Friday, 8 June 2007

Holiday round-up - Krung Thep

..or Bangkok. Why, it could even be called "Landfill" and I'd still be equally smitten with it... sigh.

What is it with Thais? I haven't had the opportunity of getting to know many personally so far but the conclusion I drew from their driving habits is that they're extremely tolerant and trusting and just for that, I'm impressed. Thai readers, please don't try to dispel a myth if this is one! :) In my 3 fleeting days there, so many times I was sure a potential mangled wreck was craving for my attention, but without fail the driver would slow down enough to let the pedestrian or other motorist pass, without really coming to a complete halt or even honking. What's their secret to keeping so cool?!?

Those of you who have been following me from the start would be familiar with my lack of success with driving, or at least with proving that I can drive... my instructors keep telling me to "ANTICIPATE" and Thai drivers must constantly be anticipating the worst of their fellow road users to be the pros that they are at avoiding accidents! :)

But enough for now about how Thais use their roads... funny that it left such an impression on me, especially because I took the Skytrain most of the time! Shame on me, but I completely neglected the touristy things like the floating markets, museums and temples. I'd seen them on my first trip there way back in 2001 with my company at the time, but this time I was alone with my mom and it was her first trip to Thailand. Since she fully relied on me to get from point to point, we ended up doing nothing but shopping and eating - things I wanted to do. :)

Having the upper hand, I made it a point to eat mainly street food. I saw my mom go pale at some of my suggestions (haha) until we chanced upon a vendor selling something she's had before and could not resist - khanom buang:

We revisited this mister on our last night with an empty doughnut box and told him to fill it up, which is why he was practically laughing at us. :)

Thereafter my mom saw what I meant about good food and filth going hand in hand! :) Too bad I was too eager to eat some of my purchases that I forgot to take more pictures, but there are still these to go by:

A lady selling bai toey-flavoured glutinous rice with shredded fresh coconut..

it was a filling snack, but I didn't find it particularly remarkable.

Another lady with her huge array of log chub:

aren't they just so pretty to look at? Theoretically, I know how to make these things, but at the price this lady was selling them, I wonder why anyone goes to all that trouble! For the uninitiated, these little guys are made of balls of mung bean paste shaped to look like fruits, impaled on a skewer, then pricked (if necessary, for texture, e.g. to look like strawberries) and painted with food colouring to resemble said fruits, and finally dipped into agar-agar to get the glazed look. I picture myself losing my temper after painting the 10th, so I wonder how many people were involved in manufacturing all these!

I saw these khanom krok being made, but by the time I managed to find a good angle, they'd put most of them into boxes, so only have this picture of the cavities to account for it:

By the way, these are things we ate in addition to meals, so on our last night after we'd packed our bags, we realised there were lots of things that wouldn't fit into our bags and that we had to eat. That included 4 apples. Ulp. I told my mom to deal with them since it was her idea to buy them in the first place, but then felt sorry for her and knew she couldn't do it alone, so promised to eat 2 on the condition she cut them into quarters for me. :) Already I had to cram 3 jam-filled doughnuts and a can of Calpis, so by the time I tried to down the third quarter of an apple, I thought of the new knives I'd bought for fruit carving and bought time for my oesophagus by doing this:

I could not bear to eat the leaf I carved, but I eventually did.

:) The following picture was not taken in Bangkok, but is related to the above. Party at my mom's place for her birthday and I used the same knives from Bangkok to carve a watermelon and fill it up with melon balls, dragonfruit and starfruit.

It could have been better, but I console myself about this being my first attempt and that I'd got home only an hour before the guests - the Japanese extension to my rather international family - were to arrive. :)


tigerfish said...

Shopping and eating...I wld have done just that if I were in Thailand :)
I think I have not tried khanom buang before, but from the description, it sounds good. But seems that there were more snacks than main food that you and your mom ate in Thailand. :)

Asha said...

Oh Man!! How many goodies you have on those streets.Delicious.A great treat to walk around and eat all those.
Melon carving look good too.I love the leaf.
Khanom Krok looks like Paniyarams.I have 7 hole pan like that:)

MeltingWok said...

oh my god, that khanom buang reminds me of the ones that's filled with ground peanuts, grated coconut, sugar and cream corn ..arghh, been craving for them for a while now :P So, how many buckets/containers did you tapow ? hehe..

WokandSpoon said...

I haven't tried any of those hawker snacks but they look good!

Speaking of snacks in Thailand...did you try any fried grasshoppers? I recently saw a documentary (think it was on Envoyé Spéciale on M6 on Sundays nights) on the hawker ladies that sell the fried grasshoppers! They actually looked quite tasty!

sunita said...

I've heard so much about Bangkok, I really long to go there...maybe someday...talking of street food, can anyone beat them...

Victor said...

Looks like you've had a swell time in Bangkok. I've been there only once more than 20 years ago. They didn't have the skytrain then. However, one thing didn't seem to have changed at all - the numerous street hawkers with all their funny looking food. Some of their names I couldn't even pronouce.

Claude-Olivier said...

Rien que de te lire et voir tes photos et je me retrouve la-bas pour mon plus grand plaisir..BKK fut ma 1ère ville asiatique et cela restera une expérience unique !!!

Bonne soirée

Shilpa said...

Hey Tiger, we did have proper meals, just didn't bother taking picures of them! :)

Asha dear, tell me about it! I was so dizzy with all the choices, but my stomach can only stretch so far.. ;-) thanks for the compliments on the carving! I'm sure the paniyaram pan is multi-purpose, no need to limit it to just paniyarams! :)

MW, haha, I know what you're talking about but have never seen them with cream corn.. The guy only put 10 in our doughnut box, heh heh, which was just as well 'cos they got soft rather quickly.

Hey W & S, before I went to Bangkok, I resolved to get grasshoppers in cans - saw that there's a whole industry on that! - but didn't see any! Hmmm, maybe in more rural areas?

Yeah, Sunita, I'm sure it's even better in Bombay? I've not been there yet but hope to in the near future!

Victor, I think the Skytrain was hardly operational when I went there in 2001, but it's as clean as S'pore's MRT! I'm sure they got the same suppliers 'cos even the ticket machines looked like ours!

Coucou Claude, désolée de n'être pas allée sur ton blog depuis un moment! J'ai honte! Tu étais combien de temps à BKK? En effet, même s'il fait partie de l'asie du sud-est, ça dépayse pour moi tout de même! :)

eastcoastlife said...

These are snacks that I would always buy when I'm in Bangkok. The khanom buang is an absolute must! :)

Oh, I was expecting to oogle at yummy Thai dishes, but you have none. :(

I miss Bangkok. Considering a trip there on my way to Shanghai. :)

Anonymous said...

Amazing thailand ! so sweet dishes ... so delhitious and hot meals .. what is the fevesrite mix of spices in Thailand ? Merci

Shilpa said...

Halo ECL, you, too? heh heh, I prefer the orange khanom buang with its sweet, salty and spicy combination! shiok man! so lucky that you can go there easily! i'm so far! haiz...

Anonymous - je pense savoir qui tu es...

Keropok Man said...

I just came back from Bangkok a few days ago. Was there for 6 days. haha..

Eat like siao. Sis also shop like siao.

Ey, do I look Thai to you? Everywhere I go, pple speak Thai to me. I had to like errr says, I don't understand. haha

Maybe its because sis and I went to places where the locals eat. Places we went to had no ang moh tourist at all.

The makan places had thai families with grandparents, parents and kids. We ate where the locals eat, so we enjoyed the food very very much!

bee said...

you seem to have had a blast, gal. good to hear that.