Thursday, May 28, 2009

Talad Ying Charoen

This was my favorite day in Bangkok. Chef arranged for us to tag along with his group of 30 or so. They were all in the food business and were there as a guest of the Thailand Department of Culture . That is how we ended up being in Bangkok. Chef told us he was going with this group, we ask if we could meet him there and the rest is history.

Chef had full days so we were on our own a lot. Tuesday they were to visit the Ying Chareon Market and there was room for us on the bus. And what a bus it was! It came with a sleeping cowboy.


The Ying Charoen is a wet market, talad sod in Thai. A wet market is the traditional market place to shop for all things food in Bangkok. For a very long time it was the only way to shop, now it competes with supermarkets and flea markets for customers.The wet market is a dying breed. In the last ten years the number of wet markets in Bangkok has dropped from 150 to only 60.

The wet market we visited, Ying Charoen, is the model wet market of the furture. It is owned and operated by Parinya Tumwattana and his family. Mr. Tumwattanas Mother started this market 54 years ago and it was the most successful of it kind for many of those years. As time and progress changed the standards of living in Bangkok the wet market was getting left behind. Mr Tumwattansa knew his market needed to change as well.

He has spent the last ten years, more or less, updating the Ying Charoen Market. Hygiene was the number one concern. Today each vendor has refrigeration, running water and a responsibility to help keep things clean. There are daily inspections from the Health Department and classes are offered to the vendors to teach them how to handle perishable foods. The classes take place right there at the market in their state of the art kitchen.

We met with Mr. Tumwattana first thing that day and you could tell how proud he was of his market. He spoke about how he and the vendors were a large family. How they had worked together to make this new concept work because it was the only way to continue the tradition of the old wet markets. As we listened to Mr. Tumwattansa speak I thought his ideas were brilliant and compassionate, then we went downstairs to the market and that’s when I realized how much work went in to all he had talked about. Just look at some of these photos Stacey took as we toured and tasted our way through the Ying Charoen Market.







Friday, May 22, 2009


If you know me or read this blog you know where ever I go I eat. A large part on my travel is eating. That’s because I believe if you want to know the soul of a culture, of a place and it’s people you share their food. But you’re doing more then eating. You’re taking the time to get to know a person and their home land. People eat what they eat in different regions because of the evolution of that place. What is eaten in different places is whats available in those places. How food is prepared has much to do with place as well. Many places in the world have not had electricity, and all the appliances that come with it, for very long. Hence, they have developed different ways to preserve, prepare and serve food.


It may sound as if I’m all about eating. Actually I’m all about meeting people and if lucky, getting to know them a little. It might be a trip to Bangkok or a trip to the local Mexican grocery store, no matter where, I’m seeking food and I’m talking to the folks selling, cooking and serving it to me. I’m making friends and learning about their life. I collecting information on their town and it’s culture.

In Bangkok Stacey and I had some great food experiences. Some stuff we had never had before, some was familiar to us, but all came with a new face. We got to know a young lady named Pooh. Pooh is a native of Thailand and had spent a few years in Chicago studying under a sushi master named Isao. Once she had learned her craft and felt confident, she returned to Bangkok and opened her own restaurant. She named it after her master and works hard to make him proud. We had two meals with her. The food was really good, but the main reason we returned for a second meal was to talk more with Pooh. She told us things about Bangkok and it’s people you don’t read in a travel book. She taught us a lesson we learn over and over again, no matter where you go people are basically the
same. And, we learned this by sitting at her sushi bar, listening and letting her feed us.

Food is a language spoken world wide. I may have no idea what the lady, who gave us the twice fried chicken was saying, but her smile and refusal to take my money was clear.


These and all photos of Bangkok taken by Stacey
The most awesome person in the world.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009


So Stacey, Chef and I have no problem finding China Town once the nice lady helps. We rise to street level from the subway and try and get our bearings. We decide on a direction and begin walking that way.
The first thing you notice about Bangkok is the traffic. It is all backwards from the U.S. You drive on the other side of the street from the other side of the car. I think I could handle the other side of the car part, but not the backwards traffic lanes part.
We walk for a while and come across a very old man selling fruit. Chef grabs a couple pieces of something and tries to ask the old man how much. They are not able to communicate. A younger man walks up to help and he tells Chef the man wants to sell him the whole box. Chef didn’t want the whole box and somehow they settle on a price. Everything is very, very cheap for US in Bangkok. For all we could tell the two pieces of fruit cost a nickle and Chef might have paid a dollar, we didn’t care, happy to give a little extra to someone who clearly lives on some much less then us.

We walk a little further and this is the first photo opp.


Then we look in another direction and see this.


We find this is the norm in Bangkok, the contrast of new and old. Bangkok is a city of contrast. You would think it is dangerous, it’s not. You would think the locals would have no time to help you find your way, wrong. You would think they would try to over charge the tourist, not. You would think when a local stops you just to chat that they want something more, they don’t.

Anyway we work our way into China Town and don’t realize til later that we are way to early. It is 8 a.m. and hardly anyone is on the streets yet. So we wander. We walk through side streets where car and scooter parts are stacked high. We walk past street vendor restaurants where the owner and family are sleeping on the tables. There are a fair amount of dogs wandering around, they pay us no attention. We have no idea where we are and love it. I bet we walk through private yards and don’t even know it. We are blown away by the scenery, Chef and Stacey are clicking photo almost nonstop.
Lost in China Town, Bangkok. What a way to start a day!

I interupt this blog

to share with you some events of returning home.

I had started getting a sore throat our last days in Bangkok. By the time we started our 24 plus hour trip home it really hurt. I nursed it with hot tea and aspirin. We get home Thursday about 4 in the afternoon and go to bed. I’m up a 3 a.m. not able to sleep, I guess I was on Bangkok time. Stacey sleeps through the night and is able to go to work on Friday. Shes feeling good, even gets her hair cut after work, looking more beautiful the usual if you can believe that. Again Friday night can’t sleep so well. Up at 3 a.m. again. So I decide I will load my truck and go do the Saturday morning market. I get through that and head home. We eat a little food and go to bed about 2 or 3 in the afternoon. When I wake a few hours later my throat really hurts and I tell Stacey I need to find a Doc in the box. We drive up the street to where one is located only to find it’s closed. We go home get on the computer and find nothing is open after 5 p.m. which it is. So the next morning we are at the “minute clinic” at the CVS 15 minutes before they open. Good thing cause 5 people show up just after us. By this time Stacey’s throat is hurting also. So we see the Doc together and she swabs out throats. Poor Stacey, she test positive for Strep, but I don’t. Go figure. We are both given scripts for Amoxicillin. I take one on the way home and 20 minutes later we are home and I am having an allergic reaction. Boom like a bomb. I am hot and itchy. My eyes hurt. Then I feel my face starting to swell and I know this is serious. I tell Stacey we need to go to the emergency room, fast. It’s not far from the house, but by the time we get there my lips and tongue are so swollen I can’t talk or swallow. My chest is hurting and we are both really scared. We go to the desk and I think I’m dying. I really think I am dying. Stacey is very scared and is actually jumping up and down pleading for help. Well of course the nurse is very calm, this doesn’t help Stacey a bit. She wants action. I sitting there drooling like a rabid dog, not able to talk. I’m really scared. I have had cancer and have been through a bone marrow transplant. It was a two year ordeal and not once did I think I might die. Sitting there yesterday in the emergency room I thought I was dying. Poor Stacey is even more upset and the nurse is still clam as a cucumber. I wish she would have thought to tell Stacey “we see this all the time, we can handle it”. Finally they start giving me drugs to counter the reaction. I am turned over to another nurse, I tell him I feel like I dying. He said I’m not and it will get worse before it gets better so hang on. Well I can live with that, knowing what to expect helps. And that’s just what happens. It hurts more for a few minutes and then starts to subside. Soon the swelling starts to go away and I can speak again.We were there 2 hours, they gave me a few scripts, one a shot to give myself in case of and emergency.

I didn’t die.

Friday, May 15, 2009


Bangkok is half way around the world from Atlanta. It takes more then 24 hours to get there including ground time for layovers. We switched planes in Tokyo after 13 hours and had 7 more hours to Bangkok. It was worth it, Bangkok was awesome.
Chef was making the trip for business and we ask if we could meet him there. He said yes, so we did. We actually got there a few hours before he did. Since we were staying in the same hotel we had no problem finding him.
So if you are wondering what it may be like in Bangkok I will tell you what happened on our first trek out of the hotel.
We had decided to go to China Town first. Chef would be working most of the time starting the next day so we wanted to find good food and see some sites while we had some time together.
We leave the hotel and have our map and know we want to get on the underground train which will take us close to China town. We found the train station we needed on the map and it was just a few blocks from the hotel. No problem. Yea right. We get to the corner where the map shows us the station is, but just can’t spot it. We are standing on the corner, map in hand trying to figure it out when a young Thai lady ask what we are looking for.
So Stacey tells her and she explains where we are to go, then tells us she will walk us there. So off we go and I just know we are in for something, this woman must want something from us. My research has warned me about the scam artist. What I have read is Bangkok is a very safe city, the only thing to look out for is the scams. Locals trying to steer you to a particular destination so they can get a commission from the shop owners.
Well this young lady walked us to the train station, taught us how to use the ticket machine, showed us how to read the subway map and then using her own pass to get herself through the turnstile walked us right up to the door of the train we needed to get on for China Town. After we thanked her she smiled, said enjoy you visit in Bangkok and turned and left the station.
And that is how it was the whole trip. Nicest damn people in the world, great start to our stay in Bangkok.