A year later I was back in Bangkok and this time tempted culinary fate at the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel and Towers, also located on the Chao Phrya River. The convenient Siphaya stop, a local express water taxi, is only a few minutes away. My intention was to avoid perhaps the world’s worst travel juggernaut.

I arrived at the produce market at 7.30AM with Chef Charoensri who pointed out his favourite stalls and vendors. Here was a plethora of unusual fruits and veggies. These included lemon grass, Kaffir eggplants (tiny green balls) dragon fruit, galangal (that looks like ginger) All negotiations with the stall owners were a prelude to my pre-arranged Thai cooking class at the hotel known for their fine restaurants. Every utensil from pots, pans and a small stove to dishes filled with spiced and herbs, arrived on a mobile table to the Thara Thong (Golden River) Restaurant.

The staff seemed tentative, not sure of my kitchen ability, seemingly dubious about my kitchen prowess. So they wrapped a serious looking apron about my waist and as far up to my neck as possible.

We started with soup and continued through an entire meal at this hands-on session. After each course had been cooked. we shared our culinary triumphs. Tom Yum Goong Yai (hot and sour prawn soup) was the starter. Ingredients were large prawns, lemon grass, galangal, lime juice, chilies (very hot) crushed with a pestle together before I added kaffir leaves. Kaeng Kiew Wan Gai (green chicken curry) gave me the opportunity to cut the chicken into long thin slices, squeeze one cup of coconut cream, add green curry paste, fish sauce, palm sugar, horapha (basil leaves) and mandatory chilies. Finally we get to the Pad Thai Sai Kai (fried small rice noodles) a Thai favourite. Bean sprouts, chopped picked white radish, soybean curd, peanuts, garlic, tamarind juice and ground dried chilies, was much easier than I expected. Now, with my hands gloved, I mixed the finale, Yam Wun Sen (spicy mung bean noodle salad). All a great way to learn and eat at the same time.

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