Jan 122008

For breakfast we strolled to the morning market — completely distinct from the night bazaar — and grabbed our meal from various carts, eating on our feet along sidewalks and busy aisles. Fresh jackfruit segments first, then deep fried bananas and yams, gooey yam balls, oily but tasty coconut pancakes, corn fritters, sticky rice with chilli-sugar ground dried shrimp, pork rinds with green chilli paste, sour sausage on a stick, and more. Eventually we made our way to the cart where a woman served up scoops of homemade young coconut “slush.” We chartered a little bus (with benches for 5 facing each other in a tall camper-shell-like enclosure) and sped back to the hotel.

Our official activities included visiting the temples Wat Phra Singh and Wat Chiang Mun, after which we filled up on curry noodles. After lunch we headed to the outskirts of town to visit a wood carving museum. Here we saw fantastic works that must have taken years to complete, such as extremely complicated three dimensional vistas fashioned from large sections of tree trunk. Naturally, there was a gift shop, but having had my expectations raised, there really were no portable and affordable pieces I wanted to (or had to) take home with me. On the way back we stopped in the wicker district to look at items from the exotic (fish traps) to the practical (sticky rice serving baskets) to the mundane. Soon we returned to the hotel.

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For dinner we went to a relatively fancy restaurant that Kasma had discovered through a local review. There was live entertainment in the next room, mostly a little light electric guitar and Western songs interpreted by a Thai songstress. Meanwhile, we began with a very citrusy miang savoy (savoie?), with fish meat, ginger, shallots, and chillies already mixed and ready for a little lettuce or other leaf wrapper. A choo chee curry with prawns was tasty, but quite a bit sweeter than I’ve had elsewhere; people referred to it as “sweet and sour,” which probably is a bad sign. A salad of choped herbs (somewhere betwee parsley and cilantro) was topped with chopped shrimp and ground pork “meatballs.” Our vegetable was yet another unusual leafy green in Thai oyster sauce. The final courses were a tender duck and a red curry soup.

Kasma had warned us in advance that desserts here were over the budget, so we passed pomelo segments while, unbeknownst to me, someone arranged for me to sing with the guitar player. They were using a laptop-based karaoke system for the other instruments and for lyrics, so it was not very difficult to coordinate. I wonder what the other diners must have been thinking as I sang “Love Potion No. 9,” “Crying,” and “Handy Man” in a clearly American accent. Well, we didn’t have any complaints, so I guess future groups will be allowed to eat here again.

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