Chiang Mai Travel Diary – Part 3

We have a busy schedule on our first morning in Chiang Mai. Breakfast at the Shangri-La Club Lounge is exquisite, with red curry beef and cooked-to-order Thai omelette as the highlights. Noah, still refusing drinks, is more interested in looking out the window at the swimming pool downstairs.

Some of the breakfast offerings at Shangri-La Chiang Mai

Some of the breakfast offerings at Shangri-La Chiang Mai 

Thai omelette with prawns - this is to become my breakfast staple the rest of my stay in Chiang Mai

Thai omelette with prawns – this is to become my breakfast staple the rest of my stay in Chiang Mai

Baby Noah is intrigued by the swimming pool at breakfast

Baby Noah is intrigued by the swimming pool at breakfast

We need to shop for ingredients for the cooking segments I’ll be filming this afternoon, so after breakfast I meet up with Executive Chef Georg and Chef Kamsin and we head to the local market.

I’m told enroute that because it gets so hot during the day, the market traders actually start setting up around midnight, and by 3am it’s bustling with shoppers. I struggle to wrap my head around shopping at a wet market in the middle of the night. In fact, some of the stalls are already winding down for the day when we get there.

Shoppers at Chiang Mai wet market

Shoppers at Chiang Mai wet market

Wild boar meat - indicative of the rural and mountainous region we’re in

Wild boar meat – indicative of the rural and mountainous region we’re in

I remember as a kid reading a comic book story where aliens had abducted these earthlings in their sleep. They tried to hide the abduction by recreating the humans’ environments exactly (so they thought), then watched as their subjects woke up and went about their day. The humans gradually realised things weren’t quite right; the experiment failed and the aliens were left wondering where they went wrong.

For decades, I’ve been mistaken for a Thai by Aussies who’ve visited Thailand  (to my vocal chagrin). Wandering around this wet market in the middle of Chiang Mai, it all makes sense – these Aussies = my alien abductors. (I’m kidding.)

Gigantic lychees

Gigantic lychees

Some kind of dried fish that I’m not familiar with

Some kind of dried fish that I’m not familiar with

The atmosphere evokes memories of shopping at the wet market back in my childhood in neighbouring Malaysia. It’s a bigger market than the one back in my hometown, but the people would not look out of place in Seremban. Some of the offerings are unusual but most of them are the same. The sights and smells are the same. The language is, of course, different. I don’t understand one word being spoken. Same, but different. It’s a strange feeling.

Pandan leaves presented and sold in a way I’ve never seen in Malaysia

Pandan leaves presented and sold in a way I’ve never seen in Malaysia

Some of the stalls have awnings draped in red fabric, which give a surreal glow to the produce. Someone on FB commented this was a deliberate technique to make the food look fresh and pretty.

Some of the stalls have awnings draped in red fabric, which give a surreal glow to the produce. Someone on FB commented this was a deliberate technique to make the food look fresh and pretty.

Anytime I travel, I look to film videos of dishes that are location-specific. I’m here with the mindset to highlight Chiang Mai’s cuisine, not just some generic Thai dishes.

This trip to the wet market is invaluable to help us decide what we want to film.

We set out to the market knowing we want to shoot a Khao Soi video – it is, after all, Chiang Mai’s most famous dish. As we wander around the market, we come across some unusual looking local mushrooms and some snail meat; Chef Kamsin suggest using them for a mushroom salad and a snail curry respectively.

 Our shopping done, we head back to the hotel to cook and film the following –

Khao Soi Talay

Khao Soi Talay

Thai Mushroom Salad

Thai Mushroom Salad

Northern Thai Snail Curry

Northern Thai Snail Curry

I’ve tried since I arrived to keep an eye out for mango juice and to request for it with no success. Baby Noah is sullen and I continue to monitor his temperature.

 I finally mention it to the Shangri-La marketing team during our filming and in the blink of an eye, Operation Baby Noah is launched. The China Kitchen team mobilise to get freshly-blended mango drink for Noah. The hotel’s resident nurse is summoned to check on his condition. The hotel offers to take Noah to the hospital but I opt instead for some baby Panadol.

Every food outlet in the hotel is notified about Noah’s mango juice requirement. For the rest of our stay, every time we front up for our meals, there are two glasses of fresh mango juice ready and waiting for baby Noah. I’ll never forget this personalised service by the Shangri-La team.

2 glasses of mango juice aka the Baby Noah special

2 glasses of mango juice aka the Baby Noah special

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