Tag Archives thailand

PAD THAI

by Monday, November 2, 2015

My inspiration for this months GLOBAL RECIPE  is Pad Thai. I had this in Bangkok, Thailand and it was my first real street food experience.  I was excited and nervous at the same time. It looked so good and was so cheap I couldn’t wait to try it.  In the back of my mind, however, I had that creeping thought that I could possibly get food poisoning if I eat this.

I ate it and I not only, didn’t get food poisoning, but it was the best pad Thai I have ever eaten in my life!  Sometimes when I think of my visit to Thailand I think about this dish and eating it at home at a restaurant, always makes me smile.

I will get back to Thailand one day to explore more of that beautiful country, but in the meantime, creating this dish is a way for me to remember the culture and the friendly Thai people I met on my visit.


 

PAD THAI (serves 4)

ingredients:

  • 16 oz. rice noodles
  • 20 peeled shrimp (raw)
  • 4 cooked chicken thighs (chopped)
  • 3 T  soy sauce
  • 5 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 1 red chile (chopped) to taste *optional
  • 2 t grated ginger
  • 8 green onions (chopped)
  • 2 eggs
  • 7 oz. bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cups dry roasted peanuts (chopped)
  • 3 t vegetable oil
  • 2/3 cup chicken stock
  • lime wedges- *optional
  • 4 T rice vinegar
  • 4 T brown sugar
  • 1/4 t cayenne pepper
  • crushed red pepper flakes-to taste *optional
  • sriracha (additional topping-optional)
  • ***some recipes call for fish sauce- (I don’ t like it, so I omitted this from the recipe)

instructions:

  1. cook rice noodles according to instructions on package
  2. heat vegetable oil in large skillet (medium-high)
  3. crack eggs into hot oil, cook until firm
  4. add shrimp, cook 2 minutes
  5. add minced garlic, cook one minute
  6. stir in cooked chicken
  7. add: chicken stock, vinegar, brown sugar, red chile, grated ginger, cayenne pepper ( here is where you would add fish sauce-if desired), stir one to two minutes
  8. add noodles, stir to mix all ingredients
  9. add soy sauce (more if desired)
  10. stir in bean sprouts, green onions
  11. garnish with chopped peanuts and lime wedges
  12. serve with sriracha sauce (optional)

video to come of the live cooking demo

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And the final product:

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pad thai

Elephant Abuse in Thailand!!!

by Saturday, May 23, 2015

I witnessed elephant abuse in Thailand, first hand. I am guilty and ashamed of myself for ignorantly contributing my part in this abuse, as a tourist.  It was one of the worst experiences of mine and my daughter’s life.

Elephant trekking was on our bucket list of things we must do in Thailand. We went to Bangkok and were headed to Phi Phi Island, but had a quick stop in Krabi on the way to the islands. We found out that Krabi offered elephant trekking and we were hoping to be able to do it that morning before leaving for Phi Phi.  We discovered that Phi Phi Island doesn’t have any elephant trekking tours, so doing it in Krabi would be our only chance.

We only had the morning until we had to catch our boat to Phi Phi Island and found a place that does a 2 hour tour that would run from 9:00 am-11:00am with pick up and drop off at our hotel. We had to check out of our hotel at noon and be at the boat pier by 1:00pm. We felt like it was meant to be and we were so fortunate to get to squeeze in  this amazing experience before leaving Krabi.

We were stoked!

It was 8:30 am when we booked this and the lady told us we should hurry back to our hotel and make sure we are in the lobby at 9:00am sharp. We ran as fast as we could back to our hotel. We were about a 10 minute walk away, that took us 3 minutes by running. We still had a few things to pack up and figured we should have it all ready to go for our return. We really love to cut things close. Makes it more exciting, plus we can do way more than most.

We changed quickly and grabbed our camera and iPhones,  lotioned up and headed down to the lobby. As promised, the driver showed up for us at 9:00 am exactly.  We drove for about 10-15 minutes to a dirt road that lead us into the jungle. There were tall huts and a smaller hut with a person in the window, and in the distance we saw 2 elephants, one with a trainer on its head. We squealed with glee, seeing the elephants for the first time. We were excited and a little nervous of what we were about to do.

The driver walked us over and told us to climb up the rickety ladder to go into the tall hut. This is where you get on the elephant. Of course, they are so tall. How else cold we reach? The trainer on the baby elephant came over to the hut and instructed us to climb on. He didn’t speak any English, he mainly just pointed and made grunt sounds.  It was a little strange.

 

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excited for our elephant trek

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just got on our elephant and ready for our ride…little did we know

We both hopped on the wooded seat that was harnessed to the elephant’s back. We felt so high and I couldn’t help thinking what would happen if I fell, or my daughter fell.  I shouldn’t think these things, but I can’t help it.

(The video above is the calm before the storm. Little did we know how horrible the elephant ride would end up being, not only for us but for this poor elephant!)

We started our trek and you could tell the elephant wasn’t happy right from the start. It wouldn’t go when prompted and the trainer kept yelling (or more like grunting like a caveman). Then he started to hit it on its head, near the eyes.

It was shocking to see and at that very moment, I realized I had made a huge mistake.

Our elephant trainer kept abusing the animal throughout the ride. This made the experience horrible. As he sat on the neck, steering and directing the elephant, he kept getting upset for some reason and beat the poor baby elephant. He carried a tool that is shaped almost like a hammer. On the opposite end of the handle protrudes a 3 inch hooked dagger. It looked more like a weapon.  The trainer kept scolding the animal and cracking the hammer on the elephant’s head with surprising force. As the man did this, occasionally the poor creature would cry out in what I could only imagine would be pain. He would also use that curved dagger side to poke the animal around the ears and forehead. There were cuts and scars across the elephant’s scalp, making it obvious this is a common practice and proof that this animal is being constantly abused. I was sick to my stomach.

At one point, when the trainer grunted and poked the elephant’s ear, the elephant cried out and started running at a speed I was not expecting from such a large animal.  Our wooden seat was bouncing all around and our bodies were being thrown like rag dolls!  I was literally scared for our lives.  The trainer seemed to have no control over the elephant and kept yelling and hitting. My daughter started slipping and when she yelled to the trainer that she was, he looked back and nervously laughed.  She scream, “This is not funny!” and started to cry.

I was numb. I was mixed with so many emotions. I felt petrified for us, I felt helpless, I felt such pity for the animal and I felt such anger at the trainer for not only abusing the elephant, but not caring about our welfare and safety. I told my daughter to hold on as tight as she could and if she fell to try to jump away from the elephant.  I didn’t want to scare her more than she already was, but I really was afraid that it was possible we fall, and I wanted to make sure she knew. Not that we could really be in control of how we fell. OMG please don’t fall!

I actually felt like we were going to die right there in that jungle.

I thought about all of the things that could happen:

  • If we feel and bumped our head?
  • If we fell and the elephant trampled us?
  •  If we fell and I crushed my daughter?

I was out of my mind with fear and started to also think about if we were to die, how our families would have to be told that we died during an elephant trek, and seeing flashes of news reports….2 American females get killed by angry elephant at an elephant trekking company being investigated for animal abuse!”  All at once these things were swirling in my head. How could I have put us in this horrific situation?

I almost started to cry too, but I tried to stay calm for my daughter.  It took everything I had, not to. My heart was beating so hard and I had shortness of breath. It almost felt like a panic attack was coming on.  I just kept saying over and over, “everything is fine, we’re going to be okay”,  like a broken record and was rubbing my daughters back. I don’t know who I was saying it more for, her or me?

I finally put my foot down and yelled at the trainer, “Stop this now! We want to go back!” He at first didn’t listen and kept going. I don’t even think he could understand what I said, but he had to have seen the looks on our faces and the sheer terror we felt through our expressions.

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we were smiling but we felt like crying

At this moment a photographer came by  in a jeep to take our photo. We smiled politely and  I told him (he could speak and understand English)  “Please tell the trainer we want to go back, my daughter is scared and we don’t like this.” He look confused, so I reiterated my request sternly, ” I don’t care if this is supposed to be longer and I will pay whatever the cost, just bring us back!”  He had a few words with the trainer and we turned around and headed back to the camp.

It was the longest 15 minutes of my life!

Thankfully we made it back in one piece. I was shaking like a leaf and started to decompress what had just occurred.  A migraine set in. I still couldn’t believe that this just happened and that we survived it.  Right before we got to the tall hut to get off, we saw a family riding by. A husband and a wife and a small child (probably 3 years old) were on the back of an another elephant. They had just started their trek and was smiling at us, as to say hello while they passed. Then the husband and wife’s expression suddenly changed to concerned looks. They were looking at our elephants ears. One of the ears was bleeding and all cut up. I wanted so badly to scream,

“Don’t do it!”

“Get off!”  

“Go back!” 

“They hurt the elephants and this is so dangerous for tourists!”

 But I didn’t.  Why did I stay silent? Maybe I didn’t want to scare the child or I didn’t want to deal with it? Or maybe I didn’t want to get involved and I just wanted to get out of there? My state of mind wasn’t clear and I’m not even sure what the correct action to take would have been?

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feeding the elephant as to say sorry 🙁

This tour is located near Krabi, Thailand, just off Ao Nang Beach area. If you are looking to do an elephant trekking tour, I hope you would reconsider or do research on which one to choose. I strongly encourage you find a different elephant trekking tour in the area so we can put this abusive one out-of-business. There are some companies that do treat the animals ethically, but after my experience, I don’t think I would ever do it again. Something that was supposed to be so fun and a once-in-a-lifetime amazing experience, ended up being a total nightmare. I am so glad we didn’t get hurt, but I am sick to think about how hurt these poor elephants get every day of their lives. These animal abusers need to be stopped, but as long as the tourists will pay (tourists just like me) this will sadly continue.

48 Hours in Bangkok

by Friday, May 22, 2015

thewanderlustyogi.netI spent 48 hours in Bangkok last month.  My daughter and I took a trip to Thailand and stayed in Bangkok for 2 nights. We didn’t do this in succession. We spent one night in the city and then left Bangkok for the islands of Thailand, then on our return from the islands, we stayed an additional night. The reason we did this was because our flights, to and from the USA, were out of Bangkok.

This city was everything I hoped it to be. Bangkok is known as the gateway to all of SouthEast Asia. I can see why this is said. There are so many flights per day out of their local airport Don Meuang, with very low fares. You can get a flights out of Bangkok to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and even Bali for less than $50 USD, roundtrip, just to name a few. This is a great way to be able to explore all of these beautiful countries for less money than one would think.

Air Asia now has an ASEAN Pass that you can pre-purchase a 10 credit pass for only $160 USD and 20 credit pass for just $290 USD. The destination, depending on how far, can be from 1 to 3 credits per leg. If you strategize right, you can make as many as 9 stops for less that 200 bucks! Now that’s a deal! There are many restrictions, but even with them, it’s still seems to be a great deal. I’m so tempted to buy it, but still haven’t yet.

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waiting for the tourist boat on the Chao Phraya River

Our first day in Bangkok started with a tourist boat ride. This was actually a little scary. Seeing how we were staying right on the Chao Phraya River, at the Sheraton Royal Orchid Hotel, we were told the easiest and most economical form of transportation, was taking the tourist  boat. You literally have to quickly jump on and off the boat with the other tourists, while the boat is rocking back and forth. I can’t believe people don’t trip and fall off it, all the time. That was an adventure in itself.

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entrance of Wat Po Temple

We went to the Wat Po Temple first. This was beautiful and I was so happy that it wasn’t busy at all. At first there was only a few other tourists there. By the time we left it started filling up a little, but nothing too crazy.

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Reclining Buddha at Wat Po

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monks are tourists too at Wat Po

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Buddha, Buddha, Buddha

We walked in and just started snapping away at all the beautiful architecture the temple offered.  There was a shrine at the beginning that, if you wanted, could take a flower, light incense and sit in front of the altar, set up with the image of Buddha. We joined the other tourists and it felt very spiritual and peaceful.

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meditating at alter in Wat Po Temple

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incense at alter

After walking around for a few hours, enjoying all the statues and unique buildings with hand painted artwork and engraved with semi-precious stones embedded within them, we were approached by some massage students, to see if we wanted to get a Thai massage. Of coarse we did! I forgot that this was one of the things I wanted to do in my planning. There was a list of prices depending on the type and duration of the massage.

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Wat Po massage price menu

We opted for a 30 minute Thai massage for 260 baht, which was only like $8.00 USD, nice!

We were both brought into a large, air-conditioned room (thank goodness), with many massage beds lined up. The massage was great, especially being so sore from our long haul flight. It was pretty intense with deep tissue massaging as well and being folded up like a pretzel at some points. It even hurt a little, but the good kind of hurt. After we were done, they gave us a lemon drink and we were on our way.

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massage room at Wat Po Temple, done by students

We left Wat Po and started our way out and decided we wanted to eat. Now was a perfect time to try our very first street food in Thailand. Although we were a bit worried we would get sick, we heard so many great reviews of the authentic  Thai dishes being offered on the street for insanely low prices.

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first taste of Bangkok street food

We found a lady making pad Thai. Perfect! This is a staple in Thai dishes. We ordered two coconut waters and two pad Thai. She started cooking away, using fresh ingredients and then pointed us over to a make-shift dining table and told us to sit.

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pad Thai street style (spices on the side)

After a few minutes she brought us over our savory dishes. My daughter didn’t realize that on the side, the woman put the hot spices, crushed peanuts, and salt, so that you could add it in as you preferred, depending on the hotness and flavor you like. My daughter, unknowingly, just mixed it all in.  Although she thought it was delicious, it was much too hot for her.  I, figured  this out, and only put a little in my dish. I wish I would have told her before she jumped right in. The total for both of our meals was only $3.40 USD. People have always told me how cheap it was here to eat, but I still wasn’t convinced it could possibly be that cheap. It was!

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Maddie eating her way too spicy street food

It was the best pad Thai I have ever eaten!

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hanging with the locals- a nice shop owner let us take a picture with her

We later walked around a bit and looked at all the shops. There were so many things to choose from. We were on a mission to find harem pants, and bring them home as souvenirs for our friends. We found a ton of them, all for less than $5.00 USD.

We headed back to the hotel and made a reservation at our hotel restaurant. On check-in we saw that they had a Thai dinner show that night and thought it would be fun to see. We relaxed a bit, took showers and then headed to the dinner show.

We walked into the restaurant and it was nicely decorated with a zen-like vibe. The tables were low and we were to take off our shoes. How traditional! We ordered our food and were ready to enjoy the show.

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sitting at the restaurant for the Thai dinner show at the Sheraton Royal Orchid (no shoes required)

There were a few acts. The first act was with women dressed in Thai costumes adorned with gems, with extravagant, feathered headpieces, dancing like puppets; another act was with a man dressed as a dragon. They were talented and looked liked dolls or robots.  Their moves were so animated. It was a good first night and we felt like we got a little taste of Bangkok (no pun intended).

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Thai dancers at the dinner show

On our second day, on our return from the islands, we went to Grand Palace.

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inside Grand Palace

This was on a Sunday and probably the worst day to pick. It was extremely hot and ridiculously overcrowded. The place was absolutely stunning, but with the amount of the crowds it was very difficult to enjoy. We couldn’t wait to leave. It was really that bad. The price for admittance was also very high for Thailand standards, $15.oo USD, per person. That is super expensive when considering,  most of the other temples are less that $4.00 USD/ per person or free.

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guards at Grand Palace

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Grand Palace

I honestly wouldn’t recommend going to the Grand Palace unless you love to be packed in like sardines with other tourists, or unless you go on a day that isn’t so busy. There are so many other temples and places to see, this one seemed to be a tad overrated. I had such a better experience at Wat Po Temple, plus you get massages there, I mean, who wouldn’t love that?

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sea of umbrella carrying tourists at Grand Palace

Once we got out of there, we were so glad. I almost felt claustrophobic. We decided, since we still needed to get some last-minute souvenirs, before we leave Thailand, we better focus on shopping again. My daughter was addicted. Back on our hunt for harem pants, by this time we had made up a name for our much sought after souvenir, “trinket pants.”  I ended up with a few, my daughter, on the other hand, bought about 10 pairs! I hope her friends like them?

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Maddie on her hunt for “trinket pants”!

We spent the afternoon shopping and took a tuk tuk ride. Then decided, since it was lunchtime, we wanted to find that lady, cooking up her amazing street food, and eat it again.  However, this time, my daughter would be able to enjoy it more, because she now knows not to mix in all the spices.  We were excited!

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tuk tuk ride in Bangkok

We went back to the location of her food stand, but we noticed what she was cooking. It wasn’t her mouth-watering pad Thai, it was shell-fish, and we were instantly disheartened. We were too afraid to eat it, plus my daughter isn’t a fan of seafood either.  Bummer! We ended up finding an indoor restaurant, more like a cafe style place.  It was called The Gate.

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bubble tea from the Gate restaurant

We got two bubble teas and shared a tom-tom soup.  We weren’t very hungry. I think the heat and being dehydrated made us lose our appetite a bit. The soup was okay, but my daughter hated it. She thought it was way too fishy tasting. It was nothing like our street lady’s food. I asked my daughter if she wanted to get something else. She didn’t want to. She had no appetite.  We could wait until dinner that night. It was still nice to sit inside the air-conditioning for a little while to cool off from the intense heat. Plus they had free WiFi. Got to love that!

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tom-tom soup, not one of our favorites…kind of fishy!

After leaving the cafe we shopped more, walking around a flea market. My daughter called it the “hobo flea market“, we shouldn’t assume they were hobos, but they sure looked like it.

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hobo flea market

She loved bartering with the locals. She didn’t buy any more trinket pants, but got a bunch of bracelets. I was about shopped out when a thunder and lightning storm started. Good thing my husband made me pack  ponchos (just incase). We put them on and everyone stared at us. Had they never seen ponchos before? Two American looking guys walked by laughing, and one said,” ha ha ha, ponchos, awesome!” referring to us. Hey, at least we didn’t get soaked! Because of the rain we got a cab back to our hotel. I can’t imagine how much more scary it would be on the tourist boat in a lightning storm, and I didn’t want to find out.

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us in our ponchos

That night we relaxed a bit and then got ready to go out to dinner. Since it was the end of our vacation, and last in Bangkok, my daughter, even after buying all her souvenirs and tons of trinket pants, still had a lot of spending money left over. She told me, as a thank you for me taking her on this awesome trip, she wanted to treat me to dinner. I laughed and said it wasn’t necessary, but she insisted.

We noticed, while driving to our hotel, that there were many cute restaurants, walking distance away from our hotel. This time we stayed another hotel, the  Shangri-La Bangkok. It was a very nice hotel also along the Chao Phraya River, but on the opposite side. We at first, said when in Bangkok, we would not go out, after dark, as a safety precaution, but since there were very close-by restaurants, and the area appeared to be pretty safe, we risked a 2 minute walk.  We were fine.

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Mazzano Boutique restaurant Bangkok, Thailand (near Shangri-La Hotel)

We chose a cute little boutique restaurant called Mazzaro.  The owner greeted us and asked if we wanted to sit inside or outside. We both said, “inside” in harmony.  Although, my favorite type of dining is al fresco, with this unbearable heat and humidity , eating outside would not be enjoyable.

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pad Thai at Mazzaro restaurant

The menu was expansive, but we both stuck with traditional Thai dishes. She got pad see u ad I got pad Thai, and we both shared an order of spring rolls, drank two coconut waters, and finished off with a pot of tea.  This restaurant in Boston would be considered a mid-range for price, dishes would be approximately $20.00 per meal.  Not in Bangkok!  Our total,  with everything, including a 25% tip was $30.00 USD. It wasn’t as crazy cheap as the street food, but still a bargain!

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“tea time” at Mazzaro restaurant

Since we really only had two quick stop over days in Bangkok, we really didn’t get to see all the awesome thing this city offers. We did get a glimpse of one of their gorgeous temples and  their famous Grand Palace, and had a ton of fun shopping and eating their delicious cuisine.  We just wish we had more time to see things we missed, such as all the other temples, the floating market, the Silk Road, and taking a cooking class, and we really, really wanted to try the fish massage.  We searched for a long time, asking everybody, but no luck.

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markets in Bangkok

Visiting Bangkok for only 48 hours was great, but also sort of  tease. I just started to feel the culture and what the city was all about, and then we had to go. This only makes me want to go back and explore more. With the ASEAN pass that Air Asia offers, I definitely want to take advantage of that awesome deal, to not only see more of Bangkok, but all of SouthEast Asia. So far, in all of my travels, Thailand has  been  my favorite destination. I can’t wait to go back!

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hat shopping in Bangkok

 

 

 

 

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