Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Green Mangos Galore, Boat Noodles, Lunch at SomTam and Another Massage (at BodyTune)

On Sunday, my friend and I went to get some fresh fruit.  Our simple task ended up in a byzantine adventure involving a grocer and his wife and a kilogram of green mangos, a wet market hunt for sugar and chili dip, culminating in our purchase of a bunch of raw ingredients to make our own concoction.  But I guess that is the fun of travel!

Green mango in varying shades of ripeness - from the very yellow to the very green, they range in flavor from the very sweet to the very tart.
Because we bought the green mango from a grocer, they did not have any of the chili dip that the fruit vendors typically sell.  We went to a wet market where we amused two old ladies with our sign language.  By pulling the mango out of the box and pantomiming the dip, we managed to convey our needs to the ladies.  Throwing their heads back in cackles of delight, they charged us 12baht for three bags: salt, sugar, and chili powder.  Their message to us was clear and transcended linguistic barriers: seems you have to make your own.
The grocer was also selling green bananas.  These bananas were ripe and to be eaten that day!  Can you believe it?  I'd always thought green bananas were unripe.  Guess it depends on the type.
On our way back from procuring the green mango, we also got some "boat noodles" to go.  We could have stayed and eaten there, but there were all kinds of mosquitoes flitting about and I decided the extra garnishes available on the table were not worth the future pain of the itching and scratching.

Apparently boat noodles are the generic term used for any soup noodles that are cooked in a dark brown broth.  This one was really tasty, with tender shoots of morning glory, thin shredded pieces of chicken, and the most mouth watering vinegar and chili sauce.  I could have eaten two bowls of it.  Instead, I will just show it twice.  That's how good it was.

For lunch, we went to SomTam in Siam Square, a restaurant that specializes in papaya salad but also makes a bunch of other tasty concoctions.

Their fried chicken was on nearly every patron's table - a sure sign that it is a "must order".  It was really tasty, perfectly friend, with flavorful succulent pieces that could be dipped in the accompanying magic chili sauce.
The magic sauces (two each of the same kind):

Grilled pork collar, very tender and slightly fatty, also to be dipped in the magic Isaan chili sauce:
This was my favorite dish, the fried fish.  It was so perfectly crisp on the outside, with a tender, moist flaky center:
This was their pork larb salad, very spicy and interestingly, with bits of liver:
The papaya salad was served with noodles and fried pork skin.  I didn't quite like the pork crackling but I dived in to the other parts of the dish with gusto.  Som tam is so good!
After lunch, we went to stroll around in Siam Square, in particular on a floor that contained a lot of local Thai designers and Thai talent.  Many of the stores were so cool.  Some of the designs were too crazy for me, but the whole place still brimmed of energy and creativity.
After shopping and strolling around, we went to BodyTune, a fancier establishment, for massages.  

Because I had to go back to Hong Kong (I was leaving earlier than the rest of the group) I only opted for an hour long massage.  To give you an idea of the magic of Thailand, even an hour long oil massage at a "fancy establishment" such as this came to US$13.80.  Pretty sweet, I'd say.  I'll take it!

After my massage, I headed back to the hotel to pick up my bag, then headed to the airport.  My taxi driver was a sweet man who apologetically kept saying to me, "No English!"  It made me wish I could speak some Thai.

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