Reliving the trip through its delicious memories
Years ago, I didn’t like Thai cuisine. I couldn’t get past the taste of lemongrass, thick stalks of spring onions confused me, and the overpowering coconut milk in the curries was insulting. But when I travelled to Thailand, I realised I’d been eating their food in the wrong restaurants (and in the wrong time-zone). In a hole-in-the-wall, family-run restaurant on a narrow street in Chiang Mai, I discovered a new appreciation for Thai cuisine. The first taste of an authentic Thai green curry rocketed my sentiments on Thai food from meh to hot damn. Years later, in a Thai cooking class in Ko Lanta, I will learn that, in my ignorance, I’d been chewing on ingredients that weren’t meant to be eaten.
A while ago, I travelled to Bangkok, Ko Lanta, and took an overnight stop in Ko Phi Phi. I was still eating junk that masqueraded as a food substitute, so I’d stock up on local readymade snacks whenever I could. Partly to see what the kids were eating behind their adult’s backs, and partly for the cute packaging.
Bangkok’s unbearable humidity saps your energy; when hunger struck, we’d pick the nearest restaurant to hide in. The food never disappointed.
We were in Ko Lanta during off-season and our restaurant options were limited. We ate most of our meals at Sawasdee – a family-run restaurant that you’d overlook in a hurry. The Thai islands are famous for a lot of things – food isn’t one of them. So discovering Sawasdee was a treat. They also made the best orange juice I’ve ever had. In Laos, fresh translates to ‘out of a bottle’. In Sawasdee, it was a joy I savoured. For evening drinks we’d go to Fat Monkey whose cocktails were deceptively mean. On the third day, I ate the fruits of my labour during the cooking class I took with Time for Lime.
Where the food was uninspiring, the view made up for it. The chips are from Freedom Bar and the green curry is from the upscale Costa Lanta.
These days, Ko Phi Phi is as far as you can get from authentic Thai anything. Food wise, the tiny island met my low expectations.
We spent a few hours in Phuket – all forgettable.
In my travels across Southeast Asia, some of the best food I ate was served in hole-in-the-wall eateries, in dingy restaurants at the top floor of suspicious looking buildings, and in impromptu night markets. I like discovering a food stall that’s loved by the locals but hasn’t received the Guidebook Treatment yet.
It’s the spoken word that reveals the hidden gems.
Best dish I ate
Every meal at Sawasdee.
Worst dish I had to suffer through
It’s Thailand; no es posible.