Archive | May, 2012

Bangkok Day 1: A New Foodie Experince

17 May

Welcome To Thailand! Suvarnabhumi Airport

Readers, if you’re expecting this to be a complete travel guide, well I am sorry to tell you that it’s not. I am not going to account the whole day 1 adventure in detail: places to go to, where to eat, etc. I’m guessing there are other blogs who can tell people where they should go. This was a first experience going abroad or travelling with a full itinerary which my sister and I had planned for close to 2 months ( and end up ditching half of it because I could barely walk).

view from the back of the Tuktuk going to the Grand Palace

Hotels are definitely NOT CHEAP in this place and so we booked a guest house/inn/hostel at the Banglampoo-Khao San-Phra Sumen area where tourist destinations are very accessible. Well, it is definitely a relief to book a place close to where you’re headed because taking the taxi to the opposite side of the city is EXPENSIVE. Taxis start at 35 and add 3 THB for every kilometer and then toll booths are another story. If you’re really on a tight budget, walking is great. Most guest houses do not have restaurants, but the street will always be lined with them, so food is definitely NOT a problem.

Softdrink and Slurpee counter at 7-eleven

It wasn’t exactly love at first sight for me and 7-eleven. Basically, it’s the same as our local convenience stores but they sell stuff CHEAPER than supermarkets and not the other way around. When you come to Thailand, don’t be too shocked to see a 7-eleven a few steps after the other one, or just right across the street. They lived up to their name – CONVENIENCE STORE. No one has to cross the street anymore. I find myself missing everything about 7-eleven especially a large slurpee for less than 20 THB. Who could resist a slurpee on a VERY hot day, right?

Green Tea With Pomegranate

It’s always easy to travel with Thai-speaking people because they can negotiate. Who would have thought tuktuks cost a lot? I didn’t, my sister and dad did. They charge you just as much as your taxi would because basically they call themselves taxis – the tourist kind. So, for breakfast, we passed by 7-eleven to get us some drinks and I fell in love with their drinks already! Their drinks are equal to our C2 or Nestea drinks, but even better. I had a Green tea with Pomegranate flavor drink and I was definitely enjoying Thailand already.

On our way to get breakfast

And so we moved on in search for food and there it was – a Chinese-Thai restaurant. They served mostly Chinese-inspired food, basically like ours but with a Thai twist. Generally, from where my dad came from, we just called it kuoi tiaw. Apparently, in Central Thailand it was called something else – ba mee look chin pla. When you order this stuff, you can actually choose what kind of noodles you would want. They ordered the smaller version for me, the beginner, sen look. Condiments are available on each table – spicy vinegar, sugar, ground chili powder, and Nam pla (fish sauce). With my first taste a burst of sour, sweet, and spicy soup tingled inside my mouth. The magic is in the broth that they use, they say.

Restaurant Interiors

Their food is constructed in an easy way, and they do not serve pre-cooked food; everything is served hot. So, they put in the noodles first, throw in the broth with herbs and spices in it. Thais are really big on lemony scent and flavor. They had lemon basil in it, coriander and green onions. In my soup there was a chicken ball (just like the fish ball, but with chicken flavor), ground pork, tofu, noodles (of course) and a side of a crispy fried roti ( i think). It was a flavor of sorts and you can season your soup just the way you wanted it. By the way, when they eat noodles – THEY DO NOT SERVE RICE NOR EAT RICE. That would almost be a diet crime if they did. They also eat noodles with chopsticks and a soup spoon, but you can always have your spoon and fork if you want.

Sen mee

to be continued…

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It’s Not Just Pad Thai, Y’Know

10 May

First authentic Pad Thai for 30 THB

I can never forget how my dad, cousin and sister laughed at me when I ordered Pad Thai at a popular restaurant in Chiang Mai. I could not help but feel embarrassed especially in front of my cousin whom I just met that morning. All the more embarrassed when I had him drive around in search for my cellphone only to find out it was under the blanket at his house. Silly me for being a forgetful and ignorant tourist in front of Thais. My instinct was to hide behind my dad and say shyly, “I’ m sorry. I don’t know what to order”. Then, thanks to my sister who explained to them (while laughing, mind you) that Pad Thai was the ONLY most popular food we know of that’s Thai. And thank God, she ordered for me Khao Soi, which was equally sumptuous with all that hot and spicy curry filled with soft and fried noodles.

Khao Soi – ended up ordering this at the Boat Chiangmai

I really do not know where this idea of Pad Thai being the most popular Thai food among us. It might be because of the Thai that’s affixed to it that makes it popular here. But surely my chinky eyes opened too wide when I saw the price for a serving of Pad Thai at that resto. It was 40 THB – that’s more or less PhP 50! And I really regret ordering that kind of food here considering how much the local Asian/Thai restos charge us for a plate – PhP 160 at the least. Tsk tsk tsk… All my dad could say was, “let’s order that somewhere”. With somewhere he meant at home (Khon Kaen) where they sell it even for less, by the street.

 

Oh, by the way, I got my first taste of Pad Thai in Thailand when I reached my dad’s hometown, Khon Kaen. We got there just before dinnertime so I still got to choose what to eat for dinner. Drove through the little market nearby and sure there was a line of several carts offering different kinds of grubs. I was just taking it in…

This is how they prepare Pad Thai by the streets

You see, Pad Thai is just like ordering fish ball or tempura at the turo-turo. This is their turo-turo along with some carts of sausages, BBQ, various viands and Som Tam (green papaya salad). There are carts that sell an assortment of food, while some have their own specialties. I could not resist but take a photo of the woman preparing Pad Thai. She had automatic hands and reaching for an ingredient here and there.

It’s just dismaying for me to realize that their food over here is overpriced and the taste altered. But I don’t blame them because it’s not our own. Of course, you need to consider that the ingredients were of course cheaper there and more expensive here. You’re paying for the ambiance as well. But I just think we, as Filipinos, need to be educated about these things. More or less the ingredients are available here. If they’re not, most of them can be planted here. We have almost the same weather, but I’m not too sure about the soil. But generally, we can grow what they’re growing. We just need to bring them here. The preparation, we can always learn. There are so many possibilities of bringing in affordable and authentic Thai food here. I hope that happens in the future so people won’t have to pay an overpriced plate of Pad Thai, or order something else that’s reminiscent of a real Thai meal – with dessert of course!

Som Tam vendor by the road outside our village

 

And I’m back!

9 May

A view from inside the Grand Palace

Hey guys! Just came back a few days ago and I have so much to share to all of you: food, culture, travel. A whole lot of all those. This is actually my first time abroad and everyone in my family, including myself, felt very anxious since I was travelling alone. Thank God, I got there and got back safely. Or else I would not have anything to tell you guys LOL.

The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho

Thailand is a country you must visit and save for if you’re into history. There is rich history there and a balance of old and new. You can go every few years and visit a different part because the whole country is just like ours, pretty much culturally diverse. What’s in Bangkok is just an introduction of what the whole country has to offer. Krung Thep, or Bangkok for us modernized citizens, is the capital city of the whole country. Its an east meets west kind of thing where you see the tourist district as something very historical but when you move to the other part of town, you’d be awed by bright lights, skyscrapers and store signs that are in different languages.

Golden Chedi at Wat Prathat Doi Suthep Chiang Mai

Like I said, Bangkok is just the tip of the iceberg. You move to another city, another area, you would taste and see a different aspect of their culture. A som tam (green papaya salad) in Krung Thep is entirely different in Issan (Eastern). BTW, my family lives in Issan so I didn’t have to worry much about getting the BEST tasting Som Tam in Thailand. When we went to Chiang Mai for a few days, a different taste  burst into my mouth – clearly depicting another culture.

at Wat Prathat Doi Suthep

Chiang Mai is in the Northern part of Thailand and it’s also one of the places that EVERY tourist should go to. You don’t really have to worry about being there and being scared that no one speaks English. It’s just as touristy as Bangkok, even more. There are several backpackers because of the COUNTLESS of attractions to discover; both historical and natural. I could just live in Chiang Mai – totally in love with it. It has the influence of the Lanna culture, which in my opinion is very much like the people of Northern Philippines as well – especially their arts and crafts.

Anyway, this is just an overview of the adventures I have had on my first visit to my Father’s homeland. Will keep you guys posted!

Sawadee ka