Sensing the end….

Wow! Last night lying in bed, I realized I’m down to two weeks left in Southeast Asia. I actually started to cry! I’ve had an incredible time and certainly, it’s not over yet. Luckily, my foot is feeling better and I’m ready to take on Bangkok with a vengence!

While I’m killing some time waiting for my night train to Bangkok from Chiang Mai, I thought I’d take a few minutes to reflect on my journey so far. I’ve learned a lot – like for instance, that I love pineapple shakes! Why can’t I make these at home – you can bet, I’m gonna try! There’s a million things I could list that I’ve learned about myself and you can bet in the future, I will blog about that! But for now, I really want to focus on what I’ve seen and felt here in SE Asia.

Mostly, it’s been a roller coaster ride for the senses! Let me explain!

The smells here are amazing and yet, not always pleasant! One minute it’s the smell of all the beautiful flowers and greenery that grows here. Then it’s the myriad of foods they cook here – curries and noodles and chicken and pork. The smell of cinammon is often found here. And then, there’s the smell of the street – garbage rotting and the always present smell of sewer water. And let’s not forget the dreaded durian fruit. You simply cannot describe the smell. The best I can say is that it’s a combination of sweaty socks, armpits, and possibly a hit of pineapple thrown in. It’s horrible! And yet, these people love this fruit…I can not bring myself to get it into my mouth! Sorry!

One of my favorite photos!

From the hot, sandy beaches to the crumbled, torn-up sidewalks, experiencing SE Asia is a challenge to even the healthiest feet! The concrete in Bangkok goes on forever. But in Malaysia, it’s a miracle to walk down any sidewalk without falling in a hole or tripping on an uneven sidewalk. Penang is simply the worst – I could never look up when walking in Penang – I always had to look at the sidewalk! The holes and loose bricks and uneven walkways were a constant threat! And the feel of icy cold water everywhere during Songkran in Chiang Mai – wow! The winner though, hands down, is the feeling of motion here. The ferries, trains, buses and minivans are not for the faint of heart! Dramamine is my friend!!

The sounds of SE Asia are amazing. The sleek Skytrain of Bangkok is barely audible. But outside the Skytrain, the sounds of touts is never-ending. Someone is always selling something and farangs (foreigners) are always the target! In Koh Samui, the sale is about MA-SSAGE?????? That’s how the girls say it…with a long delay in both syllables and as if asking a question. In Kuala Lumpur, the horns and constant traffic are only matched in volume by the Call to Prayer broadcast over the speakers strategically placed all around town. The greatest sound…the quiet Kob Kun Kaa (thank you) spoken by a Thai with the little bow of the head and the prayer-like position of their hands!

Padthai, banana pancakes, fried bananas, mango sticky rice, and of course, my favorite…pineapple shakes! The taste buds are always on overload in SE Asia. There are many things I didn’t try because I don’t like spicy food. But the things I have tried that I like, I just can’t seem to get enough of them! Pineapple shakes are my absolute favorite – I think it’s because they are so light and yet, so sweet! Last night, I tried fried bananas and they are awesome. The chicken and pork satay is always good when walking around….nothing like eating meat off a stick! Even western food is interesting…..nothing tastes quite the same! In Penang, I tried the Nonya style of food – way to spicy for me…but certainly an adventure!

By far, the eyes have the most to absorb here although the nose is certainly the runner-up! I could never be here without a camera because describing the beauty amid all the chaos that is SE Asia would be impossible!  The magnificent skyline of Singapore seen from the Singapore Flyer, the beauty of the southern Thailand lagoons and limestone formations and white beaches with crystal clear water, the serene and surprising National Mosque in Kuala Lumpur, the silent parade of monks walking through hectic and never-stopping traffic of Bangkok – none of these things can be described without photos!  And certainly, the people of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand, working, smiling, living life just like we do in America.

All of these things will soon be a distant memory for me. I’m so glad I have the photos to help remind me of the smell and feel and sounds and tastes of SE Asia now that it’s getting near the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed it too through what I’ve written about, but hey, I still have two weeks in Bangkok!!! Get ready for more!!

Cheri 🙂

Why I can’t lose weight in Thailand…..

It’s simple. The food is too damn good and there are way too many choices!!

When I was in Malaysia, the kids at the hostels would rant and rave about how good the food was in Thailand. But when I asked them if the food was spicy, they always said yes. Now, I don’t know what food these people were ordering, but I’ve had nothing spicy at all yet! I will admit though, several times I’ve been asked if I want “spicy” or not!

Let’s start with breakfast. Although I’m having a hard time finding these for breakfast, we’ll count them as breakfast food – banana pancakes. These are not your Aunt Jamima’s pancakes folks!! These start as small round balls of dough. They flatten the dough and then make it thinner and thinner which makes the size of the “shell” get larger and larger. The “chef” throws a hunk of butter on the griddle and then the thin dough. Most of the time the dough is so thin it has holes in it. A banana is quickly sliced up and tossed in the middle, usually with another slab of butter! (Already you can see this is my kind of treat!!) Then the banana inside is covered up by folding over each side of the dough and the top and bottom of the dough. The whole square is turned over and fried also! Once it’s done, the “pancake” is removed to a piece of paper, cut up in 9 or 12 pieces, and then sprinkled with sweetened condensed milk and a little sugar. Now really folks, we’re talking dough, bananas, butter, sweetened milk and sugar. I’m not seeing a downside to this treat!! The only thing I have found is that bananas give me heartburn so I have limited my intake of these especially since I only seem to be able to find these in the evening at the night market!

Dinner – pad thai…..basically fried noodles with vegetables and chicken and sometimes shrimp and of course, soy sauce! Folks, these people love oil and butter and that puts me on a first name basis with them! Honestly, I could eat this stuff every night of the week – oh wait – I pretty much have!! Really, I do vary my dinner because they also have chicken and pork satay which is basically just meat grilled on a stick. It’s fabulous! I also sometimes have fried rice with vegetables and meat. I’ve also had omelets with meats and rice…they are delicious too.

And fresh juice..I’m telling you, they use whatever fruit you want and put it in the juicer right in front of you. Pineapple, strawberry, watermelon, kiwi, orange….you name it…they juice it!!

The most amazing thing of all is the cost of this food. Tonight I had pad thai in a sit down restaurant and it was 45 Baht which is slightly more than $1 USD. Add in my Coke for 20 Baht which is less than $1 and there’s a meal!

So here’s the deal…I had this feeling when I was in Malaysia and not liking the food so much because most of it had a curry-like taste to it, that I was going to come to Thailand and eat less because I wouldn’t care for the food. WRONGO!!! I love the food here and it’s taking everything in me not to eat too much!!

So….why can’t I lose weight in Thailand? It’s simple – the food is so damn good and there are way too many choices!!