I knew when I put on my backpack 3(!!!) weeks ago to go on this (marginally unorganized, wandering, see where a paper map takes me) trip to Southeast Asia I was going to have experiences that fell across the spectrum on good/bad/incredible etc.
I had a day in Chiang Mai, Thailand that was pretty close to (my definition of) traveler perfect. It was just enough traveler touring and a perfect night out of feeling like you had stumbled upon the coolest place in town. It involved a hipster coffee shop that I have now been homesteading and weather that was not too hot or too cold. This perfect day involved cooking, which for people who know me may be astonished by this. However, it also involved limitless yummy food that I got the pleasure of cooking while a very cute thai woman told me exactly how to not burn anything or chop off my finger with my giant cleaver (I know cooking terms now!)
There are so so so many cooking schools in Chiang Mai but we chose Siam Rice Thai cookery and are so thankful we did. The cooking school is in their home and it truly feels like you are learning to cook with good friends in a cozy home. Our class was small and entertaining the ingredients were deliciously fresh, we visited a local market to see the various spices and chose 6 different items to learn how to cook. I made papaya salad, red curry with pineapple, coconut curry soup, pad thai, sweet and sour vegetables, sticky rice and coconut for desert. They gave me a cookbook so I could attempt to replicate it but I don’t know if I can without Mai telling me exactly how much fish oil to put in my wok.
We ended this really fulfilling day with pineapple shakes and an open mic night at a jazz co-op that had unbelievably talented and colorful artists jamming together, a great deal of travelers,expats, local thai people all co-mingling and enjoying smooth saxophones and wildly disruptive trumpets.
It was one of those days you fantasize about as a traveler when you are bouncing around for hours in the back of a sorrong ta ou (thai pickup truck with seats varying levels of padding) or smelling yourself on a miserable night ferry/van transport across the country that cost you 15 USD.
You do those things for days like this one. You put on your backpack for days like this one.