18/2/2009 – A job, the lake and the night bazaar
Today I started officially working for Spicythai backpackers. I had been helping out a bit anyway and I hadn`t made any plans for the next couple of weeks until I flew home. Noom has an inclination towards bossing me around anyway so it made sense. In return for helping out I get free bed and board, so everyone`s a winner.
At my instigation the activity for the day was a trip to the lake. We had a group of 15 backpackers crammed into the pick-up truck and off we sped to the lake. It was a wonderfully sunny day, the heat was high, the air was clear and the lake was pretty much empty of other tourists. We set ourselves up under a few straw umbrellas and seating platforms, ordered a feast of food and drinks and began a few hours of sunbathing and general relaxation. There was a lovely atmosphere amongst the group, everyone getting to know each other and having a laugh.
Pong and Noom ordered a bowl of Dancing Shrimp for all of us to try. This comes in a clay bowl with a lid in which a layer of chilli and spices line the bottom and still living tiny shrimp-type things are loaded on top. Once on the table Pong took the bowl, holding the lid on and shook the pot to coat the shrimp and get them jumping. Placed back on the table the lid is removed and the shrimp come leaping out of the pot. There were squeals from everyone as the shrimp jumped across the table at them. Pong and Noom calmly grabbed the shrimp and popped them in their mouth. I stood there completely bemused for a while and wondering whether I could really eat a living thing. I have already tried some interesting thing so far on my travels and this was probably the next logical step. I tried to muster up the courage to reach out and grab one. But it was no good. I just couldn`t force myself to eat something living. Then suddenly Pong, who was standing to my left caught one of the shrimps dancing out of the bowl and held it before my face. Without giving myself a chance to think about it, I grabbed the little, wriggly thing and stuffed in my mouth. I expected horror but instead was pleasantly surprised: it was spicy, sweet and a light crunchy texture. It was not horrible at all and the added glow of a self-congratulatory feeling for doing something adventurous makes it taste that much sweeter.
Back at the hostel I settled down to enjoy my book and hold the Spicythai fort whilst Noom took the group to Doi Suthep temple. I was quite tired after the night before so chilling out was definitely in order.
That evening I went out with the Spicy crew to the Night Bazaar for dinner where I had a rather poor Crispy Pork and Rice. Still, the company was good and afterwards I headed to the Rooftop Reggae Bar with Craig, Rob, Damien and Vicki.
Finally, news just in – Spicythai and Spicylaos have been named `Best Hostels in Thailand and Laos` respectively, by Hostelworld.