Walking among mounds of colorful chile peppers that will set your mouth on fire and bunches of cilantro that fill my nose with a delightful fresh smell, and I am the only ‘farang’ in sight. Locals load their motorbike sidecars with bags full of cabbage and baskets heavy laden with pumpkins, soon to be served up in a restaurant in old town. Here, when I ask “Gii Baht kha?” I am met with “Haa sep baht kha,” and I get my thai practice in for the day.
There are so many fruits and veggies I’ve never seen before (some that look quite a bit like animal products that I have to ensure are in fact ‘gin jay’) and I hope to eventually buy some of everything, just to learn what on earth it is.
My first time to this incredible market, I felt incredibly out of place. But with each visit, and the more and more I explore it’s twists and turns, improve my Thai, and can navigate my way to the best place for mangosteens, the cheapest morning glory, and the tastiest curry paste, I start to feel comfortably out of place. And it’s a very balanced feeling, being ‘comfortably out of place’ you feel just on the edge of being in control, yet still a little challenged. And with each mysterious veggie I buy, I must challenge myself to find a way to cook it too! Jus yesterday I made ‘mysterious root sauteed with onions’ it wasn’t too bad (although slightly bitter.)
The most amazing part is, between nearly being run over by a food truck, getting all mixed up on my Thai vocabulary, and cooking something completely wrong, you begin the master the art of learning by making mistakes and trying again. And all along the way, you start to feel just a little more apart of the local culture.