Moto Adventures

Friday, March 26, 2010

Heather can cook

As I've said in previous posts, the main attractions here in Chiang Mai are trekking and cooking schools and seeings as I (we) are not up to trekking at the moment I decided to check myself into a half day days course. It sounded interesting to me and Ken is never opposed to my learning culinary skills. As it happened I was the only student signed up for the afternoon class so received my very own personal, one on one tutorial.
So, what was on the books in the kitchen on this 36 degree (before flame and oven temperatures) afternoon? I had my choice of numerous dishes from which I had to pick 6. My top 6 picks were.
  1. Tom Yam Kong-hot and sour prawn soup
  2. Kai Phat Met-mamaung-stir fried chicken with vegetables and cashew nuts
  3. Nam-phrik aeng Khiaw waan-green curry paste
  4. Kaeng Khiaw waan Kai-green curry chicken
  5. Paw-pia Thawt-spring rolls
  6. Khao-neeaw Ma-muang-sticky rice pudding with mangoes

After being picked up at our hotel the instructor and I stopped by a local market on our way to the cooking school, here she showed me all the different veggies and spices that are used in Thai cooking (most of which I would be using later on that afternoon). It was very interesting because Ken and I had seen them all before but had no way of asking what certain things where because the people who work in the markets seldom speak English. Most Thai dishes are made from fresh items cooked quickly and in a wok. When at home the Thai eat sitting on the floor, each person has a plate of rice and main dishes placed in the middle and are shared with everyone dipping their sticky rice in the soups or main dishes. Thai also eat 6 or 7 times a day, it is amazing they are such small people and generally not over weight. One Thai described their food as fresh, healthy and made of herbs that were good for the insides. Interesting, but whatever the description I say it is just down right yummy!

Oiy, my cooking instructor and I get ready for an afternoon in the kitchen.

Hot and Sour Prawn Soup
  • 50 gr prawns
  • 3-4 pieces lemon grass
  • 3-4 pieces slices ginger root
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 1-3 dried or fresh chilies, crushed
  • 30 gr straw mushrooms, torn into small pieces
  • 30 gr onion, cut into pieces
  • 30 gr tomatoe, cut into pieces
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1-1 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce
  • 1 1/2 c chicken stock
  • sliced coriander and chives for garnish


  1. Boil chicken stock in a pot, add lemon grass, ginger root, kaffir lime leaves and chilies, cook until boiling.
  2. Add straw mushrooms and large onion in the pot with gentle stir. Wait for a few minutes until everything is done.
  3. Add prawns, tomatoes, and season with fish sauce, sugar and lemon juice to taste. Turn off heat.
  4. Sprinkle with coriander and chives, it is ready to serve.

The best!!!

I made my own green curry paste from scratch, 13 herbs and spices. Pounded to pulp by hand. Obviously they haven't heard of a food processor in Thailand (or at least they are not admitting it.)

Rolled with my own hands vegetable spring rolls (sweet chili sauce for dipping) and banana spring rolls (sweetened condensed milk for dipping).

Now all I need is more chances to practice.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

From Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai and back again

Due to unforeseen circumstances Ken and I will be hanging around the north of Thailand so why not see a little more of what it has to offer? Tony was around for a few days, renewing his Thai visa and we didn't want him to be too bored so it was off to the zoo, the mall,a movie and anything else Ken and I could do with various bum legs and arms. After Tony's time with us was over we decided we had seen enough of Chiang Mai for the time being and it was time to move on. My leg was semi-mobile and we didn't have to see the doctor until the 23rd so we jumped on a bus and off we went farther north and into the mountains to Tha Ton.
Funny story; until now we have travelled by plane on this trip and our bus to Tha Ton was the first leg of our journey using local transport and we decided to go by regular bus with the locals. The trip was a bit hot but overall pretty good. After we were settled in our guesthouse in
Tha Ton we patted ourselves on the back, congratulating our selves on a job well done without our own mode of transportation (our own bike) Ya, later wanting to go for a walk we realized we had forgotten a bag, including shoes and books, on the bus. Crap. Lucky for us a guide staying at the same guesthouse was able to phone the bus station and the bag was delivered to our room the next morning, for $1 (I think Ken gave him a tip). We liked the little town of Tha Ton so much we stayed an extra day and explored the countryside a little and rode right up to the Burma border with was only a few kms from our guesthouse. From Tha Ton the longtail boats only make the trip to Chiang Ria once a day and only if they have 6 people for the ride. Ken and I were little nervous because we had not seen another traveller who was planning to take the trip and although we liked Tha Ton we didn't want to out stay our visit. The boat driver had to make hay while the sun was shineing and we picked up 7 other people along the way. The trip was the best 350 B, or $10 each we have spent so far. We all sat sideways in the skinny boat (head to foot) and off we went in very low waters. The weather has been so dry here the river is quite low and everyone had to get out of the boat ,at least 6 times (except me with the injuries), and help push the boat off sand bars. Good fun with some great people.

Once in Chiang Rai we setup in a guest house and took a look around the city. Chiang Rai is at a higher altitude and farther north (only 60 km from the Burma border) so the weather is nice here, not as hot as Chiang Mai and not at all humid. The only thing wrong here is that the Burmese or the Thai (depending on who you talk to) are burning the rice fields or underbrush even more that around Chiang Mia and there is so poor visibility you can barely see your hand in front of you face, so forget about seeing any of the local hillside scenery, which they say is breath taking. We like the speed of Chiang Rai, slower and with a population of just over 60 thousand it is easy to get around in. Everything is just a little more expensive up here, ha ha, we still have trouble spending $40 to $50 a day.

It has been close to one month for us here in Thailand, 30 days is the end of our tourist visa and seeing as we have to see the doctor on the 23rd we made a the run over the border to Burma and got a 2 week extension on our Thai visa on entry back into the country. On the way to the Burmese border we rode the Golden triangle, where you ride along the Thai, Laos and Burma border, where the opium trade used to be the main economy (may still be). Burma has the largest market we have ever seen, just over the border you can buy any knock-off item you could think of. Anything you ever wanted to buy at one tenth the price and as usual I can't spend a dime...I am so cheap! but Ken got a pair of Oakleys for $1...
Time to head back to Chiang Mai to see the doctor. This trip we took the 1st class bus...with a/c. Oh, and we bought an extra suitcase so all of our things can be put inside so we won't leave anything behind. Man what a ride on the 1st class...a/c, bucket seats, movies and a stewardess handing out bottled water and cookies, life is good! Once in Chiang Mai it was back to the Prince Hotel and our old room.

What a he-man flonting his stuff at the
Chiang Mai zoo.

Thailand's favorite mode of transportation, now which one is ours???

Shopping is the mall, I fit right in.

Sunset on a What in Chiang Mai.

From Tha Ton we rode to the small town of Mae Solong, where the chinese settled in the 1940's and started growing tea.

Ken samples Olong tea, which seems to be the favorite. Tea testings is a lot like wine sampling, including a tradition of pouring, colour and aroma.

The longboats are the main form of transportation in the river. Boats like these make the trip 60 km trip from Tha Ton to Chiang Rai in approximately 4 hours.

Life along the river.

An elephant camp along the river.

The White Palace in Chiang Rai. It looks so different because most are bright gold or made of teak.

Not exactly a luxury model, used for transporting farm goods.

We found out everything we needed to know about opium.

The Golden Triangle sits on the Mekong river, bordering Thailand, Loas and Burma (or Myanmar).
Medical update. We have been getting our wounds cleaned everyday at the hospital. Turns out Kens elbow should have had stitches so it is taking a while to mend. I got my stitches out in my elbow and knee in Chiang Rai. Both knees are not healing as fast as I would like, I'm walking but very slow and I can't bend the one knee at all. We have talked to 3 doctors and have got 3 different theories on healing, it is a little frustrating. It's kind of funny as well, everyday when we go in for cleaning the procedure is different and and bill is different, even for the same thing. Ken and I have started taking wagers on what the price will be at the end of the day. Our Dr today says maybe one more week of antibiotics and cleaning, I hope that is all. We would like to move onto Laos and Vietnam but will not leave until the we feel confident all is well.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Chiang Mai

We had to say good-bye to Puket, after 10 days we had mixed feeling about leaving. I could have used a little more time unwinding sitting by the pool but we both felt the need to get moving and experience a little more of the Thai culture. We bought plane tickets to Chiang Mai in the north, Faun (the Thai girl whose bungalows we were staying at) gave us a ride to the bus and off we went to catch our plane to new and cooler places in the north.
Desending into Chiang Mai the first thing we noticed was the air quality, it reminded us of the firestorm in Kelowna, but it isn't that bad everyday and after a while you really don't notice it at all...really.
A couple in Puket gave us the name of the Prince Hotel, they said it was a value in Chiang Mai with a pool, h/c water and aircon all for 600 baht ($20) a night, so we have taken up residence here and are quite comfortable.
Chiang Mai is a nice city, it has a population of about 165 thousand, it is very warm and welcoming. The old city where we are hanging our hats is built in a square shape surrounded on all 4 sides by a moat that was built over 700 years ago to keep out Burmese invaders. Each side is about 2 km long with traffic travelling clockwise on the outside of the moat and counterclockwise on the inside. The old city is dissected with a few main roads which makes it easy to get around in but off of the main roads there are hundreds of little "soi" or alleys down which you will find all kinds on restaurants, shops and guest housed (hundreds). It is fantastic to go exploring, each day we have rented either pedal bikes or mopeds to get around on. A close runner up to the number of guest houses in Chiang Mai is the number of Wats, Buddha temples, there are about 300 temples here almost as many as in Bangkok which is a whole lot bigger city.
Trecking, and cooking schools are all the rage here. Every morning when we go the market for our fresh mango shake for breakfast we can see the students and teachers carrying their baskets shopping for all the fresh ingredients they will be using in the coarse that day. The smells of the fresh spices and all the vendors selling grilled meats and stirfrys is absolutely incredible. The Thais use alot of spice/herbs with all fresh simple ingredients, their food is so good for you...well we did see a Mc and a KFC here but that kind of fast food in far and few between and it is expensive compared to the $1 to $2 meals you can buy in a local restaurant.
Needless to say we love it here.

A view of Chiang Mai from the road to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep a temple on top of a nearby mountain.

Looking down the moat at night.

One of the oldest Wats in Chiang Mai

The intricate carving is unbelievable, the hours of labour that must have gone into it is mind boggling

What do you call these?

A dragon guards the long stairway to Wat Phar That Doi
Suthep, Ken and I climbed the steps along with Buddhist monks. At the bottom Ken took their picture for them in this same spot, I guess they can be tourists too.

A vendor in the market sells deep fried cockroaches, grasshoppers and grubs, we passed!

The sun over rice fields, you can see how smoky it is.

OK, you know trips can't be all fun and games, and Ken and I have considered ourselves pretty lucky in all the travelling that we have done, but we had a little bad luck when our friend Tony came up from Bangkok to visit and go on a bike trip to the Golden Triangle with us. We were travelling through a twisty mountain pass having a great time and enjoying our day. I saw a great picture op and asked Ken to pull over so I could take a picture. We hit some loose tar and down we went. Not nice. Luckily a truck passed by and took me to a clinic while Ken and Tony rode the bikes behind. A nurse cleaned us up but told us to go back to Chiang Mai to the hospital. Somehow I sat on the bike for the 1 1/2 hour ride back to Chiang Mai and luckily the bike was still ridable and Ken wasn't that badly hurt he couldn't ride it. At the hospital they cleaned Ken up (some good road rash and a bruise from his hip to his knee). I on the other hand had to have a little bit of a knee surgery, the skin was wore off down to the knee cap, along with a few stitches to an elbow. 3 days in the hospital for me and I will walking with care for a long while. Fortunately no bones were broken, we were wearing our helmets and we both walked away from the accident. The travel insurance company has been good, of coarse we had to pay with our visa and they will reimburse us (more flyer points for us). Much to our surprise the bike only cost $70 to fix and the shop was really nice about it (people are so nice here!) I guess there are many accidents here everyday. The health bills have been around $1000 so far and I have to keep going to the hospital everyday to get my wounds cleaned and then the stitches removed in 2 weeks. I don't even want to think what it would have cost in the U.S.!!!
Anyway, our plans have changed a little, we will hang around the north of Thailand for a few more weeks then probably go to Bangkok and then to Vietnam only for the last week or so before we fly out. That's OK we are flexible. Here are few pics of the accident...

Ken and I get adjoining beds in emergency.

I get stitched up and settled in for a few days.

Ken's nasty bruise on his hip.

One of our lovely nurses, they were all sooo nice!
Life goes on.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

A new business opportunity for Ken and Heather

Have you ever though "What business could I start up in Canada that was new and exciting and never been seen before"?
These little fish are very hungry and they will eat all the dead dry skin on your feet, leaving your feet feeling soft smooth and strangely tender.

A small dollar investment, minimal overhead and literally no upkeep with a great return on your money!

What does Heather think of it? Well after a while she could keep her feet in the water but it gave her the total willies!

I think Kens feet got a real working over, with more fish attracted to his toes and feet. He thought he could feel them nibbling with the occasional pull on his hair.

Oh, I think he likes it. Investors anyone?