OMG, the food!! For years I’ve bored everyone willing to listen (and, particularly, my children who had no way to escape it) about how the food in Thailand is, without any shadow of a doubt, the best – the absolute best – food on the planet. Spicy, light, deliciously subtle and tasty… I could, and definitely have, go on and on. So, I was anticipating something of an anti-climax when I returned to Thailand almost thirty years after my last visit. No way! The food is still the best on the planet, and nothing else comes even close.
Last night it was spicy squid salad that put a Cheshire-cat smile on my face. This evening it was more of the same, with fried cabbage (Can you imagine salivating over fried cabbage? You would over this!) and more seafood in a beautiful sauce. It would be too easy to forget that this is, in part, a get-fit-again trip and one objective is to lose a few pounds.
Khao San Road and the surrounding area was buzzing with travellers-cum-tourists, out-numbering the locals by at least two to one. But the atmosphere was relaxed although drinking seemed to be the most important item on most agendas. No loutish behaviour that I noticed, though I did leave for my hotel before midnight. Poor Nicolas was the only one out enjoying the evening with his dad; he is bearing up well! And, I suspect (or is it hope?) doesn’t mind too much since it is only a few days before he heads south to Ton Sai and climbing.
I was reminded this evening of Norman, someone I used to share a house with in Sheffield, UK, in the ’70s. The house was a few yards from the Students’ Union at Sheffield University, which I was (nominally) attending at the time. The Students’ Union provided free hot showers which were much more convenient than paying for hot water and keeping the bathroom clean in our house. One day as I was drying off, I saw a pair of socks fly out of one of the adjacent showers to land on the bench opposite. Strange, I remember thinking, impressed that someone had found a way to reduce laundry costs as well as bathing costs. Shortly thereafter Norman stepped out of the shower, said ‘hi’ to me, dried himself, wrung out his socks and put them back on! Still wet, they went straight into his black leather shoes. I was now a little less impressed. Why am I mentioning this? Well, tonight, returning to my room I emptied my pockets and stepped into the shower fully-clothed. My shirt, shorts and underwear were well rinsed and then (honest) hung out to dry below the fan. By morning, they will be dry and wrinkle-free.
I feel like I’ve forgotten how to travel light. Do I really need four shirts and two t-shirts when they can be rinsed and dried overnight? Mind you, most of the weight I’m carrying is related to biking: panniers, rack, brand new and rock hard Brooks leather saddle, spare tyres, tool kit, pedals. (All I need now is a bike!) And technology, too, that didn’t exist last time I was in Asia: two digital camera bodies (instead of the point-and-shoot film camera in 1991) with three lenses (two bodies in case one fails), an ‘ultrabook’ light laptop (I’m taking a course while I’m on the trip, which requires something I can program with so a notepad won’t work) and a last minute decision to bring a Kindle. In 1991, who had even heard of email?
Tomorrow I hope to track down a reasonably hygienic clinic and get a Japanese-encephalitis shot and some malaria tablets for India. And maybe Dukoral. I should go bike shopping, too. I haven’t heard back from the people at Firefox, the Indian cycle store, about availability of the Trek mountain bike in my size so I’ll check out prices here in Bangkok. Air Asia will carry the bike for me for 1160 baht (about C$35) so it could be worth picking one up here rather than risk having no luck in Kolkata.
It’s one o’clock. Time to put the lights out.