Although it is sunny and 80 degrees outside in Chicago, I wish I could be back here for awhile.
I went out for lunch last week and an acquaintance brought pictures from her recent vacation to share. In this quaint suburban restaurant, we passed around scenes of the pyramids in Egypt, Grecian seascapes and gondolas in the canals of Venice. The images were inspiring and made me nostalgic for my own time spent away in Thailand. Today, going through old photos I remembered how I had posted that I would share more about Thailand and never did.
I love to travel. Even the sometimes exhausting logistics of getting to the destination is exciting to me, all part of the experience. Well, it is easier to type that now as I am cosily reclining at home and not attempting to sleep in the awkwardly shaped seat at an airport lounge in Seoul during an 8-hour layover. The lounge’s unlimited ice cream for its patrons made this leg of the journey a little more tolerable.
But I do love to go to new places and see new things. I often think of the saying by G.K. Chesterton, “The traveler sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see,” when experiencing a different place and travel with a very loose agenda.
Ask the locals what to visit, where to eat or hangout. This plan brought my boyfriend and I to some popular local restaurants and helped us to avoid over-hyped tourist traps. For our Thailand adventure we were under the leadership of an extremely gracious and adept tour-guide who knew to take us a little off the beaten path, but for most vacations socializing with locals will usually help make the most out of a trip.
I noticed that at restaurants in Thailand the style of dining was very communal. Unlike the typical Western way of one entrée per person, the Thai would order and collectively share a number of dishes. This was often accompanied with a tableside bottle of whiskey or beers. Here is a good article that explains how the Thai order. Most days for lunch we ate in a group under an open-air covered patio, sampling traditional Thai food specific to the region that we were in.
Honestly, I focused more on eating a lot and savoring the very fact that I was in Thailand than retaining the knowledge that was passed on concerning the different styles of cuisine. I read bits about the regions while there, but mostly absorbed the scenery and talked with fellow travelers. Now that I am back in the states, a fun way to self-educate would be to just try more of the food. Here are some tasty things we were served in Thailand…
Bean-thread noodle soup with chicken. The soup is served mild with various condiments – chiles, sugar, lime juice – to season to your liking.
Chicken feet! I saw my guide, Nok eating these and she suggested I try them as well. They smelled delicious being brought to the table, steamed with a sweet, garlicky broth. The texture was the unsavory part of the dish. Exactly what one would expect of tender chicken feet.
I really wish I could remember what this was called. These little gooey coconut patties were so good, I ate about 3 of them.
A typical lunch while we were out sight-seeing. One of the most memorable meals, however, was a $1.50 bowl of noodles at a shop across from our hotel in Chang Mai.
Thailand has some of the best pineapple in the world. I miss going down for breakfast every morning to an array of freshly cut papaya, mango and pineapple.
Not the best picture, but this is a popular street food. Khao laam, delicious sticky rice in a bamboo tube.
Where to next?