The other day, Ms. Tomato overheard a conversation in which the words “blogs are SO over” were uttered. and has therefore decided to resume writing hers. Truthfully, over the last three years or so, she has had scant access to the internet, what with her tendency toward living impossibly close to Nowheresville. Life in a tent on an Antarctic Ice Sheet, an obscure unpopulated atoll in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, or a salmon fishing lodge in remote Alaska does not always, after all, offer the same amenities as a Brooklyn apartment, a luxury that has long gone with the wind.
At the moment we find ourselves at the Chetawan Health School just outside Bangkok where Traditional Thai Massage in the Wat Po style is studied. There are 10 of us in the month-long class and only two of us claim English as our first language. Every instruction from the Thai teacher, who is hilarious ("don't look at teacher's buttock!" "keep hands away from 'entertainment center,' not that kind of massage!", etc.) , and also has a very thick accent when speaking English, must undergo a ripple of muttered translations into Latvian, French, Italian, German, and Japanese.
Here, there is an amazing service called “wireless internet” that works at least 50% of the time….thus the post, just in the nick of time, before blogs are not only SO over, but are made illegal for the crime of being outdated.
The residential program here at Chetawan provides simple, delicious food that has been chili-diluted for non-Thai palates, yet our lips still turn red and we still break a sweat over the Thom Yum Koong soup. Head cook Joon works seven days a week making three meals a day and says she hasn’t had a day off in a year. Ah the glamour of the culinary world!
Joon turns out stir-fries that are nothing less than divine, filled with bright greens, oyster mushrooms, soft pillows of tofu, sweet onions, mint and basil. Adorned, of course, with birds-eye chilies that will knock the socks off the most stalwart of jalapeno-eaters. The bonus is a soup bar that is set up every day at lunch, stocked with fish balls, tofu bits, fried onion, scallions, chicken, pork, bean sprouts, and rice noodles. Joon and her adorable assistants, Mini and Bo, two girls who say they are 18 years old, but we swear aren’t a day over 13, throw the ingredients into boiling broth for about one minute and it is pure addiction.
Breakfast means neon-white sliced square bread for toast, soy margarine, eggs fried in ultra-light olive oil, cold cereal, dragon fruit, and a bright orange beverage reminiscent of the astronaut-inspired Tang. Interestingly, perhaps only to Ms.Tomato, ‘though she will recount the story anyway, in our childhood, we discovered Tang, coffee ice cream, and the existence of Thailand all within one week at a World Expo. At the time all three seemed wildly exotic and out of reach to an 8-year-old mortal, so to find them crossing paths lo these years later is nothing less than cosmic in the little Universe called Ms. Tomato.
Note to self: found Thailand, found Tang, now find the coffee ice cream.