Photography Corner: Street Food of Chiang Mai

ATMA SEVA generally uses our Photography Corner as a way to highlight smaller and lesser known places around Thailand, usually including temples and cultural sights.  These are all wonderful insights and amazing places to see and I am so glad to have seen them through the Photo Corners.  However, I have seen a noticeable lack of the wonderful, amazing, beautiful…. delicious street food that Thailand has to offer!

As an on-site intern in Chiang Mai I have been partaking in many of the street foods and food stalls that can be found around the city and have found many hidden (or not so hidden) gems.  The foods range from fresh fruit and smoothies to grilled meats and fried snacks.  There are noodle stands with the ever famous pad thai and noodle soups to salad stands with deliciously fresh papaya and other fruit salads.

The options are endless! And cheap!  With a smoothie running you about 20-30 baht (less than a dollar) and salads and noodle options in the dollar to two dollar range I have been able to try so many items and yet feel like I have barely scratched the surface.  I generally go to a few main places near my house but you can find food on just about any corner in Chiang Mai at any time of the day (or night!).

Some of my favorite locations include a market for students right across from Chiang Mai University, the Sunday night walking street, the Chiang Mai Gate Market, and a night markett off of Huay Gaew on the way to Chiang Mai University.  One of my absolute favorites is at Chiang Mai gate where you can find Mrs. Pa’s smoothie stand.  She makes the most ridiculously delicious smoothies I have ever tasted!  She lets you chose any amount of different fruits from her smorgasbord of options, sugar or no sugar, and then blends them up to perfect consistency while smiling, chatting and working on the next smoothie in line at the same time.  And all for 20 baht! Her smoothies are SO good that she has had several articles written about her including one on CNN’s travel site which you can see here:

A huge part of what makes Mrs. Pa, the smoothies, noodles, soups and all of the other food so great is that I am always greeted with a smile 🙂 and even though we may not understand each other completely every person has been so gracious and so willing to make sure that I walk away happy with some delicious food in hand.  It is a win-win situation: great food and great experience!  Needless to say I am quite in love with the street food of Chiang Mai and its vendors!

So without further ado, here are some pictures of my favorite foods and places to get them in Chiang Mai!

WARNING: All pictured foods are very delicious.  Drooling on your keyboard may ensue.  We take no responsibility for damaged keys.  Thank you and enjoy!

Amy Kaylor, on-site intern


ATMA SEVA – A look back

Despite my disbelief, I’m into my last week in Thailand and final week of my internship with ATMA SEVA. I’m not sure where the time went, but looking back at my photographs helps remind me of the some of the amazing things I saw and did over the past four months.

Jamie in CNX airport

Me arriving to Chiang Mai!

In my short time here, I’ve seen ATMA SEVA grow leaps and bounds. When I arrived, there were two interns on the scene. Over the next month or two, we had five new interns joining our family! I’ve seen several volunteers come and go, each bringing new perspective to our work. It’s a strange feeling to think that in a week, I’ll be another memory, still connected but from across the ocean.

Between the meetings and countless café work sessions, I also managed to have a lot of fun here. I spent two weeks in Cambodia and Vietnam, was able to visit the village of Pa Pae several times and even made it to a Thai National Park.

The best part, however, was the merging of work and pleasure. Most people go to work forty hours a week, working the standard 9-5 Monday through Friday. That schedule can wear on you after awhile. One of the pros and cons of work with a growing NGO is that the hours on the clock or days of the week on a calendar mean very little.  This means that sometimes you’ll end up spending a Saturday afternoon working to prepare for a new volunteer or out in a remote district helping move someone into their new home. This also means that sometimes you’ll find yourself enjoying a Thai massage on a Wednesday afternoon if things aren’t busy! It’s an ebb and flow type of job and once you learn to embrace the variability, it can be quite enjoyable- the lack of routine keeps things interesting! It also helps when your coworkers are fun-loving people who make even work meetings entertaining. We work hard, but we also have fun doing it. There’s none of that pressure that you find in many corporate world jobs back home.

There’s a lot that I’ll miss about Thailand. In no particular order, some of the things that I’ll miss most are:

The people – my fellow ATMA SEVA team, all the random friends I’ve picked up along the way, Kru Noom (the yoga teacher I’ve been taking classes with for the past two months) and the friendly owner of Mono Café next door!

Me, volunteers, and the ATMA SEVA team in a neighboring Karen village

Me, volunteers, and the ATMA SEVA team in a neighboring Karen village

The food – need I say more? Thai food is amazing and the fact that you can get a full, delicious, fresh meal for a mere dollar or two is a wonderful thing.

The pace of life – things move on “Thai time” here, which means they happen slowly, if at all. This has been a source of frustration at times, but I do enjoy the unhurried “no worries” attitude that permeates Thai life. Stressed out westerners could learn a thing or two on how to enjoy life over here.

How inexpensive things are – I doubt I’ll be able to ever find a taxi in the states that will take me to the other side of town for a dollar. Or enjoy an amazing plate of pad thai for the same price.

Tuk tuks – I don’t know what it is about those quirky little Mario Kart-esque taxis, but I have yet to find a vehicle that I enjoy traveling in more than a tuk tuk. Can’t find those in Connecticut!

Me with my students in the Lawa village.

Me with my students in the Lawa village.

Needless to say, it’s been a great four months and I’m going to miss Thailand a lot. I hope to come back to visit someday soon and look forward to watching ATMA SEVA continue to grow in the future!

Jamie Shannon

Gin Yut Yut! A Day at Thai Cooking School

Last week, we (on-site interns Katherine and Jamie) had the pleasure of attending a day-long Thai cooking class with The Chiang Mai Thai Farm Cooking School. For just 1000 B per person (roughly $30), we were picked up from just outside the ATMA SEVA office, taken to a market outside of the city to learn about the different ingredients we’d be using, and then shuttled over to a quaint farm well outside of the hustle and bustle of downtown Chiang Mai.

The course was run by a very friendly, lively Thai woman named Pern (the r is mostly silent). She gave us a tour around the farm, showing us different fruit trees and herbs and letting us taste many of them. After our tour, the real fun began: making the food! Our adventures in cooking included five courses, with each consisting of three different options. Course #1 was a choice between green, red, or yellow curry. Given that their were three of us (one of Jamie’s friends from Canada came to visit for the weekend), we did our best to “divide and conquer,” each making a different option for each course. We learned to cook many Thai classics, like Tom Yum (the traditional hot and sour soup), chicken with basil, and everyone’s favorite, pad Thai!

The facilities were exceptionally clean, comfortable (well, as comfortable as you can be in 95 degree weather with fans… but the fans did help keep the air moving!) and spacious. Each student had his or her own cooking station. I’d have to say that the highlight of the day was when we got to enjoy the fruits of our labor… eating!

Our advice to anyone who opts for the Thai Farm Cooking School? Don’t forget they offer doggie bags to take your divine creations home- take advantage of these rather than stuffing yourself! We brought about half of the food we made back with us and had it later that evening for dinner. If you have any questions about our Thai cooking class experience, please leave us a comment below! Try not to get too hungry looking through our pictures 🙂

Katherine Devine and Jamie Shannon