Posts Tagged ‘Thailand’

We had waffles, watched a race, went for a walk and generally enjoyed a beautiful, lazy summer’s day. Now somehow it’s time for dinner so I’ll leave you with a brief excerpt from a stroll in the woods, once upon a time in Thailand.

Chang Mai—Jungle Trek

A rutted dirt road led from the parking lot through a stand of tall trees. The road quickly narrowed to a track that led past a small facilities building, scattered picnic areas, and into denser woods. A huge centipede scurried past my sandals and exposed toes, making it clear that Thais eat such creatures for their size, not their beauty. After this apparition I had no trouble keeping my eyes open. An unexpected benefit of being alert was that I found an amulet someone had lost on the trail. The guidebook had mentioned that Thais always carry at least one amulet with them wherever they go, and I’d made a note to look for one in the market as a token of the visit. Presto, there it was. I hope it wasn’t the owner’s only protection.

Good luck charm in hand, we wound our way along the stream bed as the sound of crashing water grew louder. The little valley opened up, the sun broke through the tree tops, and a waterfall appeared. The impressive thing about it wasn’t so much its height, which was hard to gauge through the trees, but its power.

A pool carved out at the fall’s base and the mist all over my clothes and the trees attested to the water’s strength and the abundant runoff in this waterlogged part of the country. The trail around the pool had gone muddy from the mist and visitors’ feet, giving me what was to be the first of many intimate moments with Thai muck. I had no idea how familiar I was to become with that red earth over the next day and a half.

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Photo by Norbert Braun on Unsplash

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Today is Bastille Day.

Photo by Joe deSousa on Unsplash

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Today is also a family member’s birthday, yay!

Photo by Robert Anderson on Unsplash

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And on this day, years ago, I visited a floating market in Thailand.

At 6:45 this morning I hopped a bus for a two-hour ride to the floating market at Damnoen Saduak. I’m sure the pictures will tell the tale well, as long as the viewer can also imagine the sticky heat of the morning sun rising over a town whose streets are made entirely of water. It was totally touristy and, admittedly, lots of fun.

On the way there the bus stopped at a coconut oil factory, made obvious from the road by the mounds of coconuts piled everywhere. A woman stood by a huge stove and swirled coconut oil or juice around and around in the largest wok I’ve ever seen. She actually had three of these monstrosities cooking at once, each in various stages of reduction. Every so often she’d reach over and grab another handful of coconut husk to stoke the fire. I couldn’t resist a bag of coconut candy; it’s probably 99 percent fat and terrible for me, but it tasted like richly-flavored brown sugar. Delicious.

The first boat driver was a little throttle happy, so we got the speed demon tour of the town’s waterways. He’d race full ahead toward a wall, then turn at the last minute. The front of the boat would turn sharply, the back swing around, and we’d race off to the next corner to do it all again. Along the way I realized how little difference there is between streets of gravel and water. All along the banks there were walkways leading up to people’s houses, small yards where they kept everything from pets to fishing traps, and little garages off to the side where they parked their boats at night. One difference: on the canals’ sides I noticed an odd creature, a fluffy pink worm-like animal that looked a little like a small sea cucumber. It was easy to spot because it was hot hot pink. 

The first thing we were encouraged to do after stepping out of the boat was to get right back in another. For a few dollars a sightseeing boat of sorts would shuttle tourists around the main market canal. In a few seconds we were off with the rest of the boats, making our way along the canal crowded with boats carrying food, trinkets, and other tourists. The only thing they told us was to watch our fingers, as the boat’s metal-rimmed edges collided frequently. Good to know. 

Almost all of the boats selling things were occupied by women. They talked amongst themselves while making fried rice cakes or chopping open coconuts for us to drink. It seemed like a crowded market anywhere, just on the water.

A woman with a Bunsen burner and stack of bowls in her boat made noodle soup. As my boat mate sat back to slurp up his lunch, a man came over and asked me a question.

He wanted to know why I wasn’t eating too, and wanted to assure me that the food was both good and safe. By pointing at a passing boat and a billboard adorned with smiling faces and happy stomachs, he managed to let me know that the market had been established as a “Safe Eating Zone” which was enforced by police. I could eat without fear. I thanked him and let him know by pointing at my stomach that I just wasn’t hungry. I tasted some of the soup soup and declared it delicious. We concluded the conversation with smiles and thanks. 

Pretty good, considering neither knew a word of the other’s language.

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J.R. Johnson

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The temperature is rising and we are consistently having days around 0C. Um, yay? That is a good thing, relatively speaking, but it’s a cold start to spring. My yard is still half-covered with snow and a dusty layer of grey gravel from winter street maintenance, and I am so ready for color.

Today I give you a random photo from the archives. This is the Floating Market outside Bangkok, in Dumnernsaduak. It takes me back to a July day of light, the calls of coconut vendors, the smell of fried rice cakes and roasted meat, and the sticky heat of morning sun in Thailand. Enjoy:)



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