Tuesday, February 26, 2008
What to do in Sangkhlaburi
One of the things you must do when you visit the town of Sangkhlaburi is cross the longest wooden bridge in Thailand. The bridge connects the town of Sangkhlaburi to the Mon village across the lake. All the travel literature points you in that direction with the end goal of visiting a Mon market. I've visited twice and found the market tiny and hardly worth checking out really. Maybe I'm too late in the day, or maybe what is there is so small it doesn't seem worth the effort.
I'm not complaining by the way. I'm usually underwhelmed by hyped destinations and places that people are directed towards. I know it's an old cliche, but it's the journey, not the destination. A lot of people claim to live by this rule, but with the increased visitations to the world's historical and natural attractions, it seems like empty rhetoric.
One of the things in this world that makes me the most content is having a nice beverage. At the very small market I started with a cup of chaa ron, or hot Thai tea with a generous pour of the evil yet delicious sweetened condensed milk.
Because this is Thailand, if you are in a local place, you get tea with your tea.
This is a really nice variation of the coffee ritual that I am used to, and it's one I have fallen in love with in SE Asia.
Perhaps this is as good a time as any to contrast this with the importation and emerging popularity of western style coffee houses, spearheaded by Starbucks. I'm not a fan of Starbucks, for reasons which deserve another post, and I'm also of the same mind when it comes to the local clones such as Coffee World or Black canyon coffee.
Many before me have heralded Thailand's ability to incorporate outside influences and make them uniquely Thai. The "traditional" style market coffee stands do this nicely, as do the new and "modern" style coffee shops that bring the Thai sensibilities along with the newly bought espresso machines. The coffee houses popularized in the Northwestern United States bring only that culture with them. Also, your coffee always passes through there regardless of where you are in the world drinking your double tall, skinny, non fat, mocha frappachino. In addition: I'd rather not listen to the newest Paul McCartney disc thank you very much. No, there's nothing wrong with you for wanting your coffee how you like your coffee, and your coffee house how you like your coffee house, but maybe there is something wrong with Starbucks.
Where was I? Oh:
After my tea and my tea we walked around and did a little bit of browsing at some local shops. I plopped down at a table in a store when I saw coffee on the burner. My addiction was getting the best of me...
I opted for a cafe boran, sweetened only ever so slightly by the sweetened condensed milk. Of course, there was also tea.
This was a nice a and relaxing day, even with the high caffeine levels. If my memory serves me correctly, this was Christmas day. Not a bad way to spend the birth of some people's lord.