After ten days of silent equanimity in Phitsanulok, Thailand, it was time to enter back into the hustle and bustle of travel reality. We boarded yet another bus (thankfully not a 26 hour bus…) and made our way to Chiang Mai.
Chiang Mai (not to be confused with Chiang Rai which I can imagine has happened more often than people admit) is an ancient Buddhist city in the northern region of Thailand that rests amidst beautiful trekking terrain and is home to the best street art we’ve seen on the trip.
The city itself has been taken over by tourism, but it still holds true to a lot of its Buddhist charm. Temples lay throughout the city and it’s not uncommon to pass a monk on your way to lunch.
But with tourism comes the many traditional tourist activities that tend to overtake the historical beauty. One of the most common in Chiang Mai is zip lining; dozens of companies offer ridiculous deals that cover an absurd milage of land while adventurers never touch the forest floor.
It’s extremely appealing.
After talking with the trip accountant (yours truly) and seeing we were averaging a mere $16 USD a day in Thailand (between the two of us), we decided we’d splurge on a zip lining adventure. Chris had experienced some stellar zip lining in Costa Rica which added to the high hopes for our expected trip.
We stopped by one of the many kiosks on our way to lunch, grabbed a brochure to mull over and promised the representative that we’d be back soon. Luckily, during lunch we decided to take a gander at Trip Advisor to find out more about the company.
**Keep in mind this post is not titled Mind Blowing Zip Lining Adventure that We’ll Never Forget!!!**
Lo and behold, we found recent reviews (one month prior) of a tragic zip lining accident with our chosen company which left one Chinese tourist dead. As you can imagine, this was extremely unsettling especially considering the tragedy was the result of safety equipment malfunctioning. We found more recent incidents of serious accidents and injuries after a quick search on the web and decided that our moms would not approve.
So instead of risking our lives on a wicked zip lining adventure, we opted to take a cooking class- a vegetarian cooking class.
Thailand has been, hands down, our favorite destination for amazing food, so it seemed almost obligatory to find out some of its secrets.
Being that vegetarianism was one of the eight precepts we committed to during the meditation course, we continued the diet since the retreat and found ourselves a top rated vegetarian restaurant called Taste From Heaven and signed up for an afternoon course.
The restaurant had pizzazz and the food was heavenly (pun intended).
The walls were decorated with famous quotes from a few well-known vegetarians including Mohandas Gandhi who said, “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” and Paul McCartney who claimed that “if slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian”.
It was a nice motivator for us novice vegetarians whose traditional Sunday dinner at home includes steak, chicken and crab – all in one sitting.
We struggled mightily to choose five dishes to cook from the menu as they all sounded delicious. Our final All Star lineup included Tom Yum Soup (served in a coconut), Massaman Curry (Chris’ new obsession), Green Curry, Hot and Spicy Sir Fry, and Spring Rolls. Each had it’s unique challenges, but the end result was taste bud euphoria.
Thai dishes are filled with tons of diverse spices (many we’ve never heard of) and the cooking process is very specific. The chef of the restaurant coached us as we chopped, mixed, smashed, rolled, cooked and tasted. We learned a lot and had a ton of fun.
A truly savory experience.
I doubt we’ll ever be able to recreate the exact tastes, but I’m confident we’ll be back to this wonderful country to experience it again soon.