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.


k said…
Better than Starbucks ???????!!!
Scarlett said…
Is the fish spa good? I keep hearing about it...

I like the see-through shower with strategically placed TV. And seriously, "better than Starbucks"????? MAYBE that can happen in Europe but definitely not in Thailand!!!
Unknown said…
HOMG- how wwere the insects.. I so want to try... please eat for my bday please please... OMG what fun. I know how u feel taking a billion pics to pick and choose from.
Sassy Fork said…
Fish Spa...first time I saw the pic...did it tickle?
Ma said…
I asked sy to open ur blog so that I kud know what u were doing in Bangkok. Otherwise u wd just say on phone "It was o.k." U seemed very happy which made me happy too. Made interesting reading. When I n ur dad went to thailand about 40 years back, we did not see it from this perspective. Liked the picture of the rolled sausages which reminded me of the great Hanuman's tail in Lanka. Some of the food, however, reminded me of cockroaches n seashells on the sea shore. One reminded me of Bengali patisapta. Let me know if k liked the picture of the loo in the hotel. Very doubtful. Ha ! Ha ! U must give me credit for typing this on my own.
Love u
ma [Gurgaon]
Pinku said…

u really did a lot of things in a single day...

wish I could do this stuff to..also loved the idea that no one approached you with sleazy offers.

Loved your Mom's comment. and she is right that thing does look like patisapta.. :)
Kalyan Karmakar said…
K, Scarlett...yes this offee had a soul and tasted distinctive :P

Scarlett: guess not the sort of hotel where you can have an office conference with shared rooms

@Curry Spice...naah, I stopped at fogs

@Sassy Fork, like electric current in the beginning

@Pinku, I find unknown reserves of energy when I am in my elements...slept like a log once I returned to Mumbai

Dear Ma,

Congrats on your first comment on Finely Chopped. Yes, there's a lot more one can share while writing while think that my teacher's thought I was talkative in school

So is Soyel planning to put you on Facebook too?
Unknown said…
Wonderfully written piece, K and I loved all the million pictures you paste here. Its so good to see such places through your lens. What tickled me most was the comment from your Ma.

The sausages remind me of the Barese sausages we get here.
Rachel Cavanna said…
I read your Blog it's a very attractive and awesome post and I found it very helpful for planning my travel in future.if anyone wants to know about golden traingle tour packages and their Varanasi Tour Packages then visit the link below Ghum India Ghum