Life in Transit

Chang Mai is Southeast Asia’s Cuzco. However, despite my hatred for that tourist trap high in the Andes, I seem to love this perplexing little town. I don’t have time to elaborate on this now.

I made my largest non-transportation related expenditure of my trip thus far today. I spent $26 to participate in Gap’s phenomenal Thai cooking school. We toured a local market to purchase ingredients and then we made eight dishes:

Chicken and vegetables in green curry — we made the curry from scratch.

Tom Yum — a simple chicken stock broth, enhanced with dried red chillies, chili paste, fish oil and sugar. We threw shrimp, vegetables and herbs in there. 

Pad Thai — classic Thai fare. Soy drenched rice noodles stir-fried, with bean sprouts, shrimp, pork, fried egg, peanuts, sugar, fish oil and probably a couple other ingredients.

Vegetable spring rolls — bean sprouts, carrots and some greenery.

Fish cakes — ground fish, fish oil, red curry paste, herbs, and then thrown into a wok full of boiling palm oil Coconut milk based snapper souffle in a banana leaf cup. I can’t remember all the ingredients off the top of my head, but we combined snapper, basil and a coconut milk based broth, filled home-made banana leaf cups, and then steamed for an hour. The broth hardened into a quasi-souffle structure.

Chicken and vegetable stir-fry — lots of herbs, chilies and fish oil. Fantastic.

Steamed pumpkin with custard — carved out a pumpkin, and filled it with a coconut milk based custard. Steamed it for a couple hours.

We were able to cover so much ground because there was a staff that prepped all the materials and washed all the dishes. We would move from one station to the next, while the next was prepared in advance. Herbs and vegetables were chopped, dishes and utensils were placed, etc. Obviously, we ate everything we cooked and they sent us home with a feast of left-overs. There were four other people in my class.

I am starting my three-day trek to Luang Prabang, Laos tomorrow. I am going to catch a bus to Chang Khang, connecting via Chang Rai. I will then spend the night at the border, and take a ferry across in the morning. If water-levels in the Mekong are high enough, I will jump on a two-day slow-boat to Luang Prabang. Otherwise, I will take the easy route to China and head straight to Luang Nam Tha. The mosquitoes are nasty on the Mekong, so I bought some DEET 95 bug-spray yesterday.

I wasn’t planning on making it to Beijing, but I was offered a summer internship with a web start-up there, so I am going to migrate over to do some investigatory work. From there, if I can organize visas for Russia and Kazakhstan, I am seriously considering taking trains from Beijing-Urumqi-Almaty-Moscow. Epic.



One Response to “Life in Transit”

  1. Scott Bower Says:

    Shaun, we expect to have a great feast when you get back with you cooking!!!!!

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