Delightful Chiang Mai

When going to Chiang Mai I knew most people going to Thailand will go there, it’s a set point in the backpackertrail of South East Asia. We stayed for a week !

Yee Peng – the Secret Festival
October 29th was the annual Yee Peng. There’s a lot of confusion about Yee Peng and Loy Krahton, because the latter is very extended because of tourists. What I found out made me think of it like this; Yee Peng is the official lantern festival. Thai people try to keep that one for Thai only, so they tend to give tourists (me) wrong information about it, and only when I tell them I know, I get directions to the grounds where the lanterns will be released. Loy Krahton is two weeks later. It’s a festival to thank the river for giving live to the earth and wishes for a good next year. These days the people also release lanterns at this festival as it attracts more tourists than the little floats the let on to the river. Conclusion: Yee Peng is a secret Thai festival and I found out about it! It is by far the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen happening. From the calm way 5000 Thai were gathered in one area (fights guaranteed were they in The Netherlands), to the friendly dispostion they had to foreigners “invading” their festival. We shared a lantern with some young (25-ish-year-old) Thai people that came all the way from Bangkok for it and released it together with everyone else. The pictures turned out beautiful, but really, it’s nothing compared with how spectacular and even emotional it is to see so many lanterns being released with a wish for peace. It was amazing.

Cooking Course
It was great. The main thing is; I got to learn how to make fresh spring rolls! Yum yum yum… There were five categories to choose from and everyone chose something different, except in the appetizer categorie because everybody loves spring rolls so much. We went to the morning market to get some fresh produce and then on to the cooking. By the end of the day I’d met some great new people, learnt how easy it is to make stuff when everything is already chopped and got very, very, full with amazing food. That I made myself!

Aroon Rai
Speaking of great food… If you every go to Chiang Mai, go to Aroon Rai, it’s just outside of the moat. It’s been mentioned in the Lonely Planet for over 20 years and yet, I found mostly Thai people there. At dinner time there’s a few more farang trying out the great Northern Thai dishes. I think we went there four times, and it was delicious. Try the chicken potato curry and the Chiang Mai sausage.

Couchsurfing
Wow, now there’s a first. I’d never been couchsurfing before, and Tom only once, but it was great. We stayed on Daniel’s couch. He’s an English Teacher in Chiang Mai – from Australia originally and a very creative guy. Some guitarsessions later, we were even invited to come watch one of his classes. Which turned out as a “guess this farang’s favourite food/drink/animal”. I got estimated to be 85 years old, which was nothing compared to Tom’s 95 million! Lots of laughing all around. We stayed two nights and it was so great tagging along to a small night food court on the street, where Daniel usually goes to have dinner. Note to self; learn the Thai dishes by name!
All in all, a fun experience and awesome way to meet someone new. Thanks Daniel, for having us crashing on your couch!

Well there we go. As you can read, Chiang Mai was amazing. We went on to discover Pai. But more about that next time. Until then, enjoy these Chiang Mai pictures!

Chiang Mai 2011
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