THAILAND DIARIES – VOLUME 2 – DRIVING THAILAND
Driving Thailand is the second Volume of my Thailand Diaries and is now complete. But before I publish it as my second FREE e-book I have decided to post a selection of excerpts which I hope will encourage you to download and enjoy the whole book.
Different regions, as in most countries, have their own food specialties and Chiang Mai is no exception and in some ways exceptional. Fruit and vegetables are plentiful as this is the main crop growing area which supplies Bangkok and the South. In the City there are many eating places some of which are apparently very famous. I have a strong suspicion you will not find them listed in Egon Ronay’s good food guide but tuck into Khao Soi Gai with pickled cabbage and you’ll forget Egon for a moment. Another delightful culinary experience from the north is Tod Man Pla (deep fried fish pattie). The small rural villages are very friendly and tidier than those of Isaan and it’s very easy for expats to integrate into comfortable country living.
Having spent several years living and building a house in an Isaan farming village, I knew, pretty well, what to expect. As is usual, when a ‘Farang’ appears for the first time, his arrival in the village is cause for celebration. Everybody wants to see and meet this phenomenon from afar and either a big party or many small ones may ensue. There are always copious amounts of beer, whiskey and a plenitude of food. Considering that Thais can find any excuse for a party I am still amazed that they always managed to over cater. Thais have enormous appetites and everyone gets to take something home; often more than they have eaten.
Refuse collection here is more prevalent than in rural Isaan but still not up to scratch. A healthier community spirit exists and the people display a more ‘jai yen yen’ attitude in general.
Westerners do not embrace the ‘class system’ any more but it is still a part of Thai culture and, accepting this, I feel the Northern peoples to be of a higher ‘class’. I see Chiang Mai people as more respectful, less selfish and more inclined towards honesty by comparison to Isaan people and less aggressive than southerners.
The landscape is really beautiful; rolling hills, forests, valleys and rivers adorn the whole of the North. The rice fields and fruit farms are constantly alive with farm labourers and ‘Forest Fire Control’ development centres are all over the forest areas of the north. Doi Suthep Park where most of the staff stay in bungalows and sometimes visitors go there for a quiet time and can stay overnight, is very beautiful. The forest is very dry in the hottest time of March and April before monsoon and is very susceptible to fire.