Saturday, January 22, 2011

Sawadee Kha

In retrospect, I was pretty green on my first trip to Thailand some ten years ago. Back then, it just seemed too big and overwhelming and stifling hot.

With the advantage of travelling with Elmo who speaks and reads Thai, this second visit was a much richer experience. Bangkok is major sensory overload: hot in the heat, cold in the air con, noisy but polite, crowded and dynamic, relaxed chaos.
We spent most of our time in the city with Elmo's family, but also visited the seaside and ventured inland. In the north, we visited the stunning ancient ruins of the old capital Sukhothai. These bell shaped structures are called chedi and they represent the path to heaven. They are built in the form of a lotus flower.
The scale of some of the statues of Buddha was just breathtaking.

We also drove out to Thung Luang to see the local ceramicists and pottery centres, and briefly visited Phitsanulok, a big country town to the east of Sukhtothai. The Thai countryside is so different to the big smoke - so relaxing!
Back in busy Bangkok: if you ever get the chance, head out to the Pak Klong Talat (night flower market). We cabbed it there at about midnight and were rewarded with the most vibrant and voluminous display of flowers including orchids, roses and lotus flowers. Absolutely stunning.

The orchids below are on sale for 10 baht a bunch (about 30 Aussie cents). And have you ever seen lotus flowers presented like this?! They are so architectural and beautiful. Happily, we also frequented the local markets and street food stalls. I must end this post with a picture of one of my favourite discoveries: kanom krok.

Kanom are a snack or sweet that is normally purchased on the street, and there are many different types of kanom.
Kanom krok is a type that is cooked on a hot iron plate. It is a coconut sweet that has a crunchy bottom and a soft, coconut-y filling on top. Sometimes kanom krok has corn or spring onion added to the soft filling. I'm a bit embarrassed to confess that we were too busy scoffing the kanom krok to take decent photos!

Hmmmm, Thai food. After only a week home, we are now both nursing serious cravings for Thai street food!