Day 20: Lang Suan
This is a guest post generously shared by Nicholas Jordan, a freelance writer who peddled his insatiable appetite around Thailand and wrote about it over at Im Still Alive. I met Nicholas walking the Routebourn trek in New Zealand’s deep south a couple of years ago, he was eating a bag of spinach because he reckoned it had “the best price to nutrients to weight ratio.” I got hooked midway through this journey, and have chosen to drop you there on Day 20, but if you like what you see, I encourage you to get back to Day 1. –Byron. Ed.
March 27, 2014
Alan told me he’s really slow. I didn’t believe him because that’s totally a normal thing to say to a stranger you’re about to ride over 100km with. We were both trying to suss the other person out and make sure they’re not a total gun and or a slothian slug from the slums of slowtown either. We didn’t ride very far today so I’m still unsure of how fast or slow he actually is.
Soon after we arrived in Lang Suan an election van drove past. The Thai elections are on soon (big event, more on that later) and the parties are campaigning. Unlike in Aus, where we are beset with pamphlets and the occasional misguided youtube video, here it’s just trucks and vans driving slow circles around villages playing apocalyptically loud dance music with politicians doing voice overs. They may be releasing ground-breaking policies with inspirational rhetoric but Alan and I don’t speak Thai so to us they bring about as much enjoyment and education as a party bus full of mindlessly drunk bogans down from Newie for the weekend.
Alan said he got stuck behind one of these vans on a rural road for over an hour. Now I believe him.
Today I had yen ta fo for lunch. It’s a bright pink, sweet and sour noodle soup made by mixing blood with fermented soy-bean paste. It probably sounds kinda freaky but, aside from it being a soup that’s sweet, it’s pretty palatable even to super conservatives. Despite that, I imagine It would be pretty hard to sell it back in Aus, not just because it’s pink, but because it has blood in it.
It’s such a pity that blood evokes such a revolting reaction in so many people because it’s a really tasty ingredient. It’s intensely savoury but not that meaty in taste, it’s also incredibly nutritious. I imagine that’s what potions from video games taste like – why could that ever be bad? Most people are already consuming it incidentally just by eating meat so why the fuck pour most of it down the drain, we should be drinking the rest of that tasty shit up. They wham it in all the dark noodle soups here and I have a mental fist pump every time I see a dollop go in. I love it.
Alan had to go to Myanmar today to sort out some business with his visa. At the bus stop we met a young Burmese brother and sister, Maa Maa and Peiw Peiw (no idea how to spell it, she made lazer-gun sounds when I asked her name. I have to believe her or else I’ll feel racist). MM was a 19 year old medicine student who talked like a machine gun with opinions for ammo. His sister PP, a primary school teacher, was chill. They were both pretty and charming – I demanded Alan get in with them on his bus trip so we could meet them in Chompong tomorrow. I just got a text from him, he pulled through. Good work Alan.
Every town and city I’ve been to in Thailand has a market like a tide. The markets flow in and out of the town centre, inching forward and backward as each stall jostles for the next space or leaves for the day. Each one of them has it’s own regional produce and snacks and for Lang Suan that means sweets.
The afternoon markets here look like the flotsam and jetsam left over from a shipwreck of sea-faring alchemists. Everything is brightly coloured, artfully crafted and utterly mysterious. Tonight I went out among the alchemist’s menagerie to get myself some sugar. I was about done ordering what looked like some peanutty caramel rice cakes when up sauntered an old women whose teeth had been betrayed by the stain of a Kratom addiction (leaf and nut they chew which gives you a slight coffee high and makes your teeth red). Her daughter had just asked me if I needed a chon (spoon) when the wild-eyed old woman yelled at me.
“yes, chon,” I said doing the charade for spoon.
“CHON.” Ok, alright spoon, spoon. Why is this happening.
“CHON PHARANG CHON.” That essentially means SPOON FOREIGNER SPOON! I didn’t really know how to react so I just bowed, said thank you and walked off as she yelled a whole bunch of other stuff. The others were laughing but I felt weird about it. Why did she yell foreigner at me? Maybe I should have let her know I understood what she said? Anyway, It was all pretty bizarre. The sweets were good.
The adventure continues online here with DAY 21, 22 AND 23: LANG SUAN, CHUMPON AND BANG SAPHAN…
Or join the adventure from Day 1: Kuala Lumpur
Also, quite remarkably, Nicholas is documenting EVERY meal he eats here.