By day eight, we were exhausted, both from traveling and the fact that the last night bus was a whirlwind of uncomfortable movement. Before we even hopped on the double-decker bus to make the six (or eight) hour trip back to the capital city, we ate the spiciest sam tam we had had, thus far. It was fever inducing and tongue burning. So how did we cool our flaming mouths? With cheap rum, but of course. Couple pseudo-psychedelic salad with bad rum and throw that into a two-storied bus, air-conditioned to the point where we had to wrap a complimentary blanket around our bodies and see how well we could nap. Not sleep. It wasn’t good times, folks. But somehow, so 20something.
As we rolled into Bangkok by sunrise, we had our doubts as to what the day was going to pan out to be. We had three things on our list: get to the hostel, buy some things to take home, go out to dinner. As you’ve read, we definitely went out to dinner (in style, I might add). We also made it to our hostel (forty minutes early, so we lied on their porch, drifting in and out of sleep), and right now I’m sipping on some Thai tea that I freshly pressed, so we accomplished our very basics.
We also ended up running around the whole of Bangkok. We can both thank, to a large extent, coffee. Thai coffee, Starbucks coffee (only on trips, is my rule with that beast), quick espressos, and convenience store coffee. It was not great for our hearts, what with the caffeine and all, but well worth it. And, again, somehow very 20something.
After cups of coffee one, two, or three, we went a-touristing. Boat-Buses up the river? Check. Wat Arun and the Grand Palace? Why would you even ask? Former hippy hang out Khoa San Road? Been there, ate a smoothie, took anthropological notes as to how non-hippy and more western it was, and peaced out. Shopping malls and markets? It’s like you don’t even trust us as travelers.
During the middle of the day, there was not only a hiccup in the flow of narrative, but also a volta: a change from old to new. Conveniently it happened over lunch, when the day normally breaks.
While strolling around what used to be a place that one used to only find by insider tips, but now is overflowing with foreigners shopping and bargaining, we found a street littered with Vegetarian Restaurants. One thing you must know about LZ and I is: we like to try to eat as healthy as possible. This doesn’t always happen (see: fried chicken, street food, coffee sweetened with condensed milk… the list goes on), but when we find a good salad, or smoothie, or raw food restaurant, we hop all over it.
Settling into one of the veggie places, we realized we could do better – “What about that place?” “Want to check it out?” “Why not?”
And it was one of the best decisions we made on that sleep-stupor day. Taking our shoes off at the restaurant’s entrance, seeing people in dreadlocks, and flipping through the extensive vegan menu, we were in heaven.
Especially me, since the salads had homemade hummus (one of three foods I’ve been missing) and in the back of the menu, where the drinks are (always?), there was (the second of the foods I’ve been missing) Kombucha. For those who don’t know about this magical drink of the gods, I’ll explain in another post (it requires full attention). For those who do know, you can just imagine my surprise and my elation. Brewed in-house, I ordered the largest glass.
What this meal did for me was beyond tactile and sensory description. It brought me home. It put me on my College’s lawn, eating lunch with good friends, laughing, and feeling the sun’s rays scoot their last interactions with my bare arms for a while as I got ready to walk into a computer lab for hours on end. It put me in the park next to the farmer’s market in some of the best company in the world, realizing how much we had just run and how we should probably get another kombucha for good measure because later that day was hot yoga. It put me in a land of endless culinary choices where restriction isn’t in the lexicon, gastronomically.
So I made a resolution: no more homogeneity. I’ve been all about Korean food for a while, but these next couple of months are going to be explorative in the kitchen. What can I do here in Korea that I didn’t think was possible? What food is out there?
I’ve chosen to do a lot of vegetarian cuisine simply because it makes you think a little outside of the box. No Meat and three. Sometimes, I’m going to try some vegan things. But fear not, fish and meat will make cameo appearances here and there.
So if you have a glass, raise it and toast the Vegan Restaurant in Bangkok that broke me out of the Korean homogeneous cuisine. Here’s to mixing it up. Italian. Korean. Vegan. Soul Food. Get ready and (sorry Nike) just dive in. Here’s a taste of what’s to come.