Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Sumpin' Funny

This little guy.

While in Thailand, I had a favorite little morning coffee spot. I'd usually have an Americano or two and read for an hour. This little guy was owned by somebody who worked there. His funny little mug always made me smile on those days he graced our presence. I never saw him retract his tongue.

As for my next travels......not much on the agenda thus far. I've been vegging at my folks house and really appreciate the massive amounts of nothing I've been doing. March has Las Vegas, Tampa (hopefully! an invite-only job fair) and rounding out with the beginning of a San Francisco trip. April? Perhaps a trip to Calgary. And I definitely want to go to Mexico in the next couple of months.

But for now? For now things might be quiet around her.

Monday, February 27, 2012

What I Miss Most About Japan

Two-hour layover at Tokyo's Narita airport, I was reminded what I miss most about Japan: the robot toilets. Sound effects, heaters, odorizers, bidet-ish washings, some even automate the lid movement. Not all the toilets are this way, you have to look for the signs.
 Instructions! For a toilet!


On February 20th, me and a whole bunch of Russians boarded a plane out of Phuket and into Bangkok. My flight out of Bangkok was the next morning so, once again, I had one night in Bangkok (this would be the fourth time I've Bangkok'd en route elsewhere). After the poolside room I'd enjoyed in Phuket, my accommodations in Bangkok proved to have more personality as the view from my window can attest.
 There was even a TOP SECRET bar just next door.
After dinner at a nearby hole-in-the-wall restaurant which came recommended as authentic but was, frankly, mediocre I headed to Soi Cowboy- a place I'd visited once before.
February 2, 2008
February 20, 2012
In the photo above, you can see a club that was used in The Hangover 2; the Tilac Club is just over my shoulder. Soi Cowboy is infamous and well known but it's just one block. The streets adjacent and parallel are normal and dark then, bam! Soi Cowboy as bright as the Vegas strip.
Owing to the fact that I was in a somewhat foul mood, I decided I needed a diversion and what better way than having a drink in the Cockatoo Club which, as you can see in the picture below, is a ladyboy (aka katoi) club. The ladies on display along the street wear robes but inside they wear skimpy bikinis. Not typical of girly clubs, all the 'merchandise' has on bikini tops as well- likely owing to the scars I saw briefly exposed. I had one drink there. I ordered the "alcopop" which I thought would be an alcoholic popsicle of some sort (forget that I lacked logic in the "freezing" and "alcohol" concept) but was, sadly, a Bacardi Breezer. I'm sure a few are curious as to how 'ladyboy' these ladyboys were. Well, most of them appeared to be "in tact" but one came up to my table and showed me, without any prompting on my part or expressed interest that she had the same parts as me. I just nodded and took a sip of my Bacardi Breezer.
So it was about one and time to head back to my hotel but, first, I stopped at a streetside bar stand (shown below) to have a G&T. The bottle showed Tanqueray but who the heck knows.
I left Bangkok the next morning at 8:30, to Tokyo, to Seattle, to Denver, to Wyoming where the interstate beyond the airport road exit was closed due to high winds. Ah, home.

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Day Learning to Cook Thai Food

Before spending this last month in Thailand, I always claimed to like Thai food, although what I knew of it was really quite minimal. Spicy (but, hey, let's not go crazy: not Thai spicy), fresh, pungent. I knew a few dishes I liked, I knew the flavors I was fond of but I didn't really feel confident that I could ever cook Thai food (a tom ka gai seasoning packet once left me with cooking ennui). Now, a month here, I know I like Thai food and I didn't want to leave with knowing how to replicate some of my favorite dishes. Lucky for me, I ran across a trifold pamphlet for a local cooking course, Sabai Sabai, so I signed up for a one-day, four-dish, one-on-one session.

I arrived promptly at 9 on the morning of February 15th and immediately Ton whisked us off to the market to buy our day's supplies.
We didn't buy or use these tomatoes but I couldn't resist taking a picture of their pink perfection. 
The curry paste station. Alas, there is no way to differentiate the different curry pastes by sight alone (except green, of course).
The "number one spicy" pepper, to its left is number two, and on the right is number three which is what was used in my dishes. Ton taught me the rule of thumb that the smaller the pepper, the spicier it is.
Prepping all the ingredients and learning about various herbs and roots too. (Galangal! Kafir lime leaves! Cilantro root! Those are the flavors I've loved all along.) 
Pulverizing some "number three spicy" pepper with Thai garlic. Ton taught me to keep my hand over the mortar just so in order to avoid getting pepper juice spraying onto my face or, worse yet, into my eye. As it was, the juice on my hand burned for right about 24 hours. 
Thank you, Ton, for one of my favorite experiences in almost 9 months of traveling.

Tom Yum Goong (Shrimp), 2 servings

-600 ml water, bring to rapid boil

-5 kafir lime leaves (peeled from center stem, halving them)
-2 spicy chilis, smashed with broad side of knife
-5 cloves garlic, smashed (as above)
-tomato, quartered (firm, tart tomato)
-1/3 c. galangal root, sliced
-2 stalks lemongrass, sliced
-2 pieces of cilantro root, smashed and sliced into 2 to 3 pieces
-2 shallots, peeled and smashed

Boil for about 3 minutes until tomato skins begin to peel away.
(If making tom yum gai, add sliced chicken at this time.)

-1 c. mushrooms (quartered or halved, depending on size)

Boil until mushrooms begin to soften

-1 tsp sugar
-2 T. fish sauce
-2 tsp chili oil/paste
-juice of 1 lime (about 1 T.)
(stir, allow flavors to combine, taste and refine as necessary at this point)

-1 to 1.5 c of whole shrimp, allow to cook about halfway (approximately 45 seconds)

add (and immediately turn off heat):
-1/4 c of cilantro
-one large green onion, sliced


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Friends

Valentine's Day, 2012. I spent an early day at Ni Hairn beach, alternately hot and sleeping with wading in the water with hot and reading. Afterward, scooter-bound, I stopped at a roadside stand for a watermelon shake and grilled chicken. My plan was to sit and enjoy the just inland lake while I ate.
 While I sat and ate my chicken, I made some friends. Not a very chatty bunch, and not very clean, but....perhaps.....ideal.
 And my favorite little guy. He was so ugly (he was cute) that he got some chicken left overs.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Thai Public Service Announcement

Saw this running one day. Pleased to come back across it later on my scooter so I could get a happy snap.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day Trip to Malaysia!

Tomorrow I am going to Kuala Lumpur. For two hours and 40 minutes.

I hope I can get some teh tarik.

(Thai tourist visas are only valid for 30 days, which I'll bust if I don't do a "visa run.")

BBQ Beat Down

It appears I'm in a Muay Thai/MMA/Crossfit mecca from my locale here in Phuket. And while this post is a bit delayed in coming, I feel it's still worth it in order to show exactly what I mean. Hence, the BBQ Beat Down from Tiger Muay Thai. They host the BBQ along with the Muay Thai and MMA bouts the last Saturday of every month.

(The BBQ portion of the Beat Down was fine but not necessarily photo or blog worthy.)
I found that I enjoyed the Muay Thai more than the MMA.
But, then again, I still found things I liked about the MMA rounds. *ahem*
Off topic, my best guess is that upwards of 80% of people at the Beat Down had tattoos. But this guy was unique in that his HEAD IS TATTOOED. Which leaves his only career option as an extra in prison movies, right? (Note that I took this picture surreptitiously and from a distance, although I was told he's quite nice.)
And further off-topic: this is how to tell if the place you're going to is hopping here in Phuket.....scooter convergance.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Pheace in Phuket

My blog baby is not getting ignored; it's simply a matter of having little to blog on. Since I've arrived in Phuket, I mostly lay around the pool through the day, interspersed with Thai massages for 150 baht per hour (that's right at 5 bucks US). But yesterday I managed to moped taxi down to Nai Harn Beach where I lazed about all day. Surprisingly, the beach umbrella did not stop me from getting a burn down the front of my body. Lesson learned.

The white sand blazingly hot, I was grateful for the food vendors hawking their wares. And, for the record, fresh corn on the cob is EXCELLENT beach food.
Nai Harn Beach
The pool at my hotel. I spend most my days here- it's just more picturesque at night.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Disney World!

As I mentioned in my last post, the reason I visited Disney World was to support two of my friends as they ran in the marathon weekend. Well Ms. G and Ms. N didn't just run the marathon, they ran a half marathon one day and a full marathon the next, known as the Goofy Challenge. Yes, that is 39.3 miles in just 2 days. And they did it. And I am in awe. To brag, Ms. G was only 45 seconds off her personal record for a full marathon.

The day after the full marathon, we visited Magic Kingdom and even got to visit with The Mice. You'll notice that my friends are wearing medals for the Goofy Challenge and even the three-year old is wearing a medal for her 100m race. The day prior all I heard was judgment when the three-year old asked me, "Why you not running the big person race?" As I told people throughout the park, I'M BABYSITTING! Yeah, that's why.
I took the Buzz Lightyear shooting ride very seriously. (I still lost to Ms. G, something like 754,230 to 24,500.)

From 'Car Camping' to This

A couple of days ago I got back from an Orlando, Florida vacation. Disney World. My first visit to any Disney park anywhere in the world (although I drove past Euro Disney once!). The reason for my visit wasn't purely to see The Squeaky One but, rather, to cheer along two of my friends as they ran in the Disney World marathon weekend (next post) and to entertain a 3-year old as her mom was off running for hours upon end. Certainly staying in the Waldorf Astoria was a fringe benefit I was none too sad to experience.
"I stayed in a Waldorf Astoria last night!"
Ms. G let me jump on her bed. I slept on the pull-out sofa bed. Correction, the MEMORY FOAM pull-out sofa. Oh yes.
We heckled golfers from our balcony.
 While the Waldorf is a fine hotel with fabulous morning coffee, and afternoon champagne in the lobby, and a pleasant scent that permeates throughout, and an elevator voice that makes you fall in love with it, it was the food I'll want to remember. The real Waldorf Salad! (Buttermilk, not mayo. Candied walnuts added at the end. Almost julienned apples. A light light salad, unlike how most of us have experienced it.) A corn chowder with caviar. A flaming creme brulee with a base of creamy chocolate. And, ladies and gentlemen, THE LEMON. An original to the Waldorf in Orlando and, it appears from a brief Mr. Google search, unavailable elsewhere. They say it is a 10-hour process of boiling and candying and more. Essentially, it is a candied lemon that retains its shape, then it is filled with a lemon sorbet and a custard- but the fillings are not mixed together, they're more of a pastiche so one bite you get sorbet and the next custard.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Needing a Vacation from my Vacation

Oh, New York. I got there on the 29th of December and I left on the morning of the 3d. Me and two of my very good girlfriends, all of us likely the person when in other groups of friends who pressures everyone to drink more. As it is, I need detox from my six days. But we didn't just drink, we're all foodie sorts too. And NYC is a foodie heaven. We caviar'd, we pate'd, we cheese'd, and pasta'd (not me), and soup'd, we cheese'd (it deserves to be listed twice), we olive'd, we pork'd, lamb'd and beef'd our way through the city. And, of course, we hair of the dog'd too.
S and I lizzing, with the significant other of my friend, G.
G and her man. He always stands like that. ;)