Though I called my last weekend more of an ‘Inning’ rather than an ‘Outing’, I would almost want to classify this weekend in Bangkok an outing. The one thing that would force me not to call it an outing is the fact that I was stuck sleeping on my bed in Piyya Apartments. I have said it before, and I will say it again, the bed at my apartment is dreadful… absolutely dreadful! The small sections of my bed on either side of my foam mattress (my mattress is a queen, and I have a twin sized foam that I placed over top) can be used as a desk. Seriously, I have written a postcard on the side of my bed and not popped through the paper with my pen… that’s saying something!
Anyway… my weekend in Bangkok was quite eventful and extremely bazaar! Along with a couple of friends, we packed in some pretty cool things around Bangkok which are on the ‘must do’ list of things to do while in Bangkok. Friday night started off with an interesting taxi ride down to Khao San Road, which is kind of the Thai version of a strip you would walk down in Vegas. It was flashy, had lots of people trying to sell us things, and had lots of people very drunk (there was a man walking down the street in a ladies jumpsuit pushing a fruit cart for one of the local vendors… not sure what that was all about…). It was quite crazy, and an overload to the system with all the sights, sounds, and smells. And… I only got one picture of the madness… so here it is!
People People and more People!
We arrived back home at around midnight, since we knew that we had to be up early the next morning for our cooking class! At 8:00 the next morning, 4 of us girls hailed a taxi to bring us to Silom Cooking School for a 4 hour cooking class! I had a Gatorade and a yogurt for breakfast just to make sure I made it to the class without starving. The class started with a walk to the market to get the ingredients that we needed. One of the things I really love about Thailand is there is always and abundance of fresh produce just around the corner! Even if I had a stove in my apartment, there would almost be no need for a fridge, for you can just walk down the street and buy any amount of anything that you need for your dish. So, we walked though the market and picked up our vegetables, meat, and coconut, and then headed back to the school, where we would be preparing this food.
After receiving our aprons, it was time to start making some food! There were 4 of us teachers that went, and in our group there were also 2 men. So, us 4 girls were in charge of getting the vegetables ready, and the men were to cut all the meat (and apparently press the poop out of the shrimps…). The vegetables are always sooo colourful here in Thailand, which makes them always look that much more delicious!
Preparing the Veggies!
The array of lovely colours and tastes!
The first item on the menu was Tom Yum Soup! The room where we prepared the food had no table (this was done intentionally), so it was all done on the floor. We all sat in a little circle with our instructor at one side and she told us how to the vegetables were to be cut, and also told us the names and purpose of all the vegetables and spices we were going to use.
Making food on the floor!
Once everything was cut and ready to go for the soup, we headed out onto the balcony area where the woks were waiting for us! Under the guidance of our instructor (her name was Cat), we prepared a yummy soup!
Outdoor cooking at its best!
Cooking away! It only took about 3-5 minutes to actually cook the dish!
The final product! And yes… it tastes as good as it looks!
Next dish… Pad Thai! I was very excited about this dish! I absolutely love pasta back at home, and Pad Thai is the perfect Thai replacement! There is a place just down the street from the apartments that makes a mean Pad Thai, and it has been a staple in my diet for the past couple of weeks! I’m looking forward to trying to recreate this one back at home! It cooked super quick and had a high chance of burning if I stopped to take a picture… so here is the final product!
A funny story goes along with this picture. So, on the right you can see a little bamboo cover thing which holds chopsticks. However, there is also obviously a bowl with a fork and spoon. The great part is my place setting was the only place with a fork and spoon, and I am hopeless with chopsticks when it comes to noodles (I’m getting better with using them with soups with large chunks of vegetables). The other 3 girls are pro at using chopsticks, so it worked out perfectly! It’s as though they new that the extremely tall white girl would have no hope with chopsticks.
Next up was Minced Chicken Salad. This dish we didn’t really make, we kind of just watched Cat make it in front of us. It was not one of my favourite dishes. It seems like they like to overload the herbs in some of the dishes in Thailand, and this was one of them. If it would have been more chicken-y and had a little less mint and coriander leaves, it would have been a lot more enjoyable. Oh well, I still tasted it, and munched on the sticky rice that was with it!
Next up was the final ‘main course’ dish, Green Curry. I’m not sure how I feel about curry yet. I have had it a couple of times at the cafeteria at school, but I have never ordered it on the street. I’m more of a schmauntfatt kinda girl! However, it was very interesting to experience the ‘behind the scene’ of making curry! We started off with a bunch of peppers and herbs and started smashing it with a mortar and pestle. I’m not quite sure how much we actually accomplished with smashing away, for the instructor was able to do a much better job than any of us 6 that were in the class. But, it was fun!
Making some curry paste!
Green Curry and Wild Rice
Oh right… there is something I failed to mention! Before we started making any of these dishes, we made coconut milk! There is coconut water in the coconut, and then if you grind up the meat of the coconut and add some room temperature water and knead them together, and then wring the water out of the coconut, you get coconut cream. If you do the same thing once more to the coconut, you will get coconut milk! We added some of this coconut milk to our soup at the beginning and a little to our curry, but it was mostly for our dessert… rubies in coconut milk! The rubies were made out white turnip that had been put into Fanta, which caused it to take on the the colour of the Fanta and a nice sweet flavour. They were then tossed in tapioca starch to make a gelatin around it, and then boiled and tossed in the coconut milk. That’s what is in the little bowls above the curry in the picture! It was so yummy! The coconuts in Thailand are just delightful! The shakes, the bananas in coconut milk, and now this little treat! I will definitely try to make something from coconut when I get back home!
Sadly, that was the end of our cooking adventures. Cat was such an amazing instructor and I had a lot of fun that morning, not to mention the skills I gained that I am looking forward to trying out at home!
Us 4 teachers and our instructor (Left to Right: Elise, Jackie, Cat, Myself, Aisha)
Since we were downtown, we decided to check out a mall after the class and chose Platinum Mall, since we knew it was pretty close. This was one of the craziest ‘malls’ I have ever been to. It was like an indoor clothing market. All the shops were small and everything was so crowded! My dad would have hated square inch of that mall! I could barely tolerate the people bumping into me at all times, and the way that all the shops did not let you try on the clothes (I still don’t really understand why)! Anyway, we stayed there for about 2 hours, which was way more than enough time, and then headed back to the apartments to get ready for the evening, and figure out what we wanted to do for the evening!
After a little research and deliberation, we decided to go see a ladyboy show. Ladyboys are part of Thai culture, and it seemed as though you can’t go to Thailand without seeing a ladyboy show! So, I researched what show was the best for the best price, and we decided to go to Calypso Cabaret, which is the show that Lady Gaga saw when she was in Bangkok only a couple weeks ago. After a cab ride that brought us to a random club that was looked completely abandoned, and a little adventure on the skytrain, we arrived at Asia Hotel, which is where the theatre was. We took a little time to eat some dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant which was much to fancy, but completely reasonably priced, we made our way into the show. I have to admit, this was an experience that was just… bazaar! Completely and absolutely bazaar! For those of you that don’t know, ladyboys are transgender people or gay men. So, this show was essentially a bunch of men dressed as women dancing on stage. It was… different. I’m not really sure what to think of it. Disturbing and amusing, for they did a really good job, but it was kind of unnerving knowing that it was actually men that were dancing around. However, here is a picture of one part of the show. Can you tell they are men?! I should would not have known!
Ladyboys — Known as Kathoey here in Thailand
We then took a cab and headed a couple blocks up the road to a blues & jazz pub which had live music. It was fantastic! I still have the music stuck in my head! There was a really talented group playing that evening called Rhythm Nation, and they were just so chill and they were having so much fun, and they sounded SO good! It was probably the highlight of my weekend. I love listening to live music, and this one was almost all in English, and the large majority of the songs were jazz covers of popular American music. It was just fantastic! If I have a chance to head down there again before I leave, I will totally do it!
Rhythm Nation @ Saxophone
Hmmm.. love it!
Since it ended up being a rather late night, we all decided that we would sleep in the following morning and then figure out the rest of the day as it came. So, I slept in till about 9:30 AM, which is not too bad, but it ended up only being about 6 hours of sleep. However, since these beds are rock solid, I was wide awake! So, I made the best of the morning and went online and headed onto Skype! I ended up getting to talk to one of my besties back home for almost an hour! Though I still felt tired, I knew I had to get up and do something… so, I hauled all my dirty clothes downstairs and did laundry! I also washed my bedding… for the first time since I arrived here. Gross, I know! But I have been away every weekend, so I can’t do it then, and I don’t have enough time in the morning or the evening to wash my sheets and give them enough time to air dry, so I have just been shaking them out occasionally! Needless to say, I had a great sleep last night in nice clean sheets! While my friend and I were waiting for our laundry, we walked over to Big C (the local ‘Wal-mart’) to get some random things that we were in need of. We came back to the apartments and decided that we wanted to see a movie. So, we cleaned ourselves up, put on some pants (since the movie theatres here are FREEZING) and headed to the mall! After the movie we went to a restaurant called Hot Pot. This proved to me once again how inexperienced I am with Asian culture. At this restaurant you get a pot in the middle of your table that sits on an element to cook. You choose the type of broth you want and then head to the buffet, which is a bunch of uncooked vegetables and meats that you choose from to put into your soup. Apparently it is a Japanese or Chinese type thing, but I have never experienced anything quite like it. I guess it would almost be the Asian version of fondue? I’m not sure, but it was pretty good! I would go back again to try and master the art of soup-making Asian style!
Pot O’ Soup heating up so we can start making a masterpiece!
The ‘fixings’ for the soup!
Our soup didn’t taste too shabby… but I think we are going to have to go back, for I feel that this was kind of a practice run! Aside from dinner, I also managed to buy a 16 GB memory card for my camera, since my little 2 GB is nearly full and I want to make sure I have multiple backups of all my picture I have taken out here! And.. it only cost 300 baht (10 dollars), so how can you go wrong! We were going to head out of the mall and grab a cab, when the crazy idea of walking home came to mind. Remember, we had seen a movie earlier in the day, so we were both wearing pants, and it was still above 30 degrees outside. But, we took on the challenge, knowing that if we wanted we could get a cab at any point of our walk. So, we ventured out on the 9km journey home! Though there were times that I was really hot and my feet were aching (I was in my most uncomfortable pair of flip-flops!), we made it! We walked all the way home from the mall!
I have to say, I have come a long way from where I was 8 weeks ago! I have ventured out of my comfort zone numerous times. I have eaten food that I would never eat back at home, I have experiences sights and sounds of a culture that is so different than anything you see in Canada, and I have kind of adapted to the crazy heat of this country (slightly…). I have to say, I am proud of myself for doing this! I never though I would end up spending the majority of a summer halfway across the world. I’m not sure if I will ever do something like this again, (it all depends what opportunities life presents) but I have to say it has been such a learning and growing experience, and I surprise myself everyday with the things I am able to do that I never thought I could or would! I do not regret the decision to come to Thailand one bit, but I am still looking forward to heading back to the moderate temperatures of Manitoba and seeing my family and friends. I feel that getting away from the mundane summers I have had back in Manitoba the past couple of years has helped me realize everything that I do have, and everything I want to do and see. It has opened my eyes to a world outside of what I know and am comfortable with.
Three more weekend getaways and one final week of travelling before I have to leave the wonders that Thailand presents! It’s is actually quite bitter-sweet. I know back home I won’t have the opportunity to explore a different part of a foreign country and see tigers and elephants, and climb waterfalls, and zip-line through the jungle. I think I am starting to realize how cool this experience has really been!
And I can’t forget to mention my students. I really do love them… most days! But, the things I have learned about myself as a teacher and as a learner are lessons I will take with me and use for the rest of my life. I feel that this opportunity has stretched me in ways that can only be beneficial in the future as I finish up my degree this upcoming school year and start my career shortly after.
PS. I have not edited any of my posts. I do not feel like it is worth my time 😛 So… sorry for you people out there that are like me and can’t stand silly spelling/grammar/typo errors, we will all just have to deal with them together!