Saturday, January 7, 2012

Trip to Cha-Am - 2nd Post

At the end of my last post, we had just arrived in Cha-Am, unpacked and were heading to the beach to meet up with Kei, a friend of Christopher's from school, and his mom who were also in Cha-Am for the weekend.  

We supported the local economy and let the kids ride for a while on the beach with the horses...
In talking with Kung (Kei's mother), I realized that both Caitlynne and Christopher have never ridden horses before.  They have ridden camels, elephants and water buffalo but no horses!  

There were a variety of water sport activities available (jet skies, boat rides, etc.).  The kids (and Kevin) loved riding on this while it was pulled by a jet ski.
As is typical in Thailand, there is always someone trying to sell you something - food, souvenirs, trinkets, lottery tickets - the list goes on and on.  While sitting on the beach, we were approached by vendors with wares such as bracelets, beads, kites, and skirts.  If you so much as turn your head in their direction, they are on you like white on rice.  Usually a smile and a firm head shake send them on their way but some can be more persistent than others - especially with Westerners.  Kei's mom is Thai so she spoke to them and made it clear that we were not interested in their items.  

As the evening approached, several vendors selling food and snacks started strolling the beach. We have been pretty careful about where we eat - almost always in a restaurant or cafe - and very rarely from street vendors.  However, Kei's mom thought nothing of stopping the vendors and buying snacks for us to sample.  The woman in the photo below was selling a variety of tropical fruits.  
I was glad Kung was with us because some of the vendors had very interesting items on offer and we were able to ask her what the food was and how it was to be eaten.  I saw a vendor making something for a family sitting near us that looked very interesting so Kung and I wandered over to have a look.  Click on these photos to see a larger image.  
Kung explained to me the snack he was making and, since I can't remember the Thai name for it, I would best describe it to you as "squid jerky".  

First, you select the size (small, medium or large) of dried squid that you want...
Then the vendor pulls the dried squid through a hand-cranked roller to make it very thin...
The dried (and now flattened) squid is put into a basket and held over a small charcoal fire until it is lightly browned and a bit crispy.

After it is grilled, the vendor makes a spicy chili sauce and serves you.
Although it took me a few minutes to get over my uneasiness with the conditions in which the dish was prepared, I did have a few pieces and it was very good.  I am glad we bought some because it was certainly something that we never would have tried if we were on our own.  

There were food vendors all over the beach with set ups similar to this man's - a heat source on one side and ingredients/supplies/utensils on the other side.  I saw some vendors making stir fried noodle dishes, some were making grilled meats, fish or vegetables and others were making curries and stews.  Given the lack of refrigeration, I don't know if I would be brave enough to try a dish made with meat or fish but the locals definitely do not mind as the vendors were doing a brisk business as dinner time approached.      

Have a great Saturday!

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