A group of us are scheduled for cooking lessons and we have chosen Pad Thai, Penang curry, Black pepper beef, Tom Kha Gai soup and Mango sticky rice. As I know you are now licking your lips, I can confirm it was amazing and I’m looking forward to making this at home.
Our teacher shows us the different fruits and explains the durian on the end here is loved by locals, but it tastes like heaven and smells like hell. Quite similar to the Chinese cooking I know but the subtle spices are something else. We are taken to the markets first and compared to where we shopped in our Village while staying in China these are clean, airy and well organised. I suspect she has taken us to tourist friendly markets but still my companions haven’t seen anything like it before.
We go to the culture show and are shown to a table and I end up next to the company CEO. Hmmm, not my preferred seat I have to say. I order a whiskey and sip it as we all are back and forward choosing from the biggest smorgasbord I have ever seen. There are about 30 different tables of food from every country imaginable.
We soon start chatting and he asks me about our Croatia visit. I already know he is descended from an Island close to ours. “How was your visit?” he asks. “Fantastic!” I say. We share similar stories and his eyes twinkle with delight when I tell him about Maree phoning me to say there was a competition on. My writing the story about Grandpa and us winning the ten thousand dollars. He loves it! He tells me about his grandpas arrival here and a bride being chosen for him from the village and her delivery of fourteen children in a raupo hut at the rivers edge. We both admire the strength of people in those days. I tell him the trick Grandpa played played on Nana, a Lebanese to win her agreement to marry him. He thinks it’s hilarious as he throws his head back to really belly laugh about that. “Lebanese?, he says. How did they get on?” Well I say the Lebanese fought amongst themselves until it was time to have dinner and then it would all be blown over and be friends again. I always remember lots of screaming matches. By contrast, The Croatians would argue over something and depending on how bad it was, a grudge could transcend generations, and indeed did in our family. “Yes he agreed, saying that has happened in his family, hundreds of years in fact.”
We had an hour before the show and were encouraged to visit the ‘Thai Village’ which was pretty cool. I lost Gilbert in the first ten minutes as I chatted to actors who were demonstrating life of a hundred years ago, when the heavens opened up and I was stuck in ‘Northern Thailand’ in a pole house, with a ‘river’ to cross. I was wondering what to do when someone arrived over with an umbrella especially to rescue me. He walked me back to the main building safely. The Thai people are such beautiful people. In our hotel complex we are greeted beautifully by all the staff, and we go out of our way to smile and greet them the same.
We all ambled over to a the theatre so huge it could seat 2-3,000 and even had a couple of elephants on stage. It told the story of Siam and included waterfalls, rain and a river running through the stage with hundreds of cast and multiple scene changes.
By the end of the show Gilbert is feeling pretty miserable and by morning is sick sick sick with headaches and body aches and a general very ill feeling. I try to tell him about over lapping the paracetamol and the ibruprofen, but apparently he knows all that. For two days he is miserable. Mostly holed up in our room with room service lunch and dinners delivered. He could go to all the activities but then with his cough, he could spread it around everyone else, he rightly reasons. While he’s incubating his little malady, every other man and his dog in our group is going down. Their symptoms are more tummy, where Gilbert’s is more flu like. Not the women surprisingly. On day three I tell him if he overlaps paracetamol and ibruprofen he will get better cover. A revelation apparently…
The room cleaners are aware he is feeling unwell and left a lovely note and flowers
The steamy hot atmosphere makes him feel much worse and I manage to coax him to the pool just twice. He’s a lot happier watching movies in the room with the aircon on full. This is our third trip to Thailand and while it’s a shame and it’s never fun to be sick, there’s nothing we need, so don’t feel we are missing anything at all!