After a few solo days in Bangkok, my Boyfriend John met me in Bangkok to travel to Chiang Mai – located in Northern Thailand. Lush green, rolling mountains, jungles, and old city vibes were calling our names.
But first, we were wedged in like a can of sardines on our flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai:
The flight was SUPER CHEAP, the seats were comfy, I just felt bad for anyone taller than 5’6. Also, the flight was an hour and 15 minutes, if that.
I guess you get what you pay for
Anywho, we made it to Chiang Mai, after we regained feeling in our legs, we jumped in a cab and were off to our guesthouse.
The guesthouse in Chiang Mai was in a great location, walking distance to the city center and all our activities. What was also great about it was that it was right next to a very well known hotel, so each night all we had to do was tell our taxi/tuk tuk driver the name of the hotel and BOOM there in no time. Language gap=shortened.
$23 a night gets you in central Chiang Mai (above)
Whats not so great about the guesthouse, was that we were on the top floor, of a walk up, meaning I had to drag “Big Blue” up three flights of stairs. If anyone is also following me on Facebook (which most of you are ::hair flip::) you will know, “Big Blue” is my 60 lb suitcase with my entire life in it. Just last week I dragged it up three flights of stairs on the metro only to find out I went the wrong way 🙂
Soooo, back to Chaing Mai. On our first day we enrolled in a cooking class at Aroy Aroy Cooking School.
Fun Fact: “Aroy Aroy” means “Yummy” or “Tasty” in Thai.
We arrived at the school and was greeted by Roy the manager, Roy is a fellow expat from Miami Florida that has been living and running Aroy Aroy for the past few years.
Normally there are 12 people to a class, but were informed we were the only ones that had signed up that day = our own private class!
Great news for us!
The class started with a boat ride to the local market to get ingredients for the 4 dishes we would be making.
Long tail boat here were come!
After a 10 minute boat ride up the canal we got off at the flower district section of the market.
Chef A, our guide and chef for the day brought us around the market and to a temple nearby. He went into great lengths to describe the different aspects of the temple, reasons and meanings behind things, etc. Also, many questions were answered, “Whats this, whats that, whats the difference?”
Also, you might be wondering about Chef A’s shirt. Its the New Year here in Thailand (April 13 -17th the rise of Aries on the lunar calendar happens during this time). Its a very joyous time here, many wear bright, colorful Hawaiian shirts, theres also the Songkran Festival which is basically a giant water fight during this time, its quite refreshing actually since April is the hottest month in Thailand. People also walk around with a chalk – paste like substance that they smear on peoples faces, its supposedly a symbol of good fortune.
Back to Aroy Aroy – indgredients gathered, we headed back to the boat and back to school to start cooking.
Chef A went over the basics of “Proper Wok Maintenance” and what we would be cooking.
Things to keep in mind: There are four different styles/types of Thai Food, you have the Southern, spicy, coconut (since most of the coconuts in Thailand are grown there) and very seafood influenced.
There is Central (Bangkok area): Most Thai food served in American is found here, fruits and vegetables are grown nearby, there is also a lot of Chinese influence.
North Eastern – more simplistic, spicy, sticky rice is a staple, the iconic Som Tom / Papaya Salad is from this region.
Northern Thai/Chiang Mai: Mountainous, lots of fresh water fish, lots more broth based and steamed foods and of course many herbs and spices.
Chef Andy Ricker, owner of the famous Pok Pok restaurants explains the different regions in further detail.
And NYC friends, if you have yet to go to Pok Pok in Brooklyn yet, drop everything and GO NOW.
Ok, back to Aroy Aroy
Aprons on, we watched Chef A demonstrate making the dishes one by one, we would then make our own, and enjoy fruits of our labor!
The dished we prepared:
At the end of the day, we were proud graduates of Aroy Aroy Cooking School! Perhaps we will open our own Thai restaurant in NYC (Perhaps not- I think we will leave it to the professionals at Pok Pok).