Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Two Afternoons Teas in Chiang Mai

I've been an afternoon tea aficionado for years, but on my trip through SE Asia I had all but abandoned my goal of having high tea in each location. I was simply not anywhere long enough to justify the search, and with so much other great food and so many other great experiences to have in each city, it seems like a waste time and money to invest in an afternoon tea experience.

When I realized I would be spending a substantial amount of time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I reconsidered my plans to skip high tea. Maybe I would have time after all. Maybe Chiang Mai has a world-class teahouse which is unique enough to sample.

Enter Vieng Joom On. The hands-down winner of afternoon tea on the internet. So I pulled up the location on Google maps, pinned it in my phone and packed my purse for a long walk to the other side of town.

After walking for an hour, I arrived at the location on the map, but it wasn’t Vieng Joom On. Not even close. I checked my phone map multiple times, and sure I am there, but Vieng Joom On is not. This place was called The Flowery Home, and at this point I had to use the bathroom and wifi so bad that I decided to go in and order a drink.

Few words can express my shock upon entering. This place is a craft store-meets-antique shop-meets-restaurant. It was absolutely exploding with fake flowers and gaudy displays. It was also empty of people. I felt like I had made a mistake walking in, but a young man soon greeted me and handed me a menu.

As I browsed their selection, I noticed that they offered a high tea as well, and theirs didn't look all that bad. I was exhausted and sweaty and wanting to avoid more hours of harsh sunlight, so I decided to stay and take a chance on their tea set.

This was the best decision I made all day. Not only did I have a very lovely and filling meal, which included fish sauced chicken wings of all things, but I also got to explore this unusual business.

Still set on going to the real Vieng Joom On, I picked up a wifi signal and kept searching. Google maps now placed it nearby, on an entirely different location than the one I originally saw on the screen. So I walked down the street and after four failed attempt and nearly giving up, I finally arrived at the real Vieng Joom On.

This place is famous for its scones, evidently the best in Chiang Mai. It also had a lovely ambiance, sitting next to a water fountain outside, with curtains blowing in the wind. I felt like I was at a wedding reception.

The scones and lavish teas were excellent, but I'm glad I ate at The Flowery House before. 

Have two teas in one day was a bit extreme, even for my taste, but I'm so thankful I got to experience these very different places in the most serendipitous way.

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