Eating My Way Through Bangkok

By Michelle Yastremsky

I missed my flight home again. This time I blame the food! I’ve been in Thailand for 10 days now, and after bathing elephants at an ethical reserve, exploring a temple protected by monkeys, and hiking through the amazing Doi Athonan National Park, today is finally my day off from adventuring.

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Since I had nowhere to be, the day called for sleeping in! My late start came with a strong pang of hunger, so my first stop was of course one of Bangkok’s famous markets. The hotel concierge suggested a low-key floating market located on the outskirts of the city, so I grabbed the train to Wang Wian Yai Station and had a taxi driver take me the rest of the way there.

After being met with the intoxicating smell of Thai herbs and spices, I proceeded to the chaos of boats along the river. The vendor chopping the juicy dragonfruit invited me to taste her freshly-chopped wares, and who was I to disagree? After a small bite my grumbling stomach reminded me it was time for the hearty stuff.

The robust smells led me to an older Thai woman frying noodles on one side, and mixing up her own sweet chili sauce on the other. After a courteous smile and a nod, she knew what I was after. In just a short moment I was presented with a plate stacked high of stir-fry noodles slathered in a sweet-smelling sauce infused with chilis.

Those noodles really hit the spot. I was due for some relaxation on this day off, so I hired a boat and enjoyed the rest of the market while floating along the calm canal.

After one more stop at the dragonfruit vendor’s boat, I waved goodbye and made my way back to Bangkok. Still in a lull from the wares of the market, I went on a hunt for a quiet oasis in Bangkok city to catch up on some reading. My search led me along the Chao Phraya River, where the beautiful Santi Chaiprakarn Park peacefully awaited my arrival.

The perfect bench overlooking the river and Rama VIII Bridge silently invited me over, the ideal spot to finish those last 100 pages of my reading. As I neared the end, my concentration was interrupted by the sound of Thai music buzzing from speakers nearby. But I was grateful for the interruption, as I hadn’t even noticed the sun setting right in front of my eyes.

All this relaxing had worked up my appetite once more, so I took advantage of the setting sun and made my way to my favorite night market. A line of hungry locals wrapped around a food stall in the corner, so I hurried to see what delicious goodies the vendor had in store. A colorful dish of shredded papaya, roasted nuts, and succulent shrimp called out to me – I’m told this dish is called Som tam (papaya salad). I paired this with a chicken skewer, then ended my night on a sweet note with my favorite Thai dessert: steamy sticky rice paired with ice-cold ice cream and ripe mangoes.

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