Saturday, 9 April, 2011
Thai food is highly praised around the world. So, we chose not to eat for a good few hours before our evening trip to the night market – we were pretty certain that we would be stopping at every stall in sight and scoffing our faces.
Although, based on our findings it would appear that dead bugs seem to be the demand of the locals. That was a weird reality. In England, a place gets closed down when an insect is found in the kitchen, in Thailand the insects are the kitchen.
We held back on the restaurant selling the lovely green chicken curry, to reserve a spot for a bag of silkworms. We’ve certainly made better decision. Oh well, when in Rome do as the Romans do.
We discussed our options, before opting for a grasshopper – one would have been adequate. However, the stall worker gave us a big bag of them as if they were liquorice allsorts. I’m unfamiliar with the look of a grasshopper junkie, but apparently to this lady, we fit the bill. They were tanked in sauce but tasted alright, a bit like seaweed. We were fine to stop at one though, and gave the rest to a street dog, which seemed to suit all parties.
I’m slightly curious as to what the parents traditionally put alongside a sandwich in their kid’s school packed lunch over here.
“June, our Paul’s just got back from England and he said they give their children really weird snacks.”
“You will love this. Only bloody yogurts and crisps.”
“You what?! No wasps or tarantulas? Well, Mary, I’ve heard it all now.”
For some reason, I started to feel like I had conquered Everest by eating that grasshopper, and began to consider it merely a challenge I needed to surpass. I went in search of even more outlandish snacks. I’m just glad that there wasn’t a market stall selling a tin of dog food, my confidence would have been all over it.
Instead, I ate a scorpion – hakuna matata. It’s hard to describe the taste of a scorpion – a bit like uncooked tortellini filling, I guess? That’s the best I can offer. Sorry critiquing food is not my forte, let’s just say that scorpion and chips will never have the selling power of fish and chips.
With the novelty of chowing down on bugs wearing off, we spent our following day delving into a bit of history at Phu Phrabat Historical Park – which boasts prehistoric paintings and fantastic rock formations.
The walk was pleasant and the views were stunning; some of these cavemen even built shelters that seemed to defy the laws of gravity – my logical conclusion is that these people from the ancient times were at work before even gravity had been invented.
The prehistoric paintings came in the form of geometric designs, animals, and stickmen – it was all very cryptic. It was even more astonishing to see just how impressively clear these pictures were after all this time. Not enough schools offer the option to learn caveman, I reckon it would have interested me more than French did.
Another huge plus being that these paintings are heavily guarded – their significance is highly respected. It was brilliant to see that there wasn’t any graffiti alongside this remarkable piece of history. It sounds odd, but most monuments have been tarnished by some twerp writing, ‘Fred Loves Wilma’, all over it – even the Taj Mahal was not short of people signing their names, believe it or not.
Next up was Bangkok – you know, that place with the ladyboys and women that fire ping-pong balls out of their lady garden (I wonder how you’d go about explaining that one to your careers advisor).
Everybody travelling this circuit has Bangkok on their itinerary and with good reason – which is ping-pong Paula, obviously. The city also happens to offer fantastic food, giving Thailand’s capital even more than just loaded vaginas.
I would probably suggest taking in their grub before their stage entertainment though. You know, while your appetite is still intact. Also, to clarify, I’m now talking about their shrimp soup and spicy beef salad as opposed to the grasshoppers and scorpions.
Oddly, Ruby wasn’t enthused by the thought of a ping-pong show. So, instead we decided we would start our Bangkok experience watching a film, Thai style.
This would mean viewing a movie with a blanket, pillow, foot warmer stockings, sofas, and valet food service – in other words, for two hours I’d morph into the king of the world. I guess if I wasn’t going to get to see shooting ping-pong balls, this wasn’t a bad consolation.
As we stood in the queue awaiting our crowns, a confused member of staff approached us and explained that this week’s selected VIP movie would be entirely in Thai. This left us with two options, save face and pretend we can speak the language or walk away in a jester’s hat instead of an almighty crown. We genuinely mulled over our options for a moment.
I then remembered watching a Thai TV show on the bus, which was poor. The main theme of the programme being a host giving people uncooked food and then pulling faces. The locals loved it, cracking up throughout the entire show – I, on the other hand, didn’t really get it. Furthermore, the movie we were in line for was three hours long – forget saving face, give me that jester hat now, please.
The experience remains on the to-do-list, but for now, it would need to take a backseat.
Ok, so our afternoon was free again and we noticed that there was a Madame Tussauds across from the cinema. For some reason, that is exactly where we ended up.
A common question prior to setting off on this trip was, ‘What do you consider to be must-see?’, I would always think long and hard about the beautiful mountains and exquisite temples, but when push came to shove, my answer would always be the same – a life-sized, plastic version of Tom Cruise. This week I finally managed to live out that dream.
The place was exactly as you would expect – endless photos with giant Barbie dolls. I somehow managed to get told off for pretending to squeeze Barack Obama’s bicep, too – meaning that either, plastic Barack is extremely sensitive or a little bit in the closet, not sure which.
By the way, if these dolls are measured entirely accurately, Obama should be living in a castle at the top of a beanstalk – the guy is a giant. I didn’t bother getting a picture with him, as one of our heads would have been out of the shot. “Here I am, standing alongside a suit.”
Perhaps I’m down playing the experience, because the locals seemed to love the notion of getting their picture with a motionless celebrity. There was even a queue of people waiting in line to get a snap with Madonna – I hope they weren’t waiting for a signature, I heard that the plastic Madge is renowned for not giving autographs. All in all, it was all right and passed the time we had free.