Day 165: Lampang, Thailand. We started the day drinking coffee in the cafe at the guesthouse, which is like a little oasis in the middle of a busy town. The coffee shop is in a fabulous lush garden, packed with huge trees and ferns, and lots of rickety wooden tables and chairs. Great coffee and lovely friendly staff too.
Then we headed back to our guesthouse room, where it was time for Jim to try the bee larvae honeycomb. Lil had emergency services on speed dial, ‘just in case’. He unwrapped the chunk of solid mottled matter. studied it for a bit, then pointed out to nose-wrinkling Lil the dead bees (black bits) and the bee larvae (white bits). He bit into it, wiped a river of sweet runny goo off his chin, and declared that it was ‘interesting, with a nice nutty flavour’. Though he reckons it might be better with a bit more honey than bees, and perhaps it would also benefit from being grilled. Another time, perhaps.
Then we set out for a walk about town, first dropping into the bus station to buy a bus ticket for Chiang Mai tomorrow. Having queued for ages, we discovered it’s not possible to buy them in advance, so we’ll have to go and queue up again tomorrow.
Lampang is also known as ‘Muang rot ma’ which translates to ‘horse carriage town’. It’s the last place in Thailand where horse carriages are still in use, and we quickly got used to the clip clop noise all around us. The carriages can be hired for tours of the town, with fees set by the Lampang Horse Carriage Association (which sounds rather formal).
There were thousands of lanterns strung across one of the streets in the town (which we now call ‘lantern street’, for the purposes of navigation). We assume the lanterns are linked to the annual Yi Peng and Loy Krathong festival, which is in swing across a number of towns in northern Thailand.
There are lots of wats around Lampang – we dropped into a few of them, including a stunning white glittery one called Wat Chiang Rai and another called Wat Pratu Pong. In one of them, a group of ladies was pulling Thai money notes from the wings of brightly coloured peacock ornaments, an interesting collection method.
We walked down Talad Gao Road, which is one of the oldest streets in town. Some of the original shops from the 1890s, which were built by immigrant Burmese and Chinese traders, are still there. It leads up to Ratsadaphisek Bridge, a picturesque white concrete arched bridge over the river Wang which divides the town in two, north to south.
We walked across the bridge, then along the incredibly neat and tidy riverside lanes where we stopped for a bucket of coffee at a cute coffee shop, packed with old antiques and memorabilia.
Afterwards we walked across to Baan Sao Nak, also known as the ‘House of many pillars’ as it was constructed using 116 teak wood pillars. Built in 1895, the house was designed in a combination of northern Thai and Burmese architecture. It’s a fabulous building with amazing teak walls and flooring. Our entry fee included a free soft drink and cookie, which wasn’t great timing given the bucket of coffee we’d just had at the riverside coffee shop. We still managed to make our way through a small glass of what tasted like prune juice (but probably wasn’t) and some crispy honey rice wafers.
We wandered home for a quick break, before heading back out for the Kad Kong Ta weekend night market, which kicks off at 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
By now it was dark and all the lanterns along ‘lantern street’ were lit up – a fabulous multi-coloured display, which was difficult to photograph.
We followed google maps to the night market, which it turns out takes place in the old town streets we’d walked through this morning. It was huge, with a fabulous selection of stalls selling all kinds of food, drink and handicrafts.
Jim was once again attracted to insects, this time buying a large bag of fried silkworm pupae, which he declared ‘yummy’. Lil bought chunks of melon and a large cup of sweetcorn kernels lightly warmed with butter and sugar. Afterwards we shared a huge avocado smoothie, which was unbelievably good.
The market also had a pre-loved teddy bear selection, which made us go ‘awww’ and hope that they all go to good homes soon.
We stopped for dinner between some of the old houses in the middle of the market. We puzzled over the longish looking menu on the wall, until the waiter came over and told us “menu is noodles with chicken, pork, or pork balls”. The menu had lots more options, but trying to explain it to a couple of foreigners on a very busy night just wasn’t going to happen. We were very happy though, and our chicken noodles were delicious. Though Lil had to remove and donate her chunks of sprongy blood cake to Jim before she could begin eating.
Tomorrow we pack up and catch a bus to Chiang Mai, after we’ve queued again for tickets. Apparently they have good night markets there, which will likely mean more ‘yummy’ bugs for Jim.