We can cook Thai food!
Our recent cooking course here in Chiang Mai was excellent! We made the best red curry I have ever tasted. We learned 5 dishes (cashew chicken, pad thai, beef red curry, hot soup, spring rolls, and curry paste). They were all very good and we were eating all day. Every time we would make a new dish we would eat it afterward. Sarah and Scott also signed up for the course and since then we have been hanging out together a lot. Our travel path that we have taken is similar to thiers here in Thailand. It was us four and one other girl from the States. The small amount of people resulted in a very relaxed class and instructor. The cooking course also offered accommodation located 20 minutes out of the city, which meant a quiet night. It was just the four of us that decided to stay the night there. We sat at the outdoor dining area had some beers played a game called "Pigs" and had some laughs.
That next morning we had to say goodbye to our new friends as they were headed off further west to Mae Hong Son. Pat and I planned to go that way, but make a stop in a town called Pai first, but we had to stay one more day in Chiang Mai to apply for our visa to China. It was a difficult goodbye, since we had gotten to each other well and were having so much fun together.
Following the goodbye Pat and I had 2 errands to run, to go to the Chinese Consulate and to the Hospital (Chiang Mai Ram). Errand one was a bust as we arrived to the Consulate at 12:30pm after a 40 minute walk only to find out they only provide visa service 9am-11:00am, bummer! The next errand was a bit stressful as I was having trouble with my big toe. I had lost my nail the beginning of December and it is currently growing back in and causing some pain when it puts pressure on my skin. I was concerned with our upcoming 30 day trek in Nepal, so I thought it would be easier to get medical help in thailand than it would be in Nepal. When we arrived at the hospital I was sent to Emergency which both Pat and I thought was a bit extreme. When I filled in the necessary paper work they asked me to get on the table while the nurse and the technician examined my toe. They began to open a few surgery packs with scalpel blades and syringes, so I began to get quite worried not knowing what was going to happen to my toe. After about a ½ hour the doctor came in speaking perfect english; I told him what was wrong he took a close look and said the nail should grow in just fine without causing me any problems besides some discomfort. So I felt a bit silly and relieved at the same time. I waited a bit to get my chart to take to reception and pay, but I was quickly told and pleasantly surprised there would be no charge. Cool!
The next day we tried the visa thing again and applied without a problem. We then decided to get a bus to Pai a bit north west of Chiang Mai. It was a 4 hour journey on the bus through winding mountain roads, so I was glad when the bus was packed to standing room only and we decided to take a Sawng Taew (a small pickup truck the bed converted into an open covered cab with seats and backs). It cost a little bit more but it was worth it considering bus travel in Thialnd is rough. When we arrived in Pai we got some lunch and checked our email quickly. We had received an email from our friends Scott and Sarah mentioning they stopped in Pai instead of going all the way to Mae Hong Son as planned. They arrived a day before us, so we kept our eye out for them as Pai is a small town and we figured we could find them. About 20 minutes later as we walked around a corner we nearly bumped into them. We were excited to have met again and went to have some beers. After an eventful night in Pai we headed off to bed.
The next morning we decided to hire 2 motorbikes and explore the countryside. The scenery was spectacular very mountainous and forested. The highlights were the elephant camp where we got up close to a baby elephant only about 2 years old, the hot springs which we soaked in for awhile, the villages we passed through, the amazing rice fields and crops of all kinds with the rolling hills in the background. We also had a great lunch at a café out in the hills, then later taking a look at a WWII bridge. We were then off to Mae Hong Son the day after that.