Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wheeeee - a spree of good things Bangkok

River view from my villa

crazy fruits
Bangkok is alive. 
From the passion pink to Hulk green taxi cabs to the local markets that string like jumbled thread along the sides of most streets to the festoon of shops in the Siam - Paragon centers and the Oldenberg-style urban art decorating the streets, every human sense is stimulated. You can shop cheap or shop Prada-top-of-the-line.
jasmine to be strung
fried everything
On the streets you can eat tiny crisp pancakes filled with marshmallow that give you a burnt sugar taste or you can try any variety of Thai food from savory soups to green curries. Markets are packed with women threading marigolds into strands or sweet jasmine blossoms into special wreaths for good luck.  Most flowers are used for decorations of spirit houses, temple offerings, weddings, or for special occasions when friends honor friends or family. There is so much activity - plus more traffic than the Los Angeles Freeway at wreck time - that your feet cannot keep up with your dance. And if it is Monday, you better wear yellow in honor of the King of Thailand. (His birthday was on a Monday.) 
bean sweets

beetle nut and sour lemon
waiting for lotus
crispy pancakes 
Early my first morning after watching the giant barges splash down the wide river in front of the Villas where I stay, we walked the morning markets. So much going on. Fresh fruits - many exotic ones with mangos of every size and shape - and vegies and huge vats of stews, curries made with green eggplants the size of large peas, and noodle dishes, green mango or pomelo salads, plates filled with fried fish, chicken and other unmentionables; beetle nuts (which old people chew on traditionally to keep alert), thin rolled cigars, (yes, “No Smoking” doesn’t exist here), green tipped mussels, and, Lord help us, sweets - some crunchy gelatin things shaped in hearts or roses,  others made with egg yellows and sugar (heart-attack stimulants), others coconut custard in triangular bags made from banana leaf; (chocolate is rare), and something called belly buddie ice cream. My camera was going lickety split as I tried to take it all in. I didn’t even know how long I been walking and looking. My hair was wringing wet as was my light cotton shirt. I didn’t even notice until we walked into an air conditioned indoor market and I began to dry up. Toward the end of this adventure, we found a booth that served the iced coconut milk soup with green tapioca noodles, leeches, water chestnuts, beans, and other colorful unknowns. I had to have another. It’s amazing how full access to real coconut (not grated in a sack or rolled in icing to make a cake look snazzy) can change your opinion about it. So much of what Thais eat is coconut milk, water or juice based. Here comes the potassium. Good news.
Chess at Paragon
iced coconut milk soup
In the afternoon we took the long thin river boat from the Villas to the train station. The train (like those at American airports) can take you across town in no time whereas a taxi would take an hour. Traffic is unbearable and you cannot be in a hurry. So we road to the end of the line and watched school kids in white and navy uniforms get on and off at their exits. We went to the end (The Stadium exit) and walked to Jim Thompson’s silk enclave. That company is considered the best in many parts for its woven silk clothes and household goods. And we stopped for a fresh fruit drink - I had kiwi-ginger. Then walked a few blocks until we reached the busiest intersection in town - where Discovery Siam and Paragon are located. It’s amazing to see the size and quality of these “malls” (each four stories high). We stopped by Thailand’s most popular shop - RaTaDe where girls like to shop. And then an upscale toy store which makes Toys R Us look like a corner drug store. Huge, and huger are the by-words for the shopping choices for people here. In Paragon every name-drop brand name you ever heard of is presented. Go to the fourth floor and there are all sorts of native/tribal  clothing and home decorating.
Street art plus two taxis

 Today Jim had to be the Yak, the carry all person. And it was certainly a wise move to rely on the train and boat system than on the street system. When shopping was done, and I was still on my feet and moving, we took the train back and caught the boat taxi - where everyone - including students - pile on in numbers fighting for the seats - and hoping to make it to the back of the boat in time to get off at the correct stop. Bags in tow, we were able to break a seam in the crowd and unloaded well. Then about a kilometer to walk back to the Villa. A young Thai girl who specializes in foot massages waited and I was so very grateful. The previous night I had a foot massage so soothing it put me to sleep when I was at the Oriental Spa. That was way on the other side of the river. So the Villa had arranged for someone to come to my room. Sigh. 

Dinner was an extraordinary adventure into Thai cooking. If someone would cook these things for me daily, I’d be a convert. Soon it’s back home and my own lazy stops at Whole Foods and Fresh Market for take-home ideas.  Oh well. Memories are made of this. #end

1 comment:

Geraldean and Judge said...

The different Thai foods look great in your photos.
Remember, we told you about going to the Bangkok home of the lady who was apparently Jim Thompson's closest friend at the time of his mysterious disappearance. She was very nice and told many interesting stories about Thompson..
May not be at the Court this Friday. Looking forward to seeing you next Monday and hearing more about your fabulous adventure. We really miss you!
Hope you have a nice flight home.
God bless you.
Lots of love,
Geraldean and Judge