Aug 3, 2018
Savoring a Baht 3,500 Bowl of Birds Nest Soup at 'Natural Bird Nest by Burapa'
Location: Natural Bird Nest by Burapa, Chiang Mai, Thailand
$2,425/kilo Birds Nest Soup
The closest thing I've ever come to a birds nest soup was from a Knorr instant soup package. The real thing is outrageously expensive, it's worth a king's ransom. The most expensive I've seen from Burapa is B80,000/kilo (US$2,425/kilo). B3,500 seems like a lot of money for soup, but for authentic bird's nest, all we could get for that kind of money was a medium-sized bowl - trippy! If you talk about food for the gods, this might as well be it. But I'm jumping ahead of myself. How did all this come to happen when I struggle to find a decent B30 meal on the streets of Chiang Mai?
Just Wanna Say Thank You
It all started with intention. Mike, my host in Chiang Mai, has been killing me with kindness and all I wanted was to say 'thank you' in my currency - not money because I have none. The intention puts things in motion behind the scenes - even from me.
The next moment, I was inside this resto, Natural Bird Nest by Burapa, talking to traditional Bangkok-based Chinese Thais serving/selling authentic birds nest in Chiang Mai. I met Nick - young (22 years old), grounded, US-educated, smart and forward-thinking. I explained to him my proposal. He was interested, consulted with his Mom (who I initially thought was his girlfriend - seriously!), and we shook hands on the barter deal - one year ad placement in exchange for bird nest soup dinner worth B3,500.
Mike and Bee
I'm glad Mike brought his wife, Bee. I've heard so much about her. Now, I finally met this special woman whom Mike gave up his gallivanting life as a bachelor for. And yes, for good reason! Bee is lovely with a disarming charm. The 3 of us met at Chiang Mai's popular Hand-Made Pizza. Mike had the foresight that a small bowl of soup cannot feed 3 grown-ups. He brought out brandy and I joined him - my first drink in 6 months. The 3 of us had synergy. I enjoyed watching the couple play their dynamics. It felt like a ringside seat to a play. There is something theatrical about them when they are together. After 2 pizza pies, we headed out to Natural Bird Nest by Burapa where Nick welcomed us.
After the proper introduction, Nick was kind enough to give us a tour of the shop/resto. He showed us partially prepared bird's nest and shark fin in jars soaked in ice. Bird's nest soup ranged from B100 to B4,000 per bowl! The bird's nest in elegant dry packages reached a staggering B8,000/100 grams. It was mind boggling for me how some people can fork that kind of money for a soup. But just before we arrived, the place was packed full!
I failed to ask Nick what the difference is between the B100/bowl soup and the B4,000. Will the B4,000 soup cure your cancer? Will it keep you young forever? Will it give you a 24/7 hard on? Or is it just a taste difference?
The Soup Ritual
Instead of us choosing what's on the menu, Nick graciously offered to prepare everything for us in a way he saw fit. Wow! You don't get that kind of service everyday. Apparently you just don't gobble down such a prized soup. There is a reverential ritual to it. First, an intro birds nest soup (not the main deal yet) was given to us to which honey was added together with a yellow fruit. It was supposed to enhance the taste. Halfway through our individual bowls, a 6-min soft boiled egg was mixed into the soup before it was finished. That alone was richly satisfying already. But the main dish has yet to be savored.
The Main Deal: B3,500 Bowl
While we were enjoying the intro portion, the main dish was being heated in front of us. Finally, it was ready and we took turns to ladle it onto our soup bowls. I was waiting to hear to a drum roll before I took the first spoonful. I rolled it inside my mouth, allowing it to mantle all the taste receptors, pretty much like tasting vintage Bordeaux. The texture was slimy with the gelatinous and stringy fiber-like strands of the bird nest. Taste? It was heavenly delicious - maybe if you die and go to heaven, this is all you eat. The experience? Pure bragging rights!
Mike and Nick
What grabbed my attention (aside from the price tag of the bird's nest) was the dynamics of Mike and Nick. It was like having a ringside seat to an animated encounter. I would liken Nick to be a prim-and-proper British gentleman who can effortlessly blend in any major capital's polite society with his social grace. On the other hand, Mike is like a blazing gun-slinger exploding out from the rough-hewn annals of the wild wild west! These are two people on the extreme opposite ends of a broad spectrum. However, they do have common ground - they both perfect their game and both enjoy playing with their grown-up toys (a string of hotels and top-of-the-line birds nest). I was surprised to see Mike hold his own talking about birds nest. He even knows how a Chinese can buy 100 kilos of birds nest within China - which is a near impossibility given the tight restrictions. They were talking in Chinese so I couldn't fully understand what was being said except for the few English words being thrown around. From what I could discern, this is how the conversion was going:
Nick: my hotel has 200 rooms! (I have a big dick!)
Mike: my newest hotel has 7 rooms with a swimming pool inside every room! (my dick is harder!)
I was laughing on the floor as they compared notes - in their own mildly-subtle Chinese way. At the end of it, I found them more similar than they were different - I think they felt the same way. It was fascinating and hilarious! It was the highlight of the evening together with the B3,500 bowl of soup in front of us!
For a guy who struggles finding a decent B30 meal on the roadside eateries of Chiang Mai, I was able to host and treat Mike and Bee to a special dinner. I'd been wanting to thank Mike for all his kindness, but didn't know how, until my universe stepped-in. Even a magician would be hard pressed to pull a rabbit out of a hat like that. Indeed, the universe works in mysterious ways to manifest my deep-seated desires.
Of course I am grateful to be savoring such expensive delicacy. Who knows if I ever get this opportunity again?
Thank you Nick for being such a wonderful and gracious host. You didn't have to, but you went the whole 9 yards making us feel welcome and at home. This is one experience I'll be committing to memory.
YOGA by Gigit | Learn English | Travel like a Nomad | Donation Bank
(Aug 11, 2018) That was funny! Haha and I can imagine Nick and Mike's comparing notes 🙂 Amazing how the universe makes things happen for you! Tama, setting intentions din talaga which is what I am experiencing din 🙂 (Right, setting intentions, really, which is what I am experiencing as well). I envy you for having tried authentic bird's nest!! I might try that 100B next time but maybe that's the very diluted version! Maybe 99% is water LOL
(Aug 5, 2018) I almost died laughing reading what u wrote. hahahhahah
Next stop: Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Chiang Mai International Airport
Nong Buak Hard Park - free yoga classes daily
Arun Dara Villa - 7 exclusive rooms, 1 swimming pool for every room, grand opening
Nawa Sheeva Hotel - big room, high ceiling, salt-water pool
Nawa Saraan Hotel - upscale container-themed, garden setting, most expensive coffee maker in Chiang Mai
La Pizza Chiang Mai - Italian pizza, pasta, wine, dessert, coffee
Natural Bird Nest by Burapa - authentic bird's nest soup
ITM - International Training Massage School - Chiang Mai's most prestigious massage school
Float Chiang Mai - sensory deprivation float pod
Zira Spa - upscale authentic Thai massage and spa treatment
Tawan Bike - motorcycle rental | +66 91 635 2863 | Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200
Top Thailand Adventure Tour - bicycle rental
Chiang Mai FYI / Tips
- crop-burning season in Chiang Mai is between late Feb to early April. But laws change everytime. This year, 2019, there is a 61-day ban on burning so the farmers started burning early. When my plane was approaching Chiang Mai on Jan 24, 2019, there was already a thick blanket of smog covering the entire city (and beyond). But within the city itself, you won't feel it (but that doesn't mean the air is healthy). To monitor air conditions in real time, refer to site: Chiang Mai Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index (AQI)
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- visit Chiang Mai between October and April - best time, without the monsoon rains
- you have to try Khao Soi, this is north Thailand's culinary staple
- the tourist area where most of the hotels, restaurants, ticket offices, tour operators are, is located in the Old City
- to exchange your dollars to Thai Baht, the Super Rich Money Exchange give the best rates. There are many branches scattered around Chiang Mai
- get a red cab (songthao) outside the train station for Baht 50 (instead of paying B100 if inside the train station) to Old City - if you haggle nicely enough...I did!
- for only B50/day, best to rent a bike to go around the Old City - it's a 2.5km2 with lots to discover
- FREE daily yoga classes from 9:00am to 10:15am at Nong Buak Hard Park (southwest corner of Old City). Resident and passing-through teachers take turns conducting yoga classes.
How to Get around Chiang Mai
- red taxi (shared) - B50 standard fare
- bicycle - B50 daily rental
Blues/Jazz Bars in Chiang Mai
- North Gate Pub - at Chang Phueg Gate, great Tuesday jam session
- Road House - in front of Porn Ping Hotel
- Boy Blues Bar - at the Night Bazaar
Chiang Mai Cost Index
- B60 Chiang beer
- B250 1 hour drop-in yoga session
- B200 one hour Thai body massage at WAYA Massage (highly recommended)
- B50 noodle soup with meat
- B50 coffee
- B40 pad thai
- B30/kilo wash-only laundry
- B50/kilo wash+iron laundry
- B100-150 dorm bed/night
- B250 fan room/night
- B30 internet cafe/hour
- B170-190 Movies Sat-Sun and public holidays
- B130-150 Movies weekdays
- B100 Movies Wednesdays (movie discount day)
- B750 1/2 day Thai cooking lessons
- B900-1000 1 full day Thai cooking lessons
- B400 Muay Thai boxing ticket
- B2500 starting room rate at the luxury hotel, Nawa Sheeva (highly recommended)
- B450 bus, Chiang Mai to Bangkok
- B160-180 bus, Chiang Mai to Pai
- B1250 bus, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B1650 slow boat, Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang
- B210 bus, Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai, 3-4 hours
- B360 Green VIP bus, Chiang Mai to Mae Sai (Thai border town for visa run to Tachileik, Myanmar)
- B50 bicycle rental, 24 hours
- B200 motorbike rental, 24 hours
- B273 #51 sleeping train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B638 #7 a/c train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai
- B50 red taxi fare from point to point
- B100 red taxi fare from train terminal to city
- B2000 full day elephant sanctuary
- B750 Chiang Rai one-day tour
- B1500 mountain biking scenic ride
How to Get to Chiang Mai from Bangkok by Train from Bang Sue Train Station
For more train info: Bangkok to Chiang Mai trains - departing from Hua Lamphong - MRT (Bangkok)
(I'm using Bang Sue as a starting point because I was closer to it, but you may be closer to the Hua Lamphong station)
- take the MRT train to Bang Sue Station. Take the #1 Exit to the north provincial trains
- Proceed to Counter 2. You will see an information booth, a train schedule chart and the ticket counter. Choose the train and pay at the ticket counter.
- daily train schedule:
- 8:48am - #7 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:30pm, not sleeper, B638
- 2:06pm - #109 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 4:05am, sleeper
- 6:31pm - #9 Premium Train, arrive Chiang Mai 7:15am, sleeper, B938 upper deck, B1038 lower deck
- 7:56pm - #13 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 8:40am, sleeper, B768 upper deck, B838 lower deck
- 10:22pm - #51 Train, arrive Chiang Mai 12:10pm, sleeper, 3rd class B270 (non sleeper), 2nd class B438, B728 upper deck, B798 lower deck
Chiangmai Blogs by TheLoneRider
- Curing Cancer with Yoga? Feb 21, 2019
- Movie Review: Alita Battle Angel Feb 19, 2019
- International Training Massage School (ITM): Level 1 Feb 11-15, 2019
- Movie Review: Spider-Man - Into the Spider-Verse (2018) Feb 3, 2018
- Movie Review: Green Book Jan 30, 2019
- Meditation in a Sensory Deprivation Tank at Float Chiang Mai Jan 29, 2019
- Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Jan 27, 2019
- Movie Review: Aquaman Jan 26, 2019
- Reiki Share at the Mastermind Brain Spa Jan 26, 2019
- Resuming Life in Chiang Mai Jan 24, 2019
- 4 Days in Chiang Mai at Nawa Saraan Hotel Jan 2-6, 2019
- Mike Chong Aug 8, 2018
- An Intimate Conversation with my Universe in Chiang Mai Aug 8, 2018
- Kneaded and Pampered at Zira Spa Aug 4, 2018
- Savoring a Baht 3,500 Birds Nest Soup at Natural Bird Nest by Burapa Aug 3, 2018
- Yoga Exploration at The Yoga Tree with Gernot Aug 1, 2018
- Yoga In The Park - Chiang Mai July 31, 2018
- Yoga with Adam at Hidden House Yoga, Chiang Mai July 29, 2018
- 2 Weeks in Chiang Mai July 25 - Aug 7, 2018
- A First Timer in Chiang Mai Apr 9-23, 2016
- Dance Mandala in Chiang Mai at The Yoga Tree Apr 19, 2016
- Songkran Waterfight Festival in Chiang Mai Apr 13-15, 2016
- Border Crossing from Siem Reap (Cambodia) to Bangkok (Thailand) to Chiang Mai April 9-10, 2016
General Travel Tips
- avoiding scams - as a general rule, I ignore the touts or anyone I don't know who call out to me. The calling comes in many forms - "Hi! Where are you from?", "Excuse me! Excuse me!", "Where are you going?". I don't look them in the eye and I remain non-verbal with them. If you reply to them, you just gave them an 'in' to hound you. In order not to look rude, I smile and wave the 'not interested' hand to them, without looking at them.
- power bank - hand-carry your power bank. Do not check it in. You can be called in when you are already inside the plane to go all the way to the loading dock so you can personally remove the power bank...and chances are, you'll have to surrender it to them. And you might delay the plane departure!
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