Chiang Mai, Thailand; Day 7

Today had a relaxing start and then a flurry of activity. The kids got some cash for Christmas yesterday and were itching to spend it. We’d heard a rumor there was a ToysRUs on the other side of town and this week at that mall is a joint Japanese/Thai festival (which is why the parents were willing to go). In search of a ‘festiv-mall’ adventure we headed over there this afternoon.

Once we arrived it was pretty much a bee line to the Lego section. They didn’t have any interest in the huge display of knockoffs outside the store despite the much lower prices. (How many trademark infringements can you count there?)

They all got new sets to augment what Santa had brought. Then they headed straight for a giant Christmas ornament/snow globe for a little fun.

Then we headed outside to the adventure Dad and Mom were more interested in.

Shelly Rigger wrote “America is boring at night” and given what we’ve seen so far in Asia, she’s right. Night markets are everywhere, including in Chiang Mai. They are hubs of commercial and social activity. Family fun, eating out, shopping, hanging with friends, dates – apparently all that evening activity happens at night markets in Asia. Brian and Tiffany went to one in Orange County, CA a few years ago but it was pretty lame in comparison to the real thing.

Night markets happen (not surprisingly) at night so nothing really gets going before 4pm including the Ennichi festival we were exploring today.

Ennichi loosely means ‘related day’ to a specific Japanese deity but in this case it seems to be a ‘we miss Japan’ theme combined with Thai favorites as well. This event runs for a week and definitely felt like it was geared toward locals rather than tourists which was fine by us.

The event was a lot like a fair or the many street festivals we have in the States but big. Food, games, kiddie rides, etc etc etc. There was a Japanese section with many food stations, decorations and a CosPlay contest with many anime themed entrants. You could even rent a costume from a stall if you decided to enter at the last minute.

As we left that section, we hit the equivalent of the midway – games lined up with giant prizes to tempt you and hawkers waiting to take your cash. They didn’t allow photos of the games and we didn’t win anything. Some games were the same as home, some were new. We got sufficient entertainment out of the money we spent so we had fun.

Next was a giant inflatable slide which our kids (all kids?) LOVE.  We think one day the kids will feel like they are too old for these things, but today was not that day. They weren’t the only big kids on the slides, but it was close.

They had a blast and were totally worn out by the time they got shooed out of there by the attendant. Then it was time for something to eat. There were at least 50 food vendors in the Thai section of the market selling all kinds of familiar and not so familiar foods. In an effort to seem cooler than we are we didn’t take many photos.

We got some potstickers and grilled chicken skewers to start. Then we had something new – sweet sticky rice wrapped around bananas and sweet potatoes that had been roasted in banana leaves over a flame. Then we had something really new – caterpillars! 

These weren’t the fried bamboo caterpillars from the market, these were bigger, meatier and roasted. Brian and Suaram went first and then CreeperPuppy and Tiffany took their turn. CreeperKitty decided to save his tasting for another day.

It was crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. It may have been roasted with something smoky but overall the meat didn’t have a strong taste. That said, it was definitely an unfamiliar mouth feel and flavor. Everyone but Brian was happy to stop after trying 1. He made it to 6 before deciding he’d had enough and put the rest in the bin. Not our new favorite but not nearly as weird as we’d expected.

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