Road Trip 2013 (P.1): Meklong Market
Hello! I’m so literally sugar high right now. I just got back from a one day road trip with my family to Cha-Am (ชะอำ) beach and it was so awesome. At first I was kind of dreading this trip since I just got back from Singapore a day ago (will blog about this soon!) and was exhausted from all the eating and the walking. But if I stayed home I would really have missed out because in the end today turns out to be a day well spent. I always thought taking a road trip would make a great end to the year. But this road trip is even better than what I had in mind, a journey accompanied by seafood, local confectionaries and the beach is my 2013 grandest finale.
This year, just like last year, my parents would take my grandparents and I on a short trip as a new year’s treat. They thought it would be a good change from staying at the house and being so intensely occupied with the ongoing political riots in Bangkok. So my parents rented a van, woke up super early, packed tuna sandwiches and roll(s) of toilet paper before leaving the house at 6:15 am. But since I’m such an early riser myself, I wasn’t so affected or bummed out by the early schedule. Besides I had the whole backseat to myself and practically turned it into a temporary day bed.
The final destination of this trip is Cha-Am (ชะอำ) beach but we made occasional stops along the way to check out notable local markets and do some sightseeing. The first stop is Meklong market (ตลาดร่มหุบ). At first glance, the market appears to be just like any ordinary fresh market. It wasn’t long before I realize that this narrow alley of shops is located on an operating railway. Crazy right? So what does these shopkeepers do when a train approach. It turns out that the farmers and shopkeepers know the train’s timetable by heart and would scurried away before hearing the sounds of the approaching engine. Hahaha imagine what a thrill it must be to have to face this kind of anticipation for a living.
The market includes the long alley that makes up the railway as well as a larger enclosed space, which specifically sells fresh seafood from river prawns, crab to fishes half the size of my body and I’m telling you it isn’t small. The market is not for all kinds of tourist. The fishy aroma and the deep puddles on the floor make it less than ideal for those who prefer to encounter food served on beautiful silverware, cooked and ready to indulge. As for those who wanted to get more hands on with food, especially fresh seafood, and doesn’t mind getting down and dirty, Meklong market is definitely worth checking out. My dad, mum, and grandma seemed to be enjoying themselves, stopping by most of the stores, skipping only one or two, and bargaining prices with the shopkeepers. I think they bought more than half of the variety of the seafood there. Let’s just say I’ll be spending the first few weeks of 2014 eating nothing but crab omelets and shrimp fried rice.
Meklong market is also packed with so many Thai confectionaries. This is the part where I go around wide eyed and practically hopping from one stall to the next. The first sweets I tasted at the market is black sticky rice with sungakaya, which is egg custard, wrapped in banana leaf (ข้าวเหนียวสังขยา). The taste is not out of this world good but is still a pleasure to eat nevertheless. The next sweet wasn’t photographed since it was gone so fast that I felt guilty asking my dad for his half-eaten share. It was a sugar palm cake (ขนมตาล), which is yellow in color. According to my grandmother, sugar palm cake can be commonly found in Bangkok but it’s rare to find ones that are truly made of palm sugar. The one I tasted at the market is made out of pure palm sugar, it was mildly sweet and frgrant, SO GOOD. I also bought the sweetened taro (เผือกเชื่อม), which is one of my favorite post-meal dessert. I like to fool myself into thinking that taro is a kind of plant and so it must have some kind of health benefits, making it good for me. If you have read my previous blog, you’ll know that I do these kinds of self-reassurances A LOT. So bear with me. The last sweet treat that I tried at the market (notice how I specifically said market and not the entire trip J) is known as kralan or kao lam (ข้าวหลาม), which according to Wikipedia is consisted of sticky rice, red beans, coconut and coconut milk molded into a bamboo stick. Again, the taste didn’t make me go wide eyed but still it’s hard to go wrong with all my favorite components of sticky rice, red bean and coconut in one dessert.
Having sampled so much sweets, I’ve learnt one important lesson today: never enthusiastically point out every tasty looking stalls to grandma. She’ll eventually buy me the whole market if I do. Next time if I ever do go food shopping with granny, I’ll learn to keep calm and hold back my excitement.
Kasem Sukhum Rd, Mae Klong, Mueang Samut Songkhram, Samut Songkhram