The present sometimes creates a need to look back towards better times and that’s why I’m thankful for these much-needed memories of Thai food. Remembering moments during this time spent abroad reminds me that the painful parts will pass, thankfully. Our vacation to Thailand’s Koh Chang and Bangkok in 2012 was one such instance, with that journey providing a nice week-long escape from a drama-filled job and the winter cold. My write-up on the trip for the Gwangju News provided a travel feature with some of my wife’s beautiful photos but it was an important journey for other reasons.
Much-Needed Memories of Thai Food
One might think of an “uneventful” trip as boring but honestly, that word meant quite a bit of our Thailand experience involved laying on gorgeous beaches while in Koh Chang and exploring Thailand’s culinary side over anything else. Everyone remembers their first vacation but the second, well sometimes the memories just slip away. Honestly though, how can one forget a place when the location feels as exotic as those travel guides and documentaries have described? That was Thailand for me and even huge acclaim from so many travelers doesn’t take away from the happy thoughts about our time traveling around the capital and to our first island getaway in Koh Chang.
Reaching Elephant Island took a somewhat frustrating shuttle bus with a cranky driver keen on demanding more money before driving to the destination we’d already paid to reach. What am I saying? That was $10 that I’m whining about! But that’s another part of Southeast Asia that people seem to forget. Many things are acquired on the cheap and a few dollars can go a long way, if one is smart. But who cares about that? There’s the food. Oh, I can go on about Thai food. Everyone knows Pad Thai and for good reason. Staples like that bring the foodies in but the lesser known players are what keeps me thinking that a second trip is in order. Tom yum, red curry, pork fried rice, papaya salad, I could go on.
But the standout among them all was massaman. That, my friends, was the best curry I ever tasted. A delightful bowl of coconut milk-based stuff is hard to beat, but add in the tenderest of chicken legs, hunks of potato, and viola! Much like my experiences with Japanese ramen, a second tasting probably wouldn’t measure up. Other places offered massaman only in name but the taste confirmed my suspicions. Memories of people, places, and food may fade over time but only if one lets them. In the case of massaman curry, it’s okay to let those feelings remain the same while the truth slips into oblivion. Unlike forgettable people who dominate minds for only a short time, that bowl of massaman curry will never leave my trail of thoughts.
Going back to the Thailand we visited might bring back familiar visions, smells, and tastes but surely today’s version is different. Things change no matter how much we resist or avoid. Life changes all the time and we just have to regroup and remain positive. Sometimes thinking back to events like this one are necessary. The moments when life was smiling with lots of sunshine, not raining and full of turbulent thoughts. That’s what visions of Thai food and seeing it at the source does for me. Memories from those moments we shared in Thailand will always bring a smile to my face.
Have you ever gone back and thought about a time in life when things were better than the present? Do we sometimes lose ourselves in the past to escape the present?