As I said in a previous blog, we are living at a less-than-resort level but more than the local, native level. And that’s OK. I think the middle level is a bit steep but it is the standard to which old, spoiled, white folks feel most comfortable and so $30-$40.00 dinners were fine. Two nights ago, I picked up two small, delicious, thin-crust pizzas for $20.00 and they were fantastic! Brought ’em home on the back of the scooter. All very good. More than we needed. Didn’t finish them.
And, as previously mentioned, we shopped at the local superstore so we can now take care of most of our meals in our ‘villa’ even including some dinners if we want to but, to be fair, spoiled as we are, we still like dinner out. Dinner ‘out’ was going to be the norm.
And so……..last night we went looking for a renown, local, fusion restaurant buried deep within the maze of alley-ways known as ‘sois’. It was supposed to be a half-hour drive. Despite Sal drawing a map (after we tried, unsuccessfully to download Google Maps on our borrowed phone), we got hopelessly lost and, as it was getting dark, stumbled instead on a local, night market. ‘What the hell . . . let’s stop and at least look’.
I parked amongst a jumble of scooters at the side of the market after wending through a moving swarm of them to get there. It was like bumper cars without the bumping and the cars. Actually, it was more like swimming against a school of large groupers.
Anyway, we walked into the approximately 100-stall, block-sized tarp-covered market that was teeming with vendors and locals. It was local commerce, it was getting close to dinner time and it was in full swing.
The front stalls were pretty much dedicated to cooked food. People were stopping to pick up a hunk o’ chicken, a small basket of deep-fried squid or fish, various ‘balls’ and skewers of stuff that were either ready-to-cook or were cooked. Sometimes it was hard to tell. A few stalls into the heart of it were the fruits and vegetables and some additional cooked curries and stews. Of course, there was a stall of tools and another of electronics and even a few clothing racks. It was colourful and some of the food even looked pretty good. The smells were great.
“Hey, guys! You know what you’re doing?”
I saw a white, elderly couple and there was a 50/50 chance they could speak English. The attractive, smiling South African woman was keen to tell us that they did, indeed, know what they were doing and they did it often. They recommended the fish, with the spicy red chicken a close second, if one liked hot and spicy. We exchanged a few pleasantries and went about our business eventually settling on chicken, fish, squid and blob-of-goo-in-a-plastic bag that the locals lined up for. No idea what it was.
When we got home, Sal made some rice, we nuked the food to heat it up and, with a glass of wine (boxed French from the Super) we settled down for dinner. We ate just more than half what we had. The ‘goo’ was hot, spicy and delicious. Kind of a bean or asparagus salad with slices of something in a liquid-of-sorts. “How much did we pay for the food?” I added it up. It was either 80 or 100 bhat. Tb100 is $4.00.
“Sal, we just ‘ate local’ and it was delicious. Plus we couldn’t finish it. We did good. I am guessing we ate $3.00 worth. Call it $4.00 but we also picked up another pineapple. Whatever. THAT was cheap. And tasty. NOW we are in the local economy. NOW we are immersed in the ‘real’ community. NOW we are ‘feeling’ like we are learning the local ropes. I was jostling with old, fat grandmas for my turn to get the bag of goo. And they jostled back. Smiling, of course. And the lady selling charged me the same as the lady in front of me. This was not ‘Farang’ pricing. We were even being pitched by the stall owners to try their fare. The tarp was so low, it rubbed the top of my head in places. And we had the occasional ex-pat to give us a hand. It was great fun.”
“Yeah. Plus we got home alive again. Hard to beat such a great time.”