What A Difference Two Weeks Make

So sorry to keep you hanging.

Last time we chatted, Kara and I were in India and we were floundering.  We were trying to decide what the heck to do.  Keep pressing forward with the plan, despite being sick and tired, or scuttle the plan and head to Thailand.  It wasn’t easy, but ultimately we decided to abandon India and head to Thailand.

We arrived in Bangkok about two weeks ago.  At minimum, we hoped for better weather, less chaos and a chance to rest, relax and recuperate from the challenges of India.  We were already off to an auspicious start.  When we landed in Bangkok, our cab driver helped us with our bags, ran the meter without an argument, and took us directly to our hotel without trying to take us to a bunch of travel agencies or shops.

We were a bit nervous about arriving in Bangkok without a room reservation.  I had visions ending up in that Bangkok hostel in The Beach.  Although the first couple of places we went were fully booked, we found a brilliant guest house on the third try, complete with free in-room wifi and cable TV.  Even better.

Then we went out to eat.  We found some pad thai and spring rolls, and that was pretty good.  But it started getting real when we met up with our new friends, Daniel and Helene from Canada (they’re behind the excellent travel blog The Backpack Foodie).  These guys really know their street food!  The first night we met, we went for Thai noodle soup (not pictured) at a restaurant so popular with Bangkok locals that their tables expanded from the sidewalk into the street.  There were several times that parking cars reversed within inches of our table!  But the soup was awesome.  Actually, it was better than awesome.  The second night we hung out, they took us for the hottest curry I have ever tasted.  It kept getting hotter, even after I was finished eating!  (I later discovered that coconut juice is pretty good for tamping down the fire.) I can’t wait to get back to Bangkok to try even more street treats.  Daniel has challenged us to try durien, a tropical fruit with spiky skin that supposedly tastes amazing, but the skin smells something akin to a North Jersey landfill.  That experience promises to be a post in itself.

After four days of relaxing, wandering Bangkok, and regular meetings with Daniel and Helene for drinks and street food, we left Bangkok for the south of Thailand.  More on that to come in future posts, but we had more than our share of sitting on our asses on the beach, we experienced some incredible snorkeling, we found our own little island paradise, and we checked out “Happy Place” — a fishing community in the south Daniel and Helene let us in on.  I won’t tell the name out of deference to Daniel’s wishes that we keep Lonely Planet from telling everybody the secret.  Mum’s the word!

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5 responses to “What A Difference Two Weeks Make

  1. It sounds like Thailand is just what the doctor ordered for you guys and you made the right call to ditch India!

    I’m so jealous of the street food and Thai food! Are you guys going to Singapore at all? Mike LOVES the food there–especially the street food. I’m hoping to boondoggle a trip there one of these days.

    When are you winding down your year+ tour? Maybe you want to do a quick stop over in Italy on your way home? You’ll have a free place to stay!

  2. I know durien. I hear it’s so wonderful… I can’t get within feet of it before it makes me start gagging. It’s a cross between trash and corpse that’s been sitting in the sun with a hint of mildew.

  3. Dude… stay away from the durian. I don’t care what they tell you — you will never recover from the sensation of eating burnt rubber. It’s awful!

  4. Hey guys!!

    Thank you so much for your advice on India and the Middle East when we met in Bangkok. We’re in India now, so it’s odd reading your post; feels like we’ve traded places!

    We LOVE it here. Not to say it’s easy, but it feels like my entire life of travel has led me to this. And you were right about everything – including saying we would be totally fine.

    In defense of durian, I wouldn’t like it so much if it did taste like bizarley describes. 😀 The key, of course, is to find it fresh. If you go to Chinatown in Bangkok (bus 53 from where we ate the noodles), there’s a lot of street vendors setting up shop after dark. They cut and prepare them on the spot, which is the key. The very best I found in Thailand is a songthaew on the main street of Chinatown, where two women prepare the durian. You’ll recognize the truck with the piles of durian on the roof and spilling on the sidewalk.

    Anyway, I’m not saying everybody should love durian, but since I’ve tried it in Singapore in October, the smell makes my mouth water every time. Here’s my blog post about it, where I sing my love. 🙂

    http://www.backpackfoodie.com/2009/10/28/hail-to-the-king-of-fruits

    Let me know what you think if you do try it… And I won’t be offended in the least if you hate it. 😉

    One interesting bit of trivia: it is said to be dangerous to mix alcohol and durian, because it’s mixing ‘fire with fire’. We tried it and no one spontaneously combusted. I was horribly disappointed.

  5. Hey guys — I’m jealous of all the great cuisine you’ve been sampling.

    While in Singapore, I recently had chendol (shaved ice covered with red beans, coconut milk, and green-colored palm paste “noodles”) topped with fresh durian. You definitely have to try durian — it has a truly unique taste (and somewhat off-putting scent). To me, it tasted vaguely like pork, but with the consistency of tofu.

    Not something I would want to eat everyday, but would definitely try it again.

    While not something I would eat everyday,