Christine Andrew
Sat, May 9, 2015
Ploughing and Roughing in Bangkok
Today I set out for my old stomping grounds where my husband, Jim, and I used to stay in Bangkok, in the Wattana district. It actually is pretty much city center and has a lot of little pedestrian backstreets and where we stayed was right around the corner from the central mass transit line, Asoke. Back when we were both here, I spent a large amount of my time on their BTS (skytrain) and MRT (subway) systems and since my return I'm no longer centrally located and I missed my old haunts.

It's a bit of a hike to get back ot the BTS line from my new hotel but well worth it. Much as the taxis here are great, I miss the independence of being able to set out on a whim and go wherever I want easily. So I hooked a taxi and off I went. Along the way, I stuck my nose in the newspaper to get the skinny on the state of Thailand. Back home, I can't tell you the last time I really made a point of getting a newspaper and really consume all of my news data online. Here, I start to feel jittery if I can't get my hands on a Bangkok Post before breakfast. Go figure.

Today's newspaper educated me on an important ceremony coming up. Actually I'm starting to feel spoiled. First Labor Day, then Coronation Day, and now Wednesday will be the Royal Ploughing Ceremony. There were pictures in the paper today about the rehearsals for the ceremony so I took the opportunity to get a bit more familiar.

I actually thought the ceremony was strictly observed in Thailand but it's actually observed in other Asian countries as well and it celebrates auspicious rice seasons. It reminds me a bit of Groundhog Day to be honest. There are a couple sacred oxen (the ones I've seen are all white and I think that's required by I'm new at this so I could be wrong) who are fed grains and special foods and even some whiskey during a special ceremony. There are astrologers who will make predictions about the harvest based on what the oxen eat, in my mind reminiscent of whether the groundhog sees his shadow. It sounds like the crown prince has been presiding over the affair in recent years rather than the king. It looks fascinating. On the heels of Coronation Day earlier this week (May 5, 1950 was the year the king was coronated), this is delightful! 
// or GFDL (], via Wikimedia Commons

Speaking of which, although it wasn't officially royal, I certainly felt like royalty heading back to our hands-down, all-time favorite restaurant in Bangkok: Baan Khanitha. For anyone who will be visiting Bangkok in the future, it's a must. I love Thai food - the spices, the flavors, the smells, the fresh ingredients.... love it. Baan Khanitha though... they take Thai food and take it to the next level. It's really incredible.

One of my favorite things is Miang Kham, a simple but delightful little appetizer. Meang Kam

Baan Khanitha was actually the first place I ever saw Miang Kham but I subsequently discovered that you can buy it from many of the street vendors and it's also wonderful. Essentially it's little dried shrimps, diced peppers, lemon, and lime, shredded coconut, and peanuts along with a delicious little sauce. Who knew something so simple could be so wonderful?

I knew I really only could eat one dish but it's not every day I get over to Baan Khanitha so I feasted on fried marigolds with shrimp and stir fried bean curd. I can hear all my carnivore friends gagging already but I'm telling you it was heaven. Baan Khanitha isn't inexpensive but it is a beautiful restaurant with spectacular food. It's one of those restaurants that you reminisce about for years later so being able to return was definitely something special.

Apparently it's all about the food - whether it's the assessment of what the sacred oxen eat or just getting my fill at Baan Khanitha, I could be my own astrologer and predict it's going to be a spectacular week!

Stir Fried Bean Curd

Fried Marigold with Shrimp

Baan Khanitha

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