The Gastronomic Trail – The Amazing Adventure Bangkok

The Amazing Adventure Bangkok puts on several super fun tours around the city.  They organize these trips like scavenger hunts, giving you new missions as you go, along with opportunities to collect bonus points.  My tour choice was The Gastronomic Trail, a food tour which started at Suan Plern Market in Rama 4 Mall at 10am, and lasted until about 2pm.  It took us too several different neighborhoods using many different transport options.  Full disclosure: I got to go on the tour for free as a travel blogger ambassador, but my opinion is totally genuine and it is that this tour is awesome!

Our first mission on The Amazing Adventure Bangkok was find a ride to the Khlong Toei Market, the biggest fresh food market in Bangkok.  Once at the market we had to round up all the ingredients to make “som tum”, the classic Thai spicy green papaya salad.  At the start of the adventure you are given a purse with all of the money for the tour.  By negotiating the prices and finding cheap alternatives, you can score more points by having more funds remaining at the end of the day.

Amazing Adventure Bangkok
Kissing a live fish for bonus points!

We took a bus to the market because we had five people on our team (an awkward number for a taxi or tuk tuk ).  The Bangkok local buses are super cheap and pretty easy to navigate; use our guide to get yourself around the city!  Once at the market we split into teams, each taking half of the salad list.  The market was a very local type of place, with every type of food you could imagine (and more).  We searched for ingredients for our salad, first picking up a green papaya, some limes and chilies, peanuts, tomatoes, then the palm sugar.  Along the way we found some fish in a bucket.  One of the bonus points was to “kiss a live fish” so it was of course my job to complete this task.

With all of our salad fixings assembled, we split up into two tuk tuks and had a race to the next destination.  We drove like mad and our tuk tuk won of course.  We walked down a street to a small restaurant where they had some cooking tools set up for our salad-making.  They showed us how to grate the papaya, how much palm sugar and fish sauce to add, long beans and garlic as well as tamarind paste, limes, chilies, tomato, and peanuts.  Everything gets put into a giant mortar and pestle-pounded a little bit, releasing the juices which become the delicious sauce.  I got extra points for eating the whole thing– not really a challenge for me.

Our next mission was the cross the Chao Phraya River.  On to a ferry we went and minutes later we arrived on the far bank.  This area was Bang Krachao, “the green lungs of Bangkok.”  So close to the city, Bang Krachao seemed so far away.  Small elevated sidewalks connect the villages and everything is slower paced.  The peacefulness of the area made me feel happy and calm, the hustle of the city fading away.

After being dropped off by the ferry it was time for a bonus challenge.  I had to eat a whole century egg.  Century eggs are fermented in clay, lye, and salt for several weeks to a month until they turn deep black and become the texture of jello.  The flavor is salty and fermented, the texture hard to overcome, especially when you get to the black, runny yolk.  However, I won the challenge and we continued on to our next destination.

Mounting bicycles we rode for 5-10 minutes to a small lake.  Waiting for us was a local woman with a basket of lotus flowers.  She proceeded to teach us how to fold the flowers to reveal their beautiful insides, like a natural form of origami.  The lotus flower is the most sacred flower in Buddhism, so after folding them we paced the flowers into our bike baskets to take to the temple later.

The Amazing Adventure Bangkok continued the gastronomic trail to our next challenge; a blind-folded taste test.  We tasted two dishes and it’s amazing how hard it is to tell what food is without seeing it.  My group-mates knew I was a chef so they put a lot of faith in me, but it was the Thai people who were way better at picking out the flavors.  I could not distinguish between fish sauce, oyster sauce, and soy sauce…ah!  Maybe in time.

We made our way back to the ferry, ditching our bikes at the shop on the river’s edge.  Back in Bangkok we went to a nearby temple where we left our lotus flowers for the Buddha.  The guides explained to me about the Kau Cim sticks, in a bucket near the altar.  After kkneeling and praying, you pass the sticks around incense three times and then begin to shake the sticks, focusing on your question.  After shaking harder and harder, eventually a single stick pops out.  On this stick is a number which corresponds to a paper you draw from a basket to get your fortune.  From here you find the paper with your number which then states your fortune.  I liked parts of mine, but I’m not sure if I did the process right.

Traditionally after receiving your stick you should toss the Jiaobei blocks which have a round side and a flat side.  A correct fortune will result in both stones facing opposite directions, while two rounded sides up means NO or that the gods are displeased with the question.  Two flat sides up can mean NO or that the gods are laughing at you.  If you get this you should repeat the process.  My number was 13 and my Thai guides said “interesting”, but they didn’t go so far as to tell me what that meant!

One last mission of the Amazing Adventure Bangkok was to get back to the starting point and order lunch in Thai.  The five of us, much better friends now, crammed into a four seat taxi.  Very soon we were back at the beginning and we sat in the food court.  Our last challenge was to use Thai words to order certain foods.  All the signs were in Thai as well so we had to ask around, finding certain dishes.  We got some Tom Yum soup, an omelet, and some stir-fried pork and basil leaf.  The food was delicious and as we ate I tried to learn some new Thai words.

The Gastronomic Trail tour put on by The Amazing Adventure Bangkok was a fantastic time!  Much more than I expected, the price of the tour includes everything listed above, even the large meal at the end.  I really couldn’t have eaten any more.  The guides were very knowledgeable and I learned a lot about the city, going to some places that I wouldn’t have found without the tour.  Check out their website for prices and a list of other tours which they put on.  The tour would be especially great if you only had a few days in the city.  Being able to experience the local market and Bang Krachao are things that a normal three-day-tourist can’t accomplish.

Thanks Amazing Adventure Bangkok for a perfect tour!

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