day 383 | january 26, 2010 | Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a quaint place to get lost in. I stayed in Deejai Backpacker Inn inside the 4 walls of the old city, and used this as my jumping point for leisurely temple-hop adventures. It's far enough from the center of activity that I could enjoy relative quiet and wi-fi in peace at the lobby; and close enough to the action that my favorite temples are only about 10 minutes walk away. 

They have bicycle rentals, which i was mildly interested in, but figured my clumsiness will hurt less on foot. When I got tired of walking (and eating), I signed up for a cooking class with Baan Thai Cookery school in the evening, then a Karen hill tribe tour the next day. 

The cooking class included a walkabout in the market, where the instructor taught us how to pick out specific ingredients we were going to use for our chosen recipes. While the class was fun, I didn't come away from it confident of preparing Pad Thai at home. I was more pre-occupied with shooting and eating. The good thing about working with a class is that you can delegate the chopping, pounding and stirring. Grin. We left the class extremely full and with some energy to spare. 

A couple of Kiwi classmates accompanied me on a leisurely walk around the night market. It was my first time to get solicited by a girl. 

The number of temples inside and outside the old city can get overwhelming. To be honest, by the time I reached my fifth temple, I barely noticed the differences and stopped looking into the story behind each. To make things more interesting, try asking your backpacker inn reception, random strangers in cafes, and local mobile coffee vendors on which are their top 3 or 5 temples in the area and why. It's a good way to hit up conversation when you're traveling alone, and it also adds a new dimension to the temples you do end up visiting. =)

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