We really love it in Chiang Mai and after month, which is what the length of a visa-exempt is, we built a relationship with the old city. Every morning, Doug would make me coffee then we spend about an hour or two checking social media. We’d hop on our cruiser bike to ride to the market which is about 5-10 minutes long depending on which route we feel like taking. There’s food all the time at the market and in the early morning, we can smell the coconut curries, barbecued meats and fish and all sorts of Thai vegetable dishes. It’s all packed in plastic bags with a rubber band to keep it fresh. We have our favorite stall for our meals. Her stall is a small table, stuffed with fresh cooked food. The table is right on the sidewalk so the food is visible for people walking by. On the other side of the road barrier, she set up her stove for deep frying and a large rice cooker. Each stall have something unique to offer and this particular lady makes really good sautéed veggies like green beans, morning glory and pickled cabbage. It’s simple yet, very delicious. Another differentiation from the other stalls is her deep fried fish. These are small female fishes because they have fish roe and it’s so tasty. We would also get freshly cooked, warm rice from her, too. Usually, it all comes out to about 50-60 baht ($1.42 – $1.71) for two vegetable dishes, 2 orders of rice and 2 orders of fried fishes.
One thing we did notice with this stall is how the lady would be missing sometimes. Usually at lunch time. We would see all her food but no one around. We would wait for a few minutes for her to come back. This happened a few times now. Someone can easily come by and grab all her food but that doesn’t happen. I think all the other stall owners around her are probably watching like a community watching out for each other. I really don’t know but there is a big trust system at the market.
Other days, we would visit out favorite donut lady. A small cart parked on the side of the road by a market filled with fresh delicious donuts. It’s better than the donuts I’ve had in the US. These are old fashioned donuts with some sugar and butter. The old fashioned donut holes were also really very good.
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So, we would ride back in the main road on the way back which was faster then have our meal at the atrium in our hotel. One nice thing about our hotel it has a shared kitchen. It’s a kitchen with plates, utensils where we can use and probably cook stuff but I never really thought of cooking. It’s so much cheaper buying the food at the market with no work involved, just a bike ride. This is the same hotel we stayed at the first time we came to Chiang Mai. It’s very homely and we feel at home in a hotel. I know that sounds weird. We like it here that is why we came back. Whipped Cream, the dog of the house greets us when we come in and smells us when we go off with our bikes.
An hour later we head to the gym to workout up to lunch time. We have been taking Body Combat group class at the gym in the mornings and we feel like a part of a community. We see the same people and smile at them when we show up to workout. The same people that attend Body Combat and the instructors that whip us into shape.
Off to the market we go after our workout which is about a 10 min ride from the gym. We go to the same lady or we go to another market of about the same distance to get food or bring it back. Lunch at the atrium then a quick shower and rest.
Weekends are fun because dinner would be a bike ride to the Saturday and Sunday markets. We’ve walk the market while we are tasting food from different stalls. We just walk for an hour or two then ride our bikes back to the hotel for a quick movie then bedtime.
That’s our daily life in Chiang Mai’s Old City and it’s going to be interrupted pretty soon.
Our next destination will be interesting. Why? We will be in a city, Ho Chi Minh City. We have to find a long-term apartment with a fully functional kitchen. The reason I say “with a kitchen” is, some “apartments” only has a microwave and refrigerator. Personally, I wouldn’t call that a kitchen. We’ve done some research also on gyms around Ho Chi Minh and a community where we can run. Traffic in Asia make is virtually impossible to run continuously. The most interesting thing about going to Ho Chi Minh is to see the incredible progressiveness of the city. Things are not cheap in certain areas of HCMC and knowing which district to stay depends on what we are looking for. So, it’s going to be very interesting.
Moving to a new place always require about a week to transition to a daily routine. We’ve booked a hotel in District 7 to allow us time to find an apartment around the area. Trying to find an apartment online is not going to work. We want to enjoy the apartment and see it before we agree to a contract. We’ve never done this before and hope that it will be a pleasantly smooth process. But, it never is so we expect the worst.
More on this adventure of apartment hunting in Ho Chi Minh City soon!