Martin Blank = Lloyd Dobbler + 10 years (and a little more derangement)
I love spicy food. So does Kenny, and I believe his tolerance for spice has risen since he started hanging out with me. And I think that the couple of Seattle Thai restaurants that we frequent are actually quite good about preparing their food to the requested level of spice – a good 4-star curry from Jamjuree or Thai Tom is really wonderful. We had a difficult time imagining that the Thai food in Thailand could actually be better.
Everyone warned us that the Thai food would be spicier in Thailand, and we were excited to see just what that meant. But so far, we’ve been disappointed – all the food we’ve eaten has been delicious, but it seems that everywhere we go, the spice has been toned down to cater to tourists. We’ve gotten into the habit of ordering anything on the menu that has “spicy” in its title, and pleading with the restaurant staff to add extra chilis, but to no avail. Fortunately we can always ask for extra chili flakes and chili oil to spice up the food ourselves after it arrives, but it’s not the same. And I know that the locals like their food spicy, we just need a way to communicate that we do too!
Obviously the answer is that we need to get off the tourist track a little more. In Phuket and Phi Phi that hasn’t been so easy, as we’ve been staying in the tourist towns near the beach. But now we’re on the lookout for side streets with food stalls where we can hopefully find some non-tourist food.
Delicious whole fish at Garden House Restaurant on Ko Phi Phi
Our lackadaisical, non-committal approach to planning this holiday has backfired a bit already: we decided last night that we were ready to move on from Bangkok to Ko Phi Phi, but all flights from BKK to either Krabi or Phuket were fully booked. There were plenty of flights to Samui, but we aren’t ready to go there just yet, as we have a flight from Samui to Chiang Mai eight days from now. Our Bangkok hotel offered to book us on an overnight bus, but we politely declined. We finally settled on a flight to Phuket through Samui, which is a bit crazy (it’s like flying from Seattle to Los Angeles via Phoenix) and takes twice as long as a direct flight, but it will get us there.
The only real downside is that we’ll be arriving in Phuket too late to catch a ferry to Ko Phi Phi, so we’ll need to wait another day. But I suppose there are worse things in life than being forced to spend a day on one beautiful tropical island before moving on to another (high class problems). If we like Phuket, we might spend two nights.
I’m not really sure what to expect out of Phuket; many of our friends have told us to skip it, proclaiming it “the Miami Beach of Thailand.” But it looks like there are quite a few different beaches, and we may do just fine as long as we avoid Patong (and thinking about it, Miami isn’t such a bad place…)
We only have one day in Bangkok – at least for now, we’ll be here again in two weeks for our departure back to Seattle – so we tried to hit the major hotspots today. We spent the first half of the day at the Wats in the historic part of town – the Grand Palace (home of the Emerald Buddha) in the morning, followed by Wat Pho (home of the Reclining Buddha). We experienced our first Thai massages at the massage school in Wat Pho – highly recommended! We will certainly be getting more – at these prices we could get massages every day.
After lunch, we took a cab to Chatuchak Weekend Market, which was huge and crazy and like nothing I’d ever seen before. We weren’t in the market for anything in particular – we ended up purchasing a couple pillow covers and Thai pants – but it was fascinating just to walk through the maze of stalls selling clothing, kitchen appliances, food, puppies (!), and just about anything else you could imagine.
The Grand Palace
Kids playing at Wat Pho
The Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho
Papaya salad stall at the weekend market.