In Search of Som Tam or The Ying to My Yang

Som Tam

It’s been a month now since I landed in the Land of Smiles and all in all I’ve settled in quite nicely. Aside from a few floods, an AWOL girlfriend and a cold or two things couldn’t be better, well, they could always be better but I’m not worried about drowning in my condo anymore if you know what I mean.

But this post isn’t about settling in, no, it’s more about searching for something or not searching for something as it were.

Vodka LippoI ventured out to my local on Wednesday night to have a few vodka lipo’s( liptovitan is like Red Bull but it tastes better and has no fizzies ) and hang out with friends, it was a nice change from the weird weekend I had and a nice break from studying. I’ve been coming to my local for almost 5 years now and the faces behind the bar I have known for just as long. Sometime around midnight I got this restless feeling that I should be moving on, can’t really put a finger on it but I paid my bin and headed out into the night.

Somewhere along the way I found myself by soi LK Metro so I decided to stop in another friends bar and buy him a beer. But before too long I again found my feet heading out of the bar and towards soi Buakow. It would have been a short walk up soi Buakow to soi 15 and home and that is exactly what my intentions were, but my feet had other ideas. Maybe I was lost in thought or I had one too many vodka lipo’s, either way instead of staying straight on Buakow I turned up soi Dianna. A few feet into the soi I realized what I had done but kept walking anyway because there is a cut through half way up the road that will take me home, and then I heard it.

Thai voices can be very hard to distinguish from one another at times but there is one voice I know well and there it was asking the local vendors where the som tam cart could be found. Before I knew it I had said something no Thai woman ever wants to hear, “No som tam for you”. She turned to look at who could say something so mean but she didn’t recognize me and instead gave me a scowl for my efforts and ventured on up the road.

Her name is Ying and she probably has the most beautiful Thai smile I have ever seen, it’s as if her whole face lights up when she smiles. I’ve known Ying for about 3 years and she never fails to flash me that smile and give me a big hug,  except tonight. It was dark and my hair is much shorter and my stomach a wee bit bigger so I can understand her not recognizing me. Now, I could have just let her know it was me but what fun is that? Instead I beat feet past her and headed up soi Dianna to where I know the som tam cart parks, for those of you that don’t know, som tam is spicy papaya salad, and when I say spicy I mean class A incendiary device spicy.

I make it to the som tam cart well before her and have a talk with the vendor. I tell him there is this Thai woman coming and I want him to make her the best som tam he has ever made but when she goes to pay for it to tell her the price is 600 baht. Som tam is normally 30 baht so this will surely confuse her. As I sit on a nearby motorcy I can hear ying come up and express her happiness for finding the som tam cart, she makes small talk and then sits on a motorcy right next to me waiting patiently for her food.  She had that dull, eyes glazed over look that most som tam junkies get and never paid me any notice.

When her food was ready she opened her purse and pulled out her wallet and asked towry ( how much ), without cracking a smile the vendor told her 600 baht. At this point I thought she would flip out but instead she went digging in her purse for more money and sure as shit she pulled out 600 baht. In her bid for for sam tam nirvana she had lost sight of everything else including reason. I lost it and the vendor was laughing hard as well and there was Ying holding 600 baht  and saying to me falang pee baa before it finally hit her that she knew me and that 600 baht was way too much for even the best som tam.

We had a good laugh and a hug and decided to get me some food too before we headed back to my place to eat and catch up. There is one thing you need to know about Ying, she speaks no English whatsoever. Although she works for a friends Visa company she has had little to no contact with falangs. The only reason she knows me is due to som tam…it’s how we met. She was looking for som tam one night a few years ago and I was waiting at the same cart for some food, the vendor went to the bathroom and I pretended to be the som tam man…didn’t work to well but provided a few laughs and a friendship.

So, here we were 3 years later catching up. Not an easy thing to do with my limited Thai but we get by. She was none to pleased to hear about the breakup of my relationship with Pookie and told me I needed a good Thai woman to take care of me. We sat on my balcony and talked for hours and as the sun came up she decided I needed breakfast and went to work. Another thing you should know about Ying, when she says pet nit noi ( spicy a little bit ) she actually means she is calling the gods of hellfire into your food.

Breakfast of Champions

As we finished our delicious, but spicy as hell, breakfast Ying sat on my lap and told me that Buddha brought us together last night and that she knows a very good woman that would love to take care of me. She then took a shower and proceeded to clean the condo in only a towel…out of the frying pan and into the fire I go…again.

The new cleaning lady?


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25 Responses to In Search of Som Tam or The Ying to My Yang
  1. Camille
    September 24, 2010 | 8:11 pm

    Well damn me, don’t you just hate it when a Thai girl just jumps in a towel and decides to clean up your room, dressed like that. Fook me but I never get used to it ;-)

    Sorry to hear you broke up, did I miss something?
    Camille recently posted..PADI- diving and Instructor Development IDC around Thailand- Instructor Specialties for September are in the bag deliciousMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:44 am

      Camille, you just never do get used to that do you…but it’s always nice :)

  2. Joe
    September 24, 2010 | 9:00 pm

    now these are the amusing stories I like to hear. haha.

    there is something to spicy food and romance. [wink]

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:51 am

      Joe, there is definitely something spicy about Thai women…gotta love em.

  3. Mike
    September 24, 2010 | 9:59 pm

    Spicy Talen Spicy :-)
    Mike recently posted..Re-Entry Permit Thailand VisaMy Profile

  4. Catherine
    September 24, 2010 | 10:44 pm

    ‘when she says pet nit noi ( spicy a little bit ) she actually means she is calling the gods of hellfire into your food’

    Good for Ying.

    And good for you too Talen :-D
    Catherine recently posted..Learn Thai via Skype- Online Language Exchange PartnersMy Profile

    • Joe
      September 24, 2010 | 11:23 pm

      Indeed. ‘Good for Yang’ too. A new nickname perhaps ? :-)

      • Talen
        September 25, 2010 | 10:50 am

        Joe, a little to early for the yang but we’ll see.

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:49 am

      Cat, maybe good for me but my tongue is burned out…If she could make ice cream it would be loaded with peppers.

  5. Steve
    September 25, 2010 | 12:23 am

    After Camille’s comment what else can I say?

    Seems as if the Buddha is smiling on you Talen.
    Steve recently posted..7 Don’ts to save your relationship Part2My Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:47 am

      Steve, Buddha is always kind…

  6. Paul Garrigan
    September 25, 2010 | 6:22 am

    Hi Talen, I couldn’t help looking at the photos before reading your blog entry. As you can imagine I sped through the text trying to find out where you found the half-naked cleaning lady :-)

    I like your pink towel by the way. I know Martyn was talking about metrosexuals in his blog…
    Paul Garrigan recently posted..Using Meditation in Addiction and Recovery VideoMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:45 am

      Nothing wrong with a pink Towel,Paul….it’s when you start wearing pink underwear :P

  7. Dave
    September 25, 2010 | 7:20 am

    I don’t know wether to laugh or cry, next you’ll be telling people she was a virgin or you were her first customer. With stories like that you’ll fit right in with the expat crowd in Pattaya!

    • Talen
      September 25, 2010 | 10:46 am

      Dave, you sound exactly like those cynical expats…Up to you.

  8. Lloyd
    September 25, 2010 | 7:12 pm

    Funny story Talen and the comments from Camille and Dave top it off, gave me and my wife a good laugh.

    I wouldn’t say Dave’s comment was cynical, pretty much spot on from a lot of the stories you hear from expats.

    Funny ;-)

  9. Talen
    September 25, 2010 | 7:17 pm

    Lloyd, This is true…but trust me I couldn’t make up half the stuff that happens to me here.

  10. Lloyd
    September 26, 2010 | 2:43 am

    Even more funny dude ;-)
    What you’ve found a different ‘Thailand’ to everyone else, things are different for only you, now thats real funny!

    Hey just remember the wise words of a somewhat honest legend… “I don’t pay them for sex. I pay them to leave”

  11. Talen
    September 26, 2010 | 9:20 am

    Lloyd, oh, that’s right I forgot…I live in Pattaya where every guy is a sex monger/liar and every Thai woman is a whore…no exceptions.

    I guess you are inferring from the picture and story that we had sex and I’m trying to tell you I didn’t pay for it because this Thai girl is different…right?

    Well, I didn’t get a freebie, as a matter of fact I didn’t get any at all which must really be bad because I can’t even get laid in a whore house by a Thai whore wearing only a towel… and now I know I made a wise decision in not posting anything but a back shot.

    • Lloyd
      September 26, 2010 | 3:01 pm

      No Talen nothing infered at all, and I certainly don’t think every Thai women is a liar or a whore. I was just laughing at the obvious!

  12. Joe
    September 26, 2010 | 10:53 am

    Talen, you are going to get all types of comments on your personal blog.

    Time to start screening.

    From you initial writeup, I assumed nothing but all innocent. Not all people will have that point of view.

  13. Martyn
    September 27, 2010 | 4:23 am

    In Search of Som Tam or The Ying to My Yang… that’s the type of post title I dream of. Excellent.

    Great story and doubly so for me because I know the area you’re writing about.

    The only thing I would add is try Soi Buakhao market and get some shorter towels, a girl can get hot doing all that housework.

    The apartment looks pretty neat. Have fun in the sun you lucky one.

    I’m about to spread my wings and fly.

    • Talen
      September 27, 2010 | 4:04 pm

      Martyn, Great area to walk through for sure…I don’t think a shorter towel is in the cards…after the snap I was threatened within an inch of my life and I was shown the meat cleaver for extra measure :P

  14. SiamRick
    September 27, 2010 | 2:01 pm

    LOL So the path to a man’s heart is through his tummy, eh, Talen? You are such an easy mark! But hey, if she’s a nice gal, she’s a nice gal.

    Lovely, warm story, and I don’t mean this to be understatement for any other meanings.

    So glad you’re enjoying life there since the “dismissal”. And why wouldn’t you? You’re free to do anything you want.

    BTW, work on your backgrounds as well as foregrounds. Er, um, that pink towel has got to go!
    SiamRick recently posted..Only one hill to climb before I exit- Far EastMy Profile

    • Talen
      September 27, 2010 | 4:07 pm

      Rick, thw way she cooks she could steal quite a few hearts and she’s cute as a button to boot.

      The Pink towel has a moose head at the top and every Thai girls that has seen it wants it :) Besides it’s grown on me.