Travel

Thailand / Chiang Mai

This unplanned trip happened over the easter weekend. It was a last minute thing so the odds were against us! But in spite of all these, I had so much fun. One of the reasons was Thai Farm Cooking School! Okay this post is probably more like a review of the Cooking School more than anything else.

But first let me count the ways things were stacked against us:

  • Not only that April is the hottest month in Thailand, it’s also burning month. To sum up: hot + hazy + muggy. In fact when I was there Bangkok was in severe drought so some hotels had to ratio their water consumption!
  • My trip was on Easter weekend so airline seats were full. As result I flew business from Singapore. I don’t think Royal Silk facilities are worth the ticket for a mere few hours flight.
  • I missed most CM attractions due to last minute planning. Temple visits really don’t interest me, but I had wanted to go to the elephant sanctuary. Next time!

But I really had fun in Chiang Mai in the end. It’s such a special place to me now. Among others, I definitely enjoyed Thai Farm Cooking School!

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Thai Farm Cooking School in Chiang Mai

I found them on tripadvisor’s list of things to do in Chiang Mai. What attracted me to their programme was that A) it’s first on the list (haha!) and B) they’re recommended by practically every guide on Chiang Mai and just look at the review! C) they offer full day class inclusive of transport. It only costs S$50, so why not.

On the day of the cooking class the farm guide will actually pick you up. But because my hotel was far away, I went to their office at Chiang Mai old city instead.

A little detour… If you happen to be in the old walled city of Chiang Mai, please visit Cafe Arte. I really think this was the origin of hipster culture. The Cafe serves amazing coffee, beautifully crafted breakfast, accommodations and hey, art classes thrown in! Seriously, just go.

Back to Cooking School. The driver picked us up in a van that felt like a school bus because we went around to pick other students up. In total there were about 11 of us. Before we went to the farm, we stopped at the Ruamchok Market so the guide could introduce basic Thai ingredients like rice, sauces, etc. It was interesting to me because the mangoes were so fresh and so cheap!!

From the market, the farm was another 20 minutes ride. It was cool to know our fellow chef/ gardener apprentices. On our bus, we had a naturopath, a lawyer, IT + PR couple, etc. While there were a bunch of us and we’re from everywhere, no one was from the States. It was funny to me because I have more US friends here in Asia than when I was living in North America, so I kinda expect them everywhere.

Did I tell you that the school has an awesome backyard? Like #lifegoals moment. About 70% ingredients we use for cooking that day were from their garden. The plants here are grown organically too, with compost made from food leftover. Talk about sustainability!

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Our Guide, Porn was teaching us about the various plants in their permaculture beds
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Our cohort! 😀
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Here is a gigantic pomelo
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And very healthy holy basil bush
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They also dry paddy here!
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And use dry husks for the veggie patches

Once we’re finished with our garden tour, we’re off to cooking! There were three classrooms in total, I think. Our class was the closest to the garden. The workstations were clean and each get one of them. There’s a stove, prepping counter and lunch area.

We pre-selected our dishes from their menu. There were five dishes in total and we got to eat them all. They made it so simple and easy. Everything was pre-cut and washed thus saved us the hassle. Hey, I was even impressed with my cooking skills! Okay not all the dishes I cook survive until the photo – mainly because they were delicious and it was too hot to multitask photo taking and eating at the same time.

My class finished around 4pm. We were sent home with new friends and belly full. On the way back I stopped by Tesco to stock on rice crackers.

How to get there:

If you’re staying within the old city, the cooking school’s van will pick you up. If not, you’ll have to go to their office at the old city. I stayed at Le Meridien near the night market which is quite central. From there, we took a tuktuk (100 Baht) to the cooking school’s office. Going back, we took the red shared taxi (40 Baht per person) that looks like this:

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Credit: Wandermuch
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