|Papaya salad & fried chicken washed down with the local Chang (elephant brand) beer and some pork larb..food coma central.|
The trip was memorable from start to finish and if I could have bottled up all the flavors and scents and placed it securely in a spice jar and brought it back with me, I would have done so in a heartbeat. But lucky for you b/c I have tons of pictures to share, so soak it all up and sit back and enjoy!
Renowned for its pristine aquamarine waters and the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi, making it a perfect haven for hedonistic paradise, this portion of Southern Thailand definitely lives up to its name. Unfortunately, we were there during monsoon season (darn!---should have not skimmed that chapter of Lonely Planet), we were pretty much confined to the coast rather than the islands. The limited hours of sunshine would constantly tease us throughout the entire day and around 3 or 4pm, the thunder clouds would move in within the blink of an eye and pelt us with giant raindrops.
Normally, I would have been utterly disappointed, but I wasn't and I owe it all to the deliciously decadent array of Thai cuisine. And usually, I would have thought twice about ordering what is seemingly 'authentic' Thai food at a Western hotel like the Sheraton, but I really had no other choice--thank goodness!
NOTE to YOU: If you find yourself in Thailand, definitely do not scoff at the hotel dining options b/c the chefs are Thai and they serve up the most beautiful and flavorful dishes you'll ever feast on. Their attention to detail, impeccable service and authenticity of each savory morsel that I popped into my mouth was beyond words. Food-wise, it's an A++ in my book. We dined on papaya salad nearly every day of our vacation and I happily gorged myself on tamarind-flavored mojitos.
And then Chiang Mai:
Serene, lush landscape that beckons a closer look and more time devoted to visiting the Wat Doi Suthep (temple) & local hilltribe villages; lazily drifting down the Mae Nam Ping river on bamboo rafters; and exploring the Sunday night market for handcrafted trinkets. The bountiful rows of longan trees kept me glued to the windows along our drive to the Mae Vang elephant camp. Boy, I was really tempted to feign a potty break just so I could pluck me some fresh longans. But, my conscience won over my glutton tendencies (Darn you, Jiminy Cricket!)
Again, I can ramble on endlessly about how great the local street food is or how I could have packed my own personal street vendor into my carry-on bag, but I'll just entertain you with the images themselves so you can gawk and drool over your keyboards (and not mine).
Bangkok and the Rachaburi Floating Market:
We wandered over to the popular 'back packer's district' along the infamous Khaosan Road in Bangkok for some yummy street food. Although frequented by many European tourists, the area is a must-see for those who want cheap deals on vintage-style T-shirts, made-to-order phad Thai and icy cold drinks. Personally, I couldn't get enough of the fresh fruit vendors carting spicy green mangoes, sun-ripened watermelons, pineapples, picked gooseberries and golden papayas. I love how they nestle the fruits on top of shaved ice to keep them nice and refreshing. All this for less than $1 (USD)--of course, I'd get 3 mangos at a time.
If you happen to go during the right hours, you can also find papaya salad carts that come with warm sticky rice and grilled/fried chicken wings. I think I could have sat here the entire day had it not been for the treacherous heat and humidity that permeates the entire weather system in Thailand, but you can definitely get a really nice breeze being whisked along the khlongs (canals) of the the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Get there early and you'll have plenty of time for photo ops and endless eating. I love how the fruit vendors have the cutest and most visually appealing boats with their bundles of fresh crimson rambutans, golden starfruits, green guavas, cherries, longans, mangosteens & dragonfruits.