|Beautiful Chiang Dao.|
For this month of March, let's walk down the memory lane to revisit those sensational few weeks in Thailand back in late 2014 - you know, that time when Simon and I took a travel sabbatical in Asia and had months of incredible fun without a care in the world. In other words, only now am I getting around to sharing my pictures and experiences from a trip I made one-and-a-half years ago. But shhhhhh, we can pretend that everything is perfectly up-to-date.
I'll begin this Thailand travel series with our jaunt in Chiang Dao.
I love this place.
I mean, a typical day here would start off with us playing with the adorable resident puppy at Chan and Cees, the guesthouse where we stayed.
And then we'd make our way to the nearby restaurant, Model Farm, where I'd order a fantastically magenta mulberry smoothie. I think they add quite a generous pinch of salt to it, perhaps a little bit too much, but it's still a great smoothie.
|An enticingly purple mulberry smoothie at Model Farm restaurant in Chiang Dao.|
And we'd order whatever took our fancy that day. The food here is very nicely prepared with superbly fresh ingredients, and most of them range from 30 to 60 baht, so it's hard to go wrong. The pad thai is pretty awesome, and we had it on more than one occasion. By the way, I really fell in love with pad thai during this trip to North Thailand. Back in Australia, too many eateries fall into the trap of using too much sugar in their pad thai. Over here, however, the addition of sugar is subtle, or perhaps they forgo it entirely, and it's up to you to season your food to your own preferences by partaking from the nifty array of condiments available at your table, if you so wish.
|Pad thai at Model Farm restaurant in Chiang Dao.|
This spicy pork salad is memorable, not just because it was tasty, but also because of how breathtakingly spicy it was. You can see for yourself - the sliced grilled pork is basically buried under an avalanche of garlic and chilli!
|Spicy pork salad with copious amounts of garlic and chilli, also at Model Farm restaurant in Chiang Dao.|
Then we'd get on the road, and explore, explore, explore.
|Venturing into the villages of Chiang Dao.|
Temple ruins, why not?
|Temples ruins near Chiang Dao Cave.|
We also visited the gorgeous Wat Tham Pha Plong. As we meandered up the 500+ steps, signs carrying assorted pearls of wisdom entertain us.
|One of the many signs at Wat Tham Pha Plong.|
And every now and then, exquisite glimpses of the temple beckoned to us. It was so calm and peaceful up there, when we finally reached the top.
|The graceful and elegant Wat Tham Pha Plong.|
More random exploring.
Don't you just love those dreamy mountain views?
And how about a sunset like this one?
|An incredible sunset in Chiang Dao. It looks like the clouds are on fire!|
At night, we'd get dinner at any place that caught our eyes. The fun thing about Chiang Dao is that it is still wonderfully Thai in nature - that is to say, many businesses here do not use English as a communication medium. This makes eating out even more of an adventure. Guesswork, gesturing... all in a night's work. The street food vendors were delighted to see us. The appreciation is mutual.
|Street food stall in Chiang Dao.|
This is something that is at least somewhat familiar to me - the spicy, tangy Thai glass noodle salad, yum woon sen. Good stuff, which is really not surprising, given that Thai salads are generally magnificent. People who say you don't win friends with salad are clearly not well-acquainted with Thai salads. Their loss.
|Nice, affordable yum woon sen.|
The cool thing about Simon is that he's willing to try stuff that he can't see. I'm okay with trying stuff that I can't identify, but I usually prefer to, y'know, at least see what I'll be eating. Not him. I go along for the ride, and expand my horizons as a result. Mystery food wrapped up in banana leaves, that give no hint of the contents within? Bring it on.
Mystery parcel number one. Chicken, I think, in a herbaceous sauce.
|Mystery food in banana leaf, take one.|
Mystery parcel number two is similar to a frittata, or whatever. Note to self - it would probably be helpful to blog about something while it's still fresh in my mind.
|Mystery food in banana leaf, take two.|
Markets are also fun, and full of surprises. Where else do you purchase a sausage and bite into it with hungry carnivorous anticipation, only to find out it's actually a rice sausage? At markets, that's where.
|A deceptive sausage.|
We also stumbled upon khanom buang thai, which is like a crispy Thai crepe. These sweet little dessert snacks were quite charming. The light and crunchy crepes are filled with fluffy meringue as well as sweet shredded egg yolk or coconut, and they are petite enough that it is all too easy to keep popping them into your mouth, over and over again.
|Thai crispy crepe - khanom buang.|
So that's the summary of our time in Chiang Dao.
Chiang Dao isn't for everyone, of course. It isn't a party town, and I certainly hope it never goes down that path. Additionally, you won't get many options in terms of shopping, events, or entertainment here, but if you're looking for some peace and relaxation, and you enjoy getting in touch with nature, the serene mountain views in Chiang Dao offer a sublime backdrop for a sweet and simple down-to-earth existence. A few days here was just right for us!