83. Thailand

Thailand: What happens when two people who have been go go going around Asia for five months land in a country with extraordinarily good food, a modern and entertaining capitol and an oversupply of cheap, comfortable guesthouses? Nothing. Nothing happens. Meaning Thailand made us very, very lazy.

Sloan: First, some good news – Thai people really do eat “pad thai” and they consume it in tremendous quantities. They might call it any one of a hundred different names, but it’s still the same pad thai that you and I crave at home – So don’t ever let anyone tell you that pad thai is a Western fictionalization of Thai food. Also, don’t ever let anyone tell you that Thailand is anything but an incredibly easy and safe country to travel in. I think some combination of travel fatigue and adoration for the cool of Bangkok and the calm of Chiang Mai caused us to really limit our movement in May. I was expecting good food in Thailand and was still shocked by just how good it was. Imagine being in a city where virtually every restaurant is a good, great or amazing Thai restaurant. And then, when you’re walking on the sidewalk, you pass about a dozen food carts every two blocks, each one of them selling something delicious, something you’ve probably never seen before. Fantastic. In Bangkok especially, it’s not just the Thai food that’s shines, it’s also the international cuisine that we owe to the Italian, French and Japanese expats who’ve opened up shop in the country. So I ate like a pig, but made up for it with lots of walking. And sleeping and reading. Travel fatigue: Eliminated.

Amy: We had grand plans for Thailand. See some beaches in the south, head deep into the northern mountains, and explore as much as we could in between. That didn’t happen and I have no regrets. We basically split Thailand down the middle between Bangkok in the center of the country and Chiang Mai in the north. Chiang Mai is the cultural center of Thailand where you can take classes in just about every aspect of traditional Thai life. Cooking, language, boxing, jungle survival, massage, etcetera. We took a cooking class one day where we went to a fantastic outdoor food market and learned all the ins and outs of shopping for the freshest and most authentic ingredients you need for Thai cooking. Then we spent the day cooking and eating some 7 dishes. Yum. We rented a motorbike for a few days and ventured out of the city to the reservoir for a long fun day of swimming and we also went to the hot springs pools which was more like a hot water theme park with geysers and egg boiling and picnickers. Chiang Mai has the very best used book stores I’ve run into so far on this trip too. It seems to be a fairly major ex-pat enterprise and I was thrilled to scour the shelves of one shop after another and actually find the obscure titles I’ve wanted for months. And on Sundays (we had two in town) several major streets shut down for Sunday Walking Street which is an impressive and extensive street fair where you can buy direct from traditional village craftsman of all trades.

In Bangkok we did a lot of shopping especially to escape the mid day heat into one lush air con mall after another. The food stalls and restaurants in the malls were some of the best as well making the mall experience quite the oasis. The Thai food in all of Thailand was truly amazing but I think I got most excited about all the fantastic Italian food in Bangkok. There are a lot of Italian ex-pats with Thai wives who have opened restaurants with brick oven pizza to die for. After 5 months in Asia and several terrible adventures into Asian renditions of pizza and pasta I was so excited to eat the real thing, I couldn’t get enough. Which kind of describes my entire experience with Thailand, I just couldn’t get enough.

 

  1. Bob says:

    I love Thai food… so jealous. And pad thai just happens to be my favorite too.