After spending 22 hours on Delta and Korean Airlines, we were delighted to see our missionary friends, Scott and Lisa Hicks, that will be our hosts for the next three weeks. I first met Scott and Lisa in January, 2001 when I led a short term mission team to visit them in Dakar, Senegal. Scott was a psychologist providing missionary care and Lisa operated a guest house catering to missionaries in Western Africa. Getting to know them was instrumental in our decision to own and operate a bed and breakfast serving missionaries and those in full time ministry. I fell in love with Africa on that trip but couldn’t convince Carol to move there so the North Fork Mountain Inn in Smoke Hole Canyon was a compromise we could both live with.
Since then we have become great friends and they always make sure their time in the United States includes a trip to the Inn. During their visit last summer, they invited us to come visit them in Chiang Mai, Thailand where Scott works as Director of the Well, a counseling center that provides services to missionaries serving in China, Thailand, and Southeast Asia. After finishing our best year yet at the Inn, we decided a working vacation was just what the doctor ordered. So I am spending a week here while Carol is staying for 3 weeks to relax and enjoy the beauty and splendor of Chiang Mai and northern Thailand.
Today we attended a Thai Cooking School (www.thaifarmcooking.com) in the countryside which gave us many ideas for our next cooking school at the Inn planned for mid-April. Our day started out being picked up at the Thae Pae Gate on the east side of the old city which is surrounded by a moat with remains of an old brick wall fortress. Our first stop was at the Thai market where we purchased fresh ingredients for the meals we would learn to prepare. In addition to the usual sauces, spices, and other Thai food items they had some very unusual items not found at Foodland such as fried meal worms, crickets, pigs head, cow tongue, chicken with their feet still attached. While at the market we observed how they make coconut milk, learned about the different kinds of rice, and how to make the base of most Thai foods, yellow, green, or red curry.
The long ride into the country gave us a chance to get acquainted with our other cooking school participants from places including Bejing, China, Bern, Switzerland, Ottawa, Canada, Brussels, Belgium, and Catalone, France. It was quite a international group. What was most interesting was our cooking instructor was from Chiang Mai but had lived in Maryland and had visited West Virginia. She remarked how West Virginia and its mountains reminded her of the mountainous area of Thailand where she grew up. In fact, she has an autographed football that she caught from Ray Lewis while attending a Ravens game while living here. In fact she showed me her Maryland drivers license which is still valid until 2013.
The cooking school was located in the countryside outside Chiang Mai on an organic produce farm. We started with a tour and a chance to learn about and pick the fresh ingredients used in the meals we prepared. We first learned how to make yellow, green, and red curries which were used in making Red Curry Chicken (Kaeng Phed Gai), Green Curry with Chicken (Kaeng Kiao Waan Gai) and Yellow Curry with Chicken (Kaeng Ka Ri Gai). Next we made Tom Yam with Shrimp soup (Tom Yam Kung) and Chicken and Coconut soup (Tom Phak Ruam). Our fourth course was Fried Chicken with Cashews (Gai Phad Met Mamuang Him Mapaan) and Fried Chicken with Basil Leaves (Phad Kaprao Gaz). Next Ed learned how to make Springrolls (Poh Piah) and Carol mastered a Thai favorite, Pad Thai. We finished the cooking school with two of the most popular desserts, Mango with Sticky Rice (Kao Nio Ma Muang) and Bananas in Coconut Milk (Kluai Bod Chii). The best part of the cooking school included eating our culinary creations and taking home a cookbook with all the recipes. Additionally we made many new friends and recruited a new celebrity chef to be featured at an upcoming cooking school.
Our time in Thailand has been filled with many other delights. Thai Massage is very inexpensive costing about $5.00 for a one hour massage. So that has been an every other day treat for Ed. Eating out is also very reasonable costing only $3.00 to 5.00 for a very nice meal. Everything seems to be less expensive here except for gasoline. So if you are looking for a great getaway and can tolerate a plane ride to the other side of the world, you should consider Chiang Mai, Thailand and Korean Airlines connecting through Seoul, Korea.