Storm Chased

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Jan 072010

Sukhothai (January 7, 2010)

When we met our vans to head out to breakfast, we found a few raindrops on the windows. As we consumed our bowls of delicious duck noodle soup under the awnings at a sidewalk noodle shop, the skies opened. We enjoyed snacks from the market, including khanom krok and tasty little pork sour sausages (made sour with fermented rice), hoping for a break in the rain. We skipped the usual leisurely market walk and dashed around for just the essentials: duffel bags and liquor. As we left town, we could not resist stopping to watch a parade. Each different school or student group seemed to have its own color and theme. Some carried traditional flower decorations, while others had banners or signs. The photos will be a bit blurry due to the low light, but hopefully a few will turn out. A final detour to a coffee shop and we were on the road for the long drive to Mae Sa Valley.

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Jan 062010

Sukhothai (January 6, 2010)

Our day began in a small corner shop with a bowl of richly flavored noodle soup featuring a single chicken leg. This is light eating by our standards, so there probably will be some snacking on the way to the ruins. We made our way to Sukhothai Historical Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site that houses the most significant temples of the first Thai kingdom. Beginning with Wat Mahathat, the central temple of old Sukhothai, we visited four different temple sites before retreating to our air conditioned vans and heading out of town.

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Jan 052010

Ayutthaya (January 5, 2010)

After a simple breakfast at the hotel buffet, Kasma related some of the history of the Thai kingdom when it was centered at Ayutthaya. We also discussed our itinerary for the day, which in its essence was: ruins, shopping, temple, ruins, shopping, snacking, ruins, ruins, ruins, drive, lunch, drive, snack, drive, hotel. Unless I missed something.

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Traveling to Northern Thailand with Kasma Loha-Unchit: What to Expect on Trip “B”

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Dec 112009

Every year, Kasma Loha-Unchit leads groups of her cooking students and other fans of Thai cuisine on trips to Northern Thailand. Highlights include exploration of UNESCO World Heritage sites; cultural exchange in “hill tribe” villages; shopping in vast markets featuring fresh fruit, vegetables and prepared foods; riding an elephant; and eating lots of delicious Thai food. For a general overview of the experience of traveling with Kasma, see Visiting Thailand with Kasma Loha-Unchit.

What to Expect on the Northern Trip (Trip “B”)

The 19-day Northern trip typically starts in late December. The Fall trip combines the Northern trip with a brief visit to the South. Here are a few notes about the Northern trip from one visitor’s perspective, based on taking the trip in January 2008 (and updated after a second trip taken in January 2010).
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Exploring the North

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Jan 032008


On our final morning in Sukhothai, we stopped at a local noodle place for a breakfast of duck noodle soup. We then wandered the local market (adjacent to the temple) and nearby streets looking for anything of interest. I tried some warm corn and potato balls which were a bit too dense and mild to recommend. We headed back to the main highway for our journey North.

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Ruined Out

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Jan 022008


I awoke before my alarm, and tried out the wireless Internet access. Sadly, it does not read the 5th floor, so I had to sneak down to the lobby under cover of darkness to check email. Racing through my morning shower I barely made it downstairs in time to depart for the day. Our first stop was for a noodle soup breakfast. A flavorful chicken leg nestled in next to some wide rice noodles in a dark broth. Each table had containers of dried chillies, chillies soaking in vinegar, and granulated sugar, which were helpful in making the soup more exciting.

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The Earliest Thai Kingdoms

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Jan 012008


Bangkok is only the most recent capital of Thailand, whose various predecessor kingdoms date back more than a millennium. Ayutthaya (also spelled Ayuthaya and Ayudaya, and pronounced eye-YOO-tea-yuh) was the capital of Thailand from 1350 to 1767, when it was sacked by the Burmese. A few years later, the capital was re-formed in Bangkok and Ayutthaya’s temples — looted of their gold by the Burmese — fell into disrepair. Today, they consist largely of brick ruins with beheaded Buddhas (some were destroyed by the Burmese, while others were crudely broken off for the antiquities trade before the city became a protected site). Still, you can get an impression of the grandeur of the city during that time.

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