In the north, rainy season was a blessing that kept away the excess of tourists. The rain would come and go, but without a lot of drama. Now in the south of Thailand, there is a different pattern. One morning I wake up early, while the sky is still dark. It’s clear, Venus shining brightly in the east. By the time the sky begins to change color, little wisps of cloud are visible, Homer’s “rosy-fingered dawn.” An hour later, big cumulus clouds are forming; at mid-morning, they open into a torrential downpour.
In the center of town, there is a large open square with a nightly market.Saturday night is very popular and crowded. All kinds of vendors, but especially food–each little cart with its own specialty, its own propane stove, its own plastic tarp to cover it from the rain. There have been showers, so few people want to sit in the central area in front of the stage, where there’s no covering. Anyway, there’s no stage show, but the sound system is blaring too loud with atrocious Thai covers of American pop songs. People are strolling casually around, looking at this and that. Suddenly, cutting into the blare of the music, a machine-gun like rattle, and people begin shrieking. It’s the monsoon, sweeping across the square, a fusilade of raindrops smashing onto the plastic tarps. The noise provides just enough warning to allow people to dive for cover in the nearest stall. After the shrieking, laughter.
So it’s kind of like a shopping mall with a food court, but with differences. Let’s look at some of the food.
Grilled squid, nothing special; there are at least a dozen fresh seafood vendors with squid, oysters, fish, crab.
The cocktail bar is a bit of a novelty; the drinks are served in sections of bamboo–actually a traditional native drinking vessel.
I was tempted to buy some potato chips, fresh fried on a skewer! But still too fattening for me.
Many Halal kitchens here, for the Muslim community, but if you want pork, get it directly from the pig.
Speaking of fresh–here’s some in-your-face fresh crab:
Here’s a selection of edible insects. I give the grasshopper a try. Tastes like chicken, but makes my stomach jumpy. Maybe it’s the spices.
Away from the market, eating in a somewhat nice restaurant, my noodle soup is served with the usual offering of condiments: fish sauce, ground red pepper, sugar, white pepper, and spiced vinegar (with slices of chili). I like the elegant touch of this serving set, each jar with its own little wooden spoon.
Cheap eats at a noodle bar, a couple blocks away from the tourist street. A simple bowl of noodles with delicious curry, a meal in itself, is only 20 Baht (60¢). For 50 baht, you get the whole buffet of vegetables to garnish it with. The basket of leafy green on the right has about 6 different veggies in it: basil, something spinach-like, and a bunch of things I’ve never seen before. Spectacular meal.