Markets & More Temples in Chiang Mai

It's safe to say our time in Chiang Mai so far has made us feel like proper backpackers and it's nice to feel like we're settling in. We're still learning at every turn we take, which I would expect but now we know that if we haven't got accommodation booked, we find somewhere for the first night whilst we get to know our surroundings then if we want we can move on from there. It's a good feeling.

In terms of the place itself, we have fallen in love with Chiang Mai, the population here is less than 150,000 people, which is a much more comprehensible number than the 7.7 million people residing in Bangkok. It's a lot more laid back here, for example we can actually walk down the street without being hounded to jump in a tuk tuk and every local we have come across is friendly and willing to help.

Our first night happened to be a Sunday which coinsided with the weekly Sunday Walking Market, starting at the East gate of the old town. There's a bit more variety in terms of wares for sale here, but the real gem of the market is the food. We couldn't believe our eyes or noses on our first walk around. Shay and I were absolutely in awe, practically everything we tried tasted amazing. Shay first went in for a pork satay stick, then me with a vegetable spring roll which was huge, on a second walk round, we came across a man frying quails eggs which we have since come across again. We got a plate and doused them in soy and pepper and they were just...uh!!! They were creamy, melting little pockets of joy. We're now considering finding ourselves a frying pan that will do the job back home because everyone needs to try this, it's our favourite food we've had so far and we've had some good food in Chiang Mai.

Our other favourite bite from the Sunday Walking Market was a plate of pork gyoza also sprinkled with soy and what can I say, other than it has affirmed even more that I want to learn to make them, just so I can eat them all the time. After the Sunday Market we headed to the Anusarn Market and Night Bazaar just out of the old town, but there wasn't much on because everyone was at the Sunday Market, another lesson learned.

On Monday we rose bright and early to take a stroll around town and see some of the temples in the old city - one of them is so old that it's made of wood! I couldn't tell you the names of each temple we visited but just know that they are calm and serene places. A man making bracelets in one of the temple gardens tried to get us to ring a massive dong for good luck but we declined because it was too quiet and calm to disturb anything.

In the afternoon we headed up to the mountain in search of waterfalls and jungle scenery. It's a fair ride up the mountain but so worth it. For one, it's so much cooler and two the views are breathtaking - it's certainly a far cry from the home counties.

Monday night led us to the North Gate Market, for food. In fact it's just food there, just out of the city walls. We settled to try some of the basil leaf fried chicken with fried rice to share as well as a plate of mushrooms in oyster sauce. Funnily enough the chicken didn't really taste too much of basil but it was still delicious, including a hit of strong chilli every now and then and the mushrooms were amazing - tough and chewy but full of flavour, I definitely think this is something we could recreate at home. Not entirely full, we got 10 pork satay sticks with peanut sauce from another stall and washed them down with a Leo to share - which set us up nicely for stumbling across some live music and then a teeny tiny bar, full of locals.

We were on our way back from the market, walking through the sois (lanes) and came across the aforementioned bar and did a double take. Soon enough we were being welcomed in by a couple of people in the bar and all of sudden each found a bottle of chang in our hands. The bar was pretty much made of bamboo and could probably seat about 15 people max. We were both a little nervous at first but settled in when we got talking to some of the people there and finding out that their dog was called 7 eleven - which is effectively like someone back home calling their dog Tesco Express - just hilarious. We didn't really believe them at first until Shay said '7 eleven' and the dog looked up and walked over. No words. And I think it was at this point we really started to feel like we were throwing ourselves into this experience and even though we obviously have a lot more lessons to learn as well as things to see, we're already starting to get the hang of this travelling malarky.

All in all a brilliant start to our time in Chiang Mai, preparing us for the next day which would be one of the best days of our lives so far.

Also, should anyone wish to follow our journey further, we are also posting on instagram (and Shay's account) and under the hashtag #skrobbosontour - come and join the fun!

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