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Entries about chiang mai

Cooking Class at The Thai Farm Cooking School

Making authentic Thai dishes in 90 degree heat in an open kitchen.

sunny 90 °F


Dan and I extended our stay in Chiang Mai by two nights so that we could take fuller advantage of the activities offered. We decided to take a cooking class and learn how to make some authentic Thai dishes. We signed up for The Thai Farm Cooking School, an organic farm located in the sticks of Chiang Mai. A red truck/shared taxi picked us up early in the morning. In the back of the truck were the other 6 cooking school students.: 2 girls from Reno, a mother and daughter from Hong Kong, and 2 men from Amsterdam.

Cooking Instructor in the market

Cooking Instructor in the market

Touring the farm

Touring the farm

Our first stop on the trip to the farm was the local market to pick up our ingredients. We didn’t actually do any of the shopping, We marked the dishes that we wished to learn how to prepare and the instructor handed the sheets to a man as she led us deep into the market to talk about essential ingredients. It was hard keeping up with our instructor, as she was about 3 feet tall and FAST. She taught us about different types of rice, sugars, curries, and oils. She also showed us oyster sauce and fish sauce. Thais use a lot of oyster sauce and fish sauce.

Fish on a stick

Fish on a stick

Insects in the market

Insects in the market

After showing us the essential ingredients, we were given some free time to roam. We quickly found some pretty unusual items- insects. Fried water bugs, silk worms, bamboo worms, crickets, and what looked to be cockroaches. No thank you! We also saw whole-fish-on-a-stick. While some foods did look tasty, there was no way I was risking an upset stomach over any of the foods I saw.


We arrived at the farm after an hour’s drive through the countryside. Along the way we saw many villages, water buffalo, and other livestock. Thailand is crawling with animals. The farm has three impressive structures outfitted with classroom kitchens. WE toured the farm first. All of the produce ingredients are from the farm. We saw mangoes, dragon fruit, lemongrass, basil, bergamot, and many other veggies I’ve since forgotten. Next, we started prepping and cooking.

Grinding ingredients to make curry paste

Grinding ingredients to make curry paste


Collectively, Dan and I made 9 different dishes: green curry, red curry, Pad Thai, coconut soup, mango sticky rice, coconut-banana dessert, a wide noodle dish, basil chicken, and sweet and sour chicken. It was a hot and sticky day, but we had fun laughing with the other students and learning just how easy it can be to make the dishes.

Posted by SusanConradWang 04:44 Archived in Thailand Tagged cooking chiang_mai Comments (0)


I think we've lost our minds.

sunny 85 °F


In Thailand, nothing is impossible. Want to ride an elephant? Ok. Want to play with monkeys? Ok. Want to pet a grown tiger? Sure. But why???? Dan’s sister, Julia, was born in the year of the Tiger and when she found out that in Chiang Mai you can actually interact with tigers, there was no stopping her! So we found ourselves at Tiger Kingdom staring through a wire fence at dozens of tigers of varying sizes.


At the Kingdom, there were 3 experiences up for grabs. Small tiger, medium tiger, or large tiger. Any guess as to which I agreed to? The smallest tigers, of course! I was feeling brave, but not that brave! The baby tigers were 2 months old and were adorable. We were able to spend about 15 minutes with them ($40 US) and were able to touch them on the back and stomach. We were not allowed to touch their paws or face. One of the tigers was very playful and bit Julia’s toe through her sock. She yelped and said that their little teeth were very sharp.


WE did not get in with the large tigers but many people did. I think they were a little bit crazy! One guy was leaning against a huge tiger and the handler said, "Hey tiger...you hungry? There's some yummy white meat behind you" and the tiger slowly turned and looked at the the guy leaning on him. That would have been enough for me to tear out of there!


This was another place where I was in awe and appreciative of the opportunity to interact with the animal but felt a little guilty about the exploitation of the animal. They were a conservation camp, or were supposed to be, but I’m not sure that the Thai idea of conservation matches up with the U.S. idea. That being said...the tigers were pretty darn cool.

Posted by SusanConradWang 04:17 Archived in Thailand Tagged chiang_mai tigers Comments (0)

Elephant Camp

Elephant kisses are sticky. (In case you were wondering).

sunny 85 °F


Thais love and revere elephants. There are many elephant camps all over Chiang Mai set up to take care of the many elephants in Thailand. Elephants are safer in camps because of poachers that want the elephant’s tusks. Elephants can also be a real nuisance to farmers because they can eat an entire crop of vegetables in one go. Seriously. They eat all day and a herd could wipe out a farmer’s entire crop. The elephants are not really safe in the wild anymore in Thailand.
We visited a camp that focuses on conserving elephants and also showcases their talents. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to go to a place where elephants perform. Our guide put it to me like this: Elephants used to have 2 jobs in Thailand. They were transport or they did heavy lifting in the logging and construction industries. With modern technology, they are no longer needed for these jobs. They can’t run wild because of poachers and the elephants are quite clever. It is very expensive to keep elephants because of the amount that they eat and the fact that each elephant requires a mahout (caretaker). The performances provide some mental stimulation for the elephants and help to pay for the care and feeding of the elephants. She assured us that we would see no cruelty, only smiles. I tried to keep an open mind. (The tour was part of a packaged day. If I hated it, I could go and wait in the lot until it was over. Truth is, whether I attended or not, it was still going to happen and will continue to happen for as long as the elephants needed caring for.)


We met the elephants and gave them treats that we purchased. They love bananas and sugar cane. As soon as I walked over to them with the treats, 5 trunks snaked my way and they were blowing air at me and lightly stomping their legs in excitement. They wrapped their trunks around my hand and were pulling for the treats. I was surprised by how close we could get to the elephants. I was standing in between two and their trunks were wrapping around my waist and arms. They are pretty curious creatures.


After the elephants interacted with the people at the camp, the mahouts led the elephants down to the river for a morning scrub. The baby elephants were hilarious. They rolled on to their sides and completely sunk into the water. All we could see of the one was his trunk…he was using it like a snorkel. The elephants seemed to enjoy being scrubbed with the bristly brushes. Toward the end of the bathing, the camp employees started indicating that we should go take a seat for the show.


The elephant show was ok. The elephants were treated kindly and a few of them were real hams. They walked holding each other’s tails, raced one another in a dexterity course where they had to pick up items with their trunks, and some of the huge elephants demonstrated how they were utilized in the logging industry. The show was designed to show the power, dexterity, and cunning of the elephants. My favorite part was the elephants painting pictures. I would not believe that an elephant had painted it if I had not seen it.


My feelings about the elephant camp were mixed. I think it is sad that elephants cannot be safe in the wild due to man’s encroaching on and taking their territory and the fact that there is a real demand for their tusks. They are very beautiful creatures and should be in the wild, but that is not possible. I did not see any cruelty so that made me feel a smidge better.
In case you were wondering what a mahout is, a mahout is the elephant’s caretaker. There is one mahout per elephant and it is a huge commitment. The elephants bond with their mahout and it is a long-term relationship. The mahout, bathes, feeds, trains, and spends time with his elephant. It can be very distressing to an elephant if his mahout decides to quit.

Posted by SusanConradWang 04:14 Archived in Thailand Tagged elephants chiang_mai Comments (0)

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