Thursday, March 13, 2008

A little inspiration...

Hey cool, I just won a Travelers Tales "Solas Award" for one of my early blogs about the first yacht that I ever worked on. The story is published on a travel writing website and may be included in a publication of short travel stories.

For those of you who are new readers to my blog but haven't read the archives or know my history, and for my friends and family (Prcrstn8, The X’s and so forth) who are religious followers, take a little trip (or a harrowing sail) down memory lane - DRAMAMINE: THE GATEWAY DRUG. You'll at least get a good laugh.

I'm heading down to SoCal to cook for the X's for a few weeks - then, it's up to Seattle with the crew to oversee the rest of the build!

Thank god. All this time off is exhausting...

Well, finely...

Alone at last, I wander the Soi’s of Bangkok, carefree, sucking on a bag of Thai iced tea, nibbling on a stick of sai grog isan (a sour pork sausage that I’ve become completely addicted to). A thought scratches persistently at my mind. There have been too few moments on this trip where I could just wander and explore, unencumbered by the lead weight of Princesses incessant warnings and unfounded gastronomic paranoia. Too many meals tainted by a look of disapproval that settled like an arctic chill across my piping hot bowl Khao Soi.

So, alone at last, I cherish my few remaining hours. I scour grocery store shelves for seeds and spices and sauces and pastes to take home. I wander the streets and stop to buy a bag of sliced mango seasoned with salt and sugar and chili paste.

I turn down a back alley; the afternoon sun tamed by the shadow of apartment buildings and a canopy of electrical wires and cables. In the grey shadows I inadvertently stumble across a bustling little culinary Mecca; several food stalls packed tightly together selling laabs and curries and noodles and soups and salads. Communal tables in the center are set with the usual condiments of sugar, chilies, vinegar and fish sauce and a plastic toilet paper dispenser for the napkins. Vendors shout back and forth to each other. Servers scurry between the stalls and tables delivering plates of satays and barbeque and filling plastic bags for “to go” orders of papaya salad and fried rice. I take a seat at a green metal table and watch the activity. A server looks at me and I point to a bowl of something on another table and shake my head up and down. He takes his hand to his lips, sign language for “something to drink?”. “Singhe”, I reply.

I slurp down one last tangy and brain meltingly spicy bowl of Tom Sum from a chipped bowl, in a dirty back alley, on a street that I don’t know the name of and all I can think to myself is, “what is better than this?”

I confess, I lost my heart to eat and lost my heart to write about this trip when eating became more of an exercise in endurance and trying to find something that would suit the taste/standards/expectations of my travel companion, rather than the culinary cultural exploration I had planned.

But lesson learned. Choose your travel companion wisely.

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