I want to see Jim Thompson’s house.
I want to drive all night to the beach just to watch the sun rise over the sea.
I want to see Labanoon in concert.
I want to dance, sing along and bounce around with the other kids like I am 16 again.
I want to laugh out loud because I get a joke told in Thai.
I want to speak Thai out of habit more than I speak English.
I want to stand in a Wat that is older than my home country
I want to kneel before the Buddha and touch my forehead to the cool tile floor.
I want to experience a peace and serenity that cannot be expressed in words.
I want to spend a day just browsing at Asia Books.
I want to write my own book of learning Thai with pictures.
I want to make a business out of photography and Thailand.
I want to feel the sweat roll down my back and see who is tougher, the Bangkok heat or me.
I want to be soaking wet and drunk with fun for three days in April.
I want to see a real Muay Thai fight at Lumpini or Ratchadoen Stadium.
I want to go to a county fair and see a REAL, real Muay Thai fight without all the gambling.
My British husband really likes spicy food. When we were dating, we went to Thailand for a holiday and met some of my friends for dinner. He told one of my friends that he wanted to order spicy shrimp salad and my friend said, “You know it is going to be pretty spicy.” He replied, “Oh, I love it spicy.” So my friend, with a smirk on his face, said to the waiter, “He likes it spicy so make it spicy.” When the salad came, it was very spicy, but my husband ate it and enjoyed it. I was eating it too and after 3 bites had tears streaming down my face prompting another friend, sitting at the other end of the table, to shout, “Hey! I know that you have missed us, but there is no need to get over emotional na ja!”
Back in England, there was a Thai restaurant that we used to frequent. There was a time when my husband and I were both suffering from colds and when we are ill, we love to eat tom yum soup. We would order tom yum at this restaurant and ask them to make it spicy. At the end of the meal, as we left the restaurant the manager always asked how it was and my husband always answered, “not spicy enough”. Each time we went, the chef made our tum yum a little spicier and each time, my husband said at the end “not spicy enough”. Finally, one time the waitress went to the kitchen to get our soup and I heard her say, “Are you sure…?” The chef replied “just bring it out to him”. As the waitress walked by the manager, he looked at the tray she was carrying and said “Oi, have a pitcher of water on hand for them!” The waitress brought the soup over and said, “Okay, this time it is spicy for sure”. I looked down at the bowls and the top of the soup was covered with a thick layer of red. I turned around and saw the chef standing, with his arms crossed, at the door of the kitchen watching us. My husband grinned. He loved the soup. When we left, he said, “Perfect!”
If you visit a roadside noodle stall in Thailand you will see on the tables a small basket with four jars. These are the condiments that you can add to your noodle soup. Which ones you add and how much is entirely up to you. In some ways it is a bit like being a scientist as you need a certain amount of skills to get the balance right. These condiments give you the four basic flavours: namely hot, sour, salty and sweet.
In the top left of this picture is ‘nam som prik’. This is basically sliced chilies (prik) in vinegar (nam som). In the picture below, ‘nam som’ has a more of a brown look because the chilies have been pounded. This obviously gives you your sour taste.
Next, in the top right of the picture, is ‘prik pon’ which is basically dried red chili which is either flaked or ground to a powder. This is the heat. In the bottom right is ‘namtaan’ which is normal white sugar. Obviously this is the sweet part. It was a bit strange for me to put sugar in my noodles to start with but it no longer tastes the same without it. So, just do as the Thais do and put a good tablespoon full in!
Finally, in my picture you can also see two bottles of ‘nam blaa’, or fish sauce. Sometimes you will see this in a jar too but mixed with chilies. This version is then called ‘prik nam blaa’. In some restaurants you might see a jar of ground peanuts.
I will talk about the different noodles another day.