After the chilliness and wet weather arrived from China, the colours of both nature and buildings were very saturated in a clean way, and the air was crisp and delicate. The smoking season felt very remote while steering along the Ping River to Chiang Mai.
We figured we wanted to explore a bit. See whether the town was alive or not? Chiang Mai saw some activity from the Test and Go program, then suddenly we were off the radar again, and since yesterday it has been decided that Test and Go will be reinstated.
Easing restrictions, a more lively downtown?
With UK and Spain easing restrictions and WHO recommending the same globally, there is some sentiment that Chiang Mai might soon be back in action. Popular places are seeing crowds already. At the moment, we are just waiting for the tourists to return. It is something missing without backpackers roaming around and the sound of Mandarin lingering in the air outside some local lunchroom.
es•pe•cial Coffee Bar
We opened the day by checking out es•pe•cial Coffee Bar. A stylish Coffee and Espresso place with some exciting interior including gramophone shaped lamps and a giant lion statue from India, integrated with minimalistic design and a typical European /antique vintage at the same time. They also cultivate a small gravel and fern garden at the back.
Then, not all places with a La Marzocko coffee machine have good coffee, but this one provided indeed. The Flat White was exceptional. So was the iced latte, according to my wife. They also had some intriguing dishes on the menu, like khao soi soft crab. I must try someday. This coffee place is located on the other side of Narawat bridge on Charoen Mueng rd. It belongs to The Bridge Lyxotel.
This area is developing into a hip part of town with the Paw painting and coffee, Praise cafe and the Sleek and Slide steakhouse. Not to forget Wikunpanich Salabao and dumplings eateries. Requires further discovery later on.
The next destination was SP Chicken
Though other Isan classics are on offer, the aromatic and impossibly juicy chicken is the jewel in the crown here.Michelin
This is street food and Michelin classic, one of the earliest restaurants for Isan Gai Yang in Chiang Mai. It is still renowned for a grilled chicken recipe that never changed over the years. The name comes from the founder of Mr Lit’s wife, Sulapee. Mr Lit was responsible for examining chickens into perfection, and his wife developed the rest of the menu.
Small portions and this Thai – Chinese take or touch on classic Thai dishes, rendering them a bit less spicy but with more nuances. The Som Tam was just perfectly balanced, the Tom Yam soup sweet and spicy, chicken soft and tender. The beef came out a bit chewy as it often does in Thailand, but nothing wrong when it comes to the flavour.
It was undoubtedly an especial Friday in Chiang Mai downtown. Very memorable with slightly cold weather, apparently Payao just saw hailstorms, enjoyable to almost feel the need of a light jacket. Chiang Mai is not yet in business with the buzz of pre-covid life. But there is something in the air.
Maybe January 20 – 21st is the psychological turnaround for approaching the pandemic in another way. The indications from Europe points to that development.
Looking for hotels in Chiang Mai, check with Booking.com.