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T / how to get the shakes in chiang mai

There are only two things in Chiang Mai.  Maybe three.  Mostly just two.  This post only focuses on one.

When I arrived in Chiang Mai, I felt like I had been adequately prepared to have myself some good coffee (thank you coffee Yoda!).  And I was with some people who wanted good coffee.  Because there is nothing worse than to be with people who are not willing to have more than three cups of coffee within a 24 hour period when all you want to do is drink coffee.  Because it is literally all around you.  You can drive 100km up a mountain through a national park and still find a decent latte from an Italian machine.  And if Ponganes Coffee Roasters turns out to out to be closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, that’s totally cool.  Akha Ama is just a hop and a skip away.  What about brunch? Well, Overstand, The Larder and Rustic & Blue make food their primary objective, but their lattes are still above the norm of what you’d get back home.  Also: see chicken and waffles.  So thanks to the massive list that blogger to the north, Alana, put together, I thought I’d leave you the top three ways you could have your coffee.


Sriracha Maple Syrup Chicken Waffles at Rustic & Blue.

Stay at an Airbnb in Chiang Mai.  For only one reason: you don’t get screwed by a hotel breakfast. Wake up and immediately leave the premises. Don’t be confined to very restrictive breakfast hours.  Walk around any corner and you’ll probably find a really good. Like a latte that’s shares a table with Sriracha Maple Syrup Chicken Waffles at Rustic & Blue, Or The Larder’s Chorizo Breakfast Hot Dog if you’re in the Nimman Haeminda neighbourhood.  Or the damn good breakfast pizza at Overstand in the Old City.  The list is literally endless.


So many delicious, coffee-adjacent cuppas at Graph Table and Graph Cafe.

So many points for innovation, going outside boundaries and being a little nuts here.  Sometimes it’s a little showy (yes, we get you won world’s best latte art), other times you’re thinking “how the heck did you get there?”  And sometimes your coffee winds up tasting like a Christmas chocolate orange.  Whether it’s fancy lattes with equally fancy names at Ristr8tto, or charcoal-laced concoctions at Graph Café and Graph Table, you’re going for something a little outside of the box.

So many coffee adjacent creative things at Graph Table and Graph Cafe.


Really get to know who’s growing your coffee at Akha Ama.

When more than one friend asks you to bring back coffee from Akha Ama, you get yourself a piccolo latte and their signature orange-infused Manee Mana cold brew concoction. The coffee served here is literally single sourced, when families from the Akha tribe in a northern town in Thailand cut out the middle man and began to not only produce, but process the beans themselves, all in a sustainable and ecologically free way (read: reduced use of chemicals).  Inside the cafe, they’re equally proud of what they’re making.  Baristas are coffee nerds to the highest degree. 


All photos by Tiffany Tsang.  Please request permission for use.  Cait+Tiff are not liable for the shakes.


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T / happy monday / thai tracks

Photo Credit: Samantha Wong

Photo Credit: Samantha Wong

It’s basically no secret that Thailand is one my favourite places and Bangkok has become my motherland substitute (all the awesomeness of Hong Kong, and perhaps more, without having to run into the most family members that you’re supposed to remember names of). So when our gorgeous awesome wonderful buddy Jane shared this video, I jumped all over its production company, Black Buddha. These guys (and ladies I hope too) are all about Asia.  The videos are crisp. I’m all about the light in this little piece about a market that lives and breathes with the trains that run through it.  And then a tiny little love song to Bangkok! I can’t wait to spend a good amount of office time going through every single city they cover. Because I’m all about cities (until I collapse from exhaustion and need some beach).

For those of you making your way to Asia for the holidays, check these guys out.

 


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C / Sailing in the Andaman

jump

Last week, I went sailing with a group of friends in the Andaman Sea, off the coast of Thailand. It took me most of this week to recover from the constant feeling of sea legs and overall wobbliness, but I already miss being out on the ocean.

5 days. 8 people. 1 catamaran.

The Trip

ADMMAP

le map

We hired a captain for the trip, because we shouldn’t be trusted with something as valuable as a boat. We left from the north of Phuket the first day, taking the scenic route, and did a bit of island hopping.  We sailed around the north side of Koh Yao Noi, hitting Koh Panak, Koi Yai, then scooting around to Koh Hong and Koh Roi, and sleeping at Koh Kudi. We explored some lagoon caves, did a bit of local prawn shopping and dragged a few free loaders off the back of the boat.

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Indian Jones came on our trip

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the prawn shop

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hitching a ride

After sleeping in the front nets of the catamaran (less comfortable than I had hoped for) we set out for Koh Roi and Krabi. En route, we stopped at Koh Nok where we were able to “hike” up the side of a very steep hill, and look out over the sea and all the islands. This was also the place where we took photos to post when it is snowing in North America.

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i hear it’s cold where you are

We were able to sail the rest of the way to Koh Roi that afternoon, which is also known as Chicken Head Island. This is because the island looks like a chicken head. Very clever.  We pulled in and decided to take a stroll on the beach, and ended up with one of the best sunsets in the history of the universe. See below.

Chicken-Head

looks like a…chicken

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eh

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two become one

sunset

blammo

The next morning we did our fair share of snorkeling, an important daily ritual on this trip, and then picked up a few free loaders in Krabi.  We spent most of the day playing around Railey Beach, and of course, had to explore the Cave of Dicks. The Cave of Dicks is technically a shrine to fertility, but doubles as a haven for obnoxious tourists to take silly photos.
The night was spent checking out the phosphorescent algae along the quiet side of Koh Phi Phi. Well, it was the quiet side until we got there and got a little crazy with the coconut juice. There will be no photos.

maps

this is a map. this is the ocean. this is the storm we are going directly into.

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winter is coming. hahahahah i’m just kidding its Thailand

these guys want to party

these guys want to party

Because it is insanely gorgeous and I never get tired of it, I made everyone get up early and go to Maya Beach. This is the beach where the movie, The Beach, was filmed, and it still smells like Leonardo DeCaprio. It’s almost as pretty as he is. Because we knew we were going to hit some weather the last few days of the trip, we took off as the Russian tour boats were pulling in and sailed into Koh Phi Phi for some dry land and noodles.

Koh Phi Phi was hit hard by the Tsunami in 2004, so I am fast to forgive the tackiness, but I can only take so many sunburnt tourists and Full Moon Party t-shirts. After filling up on pad thai and crazy spicy curry, we grabbed our supplies and got out. We sailed to Koh Rachi Yai, famous for its sunshine and snorkeling, and it rained for 500 hours.

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“stop playing with your dinghy”

We got in some amazing snorkeling the next morning off of Koh Racha Yai. The water was perfect and the rocky night on the boat was worth it.

snorkel

under da sea

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darling its betta down where its wetta

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soggy in koh racha yai

Sadly, there aren’t many pictures worth posting after this, which is ok because it was the last day. The storm moved in on us, we remained soggy and wishing the rocking would stop. Then lightning hit our boat. We didn’t sink or drown, but I did learn how thankful I am for wind shadows, Xanax and Kahlúa.

caitsig

 

 

 


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C / Chiang Mai

Whew. After 10 days of traveling around Thailand, I am back in Phnom Penh and drinking as much coffee as my body will take. I still have sea legs from the sailing part of the trip, so this post will be mostly photos.

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Our view of Chiang Mai from the Sala Lanna rooftop pool

The first leg of our Tour-de-Thailand was Chiang Mai. I had heard wonderful things about this artsy-jungle haven in the north, and was not disappointed. Sure, the old city has a lot of tourist stuff, but people come here for a reason. We stayed at the gorgeous Sala Lanna on the river and grubbed on khao soi as often as possible.

We wandered around the city for the first day, snacking and looking at pretty stuff in the very cool, and very young Nimman neighborhood. It felt a bit like the Brooklyn of Chiang Mai, and I loved the heavy artistic influence of the area.

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Photo by Sala Lanna

My belly loves Chiang Mai.

khao-soi

Khao Soi dreams

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Drool from top left: pork and chili dip with puffed rice, market snausage, pad thai for breakfast.

Getting artsy-fartsy in Nimman.

disco dog

Disco Dog in Nimman

Beer republic

Solid bar signage in Nimman

mont chiang mai

Mosaic of the King

We made it out of the city for a day and went white-water rafting on the Maetang river, which was my very favorite part. I love rafting anyway, and rafting + elephants will be hard to beat.

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The Maetang River outside of Chiang Mai

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Serious faces of the safety brief.

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This is why we have a safety brief

Ok that’s all I can write without getting seasick. Part two of the Tour de Thailand (the sailing!) up on Thursday.

caitsig


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C / go away / chiang mai + andaman sea

The Cambodian Water Festival starts next week in Phnom Penh, and since that means MILLIONS of people will be descending upon our fair city, I will be getting the eff outta here. Bless Cambodia and their 25 public holidays.

This is what I am missing.

This is what I am missing.

A group of us kids are going to Thailand! Our first stop is Chiang Mai. I have wanted to go for years, and I am so excited. I can’t wait to hike and go white-water rafting and eat gigantic bowls of khao soi until I pass out. I have been scouring Paper Planes for local tips on food and adventure in the area. Written by an expat living in Chiang Mai, there are a ton of great ideas up on the blog. With the best timing ever, she just posted a Last Minute Travel Prep Checklist, which I am using this week. So ready to get my exploring on.

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Chiang Mai local

After our time up in the mountains, we are heading south, to the Andaman Sea, where we are renting a sailboat for the week. I have done this a few times before and while I generally like to go to new places every trip, this one is worth returning to. There are few places in the world where I am totally calm, and the abundance of coconut drinks and snorkeling make this spot pretty perfect for chill out time.

If you have any suggestions on what to see/eat/do in either place, I would love to know your thoughts!

Evidence on why I am going back, below.

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Catamarans in love

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Long boat at sunrise

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Dinner.

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Can’t even handle it

Oh, and if you lived inside my head, this is what it would sound like.

caitsig

Photos: The Khmer Times, National Geographic, Cait