Sunday, November 15, 2009

Taste of Thailand

We arrived yesterday in Chiang Mai in Thailand. Mona and I are volunteering on a Habitat for Humanity build in this province of Northern Thailand. The project starts on Monday, so we have two days to explore and sight see.

Chiang Mai is the second largest city in Thailand and is another foodie heaven - especially if you are a lover of Thai food. We had a great time eating awesome authentic Thai food. Our Lonely Planet guide had some great references for places to eat at and their recommendations have rarely been a miss for us.

Chiang Mai is a temple city with several old and new temples around the city built to honor and worship Lord Buddha (nearly 80% of the population is Buddhist in Thailand). Most of our sightseeing included visiting various temples.

Commuting is cheap, fun and convenient here with options ranging from regular taxis to tuk-tuks (a larger version of the India autorickshaw) and the red mini-bus (hop-on and hop-off).

This place is a shopper's delight and the Night market in town a must-see. A much larger and better organized version of street markets in India - you can buy practically anything in the Night Market at great deals as long as you have a stomach for bargaining with the locals.

Today was the opening ceremony for the project - a truly amazing experience. Over 2000 volunteers from over 30 countries have descended in Thailand to build 82 homes along the Mekong river. The Habitat for Humanity India contingent is about 20-25 member strong. Jimmy and Rosalyn Carter were present at the ceremony, which was opened by the Governor of the region. The ceremony was held in a beautiful botanical garden and included song and dance performances by local artists. One highlight was a food fair where all attendees could try local Thai delicacies.

Tomorrow - we wake up at 4:30am and set out for the build site by 6am. Stay tuned for live updates!

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