We checked into our new hostel a couple days ago and are very pleased with it! Although the beds aren’t the best for comfort, the staff is wonderful! Hug Bed Hostel is owned by a married couple who are local to Chiang Mai. The wife’s mother is here helping them run the place and cooks street food right out front. We are on a very busy road right outside of the Old City walls. I wish I knew the mothers name so I could praise her here lol. She is one of the sweetest people we have met here. Everyone in Thailand so far has been nothing but nice and helpful but something about this woman is special. We sat outside in the hang out area with her and learned she recently came back from America! She was so excited to find out we were from the states because she just spent 4 months working as a chef at a hotel in Miami! Before that she spent 6 months in Albany, New York working at her friends Thai restaurant. She reminds me a lot of my next door neighbor back home, Chriyah. She too is a chef and owns her own restaurant in Thunderbolt. If you’ve never been, go now! My sister is a server there and the food is almost comparable to the food here.
Anyways, our new Thai friend (that’s what I’ll call her for now) noticed that we were looking for a cooking class so she suggested a place called Siam Garden Cooking School. Her exact words were “this best cooking class here, other cooking class not so nice but all the workers here are so nice! Like me!”. So we took her word for it and she set it all up for us. For only 900 Bhat ($25 USD) we were picked up and spent the afternoon/evening learning how to cook 6 Thai dishes.
Our ride was a little late picking us up but we later learned it was because there were 16 people signed up for the class and not enough room in the truck. We got special treatment and rode in the car with a young girl who works at Siam Garden. We went around the corner to a local market where we met up with the rest of the group. One of the instructors took us around to different stands and explained what all the herbs and ingredients were and what they were used for! We even got to sample each herb. After buying fresh ingredients for our meals we took a 30 minute drive outside the city area to where Siam Garden is located.
We were given water, coffee, & tea as well as aprons to change into. When the cooking classes began we all sat together at a long table where we found our name cards and plates with ingredients. Before we arrived at the garden we all had to fill out a name card where we selected what foods we wanted to cook. Christina and I both choose the same things so that we could learn together. We started off with a soup. We choose prawn and coconut milk soup and we’re instructed on how to cut the herbs, mushrooms & chilis. I’m not going to go into details about each meal but I’ll just list some things below. After getting everything together for our soup we were then given a stove to work on and we cooked everything. Once it was done we all gathered in the eating room and sat on the floor to try our meals. It was nice having this as a social time because we got to meet some great people! On our car ride there we met 2 girls who were traveling alone. One is from Germany and the other from England! While we are eating our soup we met 2 best friends who were traveling together like Christina and I! They are from Vancouver and we chatted with them a lot.
We then proceeded to make Panang Curry Paste and Panang Curry with Pork. Our next meal was chosen from a list of stir fry meals and we went with Chicken with Basil Leaves. Our instructors, camp &a art, were great! They both had us laughing the entire time and Camp, the junior manager, kept telling me he wanted to cut off my hair and take it home with him! He joked with us about going out and dancing with him and he even showed us what you are supposed to when you are done cooking. You say done while thrusting your hips forward. I’m pretty sure it’s just a silly joke and not actually a Thai tradition.
While we sat and ate again we had a super cool guy from Costa Rica join our table. He was originally from Canada but said he’s lived in Costa Rica most of his life. He’s currently traveling until he runs out of money. It seems to be the thing most travelers do. They just save up, quit their jobs and travel as long as they can. Between him and the Vancouver girls we all talked about how we got to Chiang Mai. The girls did an overnight train like we did but they told us a crazy story! Apparently there was a small group of people in their train car who were drinking and doing drugs all night and one of the guys ended up overdosing and died in the middle of the night. They said they had to stop somewhere for an hour while paramedics tried to re start his heart but there was nothing they could do. You could tell they were both a little shaken up over it. We shared that our train experience wasn’t the best so the Costa Rica guy told us about how he took a bus and it was great! The seats went back, they gave them blankets and food and even made a stop somewhere where they had a free buffet and bathroom break. It’s so nice learning other people’s stories and getting traveling advice!
After that we moved on to making an appetizer and dessert. I learned how to make fresh spring rolls with wet rice paper and veggies. Christina learned how to make fried spring rolls with dry rice paper and egg. Same same, but different. The dessert we choose was sticky rice with mango! Neither of us had ever had it before so it was fun to try something new. Camp even showed us how to make our rice blue by using a type of blue flower and coconut milk and cooking it over medium heat! Camp gave me the job of putting the rice on everyone’s plate and joked with me about how if I made a mess I would be charged 500 bhat. To joke back with him I told him he had to pay me for my hair. He was just really silly so it made our time there better!
All of the food we learned to cook was delicious so we hope we can use some of our new skills to cook for our families when we get home. They gave us a cookbook so we should be fine!
When it was time to leave we got back in the car and headed back to hug Bed. I sat upfront this time because I seem to get really car sick here. It was nice because I chatted with the girl who drove us and learned that she has lived in Chiang Mai her whole life. She’s 23 and has 1 younger sister. Her birthday is in March like mine so we bonded over that. She also asked me how old I was and was really surprised when I said I’ll be 26 soon. She told me that I looked really young so of course I want to be her best friend now! We even took selfies together lol. I also joined in on the conversation Christina was having in the back with the other girls and we all got on the topic of driving. In America we seem to have the youngest age! Both girls from Germany and England said they don’t get to start learning until they are 16 and don’t get their license until they turn 17. They also have to pay a lot of money to take lessons and take the test. Our driver told us that in Thailand you can’t get your license until you are 18 but you can get a motor scooter license when you are 16. It’s just really interesting learning about other countries and how other people live. Christina said that when she was talking to the girls in the back they both told her that they were solo travelers! Girl power right there! I could never travel along in a different country! I’m so thankful to have Christina here with me!
I started feeling really home sick yesterday but it think it’s because I was able to video chat with my family and we got to spend a while video chatting with Magen. It’s just a strange feeling being all the way on the other side of the world. Christina’s been helpful in making me feel better and Magen told us this morning that we both need to try and forget missing home and remember that we are here for a reason and doing this for a reason. I keep reminding myself that in a few weeks I’ll be wishing I was back here instead of Savannah.
Today we visited an incredible temple here in Chiang Mai! We wanted to make it to the famous White Temple and see the hill tribes but we just don’t have enough time in each city to do everything. The older lady that works here at our hostel told us “if you come to Chiang Mai and do lent got to the temple on Doi Suthep then you didn’t even come to Chiang Mai at all”
Doi means mountain in Thai, Wat means temple and Soi mean ally. We’re learning a little bit! We already knew how to say hello but we also just learned how to say thank you. Anyways, Wat Pharthat Doi Suthep Rajvoravihara is Chain Mai’s most sacred temple. It lies on top of a mountain and has a beautiful story behind it. I am going to write all about it in another post later on.