Love in the markets of Chiang Mai

Caveat:I took a billion pics and posted a million of those here

I entered Bangkok airport and realised that I had left my mobile behind in the cab. I rushed out. The cab was gone. I tried calling K to block my SIM card. The payphones just kept gobbling my coins. Disheartened I got into the Air Asia flight and slept like a log.

Got a Toyota Fortuna from the airport to the hotel at a measly fixed price of 120 Baht. I had booked my hotel, The Small Hotel, through Air Asia (flight plus 2 night's hotel at about Rs 9000). It is quite quaint. Has character with the odd spot of peeling paint. A world apart from the grand Swissotel but warm and made you feel at home. My room has a little a verandah to stand out at. The wifi was far easier to access. Used it to get my brother at Gurgaon  to wake Kainaz at Mumbai K up and get my SIM card blocked.

Rain shower behind the glass walled bathroom and I was back on the prowl.

For K's approval
See through shower

View from the verandah

I walked around aimlessly. Crossed markets and shops selling the sort of clothes you will see at Linking Road Mumbai, Baga Goa, Penang, KL etc etc. I didn't have a plan. But the Khao Soi that Simon Majumdar recommended me didn't seem like a bad idea. Except I couldn't spot it anywhere. Serendipity led me to Mrs Huong, a lady who looked like a younger version of my Didu. She smilingly served my Namyo (noodle soup with pork liver) and added some greens into it. Loved the crunch of fresh bean sprout with the gentle pork liver and thin soup. She let me taste a bit of Namya (fish version, more coconut, sweeter). She told me about her son in law, a Hindu Doctor at KL, and her daughter who just had a baby. I tried some Sam Yo or Chiang Mai sausage from the grim lady next door. Tender meat with an incredible flavour of garlic which brought alive the dexterity of an ancient cooking tradition.

namyo with pork liver
I was back in my elements after Bangkok

Walked into the Warawat market. A plethora of spices - local curry pastes, tom yum ingredients, shrimp pastes - stalls selling roast chicken, roast pig, buffalo jerkies, Thai sweets. A lady making cappuccino. A sweet and strong brew. A fellow coffee drinker, a venerable local  who had been to Mumbai as he did business  with Kesari Tours. We stood chatting over coffee about how Thais go to India to retrace The Buddha's steps. Photo session with a young girl making sausage pancakes (good) and cream pancakes (too sweet & coconut infused for me). Getting lost and finding my way back to the hotel thanks to directions from a lady in a Chinese cake shop who barely spoke English. I was back in my elements. Twelve hours at Bangkok without anyone offering me a 'nice girls message'. Bangkok and its tuk tuk scams, love for sale and Mrs Havisham like depression was a far memory.

Better than Starbucks

A cat nap in the hotel and I was back in the hunt. Homage to Starbucks on behalf of Mrs K. Then the Sunday Night Market. Bourdain says that there is probably a warehouse at Taiwan which ships out things for sale to tourist spots all over. As always, he is right. I never know what to buy in these places. So I settled for a pickled Chiang Mai sausage and then some Sushi off a cart. Down the Walking Street. Another garden with local food hawkers. Finally sighted the famous Khou Soi. Made by an earnest couple whom I confounded with the amount of chilli flakes that I added. Ate it off stools barely above the ground with other tourists. I loved crunch of deep fried noodles mixed with the softer ones in a bed of a very gentle curry. Looking for desserts I settled on a fruit shake to douse the chili induced passion.

The legendary Khow Soi...this side of militarist Myanmar
the road to khow soi

A stop at a fish spa where some fish nibbled on me for a change and then a pub with some live powerful rock guitaring. A long, lonely walk...nip in the air...the new HP mini and wifi making the empty room seem less empty.

Note: The dishes I mentioned ranged between 10 - 25 bahts each.