Two Years in Bangkok, Two Years of Blogging

by Jess on November 20, 2012

in Bangkok, Jess and Frank

In the immigration line leaving Luang Prabang last week, a scruffy guy heard Frank and I say we were on our way to Bangkok and turned on his heels.  “You’re going to Bangkok?” he said. “Why would you go there?”  (Actually, he used a much more colorful phrase, but I’ll skip that.)

I seethed.

“We live there.”  I said, and handed my passport to the Lao immigration officer.

If there is one thing I can say for certain after two years in Bangkok, it’s that there is a lot to love about this place.

In that immigration line, all I could think was – how dare this scruffy guy dismiss my vibrant, energetic, kind-hearted city with one critical phrase?  I couldn’t shake the desire to come to its defense.

I feel so fortunate to live here.  And even on the days where I step in a city puddle or have to cram into a crowded car on the train or get a disappointing bowl of noodles (nothing puts me off like a bad bowl of noodles ;)), I love this place.

Yesterday marked the end of our second year in Bangkok.  Exactly two years ago we stepped off a plane, blinded by the hot sun, and made our way into a new life in Bangkok.

Instead of a cake, or a fancy dinner, or even world’s best brownies, to celebrate the end of our second year and the two year anniversary of this blog, we let Bangkok cast her spell in the best way I can imagine – through food.

Last light, we took ourselves out for a Thai food feast to celebrate.

It started with a classic - Som Tum Thai (Spicy Papaya Salad with peanuts, shrimp, long beans, carrots, and tomatoes).

We had sticky rice on the side.  (As if we didn’t have enough sticky rice last week.)

There were these Sai Krok Isan (Northeastern Fermented Sausages filled with Rice and Pork).  A Thai colleague of mine introduced me to these.  The flavor is unlike anything I’ve ever had, and they are just sour enough that eating one never fails to make me crave another.

My favorite variation on the minced chicken/pork salads – Laab Gai Tawt (fried chicken tossed with toasted rice powder and fresh herbs).  I love this stuff so much that I make it at home – recipe here.

And then this.  This.  Yum pak boong krob.  Crispy fried morning glory topped with a tangy-sweet salad with pork and shrimp.  It’s amazing.  The morning glory is fried like tempura, and it is so light and crisp that it has an audible crunch.

We ate our dinner outside on a tiny street while the sun went down, kids played, families gossiped.

We drank beers with ice, because that’s how they’re best served on a hot Bangkok night.

We ended up in Bangkok by chance, but over time, it has become “ours”.

It has been a spectacular two years.

Two years in Bangkok.  Two years of writing this blog.  And there’s still so much more to learn.

In the next year, surely there will be more mishaps with the KitchenAid, more baking in really old t-shirts, and hopefully lots more cooking classes to be had.

And likely there will be plenty more photos to be taken on the floor, or the couch, or the futuristic dining table, because that’s where the light is just right.

Thank you for reading, and most of all for sharing your own experiences with food and travel through your comments and emails.

If I could have brought every last one of you out for dinner, you know I would have.

{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Claire @ Claire K Creations November 20, 2012 at 10:10 am

Happy anniversary Jess! What an adventure the two of you have had so far.
I’m glad I’m not the only one who takes photos in strange locations. I think we should all include a full scene shot in every blog post. Wouldn’t that be entertaining?! (especially love the husband in the background).
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2 Jess November 20, 2012 at 10:45 am

It’s so strange the places you have to take pictures to get them to look right – you did some great behind-the-scenes pictures a while back, and I loved seeing how you do it. Our apartment is so small and I do most of the cooking on the weekend, so that if I always took full scene shots, Frank would almost always be in the background – lol.

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3 Corey @ Learning Patience November 20, 2012 at 11:24 am

congrats on 2 yr blogaversary! LOVE your pics, recipes and travels! You inspire me – keep blogging!

xoxo from TrinidaD
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4 Katie (The Muffin Myth) November 20, 2012 at 2:08 pm

Oh the things I do to get photos in the fading Swedish winter light… these days it’s on the kitchen floor with the balcony door open, a pizza box with tinfoil taped to the inside bouncing light back the other way, and many other variations of that set up!

I’ll admit that when I traveled around Thailand last winter Bangkok was probably my least favourite stop, but we were there less than a day, weary at the end of our trip, suffering from endless tummy troubles, and ready to go home. I’m sure that given a good chance and a local perspective I’d love it like you do. Congrats so much on two years! Maybe I’ll get out my Thai mortar and pestle and bang out a green papaya salad in spirit!

:)KT

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5 Jess November 20, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Bangkok is tricky, Katie, and I do my fair share of griping about it, so it’s not SO surprising for me to hear. But there’s lots to love too, if you know where to look. On your next trip, I’ll send you some Bangkok recommendations. ;)

You must really struggle with the dark – last year in the middle of winter, didn’t you say the sun set before 5pm?

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6 Katie (The Muffin Myth) November 20, 2012 at 8:17 pm

By the end of this week the sun will be setting in the 2′s. The 2′s!!!
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7 Jess November 20, 2012 at 9:26 pm

The 2′s!!?!?!? What!? Oh my – I had no idea it was so early!

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8 Aimee @ ShugarySweets November 20, 2012 at 6:48 pm

What a sweet post. Your writing is truly excellent Jess!!
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9 Jess November 20, 2012 at 9:28 pm

Aimee, thank you! Now…when can I make the time to whip up a batch of those Hot Cocoa Brownies of yours…

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10 Kristine November 20, 2012 at 6:56 pm

Happy 2 years, Jess!

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11 Ashley November 21, 2012 at 1:33 am

Congrats on two years of blogging Jess! Those photos of the city are just beautiful.
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12 Lyndsey WTF November 21, 2012 at 3:32 am

Ahhh! I can’t believe it has been two years! I have loved following things on the blog and have been in awe of your adventures, food and photography! We miss the heck out of you and cannot wait to see you in December!

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13 Jess November 21, 2012 at 6:54 am

Right back at ya! Can’t wait to see you guys!

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14 Averie @ Averie Cooks November 21, 2012 at 5:15 am

Congrats on two years – that’s a big milestone! And on doing it all from Bangkok- WOW!!

I love the shot of you brushing butter on bread/rolls and the light streaming in in the last collage over the rolls. Truly breathtaking shot!
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15 Heather {ModernMealsforTwo} November 21, 2012 at 5:21 am

What a sweet blog. Happy second anniversary :)
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16 Jess November 21, 2012 at 6:56 am

Thanks Heather! It went so fast – seems like just yesterday you were snapping our pictures in the 1,000 degree Kansas heat. ;)

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17 Karista November 29, 2012 at 9:35 am

Jess you are stunning! Just as beautiful as your pictures. Love this delicious recipe and definitely putting this on my to make list. Congratulations on two years of blogging! It’s a ton of work but you’ve made it look so easy. Keep it coming!
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18 Jess December 1, 2012 at 9:57 am

Karista – you’re so sweet! You know how much work it is as well as anyone, but it’s so much fun too!

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19 Mali December 1, 2012 at 1:28 pm

Wow this looks delicious! I absolutely love your blog! Keep it up! Also – what is the name of this delicious restaurant you went to for your Thai feast??? Please tell! I live in Bangkok but believe it or not I have a hard time finding a good Thai restaurant!

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20 Jess December 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

Mali – I have the hardest time finding good, reasonable, spots in Bangkok too! I never know where to take people when they come visit. I love this place – it’s off the Chit Lom BTS, on Lang Suan Soi 7. The name is Luk Keao Neow – they have a menu in English, but I’m not sure if everything we order is on that menu. They can make all the Thai favorites though. It’s super casual, and really cheap!

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21 Vicky December 4, 2012 at 4:15 pm

I just came across you blog for the first time today but after seeing this post I’m ready to explore more! The Thai food looks AMAZING! My boyfriend and I start a 2 year backpacking trip through Asia and Europe in Sept and are currently finishing out time in China and heading to Vietnam in a few days. Thailand is on the itinerary for January and I am so so so excited for the food. I love Thai food back in the US but I’ve heard so many great things about the food in Bangkok and I’m seriously hoping it would be an improvement over Chinese food! If you are interested and in the area I would love to meet up (and perhaps hear some recommendations for good foodie spots in Bangkok).
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22 Jess December 4, 2012 at 8:20 pm

Hi Vicky – you will love the food here – cheap and delicious! Definitely drop me an email when you get closer to your visit, and I’ll send you some recommendations. 2 years of backpacking!? Sounds amazing – I’m jealous!

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23 Vicky December 10, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Awesome thanks! I’ll be sure to send you an email in the beginning of January! Very excited for the Thai cooking classes!
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24 Addy December 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

I am so happy to have just stumbled upon your blog. I am a fellow Midwestern foodie who lived in Bkk for 2+ years. I’ve been back in the US for about 1 year and miss BKK (especially the food) so much! Thanks for sharing your beautiful photographs and food explorations; they bring back so many memories. :) chok dee

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25 Jess December 26, 2012 at 10:43 pm

Addy – what are the odds!? It’s such a great place to live for a bit, and it sometimes seems like so many people pass through Bangkok. Being in the Midwest over the past couple of weeks has reminded me how much I appreciate both parts of the world. ;)

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