Monday, March 8, 2010

Fav place in the World

Chocolate Fact. This is a cafe in Chiang Mai, Thailand that serves ONLY chocolate goods and drinks...and we have spent 3 afternoons there. Unfortunately we left Chiang Mai today after spending 3 days there (and 2 nearby at Elephant Nature Park), but we have already tracked down homemade chocolate brownies at the internet cafe we are currently at in Chiang Rai, so I think we'll be fine.
Chiang Mai was a great place to hang out for a few days. The pace is much slower than Bangkok, itss much cleaner and there is less traffic to dodge. We stayed at an aborable guest house called Green Tulip co-owned by a hilarious energetic woman named Stella, who was continually making animal noises, hugging us, or dancing with other guests.
There is a plethora of great food to be had in Chiang Mai. On our first night we came across a crowded restaurant called Lemongrass while walking through the Night Bazaar. The pad thai (which I've tried in many Thai restaurant at this point), was one of the best. The night before leaving for the Elephant Nature Park we went to their affiliated vegetarian restaurant, Taste from Heaven- which pretty much lived up to it's name. And last night we stuffed ourselves with the falafel plate- including hummus, baba ganoush, pita, and more- at Jerusalem Falafel.
However, by far our favorite meal was probably what we cooked ourselves on Thursday at Thai Orchid Cooking school. The menu: tom yum (Thai soup), spring rolls, green and yellow curry, and pad thai! Absolutely delicious. A, the owner, was a really sweet lady who's culinary talents are all passed down from her family members. Halfway through the day, allowing us time to digest the first 2 courses, she took us to the local market to show us all the fresh ingredients we were using. We were totally stuffed by the end of the day but since Chocolate Fact. happened to be right around the corner..... we couldn't resist! The cute French family that was in the class with us even showed up shortly thereafter, due to our recommendation!
Yesterday was our first real splurge day of our travels thus far- after a very leisurely morning we headed toward the massage parlor, Lila Thai, that was founded by a former director of the Chiang Mai Women's Prison. Inmates can learn the massage craft and thereby set up a career for themselves after being released. Ironically, when we changed into the "outfits" they gave us pre-massage, we were the ones that looked like prisoners. They top and bottom were bright orange, baggy, and just generally the most unflattering pieces of cloth you've ever seen. We opted for the Thai body massage- it was quite relaxing other than the fact that they had us turn over about 3 times. I could have used a little more power too- for an ex-prisoner she didn't seem to have much upper body strength!
Last night we got caught up in the shopping frenzy that is the Sunday Walking Street-loads of vendors set up shop along Chiang Mai's main street. We ended up buying a lot of fun souvenirs!

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