Forget New York, Bangkok is the city that truly never sleeps. Each time I visit, I rarely get any sleep - maybe an hour at most. There is ALWAYS something to do or somewhere to go in this humid, crowded, tropical city. I've wandered through Khao San Road alone at night, been harassed at the floating markets, caressed by tigers at the temple and showered by elephants in the jungle. My most memorable experience, however, has to be a cooking class I took one faithful day following a sleepless night of partying.
As a foodie and lover of Thai food, I was curious about having an authentic hands-on experience with the vibrant cuisine. A colleague of mine recommended Sompong Thai Cooking School.
Booking the class was easy. I called the evening before and spoke to the owner in regards to arranging a pick-up from my hotel the next morning. The class lasted four hours and was a reasonable 1000 baht/30 USD. They practically meet you anywhere. Located in the Silom area of Bangkok, it is near the BTS/Skytrain line and the school happily picks you up you from there. The only hindrance is finding your own way back, however that isn't worth stressing over if your trip is planned correctly.
The school was located off a main street and down a dodgy alley. Upon arrival, I was immediately relieved to see a comfortable and welcoming establishment. Koy (the owner) and her staff were very friendly and the environment felt more like home than a place of business. Even her grandmother was roaming around sorting things out. Not long after receiving a welcome drink and a brief review for the day's course, we were off to the local market on foot with bamboo basket in tow to secure ingredients for our menu - Masamam curry, tom yum soup, prawn fried rice and bananas in pandan coconut milk.
At the market we were privileged to get a detailed lesson about a variety of Thai ingredients and how to use them in cooking. There was such an abundance of fresh produce and spices I wanted to buy it all. We then had the opportunity to shop for local ingredients to take back to our own kitchens. After the visit to the market, we headed back to the open kitchen and began our course.
Most of the ingredients were already prepped by the diligent staff, but believe me, the brunt of the hard (yet rewarding) work came from the students (including yours truly). Koy guided us through it every step of the process. She gave the do's and don't's for making a proper curry, how to vary the spiciness and informed us the order to cook ingredients as to reduce unpleasant smells. We even made a rose shaped garnish out of a tomato.
The experience proved to be a networking opportunity as well. While grinding out spices, chatting and mingling with other travelers kept the environment festive and light as we were able to learn about each other's cultures. After all of the food had been prepared, we made our way to the beautiful dining area where we gladly relaxed to enjoy the fruits of our labor. The class was loads of fun and I truly recommend it if you're ever in Bangkok.
I'm not in Thailand right now, but I always enjoy their cuisine from food delivery by my favorite Thai restaurant, My Elephant.
Beautiful doesn't quite do it justice. I wonder if there are any words to adequately describe Phuket, Thailand (pronounced pu-ket). Paradise, perhaps?
Located in the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand, Phuket's name, according to some sources, is said to be derived from two Thai words, phu (mountain) and ket (jewel). Seeing this beautiful mountain jewel was well worth the 23 hours it took to get there. There are tons of airlines that fly regularly to Thailand, but the best deal I found was with Korean Air. They provided top-notched service (even in economy class).
In 2004, the Indian Ocean earthquake caused a devastating tsunami throughout much of southeast Asia. Phuket has since recovered and has experienced tremendous growth. However, one tour guide confided that because of so much development, the island's natural beauty diminished. Admittedly, as a tourist, I couldn't relate but was very respectful of his concerns. I was drawn in and mesmerized by the aqua blue water, white sand beaches, mountain views, delicious cuisine, and the warm friendly smiles of the Thai people. Seven days was not nearly enough time to take it all in.. but believe me I tried!
Let me say though, nothing can prepare you for the heat. The weather is very, very hot and you will sweat like there's no tomorrow!! We were there in March, the "dry season", when temperatures are "cooler" and sea conditions are good for swimming and diving. (March is also considered high season for tourism which officially ends in April.) If you do make the trip, be sure to pack light loose fitting clothes. You can research the best time of year to plan your trip by visiting sites such as The Phuket Holiday Guide which breaks down the pros and cons for each month of the year.
Online news outlets make their living on pageviews.
The more people click a headline, the more money they make in ad revenue.
Same with paper & ink newspapers. Eyeballs equal money.
I was actually slightly concerned before getting on the plane to Bangkok. About the "violent protests and riots."