My Culinary Trip Around the World: Thailand
As naff as it sounds I have just completed the biggest journey of my life. My 1st stop on this journey was South East Asia where I explored the sights, sounds and flavours of this incredible continent. I plan to write a series of blogs about my travels from South East Asia, to Australia, New Zealand and finally, Fiji.
I was so excited about the prospect of landing in Thailand and gorging on famous Thai dishes such as Thai Green Curry and Pad Thai; I am ashamed to say that my 1st meal in Thailand was one of Ronald McDonalds ‘finest’ cheeseburgers. Our 2nd night in Thailand made up for the 1st; We found a fairly busy ‘restaurant’ on the Khao San Road (aka backpacker central) where we ordered a Chang and a plate of Thai noodles. I must admit I was seriously disappointed with not only that meal but all the meals we had in Bangkok. Maybe this was because we didn’t really leave the bubble of the Khao San Road; apart from on an organised day trip (blog on floating market and street food will inevitably be written at some point in the future).
After a couple of days we decided it was time to move on and head north. Next stop Chiang Mai for: Elephants, Jungle trekking, tribes and the obligatory Thai cookery course! Hurrah for leaving the smelly Khao San Road! Once again I found myself disheartened by the cuisine. I had a Thai Red Curry in a restaurant which was full of local people. The curry was ok, it filled the gap but it did not excite me. I was desperate to be wowed.
The next evening we caved and went on the hunt for western food… our diet of steamed rice was not giving us a thrill. So far I wasn’t fulfilling my goal of being an intrepid traveller who buys street food and hangs out with the locals.
Our last day in Chiang Mai was spent at the ‘Thai Orchid Cookery School’ which was recommended to us by our Hostel ‘Spicy Chiang Mai’ (well worth going to both of these places). The course restored my faith in Thai cooking and I easily polished off all of the dishes made; this left me seriously full up for my 10hour bus journey back to Bangkok. I can’t wait to show off and recreate the dishes at home for my family and friends.
Off to the Islands
After Chiang Mai we spent just over 2 weeks travelling the length of Vietnam before we returned to Thailand. The food in Vietnam was incredible; we ate from various food stalls and ate as many local specialities as possible. Sadly I managed to contract the worst food poisoning I have ever had (was bound to happen at somepoint) but I did not let this put me off eating local. Our 1st stop in the South of Thailand was Koh Samui. We heard a great deal of negative comments about this particular island and the journey there seemed to never end but, we were pleasantly surprised by Thailand’s largest Island. We stayed at Lamai Beach in our own beachside hut which cost a mere £4 per night: Bargain.
On one particular evening we went for a ‘wander’ to find a pleasant spot to get dinner and stumbled across the most incredible night market with endless food stalls and even ‘pop up’ street stall bars, there was even a live band to create a party atmosphere. The food was soo cheap and undeniably delicious. I gorged on: deep fried (the Thai’s favourite way to cook food) Tofu coated in a spiced batter; Spring rolls and a spicy fried rice ball full of tumeric, chilli, garlic.
Another night we were at a bar in Koh Samui and were given a complimentary plate of freshly barbequeued ribs coated in the yummiest of marinades.
We also visited Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Phi Phi.
Koh Tao had the best meat kebabs I had whilst Thailand. A little Thai man cooked them on a little street stall that was parked outside the 7/11 shop on Sairee Beach.
Koh Phangan was home to ‘Mem’s Place’ which was a little eatery at the top of the road by the entrance to where we staying. It was run by a lady called Mem, who was a grandma and soon became a grandma figure to us. She sold meals for 50THB (about £1!) we had steamed white rice and steamed wild rice with duck or pork or chicken and a lovely Thai sauce (quite possibly salivating as I type this).
In Koh Phi Phi we had the best (and biggest) corn on the cob. We also enjoyed Thai pancakes that were covered in peanut butter and chocolate sauce. There was also pretty good western food there too, in particular the giant pizza slices which were sold by the beach and cost just over £1! Most perfect post night out snack you could get!
One thing the Islands had in common was the refreshing fresh fruit shakes they all served. This was simply blended fresh fruit and ice (sugar was optional). My personal favourite was watermelon. What a deliciously fresh tasting drink for the 30+ oC heat!