Living Like a Thai Day 13: Lunch with the Ladies

Rain Day In Pattaya

Living Like a Thai The Rain Day Edition

I apologize for the lateness of this edition as my internet was on the fritz and the post just wouldn’t publish last night.

Day 13 was a rain day and boy did it rain all day but it was a nice change and it provided for some cool breezes that negated the use of aircon or fans which should spare the budget a few baht somewhere down the line.

Even though it was really pouring when I woke up I was hungry and I wasn’t having ramen for breakfast, so, I grabbed my umbrella and headed down the street to the local roadside stands and looked into some pat cow bpuu ( crab fried rice ) and some gai jai ( chicken hearts ) I made my purchase for 30 baht ( $1.02 ) and I was going to eat there at the provided covered tables but the wind kicked up and the rain was going sideways so I went back to the condo for a nice meal on the balcony.

Crab fried rice and chicken hearts mmmm

As I ate the sky opened up and the winds took off again, it looked like it was going to be a full day of rain and that was okay with me as I have been working on a new website and I needed the time to get things just right. Around lunchtime I stood on the balcony and smoked a cigarette and pondered going back down the road in the rain for lunch or staying in with my old friend ramen. It was an easy choice as I grabbed my now dry umbrella and headed out.

As I hit the bottom landing of the stairs to the condo’s foyer I heard a familiar voice call out “hello sexy man, where you go?”, that always makes me smile and you don’t hear it much around town anymore. 5-6 years ago you would always hear “hello sexy man” only to be replaced today with “hello welcome”…but I digress. The familiar voice was that of my favorite condo cleaning lady…I give her all my plastic bottles and she pumps up my ego daily with ” hello sexy man” and  telling me I am “law mak mak” ( very handsome ).

Then the following conversation took place:

Me: Bak wan ( sweet mouth )

Cleaning Lady: Mai bak wan, khun law mak mak ( not sweet mouth, you are very handsome )

Cleaning Lady: Bai nai? ( where you go )

Me: gin cow ( to eat )

Cleaning lady: fon doke mak mak…eat with us ( raining too much eat with us )

Before I could even think of an answer I was led by the arm into the bowels of the condo complex to the cleaning ladies room. I wasn’t in a very communal mood today but as we entered the double doors and I saw the other cleaning ladies all sat down around a pile of food smiling how could I not accept.

These ladies are very nice and also very smart; they all have their special tenants living in the building and they all collect plastic bottles. Once a week a large truck pulls up empty and they fill it with huge bags of plastic and get a very nice bit of money on the side.

The ladies were hard to understand as they all talked very fast and with a lot of Issan but they made me feel very welcome. As they made me a bowl of lunch my cleaning lady friend held it up for me to inspect and asked “can you eat?” I recognized the contents of the bowl instantly and with a big smile said ” Pom chop rak gang lo mai mak mak” ( I love gang lo mai very muchto this all the ladies smiled and laughed. Gang lo mai is an Issan dish that’s akin to a very spicy mushroom soup served with cooked bamboo. I had it my first time in Mukdahan and have had it many times since. Whenever a Thai hears me talk about or order gang lo mai I usually get a look of wonderment as they think falangs wouldn’t know about this food.

The below picture is of gang lo mai but not my lunch today…I didn’t have my camera with me and I would have felt rude leaving to get it then take pictures.

Gang Lo Mai

Lunch was excellent and the company was excellent as well. After I finished eating I headed back to the condo and settled into the internet and a nice long day of being alone building css and working out code. One of my favorite things about life in Thailand is the social aspect of everything and the community involvement but there are some days when I just want to be alone. Most Westerners are like that and it’s one reason why most Thai’s don’t understand us. How could you possible want to be alone when there are people about?

As the day progressed my phone was getting text messages left and right from Ting…I like Ting a lot and love to hang out/play pool/watch movies with her but not today. I call her up and explain that I am busy, being careful not to lie and say sick otherwise she will be over in a shot to take care of me. I’m not sick but that’s usually the best excuse in the West…never in Thailand. She doesn’t understand why I have to be alone to play on the internet when she can be alone with me as I play on the internet. I didn’t know how to explain it so I told her I would call her tomorrow, the text messages continued…

Next time I looked up it was nearing 5pm and I was hungry and the rain had stopped. Unfortunately the local roadside restaurants were closed for the day and I didn’t really feel like walking to the market. There is a new cafeteria style place on the bottom of the Avenue shopping mall that I have wondered about. So, I ventured to the new place and had a look around.

This is one of those places where there are 6-7 different merchants and you have to buy coupons from a little coupon booth in order to get food. I always hate this because I have to ask how many coupons an order is going to be and then go buy coupons that always come in an amount higher than what I need to buy my order…then I have to take the left over coupons back and get a refund. Pain in the Ass if you ask me. You sell food, I buy food with cash…transaction over.

I place my order for spicy beef with egg and rice to go and sit for a bit as my food is cooked. When the food is ready I hand over my coupon and get my food and change in coupons that I now have to exchange for baht grrr. Okay, it wasn’t the end of the world and it only took a few minutes but I am in anti-social mode today and can’t be bothered with coupons. There are quite a few of these cafeteria style places around town, namely in malls and bigger shopping areas and people seem to love them…the food is good so maybe when I’m not in anti social mode I’ll give the other ones a try too.

Dinner of Spicy beef with egg and rice

Total cost for dinner after working out coupon exchange rates 40 baht ( $1.36 ) a tad bit expensive if you ask me, but I was lazy and could have had dinner cheaper at the market without buying coupons first.

Anyway, as I sit down to a plate of very good Thai food I realize my total spend for the day was only 70 baht ( $2.38 ) which is very good and very much so thanks to an exceptionally tasty free lunch.

Observations Today: I think I am falling for the condo’s cleaning lady…sure she has 10 years and 30 pounds on me but she is one damn good cook :P While I very much so ate like a Thai today I definitely didn’t feel very Thai today. Maybe it’s just me but every now and then I just want to be alone which isn’t an easy thing to do in Thailand.


Living Like a Thai Day 13 Expenditures


Purchase Amount Cost Total
Breakfast 1 30 baht 30 baht
Dinner 1 40 baht 40 baht
Todays Total 70 baht ( $2.38 )
June Total 1970 2040 baht ( $69.45 )

Today’s edition will go up sometime tonight…

And looks like it might have the makings of another budget buster :(



11 Responses to Living Like a Thai Day 13: Lunch with the Ladies
  1. DAN
    June 14, 2011 | 1:29 pm

    Enjoying your experiment a lot. I hope you make it to the end of the month without reaching for the emergency stash of Baht. But so what if you do, it will have been an experiment worth trying.

    • Talen
      June 15, 2011 | 2:17 am

      Dan, Agreed, no matter what it is still a worthwhile experiment and has made for some good stories if nothing else.

  2. Martyn
    June 14, 2011 | 1:50 pm

    Talen you ate well yesterday, that’s a good day on only 70 baht. Thai mushrooms are adorable but Gang lo mai would be too spicy for me.

    Keep counting the pennies and you just might squeeze past the finishing post.

    I’m really enjoying the series and reading your exploits everyday. It must be time to buy another pack of cigarettes soon.
    Martyn recently posted..Comment on First Time in Chiang Mai by MartynMy Profile

    • Talen
      June 15, 2011 | 2:16 am

      Martyn, Gang Lo Mai is very spicy but so good. I’m still hopeful that I can pull the budget out by the end of the month but this is Thailand and you never know whats coming next :)

  3. ChuckWow
    June 14, 2011 | 2:29 pm

    Is that Durian on the plate next to the bowl of Gang Lo Mai ?

    Seems like an odd combination.

    • Talen
      June 15, 2011 | 2:15 am

      Chuck that is the Lo Mai part of the gang Lo Mai…it should be in the soup. It’s actually cooked bamboo heart not durian.

  4. SiamRick
    June 15, 2011 | 1:30 am

    I dislike those coupons so much that sometimes I’ve been hungry enough to eat chicken bums but I can’t be bothered with the stupid trot around the food counters, ask how much, march back to the coupon counter and then back to the food counter. Argh!

    I haven’t been too impressed with those mall food counters, especially the Carrefour (now Big C) ones. They are usually more expensive, the portions are skimpy and food rather bereft of flavour.

    Anyway, now for a rant-free comment: great series Talen. And here you are almost at the halfway point!
    SiamRick recently posted..Rogue immigrants will be costly for Canadian sponsorsMy Profile

    • Talen
      June 15, 2011 | 2:14 am

      Rick, I couldn’t agree more…now thanks to your rant I won’t even bother, although Central Festival has some tasty looking foods with good portion size in their food court but it’s probably expensive.

      Ahh the halfway point…could get dicey now :)

  5. Meg
    June 16, 2011 | 11:42 pm

    the bamboo soup is gang nho mai, not lo mai. :)

    Cool experiment!

    • Talen
      June 17, 2011 | 2:02 am

      Meg, Thanks for the correction. It must be my hearing because I always here lo instead of nho…now I nho better :)

  6. Anon
    September 3, 2011 | 9:16 pm

    Sometimes you can give cash to the merchant for the food, and they’ll ignore the coupon requirement. Helps if you have exact change.

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