Friday, July 12, 2013

Travelogue: Eating snow

There were a few open air restaurants where some musicians were performing. There were also stalls for getting tequila shots. We wandered all over the place and couldn’t resist the temptation of getting into the giant wheel; this was pretty high and it was moderately expensive as well. They had a regular fare and vip fare – the vip one would fetch you a seat in one of the vip cabins that were concealed in black, with privacy and more comfortable cushions inside. It took us a while to get our ‘normal’ cabin but we used the opportunity to click plenty of snaps. Once inside, our expert, photographer and veggie friend clicked over a hundred snaps on two cameras trying to capture every possible angle and every possible view. Slowly I started developing a stinging pain on my right foot – I think it was the impact of me trying to see every Buddha posture in Wat Pho. Our veggie friend was still managing with his sprained ankle while our expert was a completely new person now – no signs of being sick! After the giant wheel we met a European who said he is heading to India after a few days; I do think that they are better than us when it comes to taking vacations – we seem to be so tied up with the hustle and bustle of work everyday.
Next up was time to try some desserts – and ice cream it was but of a different kind. It seems that the ‘snowy ice-cream’ is kind of popular in Thailand because we saw it in many places later. Thinking it was just ice-cream all of us ordered different flavors with toppings. They gave us a fairly large cup with a good quantity of ice cream. And on first taste we went, ‘yuck’! It’s called snowy because it is truly like snow – the way snow feels if you eat it. The problem was that the flavor on snow tasted really weird. Our veggie friend was the smartest – he had opted for a safe flavor and that wasn’t so bad; the other 3 of us were keen to try variety and ended up on the wrong side!
Our return from Asiatique was not as eventful as the earlier cab ride; outside the mall it was dark and past 10pm. Taxi drivers hounded us with exorbitant rates and just like in India we avoided the taxis that were standing outside the mall. We flagged a few on the road and tried to put a Thai accent while saying our destination, negotiated a rate, showed our location on the map to confirm that they knew the place and stepped into one. Most of the city was asleep – there are a few areas where there are pubs that do stay open late into the night; but this is only in few places. The 7-11 shop was still open; they are open 24 hours. The areas around our hotel was dead silent.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Travelogue: Raw food...

The setup of the mall was like a mix of bazaar type shops as well as regular shopping mall buildings – it was lively. Our first requirement was dinner – there was one near the entrance. On the menu we saw a few items that seemed to be pure vegetarian and so our ‘expert’ gave his name and the waiter said it will take 20 minutes. We wandered around and saw a few more eateries. Our ‘expert’ friend rejected the regular fast food shops since we could have the same in India – he wanted exotic cuisines; we saw something of Vietnamese and he was fascinated by that. But by the looks of it, there didn’t seem to be even a single veg item available there. Even KFC didn’t have a veg burger!
We returned to the first eatery; the waiter pronounced our ‘expert’s’ name in a weird way and the 4 of us went in. We were curious by what we saw on the table. There was a medium sized steel vessel which was sitting on a heat pan – there were switches to increase/decrease the heat. Inside the vessel was what seemed like water. The waiter gave us menus and our ‘expert’ asked for a drink – you can guess what drink he ordered (read earlier editions!); the rest of us had some form of green tea (see pic). We ordered a bunch of items – fortunately the menu was in English and they also had pictures of the items. Our veggie friend ordered ‘green noodles’. The restaurant had a bright ambience and kind of lifted your spirits.
A few minutes later the dishes came one after the other along with wooden chopsticks! And each dish that we ordered came on a little plate and the size of the items were tiny – the fish was hardly the length of French fries! Talk about pictures that give you a wrong impression about size :-)
All the items looked raw except the green noodles which was true to its name – noodles that were green in color with nothing else; not one vegetable piece! With some actions, the waiter understood we were asking how to eat this – she said we should put the food in the pot and wait for five minutes. We followed her advice faithfully and waited while our veggie friend ate tentatively. “There’s no taste,” he said. Hopefully it was veg.!

We tried to make conversation with another waiter – we asked him, “Name” and he showed his name badge which was written in Thai! We said, “No Thai.” He told us his name but we didn’t understand him and couldn’t talk to him. We were on our own; we dumped the items in the boiling water and pulled them out after a while and placed them in our cup and ate it (tried to with chopsticks). And it tasted tasteless! Then we put some sauce that was also served with the dish. We went a step further and put some sauce in the water. Slowly things started having some flavor – in the end we realized that it tastes good when you put all the ingredients in the boiling water, add some sauce, leave it for some time and then eat it. Even the water becomes like a soup and we pretty much emptied the whole thing.
“What a concept! They make us cook the food and ask us to pay for it!”
Memorable eating experience on day 1 but the best was yet to come!