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Peace Spots

I had these great big lists of things I've seen and stuff I've done in Bangkok I wanted to share with everyone. They were not filled with wit, and had a way of being largely about food, so at the end of my trip, I'm left with a few sample memories I want to share instead. For example, in spite of the things I have seen, I still get the most sense of peace from watching the alleys I can see from my bedroom window. I wonder when the French Embassy will get its roof fixed. I watch the trees whenever there's a breeze, just to see them rustle. I remember walking down the street on my third or fourth day here, and how it began to drizzle. I was ready to walk through a light rain, but out of the blue, one of the maids from our hotel recognized me and shared her umbrella with me. I wished I was better skilled at remembering names, because I'm sure I asked for it, and I'm sure I thanked her when she pretty much walked me to the train station. She still says "Finished! Bye!" whenever she fixes up our room. (The other maids usually just thank us for our patience, or some approximation of that I can make out in Thai.) I thought it was really, really sweet, and really kind.

When we visited the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, I ducked behind the main entrance down a pavillion that had a catalogue of native Thai flora carved into the balconies' sidings to escape the tourists. I ended up at the back end of the temple, where I sat on the steps against a gilded doorway twice the height of my father, probably even triple that. I could hear the people wandering around in the courtyards around the temple, but only barely. It was nicer to listen to the bells on the temple's ceiling. They really help clear out your head. I wondered why more people didn't come here to sit and reflect.

I had toro for my birthday. I thought it tasted exactly like it looked, which was really fatty tuna. It was alright, not the tastiest bit of raw fish I've ever had, and even blander than normal tuna. Eating more than a couple of slices made me a bit green from the fat. I personally preferred the flavour of the ikura I also had -- but I like salt like that.

We stumbled into a cafe called T42 on the top floor of Siam Center where I had the best food I had in my entire month here. T42 looks like a cafe and feeds like a family restaurant. We had tempura holy basil, eggplant and long beans with a spicy minced chicken dressing that was meltingly crisp and golden, and a dish of stir-fried chicken with deep fried kaffir lime leaf and lemongrass shreds -- it was such a simple dish, but, to borrow a word, "profound." My fruit slushie turned out to be something that tasted like fresh apple juice, lime juice and shreds of something green that might've been apple peels, but looked really appetizing against the yellow ice. Our steamed rice arrived in pretty squares on our plate. Tea was served with regular brown sugar and brown sugar crystals, which gained my Terrible Tea Respect (sugar crystals! mokie!). Tea in pots also have individual warmers, which just about makes my inner tea tyrant bleed. Simple food, extremely soothing atmosphere, and thick glass windows ensure the doubledecker train tracks directly outside barely whisper past.

On Sunday, we visited Suan Pakkard Palace (the brochure translates this to the "Cabbage Patch Palace"), a large mansion complex next to a traditional train track. We met an excellent in-house guide who spoke French to Vietnamese tourists and spoke fluent English to us. I saw samples of HRM Princess Marsi's surreal cat paintings and thought maybe I should've bought postcards to send to those cat people friends I have. (You'd think I'd have remembered to do that then.) I sat on an empty elevated gilded pavillion above one of the courtyard's massive ponds to hear the train rumble by, unseen somewhere beyond the garden's ancient trees. The window I sat at was next to a small tree where small blackbirds played. I wanted to stay there for a long time, just to watch the gourami in the murky water below. They're not pretty fish by any means, but they are elegant for their bulk. I was watching the single golden gourami among the black fishes in the pond chasing away other fish within its territory. I don't want to go back to a place where things like this don't happen.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2006 10:03 pm (UTC)
*wants to eat exact same meal at T42* :)
Oct. 25th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
OOOOO! The pouching hamster icon! So appropriate. ;)
Cosy little cafes demand cake! Cake and death!
Oct. 24th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you for sharing, Afi.
Oct. 25th, 2006 05:23 am (UTC)
Awww. :)
Oct. 25th, 2006 03:15 pm (UTC)
There's nothing wrong about writing about food. Ever better if you've got pictures. There's a reason why food_porn exists. ;)

Did you ever find the right catfish salad?

I like how serene you make things sound. It makes me want to go cherry blossom viewing in Kyoto again. :)
Oct. 25th, 2006 04:06 pm (UTC)
I did indeed find the right catfish salad! Wasn't as great a version as I'd have liked, but it was the correct one. I'm all catfished out by now. :)

It's nice to be serene. My month in Bangkok has indeed been serene. I still don't look forward to heading back to Perth. :/
Oct. 25th, 2006 04:46 pm (UTC)
I bet Perth is less fun for a hamster like yourself.

I'm lucky right now, Boston and the surrounding areas have finally hit the color change season. The trees are green and yellow and orange. (not as many oranges and reds as I would like though - I think we had too much rain this past summer) Unfortunately, once all the leaves have fallen, my city will look a bit ugly.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )