Friday, 18 December 2015

Chiang Mai for Kids

The children and I went to Chiang Mai on a mission trip and since there was a public holiday during the period of our stay and our meetings with the school teachers ended by 4 p.m. on two other days, we managed to do some sightseeing. I never knew there was so much for children to do in Chiang Mai until this trip and this post records some of our favourite activities.

Since Thai cooking classes were highly recommended on TripAdvisor, we got our hotel to book a half-day class for us. We were supposed to buy ingredients at the wet market together with the guide, but as we were late, she bought the ingredients beforehand. We could choose what to cook from a given list. For the appetiser, the choices were Pad Thai, spring rolls and chicken with cashew nuts. We could also choose a soup from three options. J chose the chicken in coconut milk (I think another name for that is tom kha) while I cooked the local spicy and sour soup with chicken (which tasted like tom yum to me). All of us decided to cook green curry. The other curry options were red curry and mamasan curry.

The children enjoyed themselves at the class. The instructions were clear and easy enough for the children to follow. J and An loved the coconut soup while I enjoyed everything. J also finished his Pad Thai - bean sprouts and all. That was amazing as he usually picked out the sprouts from his food. 

The full-day classes seemed even more exciting, and some cooking schools even promised bringing the guests to their farms to pick fresh ingredients. Unfortunately, time was not on our side and we had to give that a miss. 

This was an informative visit and our guide showed us how to turn elephant's poo into paper. We also had a chance to make bookmarks, cards or journals with poo poo paper and the children put in a lot of effort to bless their family members and friends with their craft work. Even two-year-old An participated actively in this.

At the Tiger Kingdom, one could get close up to tigers. The prices varied according to the size / age of the tigers. J and I chose to be photographed with a newborn cub, so we paid 1000 baht (SGD40) each for the experience. Before we went in, we ascertained that no prior accidents had occurred with cubs. Appeased, we entered the air-conditioned studio and saw how playful the cub was. He was not contented to lie in the cushiony basket prepared for him. Instead, he ran around the studio and his keepers had to coax him to stay still for photographs. There was also a tiger show while we were there.

At the Insect Zoo, we had the opportunity to hold and feel insects such as stick insects, scorpions (!) and caterpillars. There were also reptiles like iguanas and bearded dragons. I overcame my fear of the stick insect and managed to hold one for a considerably long time. Holding a scorpion was beyond my scope of comfort though, and I could only watch in awe as our host held up one coolly. 

5) Picking Strawberries 

As we drove down the tourist belt, we saw a small strawberry farm. It was not strawberry season, but we were allowed to pick the remaining strawberries at 30 baht per 100 g. I think we paid 60 baht. The children enjoyed this experience and made strawberry juice with their loot. The adults would rather eat the strawberries whole but we indulged in the children's enthusiasm.

This was an enjoyable outing. The highlight for the children was a tram ride where they could feed animals. The giraffes, zebras and deer came right up to our tram and the brave children fed the animals with carrots and bananas which we bought. The lady in front of us screamed loudly when the animals came close. A sane tip would be to sit in the middle of the seat if you do not enjoy having animals brush past your body.

The second tram ride we went on was less exhilarating, but we got to see carnivorous animals such as tigers, lions and hyenas. The commentaries by the guide were informative. We were surprised when a sun bear stood up just as the guide counted to three. It seemed like a human dressed in a bear's costume. 

There was also a musical fountain show which was quite entertaining, but I thought the music could perhaps be more related to animals (E.g. Saint Saens' Carnival of the Animals or Disney's Lion King).

Our host brought us to an organic farm for dinner. The food was reasonably priced, fresh and tasty. There were also plenty of photo opportunities around the farm. It was quite crowded though, so do call to book if you plan to go.

8) Having Dessert at Okbingsul 

We were told Okbingsul exists in Singapore, but since there was an outlet right next to our hotel, we went there three times. We all enjoyed our milky shaved ice. The kids' favourite flavours were Oreo and Brownie.

9) Night Bazaar 

Unfortunately, we did not have much time to shop at the night bazaar. I saw interesting paraphernalia like home-made pencil cases, clocks housed in pretty 3D frames and cheap T-shirts. I hope to go to Chiang Mai to shop at the night bazaar in the near future since it is a relatively affordable holiday destination. 

10) Visit a Local School

Due to the nature of our trip, we got to visit a Thai school. We were impressed by the attractive decorations around the school and in the classrooms. There were several playground structures and Little An was suitably occupied. The Thai students were responsive and respectful and I enjoyed my visit. 

I would like to thank our host, Tuk, for her hospitality and it was also opportune that I came across this informative post by the Kam Family before our trip. I thank God for a fulfilling and memorable trip. 

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