Chiang Mai Hell Temple: WTF Wat Mae Kaet Noi!?

Note: This post is probably NSFW. I haven't included many photos because they're too disgusting / harrowing / disturbing. Go see it for yourself – directions are at the bottom of this post - but remember that you cannot unsee what your eyes have seen.


I slipped 10 baht into the metal turnstile, stepped past the rusty metal bars and inside the temple garden. I wandered only a few steps before stopping short: black, empty eye sockets of a recently severed head were staring at me.

Let's call the owner of these eye sockets Frank. I knew Frank's decapitation was recent because the blood covering his throat and lower face was fresh, sticky bright red. His tongue was inhumanely long, lolling obscenely out of his screaming, too-wide-open mouth. A mechanical saw attached to a multi-purpose torture device had ripped through his neck. Frank had been a bad, bad man.

Wat Mae Kaet Noi is like any other beautiful Thai temple, but with one glaring exception: the temple gardens depict the Buddhist vision of hell.

Frank is one of many tortured souls enduring the agonizing experience of Buddhist hell shown at Wat Mae Kaet Noi. Hundreds of life-sized and larger-than-life statues of men and women are grotesquely disfigured, and covered in blisters, festering sores and gaping wounds. Red demon-like monsters are stabbing, ripping, severing and operating complicated torture machines. You can pop a ten baht coin into some of these machines if you feel like upping the grisliness – red lights spin and flash, and distorted screams ring out from tiny speakers.

I like horror and gore in movies. But somehow, this felt worse.

The punishments in Buddhist hell are specific to the crimes committed. Alcoholics become conjoined twins, one mouth drinking from broken bottles and the other puking, non-stop. Drug addicts are stabbed with syringes, and tortured in a myriad of creative ways. Liars get their tongues ripped out. In one interesting scene, obedient school children are sat demurely in front of a TV and two teachers. All seems well, but something is lurking behind the good boys and girls: a depiction of what happens when you're bad. Basically: meat hooks, screaming and blood. Lots and lots of blood.

The majority of installations seem to focus on sexual misconduct.

There are grossly large penii and breasts every which way you turn. Demons force themselves inside terrified women and men, using blades, spiked clubs, spears and more. One area shows a man lying on his back surrounded by five beautiful nude women, but his yellow eyes are bulging impossibly, and his parts are a gross, sore, deep red. Naked people are made to climb thorny tree trunks.

There's a whole area dedicated to abortions.

They're illegal in Thailand and culturally abhorrent, an issue that’s explored by having statues of disfigured bloody mothers killing their screaming unwanted babies. Francis Wilmer, author of the blog Roads and Kingdoms, spoke to Clean Teacher Monk - the man who built Chiang Mai's notorious hell garden. Clean Teacher Monk revealed that more women than you’d expect bring their illegally aborted babies to the temple to be buried, as an act of repentance. Can you imagine? The whole place is disturbing, but this part is particularly harrowing.

I asked my Thai friend Cate about hell temples to try and gain a little more insight.

“Oh, yeah. Thai kids get taken to those places when we’re small. There are loads in Thailand, but I think Wat Mae Kaet Noi is one of the biggest and most graphic. It’s to scare us into being good girls and boys. Be good or look what will happen to you.”


Buddhist hell is known as Naraka, a series of layers underneath the realm of the living, each layer worse than the last. 

Some layers are cold, with names that translate to ‘shivering hell, ‘lamentation hell’ and ‘chattering teeth hell’. The hot layers sound worse: ‘crushing hell’, ‘screaming hell’ and even ‘great screaming hell’. After death, you get sent to the appropropriate layer of hell if you’ve stolen, murdered, been intoxicated, lied or committed a sexual sin. Unlike Christian hell, naughty men and women don’t suffer eternal damnation in Naraka –people are allowed to leave after completing their punishments, but Wikipedia assures me that punishments can last a very long time.

It's not all bad, though.

One part of the garden seemed to show a vision of Thai heaven. Healthy, beautiful humans frolicked beneath a great tree. It was still weird, though, because the non-tortured heaven-people had tree vines attached to the top of their heads. I have no idea what that's about, but I guess it must be a good thing.

If you’re looking for disturbing, non-touristy places to go in Chiang Mai, go to Wat Mae Kaet Noi Hell Temple.

The Hell Temple is half an hour from Chiang Mai’s Old City, longer if you take the gorgeous back roads past rice paddies, rivers, and villages. You may get lost, but hey, that’s what Google Maps is for.

Make your Hell Temple visit into a Chiang Mai day trip: Graveyard Coffee and Sticky Waterfalls.

There’s a unique cafe nearby, aptly named Graveyard View Coffee Shop. It’s opposite a Buddhist cremation building, but you wouldn’t know that’s what it was if the owner didn’t tell you. It’s a quirky, round, concrete little structure on stilts with industrial-inspired decor, and the coffee menu lists intriguing creations like mashed potato iced coffee and salted caramel mocha.

A photo posted by @assistentin_der_reiseleitung on

The now-famous Sticky Waterfalls are nearby too. Known locally as Bua Tong, the rocks are covered in a natural non-slip coating of calcium carbonate, meaning you can climb up and down without falling. It’s a beautiful place, surrounded by trees, ferns and flowers. Take a towel and fresh clothes with you.

Day trip itinerary:

1. Wat Mae Kaet Noi Hell Temple, open from 8am until 6pm.
2. Bua Tong Sticky Waterfalls
3. Graveyard View Coffee Shop

Directions to Chiang Mai’s Hell Temple Wat Mae Kaet Noi:

This trip is easy with your own car or motorbike. You’d have to hire a driver for the day without your own vehicle. Google Maps shows the most direct route, but I reckon that when you take back roads as much as possible you get to see so much more life and beauty. Here's a map to the hell temple:

And here's a map of the whole day trip: Chiang Mai, to the Hell Temple, to the Sticky Waterfalls, to Graveyard View Coffee:

Bingsu at Cheevit Cheeva Chiang Mai

Ever wondered what it's like to eat a cloud?

Come on, I know you have. How about when you're sat in a plane looking out the window, or lying on a blanket outside finding cats, dinosaurs and narwhals in the clouds? It's crossed your mind. You've wondered what that the consistency would be like.

Well, it has to be something like bingsu, one of the most delicious desserts in the world.

I cannot believe I've only just discovered bingsu. You guys know I can be prone to hyperbole when I'm enthusiastic and excited about something, but seriously - bingsu rocks.

I know what you're thinking. What the hell is bingsu, Amy!?

Bingsu is a Korean dessert dating back to the Joseon Dynasty (1392 – 1897, in case you didn't know). It's so good because of the fluffy, cloud-like texture achieved by shaving ice very very finely and packing it lightly together to form a big sphere. Traditionally, it's doused in syrup or flavoured milk and topped with fruit or red beans. But they put much more exciting things on top of bingsu these days.

Bingsu at Cheevit Cheeva in Chiang Mai is special.

They don't shave ice at Cheevit Cheeva. They shave milk-ice, and that makes it more melty and delicious than you ever thought possible. Six friends and I ordered the Chocolate Lava bingsu and the Strawberry Cheesecake bingsu. The milky-white spheres are served with fruit, tasty treats, a side-serving of sauce and/or cream on top... AND INSIDE.

I felt like I was excavating at an archaeological dig-site.

The Choco-Lava one was topped with whipped cream and cocoa powder, served with chocolate sauce to pour on top and when we excavated we discovered more chocolate sauce and coco-pops hidden inside! The Strawberry Cheesecake one was sooooo creamy, and came with strawberries on top, strawberry sauce and something kind of like cornflakes/biscuits inside.


Cheevit Cheeva is in the trendy Nimmanhaemin area, and was full when we arrived - we were lucky to get a table. The cafe design was white, airy and with that stylish, cozy-industrial atmosphere that's so popular in Chiang Mai. You can sit outside or in - I recommend in, so your bingsu doesn't melt in the Thai heat.

Here's a map to Cheevit Cheeva:

Did you try bingsu yet? TELL ME WHERE I CAN GET MORE AND WHAT I SHOULD ORDER!!!!!!!!!!!

Board Game Cafe: Chubby Cat, Chiang Mai

You know what's cool? Board games are cool.

Once a week I spend four or five hours sat in a brightly-lit Board Game Cafe called Chubby Cat, trying to choose the most valuable sushi cards, get the highest tower of tiny plastic cappuccino cups or desperately trying to convince everyone that we really should learn how to play Settlers of Catan because a Tinder guy once said it was amazing.

Our lives are becoming more and more dominated by our screens. I write online, meet new people online, chat with my mum on Skype, arrange events on Facebook, post photographs to Instagram, talk with friends on Messenger, use Whatsapp when I'm forced to and I've just purchased Age of Empires 2. And you know what, that's OK. I love my online life.

But human connection is way, way better.

There's more to board games than cardboard and counters. I honestly believe that playing them brings people closer together and results in more meaningful human connections and interactions. Some board games encourage you to share your glorious imagination, some get you teaming up with other players to strive for a common goal and some result in the kind of hysterical laughter that lights you up for hours.

All kinds of people want to spend their evenings arguing over who gets to be the yellow piece.

Board games have a reputation of being for kids, geeks and hipsters. If you think that, well... you're wrong. It's not just Dungeons and Dragons enthusiasts and single-gear bicycle riders that have encouraged entrepreneurs to open thousands of board game cafes all over the world.

Chubby Cat is my favourite board game cafe in Chiang Mai so far.

It's welcoming, clean and cheap. It's not fancy - in fact, it's pretty basic - but it's stocked with the biggest selection of games I've seen so far in Chiang Mai.

Chubby Cat has wide appeal. I see all kinds of people there - travellers, Thai uni students, teachers, digital nomads, volunteers AND geeks and hipsters. I'm pretty sure that kids are welcome at Chubby Cat, but I hardly ever see any.

It costs just 30 baht an hour, and you take your own food and drink.

The evening food stalls on nearby Suthep Road sell rice, noodles, soup, meat, snacks, smoothies, dessert - you won't be hungry. There's a 7-11 right next to Chubby Cat for cheesy puffs, water and beer, and a coffee stand that sells delicious freshly ground 30 baht coffee.

Turn up with friends, food and drink; choose from the Big Shelf of Games; and play.

The Big Shelf has games like Settlers, Snake Oil, Game of Thrones, Sushi Go, Cappucino, Ticket to Ride, Exploding Kittens, Love Letters, Doggy Go, Meeples, Pandemic and more. I can't remember them all, but there's gonna be something you love there.

You know another thing I love there? The guy who owns Chubby Cat.

He's this friendly, smiley guy with a really nice voice. His time at Chubby Cat is spent time watching YouTube videos, playing computer games and teaching us how to play different games. Every so often he'll wander over to check who's winning, nod his head and wander back to his computer. The cards in each game are lovingly encased in plastic wallets to protect them from grubby paws and it's clear that games are this guy's life. He's great.

Embrace the analog. Come play games with me?

Find Chubby Cat here:

Oh and by the way, the most valuable Sushi Go! card is definitely the wasabi, followed immediately by a squid nigiri. You're welcome.

Store Directory: Maya Chiang Mai Shopping Mall

Looking for a specific shop in Maya Chiang Mai?

Maya Chiang Mai Store Directory

Basement 1: Strolling Mart

  • Anatara Thai Massage
  • Bangkok Clinic
  • Beauty Buffet
  • Beauty Cottage
  • Boots - pharmacy, health & beauty
  • Gust Cake Bakey
  • Life Ford Paris
  • Make Up More
  • Mister Donut
  • Naiin - books & magazines
  • Pharmacare Plus
  • Phung Noi Bakery
  • Rimping Supermarket

G Floor: Cosmo Boulevard

  • American Eagle Outfitters - fashion
  • CC-OO - fashion
  • Clinique - beauty
  • Dhara Devi Bakery - including delicious macarons
  • Espada - fashion
  • F:Lab Fashion & Cafe
  • Guess - watches
  • Herb Basics - bath & shower, home scents
  • Ikon
  • Jaspal - fashion
  • Jelly Bunny - scented jelly shoes
  • Lyn - fashion
  • Naraya - bags
  • Nohmex - handicrafts
  • NYX - makeup
  • Panpuri - home scents
  • Perfume Shop
  • Starbucks Coffee
  • Teddy House - bears & bear fashion
  • The Face Shop - beauty products
  • Time Deco - watches
  • Villains SF - shoes
  • Wacoal Body Clinic

2 Floor: Stylish Avenue

  • 71 Export - fashion
  • Adidas - sportswear, fashion
  • American Tourister - suitcases
  • Auntie Annie's - pretzels, coffee, bakery
  • Bangkok Clinic - skin whitening, body firming etc
  • Blue Corner - fashion
  • Bratpack - fashion
  • Busaba - accessories
  • Crocs - shoes
  • Delsey & Florsheim - suitcases
  • Eye Class - glasses
  • Eyes Gallery by K Optic - opticians
  • Giordano - fashion
  • Lee - fashion
  • Levi's - fashion
  • MC Jeans
  • Nixon - watches
  • NYLA - fashion
  • Riotino - fashion
  • Sabina - underwear
  • Shoes Fantasy
  • Sports World
  • Tsuruha - drug store
  • Viva Loco - colourful fashion, accessories and random tat
  • Wacoal - underwear
  • Watsons - drug store, health & beauty
  • Wrangler - fashion

3 Floor: Digitech Street

  • AIS - mobile phone service provider
  • Asia Books
  • Big Camera
  • Cat Telecom
  • Daiso - cheap Japanese products
  • Dtac - mobile phone service provider
  • Government Savings Bank
  • Jaymart - mobile phones
  • K Love Phone
  • Kasikorn Bank
  • Muang Thai Life Insurance
  • Oppo - electronics
  • Samsung
  • Sinet - internet service provider
  • Six Star Travel
  • Somjai Stationary
  • Thai Life Insurance
  • Thai Rent A Car
  • TMB Bank

4 Floor: Food Bazaar

  • Black Canyon Coffee
  • Coco Ichibanya
  • Fin Sushi
  • Fuji
  • Guu Roti
  • Hakoneake
  • Jeffer Steak
  • KFC
  • Krua Rincome
  • Miyabi
  • Miyazaki
  • MK Restaurant
  • Mon Chou Chou
  • Natthakarn Southern Food
  • Shabushi
  • The Duke's
  • Tudari Express
  • Yayoi

5 Floor: Cinematic Arena

  • CAMP - 24 hour coffee shop, cafe & co-working space
  • Disney Store
  • EX10 Karaoke & Game
  • Maxx Professional Fitness Gym
  • Play House
  • SF Cinema

6 Floor: Nimman Hill

  • Myst
  • Roof Bar

Store Directory: Central Festival Chiang Mai Shopping Mall

Looking for a specific shop in Central Festival Chiangmai?

1st Floor

Beauty & Health
  • Beauty Cottage
  • Boots
  • Etude House
  • P&F Superdrug
  • Watsons
Food & Drink
  • Amazon Cafe
  • Baby Bee
  • Saint Etoile
  • Unique Fresh
  • Amaxs Health Furniture
  • Boomerang
  • Eye Lab
  • Karnkanok
  • Pro Clean
  • Quick Print
  • The Spring
  • Time Clinic

2nd Floor

Beauty & Health
  • Clarins Skin Spa
  • Sephora
Fashion & Accessories
  • Accessorize
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Burton / Dorothy Perkins
  • Calvin Klein Jeans
  • Cath Kidson
  • Charles & Keith
  • CPS Chaps
  • Fred Perry
  • H&M
  • Jaspal
  • La Senza
  • Lacoste
  • Mango
  • Marks & Spencers
  • Miss Selfridge
  • MNG Touch
  • Omega
  • Pepe Jeans
  • Superdry
  • Topshop / Topman
  • Uniqlo
  • Victoria's Secret
  • Wallis
  • Zara
Food & Drink
  • Cold Stone Creamery
  • Doppio by Ristr8o Coffee
  • Starbucks
  • The Terrace
  • Vieng Joom On Tea House
  • Wine Connection
Jewelry & Watches
  • Dilavie
  • Jubilee Diamond
  • Pendulum
  • Prima Diamond
  • Sea & Hill Pearls
  • Thong Yaowaraj

3rd Floor

Beauty & Health
  • Skin Food
  • The Body Shop
  • Yves Rocher
Fashion & Accessories
  • Adidas
  • AIIZ
  • Bata Shoes
  • C&D
  • Camel Active
  • CC Double O
  • Celio
  • City Chain
  • Crocs
  • Daks
  • Espirit
  • Fit Flop
  • Geox
  • Giordano
  • Guy Laroche
  • Hush Puppies
  • Jelly Bunny
  • Kimono
  • Lee
  • Levi's
  • Lyn
  • Lyn Around
  • MC Jeans
  • New Balance
  • Paul Frank
  • Payless
  • Playboy
  • Pronto Denim
  • Rotelli Shoes
  • Samsonite
  • Skechers
  • St James
  • Sunshine
  • The North Face
  • Trucco
  • Veenuch Watch
  • Viera
  • Watch Station
  • Workshop
  • Wrangler
Food & Drink
  • Auntie Annes
  • Mister Donut
  • Mrs Fields
  • Lens & Time
  • Oakley

4th Floor

  • Bangkok Bank
  • Bank of Ayudhaya
  • Government Savings Bank
  • Kasikorn Bank
  • Krung Thai Bank
  • SCB Bank
  • TMB Bank
Food & Drink
  • Freshy Freeze
  • Love Mango
Electrical Appliances
  • Digi Life
  • Fisher & Paykel
  • Grand IT
  • IT City
  • Samsung Electric
  • Banana IT
  • BKK Telecom
  • Chiangmai Teleshop
  • CSC
  • Fair Phone
  • Happy I Case
  • HT Mobile
  • Jaymart
  • JBS Mobile
  • K Love Phone
  • Lanna Shop
  • M Shop
  • M&D Mobile
  • N Mobile
  • OK Phone
  • P.A. Phone
  • Pra Mobile
  • Pro M Mobile
  • Queen Phone
  • RI.Mobile
  • Samsung Maewang
  • Smart Phone & Tablet
  • Sure Life
  • Tai Mobile 4
  • TG Phone
  • TG Smart Phone
  • Tree Mobile
Camera Shops
  • Big Camera
  • Photo Hut
  • Photo Pro
  • World Camera
  • AEON Thana Sinsap
  • AIS
  • Dtac
  • First Choice
  • iStudio
  • Muang Thai Life Insurance
  • Nokia
  • Siam Smile Cards Insurance Card Health
  • Sinet
  • Sony Center
  • Syn Mun Kong Car Insurance
  • Thai Life Insurance
  • TOT
  • True Move
  • Umay Plus
  • Better Vision (opticians)
  • Music Collection (instruments)

5th Floor

Beauty & Health
  • Bangkok Clinic
  • Beyond The Sea Clinic
  • Bronze Day Spa
  • Cut & Curl
  • F.B. Medical Clinic
  • First Drug
  • Harly Hair Center
  • Madame Organic
  • Marvelous Clinic
  • Nitipon Clinic
  • Paradise Clinic
  • Pimnara Spa
  • Pornkaseam Clinic
  • Rajdhevee Clinic
  • Romrawin Clinic
  • Rue Royale
  • Slim Up Center
  • Sparsha
  • The Essence Medical Spa
  • White Perfect Treatment
  • Wuttisak Clinic
Food & Drink
  • Chester's Grill
  • Coffee World
  • Gelate
  • Gloria Jean's
  • Jeffer Steak
  • Jian Fishball Noodle
  • K Cuisine
  • Kane Mochi
  • Laem Cha-roen Seafood
  • Machita
  • Miyabe
  • Pang Ping Cafe
  • Saap Saap
  • Wagaya
  • Wawacha
  • Optical 88
  • Optic Square
  • Tokyo Optic
  • Daiso (products from Japan)
  • K Starzone (products from Korea)
  • Quality Express (travel shop)
  • Wall Street (language school)
  • Major Cineplex Cinema

Which is the best shopping mall in Chiang Mai?

There are five main shopping malls in Chiang Mai. Here's the lowdown, maps to each included.

Central Festival - my number one choice

Check out Central Festival Chiangmai store directory here.

  • Has the most shops out of all malls in Chiang Mai
  • Lots of cheaper and expensive Western brand clothes shops
  • Lots of sports shops
  • A whole floor dedicated to mobile phones, computers, cameras, other tech and internet providers
  • Big Major Cineplex cinema
  • Decent air-conditioned fairly cheap food hall
  • Lots of restaurants, ice cream shops, bakeries, coffee shops and a tea house
  • Ice skating, Fun Planet with dance machines etc
  • Hairdressers and barbershops
  • All major Thai banks
  • Opticians
  • Lots of beauty clinics
  • A language school (Wall Street)
  • Bag and shoe repair shop
  • Tops supermarket
I go to Central Festival Chiangmai if I need new clothes or to go to the cinema.

Maya - my number two choice

  • Way fewer shop choices than Central Festival
  • Western brand clothes shops are mostly expensive
  • Nice air-conditioned food hall in the basement
  • Quite a few good restaurants, ice cream shops, coffee shops and bakeries
  • Big SF cinema
  • Most major banks (not Bangkok Bank though)
  • Mobile phone and internet service providers
  • EX10Karaoke & Game with dance machines, kareoke, racing games etc
  • 24 hour cafe with fast Wi-Fi (CAMP)
  • Rimp
  • Hairdressers and barbershops
  • Beauty clinics
  • Sky bar
I go to Maya because it's in a good location near Nimmanhaemin, to use CAMP, to go to the cinema and to shop for groceries at Rimping.

Central Airport Plaza - my number three choice

  • Old (but fine) Major Cineplex cinema
  • Robinsons department store
  • “Northern Village” local handicraft zone
  • Quite a few Thai brand clothes shops, a few Western brand clothes shops
  • Restaurants, coffee shops and ice cream shops
  • Beauty clinics
  • Most major banks
  • A whole floor dedicated to mobile phones, computers, cameras, other tech and internet providers
  • Opticians
  • A pretty cool boutique shop floor in the basement

Promenada Resort Mall - a bit too far out to go to unless there's an event on

  • Mostly coffee shops and restaurants
  • Great SF Cinema
  • Opticians
  • Most major banks
  • Massage
  • At night, there's live entertainment and Thai food

Kad Suan Kaew - my last choice (unless I'm going bowling)

  • Robinsons department store
  • Bowling
  • A sports shop
  • Tops supermarket
  • You can get passport photographs taken here

Should you wash fruit & vegetables in Thailand?

In short: yes. Scroll down to the bottom to find out the best cheap way.

Thai-PAN just released a report revealing that fruits and vegetables sold in Chiang Mai markets and supermarkets are pesticide contaminated at a harmful level.

I used to wash my fruits and vegetables. I stopped, because I thought I was being paranoid. But seems not.

Samples of the fruits and vegetables that we eat every day in Chiang Mai were shipped off to the UK for pesticide residue testing. I can't read Thai, so I did some digging. According to this Bangkok Post article, the report states that "46.6% of samples contained residues higher than the accepted safety standard level." The article doesn't specify if this is a Thai or UK safety standard level, but whichever it is - it's higher than it should be, right?

I find the results pretty sad, and I don't know if this is something I should worry about. What do you think?

The worst part for me is that "fruits and vegetables collected from modern trade outlets where consumers pay higher prices did not have much higher safety standards than those in wet markets, with 46% of produce from modern trade shops."

I (usually) specifically shop at supermarkets rather than fresh markets when I can because I thought they would be less likely to sell pesticide-contaminated products - especially when they outright state that they're clean.

The Bangkok Post article says that "25% of the products certified as being organic, which were supposed to be free of chemicals, were found to contain chemical residues exceeding the accepted standards." I don't buy organic, but I do try to buy produce with 'pesticide free' and 'pesticide residue free' stickers on them, specifically so I don't have to waste time washing them. This report is saying that the pesticide-free and pesticide-residue-free stickers on the products I buy... could mean nothing?

I wish they'd tested salad; that's the one thing that's a real bitch to wash and dry.

The image below, produced by Thai-PAN to show the results of the testing, shows that all of the red chillies, oranges and guavas tested had pesticide residue exceeding the standards. Most of the basil, yard long beans, kale, dragon fruit and papaya exceeded the standards. And a good percentage of mangoes, Chinese cabbages, morning glory, tomatoes and cucumbers failed too. But yay for clean baby eggplants, cabbages and watermelon!


Sample size matters, though

According to, "the testing was based on 138 samples of fresh produce taken from various retail channels in the Greater Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Ubon Ratchathani areas during mid-May."

I'd really like to know how many fruits and vegetables of each variety were tested. If just two oranges were tested, as I think Ploenpote from the Bangkok Post said here, that's just not a big enough sample size. Sure, it indicates that there could be a problem here, but it's not enough to say that ALL oranges in Thailand are above the safety standard. Does anyone know how many samples of each variety there were? Let us all know in the comments please :)

Banned, highly toxic pesticides found

Ploenpot said that the UK testers also found banned chemicals like carbofuran and methomyl on the cucumbers and oranges. I looked those two pesticides up. 

Wikipedia says that "carbofuran is one of the most toxic carbamate pesticides." Apparently it's particularly toxic to birds, and can be used to kill lions. I don't know about you, but I'm not that happy about inadvertently eating lion poison. Though obviously it's in much smaller quantities, so maybe it's nothing to worry about... the Wikipedia entry goes on to describe the effect of carbofuran in humans: 

"Carbofuran has one of the highest acute toxicities to humans of any insecticide widely used on field crops (only aldicarb and parathion are more toxic). A quarter teaspoon (1 ml) can be fatal. Most carbofuran is applied by commercial applicators using closed systems with engineered controls so there is no exposure to it in preparation. Since its toxic effects are due to its activity as a cholinesterase inhibitor it is considered a neurotoxic pesticide."
I wonder if poor farmers here apply carbofuran to their crops in a closed system with engineered controls, especially when this Greenpeace report states that "in order to save
labour costs associated with spraying, farmers often mix pesticides themselves,
creating a “cocktail” of several chemicals without considering their synergistic effects."

OK. How about methomyl? ................. crap.

"Methomyl is a carbamate insecticide introduced in 1966. It is highly toxic to humans, livestock, pets, and wildlife." -- Wikipedia

Switzerland won't import a whole bunch of Thai produce because the pesticide level is too high

I Google-translated this article from, written in French, which was shared on social media today. Apparently, mini-peppers, Thai aubergines, basil or pepper products grown in Thailand are no longer exported from the country.

How to remove pesticides from your fruit and vegetables

  1. Grow your own fruit and vegetables. Not really an option for me, and probably not for lots of you reading this.
  2. Don't worry about where you buy your fruit and veg from, and wash it before consumption. Heather over at Daily Mom says that you can do it by filling a large bowl with 1 part vinegar and 4 parts water and soaking your fruits and vegetables for 1.5 - 2 hours, then rinse and eat. White vinegar is super cheap here in Thailand.
  3. Alexandra from recommends discarding the outer layers of leafy vegetables before soaking.
  4. Eat more fruit and veg from 'The Clean 15' and less from 'The Dirty Dozen'.
I've seen some kind of detergent in Rimping that was labelled to be specifically for washing fruit and vegetables, too. 

Do you think restaurants wash their ingredients?

If you know anywhere that does this, let me know in the comments section :)

Escape Hunt Chiang Mai Review

When I received an invitation to be locked into a room and try to escape from it, I was pretty excited.

Does that make me weird? So be it.

Escape Hunt Chiang Mai review

Escape Rooms are a big deal right now, and new ones keep opening up all over the world. Probably coz they're so much fun.

Escape Hunt Chiang Mai is right in the middle of the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai. Teams of two to ten friends, family members or colleagues get locked in a room and try to escape from it by finding clues and solving puzzles. It's like a computer game bought to life.

The day before, images of Saw-esque scenarios swam through my head. Would a masked villain whisper cryptic clues over the intercom in a raspy, zombie-ish voice? Would I have to chop off someone's leg with a rusty hack saw? My own? The possibilities seemed endless.

Four of us arrived ten minutes before the game and were greeted by a decidedly un-scary Thai lady dressed in a Sherlock Holmes style outfit. I was a little disappointed - where was the horrifying mask!? She was incredibly lovely, laid-back and helpful. We learned that we were to figure out The Tale of the White Elephant, a mystery set in the 1500's Lanna Kingdom.

Ms. Holmes briefed us on our mission in fluent English: we would be locked in a room, and had to decipher clues and solve puzzles to find where the mystical white elephant was hidden.

Upon finding him, we would restore prosperity back to Chiang Mai. We had one hour to do it. If we hadn't found the white elephant within sixty minutes, Ms. Holmes would come and chop our legs off with a rusty hack saw.

Before leading us to the room, Ms. Holmes anointed my forehead with a special potion to open my third eye. She said it would definitely help. I believed her.

We were feeling pretty confident. We were three teachers and one writer, and at least 3 of us are pretty smart.

We stepped into the first, dimly lit room and Ms. Holmes locked the door behind us. It was very exciting. The room was tiny, and after searching around for a while we found clues. Some clues were cryptic and well-hidden. We pulled on things, overturned furniture, deciphered codes, listened to hidden speakers, found footprints, shone torchlight into pitch black corners... I'm not going to reveal too much, though. That would ruin the surprise.

The Escape Room Chiang Mai was a ton of fun and sufficiently challenging. I don't think I've high-fived that much in such a short space of time... ever.

After blazing our way through a series of rooms, making plenty of mistakes and asking for help just once, we completed our mission with time to spare. Prosperity was restored to Chiang Mai. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty relieved. Our reward was tea, biscuits and photographs in the lounge area.

Escape Hunt Chiang Mai review

Escape Hunt is fun and different.

It's great for friends, and I would definitely do this with my family too. It's suitable for all ages - kids will enjoy the mysterious adventure of it all, and it's not all so difficult that they'd feel left out. It's not scary at all. Couples could get really into this; it would be a fun way to challenge yourselves. I'd say the optimum team size is four to six people.

Essential Info

Open daily from 10am to 8.30pm
The Pavilion Building, 2nd Floor. Head behind McDonalds at the Night Bazaar.
Tel: 052001066

Psst - book online to get a 10% discount.

Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking School, Chiang Mai: Review

I learned how to cook delectable Akha-style Thai food.

Never heard of Akha? Well, they're one of the many hill tribes living in Northern Thailand. They have their own language, and a distinct culture and social system. All their villages are entered via an elaborately carved 'Spirit Gate', and their houses are segregated by gender. If you've been to Chiang Mai, you'll probably recognize their black jackets embroidered with colourful patterns and distinctive head-dresses.

Akha Thais have really great food.

Last Saturday, Abbie, Darko and I donned our aprons and created eleven delicious dishes at the Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking School, in the heart of Chiang Mai Old City. With the assistance of our friendly and knowledgeable teacher, Niti, we made a mountain of amazing food, including Hill-tribe salad, curries, stir fries, soup, homemade spring rolls and desserts - yum!
Psst - I've got My Chiang Mai Everything readers a sweet 20% discount off all classes at Thai Akha Kitchen. Details are at the bottom of this post!

If you know me, you'll know I'm really not a morning person. I truly appreciated the hot filter coffee on tap at 8:15 a.m. As my (vegetarian) friend Abbie and I were consuming our caffeine, we were greeted warmly by Niti. Soon, our friend Darko also arrived, and we set off for a local market, picking up more cooking-class-students on the way.

Local Thai markets are chaotic spaces filled with people, colour, smiles, food and noise.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai market

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai meat

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai fish

Our group wandered around the market, lead by Niti. She pointed out things of interest - did you know that every single part of the banana tree can be consumed!? - and purchased several delicacies for us to try, such as crunchy pig tails, Thai olives and various sweet snacks.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai market onions garlic

When we got back to the classroom, we sat at our clean, individual cooking stations and listened to Niti explain Akha life. She's an interesting lady and a captivating speaker with genuine warmth and a cheeky attitude.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai Niti

After learning about the Akha tribe, we tied our aprons and began to cook.

At Thai Akha Kitchen, students can choose what they want to cook from an extensive set menu.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai cooking station

We all pitched in to help Niti make papaya salad (som tam), sticky rice, fried spring rolls, Akha soup, Akha salad, Akha tomato dipping sauce, mango sticky rice and pumpkin in coconut milk.

At our own cooking stations, each student made one curry, one stir-fried dish and one soup using either meat and prawns or vegetarian-friendly ingredients, like tofu. I chose to whip up a green curry, chicken with cashew nuts and hot and sour prawn soup. Yum. Here's what we chose from:

  1. Red, green, massaman or penang curry
  2. Chicken with cashew nuts (gai ped med mamuang), chicken with basil (pad kapow), sweet and sour chicken or pad Thai.
  3. Hot and sour prawn soup (tom yung koong), chicken in coconut milk (tom kha gai), or clear soup with tofu.

We made SO MUCH food.

Niti showed us how to make curry paste from scratch, using a heavy stone pestle and mortar.

Apparently, if a Thai girl can make curry paste without clinking the mortar on the pestle, she will make a good wife. If she's a clinker, though, watch out! She'll be a lazy wife for sure. Nowadays, Niti revealed with a wink, most people use a blender.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai curry paste

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai curry paste

We rolled up our own spring rolls, and took them to be deep-fried by Niti.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai spring rolls

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai spring rolls

Crispy and delicious, fresh from the pan.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai spring rolls

Niti made (almost) everyone laugh by speaking with relish about 'fuk' - the Thai word for squash! Mr. Green T-Shirt wasn't so impressed though.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai fuktong

The word for pumpkin is fuktong, and Niti really enjoyed telling us this fact with a big cheeky smile.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai fun

Niti revealed the secret ingredients Thai chefs use to work magic in a Thai kitchen.

We had a great time exploring their uses. Everyone had their own ratio preferences. If you want to know the secrets, you'll have to go to Thai Akha Kitchen yourself ;)

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai secret ingredients

I loved the actual cooking, but the best part for most people was eating delicious home-cooked Akha-style Thai food.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai food

After we'd finished cooking and eating, Niti gave each of us a booklet full of recipes we'd made that day.

Thai Akha Kitchen Chiang Mai discount

Wahoo! Thai Akha Kitchen want to give a 20% discount on all day or evening classes to My Chiang Mai Everything readers.

Simply message Thai Akha Kitchen using this contact page, and mention that you're a My Chiang Mai everything reader. Then, they'll book your places for you and apply the 20% discount - easy.

I recommend the outstanding Thai Akha Kitchen to people wanting to make a variety of Thai dishes.

The class gave us a fantastic overview of Thai cuisine, and Niti was a fabulously friendly, knowledgeable and fun teacher. I'm extremely happy to have discovered the secret ingredients of Thai cooking - I had always wondered what I was doing wrong!

Essential info about Thai Aka Kitchen Cooking Scool:

  • Here's their website.
  • Classes cost 1000 baht for the full-day class, and 900 baht for the evening class.
  • To get the 20% discount, don't use the online booking method. Message them here to say you're a My Chiang Mai Everything reader.
  • A driver will pick you up from your city-centre accommodation.
  • You'll learn how to make eleven Thai-Akha dishes.
  • Free-flow local Thai coffee is available for the entire class.
  • Everyone eats together at the end of class.
  • Here's their Facebook page.
  • The instructors are awesome.
Here's a map to Thai Akha Kitchen Cooking School:

Need pro photos in Chiang Mai? Loving Light Studios is amazing.

James De La Cloche creates truly kick ass photographs.

That's him, there, in the photograph above. He owns Loving Light Studios right here in Nimman, Chiang Mai, Thailand. He takes beautiful photos of people, properties and products - check out his portfolio here.

I realised that I could do with some professional photographs. So, I contacted James via Loving Light's Facebook page to ask if he would take some of me. This was a big deal - I'm really uncomfortable with being in front of a camera. The idea of being inside a professional photography studio terrified me, so of course I had to do it. I like doing (some) things that make me uncomfortable.

I was SO pleased with the photographs. Here's what happened.

James was awesome right from the initial correspondence. He was friendly, professional and had a great sense of humour. I told him that I tend to pull a stupid shark face in photographs, and that wasn't really the look I was after. He assured me that there would be no shark faces, and he'd love to shoot me (ha!). I warned him that I was rubbish in front of a camera. He said that he was particularly skilled at encouraging nervous subjects to chill out and relax. So, feeling reassured, we arranged a time and date for a 30 minute shoot. He'd take a bunch of photographs, and I'd get every one he took during the session, unedited, delivered via Dropbox. Then, I could choose ten for him to edit professionally. 

Unbelievably, the cost for everything was only 1,500 baht.

I pulled up at Loving Light Studios in the happenin' Nimman area of Chiang Mai, next door to Drunken Noodle. Feeling nervous and excited, I took in the huge prints of James' beautiful work on display - a rock and roll bride and groom, a sultry sophisticated woman, a man leaning against a wall. James greeted me in the swish reception and we headed upstairs to the studio.

First, we spent a while chatting. I'm pretty sure this was to build rapport with me and help me to relax - it worked.

James is incredibly friendly, charming and full of love and joy.

He's undeniably passionate about photography, has a particular penchant for exploring colour and movement, and really loves soap (he makes his own). He's a British guy with a beautifully rich voice and French heritage, which explained the surname. As we spoke, I noticed that his photography equipment and computer were really impressive - a sleek Mac computer, expensive camera lenses and huge, professional studio lights.

Before long, it was time to stand in the glow of the studio lights in front of the white background. I was feeling awkward, to say the least. James asked me to share a favourite childhood memory with him, and took photographs of me while I spoke. Afterwards, he said that this was so he could explore my natural expressions.

I was feeling a little more used to the camera by this point, but still pretty nervous.

James asked me what my favourite music was. I guessed it was to get me in a fun, relaxed mood, so I decided I wanted to listen to Horrorpops - they're fantastic, and I love the band members' styles. It helped so much, but James still wasn't convinced that I felt 100% comfortable. So he turned on a fan and blasted it into my face. Aha!

The fan was the answer.

I have no idea whether it was the white noise, or that there was something else to focus on, or WHAT - but I immediately felt better and my photograph-face began to improve. James spoke to me, made me laugh, asked me to think about different things and even made silly noises (apparently I respond to humour like a small child at times, haha). He was fantastic, and I was feeling more and more comfortable by the minute.

Over the next 30 minutes, James took hundreds of photographs of me.

Laughing, staring, headbanging, dreaming of a handsome man, thinking about my family, imagining that the camera was my friend, mother, lover.

When the session was finished, we said goodbye. A day or so later, James uploaded every photograph he'd taken to Dropbox and asked me to choose ten to be professionally edited. Man, it was hard to choose ten! But I did, with the help of my mum, and a few days later he uploaded the edits. My personal preference is a cooler tone, so I re-edited a tiny bit - though my boyfriend thinks that James' colour choice is much better, haha. Here's a sample - unedited, edited by James, then re-edited by me. Click for a larger version!

I love these photos!

If you want pro photos taken by James too, send him a message via Facebook or his website. I hugely recommend him. 1500 baht get you 30 minutes in the studio with a bunch of photographs and 10 professional edits. 3500 baht gets you one hour in the studio or in a location of your choice, all the photographs from the day and 5 professionally edited shots. 6000 baht gets you all that plus pro hair and makeup before hand. Pretty sure this is what I want to try next!

After this session, I sent Recycle Creative James' way. JUST LOOK AT THIS PHOTO BELOW. Wow.