The only two pieces of Thai you need to learn when traveling through Thailand are how to say “hello” and “thank you.”
“Sa-wa-dee-crup” (Sa-wa-dee-kah if you’re female) is like “Shalom” in Hebrew; it means hello, good morning, good afternoon, good evening, and goodbye.
“Kup-kun-krup” (Kup-kun-kah if you’re female) is how you say “thank you.”
*I know I’m not transliterating Thai properly….but this is how you would phonetically say it.
It wasn’t even 7:30am on our first morning in Bangkok and I felt like I was assimilating with the locals. I was hello-ing and thank-you-ing the friendly staff at the Lebua Hotel brunch from the moment we got off the elevators until my last trip to the carving station…and for those of you who know me…that was the 21st trip to the buffet. Everyone bowed their heads, with their hands pressed together across their chest and smiled as they said “sawadee crup/kah” back. It felt good to know I was mixing in as I generally try not to behave like that stupid American tourist I fear so many foreigners assume we all are. I got a harsh taste of reality when our private tour guide (who felt he could be honest with me) informed me I was saying it slightly wrong, “It’s krup not crap,” he said, and then I felt bad for verbally spewing poop in the Thai locals’ faces. So much for blending in….until I got over it a few minutes later.
But my interest in the “local way” stretched beyond the language, as I wanted to immerse myself in the cuisine as well.
So for my first breakfast in Bangkok I made myself a bowl of the traditional Thai congee. This warm starchy breakfast is like grits only it’s made from rice instead of corn. The buffet had a make your own congee bar so I added some pork sausage balls, hardboiled egg, dried salty pork, seaweed, pickled taro, fish sauce, and chili sauce. It was good but I still think eggs benedict is more my style.
Then I moved onto the dim sum bar. I know dim sum is Chinese, but I can’t seem to get enough of it. I guess I just like little balls?….of food I mean. “Dim Sum and then some,” as I always say. They had steamed rice buns (some filled with barbecue pork and some with sweet red bean paste), and pork and shrimp shumai, and steamed vegetable dumplings often times called har gow but without shrimp.
There was a sushi bar, fruit bar, cereal bar, make your own omelet bar, Belgian waffle bar, pancake bar, tons of baked breads and pastries and more. The condiments bar for the pastries was awesome with bowls of tropical fruit preserves, Nutella and more. The coolest part though was how they served the honey. They had a giant brick of honeycomb hanging from this apparatus so the honey would slowly drop into this brass boat and then drain into a large bowl with a spoon. I thought it was cool.
The Thai noodle dishes were awesome and since there are tons of Indian influences in Thailand, they always had some roti and lentils or veggies. I tried the Indian fried vegetable patty which was just ok.
It was nice to start the trip like a kid in a candy store with all the delicious western and eastern cuisine-influenced options, but at the same time, we had a city to explore with Jack (a local Thai tour guide who is friends with my stepmother) and our driver Loy.