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Friday, June 22, 2012

Tasting and Feeling- Sukhothai

Sukhothai, the first capital of Thailand, is awesome.  Historical ruins litter the entire city over 3-5 square miles.  They date from the 14th century and they are straight out of a video game/Indiana Jones movie.  Allison and I explored part of the ruins on foot, and then rented a bicycle for a dollar and explored the other regions.  Giant Buddhas, assembly halls surrounded by stone elephants, ornate temples... considering these were the dark ages in Europe, life must have been pretty good in Thailand to have these kind of resources.  I am pretty jealous because we have nothing to compare to these 700 year-old artefacts.  Look forward to a ton of pictures coming soon.

After our two-day stay in Sukhothai we headed back to Bangkok and will head out from here to Cambodia early tomorrow morning.  We had to obtain US dollars for our visa along with 2"x2" photos of ourselves, so that was an adventure.  After we got the business stuff taken care of we thought we could indulge in an "American-style" evening.  We split a large meat pizza at pizza corner, shopped at a mall, grabbed a burger from McDonalds and even got an Oreo McFlurry.  Don't get me wrong, I love Thai food; however, it was nice to refuel our American tanks with a 2,000 calorie meal.

I have had a couple requests to elaborate on food, so I thought now would be a good time to do so:
Thai food is based on four flavors as previously mentioned: Sour, Sweet, Salty and Spicy (or bitter, depending on the translation).  With every single meal you will receive condiments to help balance these flavors.  For example, fish sauce for salty, sugar for sweet, pepper flakes and pepper juice for spicy and a lime for sour.  Loving flavor and sauce, I tend to over-season everything, but I love it that way.  Every meal comes with noodles or rice, but it isn't exactly that simple.  Just as Italians fancy their thousands of noodles, so do the Thais take pride in their rice and noodle and even rice noodle selections.  I can't say that I can really tell the difference between expensive Jasmine rice and the cheaper run-of-the-mill rice, but apparently it is there.  Most Thais don't cook for themselves often, so there are little restaurants -- more like street food -- on every corner in Thailand.  This dependency also makes a high competition market, so it's super cheap. Allison and I have had entire, multi-course meals with drinks for less than 4 dollars.  It's great.  While there are tons of dishes, I really miss the variety of food that we have in America.  We eat Italian, BBQ, mexican, burgers, asian and fast food all in the course of a week.  I haven't seen a culture yet with such a broad diet, but I guess I have only been to four countries besides the US.

Cambodia looms and we have a long day tomorrow.  Border crossings tend to be where most horror stories take place, but I think we have taken the proper precautions and are well-prepared.  Often, the borders are crooked because once you arrive there, you really have to pay whatever they ask because you have no other options.  It seems like luck plays the biggest factor, but I guess we will see.  Hopefully my next report is a positive one, I have a good feeling it will be.

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