect Kimmie pic capturing your joy and respect for animals (alas, not plants.)
But, I have a favor to ask. Can you possibly steal Mags’ “hat” and burn it? It looks like she robbed it from Ray Bolger’s Scarecrow in the Wizard of Oz. She shouldn’t be allowed to wear such an icon until she acknowledges the superiority of NYC bagels.
This hat, which I like to call my ‘attitude’, has been envied by style mavens on five continents. Learning that smoked meat is yet *another* NYC disappointment must have sent you over the edge.
Kim, please Fedex me a grilled coconut cream asap! What fun adventures you are having. I love that you rescued the poor frogs. I once bought and released an armadillo that was headed for a stew.