Thailand: Hello, Welcome!

1 Mar

Rachel and I spent almost a week in Bangkok.

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Madness.

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View from the back of a Tuk Tuk.  Traffic and horns everywhere!

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Remnants of Tét — but most of the places we visited were gloriously open and unaffected by the holiday.

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The old King of Thailand had recently died, we learned, and the country was in the midst of a year of mourning.  His son, who has “a bit” of a playboy reputation, had replaced him on the throne.  I won’t post the photos because I didn’t take them, but Google image “King of Thailand, jeans” — it’s the first three pictures that come up.  Yup, that’s him! The one in the white crop top.

Rachel and I saw a stand-up comedy show (in English) at The Comedy Store.  So fun and funny!   Will definitely go back.  And afterwards, we headed to Soi Cowboy, specifically Cocktail with some Germans, for a very memorable night.

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Classic Khao San Road with cheap pad thai.

 

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A place with a misnomer.  Nothing erotic happened here!  It’s a beauty salon with an unfortunate name.  They charged me $10, spent 5 hours on my hair, and a did a fantastic job.  The beauticians and I hardly spoke because (clearly) there was a language barrier but I left feeling happy and wanting to come back the next time I’m in Bangkok.

 

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So many crazy chip flavors!!  I tried them all.  My favorite:  Wasabi, Sushi, and Shrimp Tempura.  Rachel’s favorite: Wasabi, Potato chips that come with their own package of dipping ketchup, and Korean BBQ.   Neither of us liked the Crab flavor.

 

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A pretty scene from a day trip we took to Bridge River Kwai.  Not so pretty, though, is the railways’ past.  During WWII, Japan constructed the railway line using POWs and Asian slave laborers in atrocious conditions.  Thousands of laborers lost their lives and the tracks are now known as the Death Railway.  We also visited the War Cemetery nearby where around 7,000 POWs are buried.

 


 

About a week after arriving in “The Land of Smiles”, we headed north to Chiang Mai.  This was my second time visiting Northern Thailand.  Here’s a link to the first visit.

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We rented a scooter (not a motorcycle) and headed to Pai.

 

They drive on the left side of the road in this country.  A fact I audibly kept reminding myself every time I got back onto our bike to be the driver. “Left side.  Left side.  Left side.”

The road to Pai is an adventure in itself!  A winding, shaded, gorgeous route that I had the fortune of traversing twice during this trip; once as the driver of an adorable scooter and once, a few weeks later, as a passenger, hanging onto the back of a large, loud, fast motorcycle.

 

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Stunning scenery on a roadside stop.

 

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Spicy, delicious soup.

 

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The most chickens I’ve ever seen riding a moped.

 

On a whim, Rachel and I took a detour from the main road to Pai to see a geyser.  The side trip road was unpaved and thus took us awhile to arrive (I’m a careful driver. Some might say too careful on gravel.), but it was worth it — not only because it was gorgeous — but also because I got to do something I’d never done before!

We paid the park fee and parked our bike near the entrance of the geyser just as we saw a sign in English that read “Egg Boil” with no other explanation.  Rachel and I stopped abruptly in our tracks to discuss what the sign could possibly mean.  Could we really cook eggs inside of the geyser?!!  Where would we buy eggs?!

The ranger hadn’t spoken any English when we checked into the park, so we knew he wasn’t going to be any help.  We looked around and saw, directly across the road, a lady who we thought we could ask.  As we got closer we saw she was selling eggs!  Oh happy days!

She sold two types of eggs: quail eggs and brown chicken eggs, both accompanied by small bags of pre-portioned soy sauce that had clearly been bought in bulk and then hand poured into tiny clear plastic bags sealed tightly with rubber bands.

Of course, the woman selling eggs didn’t speak much English.  Nor should she have to!  It was on us to speak Thai.  And we, embarrassingly, couldn’t do that so we just took a chance and bought heaps of eggs.  Worst case scenario?  We’d have a bunch of raw eggs.  Best case scenario?!  We’d get to cook these eggs inside of a geyser!!!

We picked out ten speckled quail eggs and four large brown chicken eggs, all of which came with soy sauce and were sold to us in clear plastic bags, the likes of which offered no protection for the eggs’ fragile bodies.  We took extra care not to break them.

The woman cryptically held up five fingers at the ten quail eggs and eight fingers at the four chicken eggs.  Hmm.  Rachel and I looked at each other confused (like you must be) and shrugged it off.  Numbers must be different in Thai.  We handed the woman a bill (which she gladly accepted), said a hearty “kapunka”, and walked away, taking care to continually support our precious, breakable cargo.

What was going to happen??!  This was so exciting.  Rachel and I started walking down the path.  Everything we saw we thought “Maybe that’s the geyser?”.  Simmering mud full of steam.  Was that it?  We stopped to discuss and decided to keep walking until, eventually, undoubtedly, we came upon a body of water that had to be the geyser.

 

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Rachel patiently waiting for breakfast.

 

It was so cool!  I mean hot!  As we approached, the vapors hit our faces and we both knew that this was it.  The liquid bubbled, gurgled, and popped as we read a couple of scattered signs in English detailing the exact temperature of the water but said nothing about cooking eggs.  We waited to see if anyone would show up that we could ask.  No one did.  So…should we just throw them in the water??  How would we get them out?

Rachel and I deliberated on this point as we looked around, saw egg shells scattered on the ground, and found bamboo poles with woven containers on the end!  These were what was used to cook the eggs!  Mystery solved. Yay!

We grabbed a couple of bamboo rods, placed the eggs carefully into the baskets, and eased the bamboo poles into the fresh, natural, boiling geyser water.  How long to put them in?  We thought back. The five and eight that the Thai woman had indicated must be for minutes!  It clicked, that was how long to keep the eggs submerged in water!  I set my timer and we both sat down to watch a pot that was already boiling.  This was so great!  Egg boil in the wild!!  The five minutes took forever to pass and when my alarm finally did go off, we pulled the bamboo baskets containing small, speckled quail eggs out of the water.  I was so excited!!!  Did this work?!  We eagerly tried to peel the eggs but they were still boiling hot to touch and after burning all of our fingers, we were forced to lay the bamboo poles on the ground and let the eggs cool.  Three minutes later, we also extricated the more familiar, brown chicken eggs from the boiling water and laid them onto the ground to join their counterparts.

 

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Quail eggs, chicken eggs, and more quail eggs, too hot to touch.

 

When we couldn’t stand it any longer, we started peeling eggs, pouring bulk soy sauce onto them, and taking hearty bites of still hot, fresh eggs.  They were delicious!!!!!  The best eggs I’d ever had! Rachel too, and she’s a chef!  Really incredible. And the soy sauce was great!  Salty and a nice touch, a trick I still use to this day.

As we were leaving the park, immensely satisfied, we saw a hidden sign that mentioned that the queen had been here and had also cooked her own eggs.  “THE QUEEN HAS BEEN HERE!”  Don’t bother Googling pictures of the Queen…there are no fun crop top pics.

We were full and elated with our spontaneous detour as we countinued back on the road to Pai.

 

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Mountainous beauty.

 

Because we had made so many stops, we didn’t actually have that much time to spend in Pai itself, which was fine.  We were able to squeeze in another hike (see photo below) and get a sampling of other things Pai has to offer (read: food).  We went out on the town that night and slept near the soothing river.

 

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A hike in scenic Pai canyon.

 

There was a welcome coolness to the air, a marked difference from the heat in the south.  Rachel and I woke up early the next day to get a head start on the journey back into Change Mai, relishing how easy it was to get around in Thailand and (still) appreciating how little things were affected by Tét.

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A chilly, wonderful morning.

 

We made it safely back to Change Mai with more (big) adventures to come.

Kapunka,
‘mi

One Response to “Thailand: Hello, Welcome!”

  1. jerry pitts November 28, 2017 at 3:09 am #

    Keep having fun ! Looking forward to your next report.

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