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    Tropical Punch Tour: Thailand Part 31

    Saturday, August 28, 2010
    Bangkok, Thailand

    Layers of gold leaf peel from the face of a Buddha image at Wat Chana Songkhram in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    A small shrine at Wat Chana Songkhram in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Buddhist monks sing during a prayer service at Wat Chana Songkhram in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    A set of three bells at Wat Chana Songkhram in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    I stopped by a neighborhood Buddhist temple in Banglamphu called Wat Chana Songkhram, where I listened to the monks sing. It’s an amazing and wonderful thing to hear their solemn songs ring out in such a large, reverberant structure. I was also struck by a plethora of Buddha images that were lovingly covered with so much gold leaf over the years, their features were mostly obscured and the upper layers were peeling off. Oddly enough, when I walked around back to see more of the compound, I bumped into Gordon, the fellow I had met with the South Korean snorkelers the night before. I sure didn’t expect to see him at a Buddhist temple. He teaches English here in Thailand, which is a pretty common gig for foreigners.

    May Kaidee signs copies of her cookbook at her restaurant in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Shitake mushrooms and glass noodles for lunch at May Kaidee's in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Saturday night buffet at May Kaidee's in Banglamphu, Bangkok, Thailand.

    Every Saturday night, there’s a buffet and a little bit of traditional Thai dance at May Kaidee’s, so I headed over there for a couple of hours of taste bud-teasin’ and eyeball-easin’ fun. In foodie circles, May is quite well-known, having worked her magic across several continents. She’s tutored master chefs in Russia, taught in England and Japan, appeared in a Thai vegetarian cooking film and on TV in Thailand, China, Germany and France, plus coverage in all of the major Bangkok newspapers. Originally a poor country girl named Sommay Jaijong from Si Saket in the Northeast province of Issan, May started working at her Aunt’s Bangkok restaurant in the 1980s. May opened her own restaurant later in that decade, which spawned many imitators along the same alley, and she’s since opened a second in Bangkok and a third in Chiang Mai. May also teaches cooking classes seven days a week, and copies of the second edition of her cookbook fly out the door. Can you say success story?

    Roll over photos for captions.
    All words and photos ©2010 Arcane Candy.

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