When traveling the world we sometimes get carried away in hostel/hotel culture, it is an easy mistake to make. Yes, it’s an exciting rush to make friends and party with the people from all corners of the globe. However, backpackers tend to forget about meeting the locals of the country you are exploring.
For example, I have three good friends from Italy. The funny thing is I didn’t meet any of them in Italy, nor have I ever spent any time with them in Italy.
Many people have told me that they find it difficult to meet locals, or they are nervous to start a conversation.
I feel this happens too often, and as I grow as a traveler, I want to meet and interact with the locals of the culture I am in. I believe you get a deeper personal experience and is the key to experiencing a country.
That is why when I heard about Withlocals, a site that connects travelers with local people, I knew I had to give it a try.
For my local experience I went to lunch with Ansaya, a local woman in Chaing Mai, that had promised to teach me how to cook some mouth-watering Thai appetizers before joining her and her friends from a classic Thai lunch.
Ansaya greeted with a friendly smile, before leading me to her local restaurant, where she offered me some coffee; Any woman who offers coffee right at the start is ok in my books.
While I savored my morning addiction Ansaya, her brother, and I sat and chatted about local life in Chaing Mai and Bangkok. I learned some history about the temples, some holidays in Bangkok, and about everyday life in Chaing Mai.
Our next order of business meant hopping on my bike to a nearby market to get ingredients for our meal. Going to markets is a daily thing when backpacking Thailand, but Ansaya wanted to get off the beaten path and take me to a local market where I would be the only foreigner.
Browsing the small stalls and local shops for the ingredients for our appetizers Anasya pointed out curry powders, local vegetables, and soup packets. Walking through the crowds she gave me hints on when, and what to buy if I wanted to make any number of Thai dishes. She was an undeniable help, and my taste buds will thank her for years to come.
Lunch was a delicious plate of spaghetti kee mao, a different style of one of my favorite Thai dishes.
I always love hanging out with locals, but only a few times have I shared such a delightful experience with them. We talked till midafternoon; they explained some things about Thai culture and taught me some Thai words.
Next, we started preparing lunch and the appetizers. Today the appetizers we were preparing were Tung Thong ( golden bags).These little treats are fried dough containing whatever tasty treats you want inside. Half of our golden bags were filled with chicken and vegetables.
The other half were full of desert that we filled with of banana and peanuts. Anaysya told me that one reason she likes making these appetizers is that the guest can put whatever they want inside, easily catering the food to the guest taste.
In fact, we had so much fun we are planning on getting together to cook again, and she wants to take me shopping so I can start making my own Thai dishes.
Honestly, I wasn’t sure what to expect booking through a website for a local experience, but I loved my day with Ansaya, and some of her family.
This was a fun, and exciting personal experience, and one thing I loved about hanging with locals is that you learn so much about everyday life of a place.
I won’t soon forget hanging out with Ansaya, her friends, and family. It let me experience the local part of Thailand, a country which has been a big part of my life for the last year.