Khum Khantoke in Chiang Mai is a popular restaurant serving the traditional Lanna dinner along with a vibrant cultural show. Khum means a wooden pavilion and Khantoke is a circular plate which contains many dishes. Traditional khantoke is served while the guests are sitting on the mats on ground! Modern ones can be served on a table too.
Khum Khantoke has both outdoor and indoor halls. The day we visited it rained, so they used one of the indoor halls. The place has a beautiful ambiance, it was pleasant to walk around the grounds after the rains.
The lobby of the indoor hall was grand. I was quite mesmerized with the peacock arrangement. I spent quite sometime to get a better picture of the setup. It was quite popular with the guests, everyone wanted a picture there.
The hall itself was huge and nicely done. I was told it can seat 800 people. There were both, the low floor mats and dinner tables. Our reservation was for the dinner table.
As a few of us were vegetarians our table had both the khantokes. The idea was to take the sticky rice, dip in in various curries and it eat with side dishes. The drinks are extra. I had a beer with my meal.
The opening sequence (first image in this post) was opulent and graceful. I wish I knew more about the dance but then spending one night at a restaurant is never going to be enough to learn!
For me the cultural show was the highlight of the evening. There were Lanna tribal dances, umbrella dance, group dances and much more. Lanna is the culture of the people of North Thailand. Chiang Mai is also called the Rose of North Thailand.
They presented an act from Ramayana as well. I was surprised when i saw it for the first time in Cambodia. But I am now aware that Ramayana is performed in many countries other than India!
This young man performing with his swords had my rapt attention. I think I held my breath till he took out each one of those safely! While we were enjoying the show two pretty girls went around the tables along with a photographer. They later sell the photograph to you as a souvenir. There is no compulsion to buy. I did bring back mine home. Chhavi quite likes it.
The night was pleasant after the rains. We walked out after a beautiful evening and strolled around for a while. I was wondering how it would be to sit outside and see the whole performance. But for the rains that would have been my experience. But I was content with the rich culture that I saw, it would remain the irrespective of the setting.
PS. I was invited by TAT New Delhi on this trip.
For me the first day of a trip is usually the most tiring. There is one single reason which contributes to it, my habit of not sleeping a wink on International flights. As I hardly used to get time to watch movies, I would watch back to back movies in international flights and arrive quite tired at the destination.
The Whole Earth Chiang Mai was our dinner place on the first day of my most recent trip to Thailand. I was dead on my feet, all I wanted was bed.
And yet I was able to notice the surroundings, which says a lot for the place. The Whole Earth serves both Indian and Thai cuisines. I am fine with vegetarian food it doesn’t have to be Indian. In fact when I travel, I wish to try out other foods as long as I can get something vegetarian.
I was suitably impressed with the ambiance of The Whole Earth Restaurant. The indoor seating is inside a teak house which is spotlessly clean.
I saw the outdoor seating only from a distance but it looked alluring too. I wonder why but you have to remove your footwear outside to enter the main restaurant building.
I went with tender coconut water for drink, which is very sweet and delicious in Thailand. If it is not alcohol it has to be tender coconut for me.
For food I went with Phad Thai Noodles and got to share in with naan, pulao and sabzi with others. The noodles tasted fresh and it was even better when I squeezed in a little lemon on it.
The potato sabzi was also good. The flavors were mild but then they asked me at the beginning if I wanted my food spicy or not. In spite of living all my life in India I can’t eat very spicy food. So the mildness was on request.
Even though it had been a long day for everyone, conversation was good right from day one among the five of us. With my stomach full, I was so longing for bed in my hotel, The Balcony. If I had a chance I would go back to the Whole Earth again. But after so many trips I also know that the tiredness of the first day passes quickly and everyone becomes more sunny from the second day onwards!
PS. I was invited on this trip by TAT New Delhi.
I took notice of the beautiful Thai umbrellas from my early trips to Thailand. Chiang Mai was the place where I acquired a closer acquaintance with them. We visited the Bo Sang Handicraft Center on the San Kamphaeng Road just a little outside Chiang Mai. So come along with me and discover (or rediscover) the hand made umbrellas of Chiang Mai.
Rom means umbrella in Thai. So ‘rom’ is the famous handicraft of Borsang village in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The handicraft center had eye catching displays of umbrellas. They also take you through the umbrella making process. one of the best explanations of the umbrella making process can be read here.
But before we get into umbrella making, you might have noticed the spirit houses outside Thai homes or work places. It is an offering to the spirits dwelling that might be dwelling in the area and may get disturbed because of a new house or workplace coming up! A spirit house is a peace offering to the spirits of the area.
The two key ingredients of the umbrella are the sa paper and the wooden frame. Sa is Thai for mulberry. So the Sa bark is taken off the tree and boiled. It is then pounded by wooden mallets. It is further treated. Finally they are dried in the frame on wooden frames.
These are the wooden frames on which the umbrellas are mounted. Both the paper and the frame are handmade.
The making of the frame requires complex hole drilling in the pieces of wood, which is what this woman was doing with dexterity!
Finally the paper after further treatment is mounted on the frame and then painted. We were told that it is the process of making it waterproof that makes the Chiang Mai umbrellas unique. It is done with persimmon fruit and oil but the exact formula is a secret.
The painted umbrellas are a delight to watch. It was with a lot of difficulty I managed not to buy one to carry home.
The factory also had other artifacts as well, hand fans caught my eye too! Conversing with the people working there was difficult as we did not speak each-other’s language but they were quite cheerful about me going around clicking pictures.
An array of paints were to be seen all around the place! And they not only specialized painting on the umbrellas but on other stuff too.
An Artisan at Bo Sang
For example, this beautiful lady offered to paint my white cell phone in the ravishing colors of Chiang Mai. She could do it on my jeans or handbag too! But the chicken that I am, I did not take up on the offer. I now wonder if I should have taken it up!
I have always declared that I am not much into shopping. I have to qualify that statement now. I am not much into shopping unless I am in Thailand! It is a delight to shop there, be it in malls or at local markets. The night market at Chiang Mai was no different.
It is the combination of reasonable price and fashionable clothes that do the trick. I pride myself at not indulging in impulsive shopping. But in Thailand I failed at the first hurdle. I told myself I have more than enough clothes and I would not buy anything at the night market.
I failed spectacularly at the fridge magnet shop. It helped that my fellow blogger Manjulika was equally crazy about them. So, we could buy them in groups of five at discounted prices and hare among us. So much so for not buying impulsively!
I did resist buying these small baby shoes. They looked incredibly cute but I knew none of them would fit Chhavi.
I also like to roam around and click pictures of things that look interesting. I have seen ‘your name on a rice grain’ stalls in India too. But I was sold on the heart shape arrangement!
I was fascinated by these jute figures. I have not been able to capture the beauty in the picture. The man was weaving them sitting right there, making them into dragons and what not!
The market was quite big. It was my first day in Thailand and I was tired. I could explore only a small part it. In a way I am happy or I would have shopped more.
The markets are popular with locals and the tourists. Some bargaining is expected. Rounding off is a very common game. If a vendor says 120 I would say 100 and I guess it is expected. But I am quite poor at bargaining, have been all my life.
I almost stumbled with the dolls. But then Chhavi is more into outdoors than dolls. Hence I walked off only with the picture!
I met my nemesis at the clothes stall once again. I absolutely do not need any more clothes but I ended up buying two new t-shirts because of their beautiful prints, one has cherry blossoms and another a cute elephant. The good bit is that I wear them both!
The prices for the clips and not for the baby! The baby was quite oblivious to the surroundings! After roaming for about two hours, it was time to head to dinner and then back to the hotel, The Balcony in Chiang Mai. I was so looking forward to lying horizontally and go to sleep.
PS. I was invited by TAT New Delhi on this trip.