Monday, November 29, 2010

Touched by India… Literally.

We have left the crowed streets of Bangkok and are now settled in in India. Having no idea what to expect from this Delhi / New Delhi place, I braced myself for whatever this city might have in store!

We started off the morning by meeting up with our city Guide. Initially I was not too excited that we had been assigned a “guide” for the day; In fact I was a little displeased as the Boss and I usually have very little problems wandering cities on our own. As the story continues you will understand that Ruby (our day guide) was without a doubt a necessity for our trip!


We started off at various mosques and tombs that were built hundreds of years ago for the Mogul Emperors. I found the architecture and symmetry of these buildings fascinating, and even more so when you factored in that the architects were without the technologies that we have today.

While I was wide eyed and taking in the sights, I couldn’t help but notice that other visitors seemed to be just as fascinated by me!?! Was there something on my face? My shirt?

lookinglooking2looking3looking4            (this bottom one is a favorite… the two boys in the middle)

Then there was a continuous steam of boys and girls alike who wanted to shake my hand or touch my bare arm?? Ruby (the day guide) told them to get lost, and then she explained to me that I was a young white girl, to which is not a common sight for them, and that they were just being foolish. “hmmmm” I thought, “surely this behavior is  only because they are school children , and I shouldn’t have any other problems throughout the day”…

So we moved on to another mosque, and then hired a bike taxi to take us through the crowed alleys of Delhi. IMG_4209IMG_4225

What started out as a lot of fun, ended up as frustrating experience. I just wanted to take pictures as we bumbled through the streets; mean while the people of the streets just wanted to touch me? Every time I rose my camera to my face to snap a pic, a local (male) from the crowd would run their finger/hand up the outside of my leg! I, needless to say, was livid! What am I supposed to do? Can women snap back in this country? Plus, we eventually have to turn around and go back out the same way… I would eventually be going right by those guys again!


Getting down from the bike was not an option, this would certainly cause a mob of beggars, hawkers, and pick-pocketers. After all it was actually more efficient to move through the crowd on this 3-wheeled contraption than by foot. So what did I do? Nothing. I hang my head and admit I did nothing in retaliation. Instead I kept my camera down and my eyes on the crowd ready to stare down anyone who looked suspicious. That seemed to work. Plus the Boss was also taking plenty of pictures.

As the day went on there were several more sights to be seen. But mostly what I will never forget, was some of the scenes of poverty. Surely there are some outstanding sights to be seen in India, but for a country of some 1billion people, there are going to be vast extremes. For this I was not prepared. IMG_4187IMG_4251IMG_4306begIMG_4307


After a long day we headed back to the hotel for the night. I was exhausted, but sleep did not come easy.

Tomorrow we head to the Taj Mahal. I hope for a better day.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Fun Run in Bangkok

After having traveled for the last 5 days I was starting to fee a little antsy, and really needed to get some exercise. I really don’t know how inactive people do it, I cannot maintain any state of normalcy without exercise; crankiness, sleeplessness, and zero appetite started kicking in about 24hours ago. Granted, I have done many many miles of walking over the past few days, but that just isn’t enough. So what’s a girl to do for a exercise in the busy city of Bangkok??

… well there are lots of things really!


The Fan

2. Sword

The Sword

3.  IMGP3712


4. IMGP3717

The Moon Walk

5. IMGP3730

The Recumbent Bicycle

6. IMGP3722

Pump some Iron

or simply…


Just go for a run. Which I did! 7 miles in the sweltering heat and humidity of Bangkok, to which I must say, the air quality was a little painful.

It was just down from our hotel that there was a really great community park, “Lumpini Park” IMGP3710

So I picked a route and just kept on like Forest Gump.

Although really hot and humid, it was a beautiful day and I found myself totally decompressing, day dreaming, and pondering the worlds wonders (otherwise known as my next cupcake creation). Just a word of warning, daydreaming even while in a enclosed park area can lead to big trouble!


I found myself in the middle of the road,  face to face with this guy. Now don’t let the picture fool you, the Lizzardy Thing was massive. From Nose to tail I am sure this guy was 4 feet long! YIKES!

With a little help from a kind old lady (who was practicing her Tai Chi) we stared him down and he left! Lizzard2

This was an important lesson learned for what is known as an “Oh $hit” Moment! Always be aware of what is lurking!

Because of this particular situation, I feel now is an appropriate time to talk about the one symbol that is universal to all runners as “Thank GOD”… BathroomEven in as far away as Thailand, the symbol does not change. I have also learned from my travels that although this symbol is a sign from the heavens, the inside might not be as much of a luxury as you had hoped, and therefore you should always bring a little tissue with you when you ”go”.

Stay tuned for the continuing adventure. Next stop New Delhi!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Living the Life of Julia Child

As you know, I have been whisked away to the other end of the world with The Boss on a work trip. Currently we are hanging out in the buzzing metropolitan of Bangkok, Thailand. Since the work week is back in full swing, the Boss is no where to be found and as per usual that leaves me up to my ears with ideas! This time I am not sneaking in any home renovations, instead I’m sneaking out to a privately taught Thai Cooking Class!Silom

Now I did my research on the different available classes in Bangkok, and this one was a little hidden, but when I found their webpage I knew I had hit the Jack-Pot! The young man who runs this operation has the process really ironed out, with a array of menus (varies on day of the week), two classes offered a day (morning 9am-1pm or afternoon 2pm-6pm), the transportation covered, and most importantly costs were 1/3 of others in the area! And believe me, there was no quality lost with the price reduction, this was a seamless operation, very very clean, and our instructor was an absolute character. He made the experience! 

On with the show!:

We started off with a market tour and shopping for proteins, veggies, and fresh coconuts that we would need for our day.

IMG_3817IMG_3822(above is our cooking instructor)

Soon we were off and cooking. Myself and 4 other guys in the class were put in charge of breaking down the proteins, while the other were chopping up the veggies!IMG_3829Soon enough we were all back together getting a lesson on how coconut milk for cooking is extracted! Coconut milk for cooking is in fact different than the coconut milk you might treat yourself to on a beach somewhere where they chop open the top of a young coconut, stick a straw in it with a fancy umbrella and call it good. “Cooking” coconut milk is extracted from older coconuts, one’s whose milk has gone sour and the meat is really dry. Here you put the aged coconut meat into a food processor and mince. The rest of the story goes like this… IMG_3838

After adding water to the minced coconut you massage the two until the water has been absorbed. Then squeeze the water back out of the coconut and through a strainer for a very generous amount of coconut milk. Then you do the coconut dance one more time to double your earnings. 

IMG_3840IMG_3841After we had finished the milking process, a fellow student asked if people in Thailand really do this all the time for in home cooking (I think he was concerned that the store bought coconut milk back home wouldn’t render the same flavors). Our instructor said “No, they too lazy, buy in can!”. We all laughed.

Then we moved on to our first course of the day:

Tom Yum Koong, or as we North Americans might call it, Hot and Sour Prawn Soup. I have to say, I wasn’t stoked about seeing this recipe on the menu for my selected day’s menu, and that was simply because this is not a soup that I usually order. Well that has changed… I think this was my favorite course of the day! DELISH!

IMG_3843 First we got a talk about all of the ingredients

IMG_3846Then we got to work preparing our ingredients

IMG_3848Finally to our individual cooking stations

IMG_3851IMG_3853Did I already mention this was delicious?

Second Course:

Pad Thai Sai Kai – yes, this is the same as regular Pad Thai!

First we got “the talk” on rice noodles. IMG_3836

Basically over the years I think this guy has heard every crazy story there is to how Westerners have screwed up cooking these noodles. Really there’s no magic, just simplicity. Buy in package; soak in cold water for 5 minutes (no longer!) ; then drain and cook in oil! Type of oil is your choice, however olive oil is a bad choice and sunflower oil is the best choice.IMG_3858

Then we were back to discussing the key ingredients- Palm sugar, fish sauce, garlic, and tamarind paste.


Then we cooked, and we ate!

Course 3:

Laab Gai- Otherwise known as Northern Chicken Salad.

This was my least favorite dish. I found it to be a bit salty and the fish sauce taste took over, but I am sure with a little tweaking of ratios it would actually make a pretty good app for a dinner party.IMG_3878

A nice light dish with boiled chicken that was first minced, and then mixed with an assortment of chilies, lime juice, fish sauce, and coriander leaves.

Can you believe we are not done yet? Nope 2 courses left!

Course 4: (Main Course)

Kang Khiao Wan Gai- Green Curry with Chicken

This was fabulous as well! We even spent the time making our own curry paste!IMG_3883

The Green blob on the cutting board (below) is the curry paste!curry paste

Then we cooked, and we ate… again!


Course 5- Last course, and one recipe I will definitely frequent back at home:

Kow Neuw Ma Muang- Mango on Sticky Rice

First we got another “Talk”, this time about how to cook sticky rice, and before that, how to even differentiate in the grocery store “normal rice” from “sticky rice”. To keep it simple, sticky rice (when dry) looks very milky in color vs normal rice has a translucent look to it. IMG_3870

You are going to want to soak that rice for a minimum of an hour, and then steam it for 20minutes. A bamboo basket is best to use for the steaming process, but you can substitute a cheese cloth in your normal steamer if that is all that you have!

To top it off we used our fresh squeezed coconut milk mixed with some palm sugar, poured it on top of the warm sticky rice, and added mango on the side! 


This class was a really fun experience and more importantly I felt that I came away with new found knowledge on spices and cooking techniques. Granted this was a lot of information to take in on one day, but not to fear, the cooking instructor actually had hand made recipe books for each student to take home. It included everything we covered that day including cooking tips, key ingredients, substitutes for the more rare ingredients, and of course the day’s recipes!

Hope you’ve enjoyed the read, if your ever in Bangkok with a morning or afternoon to spare, I would definitely recommend this class!

Thanks for stopping by!

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