There are many things to do in Chiang Mai with kids, but our fruit carving class was probably my favorite. If you’ve never seen Thai fruit carving, then do a simple google search and you’ll be blown away. Amazing stuff.
Chiang Mai with Kids: Fruit Carving
I knew that we wouldn’t be able to replicate the exquisite things that professional carvers achieve, but I was positive that we’d all have fun. Our girl loves this kind of stuff, but sadly, our boy rarely shows interest in the creative arts.
That is, I’ve discovered, unless tools are involved. Putting a knife in his hand would keep his attention. Since both kids are spending more time in the woods and in the kitchen, it was time that they learned how to handle a blade properly. It was a hunch that totally paid off. Fruit carving was incredibly fun for all of us, and had the added bonus: we could eat some of the results.
Chiang Mai Boom
I had looked into a variety of places that offered lessons for fruit carving. Many were provided by cooking schools. The prices and levels of involvement varied widely — from one-hour classes to two-day workshops.
We settled on a class offered by Chiang Mai Boom, a travel agency near the city center. While not as extravagant as some options, the price and the time worked well for us: a three-hour session for 1,300 baht (USD $40 / JPY ¥4,120). Children under 11 years old were 1,000 baht (USD $31/JPY ¥3,200). This included instruction, equipment and more fruit and vegetables than we could ever slice.
We started by carving slabs of daikon into fish. Then made leaves out of carrots and cucumbers, and then roses out of tomato skins. At first, I wasn’t completely comfortable handing the kids the carving knives. After a quick review of how to use them – how to hold, where to place pressure, which direction to cut (away from the body) – they did remarkably well.
I told them that I would trust them to be responsible, and they were. The beauty of fruit carving is that the raw material is cheap and plentiful in Southeast Asia. If you’re careful, very little of it will go to waste: just make juice and/or soup at the end.
We enjoyed our fruit carving experience!
Our teacher, Pranee, was very patient and friendly. She slowed down when we needed more time and gave each of us individual instruction. While lessons at other places may take place in a kitchen or classroom, Chiang Mai Boom is first a travel agency, so we carved at a table in their open office facing the moat. Occasionally someone would come in to buy a ticket or tour, but it didn’t bother us.
One drawback is that there really is only enough room for four people, max. We had hoped to do the class with another couple that was traveling in Chiang Mai with kids, but I’m glad we didn’t: you need some elbow room when working with sharp objects. We were given one carving knife each after the class, and I plan to put them to work here in Malaysia.