Jan 172013

After a few bites of breakfast at the buffet and a few final minutes on wi-fi, we loaded into a couple of vans and headed to the Chiang Mai airport for our flight South to Bangkok. Our day looks easy on paper, but the best laid plans do not always work out in practice.

In Transit

The airport was quiet and our plane was delayed. I browsed the shops and considered books, tea makers, and snacks, but not seriously; I have so many purchases already, and so many planned for this afternoon. After boarding, my seatmate objected to the foul smell when I opened my one quart zip bag to extract a menthol cough drop. Apparently the little bag of fish sauce I had stashed in there had burst and perfumed everything. I stuffed in several paper towels in a futile effort to extract the cause of the aroma, but it was too late: serious cleaning will be required later.

Thai Airways served us promptly and efficiently. What it served us is less clear: a bun with some kind of fish salad seems most likely. After touching down in Bangkok, we queued in the aisles and the jetway to walk down an external staircase and catch a bus to the terminal. This really can’t be the most efficient way to run an airport. Also, I had forgotten about the humidity during our time in the North. Wow.

Aw Taw Kaw Market

About a half hour later we pulled into the perpetually busy parking lot at Bangkok’s most upscale fresh market, Aw Taw Kaw (also written Or Tor Kor). We began with a one plate lunch (in my case, roast duck with basil and hot chillies over a generous pile of rice) and snacks Kasma collected from around the market. The grilled pork-on-a-stick and the Northern Style spicy sausage were excellent. The very lightly sweetened passion fruit juice was tart and refreshing. We were ready to shop.

Because our group was so large, it was impossible for everyone to be near enough to Kasma to see, smell, and taste everything. I gradually drifted off to my own browsing and a few photos, purchasing some good rice and delicious snacks for the journey home.


Melt Me Chocolate

Kasma and Michael have a new passion in town: Hokkaido style dark chocolates from Melt Me (Thai website, Facebook page). They have a branch serving gelato, as well as selling chocolates, just off Soi Thonglor, not so far from the Hotel Rex. We sampled several of their tasty products. The handmade 70% dark chocolate bars are like little ingots of smooth, rich, creamy/dense, bittersweet chocolate truffle filling with a dusting of bitter cocoa powder. The chocolate covered macadamia nuts are the crunchiest I have ever tried (perhaps the secret is a candy shell somewhere?). The matcha green tea chocolates were too milky for my taste, however. I’m sure readers will be disappointed to learn that I did not purchase any of these decadent chocolates. Not only would they face the risk of melting and/or in-flight consumption, but the combo pack of miniature chocolate bars and macadamias goes for nearly $30. Well, if I change my mind, they stay open until 2:30am.

Update: Melt Me’s chocolates have been compared to chocolates from the established Japanese producer ROYCE’ based in Hokkaido. On this page, scroll down to “Nama chocolate without liquor.” Their first U.S. store recently opened in New York City, or the chocolates are available at their Asian shops, or at Narita airport in duty free shops. Presumably they are equally pricey.

The 6-block drive to the hotel was excruciatingly slow. Sometimes traffic in Bangkok just stops for no apparent reason, and this was one of those days. By the time we made it back with our luggage, I could just pick up some packing tape before dinner.

Dinner at My Choice Restaurant

Our second trip to nearby My Choice restaurant went as well as the first. Kasma had specially requested massaman curry beef tongue with roti, and although some of the tongue pieces were a bit too firm, the overall combination was delicious. Slivered banana blossoms, too astringent to eat plain, were tamed by coconut milk in a salad topped with sweet crunchy fried shallots. The overall flavor was reminiscent of the restaurant’s wing bean salad. Other dishes were: hot and sour soup with shrimp and fresh straw mushrooms (so much better than canned); a rich dip of ground pork and salted crab in coconut milk, with tiny chillies available for optional additional heat, served with slices of white turmeric, slices of cucumber, green beans, and banana blossom; sour sausage we had brought from Chiang Mai stir fried with egg and served with a tray of accompaniments for in-mouth seasoning, including cabbage leaf rectangles, cilantro springs, shallot slices, peanuts, little cubes of ginger, and bits of lime pump and peel; mackerel salad wrapped in a bai chaploo (wild pepper) leaf and folded into a little pyramid; stir-fried squid with lots of green peppercorns (we’ll miss those). For dessert, I again had the coconut ice cream with lemon basil seeds. I guess I’m in a bit of rut.


Tomorrow we graze the alleys of Chinatown before taking a longtail boat up the canals for sightseeing and shopping. My packing situation is getting dire. How much tougher will it be tomorrow evening?

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