ASIA WEEK: Pad Thai
While living in Taipei in the 80's, we would often
"pop-over" to Bangkok for a long weekend if Dave had
meetings in Thailand or when Lisa had a school vacation.
Kathy & Woody (and their four children) were living in Bangkok
at the time, so we would spend time together.
Kelsey & Lisa (age 5) - Nai Lert Hilton, Bangkok
Remember when we visited Kelsey
last summer in England?
(Kathy & Woody are in England visiting Kelsey now!)
most-always stayed at the Nai Lert Hilton, which is now
Swissotel Nai Lert hotel... where no matter how much
you paid for your stay, there seemed to be an equal
dollar amount of orchids in your room. Orchids in a vase
in the bathroom. Orchids in a vase in the entry hall.
Orchids placed on your pillow each night. At this time,
the hotel grew the orchids on-site! Amazing. The Nai
Lert Hilton was also the place where our clever little toddler learned (while
Mommy was in the shower) pushing #2 on the telephone would get a friendly voice
asking "what would you like?" and magically ice cream would be sent to the hotel room...
surprising a towel-wrapped mommy!
Dave at a temple in Bangkok and Lisa with a Thai dancer (dinner show)
Lisa and I at a Thai temple and Kathy & I at dinner in Bangkok - circa 1986
We really enjoyed staying at the Nai Lert Hilton. The
location was great, the food was delicious, the staff
super-friendly and the hotel was within walking distance
to shops and restaurants.
The hotel grounds were lushly
landscaped with gorgeous tropical plants - and a zillion
blooming orchids. Stone walkways meandered around ponds
and streams, connecting to a refreshing swimming pool.
The kids would order coconut ice creams to enjoy poolside
- served inside a coconut shell - garnished with an
orchid, of course.
Not only was the hotel a tropical oasis, the grounds
held a fertility shrine. Difficult to find, the shrine
was hidden-away in a back corner of the property. The
shrine was also accessible from the klong
(canal) running behind the hotel.
Imagine my surprise when I came across a three-foot long
carved wooden airplane hanging from a tree while
wandering through the hotel gardens one day. The Thai
Airlines "orchid logo" was painted on the side of the
plane... but upon closer inspection... hey, that's
not an airplane - that's a penis! A three-foot long
penis with airplane wings. What? Then the entire
fertility shrine came into view - hundreds and hundreds
of phallic carvings placed at the small temple by women
praying to conceive a child. Click
this link to see a few photos of the shrine. Try
explaining all this to a five-year-old girl!
Bangkok is where I met (or saw) several American
entertainers. I met Robin Williams at the hotel pool
while he was in Bangkok filming
Good Morning, Vietnam. If my memory is
correct, Mr. Williams was at the hotel with his wife,
son and nanny... and he later divorced the wife and
married the nanny. Another time we met Gregory Hines,
who was in town performing his touring tap-dance show. Mr. Hines was super
friendly and chatted with us (Dave, Kathy, Woody and me) for quite a while in
the Japanese restaurant at the hotel. And then there was the time I was at a
Bangkok night club and Michael Jackson was seated at the next booth... with two monkeys... but I
am trying to erase that image from my mind.
I was also once privileged to be invited to cocktails at
Thai-style home of famed Bangkok antique dealer
Connie Mangskau (1907-1990). Connie Mangskau and
Jim Thompson revived the Thai silk industry after
World War II. Mrs. Mangskau was a legendary hostess and
her antique-filled house was "the" place to be in
Bangkok. She hosted kings, queens, dignitaries, (Jackie
Kennedy!), movie stars - and me.
Well, that was just a wholotta
yakking just to introduce the second entry in the RV Goddess
(four-day-long-week) "Asia Week" recipe series.
Anytime we all gathered for a meal in Thailand, a platter of Pad Thai would
surely be placed on the table. Pad Thai is another one-pot meal that only needs a little fruit to accompany
(and maybe a nice bottle of Thai beer). The dish can be
made vegetarian using tofu (my most-common choice) or
vegan if the egg is omitted. Add cooked chicken or
shrimp for the carnivores. Just a little prep work, a
quick stir-fry and dinner is served. And though
my recipe is not 100% authentic
(you can make it in your RV!), the taste is completely genuine.
Pad Thai Recipe
Tomorrow night - Three Cup Chicken!
Until my next update, I remain, your Bangkok correspondent.
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