Monday, June 27, 2016

Thai Beginnings – Erich

We are now in Thailand and are staying her for an uncharacteristically long stretch. We will be spending six weeks in Chiang Mai. But before heading up to that northern city of Thailand, we spent three days in the capital, Bangkok.

We will return to Bangkok in December and spend our New Year there, but this time around, we weren't in it for too long. Still, we enjoyed what we did get to see and to eat.

Bangkok is a beautiful and large city with a meandering wide river running through its heart. Boats continually ply the river. There are tow boats pulling huge barges. There are very traditional looking Thai boats, but at night, string lights illuminate them. There are the tourist cruise boats with meals and dancing. And there are many more. The city loves its river and uses its river.

Along any large street you find vendors selling all kinds of different foods. There are fish being fried on the cart, vegetables being grilled, and smells tumbling from every corner. In addition, there are Buddhist temples throughout the city. Tourists are allowed to visit these, but you must wear pants or skirts, no shorts. And when you walk up the steps to the temple, you must remove your shoes.

In the yards of many buildings, both homes and businesses, you find spirit houses. These are small but intricately carved and decorated houses, similar in size to our dollhouses. But these are more open, often with a figure inside holding a sword. I believe it is a goddess originally from Hinduism.
Spirit House
The spirit houses have a purpose. When you build on land, you are displacing the homes of the spirits who already live there. So you create a new home for them. What's more, you take care of them. Frequently one sees small dishes of food left at a spirit home, or a can of Coke opened up with a straw in it. If you take care of the spirits, then the spirits will help to care for you, your land, and your property.

Of course, we did not fail to eat! And there are so many delicious Thai foods that we are glad we have longer to be here. We haven't been able to try them all.

There was a delicious soup which had a coconut broth with chunks of chicken, pieces of lemongrass, and a root I could not identify in it. It was a touch sour and that made it incredible.

Next, imagine a plate that looks like a pizza with all the melted cheese atop it. But it is not crust underneath. There is a layer of oysters. You would think it would be weird, but it was good.

Salads include green (unripe) mango and green (unripe) papaya as well as bean sprouts, tomatoes, and other things we might normally think of as salad greens. But this is the season of fresh juicy mango. So the ripe ones are part of a dessert. The mango is just peeled and sliced. But then it is combined with sticky rice which is drenched in a sweet coconut sauce.

Now, many Thai dishes are spicy, and when a Thai tells you something is “mie pet” (which means not spicy) it's probably spicy. So when something is “pet” (or spicy) it is beyond what we would call spicy in the States. I hope that after six weeks we will start to get a tiny bit used to it. I enjoy the spice, but boy, I have had some tingling lips and tongue after some meals.

No problem, you can quench it with roselle juice, chrysanthemum juice, or longan juice. None of these was our favorite, but we do love trying new things.

I don't know what will come next in our Thai adventures, but I bet it won't be “mie pet”. Because blandness is not a Thai trait.

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