We are a family of foodies! Reggie and I follow a vegan diet with an occasional backslide here and there, my son is a carnivore and my daughter’s diet is as fickle as the weather. We flew on Air Japan and thanks to saving those miles, we were in business class which was nice considering it was a 20 hour journey. I pre-ordered hindu vegan meals which I fine more flavorful that just regular vegan meals. We were pleasantly surprised at the quality of the meals, so fresh and delicious.
Our first day in Bangkok started off with a 4 AM wake up call, we were meeting a guide to participate in the daily alms round, a tradition where lay people feed the monks in order to earn merit. The monks come out at dawn in search of their daily meal which must be eaten by noon. We left the hotel around 5 AM, stopped at one of the many roadside food stands to buy flowers and small individual packets of food for the monks. We then were dropped off at the dock where we boarded a long tail boat, after about a 10 minute ride we were greeted with the light of dawn and monks in their saffron robes gliding on small boats receiving alms from the residents along the river. It was a moving experience to participate in this ritual. Each time we had an exchange with a monk, he would say a few sentences in Thai, which our guide told us the monk was blessing us for our generosity.
After our morning of visiting temples we returned to our hotel and had afternoon tea. The Peninsula Hotel is known for their tea, so with our complementary voucher in hand we took advantage and escaped the heat for a minute.
The next day we decided to have dinner at an Indian Restaurant I read about in Vogue India. I was intrigued by the description of “progressive Indian” cuisine. So after a crazy ride on a tuk tuk we arrived at Gaggan only to be told we did not have a reservation, fortunately Chef Gaggan happened to pass by and notice us, which was not difficult considering I had not run into any African-Americans since we arrived in Thailand. He was so gracious and accommodated us on the terrace which was perfect. Our meal was “progressive” but delightful, numerous courses of artfully prepared Indian inspired dishes, but the highlight of the evening was running into our neighbor Samir and his children. What are the odds of that? Mind you this is our neighbor who lives across the street and we did not know that we were both traveling to Thailand.
Damnoen Saduak floating market gave us a chance to travel outside of the city, I had read that this is a tourist trap but still a must see. We hired one of the wooden boats, which are all are paddled by women, and went up and down the narrow canals buying fruit, and other trinkets.
After a few days in Bangkok we traveled north to Chiang Mai, our home for the next few days was the Four Seasons a beautiful resort surrounded by rice paddy fields. The service was impeccable, we had breakfast there every day and the staff quickly accommodated our vegan requests and greeted us by name every morning.
Of course we could not go to Thailand without doing a cooking class. I did my research before leaving and settled on “A Lot of Thai: Home Cooking School” which was held at the home of Yui. Chef Yui was an excellent teacher, we made all the thai classics, pad thai, spring rolls, mango sticky rice, green curry and many other dishes. Thai cooking is so quick and so full of flavor.
One of the highlights of our trip to Thailand was spending a day at Patara elephant farm. You are paired with an elephant when you arrive and you take care of it for the day, ie. feeding, bathing doing a health check and going for a ride through the jungle. These majestic animals are so gentle. I really wanted to go and just take pictures of everybody, because I was afraid, I have had bad experiences riding horses so riding an elephant-Oh my. My monkey brain was telling me that I was going fall and be stepped on by the elephant. At the end of the day I was in love with these giants. We had a beautiful lunch on banana leaves next to a waterfall after we bathed our elephant.
Our next stop was the beautiful island of Koi Samui, our home would be the Four Seasons another breathtaking resort on the gulf of Thailand. Warm water, silky sand, spas, yoga, plunge pool outside of each room…whats not to like. One evening we had dinner on the sand, it was truly a memorable night. We had lazy days there lounging by the beach and spa-ing.
Our last stop was the Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, our home for our last few day was The Surin. We relaxed and walked around the town, I could not help but to think about the massive tsunami that devastated the island in 2004. Everyone I talked to had a story about that day.
Like all vacations our trip was over to soon, and we headed back home. I visited with my friend Nancy Katsura during our layover in Tokyo, Nancy and I met at UCLA interior design program, it had been many years since we had seen each other, but we picked up as if it was yesterday.
Upon our return home it was a rush to get Reggie ready for his year aboard. This is the first week I am beginning to feel normal, getting back to some sort of routine. Although I love traveling it is nice to be home.