Green Curry and Tom Yam in Bangkok

We arrived in Bangkok yesterday, and I'm already getting a taste of what makes it so different from the rest of South East Asia. The city is a dizzy mish mash of royal pomp, rampant commerce, lady boys, sex tourists, backpackers, scam artists and traditional Thai courtesy. Crowded, polluted and tiring at times - but never boring.

We're shacked up in a place in Rambutri, close to the infamous Khao San Road. It's a bona fide backpacker ghetto, but after experiencing so much commerce-cloaked-in-culture elsewhere, I'm finding something quite refreshing about the brash, in your face-ness of it all. Bangkok has been doing the tourist gig for along time, and it's great not to feel like I'm stamping on a monk's toes everytime I walk out the door.

In keeping with this theme, the street food here mostly revolves around large, multi-itemed operations catering exclusively for the tourist market. Eating at these joints tends to go against my usual preference for locally validated, one vendor, one dish setups, but I decided to put my snobbery aside for the night and get stuck in - a case of when in Rambutri, do as the non-Rambutrans.

I opted for a Green Curry, arguably the most famous Thai dish and one pretty expressive of the flavours indiginous to the country; Chilli, lemongrass, galangal, sweet basil, fish sauce and kaffir lime all make an appearence. This one was of a reasonably quality - I would have welcomed a little more coconut milk and it was definitely farang (as opposed to Thai) spicy. Still, for only 30 kip (just over 50p) in the center of one of the most heavily touristed areas in South East Asia, it was pretty damn good.

Across the table Sarah went for another Thai superstar, Tom Yam. In my opinion, this hot and sour classic is one of the most bewitching soups on the planet. It is also very easy to get wrong; the slightest tremor in flavouring and Tom Yam instantly loses the X-factor. Unfortunately whoever made Sarah's took the Khao San hippy theme a little too far - an excess of chilli oil meant the surface of the soup resembled a lava lamp, with all the attendent greasiness that entails. An altogether less accomplished bowl of food than the one I enjoyed.
A suitably mixed result for a suitably mixed up city.