21.02.2012 - 23.02.2012 33 °C
I'm currently sitting at the hostel which I moved to with my friends using the public computers as unfortunately my laptop screen mysteriously broke last night. I guess it's just part of travel but it's a pain in the ass, especially as I just got a bunch of movies on there to keep me entertained on long flights - I suppose that's payback for abusing hostels free wifi.
For the past two nights I've stayed at Saphai Pae, which is in the Silom area as well, but closer to the action which is nice. The hostel itself is great, and I'd probably recommend it more than WE Bangkok. It is enormous, modern, clean, and has plenty of facilities, although the internet is crappy. It doesn't have the homely feel of places like Miss Long or Bun Kao's guesthouses, but it's a great base for Bangkok and suits the city well if you just wanna hang out.
On Tuesday afternoon I eventually got into contact with Riley and walked to the hostel, as it was only about 10 minutes away. Of course as I left I saw my old friend the security guard, who told me his name was John (though I doubt it...), and he gave me a loving kiss on the cheek and sent me on my merry way. On the way was a large school and it appeared that class had just been released, as the small alleys were filled with children and mobile stall holders selling toys, ice cream, snacks, and even bags of goldfish. I eventually made it to Saphai Pae and met up with Riley and Holly, and to my surprise Andrei too, and we had a big catch up about all their adventures from the past five weeks. We just hung out for the rest of the afternoon and had a potentially dangerous four-way spoon on the small single top bunk and let time pass.
That night Andrei's friend Nick also joined us and we headed to Patpong nightmarkets for something to do. It was crazy as always with plenty around to buy, particularly sex shows. We got some beers at 7/11, and saw bottles for 24baht, but were warned in broken English that they weren't quite real beer. Everyone stuck it safe with Leo or Chang, but I figured I'd give the 24baht mystery drink a try, as I'm renowned for my love of cheap yet disgusting alcohol back home. All I can really say is, despite the bottle, it definitely wasn't beer. I didn't think it was all that bad, but it was like a vinegary goon and I couldn't finish it. We got some great street food at the end of the market and eventually got a cab back to the hostel. We just hung out and had some more beer and I was taught (for the billionth time) how to play 500 until 4am or so when I eventually headed to bed. Don't tell Riley, but I'm actually beginning to enjoy it.
The next day I woke up annoyingly early, as always, and walked around the streets for a while and entertained myself for a few hours until the crew crawled out of bed at midday. Holly, Andrei and Nick were flying out that afternoon so we just had some lunch together before they got on the train to the airport.
Riley and I were sitting outside playing Go Fish when, by pure coincidence, the hostel staff started setting up some cooking equipment and we discovered they were holding a cooking class. We made some rather delicious Tom Yum Gai, which was quick and easy. I think this is the recipe, though my memory may be lacking somewhat, so if it's disgusting then I apologise.
Kaffir Lime Leaves
The quantities are very much dependant on personal taste, but the method below should serve 4 people small portions.
Put four ladels of chicken stock in a pot on medium heat until simmering. Add lemongrass, galangal and kaffir lime leaves (probably about 1-2 tablespoons of each). Interestingly, the lime leaves aren't actually really for taste but rather just smell.
When the broth is simmering and you can smell all the flavours, add the straw mushrooms (I like mushrooms so I'd put 1/4-1/2 a cup). Add chilli paste, which is dependant on flavour, but I put 1-1.5 teaspoons.
Add diced chicken breast, once again the amount is dependant on how many people are eating it and how much chicken you feel like - probably 150-250g would be more than enough (they definitely wouldn't use that much for 2 people in Thailand, but mum I know you like to stock Micko up with protein!).
Once the chicken has cooked through, add 6 teaspoons of lime juice and 6 teaspoons of fish sauce and stir in. Add 1-2 teaspoons of caster sugar at this time as well.
Turn the heat off and add about half-a-ladle worth of evaporated milk, and once stirred through you can add your cilantro and chilli to taste, ready to serve!
During the cooking class I met some cool people from Japan who actually majored in Mongolian and Hindi languages, so that was cool, and I also ended up speaking to a medical student from Manchester. That was pretty interesting and we talked about lots of interesting medical cases. I went for a walk, had a nap, and in the night met a cool Australian guy from mining town Mt Isa. Eventually Riley awoke from his 7 hour nap and we got some dinner before I headed to bed.
And here we are - freshly bathed and preparing for Myanmar! I've been researching different routes you can take, but we have a pretty small amount of time so I don't know how much we will be able to fit in. Ideally I'd go Yangon - Bagan - Mandalay - Pwin U Lwin - Mandalay - Inle Lake - Yangon, and spent one, maybe two nights in each place. I don't think this is plausible given the travel times for these places, but I'm sure we'll at least get a taste for Myanmar!
I don't think internet access will be very plentiful over there, nor will mobile phone access, so I may be difficult to contact, but if I'm not able to post before then I'll be back on the 2nd of March!