Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Thailand- Hotels, Phuket, and The night market

Stop number 1- Phueket

Pearl Hotel

            My hotel was a crap hole, there I said it.  If you want to know what I really think watch an episode of the AVGN, and you’ll get the idea.  Now the lobby looks nice enough and the staff are helpful.

            The ceilings in the hallways are a little low, but I can live with that.  The panels coming off the walls not so much.  The room itself isn't too bad, the paint needs a little touching up, but the AC works.  The electricity leaves a little to be desired as the plugs like to sputter out after a period of time, so I have to constantly rotate plugs to charge the iPad and camera.  Now I can live with everything mentioned so far, the bathroom not so much.  It was riddled with mold, now anyone who knows me, knows I’m not a neat freak, but it was pretty nasty.  I was too stunned to take pictures but it looked something like this, and yes part of the ceiling was missing.

            The hotel does have free WiFi for guest but it only works in the cafe on the first floor.  When you can connect it works fairly well, it’s just hard to connect at times.  One final note for as bad as I've made it out to be, there is a wedding party there.  No I didn't walk through it this time and it wasn't my fault the last time it happened either Dave.

            Now for the part Kelvin has been eagerly awaiting what the food is like.  The food at the cafe is actually pretty good.  Breakfast is a free buffet, and it’s not bad.  A bunch of weird stuff that is probably some kind of Thai or Asian food.  It would look good for a lunch or dinner but not breakfast.  On the western side there is fruit, cereal (a go to food for me), toast, plus eggs bacon, and sausage.  Now as is typical for any place outside the United States the eggs were runny, and the meat was barely cooked.  We can go back and forth all day on this, but I don’t think the rest of the world knows how to cook eggs, bacon, and sausage.  On the plus side the milk tastes normal, well compared to some of the brands of Mongolian milk.  The dinner food served at the cafe is pretty good to, and while some might say a little pricey compared to the night market it’s not bad.  I ate like a full three courses and drinks (soda) for 400 to 500 Bhat (12-15 USD).  The variety was good to, Thai, Chinese, other Asian food I didn't recognize, and a few western dishes.  Thai cuisine is very good, but spicy, very spicy, and I like spicy food.

Night Market

            If you are feeling more adventurous there is the night market.  It took a little doing and a little daring to figure out what stalls to eat at.  A good rule of thumb is to pick ones that a number of locals are eating at, and one that might have an English menu, or at least a menu with pictures.  A sense of adventure is also needed, because I have no idea what half of the stuff is.  Like I tell Kelvin though, try and anything once, and hey as long as it tastes good, who cares what it is.  I've also been lucky since my only bought of food poisoning since moving to Mongolia is my own fault for not washing and cooking the eggs enough.  Anyway here we go.

Dish 1

            If you are like me, then my first thought was rocky mountain sausage, but it’s really deep fried chicken neck.  This actually makes sense as everything else at the stall was fried chicken something.

Dish 2

            Fried bird wing.  I’m a scientist not a chef, if they don’t have feathers I can’t tell what type of bird it is.  At this stage I only care if tastes good.

Dish 3

            It’s some kind of desert thing with maybe egg that looks like lemon curd, but sure didn't taste like it, and I had to go back for more.  On a side note I bought one to eat the next day and woke up to ants swarming all over it.

Dish 4

            Stir fried beef with oyster sauce, salty, spicy, and oh so good.  I could eat this all the time.

Dish 5

            Stir fried vegetables, yes real fresh vegetables that aren't frozen, out of a can or well if you've been to Mongolia you know.

Dish 6

            It wasn't this but it was very close to this.  It is some kind of coconut filled pastry, sweeter than, but not quite as tasty as the earlier egg thingy I had.

            After experiencing the night market, I now know why Asian dishes are so small, so you can go back for multiple dishes.  Yes, everything pictured above was for dinner on the same night.  I can completely understand why Anthony Bourdain does it now, traveling to other countries and trying their food would be an awesome job.  Now I’m bad with names so what should my travel book/ show slogan be, Have passport will travel, Why..... Why not...., Try anything once....., That crazy American.... Come on this could totally be a second career.  Plus if I need a costar or co-writer Kelvin would fit the bill since he actually understand food and can tell me what the hell I just ate.

Kelvin- Do you have any idea what you are eating
Me- No but it tastes good
Kelvin- you do realize that it is ………
Me- Really, I thought it would be crunchier
Kelvin- Ugh…. Where is the seafood


            My first impression of Phuket is old colonial meets Central American banana republic.  Now this could be a little harsh, or maybe I had different expectations, but it was more run down for a lack of a better term than I expected.  That’s not to say it’s bad, it’s not, it’s just different and Phuket has its nicer areas to.

Phuket 1

Phuket 2

Phuket 3

Um I guess they don’t have OSHA or electrical codes or something

Canal in Phuket

Clock tower

Gate on the main street

The king is everywhere

            The Thai people really love their king, and I mean really love their king.  He has his picture plastered everywhere in Thailand, from Phuket to Chiang Mai.  More on the royals later though.

            Some kind of Buddhist statue marker thingy, or at least that’s what I thought until I did some research.

            As it turns out it is called a spirit house, and contrary to my initial thoughts it has very little if anything to do with Buddhism.  From what I was able to discover (and it wasn't just Wikipedia this time), the role of the spirit house is to appease spirits that would otherwise cause trouble for the household.  The location of the house is usually in the corner of the property and the shadow of the house can never fall on it.  The color is normally red because the spirits like red, but if another color is chosen it is based on the day the owner of the house was born.  Now before all of this can happen a Brahmin priest or monk is consulted, showing at least some connection to Hinduism.  It is also a pretty popular practice as you can see it from the rural areas of Chiang Mai all the way to Bangkok.

PS- Hopefully I can finish all of Thailand before my next trip.