Truffle Journal Guide to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

When the offer came up to experience Chiang Mai, Thailand as part of my travels I jumped at the experience without hesitation. I had previously spent several weeks exploring the south of Thailand and island hopping with endless sunshine and ocean. However, a part of me felt deprived after departure back home without having explored the cultural mecca of Thailand. Known for its beautiful temples and rich history Chiang Mai always called and I finally received the chance to answer.
Here is a list of some of the amazing experiences I had in Chiang Mai that I would highly recommend. They are in no particular order and can be easily achieved with a shuttle tour bus. I stayed in the center of town on the banks of the Ping River at X2 Riverside Resort. Chiang Mai is a city that captured my heart and that I would easily return.

Temples;

Chiang Mai is known for its elaborate beautiful Thai temples. When visiting the temples make sure to wear something that covers your knees and your shoulders. It is respectful to local monks who live within the temple grounds. When you are at the temple you are able to explore quietly appreciating the history and the culture on offer. You can purchase lotus flowers or incense and offer this to the Lord Buddha. If there is a local monk giving blessings then you can approach the monk and receive a blessing.

The first temple I visited was the magnificent gold gleaming Wat Phra That Doi Suthep found on Doi Suthep the 8th highest mountain in Thailand coming in at 1685 meters, bigger than table mountain. Considered a national park driving up to the temple is simply beautiful! The thick lush greenery engulfs you and then the temple stands tall covered in the most magical gold, overlooking the city with the most amazing view. It is considered one of the holiest Buddhist sites in Thailand. This awe-inspiring temple is crowned by an elaborate Chedi (Monument), 24 meters tall and gold plated from top to bottom. It is quite something to behold. Allow enough time for exploring the temple ground and to see the elaborate murals that adorn the walls as well as learn about the history. Make sure you have cash with you for the entrance and the offerings. If you have questions regarding the temple or in general about Buddhism then visit the Buddism Center. The Thai are friendly and helpful and would love to answer any questions you may have. This spiritual place offers retreats, meditations and lighting the candle at the offering was an immensely special moment for me.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

If you are feeling for more of an active experience that involves you literally getting into the ring then why not step up and visit the Buakaw Village. Set up as a sustainable village and training Gym by Buakaw, the K-1 Muay Thai World Champion of the World and Thailand title holder for over a decade. This establishment offers training camps whereby you can come and stay and train in Muay Thai. The accommodation is simple and the training fierce. With a relaxing area overlooking rice paddies, there are moments to relax and take in the beautiful grounds. We only did a day visit and minimal training however, judging by the number of muscles on site - this training camp means business. You can find them on facebook here.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Further up in the lush green forest of Chiang Mai you will find the Hill Tribe Villages. Showcasing a simpler and more rural life. These tiny little villages are so small that many are unmarked on maps. Some villages are as small as up to 20 households. We explored a little village taking in all the beautiful hand woven items created by the local tradesmen in order to make a living off the tourists that pass. The fabrics are beautiful and purchasing an item was a must. The site we visited had manicured gardens and a gaggle of small children playing outside. A very peaceful way of living. With some of the original huts and information about the tribes inside you can explore this foreign world. Just make sure to be respectful and ask if you may take photos. It is not an animal zoo but rather a place where you have the opportunity to step into someone's world, so vastly different from yours and see how they exist.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has a variety of bustling markets filled with a selection of common and unique fresh foods and more. We visited the busy Warorot market place on the banks of the ping river. This market place is where the locals do their shopping and is an authentic experience that submerged me in the Thai culture. Surrounded by street food stalls and busy vendors the sights, smells, and sounds are an assault on the senses in a wonderful way. Getting there by tuk-tuk or going on foot is best. The market opens early in the morning and closes after dark. You can buy almost anything at the market from clothes, condiments, fresh fruits, meat and more! Visiting the flower and fruit market was my favourite and yes, of course, a coconut was had. The fruit section was my favourite with the display of so many unknown bright coloured fruits. You are going to want to get out and explore all areas so make sure you have the time and don't forget that cash is king. Don't forget the side streets where you can find hemp textiles and fabric woven by the hill tribe people.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Once the home of the Emerald Buddha (Thailand's most sacred and ancient relic), the Wat Chedi Luang in Chiang Mai is one of the most iconic parts of Chiang Mia's skyline. This magnificent structure was built somewhere between 1385-1402. This beautiful chedi at its peak measured 60 meters across and 80meters tall. After a devastating earthquake, the Chedi remains but the staircase and elephants had some restorations done and one can only begin to imagine seeing such a magnificent structure in all its glory! With several culturally significant pieces on the temple premises, I would highly recommend taking a walk and exploring.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Dine at X-2 Riverside resort with Alex Dermard. This was one of my favourite experiences. To see this master at his craft was a true delight. His food is beautifully plated and each plate a complete work of art. The only thing to stand tall against the beauty of each plate is the flavours of the dish. Well thought out and elegantly executed whether you are staying at the resort or passing by making a reservation is a must!

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Stay at 137 Pillars, Chiang Mai. This establishment quite literally took my breath away. It was just beautiful from the moment we arrived. Each and every detail has been thought of in this colonial historic boutique hotel. The original teak house that has been restored to glory dates back to the 1800s. The details that have gone into the grounds makes it a dream destination for travelers. With different room options, you can choose to stay with a room that has a built-in lounge, bedroom, walk-in wardrobe, and private pool.

The interior is colonial and elegant with warm finishes that will make you feel at home. With giant trees towering over the walkways you feel tucked away from the world. I stayed for lunch and it was a very good decision. The authentic Thai menu was utterly delicious and I enjoyed every bite full! I could very easily have moved in and never left! Especially with the look of the private pool.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

For those of you that are down for the spa treatments and being swaddled in a happy fuzzy bubble then I have the place for you. Oasis Oriental Secret Spa offers traditional treatments such as the Thai Hot Compress massage. Of course, I dived into experiencing this amazing offer and it was fantastic. With scents of lemongrass, ginger kafir lime, salt, and camphor oil, a hot compress is an aromatic escape from reality. You will be in a relaxation coma post-treatment with an offering of herbals teas and fresh fruit. They believe in being so much more than just a massage spa and that is exactly what they have achieved. Owners Pakin and Toby Ployphicha and thought of all attention to detail and have had a hand right down to the interior. I couldn't help but recognize traditional hand-woven textiles that had been included in the design of the hotel. With amazing products and an array of treatments, this is my must visit Spa of Chiang Mai. With mountains as a backdrop, Oasis Baan Sean Doi Spa Resort has spacious rooms that are elegantly decorated. Situated on a quiet street this hotel will make you want to sleep, spa, eat and repeat! Did I mention the heavenly pool? They have several branches so if you find yourself in Thailand look them up and treat yourself.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Lunch at Organic Cafe Ohkajhu. A local and sustainable organic farm that is being run by three friends that have a fierce love of food and farming. Situated on the outskirts on town this was one of our first stops after we landed in Chiang Mai. This restaurant has it going on with one of the biggest salad menus I have seen to date. Each and every bite was scrumptious and just so fresh. But how could it not be? It is grown on site and made into beautiful meals that are healthy. It is so amazing to be able to travel and eat healthy fresh whole food. It is a top priority for me and I loved experiencing a place away from home that allowed me to eat healthy and fresh organic food! Look them up if you are in the area or if you are in Bangkok or downtown Chiang Mai as they have branches there too.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Feast on Thai colonial cuisine at The House by Ginger. Possibly my favourite lunch whilst I was visiting Chiang Mai. The food is perfectly made and the flavours are out of this world. With a menu filled with traditional items I highly recommended the Pad Thai. The food was so moreish that I couldn't help myself. Each dish was just better than the last. To top it off? They have a gorgeous store.

I am sure you will find your way there - just be prepared to swipe the credit card because the clothing is so beautiful you will find yourself defenseless.

Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand
Truffle Journal Guide to Chaing Mai, Thailand

Chiang Mai has so much on offer that I only touched the surface in my short stay there. I love offering up guides but I am a firm believer in going and getting lost. Let the music find you, meet new people and explore new paths. Each experience is unique and taking in the sights and sounds of Chiang Mai is something I will never forget.

Did you know that there is a Thailand Tourism office located in Johannesburg? Don’t think only beaches (Phuket), as there is so much more to Thailand.  So if you need info or digital brochures etc, be sure to contact them or better still follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

-Melissa

Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox

Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox
Stepping into Summer with Maaji and Colourbox

Swimwear and active wear is always a challenging conversation with self. I always have the question of, “do I want a full piece”(which in my head probably looks better) or “Shall I get a bikini”(that I love wearing more) but that can leave me feeling slightly more self-conscious. Will the pants split when I do yoga or is the fabric thick enough to not perish.

I’m always on the hunt for the ultimate swimwear/activewear destination and thanks to Colourbox I have found the perfect fit. Not only is the shopping experience unparalleled with the fitting experience and attention to detail but it is also the ultimate luxury resort wear destination which includes amazing brands such as Moses sandals, Mr Boho Sunglasses and Maaji swimwear and active wear. Bringing you the latest and greatest from top international and local lifestyle brands, Colourbox is your one-stop fashion and lifestyle destination. Since inception, it has been the express mission of Colourbox to source only the most colourful, comfortable and above all, unique items that not only look and feel fabulous, but also enhance the vibrant and free-spirited energy of today’s discerning fashion-lover.

With my shopping hat on, I decided to try both the bikini and the full piece costumes. Did I mention that both are fully reversible? With bright and beautiful patterns and a unique style in shape on all tops you are bound to find the perfect fit for your body that leaves you feeling secure, comfortable and beautiful. It’s always in the detail right down to the way the bottoms don’t cut into your skin due to the double lining and stitching. A more comfortable swimwear line I have yet to discover. The sizing guide and online shopping experience is smooth and easy but if not you can always visit one of their stores. Just make sure you are aware that you will probably blow your budget! 

Mr Boho is a fun and fresh Italian sunglasses range that has an exciting summer collection that includes colour rimmed glasses. To be honest whilst trying them on; I had a flash of seeing myself in a cobble stoned courtyard eating gelato in Italy. Perhaps colourbox is not only the ultimate resort wear luxury range but also the ultimate inspiration to get that ticket out of here. The thing I loved the most about the range is that they are the type of sunglasses that look good on almost everyone! 

Every good holiday in my mind has some fun activities. Be it yoga or hiking you are going to need the attire and again, Colourbox to the rescue. From sports bras to leggings they have something for everyone. I love that the leggings are high waisted making me feel like I can go securely into any yoga pose without fear of revealing a little too much. The patterns are bold and beautiful which are representative of the brands origin in Brazil. 

They say these boots are made for walking but they haven’t heard of Moses sandals. With a vanilla smell and a wide range of colours these babies are my official favourite shoe and if the shoe fits, buy it in every colour. Which is the plan. They are so comfortable that I wore them every day in Bali and they haven’t left my feet since. I think I might have developed attachment issues to them. If you don’t have a pair then you are missing out and yes, they are the best Christmas present you will find either for yourself or a loved one! They come from Israel which again leaves me thinking of walking the old city of Jerusalem eating baklava in the Arab quarter and putting my wish in the western wall. 

So thank you to colourbox. Not only do I have the best arsenal for any holiday destination but I also have the wildest wanderlust a girl can think of. Visit their site and get shopping. I’m sure they will inspire you to do the same!

-Melissa


A night in Simons Town with Accommodirect

Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect
Cape peninsula with Accommodirect

February is for lovers and in keeping with the spirit I wanted to get away for the ultimate night. Weekdays are manic and weekends too short unless you make a thing of them, so I did. 

I booked my accommodation with Accommodirect. A great website that handles all the in's and out's for you. Much like a very useful travel agent. With properties all over the country it really is as simple as entering the date, picking the destination and clicking book! 

I decided to visit our beautiful peninsula and take a trip to Simons Town. The place has such a vibe. With blue oceans and quaint little antique shops, what's not to love?

I booked at a beautiful five-star establishment that is the new kid on the block. Called The LookOut and for a very good reason, (you have the entire ocean in your view). With simple and classy decor we felt at home and spoilt. One of the great things about The Lookout is that it offers a unique breakfast concept. Don't you just hate it when you are told you have to be at breakfast by a certain time? Then you have to wake up on your break, put on a face and show up to a dining space shared by other guests? Well at the look out, they have a fully stocked fridge with fresh fruit, yoghurt and a coffee bar in your room. So no need to rush. You can wake up, grab your food and feast in bed while overlooking the Atlantic. My idea of heaven and it was simply, just that. 

If you find yourself in the area you have got to visit the penguins. Boulders beach is famous for these little guys dressed to the nines in Tuxedos; who are the cutest thing to witness. Waddling down the beach and gliding in the water the African penguin colony draws hundreds of viewers each week! The walkways boast some of the best views of boulders more than five hundred and thirty million years old! No wonder this area is as iconic as it is. 

If you pop into Simons town you have the option of several cafes and quirky coffee shops. We decided to enjoy The lighthouse cafe. A chic spot with Provence decor. The food was simply fantastic, tasty and the service on point. I can see why trip advisor rates them the number one spot in Simons Town. I would happily return and sip on cold Chenin Blanc while dining on the Mauritian bouillabaisse. 

If you find yourself in the Kalk bay area the next day it is worth a stop off. Have a walk and pop into all the little stores along the way. You can get lost in the alleyways and end up in wonderfully awesome little spots. To end off the day, be sure to stop and get an ice cream from the local parlour or if you are more peckish a pizza from the local Italian. Just make sure you have an ice cold beer to end it off with. 

new york, new york

Yes you should spread the news and yes, if you can make it there, you'll make it anywhere...

Frank Sinatra had it right and I can really see, not that I didn't before, why this epic city is so iconic! It’s simply spectacular in every single way that you can imagine. 

For as long as I can remember I have wanted to skip over man holes and tilt my head up at the empire state building. Amazingly, thank you to certain special people in my life it became a reality October 2014. From the yellow cabs to the subways, time square and the upper west side New York City is magic. It’s a strange thing because when I went to New York I realized how small I am. There, you are no one. Which is so beautiful because it opens up the fact that you can be anyone, someone. Now who wouldn't want that!

I decided on the way, which is a very long flight from South Africa that it was going to be all about the food. I just new it. One of the food capitals of the world how could it not be a trip focused on where to eat, what to eat and how to eat it. 

The trip had to include the classic New York hot dog, the oldest pizzeria in America, the Smogersburg market in Williamsburg and of course last but not least the Cronut. We were going to fit this all in between the top of the rock, empire state building, statue of liberty, time square and anything else we could find. Talk about a jam-packed ten days. 

Walking shoes at a ready... you're going to need them. New York is a mighty beast that will not be tamed

We begin with a coffee break, something simple something small. The beautiful thing about most of the coffee shops, bakeries etc. is that at the end of every day they give all their food to the homeless and in the morning make it fresh for their patrons. 

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One of the first places we had to go to was of course Dominique Ansel’s bakery. For one reason and one reason alone, the Cronut.

Here it is Cronut 101 as they call it. This is a little parcel of heaven is like a doughnut and a croissant had a baby. It’s a hybrid of both and it takes a lengthy process of being proofed, fried, rolled in sugar, filled with cream and then topped with a glaze. This process takes up to three days. Each month is a new flavour and the invention of the Cronut took over two months to create. 

Having given it a practice run the day before, simply because we were unaware that the queue. Started at 6 am every single morning and you had to be one of the first 150 in the queue because the bakery only sells 300 Cronut a day. Which is understandable once you know the effort that goes into one of them. 

The next morning after a frightfully early wake up we hit the queue at 6am. Thankfully we were only number 25 in lines. the bakery opens up at 9am and thankfully the weather in October is moderate and kind to this standing in queue at this ungodly hour. The bakery is friendly and as soon as the staff arrive they come out and greet everyone handing out fresh madeleine’s as a little taster and encourager that you are on the path to heaven, you just need to wait. 

As the doors open there is a resounding cheer from everyone who simply cannot wait to sink their teeth into a Cronut. They pass a baguette as a sort of baton marking groups of twenty at a time to go into the bakery, as it is not a very large space. If you do not want a Cronut you do not have to stand in the queue. You can go into a separate queue and get other baked goods, which according to me, should be just as famous. 

Once we were in, it’s a feast for the eyes that you simply cannot believe. From decadent éclairs to delicate cheesecakes this bakery is beyond. After much debate and hungry eyes we settled on two peach and black tea Cronut’s, a lobster tail (pretzel dough filled with peanut butter and served with salted caramel butter) and a DKA 'Dominique’s Kouign Amain' tender, flaky croissant like dough with a caramelised crunchy crust. a mouth full indeed. 

Every. Single. Bite. Was absolutely worth every. Single. Second. Of waiting. 

The Cronut is all that is right with the world. Its rich moist and sugary sweet. Its beautiful layers are clear and precise. It’s flaky and chewy all at the same time. You lose yourself in every mouthful. The ice coffee that was recommended cut through the richness. A definite must for those who cannot handle the sweetness or simply want the different flavours playing in their mouths. 

The DKA is the unsung hero of this bakery. It is for me, on another level. Its perfection in its crust and its gooey center. You can break it up with your fingers and it simply melts in your mouth. The DKA has the perfect balance of flavours in its richness and its sweetness. The best part, you don't have to queue for the DKA. So there is no excuse to not get something amazing from this bakery, if you are in New York. I should be thankful I do not live in the area because I would get a coffee and a DKA every single morning. Hangover or not and probably look like one within a week! 

The lobster tail reminds me of my childhood. Salty and sweet this play on flavours was delicious. The dough is slightly heavier and not as light as the DKA but not as chewy as the Cronut. I could judge the lobster tail but anyone who judges’ peanut butter with salted caramel butter I cannot be friends with. Who needs that type of negativity in their life! It’s a great pastry to get with the DKA as its slightly more complicated in flavour and not as simple. Needless to say every choice was perfect in the bakery. i look back and wonder if we could of made an incorrect one? Each one is probably just as good as the next. 

The man is a master. *Applaud* 

The DKA and iced coffee 

the peach and black tea cronut 

So lets talk hot dogs. I decided to go to Coney island and hunt down Nathan’s famous. Home to the original New York hot dog. Served with a large soda and cheese fries, this is no place to count calories. No amount of cheese spread in your childhood will ever prepare you for melted hot cheese on fries. It’s a sin and so so good all wrapped up in one. The hot dogs are tasty and perfectly served with fried onions, tomato sauce and mustard. The only way you can go wrong is if you make the rookie error and have lunch before the rides like I did. Coney island almost got all of me that day. But I put my big girls pants on and enjoyed every second. Full belly or not! 

Little Italy is exactly how you would imagine it from the movies. Filled with Italian everything. From cannoli’s to pizza it was one of my favourite adventures. 

We decided to go to Lombari's pizza, how could we not. It’s the oldest pizzeria in America. First licensed in 1905 this pizzeria was started by an Italian immigrant with a vision. We got there late as we had gotten lost on the subway. All part of the adventure. They hustled us inside in haste and told us that we had 5 minutes to order before closing. Working well under pressure we decided our toppings and placed our order. By the time we got our hot pizza box it was time to vacate the building. We didn't care, we had pizza. Off we went on our trip back to the apartment. We had decided to eat once we had gotten home but the aromas of the pizza got the better of us. Only two slices survived the trip. We ate as we went with hungry onlookers judging us. I can assure you that the pizza was spectacular and that the ricotta cheese used will live on in my memory forever. 

Smorgasburg, lunch with a view. This amazing market is a feast for all. Its situated in Williamsburg and over looks the city. The first time I actually was removed from the skyscrapers. It feels like gaining perspective. a refreshing thought for anything in life. Each stand is unique and sells something delicious and different. I recommend following the queues. It doesn't sound fun but they are there for a reason. We visited the Mighty Quinns first and foremost. Slow smoked for 29 hours this brisket sandwich topped with pickled cucumber and chilli will melt in your mouth. 

the organic market on the upper west side on a saturday was a true treasure. it reminded me of being back in cape town. we stumbled upon it by simply taking a walk. the wonders of exploring by foot.  

organic cheese farm 

I'm no authority and it's no rule- here it is, a list of the places I went to and loved.  

lombari's pizza 
dominique ansel bakery
nathans famous hotdogs 

gooey&co
mighty quinns
smorgasburg
creperie nyc
rafele ristorante
los tacos 

 

-Melissa