Burgers and Burritos

The two types of cuisine we knew we would miss most while in Asia: burgers (specifically In-N-Out) and Mexican food.


Most cafes/restaurants in Chiang Mai serve burgers and there are even a couple McDonalds and Burger Kings in the city. We’ve gotten the craving for a good ol’ fashioned cheeseburger a couple of times thus far. While they served as a much needed break from Thai food, neither burger hit the spot.

Smith Residence Burger

Our apartment building has a restaurant with authentic Thai food. They also make a decent American breakfast. Since we’d be staying here for a couple of months, I figured I’d give their burger a try. All of the necessary elements were there – bun, meat, cheese, lettuce, tomato – but it was far from what I was craving.  The burger itself was small, the patty was dry and flavorless, and the cheese was cold.


Damn Good Burgers and Fries

Don’t let the name fool you as it did us. They were more like so-so burgers and acceptable fries. Though it was much better than the one at Smith Residence, the cheeseburger was nothing to get excited about. I might eat it again if I were desperate, but there are other burger joints to try first.



I knew it would be impossible to find Mexican food that would compare to what we have in California, but sometimes a girl just needs a burrito. We’ve tried two of the higher-rated restaurants around Old City – El Diablo and Loco Elvis – both were better than I was expecting.

El Diablo

The food at this hole in the wall is just ok but they serve a strong-ass margarita to make up for it. The more drinks you have, the more authentic the food becomes. The chips are thick but surprisingly tasty and the salsa isn’t much unlike that of a California Cantina.



Loco Elvis

Thai people love Elvis! The chips here were inedible and the salsa was warm, but the pork chimichanga was something that I will go back for. Especially since they have live music and karaoke on certain nights.


Taco Bell – sort of.

Quesadillas, burgers, and burritos!!! We didn’t try this cart but had to snap a photo. Not sure if the line was long because the food was good, or if the tourists were drunk. My bet is on the latter.


Aroy Aroy – Thai Cooking School

Gordon Ramsay, who? The master chef within us has awoken and we are ready to take on the culinary world! Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but our skills have reached a new level after an incredible day at Aroy Aroy Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai – http://aroyaroyschool.com.

There are many cooking schools with great reviews to choose from but we decided on Aroy Aroy for two main reasons: 1) they take you by riverboat to get to the market and 2) the dishes I wanted to learn most were taught in their ‘Chef’s Favorites Course’.

We arrived to Aroy Aroy at 9:30am to meet our teachers, Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’, and the other students (11 total). Shortly after settling in and chatting with our new peers, we jumped on the boat for a short trip up the Ping River to the Warorot Market.

Chef ‘A’ guided us through the market while teaching about the Thai culture, flowers, ingredients, etc.

After about an hour, we returned to the cooking school by boat, put on our aprons, and were assigned to our very own cooking stations.

Our first dish, som tom (my favorite spicy salad), was the perfect starter. The key is in the sauce which requires the perfect combination of fish sauce, tamarind, and palm sugar – three ingredients found in many Thai dishes.

Next up, the most well know and most popular Thai dish in the world, pad thai. I was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make pad thai that tasted better than any take-out I’ve ordered in LA.

Finally, the meal I had been waiting for – KHAO SOI!!! The deep red color of the soup comes from slowly adding coconut milk to the curry paste as it heats in the wok. The more curry paste, the spicier (and the more delicious if you ask me). Sean’s bowl was especially yummy!!

We were satisfied and stuffed after the khao soi, but there was still more to learn. After the soup, we moved on to stir fried chicken and cashews. The ingredient that sets this stir fry apart from the rest is the roasted chili paste.

No meal is complete without dessert! We ended the day with a simple Thai specialty – mango sticky rice. Sweet mango is hard to find back home but here they are a dime a dozen. When combined with sticky rice and topped with coconut milk you get the perfect confection.

By the end of the day we could barely move (but it was totally worth it). We gained new friends, a wealth of knowledge, and about 5 extra pounds.

Thanks to Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’ for being such wonderful teachers. And a special shoutout to Roy, the owner, an expat that came to Thailand to retire. His love for food brought him into the cooking school business. Aroy Aroy is a true gem!

My dream to cook khao soi has become a reality and I am filled with joy (and food).

10 Things I’ve learned in Thailand (so far…)

  1. Wearing make-up is a waste of time. It will sweat off the moment you step outside. I have a tinted moisturizer and have only been using it for its SPF30 properties. Beyond that, waterproof mascara is the only thing that will stay on your face. Basically, forget trying to look presentable – it’s not going to happen.
  2. My hair hates Thailand and Thailand hates my hair. “You have amazing hair” – a compliment that has never been bestowed upon me. There are girls that can let their hair air dry in humidity and still look like they just stepped out of a salon. I am not one of those girls. Without a hair dryer, flat iron, and cool, dry weather, I am the Lion King reincarnate. Thank God for hair clips, hats, and bandanas!!!crazy-hair
  3. Just because it looks delicious, doesn’t mean it taste delicious (see our satay eating experience in my Chinatown Letdown post).shit-on-a-stick
  4. Adversely, food that looks disgusting can be some of the more delicious fare. Sausages fall far down on my list of favorite foods but there is something about the spices and herbs in the wursts here that give me nightly cravings. They may look green and brown with black spots but damn, they taste divine.p1030138
  5. The best meals are served from a cart. Not only are they fractions of the price but they have been the tastiest meals I have had. The pad thai dishes ordered on the street have surpassed the same dish eaten from a restaurant, cafe, or bar.img_0208
  6. It doesn’t have to be cold outside to enjoy a hot bowl of soup — but it does help to have a fan pointed in your direction. If there is one thing I have fallen hard for in Chiang Mai, it is a hot bowl of khao soi (My new love). I could eat it all day every day for the rest of my life – no joke.img_2690
  7. Beer is best served over ice. Unless you like warm beer…
  8. Thai people don’t sweat. I’m over here in a tank top sweating bullets while bro is bundled up in a jacket, eating a hot bowl of soup, dry as a bone. WTF?!
  9. Thailand is cover crazy. The coffee shops and bars play a lot of popular music but they are all cover songs – many times with a slower, jazzy vibe. One bar/coffee spot in Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai, Dude, Coffee!, had an entire Maroon 5 mix playing. Sean surprisingly tolerated the tunes because Adam Levine wasn’t the one singing.
  10. Keep Wet Ones/toilet paper on you at ALL times. I already knew this, but I continue to remind myself because it is the most important lesson of all. You never know when the bubble guts will strike – and the last place you want to be is standing over a squat toilet without  wipes.

Wat Phra Singh

This is most sacred wat in Chiang Mai. We passed it on our way to lunch and decided to take a detour. What was meant to be a quick 20-30 minute meander became a two hour tour (and we didn’t even go inside the main temple room).

I got lost (metaphorically speaking) in the temple gardens wandering from tree to tree, reading each proverb and reflecting on their teachings.

As we were about to leave, a novice monk or “samanen” asked if we could sit and talk with him so he could practice his English. Som, a 19 year old man originally from Chiang Rai, decided to become a monk when he was 12 years of age. We chatted about his life and daily duties, his hometown, California, food, the weather, and loud tourists. In the end we exchanged thank yous, bows, and said goodbye. Within minutes he had moved on to another pair of visitors. Our only regret was not asking to take a photo with him.

I was born in the reign of King Rama IX

On October 13th, a week and a half before our trip (and one month ago today), the world’s longest reigning monarch, Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej passed away. A somber and mourning mood could be felt immediately upon our arrival into the country. The airport walls, city streets, and even shopping malls are brimming with billboard sized pictures of the beloved king. Memorials can be found in most establishments and temples, candles line the streets of the night markets, and people wear all black or pin black ribbons to their shirts to commemorate his majesty.

It is astonishing to witness a country so devoted, loving, and loyal to its leader (especially with all that is going on in the states right now).

Thailand will be in mourning for 1 year and no celebrating (including live music) is to take place for 30 days. The nightlife since we’ve arrived has been nonexistent – bars that are typically jam-packed have been quiet and empty.

Things are about to change now that the 30 days have passed and tourist season is coming into full swing. While we are excited to hear some live music, the kickback bar scene that we’ve enjoyed will soon be rampant with young, rambunctious travelers ready to drink, bump, and grind. Hopefully they will be respectful of the Thai people in their time of grieving.


The Rose of the North

Chiang Mai is everything we were hoped for, and then some. It didn’t take very long for us to become smitten with our new home (for the next couple months). Friendly locals, bustling night markets, delectable eats, cheap massages, and temples galore – what’s not to love?

The Smith Residence

Our apartment is just outside the old city, south of Chiang Mai Gate. We have decent sized room with a microwave, TV, fridge, spacious bed, and a well working air conditioner. Sean has to get on his knees to take a shower (guess it doesn’t always suck to be short) but besides that, we are pleased with our accommodations. The complex also has a rooftop gym and pool that is open from 6am-9pm.


Tuk tuks wait on every street corner and while there are a few standard taxis, most people  get around using red trucks with oversized campers (songthaews) that serve as mini busses which can take multiple riders at a time. They are not metered but are a bargain when compared to tuk tuks.

Food, food, and more food

We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to Northern Thai cuisine. Khao soi is my obvious go to (My new love) but there is so much more to be discovered.

Of course we had to hit up the notorious “lady with the cowgirl hat” for her khao kha moo (slow stewed pork leg). It was some of the juiciest, tastiest, most tender pork I’ve ever eaten!


the woman, the myth, the legend – number 1!!!


khao kha moo from Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak

Here are some other noteworthy dishes we’ve had so far:


Chicken Noodle Soup from Buathip


gai yang from SP Chicken


Thai rotee with banana and chocolate

Smoothies are a typical refreshment here in Thailand. Our favorite so far has been the mango mania smoothie from Mango Mania in the MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Center. It was thick and sweet and could cure any heat stroke in three sips.

Italian, Mexican, Irish, fast food – they have a decent variety to choose from. Aside from the occasional American breakfast, we’ve only eaten Thai. At some point I’m sure we will crave a burrito or some tacos but I predict a disappointing experience. Stay tuned for that…

My new love

Move over ramen, pho, broccoli cheese! There’s a new soup in town and it has quickly become my new everythang – khao soi.

This heavenly entrée consists of deep-fried crispy egg noodles atop a bowl of boiled egg noodles in a curry-like sauce with coconut milk and meat (chicken, pork, beef, or seafood). It is served with a side of pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and ground chillies fried in oil.

It was our second day in Chiang Mai. The night before was spent researching Northern Thai dishes and go to eateries in the city. Khao Soi Khun Yai was at the top of a few lists for their khao soi soup. We took to the streets in search of this highly recommended establishment. It took a little while to find since this luncheonette was located in an alley between two wats and looked more like a garbage collection stand with tables and chairs than a place where one would find a life altering bowl of deliciousness.


Khao Soi Khun Yai – currently ranked #1

Since this meal, I have eaten khao soi almost every single day. I have yet to find a bowl that compares to the one I demolished at Khao Soi Khun Yai but they have all still hit the spot. I intend on eating as many bowls as I can while I am here.


Khao Soi from street cart at Chiang Mai Gate night market (chicken) #2


Khao Soi Phorjai in Chiang Rai (chicken) #3


Khao Soi from Night Bazaar food court (chicken and vegetable) #4


Khao Soi from restaurant by the Chiang Rai bus stop (chicken) #5


Khao Soi Islam (seafood) #6

Sean and I are planning to take a cooking class (or two) while we are in Chiang Mai. Soon I will learn how to make khao soi so I can cook it ALL THE TIME when we get back to the states.


khao soi FOREVER ❤


Train ride to Chiang Mai

Our train departed Hua Lamphong station at 7:40pm.


There are a few different cart/seating options to choose from – first class, second class, and third class, carts with air conditioning and carts for women only. We decided to purchase seats in the second class sleeper cart with air conditioning (2,262Baht for the both of us – roughly $60USD).

About an hour into the trip, the steward converted our bench seats to bunk beds with blue curtains to provide privacy. The beds were stiff and the pillows flat but at least I was able to fully stretch my legs (Sean wasn’t so lucky). We popped a couple melatonin and slept through the night unexpectedly well. There was something soothing about the constant sound of the train chug-a-lugging down the bumpy tracks.


We woke up early to amazing views of the lush green countryside, had a small, unappealing breakfast (best to bring your own food and snacks with you), and before we knew it we had arrived in Chiang Mai.


Last day in Bangkok (at least for now)

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is the largest market in in Thailand with over 15,000 booths. Basically the most enormous flea market I’ve ever been to with anything and everything you can think of – clothes, food, foot massages, souvenirs, etc. We easily could have spent an entire day here but only had a few hours since we had a train to catch in the evening.

We took a quick Uber ride to Chatuchak around 9:30am and scouted the scene until we worked up a decent appetite and mustered up the courage to take a second go at meat on a stick. This time we made sure to find out exactly what we were about to consume – grilled pork. It was delicious and lessened our initial fears instilled in Chinatown (Chinatown Letdown)

After purchasing a pair of obligatory elephant pants and covering a fair amount of the market grounds, we grabbed a couple of beers and a bomb serving of paella from a large, jolly Spanish character at a small bar/food stand in the market – Via 9. Shoppers would stop and take pictures of the charismatic chef as he posed around a massive wok, throwing salt in the air, seasoning his next batch of flavor packed rice while a DJ played jazz and R&B hits.

I absolutely recommend scoping out Chatuchak Market if you find yourself in Bangkok on the weekend. We will definitely go back to purchase souvenirs if we have the chance.

We took a taxi back to the hotel because the area around the market was too congested and impossible to order an Uber (the cost ended up being the same).

Goodbye Red Planet

Things I will miss about our hotel – their cute little fox figure in the lobby that reminded me of Sneakers (my dog), the next-door 711, Silom Soi 10 Market down the street, and the blackout window shade in our room. Aside from that, we were excited to move on to our new home for the next couple of months – Chiang Mai.


Sneakers!!! ❤

Bangkok is a huge city with beautiful malls and convenient transportation systems but one of the main intentions of this trip is to get away from the city life to practice a slower and more relaxed paced existence.

Final bite in Bangkok

The train station did not have much for food – a small, sad excuse for a food court, a coffee/bakery, and a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

KFC WTF!!! I ordered a standard chicken sandwich while Sean went a little more adventurous with the spicy chicken rice bowl. It was actually pretty tasty (for fast food).

We washed down our surprisingly satisfying chicken meals with a couple of beers and boarded the train for a 13-15hour overnight ride to Chiang Mai.

Chinatown Letdown

Hot, crowded, smelly (good and bad),  and stressful – a few words to describe Chinatown in Bangkok. We really wanted to love it but ended up a bit disappointed.

Maybe it is because we went in the middle of the afternoon when the sun was blazing down fiercer than usual. Sweat dripped down our backs (and cracks) as we maneuvered through the cramped, narrow alleyways, dodging motorbikes and men with dollies full of produce.


It was here that we tried our first satay – the tasting experience that ruined the day. What we first assumed to be chicken, remains unknown, but what Sean now refers to as dog shit on a stick. My stick of [meat?] was tough and chewy. I took two bites before I had to toss it. Sean’s was even worse. After one bite, he immediately snatched the coke bottle from my hands and downed the few sips that were left. His face turned ghostly with disgust and rage. Whatever he had consumed put him in a bad mood for the next hour or so.

Needing a break from the crowds and a familiar taste in our mouths, we popped into Starbucks and refreshed our pallets. There we did some research on must-try eateries in Chinatown and decided on some crab noodle soup from Odean.

The soup was tasty but not worth the 300Baht per bowl. Definitely not worthy of all the praised it had received online, especially when compared to other soups we’ve had for a fraction of the price. The shrimp wontons were crispy and gratifying.

The highlight of the day turned out to be our discovery of Uber in Bangkok. It is about the same price as taking a metered taxi but you can get an estimate before your trip. Tuk tuks are rip off and only worth taking for a short trip at night when they have their lights flashing and music blasting.