A Taste of Thailand

We have traveled more than halfway around the earth and are presently in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Never been to Thailand before. Never thought I really would, but I’m so glad we came!

The view of the mountain Doi Sothep and rice fields from our balcony. We have rented a condo (for a month) some distance from the Chiang Mai Old City . It’s very peaceful even though we can hear airplanes taking off at the airport and music from some distant bar, we also hear birds, roosters, and crickets.

The temperatures were in the 80s at first, but have been creeping up into the 90s so we have been taking advantage of the pool where we are usually the only patrons. The sun doesn’t directly hit our condo so we continually have the windows open and it cools down at night so we haven’t used the air conditioning.

We came to relax and are enjoying it all: the weather, the food, the prices. It’s actually got our attention as a place where we would like to stay longer.
Our main decisions each day are where and what to eat. At home we enjoyed eating out at Thai restaurants so we’ve been on a mission here to sample new dishes and find the best spicy Thai noodles (pad kee mao) and curries.

Thai food is a complex balance of sweet, salty, spicy and sour. The ingredients are fresh and flavored with lemongrass, cilantro, basil, lime, fish sauce  – and some fiery hot peppers!

Thais eat most of their meals outside the home and prices are relatively low. One is never too far away from finding food. Besides restaurants there are pushcart vendors along any main street and in parking lots, market stalls, food trucks, food courts at malls and grocery centers, and the night markets. The prices don’t vary a whole lot between restaurants and street vendors. Most of these cost between $1 – $3.

Noodles come in all sizes. Lower photo: The northern Thai speciality is Khao Soi, a mild curry with egg noodles.

Salads are interesting and spicy! Clockwise from top left: Spicy Papaya Salad, Clear Noodle and Pork Salad, Fruit Salad (included tomatoes, pineapple, and apples), and Grilled Chicken Salad.

Clockwise from top left: Mango with Sticky Rice and coconut milk, Green Curry, Pepper Pork (not spicy), and Panang Curry.

These delicious entrees are all from Papaya, the restaurant we discovered our first day. The Thai-American owner was so helpful and arranged for a rental scooter to be delivered to us at her restaurant! It became our “go-to” place when we wanted to stay close to home.

Some things are huge, such as this pomelo (upper) and carrots.

Chiang Mai Street Food

Street food stalls are everywhere! These are meat skewers and little quail roasting on a spit. We were surprised to discover you couldn’t always eat cheaper at food stands.

Street Food: meat skewers, stirfry and fried noodles.

Thais love pork and this market stall offers fried pork rinds just like chicharrones. (Just looking! We didn’t eat here.)


Noodle soup with beef.


Congratulations to us!  We have had a travel anniversary. We been traveling for one year since we quit our jobs, retired early, and sold our possessions.  Wow, what a year! It went too fast!

We were reminiscing and couldn’t even remember all the details of that first flight. Was it on United to Miami? Was it a red-eye? How long was the layover? What I do remember is that on 3 February 2015 we arrived in Quito!

We left without an itinerary and have visited Ecuador, Colombia, Alaska, Canada, Portugal, Scotland, England, Spain, Morocco, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Montenegro, Italy, Turkey, Israel, and Thailand.

I praise God that we have been (mostly) healthy, (always) safe, and sound the past year. There have been minor snafus and inconveniences, but it’s funny what one remembers and which memories fade away. The practice of taking photos (with GPS) of our accommodations and meals sure helps in the memory department.

I’ve been very happy and enjoyed the adventure. I have been content with the simplicity of living with only what I can carry  in my own two hands and wearing the same clothes and 2 pairs of shoes all year.

Lessons Learned Along the Way

Slow down!!!

Don’t overplan.

Don’t feel guilty.

Grocery stores are a great place to find economical prepared meals.

Travel planning, blog writing, maintaining social media and sharing with family and friends is (unpaid) work!

Schengen Zone update. European border agents never asked how long we were staying in the Schengen Zone neither gave warning nor cautioned how many days were remaining for our stay. In the end, we purposely overstayed by 6 days and nothing was said. I know our passports weren’t scanned at several borders. With so many entrance and exit stamps, most of which are illegible and not in order, it would be difficult to easily ascertain our days in and out of the zone by looking at our passports. I kept a document of our dates in and out of each country for the possibility of being detained for questioning.

Yes, we tried pizza in Thailand too! (Sometimes our tummies needed variety.) This Hawaiian pizza was very good.

 

Coffee is expensive in comparison to the cost of food and iced coffee is more expensive than hot. This coffee cost nearly $2 so it can cost as much or more than dinner. There are many Starbucks in Chiang Mai, but we don’t feel the need to frequent them because the local coffee is great – and less expensive!


The Final Leg of The Itinerary

After a month here in Chiang Mai our visa will expire. We will need to exit Thailand, but could return for an additional month. We have 33 days before we fly out of Bangkok and are considering our options: Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, or Vietnam. Decisions, decisions. Hard decisions!

In April we expect to be visiting our son who teaches English in Busan, South Korea.

In May we have reservations back to PDX, our starting point in Portland, Oregon.

And then what? 

See our families! Pay our taxes! Vote!

And then what?

Practice what I’ve learned. Slow down and don’t overplan.

Enjoying a fresh fruit smoothie. They cost between .80 – $1.30 and the choices include orange, watermelon, mango, coconut, strawberry, passion fruit, banana, melon, kiwi, pineapple, pomegranite, avocado…


There’s much more to Chiang Mai than good food. We’ve been tooling around by scooter. Read all about it next week when… I Meet You in the Morning.

Thanks for reading!

4 responses to “A Taste of Thailand

  1. Fascinating. Although I’m quite thankful for being 50 and retired, we are too young and couldn’t yet accumulate enough assets to do what you guys did for a whole year despite making over 650K from selling our house in California. We travel evry 3 or 4 months for a few weeks in SE Asia but can only spend 40 to 50K per year including rent and then after all the house money is gone we’re banking on our retirement accounts and a very small pension to get us through another 30 to 35 years. At least we did see Ecuador and Galapagos during our working years as well as Costa Rica, Borneo, Thailand, Hawaii, Aruba and Mexico.

    Thailand is where we figured we’d wind up spending most of these super early retirement years (Diane is only 43) but Malaysia’s visa was too tempting to pass up (10 years unlimited entry and renewable thereafter forever).

    Maybe you guys can come to Malaysia before returning to the USA and we can meet

    Cheers
    Rob and Diane

    Like

    • Hello! We are on our exploratory trip and planned for a month in Chiang Mai before moving on to a month in Cambodia. (Originally I had wanted to check out Malaysia, but your posts helped eliminate that. We like the same things: food!) But, we like it here and are tired of moving around so decided to stay another month and went to immigration yesterday. Our plans are to depart on 3/31/16 for South Korea before heading back to the USA. We are considering applying for the Thailand retirement visa and returning to try it out for a year.
      The other place that really got a our attention was Medellin, Colombia and which may appeal to you due to larger apartments and lovely tropical climate.

      Like

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