Ok... since coming to Thailand, there have been massive protests, an overthrow of the government, I was nearly scammed in Bangkok and left wandering the streets alone and completely lost, I've walked into classes completely unprepared because I was given the wrong information. Today I taught for two hours in the (not really-that) dark because the monsoon rains had caused a power-out, I've had last minute room changes, and malfunctioning CD players. We're on the verge of a global economic collapse, the electronic deposit of my paycheck was rejected by my bank, and in my last class today I was informed that there was fighting on the border with Cambodia. All of this I've handled with a deep breath and a Mai Bpen Rai.... so you know when I say there's a crisis... I mean it. And if you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably guessed... it has to do with food.
All the restaurants between my home and work have been closed for the past two days!!!! Granted, there are only four ... but ALL of them are closed on the same two days - with no warning... and no one can tell me why. I mean, why doesn't really matter... the point is I would kinda like to eat something at some point. I have no kitchen, I have no fridge, I have no car, and it's not like there's a Denny's down the street.
For the record, I'm not actually starving. I have some crackers at home (which - in this humidity- go stale about 4 minutes after you open them), and have been picking up 'surprise buns' from the gas station for breakfast. Yesterday and today I've had class from 1pm - 9pm with no real break. So I got to work early to prep my lessons and at around lunch time I took a motorcycle taxi to Tesco Lotus to get something for lunch (they have something approaching a grilled cheese sandwich I'll have to describe at some point), and take away pad thai for dinner. But seriously, a surprise bun, a sandwich and a non-American-sized portion of pad thai is not quite enough food to get me through 24 hours. Not when I'm walking to and from school, running up and down the stairs and wandering around the classroom all day teaching anyway.
Today I did the same thing, went to Tescos for lunch and brought back some pad thai, which I managed to eat a few bites of in my 5 minute break at around 3pm. By the end of today I was feeling faint and starting to get a bit cranky. I didn't have the energy to walk to the big food court down the street (only an extra 5 min. walk... but when you're hungry it feels like an hour), and I didn't have the patience to wait 15 min. for one of the office gals to get off work to drive me. So I just left. I even forgot to bring the rest of my pad thai with me. There are usually two food vendors across the street, and I've gotten fried rice from the one gal. But today - of course - she wasn't there. It was just the guy with soup. I don't know what kind of soup it was, and I don't really know how to ask. Well, I know how to say "what's that" but then I'm not actually going to understand anything he says... so it's a bit pointless. So I've avoided it thus far. But you know... desperate times...
I just said "gak bahn" (take away) and pointed. There were two other guys there, and Mr. No-teeth decided to strike up a conversation with me in his broken English. Now, I'm an English teacher, and I have a lot of experience speaking with people for whom English is not their native language. I feel like I have an above average amount of patience in trying to understand what someone is saying. But I'd spent the last two hours working with a couple of electrical engineers going through a presentation they need to give next week and trying my little heart out to get them to say "Valve" instead of "walbe", "experience" instead of "ehperihen." The one guy got it, but the other just refused to play ball. I kept telling him "You cannot make the 'v' sound unless you put your top teeth on your bottom lip like this... vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv... no, put your teeth (pointing at teeth) on your lip (pointing at bottom lip)... like this vvvvvvvvvvvvvvv.... vvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv... I know it looks strange, I know it feels strange, but you cannot make the sound unless you do this (pointing to exaggerated mouth shape again) vvvvvvvvvv." "walbe" (head to desk / head to desk / head to desk). So ordinarily, I feel like I'm really patient with people who are trying to speak English to me, but at this point I just smiled and nodded and in my head screamed "GIVE ME FOOD AND SHUT THE FUCK UP!"
Eventually my mystery soup was ready and I could go home. Yup - in Thailand soup comes in a bag. So do beverages.... and you know one pack of chewing gum. On the right, the white stuff is rice noodles, on the left, the broth and some kind of ball-type-food-product. Have I mentioned that I don't have a bowl... or a spoon?
One of the comfort items I brought from home was my giant 32oz Associated Students of Willamette University mug . When I was in SF, J. questioned whether I really needed to bring it with me. But I justified it by saying it had sentimental value, and also that I could stuff about 6 pairs of underwear in it, so the overall volume it occupied was less than it appeared. I also reminded her that every WU Freshman quickly learns about four dozen uses for their ASWU (pronounced /az-woo/ look at my lips... woooooooo wooooooo azzzzz-woo) mug... and it quickly becomes as useful as a hitch-hikers towel.
There was actually quite a lot of soup - I just had to down half of it before I could take more pictures. Oh... and that tiny fork may or may not have been stolen for me the night of the infamous gay-bar cake fight.
The soup ended up being really really good. Yes, that shiny layer is pure fat... and it was awesome. The ball-type-food-product tasted like chicken and had a surprisingly crunchy/squeeky texture. The closest thing I could compare it to would be like those big white bean sprouts you get with Thai food. But you know...also chewy. It's not a texture I'm likely to crave, but when you're starving things like that don't matter quite so much. I would totally get it again, and I'll try to learn the name next time.
Ok... blood sugar is returning to normal, tummy is sufficiently full (for the moment) and life is reaching equilibrium again. Crisis averted. But for the love of Buddha I hope the restaurants re-open tomorrow!