Saturday, April 3, 2010
I think for each of us, there are always hidden agendas when going on vacations. Architectural buffs like to visit monumental buildings, fashionistas love to visit shopping areas, and of course, a foodie like myself is all about the restaurants and food markets. As my travel companion noted, "C. likes to talk to cute boys, and J.(me) likes to talk to farmers :)" Yes, I am curious to know the difference between white vs. purple vs. miniscule Thai eggplants.
As an inquisitive glutton, I go one step further, and look for educational cookery opportunities whenever I explore a new country. On my recent trip to Chiangmai, I convinced my travel companions to join me for a class at the Thai Farm Cookery School. Excellent choice, it was!
The farm is run by a Dutch lady Nathalie and her Thai husband Sawat. Nathalie is the one to chase us for payment while Sawat tells us jokes while teaching us how to cook. Their farm is beautiful, and their hospitality is exceptional. We made a four course meal that was enjoyed for an outdoor lunch overlooking the picturesque papaya and banana trees.
But what I enjoy most when I take these classes is the people you meet and the stories you hear. I met a boyfriend/girlfriend couple from France who are in their fifties. His English was sparse, but we chatted about Thai and French food and really, you don't need to speak the same language to communicate. I learned about this "sacred" water from the spa she works in French that dispels your hunger and makes you look years younger. So maybe she is actually in her sixties?? I also met people from Brit, the usual Aussies, but the most intriguing story is from Sawat about how he, a boy from rice farming family grew up to become a trekking guide, and how that path eventually led him to his wife and his life now.
His story makes me think about the choices we make and the destiny we are given. How every step and every gesture contributes to this moment where we meet. I think about the tears that propelled me to a trip in Peru where I had a 3 hour conversation during a layover with a missionary worker and a Peruvian man who hasn't seen his family for three years since he began working in the States as a laborer. That conversation probably contributed partly to my perspectives now, and led me to travel around, taking cooking classes and meeting more people whose words have the power to enlighten me to do more interesting things in the future...