Guide to Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is the third largest city in Thailand, and a lovely representation of the northern Thai culture. Chiang Mai was one of my very favourite parts of the country; it has the fun of a big city, without the intimidating air that Bangkok has. We stayed in the Old Quarter, and didn’t really venture out of it, with no regrets. Here’s a breakdown of what your stay in Chiang Mai may cost you, provided you are budget travelling:

The Vibe

Accomodation: Hostels here range anywhere from 5-20$ for something reasonable (or maybe with lizards in your vents – but they’re harmless). Ian and I are able to share private rooms since the cost for each of us comes out to about the same as if we each payed for a hostel bed. We stayed at  Tommy Huts, which cost 13$ per night, or 6.50$ each. This got us a private hut with air conditioning, at Thai style bathroom with shower, and a bed. Pretty good deal!

Food: Food, like everywhere in Thailand, is typically very cheap here. Street food with cost anywhere from 20-60 baht on average (.80 – 2.40$CAD), and restaurant food can range from 25 – 100 baht (1 – 4$ CAD). Keep in mind this is on average – there are, of course, restaurants with more expensive options.

Transportation: Unlike Bangkok, Chiang  Mai’s tourist transportation is almost exclusively tuk tuks, and no taxis. It’s customary to haggle with your taxi driver – a 30 minute drive can easily be 125-200 baht, or 5-8 CAD dollars. If you don’t want to take a tuk tuk, the Lyft app is also a great option; Ian and I used it many times, and it will always give you local prices (I hate haggling).

 

What to Do

Explore the Local Vegan Scene

Chiang Mai is home to oh so many amazing vegan restaurants – definitely try a few! We personally stopped at Vegan Heaven, where I tried my very first Tom Yum soup (It turned out to be my favourite of the whole trip!). I also had a lovely iced mocha, while Ian had an iced Thai tea. The prices here were a little higher (we had three main courses, and two drinks – I think it came to about 550 baht, or 22CAD$), but it’s reasonable considering the amazing quality of the food.

Visit an Elephant Sanctuary

The world is starting to wake up to the injustice of animal tourism – Chiang Mai is the hub for ethical elephant tourism. In exchange for a fee, these sanctuaries will take you up to their sites and allow you to interact with their elephant, essentially volunteering – there is feeding, bathing, and generally just chilling out with elephants. Make sure you do your research on which one you pick, however – ensure it’s a sanctuary with strictly no riding. Be careful, as some will pose as ethical ones for certain tourists and as riding companies for others, depending on their request. We personally went with Elephant Nature Park, and it was an amazing experience – this cost about 100$ per person. All of their elephants have been rescued from cruel llives, and are now being rehabilitated. Their provided lunch was also a vegan buffet!! Best day ever.

Visit the Night Market

The Chiang Mai night market was one of my favourite sights of our entire trip. To start, let me be clear which one I am talking about, because there are two in very close range of each other. There is a market right outside the old quarter walls called the ‘night bazaar’. We visited this one first, and while it was nice, it was overpriced and tiny compared to the night market.

The next one we visited was in the Old Quarter walls, and it was called the ‘Night Market’. This one was very close walking distance to our hotel (literally around the corner). This is the one that blew me away – for blocks and blocks, the streets are filled with stands selling either unique handmade merchandise, or every knockoff item you can imagine. You can find just about anything here. There are also hundreds of street food stands (Ian tried bugs, lol – I had just one and decided I couldn’t do it). We had bubble tea as well, which was delicious. There are also local musicians playing, and a sense of wonder in the air – even though we just walked around, had some street food, and bought a couple things, it’s one of my very favourite memories in Thailand.

Pamper Yourself

From what I saw, Chiang Mai was one of the cheapest places in Thailand for massages and other spa services (manicures, pedicures, etc). There are massage parlours everywhere, and, on average, a Thai massage will cost about 200 baht (8$CAD). If you don’t look at reviews beforehand (lots of places don’t even have any, or an online listing), it’s kind of a Russian roulette of whether you’ll get a quality massage or not. We visited two places in Chiang Mai – one of them was quite good, and even gave us tea afterwards to round out the relaxation experience. The other one was not as good; the masseuses were clearly not very skilled, and one of them arrived half an hour after Ian’s had already started (they also only went for 45 minutes). Don’t let this stop you, though – with a little research, you’ll have a great experience.

What to do if You’ve Lost Your Passport Abroad

Losing your passport while travelling can feel like the most stressful thing ever – I know from experience. My passport was stolen in Hanoi, Vietnam, along with all my ID, credit, debit card, and all of my cash. On top of this, I had a dead phone with no charger, because it had, by fluke, broken that very same day. It felt like drowning. Everything that kept me going away from my home country was removed from possession. Luckily, Ian was with me, and so I didn’t have to worry about ordering a credit card to my hotel, or getting a cheque sent to me – what a mess that would have been. (If you are in that situation, though, notify your bank right away, and they can send you new cards. I’m with CIBC, and they covered the costs of international calls for fraud. Check with your bank – they likely do the same).

Pho (ish) Soup 🍜

Hey all! What’s up? Just here to share one of my favourite recipes with you all. I like to make this particular dish when I’m feeling kind of lazy and in need of comfort food. It’s very filling, but also not too heavy! I’m not going to call it pho because it definitely doesn’t fit the traditional pho recipe mold, but it’s certainly derivative of it. Here goes.

Vegan Pho-ish Soup

Ingredients

1/2 cup brocoli

1-2 cups kale

1/2 cup chopped or quartered cremini mushrooms

1 small onion

2 cloves garlic

1/2 cup shredded carrot (I like to take a potato peeler to a full carrot)

6-8 Cups pho broth, or vegetable broth (I used powdered veggie broth and it came out delicious!)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon  lemon juice

1/2 standard package of flat rice noodles

1/4 tablespoon pepper

Piri piri oil and/or spice

1/2 teaspoon thyme

Vegetable or Olive oil

1 Cinnamon stick

2 small ginger root pieces

  1. Chop all vegetables into desired sizes – I like to cut my onions into straight slices. Before frying vegetables, fill large pot with broth and turn on high heat.
  2. Toss all vegetables except for carrot into a large pan on high heat with oil of your preference. I used vegetable oil. Cook until the kale shrinks, then reduce to lowest heat. Season with pepper, piri piri, and thyme.
  3.  While the vegetables cook, add flavour to the broth. Add cinnamon stick, ginger roots, lemon juice, and soy sauce. Toss in the shredded carrot.
  4. In a separate pot, boil the rice noodles on high until soft – 3-4 minutes. They cook very quickly! Remove as soon as they’re cooked, and place into a separate bowl. This is optional – you can cook the noodles in the broth, but they may come out soggier.
  5. Once all the ingredients are cooked, combine and serve!

That’s it! Let me know what you think of this recipe and if you have any tweaks – it’s one of my favourites! 🙂

5 Ways to Start a Waste Free Life

As you all know, I believe strongly in a vegan lifestyle. This is for three big reasons:

  1. Ethical Reasons: I do it so animals can, one day, can live out of chains.
  2. Health Reasons: among many health benefits, did you know that a vegan lifestyle is a huge contributor to cancer prevention? There was even been cases of cancer recovery once the individual started a vegan diet. 
  3. The environment: did you know it takes 10-20x more land and resources to feed a carnivore than it does to feed a vegan? This affects forests, water consumption, carbon emissions, etc.

1for1 Pizza

Hey guys! I’m here today to talk to you about some of my favourite Ottawa comfort food.

One of the biggest hurdles to transitioning to a vegan diet is the shift in the kinds of dishes you can eat – sometimes, some of your favourite comfort foods disappear from most menus. Chicken fingers? Nope. Soup? Usually not. Pizza? Definitely not – well, most of the time, unless you want to eat it without cheese. But who does, really?