this is the archive for the ‘in thailand’ category:

a mailbox methaphor

there’s something fascinating about old mailboxes., their sturdiness and detail lending them a regal air that newer models seem to lack. you can tell that they were made with care, and to last a long time.

they’re almost like a metaphor: if only we could put this kind of effort and resources into all the things we do, to make sure they’re well done, perhaps they, too, would last longer.

khao soi

khao soi is a northern thai dish that i had never heard about before but which was everywhere in chiang mai and super yummy:

it’s a mix of soupy egg noodles topped with crispy noodles, and meat or egg. double noodles sounds like a winner already, but the mixture of curry and coconut milk of the broth makes this dish. you can add stuff on top, but in the end we concluded it’s just complicating something that is perfect already. why bother?

it’s just sooooo good that i wonder how come pad thai gets all the fame outside of thailand, but not khao soi?

the wild beaches of koh samui…

… are littered with trash. here’s a small collection of shoes photographed on a short beach stroll.

plastic bottles, fishing nets, styrofoam, toothbrushes… i could go on and on, with multiple series on different themes. the further away from a fancy resort, the more sprinkled the beaches become with plastic trash, to such an extreme where it feels pointless to even fill up a bag with the stuff, as it wouldn’t make the least bit of difference. it’s shocking and eye-opening: we humans did this, and it all ends up here.

the problem is well known. the island’s only incinerator hasn’t worked in years. it’s hard enough to find trash bins, let alone recycling containers, and it feels like the only recycling happening here is done by locals who go through the trash trying to find scrap materials to re-use or sell. the rest is buried or dumped, without much care.

truth be told, the way garbage is treated is only part of the problem here, and perhaps not even the main one — if anything, at least garbage isn’t hidden away. it’s just there, for all to see. the problem is that all of this is made in the first place.

and i mean, it’s one thing to not buy bottled water, or to always carry tote bags to the market… but these are such small things. i look around me and there’s plastic everywhere — from the keys in my keyboard, to the shutters in the windows. how do you live in a modern society without plastic or oil, things so common that they feel like extra elements of the periodic table? we need a bigger plan for this.

the cooking class

turns out, thai cooking is a lot of prep work, followed by a very quick cooking process. everything needs to be minced, peeled, squeezed, measured and mashed beforehand — mise en place is everything here.

afterwards, it’s a matter of heating up a wok and throwing stuff there in a specific order. voilá!

under the close supervision of our host/chef, we prepared soups, curries, stir fries and even mango sticky rice, all deliciously filling but way more stuff than we could eat…

… so we ended up bringing pad thai and some other noodle dishes home for dinner. :)

we were also treated to a tour of their beautiful gardens, where the host grows a lot of the ingredients for the lesions like chillies, mushrooms and ginger. he had all kinds of plants there, and it was pretty cool to see a coffee tree or taste stevia leafs for the first time.

near the end of the tour, we were introduced to this funky plant that turns its leaves when they’re touched:

they’re so cool!! aptly named “touch-me-not”, they’re a common weed in thailand. after this encounter, we started touching lots of plants on the side of the road, just to see if we could make that trick again! :D

a trip to the market

going to markets and supermarkets has long been one of my favorite activities abroad. they can be a overwhelming at times, but i still enjoy looking at all the produce and finding new things. here’s a quick walk around a market near chiang mai.

rice, rice, rice! glutinous, fragrant, brown… it all has a different purpose.

aaaaaall the veggies! some are funky and some are familiar. i was especially impressed by all the ginger-like roots they seem to use on their cooking, and which i had never seen before. oh! and those little green balls are fresh peppercorns… who knew they looked like that?

curries are what we associate with thai cooking, but making your own curry paste is hard work as we later discovered. so at the market, you can buy them already made or give your specifications to the seller, and they’ll make you a batch.

stinky but delicious fish sauce!

the variety of noodles they sell makes the pasta in a portuguese supermarket pale in comparison.

the fresh section was also well stocked, both with meat (the whole nose-to-tail), fish and frogs! to keep the flies away, ribbons of plastic were attached to the skeletons of fans, and made to spin above the meat. it’s pretty efficient actually, and super hypnotic! :D

so now we got the produce — let’s go cook it!