Culinary Adventures, Travel
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Eating at the Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

Back to sharing our epic SE Asia adventure…It’s already June and I’ve only chronicled about half of our time away…

Sila-aat two times

Our first night in Chiang Mai was our last night together with our tour group. For dinner, we visited the Night Bazaar which is also a shoppers paradise. Over the next 2 weeks, The Koala and I would come back many times to shop and to eat. Our last meal as a group was at seafood restaurant Sila-aat. They have a few live fish and the rest is displayed on ice at the counter. They have some a good selection of seafood platters that we wanted to try but the timing  was never quite right.

I felt like something light so picked some light Chinese dishes. The Koala picked a heavy Chinese dish.

Snow peas. I adore snow peas, but they are freakin expensive back home. My local supermarket sells snow peas for $26NZ per kilo. Does anyone know why snow peas are so damn expensive?

Straw mushrooms and shrimp. I love straw mushrooms.

Chinese style roast pork.

Our lovely group!

Our second visit to Sila-aat for the seafood. Prawn starter.

An easy stir fry. Nice enough but this dish is found the world over. Nothing special.

Seabass! We don’t have seabass in New Zealand, but Gordon Ramsey is always, “Seabass this and seabass that” so I ordered a steamed seabass with soy sauce. Fish names differ from country to country so I can’t be sure if this is the Ramsey’s seabass. This was really similar to blue cod.

Our dinner of prawns, vegetables, seabass, rice and a few beers came to a whopping 740 baht / $30NZ / $24US. Considered fairly extravagant by Thailand standards and was certainly a tourists dinner, but not too bad in the bigger scheme of things.

Death by Chiang Mai

During our stay in Chiang Mai, mum forwarded a news article to me. An Aucklander, Sarah Carter had died of suspected food poisoning at the Night Bazaar. Her two friends were very sick and still in Chiang Mai, later recovering to tell their story. There were no warnings or local news about Sarah’s death but as tourists we didn’t keep up with news like we do at home. We ate at the Night Bazaar several times so it was scary to think that a healthy 23 year old had died from something she ate there.

Since we’ve come home, there seems there was a cover up on a series of deaths in Chiang Mai with some pointing the finger at pesticides that were used at the hotel Sarah and her friends stayed at. I’m not sure if we’ll ever know the real answer, but it’s fairly certain it wasn’t “toxic seaweed” or uncooked pork as first reported. Honestly, when I first heard about Sarah, it didn’t make me want to stop eating my way around SE Asia. It did make me really sad though. All our information came from online sources, mostly from back home. In the days that followed, I read some awful things by people that didn’t seem to know anything about travel. Some people even suggested that people that traveled to places like Thailand deserved risks like this.

I never want to give up traveling. Traveling is gives you an amazing perspective on life. There’s nothing quite like seeing how the other half live. People die. They die in New Zealand and they die in Thailand. Staying at home will not make you immune.

Thai Food Restaurant

Our last visit to the Night Bazaar we tried out the obviously named Thai Food Restaurant. They have quite a large menu which can make it super hard to pick something. I finally settled on a red curry with prawn. It was a bit too spicy for me, but the flavours were fantastic. Coconut and peanuts made for quite a sweet dish. The Koala ordered Chiang Mai Sausage and a fried rice. This version of Chiang Mai sausage is quite different to the Chiang Mai sausage we’ve had at other places which leads me to believe that there isn’t a specific recipe for Chiang Mai sausage. Maybe any sausage made in Chiang Mai is a Chiang Mai sausage?

Down the back of the Night Bazaar…

…a cool band plays blues and jazz at Boy Blues Bar.  I love the way the band plays facing into the middle of the space. You have to walk through the music to find a seat and it feels like you’ve just stepped into a jam session. There’s no us vs. them here. This bar is set up in the space between two buildings. A novel way to use up a the space. It had an outdoor feel to it, but it was covered. Drinks are reasonably priced so stop by for a drink. An easy way to end an evening of shopping and eating.

Night Bazaar Tips:

  1. Bargaining is expected but people need to earn a living. Pay what you feel is a fair price.
  2. Shop around, but if you take an interest in something, play it cool. If you act super interested and then walk off without buying anything, it can be offensive.
  3. Buy in multiples for more bargaining power.

Night Bazaar Highlights:

  1. Boy Blues Bar
  2. Bargains!
  3. A big selection of food.

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