The second day we had lunch at a really beautiful setting, in the middle of a small lake by the sea (I think a converted paddy field) hovering over the water on a deck under the shade of a great canopy of woven palm leaves. The feel of the breeze on your face mixed with the scent of the lake and the food (!) made for a pleasant meal and what a feast it was too!
Thai cuisine is big on lemon grass, shrimp and something akin a sweet and spicy dip that made my mouth water and brow sweat each time I tried some with the octopus. Octopus! I've never tried octopus so fresh as that... Just remembering it excites the senses.
When I went to Bangkok my visit coincided with the Thai Mother's Day so there were many many posters, boards and even flashing LED screens honorating the Queen of Thailand which came across as a bit of a surprise. In the UK I would never have connected Mother's Day with the Queen there. On the odd occasion I read stuff back in Shanghai about how closely protected the Royal Thai Family is but I had to go to Bangkok to get a sense of actually how central the Family is to the Thai public conscience. Slander would be unthinkable so no wonder the Thai authorities throw foreigners in the slammer, which always comes as a huge surprise (shock horror, there are cultures that don't look kindly to irresponsible freedom of speech) in foreign media (I'm thinking Australian media - if there is the term).
One time our host took us to the huge market somewhere to the West of Bangkok and I bought a few trinkets for QQ back home. After we had coconut icecream in half a coconut shell (yum!) I found a second hand English book store... I could have stayed there a month browsing the books (I probably would have volunteered to help them index the lot!). I was franticly nudging 1m high piles of books away in search of hidden treasures including books by Taiichi Ohno and Peter Drucker but, alas, I searched in vain and came away without a single purchase which will probably haunt my sleep for years to come. After peeling myself away from the book store I walked down the lane with my host and I see she stops dead in her tracks. Inquisitively I do too to which the hosts kindly asked us to please don't move as the 'music' is playing. I look around and see that everybody else has stopped in an otherwise very busy market lane as well as notice that music was indeed playing from some radio somewhere. Eventhough the lyrics of the song were beyong my comprehension it was clearly the Thai national anthem.
On my second to final day there our host took me out to a restaurant over looking a short hop ferry dock. The food was delicious - shrimp, the crab, the mussels... After I came back I realised that I had amassed an extra 3kg - I think I would like to visit again ^_^