The Kingdom of Thailand

As most of you know, me and the Mr went to Thailand for just over 2 weeks for our holiday. And my god what an experience it was! It’s like a whole other world over there. COMPLETELY different to the western world that we are all so comfortable living in.

For the first week we stayed in a city called Chiang Mai. It’s a lovely place with an abundance of things to see and do. There’s a really relaxed vibe about the place.

One of the first things we went to see was the temple Doi Suthep on the top of one of the many mountains that surround the city. We got there by song taos which was an experience in itself! The driver even stopped about 2 thirds of the way up so we could get some photos from a lookout point. Stunning views! You could see the whole of Chiang Mai from up there!

When you arrive at the top you are greeted by stairs, stairs and more stairs! Definitely not one for the faint hearted. Although I would have LOVED to have had a slinky right then haha! When you breathlessly reach the top, you walk through an archway which leads you to the beautiful temples. The buildings and sculptures are so ornate and beautiful! As you can see from the photo above, all the decoration is very elaborate.

We were lucky enough to stay in the beautiful Bodhi Serene hotel. I couldn’t complain about anything even if I tried. I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Chiang Mai. But you didn’t come here to look at the hotel that I was staying in did you? No! You came here to see what foodie delights I discovered on my adventures. Well lets get stuck in!

On our first night in Chiang Mai we found a restaurant called Dash! around the corner from our hotel. It serves predominantly Thai cuisine. This particular dish, albeit not very Thai, was something that intrigued both me & the Mr. Shrimps wrapped in bacon! Yep, you heard me. Shrimp in Bacon. It was surprisingly delicious! Definitely an idea I will be stealing for party buffets at home!

Now this dish was something quite special. Chopped pork with basil leaf and egg. It was my first encounter with Thai basil. It literally tastes nothing like our basil at all! It has a very unique and distinctive flavour. I knew at this point I would have to find some to take home with me. The restaurant this dish was from was actually on the other side of town. It’s where all the locals eat and everything is phenomenally cheap! It only cost 100 bht for both our dinners which is about £2. Crazy! This and another version of this with chicken and chillis, was something I ate quite frequently throughout the holiday. Absolutely mouthwatering!

Now street food is something that you cannot escape in Thailand. It is literally everywhere you turn – a full on experience for the eyes & nose! Me and the Mr saw this market stall and just couldn’t resist. I have no idea what was in the marinade for the chicken or what was actually in the sausage but it was seriously tasty stuff! Packed full of flavour and juicy too. I also love how they stapled a paper plate to make a bowl! There’s an awful lot of “make shift” and “make do” in Thailand. I have come to realise it’s actually part of it’s charm.

Oh yeah, another thing I should probably mention is that we went during monsoon season. Probably not the best idea but we were actually very lucky with the weather in Chiang Mai. This was the only time it rained. But when it rains in Thailand, it pours! This was our street and it completely flooded within about 15 minutes. To make it more amusing, we were on the wrong side of the road and had to wade through it to get back to the hotel!! Good job they put big towels at the entrances to most hotels & shops when it rains!

One thing we noticed when we were over there was how popular Japanese cuisine and culture is. It’s everywhere! Restaurants, food import shops, clothes shops and more. We found a restaurant on Trip Advisor called Sumo Sushi which came highly recommended. It’s a trendy open fronted restaurant in a pretty funky district! This was Dan’s giant maki. Scrumptious! In fact, it was all super tasty. But the best bit – we were both full to the brim and it only cost us 650 bht – about £13. Bargain! You would never get as much sushi as we had for that price in the UK. Certainly not as tasty anyway!

Now this was an opportunity that we just couldn’t miss. Tiger Kingdom. It’s a kind of tiger sanctuary that allows you to get up really close and personal with tigers of varying ages and sizes. The one above is one of the big boys! His name is Caesar. What surprised me the most is that their fur is not as soft as you’d imagine. In fact, it’s quite coarse!

Don’t believe it’s real? This photo should prove just how much I was shitting myself haha! (Excuse the French!) Yeah, a little unsure about being sat that close to a tiger at that point!

Now this was also a mega highlight of mine! Randomly walking through the markets of Chiang Mai, we stumbled across this ice cream vendor with a twist…

How cool is that?! We so need to have this in the UK! It was really refreshing to have too as it gets so humid amongst all the market stalls. Fantastic!

One little gem we did return to again & again was Archer’s Bar & Restaurant. The owners Mark & Sa were so welcoming and friendly! And you can’t forget their cats Chicken & Fufu – and of course, Mary. The bullmastiff who took great pleasure in running around like a nutter chomping on plastic bottles & making loads of noise haha! PLUS they do the best breakfast in Chiang Mai! Actually, a really odd fact I learnt about Thai people is that they never brown their toast. It’s always just warm bread! Mark told me the reason for this is that Thai’s believe browned toast is cancerous so they refuse to do it. As Mark was actually from Essex though, he makes sure its properly toasted for us English folk! Archer’s was a huge highlight of our holiday. We had breakfast there most mornings and even ended up in a lock in one night! Dancing around like idiots to Mark’s vast and eclectic music collection. We genuinely left Chiang Mai feeling like we were leaving friends behind. Such a wonderful bar!

Except for this… one night, Sa was sat at the bar nibbling on this little pud. Naturally I asked what it was. Sa replied – durian mooncake. Now I had heard of durian before. I knew it had one of the most foul stenches in the world but for some reason I was still curious as to what it actually tasted like. She let me try a bit and I really wished I hadn’t!! It sounds gross but it actually tasted like sick! Oh, honestly, I’ve never tasted anything quite like it & I hope I never will again! Haha! Oh well, when in Thailand!

Welcome to Bangkok and our second week in Thailand!

This is basically what it was like 24/7. It’s all go, all the time. As soon as you arrive in Bangkok, you start to feel very small amongst the mass of huge buildings and sky train networks above you! A fascinating city to say the least!

On our first night in Bangkok, we wandered down the road to a shopping centre that was on the corner called Terminal 21. It’s really cool! They based it on an Airport. All the customer service ladies were dressed as air hostesses and a Captain greeted you when you entered! Also, at the entrance to each escalator was a sign saying which country you were departing/arriving at! Each floor was actually a different country. Everywhere from Tokyo to London! Even the toilets were themed, very impressive! Bangkok knows how to do shopping centres well!

They literally don’t know how to do things by halves! This is the giant replica of the Golden Gate Bridge on the San Francisco floor. Unbelievable!

Anyway! As we were a bit peckish after a days travelling, we decided to check out the food courts on the fifth floor. You basically put money on a card (200 bht (£4) was plenty to feed both me and the Mr) and pick what you want from tons of different vendors! Such a fantastic idea! Dan had K.Ken pork steak & I had roast duck, BBQ pork and crispy pork with rice and egg. I can’t believe just how cheap it really was. To put it into perspective, £4 would get both me & Dan a main course each, a pudding each & a drink each. Amazing!

In England, we don’t just have English restaurants do we? Well it’s the same in Bangkok. It’s not just Thai food everywhere- It’s very multi cultural. This New York style lunch spot – BKK Bagel Bakery, was right next to the exit of a sky train station. We fancied a bit of lunch so popped in and we were not disappointed! Dan had the Reuben (pictured above) – corned beef, sauerkraut, melted gruyere cheese & a Russian dressing. I had the Rachel which is the same but with Turkey. Oh, my, god. These were unbelievably divine! Definitely glad we came in here, they really hit the spot!

On the flip side though, we did eat lots of Thai delights too! This was at a bar/restaurant about a 10 minute walk from our hotel called Det-5. I had one of my favourites –  chicken with basil leaf, chilli and rice. And above is Dan’s chicken with garlic & pepper. It packed some serious heat but Dan loved it! So much so, he even gave it a generous smearing of the hot sauce provided by the waitress!

About halfway through our stay in Bangkok, we took a boat trip up the river to visit The Grand Palace. Personally I think grand is an understatement! The place is absolutely stunning. Once again, all the buildings are detailed with such lavish decoration and precision handy work. It really is quite something to behold.

It’s so refreshing to see so much colour! Everywhere you turn something beautiful and curious will catch your eye. A definite must see when visiting Thailand!

When wandering the streets and shopping centres of Bangkok, we had seen these restaurants all over and were finally curious and hungry enough to try it! It’s a place called MK Restaurants and you basically get a hot pot with boiling stock in it, then order meats & veg to cook in it! Not only is it novel – it’s super quick, super cheap and super tasty!

Me and the Mr happily devoured all this lot for about £10. Such a fun meal to have, and actually very healthy too! In fact, the receipt you get once you’ve paid even tells you how many calories you have consumed in your sitting! Brilliant!

Tudari restaurant. Yet another place we were really intrigued by! Not only because of how busy & popular it appeared to be but the fact that it was Korean Cuisine. Neither of us had actually eaten Korean before so we dived straight in! This was my skewer starter platter. It’s a selection of the most popular skewers on the menu and I must say, most of them were quite delectable!

I didn’t really fancy hot food that night though so went with pretty much the only main course on the menu that didn’t say spicy! Sweet & sour crispy pork. Hilariously, it was probably one of the hottest things I ate in Thailand!! Haha! I was determined to finish it though as, behind the heat, it was  sincerely very tasty and flavourful! My stubbornness prevailed and I did somehow, miraculously, manage to clear the plate! Much to my mouths dismay haha!

On our last night in Thailand we thought we’d go to a restaurant that was a bit more upmarket as one last treat. We found a lovely place called Taste just up the road from where we were staying. This was my main course, butter chicken curry. With a plate full of rice and roti, it was rather filling as you can imagine! But the flavours of the curry were delightful!

Dan finally got to try a Thai dish he’d been looking for the whole time we were there – tom yun goong. It really is an assault on the taste buds! Its sweet, it’s sour, it’s salty, it’s spicy – it’s more things in one go than anything I’ve ever put in my mouth! Such a strange but brilliant sensation! Absolutely jam packed full of flavour. I can see why he was so anxious to try it. I’m not quite sure what we had was worth the price tag that came with it but nevertheless it was delish!

And unfortunately that brings us to the end of what was genuinely one of the best holidays I have had, and probably will ever have in my lifetime. I can’t believe it’s all over already. Oh well, back to reality!

If any of you want to know more about our adventures in Thailand, I kept a little holiday blog whilst we were there too. Click here to have a nosy.

Oh, and by the way, I did keep one ace up my sleeve. I’ve saved one of the best highlights of the entire holiday for it’s very own dedicated post. The Chiang Mai Cookery School day course we did! Stay tuned folks…

Miss KitchenMason

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