Wednesday, 23 July 2008
I really don’t know where to start. My usual existence plays itself out in a satisfyingly sedate fashion: the occasional domestic duty punctuating an otherwise relaxed approach dominated by growing food, cooking food and writing about (mostly) food. There might be the odd day when I go for a run, wander into town and buy a new album or amble around the flat countryside that surrounds our house. But most of the time I am beavering away, attempting to eke out a living by doing the things I love most, the things listed above.
Suffice to say that the last fortnight has provided something of a departure from this genteel life. The sweaty streets of Bangkok, so alive in so many ways, the soft beaches of Phuket and the sinister underbelly of Patong are a world away from the small, sleepy Cambridgeshire village I call home. And what a wondrous, living, breathing, pulsating, vibrant world Thailand is.
A slow and relaxed karmic paradise that lives in a manic frenzy. The sweeping hills flecked green with lush trees overlook heaving polluted city streets where the concept of a carbon footprint is unheard-of. The peaceful tranquillity of the Buddhist tradition exists amidst a tumultuous ferocity of a sprawling metropolis. The gentle curves of traditional Thai architecture sit alongside the harsh angular regularity of a modern city block. The intricate delicacy of old artwork appears soft against the brutal realism favoured by the nation’s contemporary artists.
Thailand encompasses all these things and more with an indescribable grace: everything and nothing that you expect. During the two short weeks that we spent there we saw many sides to this disparate yet cohesive nation; a country developing both within and outside of itself, finding its place in the world; struggling with and embracing the many facets of its intricate existence.
I have no doubt that we barely scratched the surface – the north of the country remains a mystery, as do many of the outlying islands, not to mention the complex traditions and formalities that pervade Thai life – but I like to think that we managed to at least begin the process of unraveling this incredible, fascinating and wonderful nation.
And the food? I suppose you’ll just have to wait and see.
Posted by Just Cook It at 16:23:00