Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Dining in Thailand

Once you’ve managed the 17-hour non-stop coach flight to Bangkok, any other flights are short!

With Thai Air, you get your first taste of Thailand. Members of the crew are beautifully dressed, have kind, gentle, caring manners, and the flight is kept clean throughout the night. They don’t sit around and read while the toilet gets dirtier and messier. They have a gracious manner while cleaning the bathroom and folding the toilet paper like a flower, all with smiles on their faces.

The aircraft food is nicely prepared and served. There’s enough food so you aren’t hungry yet don’t overeat. First Class must be magnificent, maybe one day…….

Well, I started my trip fantastically, with two nights in the Bangkok Four Seasons - a big treat. Traveling alone, I ate breakfast in the business lounge. It’s the first time I’ve seen a one-egg omelet. So cute! As always, I needed to focus on eating well and being active to maintain my weight.

During the day, I walked around and explored on my own, then had a guide take me to the palaces. Being active while learning history is a great way to go. The boat ride on the canals consisted of sitting. Oh well…..

In Phuket, I stayed with friends for seven days. We walked for an hour early every morning before it got too hot. We would end the walk with breakfast at a local restaurant. The menus were westernized so we had a choice of breads, pastries, yogurt, cereals, fruit, egg dishes, sausages, etc. Everything was nicely prepared - making healthy choices and watching portion sizes required willpower. Service is not great but everyone is polite so relax and enjoy.

For lunch we’d make sandwiches and salads or eat leftovers from dinner. During the day we read or explored by car. There was much to see. The area is really beautiful.

For dinner, a local chef cooked for us. He gave us recipe books to choose dishes we’d like to eat. He couldn’t speak English so we would point at the pictures and he would shop for the ingredients. Each dish was prepared perfectly with fresh local ingredients. We were totally spoilt!

Dining out was great too. There was a choice of beef, chicken, pork, duck, tofu and seafood in small portions. Nothing is battered or fried; even the fried rice is lightly fried. Accompaniments included rice, sticky rice, noodles, soups, and local vegetables, similar to Chinese and Indian. Coconut milk is used in many dishes, as well as curry and many spices. We went lightly on spices, as they can be very hot. The last time I was in Thailand on a modeling job, one of the models asked for the hottest dish. He went bright red and struggled to breathe. We were terrified he was going to collapse. So, don’t try to be macho. Spicy hot is dangerous!

A fork and spoon is used as a knife is not necessary - food is cut into small chunks. They do not use chopsticks. Funny enough, there was no pad Thai. I guess that’s an American Thai dish.

Desserts included sticky rice or tapioca with mango, coconut or banana – absolutely delicious! There’s lots of fresh sweet fruit too which helps for a sweet tooth.

For those of you missing home, there are many fast food outlets and tempting foods such as Belgian chocolates, French cheese, baguettes and international wines. Rather stick to local fare for interesting flavors and weight control.

Activity is difficult during the day. You pretty much want to stay in the air conditioned home or car. If you have a pool nearby, swimming is great.

Phuket is a beautiful area. In your mind you can picture the terrible devastation caused by the Tsumani, but everything has been wonderfully renovated. The recovery is amazing to see.

I definitely recommend visiting this extraordinary country.