Friday, January 8, 2010
FRIED RAT AND OTHER ROADSIDE TREATS
On the road again today to Phitsanulok. Panu, man of many talents, teaches us about the National Anthem and the Kings Anthem, but we especially enjoyed his demonstration of traditional Thai clothing both male and female. He teaches us how to tie the sarong and why it holds up. Clothing so cleverly useful and cool, we all want one. One of his jobs is to find rest stops along the way which isn't quite as easy as in the U.S. But our first stop on this trip was non parriel. I loved this wonderful black sticky rice cooked in a bamboo stick so much, I found bamboo sticks to take home and try it.
Here Susan kind of trepiditiously tastes a spoonful of the sweet concoction made with black eyed peas, black rice, (we know the sticky comes from tapioca flour) and coconut milk.
Equally fascinating was the special grill used to cook these bamboo tubes of rice over coals. The operator, wearing thick gloves, would turn them from one side to the other as they cooked. An amazing treat.
I mentioned roadside rests and here we stopped at this rock quarry because they have a bathroom, that is, a "Happy Room". We all loved this pose of Adria with camera and cousin Wendy still dressed in Thai pants that she modeled on the bus. Pants with no buttons or ties, just a simple, single piece of cloth. Can you tell we are having fun?
Our next roadside rest brought us to a fried rat stand. Gophers or some other larger rodent with buck teeth was also for sale along with small hens. And, yes, several of us agreed we wanted to taste fried rat so Panu bought one for our lunch.
Soon we arrived at a quaint and lovely market that has just been issued its UNESCO credential. The town is Uthaithani and the market is superbly clean and picturesque. The picture below shows the town from the bridge.
This is a rural town and the market is not so hectic as others we've visited. The woman below quietly sews on her wares while people browse.
The fish and vegetables and fruits are beautifully laid out. We find soups and rice dishes and what looks like coconut ice and milk shakes. Wood carvings, steel knives and tools; musical instruments and toys. Silks and rugs and wall hangings and purses. It is instantly evident why it received the coveted UNESCO rating. For those unfamiliar with UNESCO, these heritage sites are considered historically unique and worth saving for all mankind. And, collectively, many nations contribute to keep these sites for posterity so they don't fade away with progress and social change.
Here Panu slogs through the various patterns to keep all of us happy as we choose a sarong. Our group sort of overwhelmed the proprietor who was trying to keep up with our choices.
We then board the Khiri Nava, a large traditional rice barge and cruise past peaceful scenes of river life while enjoying lunch.
Fish is often served whole with head and tail intact.
The buffet lunch was delicious, and, for a few of us, the fried rat was an experience. For my taste, though it resembled crispy fried chicken, I would have preferred it to be stewed. But, hey, you don't get fried rat everyday.
A typical house along the Saekaekrang River. This is rice farming country and like our own rural areas, people live more simply.
Another rest stop as we push north. I couldn't resist taking a picture of this wonderful wooden stump faucet for washing hands. The Thais wash hands continually, provide anti-bacterial lotions and stress cleanliness. No one got sick on our trip and our tour leader also provided hand wipes every time we re-entered the bus.
Wouldn't it be wonderful to stop at a roadside rest with these beautiful dragon benches? Amazing place.
Simcha and Phyllis enjoy sweet treats. Personally, I would choose black sticky rice any day.
We arrive at Leelawadee Hotel in Phitsanulok with the traditional refreshing juice greeting. Here Flat Stanley gets a close up of our drink. The waitress looked at us a little strangely as we pulled him out for a picture, but we didn't know enough Thai to explain to her.
Tomorrow I travel to Tuscon to meet my ramblin partner. I've had the luxury of uploading many pictures, full size, from home. On the road things change. Signals are iffy at times. I can't always use so many photos and/or I must reduce them in size so you cannot click on them for a close-up view. In any case, more of Thailand coming. Chaio!