When I cautiously told a good friend here that I was going to Thailand, I was curious as to their reaction. Sometimes people get really happy for the traveler. Sometimes they get angry and make jokes that have more truth than the comedian would like to admit. Most times people say “Oh, well isn’t that nice? Have a great time.” Luckily for me, my friend reacted really positively and started to shed a lot of light and knowledge onto what Thailand is, where to go, what to look for, and where to eat. Obviously, I listened (almost with pen and paper) and was determined to visit most of the places that they mentioned.
“But that was… oh goodness, ten years ago. A lot may have changed.”
And it had. They mainly told me and urged me to go to Chiang Mai. I heeded their suggestion, and stayed there for three nights. Now, I don’t regret it a bit, but the neo-hippy, super local, plush trees and amiable tuk-tuk drivers were few and far between. It wasn’t the same place it used to be.
That isn’t to say that I don’t recommend or regret going there. There are just different expectations these days. Now, Chiang Mai is the jump-off into the jungles surrounding the developing small city. Then, it was a chill small town with intricate character. Obviously there are advantages and disadvantages to both. Then, I could have sipped coffee, bumbled my way around a spotty conversation with a local Chiang Mai resident, and dined on a cuisine that had a travel radius of twenty kilometers. Now, I can hop in the back of a truck to the canopied wilderness, ride an elephant, white water raft, see orchids, and eat Pad Thai Wrapped in a Banana leaf at the base of a waterfall. See, it’s hard to say no to both.
It’s also hard to say no to a fine dining experience to cap off a long, traveled vacation, especially if it’s an “emergency.” Now, for those who find themselves in a motherly relationship with either of the to-be-mentioned participants, caution and thank you. We may continue.
LZ and I have history when it comes to friendship, verbal sparring, and traveling. All throughout college we spent nearly every day speaking or at least emailing. Over the summers, we worked the same outdoor program, leading in-coming Freshmen down a river or through the woods on the Appalachian Trail. During school breaks, I would travel down to her family’s house in Savannah, and quickly acquired a Southern Mama, her mom. We even spent time together in New Zealand working on Organic Farms, hiking on glaciers, and fighting about what restaurant we were going to check out next. Fighting, mind you. We’re both, how do you say, stubborn?
Those were the old days, though. This trip together, we did no fighting as to restaurants, rather we agreed on mostly everything and loved the slightly-hallucinogenic qualities of our “salad.” But we did do some things from the old days (see: hiking, laughing, exchanging music and languages, and having an “emergency” at dinner).
And this was a big emergency. I mean, we had eaten nothing but Thai food in Thailand, what a tragedy. So, on our last night, we instated our one-time-routine from yesteryear, and went out to a nice dinner in Bangkok.
Fourscore or three years ago, LZ and I found ourselves in an upscale restaurant dining on three desserts, coffee infused with Bailey’s, and smiles on our faces. We had just completed nearly two months abroad on Organic Farms and in glaciers. And similarly one month ago, we found ourselves at the end of our travels, in need of one last meal together to unwind, debrief, and revel in our momentary affluence.
But not everything was the same. Then it was sweets and coffee. This time, it was a bottle of Pinot Grigio iced at our side as three courses came to our table. First up, was a salad of hydroponic lettuce, soft and supple, topped with almond slivers and a light orange dressing with tender-buttery lamb with hints of orange and mint. Second up, a filet of salmon cooked so well that it yielded to the slightest fork prong pressure, all over a saute of buttery mushrooms. Third, since LZ’s favorite food in the world (aside from Savannah style fried chicken) was a pizza that seemingly replaced cheese with salmon topped with dill in an aesthetically pleasing way.
After gasping after each bit of this three course meal, we decided that our emergency wasn’t over. If anything, the crisis had just begun. We made our way to our old habits, and went in search of dessert and a night cap. Hot lava brownie with mix drinks to make the most worldly of bartenders jealous. Fresh pressed ginger under a short stack of ice, gingerale, aged whiskey, mint, a stalk of lemon grass all mixed with a pinch of brown sugar. Bangkok at its most bohemian bourgeois.