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the honeymoon part 4: chiang mai

the honeymoon part 4: chiang mai

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*for part 3, chiang rai, click here.

Girls in Hill Tribe outfits at Doi Suthep

As sad as it was to say goodbye to our dear elephant friends, after three days in Chiang Rai, it was time to head to the "big city" of Chiang Mai.

During our drive south, we made a stop at the White Temple, which is definitely one of the crazier-looking structures I've seen in my life.

Yep.

Unlike many of the other wats we saw in Bangkok and Chiang Rai, this temple is only a few years old. From what we could gather from the limited English signs at the property, there is just some rich dude that wanted to build a temple for everyone.

Another view.

It's definitely worth a stop from Chiang Rai to Chiang Mai. Once you get a little closer to the structure, you can see all of the insane details, like these creepy undead people.

Don't mind us.

A few hours later we arrived at Four Seasons Chiang Mai. While the property is a solid 40 minutes outside of the city center, the grounds (an actual working rice paddy) are gorgeous and it feels much more like a retreat than some of the more urban hotels. This being a honeymoon and all, we felt like it was a fair trade off.

If I haven't mentioned it before, Thailand LOVES honeymooners. At every hotel we checked into, I was greeted with a big bouquet and there was a bottle of champagne waiting in the room.

Our necklaces and flowers upon arrival.

The views here truly do not disappoint. Everything is so lush and so green; we spent many hours just wandering the property checking out the various buildings (there are private homes as well as the hotel on the grounds (cough) first anniversary present (cough)).

The view from the lobby.

Our room was pretty awesome, but the MOST awesome part was definitely our bathroom. I have never been in a bathtub with nicer wall art.

Bigger than our apartment.

We also had a very lovely deck that overlooked the paddies.

The next morning we hired a guide for a half day tour. Our first stop was to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, one of the most famous temples in Chiang Mai. It stands on the top of the Doi Suthep mountain and has great views of the city below when it's not cloudy.
Wat's up?
After climbing many stairs and wandering the complex, we worked up quite the appetite (although, let's be honest, I'm hungry all the time). We'd heard from many people to check out SP Chicken, famed for their rotisserie.
The unassuming sign outside.
Their speciality is stuffed with tons of garlic. It's incredibly moist, flavorful and absolutely worth seeking out if you're in CM.
Get in my belly.
We toured a few more temples after lunch, including this one, which had elephants!
Since it was Sunday, we decided to stay in town for the rest of the afternoon to experience "Walking Streets." This is when many of the major thoroughfares in town are closed off to car traffic and hundreds of vendors fill the sidewalks, selling everything from replicas of the shirt Tom Cruise wore in Risky Business to fresh curries and noodles. You can also get a 30 minute foot massage for about the cost of a Kind bar.
Thai popsicles

Marzipan fruit

Scarves
Just like Angelina!
We obviously ate a second lunch, as well. I think the grand total was two more bowls of khao soi (at two different establishments), bananas in coconut milk, fried rice, green curry, and JACKFRUIT. Why is jackfruit in caps, you might ask? Well, it turns out my only known allergy is to such fruit, as I found out the hard way. It's a shame because it is delicious, but luckily all that resulted were swollen lips, tongue and throat and not full-blown anaphylactic shock. 
The next day we woke up as the sun rose to start our cooking class. Why so early? We went to the market first to pick out ingredients:
So many pots and bags of goodness.
My new frog friend.

Fresh coconut pudding. Oh, how I wish I could find this in NYC.
Armed with everything from galangal to curry paste, we headed back to the beautiful kitchen of our hotel's cooking school.
Not too bad.
My husband looks pretty good in an apron.
And I finally learned how to make my own khao soi from scratch! Our cooking class taught us that the process of Thai cooking is often very easy: all you need is a wok and high heat. It's the sourcing of ingredients that may prove to be the tricky part now that we're back stateside, but I'm planning on making a voyage to Chinatown soon to scope out the scene.
Big smiles for noodles.
I must give a special shout out to our instructor, Chef Meow (we were meant to be friends with that name). She was patient but also extremely funny. Did you know the best way to smash garlic is to scream "No mercy!" as you pound it with a butcher knife? Chef Meow does.
Showing us how to fry noodles for Khao Soi.
We made four dishes: the above-mentioned khao soi, fish steamed in banana leaves, pork larb salad and a shrimp dip.

Many people told me that by the time we left Thailand, I wouldn't even want to hear the word curry. But for me, if anything, the opposite was true. The only problem now is finding places that can replicate the sauces and preparations that we had while we were there (DIVAAA). So far, I've had luck in Queens and will obviously keep everyone up to date on my findings.

Lastly, if you need one more reason to come to Chiang Mai, our hotel had an albino ox. He and Mike became very close.

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the honeymoon part 5: koh samui

the honeymoon part 5: koh samui

the honeymoon part 3: chiang rai

the honeymoon part 3: chiang rai