Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

I love Thailand. It is like a second home to me. I spent ridiculous amount of time travelling this country and I still feel I haven’t covered most of it. If I had to choose my favourite region it would definitely be the northern Thailand. I love the beaches and mad partying the south offers, but my ultimate favourite is the serene north. As a part of my Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand series, I would like to cover my favourite haunts in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai etc. Also, don’t forget to check out Foodie Heaven Bangkok article, to know where the best eats in Bangkok are at

Chiang Mai

My first stop for this blog would be Chiang Mai, Thailand. A location surrounded by beautiful temples on the top of the mountains and filled with friendly people. I absolutely love the architecture, the culture, the temples and the Food. The one-stop eating zone that will fill you up and not lighten your wallet is the nightmarket in Chiang Mai. There are many night markets in Chiang Mai and one of my favourite is the market opposite to Chiang Mai gate. Eat ai ua (Chiang Mai sausage), nam prik ong (chilli tomato pork dip) and kaeng khanun (jackfruit curry) and Khao Soi. As cheap as 30 baht will fill your tummy up.

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

From melt in the mouth pork to sushi, from bite sized icecream to quail egg omelette, you get everything. If you have more than two days, be sure to check out Waorat market, Cooking love, Mr.Kai restaurant. Literally, every street is filled with food. It is a pity that Thailand’s government banned street food stalls recently.

Chiang Rai

This is a gem in Thailand. Quaint little town filled with beautiful temples and a perfect stop to explore nearby mountains and the tribes. Chiang Rai market is again the go to choice for food but there are also many restaurants opposite to this market which serve up delicious food. I had a little adventure here, where I drove almost 100 kms to a place called Doi Mae Salong. On route to this place, we stopped at Choi Fong Tea Factory. What a beautiful place, tea served up right next to the gardens is one of the best experience one can have.

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

Doi Mae Salong is little tibetan community right on the border. The  beauty of the place has to be experienced.

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

Foodie Heaven Northern Thailand

Apart from the rich local cuisine, there are many more things to explore in Northern Thailand. The hippie community of Pai, The border community of Mae Sot, beautiful local tribes and hot water baths. One cannot spend enough time here.

Foodie Heaven Bangkok, Thailand – 1

Traditional Thai Blue rice and curry, Bangkok Food Thailand

Travelling encompasses of many experiences. Whether I choose an adventure, experience a local tradition or eat my heart out, It is always beautiful. The best way to travel is to eat. One can understand a country and its people a whole lot more with their cuisine and eating habits. I am here to speak about one such “eat like the locals” experience. I am speaking about Foodie Heaven Bangkok, Thailand, in this series of oncoming posts.

Thailand is a true delight for the senses. Their culture is unique and the people amicable and the places breathtaking. The one word I would use to describe are that they are pure-pledged businessmen. Owing it to the vast tourism sector, Bangkok or Thailand in general would have the largest number of street food vendors. Bangkok, The Thai capital is a foodie delight which offers world-class gastronomy and diverse cuisines. I would like to divide this series into Food in Bangkok, Food in northern Thailand, food in Southern Thailand. Later on, I will post about my 10 absolute favourite items to eat, when in Thailand.

Thai Milk Iced Tea

My favourite routine when in Bangkok is to get a chanom in the morning. Chanom or Thai Milk iced tea is a delicious concoction of condensed milk, Thai Tea and ice. One cannot not love this beauty.  Bangkok Cafe at the Suvarnabhumi airport is my absolute favourite but this can be found at the numerous street cart vendors.

Bangkok Food Thailand Bangkok Food Thailand

Another one of their delicacies is the salted fried fish. This yummy melt in your mouth deliciousness from the sea is an easy find. Go to any of the numerous markets, be it Chatuchak market or the patong market or even pratunam, you will street vendors grilling away to glory.

Boat Noodle Alley, Victory Monument

Bangkok Food Thailand, Boat Noodle Alley

Slurp, thats the word for one of Bangkok’s iconic boat noodles. After going to the victory monument, it is right under the sky train station. The boats noodles are as cheap as 8 baht per bowl. Here, you can see locals competing on who will build highest boat noodle cup tower.

Traditional Thai Blue rice and curry, Bangkok Food Thailand

If you haven’t tried thai blue rice with thai curry, you are missing out. Traditionally thai, the food in the above picture will tickle your palate. All in all, here are the things you should definitely not give a miss when in Bangkok. Go to asiatique water front, and try out their food court. From Peking Duck to the most amazing sushi, this place is a Foodie haven. Try out the food courts at the malls in Bangkok. Definitely sip on burned coconut, chrysanthemum tea, eat the amazing pork belly at the chatuchak market on the weekends. Try massaman curry, Som Tam, Pad Thai, Khao Pat and more.

Pad Thai, Bangkok Food Thailand Som Tam, Bangkok Food Thailand

Finally, try out sukhumvit Soi 38 for the night snacks and korean plaza, arabic lane, India lane for diverse cuisines.

Foodie Heaven Bangkok, Thailand

Do you have a favourite place or food to eat in Bangkok? Drop me a comment with what it is and I will definitely try out the next time I am in town.

Songkran Festival Thailand – Where to go!

Thailand has been a traveller’s paradise for over 30 years now. Years of tourism has left its toll on this beautiful country. The beaches, once pristine are riddled with plastic and paper from the tourists. The humongous forests have become thinner by the year. However, this country has the charm to attract over half a million tourists for their annual water festival combined with Thai new year. Yes, I am speaking about Songkran Festival Thailand.

For those who don’t know about Songkran, here is a small excerpt. Songkran is celebrated during the traditional Thai new year. It is important to know where to go during this festival so you can enjoy it to the maximum. Below are some of the places this beloved water festival is celebrated in all its glory.

Chiang Mai

I think Songkran in Chiang Mai is definitely the best and the wettest in Thailand. Tens and thousands of men, women and children flood the streets with their squirt guns. I wish I was here every year as a child. The buckets of ice cold water from them is a welcome respite to the summer heat in April. The never ending flow of water on each and everyone, endless party on the streets, loud blaring music and street dance makes Chiang Mai one of the best places to enjoy this festival.

Phuket

Songkran in Phuket is an ultimate street dance party with tons of ice cold water and what more, the beach is right next to it. Patong beach is already well known for its night life and raucous scene. It doesn’t take a back seat when it comes to one of Thailand’s favourite festivals. Well, If you want to try and have a look at one of the beauty pageants in Thailand, head to patong beach. Experience their miss songkran beauty pageant along with a beautiful water parade and crazy party scenes.

Ayutthaya

Thailand’s previous capital has its own royal style to celebrate this traditional festival. You can experience the traditional alms giving ceremony to 999 monks at the Wihan Phra Mongkhon Bophit to water splashing with none other than the mighty elephants. Finally, Thailand’s culture is truly experienced in this old heritage city.

Koh Samui

If you are heading to the south, other than Phuket you can also visit Koh Samui during the festival. The people here are quite serious about their water fights. With a mix of natives and tourists, this place is all in all fun to be.

Bangkok

Of course, the current Thailand capital is not going to take a backseat when it comes to their national festival. It has street parades to water fights to crazy parties all day and all night long.

Sri Lanka – Exploring the drop in the Ocean

Sri Lanka and the magical adam's peak

My trip to Sri Lanka and how it all started. When you get early to office on a Monday morning and there is no one in the floor and you are not geared up to answer the 1001 emails that are waiting for you and a 3 day holiday coming right up. What do you do.

Well, I did what I usually do. I opened up skyscanner.net and checked for tickets from Chennai to anywhere in the world in those dates and “Ting” comes Colombo with 9,000 INR as round trip on the screen. As usual, my mind goes on automation, picks up the card details and feeds in. Yup, that’s how it started. Sri Lanka has a lot to offer whether it is wildlife, mountain adventures, romantic getaways or beach bumming.

I have decided some exercise would be good to my otherwise growing waistline. So, off I go to Colombo which takes only 1 and half hours from Chennai. Actually, I landed in Sri Lanka in half the time it takes me to get to Delhi. I wonder why we pay visa fee when it is right around the corner. Then again, a different country and another stamp on your passport makes it necessary I guess. How I dream of getting a global citizenship one day where I can travel to any country without the visa hassle.

Finally getting through the immigration, I boarded a local bus that will take me to the railway station. Bus No. 187 costed me 110 LKR and is the cheapest option that sat well with my backpackers budget. Once after getting to the train station, I took the first train to Hatton and then another bus to get to Adam’s Peak or Sri Pada. Yes, you guessed it right. I was going to climb Adam’s peak in this trip. After a long journey, I reached Adam’s peak in the afternoon. 12718198_10153497584181074_3317448926248552857_n

Clouded Grand Adam’s Peak from the start of the Trek

Sri Lanka is lush with greenery all over the place, growing wild and beautiful. The people are friendly and they seem to love Indians and Indian movies. The food sort of similar in taste to what we get in India and is a bit on the spicy side. The view from the train is so mesmerising that I forgot the long hours it took me to get to my destination. In few words. “I WILL VISIT AGAIN”.

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View From the Train & the Guest House 

After checking into a beautiful guest room nestled in between tea gardens which is located 500 m from the entrance of the Adam’s peak, I explored the place, got some early dinner and went to bed early as it is a night trek. I woke up at 1 am and start my way to the starting point of the Adam’s peak.

Finally, I reached the peak after 4 strenuous hours of climbing. Huffing and puffing, wondering how that 60 year old grandma is faster than me, praying to almighty that if I fall down and break something, my mom won’t forgive him, I finally reached my destination. The trek path is well lit and is lined with food stalls and places to sit. The last one hour trek was the scariest I have had. It felt like I am going to get hit by vertigo if I look down and am holding on to the edges so tight so I will not fall down or rather roll down the hill. After reaching the top, we waited for half an hour for the sun rise. An interesting ritual of drums is performed every morning welcoming the sun here. All in all, it is one of the best sunrises I have ever seen.

Trek Trek cos the end result is awesome!

You know that idiomatic expression “legs turned to jelly”, yep I experienced it. When I am climbing down from the hill, I couldn’t stand or walk slowly as my legs are shaking. I had to run for the most part so I will not loose balance. All in all, I climbed 5400 steps, 2345 m height and can’t move by the end but was so totally worth it!

First Rays of Light

I returned to Colombo the next day. Well I am an Indian and though I might not be a Cricket fanatic, how can I miss a chance to visit the famed Cricket Club. So I hired a tuk tuk and went to the Club. The club is probably the place for cricket paraphernalia collected over the years. It hosted the autographed bats, country flags, world cups etc. Well did I mention I am not a fanatic so don’t ask me any more than this.

After that, my amazing tuk tuk driver made a deal with me. He will show me the least touristy yet most beautiful places and drop me in the airport. I had over 4 hours before I have to get to the airport and this deal made sense to me. Actually, that was a good decision as I got to see this amazing sunset over a canal.

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Finally, Sri Lanka, you have given me memories even as I am leaving. Next time when I am here, I want to explore the beaches, history, adventure sports, the culture etc. Then again, you are just a plane-hop away and I will definitely come back in the future.  Until then Istuti for all the amazing memories you left me with.

 

Happy Independence Day India.

Happy Independence day India

Happy Independence Day India

In a country I call home, over a billion people are celebrating this day for the past 69 years. For people who think, we are a country that is always in media for scams, population growth, our Swiss bank balance, think again. From now on you will hear us shouting at the top of our voices about our growth, our humanity and our culture.

I am proud to be born in a country with diverse landscape and unique culture. Though it drives me nuts that people has a set timeline (for job, marriage and kids) for their life in this country, it also makes me happy about the many festivals, the togetherness and warmth people seem to have here. I am proud to be born in a country which produces skilled workforce like no other. I am proud of the start ups and the younger generations making a mark in the world.

Then why do some of its own people, without a thought or conscience, are hurting this country’s pride? Let us ask ourselves on this very day which side on the line are we on. The side that’s winning for India, everyday by putting up a struggle to face the challenges this world throws at us. Or the side which is dragging us down and shaming us in front of the world by committing unkindly acts.

On this day, lets make sure India is a better place to live. Lets respect both the women and men. Let us make it safe for our future generations and the troves of travellers that visit us each year. It is time to grow together.

LET US BE A FORCE TO RECKON WITH!