Our holiday in December - January seems like aeons ago now (inevitably so). I find however, that I can still easily transport myself back to the sunny beach on Koh Sumet or the winter snows and crows in Japan. We have the photos. We have the memories.
To finish off the recollections of our holiday, I want to write a piece on the food we experienced both in Thailand and in Japan.
Firstly Thailand. Our first night there we walked to find a restaurant / cafe in order to experience the local fare. We had already sampled lunch at the hotel. Lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and the waiting staff were vigilant and courteous (as I've noted before, the 'Land of Smiles' is a truly apt title for Thailand and its people). The setting was hotel-like; clean and appealing. However that night we wanted to venture forth into the hot and humid (but not always salubrious) city environs around the hotel in order to experience what Thailand (or more precisely, Bangkok) had to offer.
I remember having to acclimatise to the whiff of sewers; part of the dust, dirt, heat and life of a city such as Bangkok. We walked down a long, long alley lined on both sides with stalls and their owners. Noise! Colour! Music! Smells! Humidity! Life! It's all there. Unfortunately I was tired (jet-lagged) and not really in the mood for all that razzamatazz.
We managed to find a cafe in a side street. It almost seemed like the small cafe was in someone's backyard, or garage, it had such an informal air. Our waitress was making mistakes and running to an fro giggling and smiling and chattering as she went. There was an atmosphere of fun and casual service. The food was average. I can't remember what we had; 'Thai' and 'fried' is about all I can remember. Robert remembers that that was where we had our first Chang beer. (Nice beer).
Steve, E. and the kids arrived the next day. We had dinner with them at a Thai restaurant near to a large mall. I couldn't write a better description of this meal than the one Steve has written on his blog - go here to read about it.
Every day during our stay at the beach resort on Koh Sumet, we were spoilt for choice as to where to go for lunch and dinner. At night the sand is raked, the lanterns lit, cushions and bean bags are laid out around low tables and the smells of sizzling, spicy meals flavour the air.
I couldn't hope to describe each meal. There was always an array and assortment of dishes to choose from and each meal our table was laden with choice. All delicious and very reasonably priced. Robert's favourite meal was a mussels with basil & chili sauce he had at one of the restaurants on the beach. (The Thai basil is delicious and very much part of Thai cooking ... it seems to be different to the basil I'm used to ...) I loved all the meals except one - a very bad pasta we had at a cafe with a couldn't-care-less attitude (unusual for Thailand).
What I loved about the meals on Koh Sumet was that we were having them with family. An abiding memory is the nightly fireworks and our grandson R. shouting "Hanabi! Hanabi!" (Hanabi is the Japanese word for fireworks - 'hana' meaning flower and 'bi' meaning fire).
Next post I will attempt to capture something of the meals and food we enjoyed in Japan.