*Disclaimer: travel sickness details
Bangkok – as a tween, the first thing I remember, after a long haul flight spent trying to unsuccessfully curb the urge to regurgitate (travel sickness) was; irrepressible humidity and never ending traffic. Having flown through thunderous storm clouds and impressive lightening; I found South-East Asian Monsoons to be a completely different beast, altogether.
Most of the trip was spent struggling to breathe; felt like spindly beads of humid monster hands were trying to choke me (vivid imagination, still got it!). Floating markets, chomping on raw mangoes and guavas that were as big as my face, umpteen supplies of stationary stocking at Big C (super store), various 3 for 100 Baht shopping offers and finding out that Big Macs were HALAL (meat preparation method), made up for it then.
Back to the journey from Suvarnabhumi Airport; sat in a taxi amidst countless rows of two, three and four-wheelers at a standstill; relishing the quick break from our cabbies’ countless ‘bob’ and ‘weave’ maneuvers. Head spinning and possible dehydration setting in; I tried to focus on something else. Our driver was taking notes and I distinctly remember being fascinated by how his pen glided smoothly; forming round, curved characters in Thai( language).
Fast forward to the evening and was proper hallucinating, due to lack of fluids. We were at a supermarket buying groceries (as you do). I picked up a can of coconut water and proceeded to gulp as much of the cool, sugary liquid as possible. Whilst, we were checking out; I felt faint and passed out momentarily. Slowly, making my way towards the entrance for some fresh air, getting the all too familiar feeling of stomach acids resurfacing; I positioned myself by a dumpster and hurled my heart out (my travel sickness used to take up to 24 hrs to settle). Hearing a yelp, realised I had invariably startled an unsuspecting street dog. Didn’t have time to feel bad as was ‘dying’ of hunger, after! (sweet joys of childhood).
Upon getting back to our hotel; the Siam Intercontinental which, I found out years later, in those days (late 90’s) was situated alongside the Queen Grandmothers’ former living quarters (Sra Paduma Palace gardens). It was an impressive structure rising into a rouge coloured conical roof with the most intricate woodwork along its side panels.
In an implausible twist of fate; what followed that night, was quite possibly the best culinary experience I’ve had in my life, thus far. Steamed white fish with sweet chilli, lemon grass and exotic herbs; emanating the most delectable aroma, combined with fragrant jasmine rice – a heavenly gastronomic experience!
Inspired by my Pan-Asian childhood which included; being fascinated by Thai (peoples’) tremendous appetite; gawky eyed (as I could back then), elaborately laid out buffets and a grand appreciation for mouth-watering dishes made from simple yet basic ingredients. The weird and wonderful included, of course, such as octopi and scorpions on wooden sticks being pushed out in street food carts; I would march alongside these trying to inspect various offerings!
Have ‘experimented’ somewhat, have come up with the below recipe. Anytime I watch Asian movies or dramas; somehow end in gaining a voracious appetite for the food, as well. My latest Thai movie on Netflix being; ‘I fine, thank you.. love you’ and current Thai Netflix series ‘Oh, my ghost’ which I believe is a remake of the original (Korean drama) aired in 2015, by the same name. Shall leave Asian and in particular; K-drama for another blog.
As for the below recipe, ingredients are listed and it’s completely up to you to play around with quantities to suit the palate; enjoy!
If you have any stories and experiences to share from this part of the word; I would love to hear from yourselves. Khop kun kaa (f) /krap (m)