This was the first day that I had some free time to walk around, so I went to explore some of the back roads of town. I headed down the highway, through some rice paddies, and into a nearby residential area. Even though it was blazing hot, it was so quiet and peaceful that one couldn’t help but feel breezy. People were out on mats on their porches, just lounging and passing the time. The smell of wood smoke was in the air– it reminded me of camping back home.
All of a sudden, an insane, bug-eyed dog rounded the corner and started chasing me at full-sprint. I booked it down the street, until I got near the end of the road, where three more dogs turned onto the street and started chasing me back the opposite way. I had one road left to take, a dead end… I waited at the end of it, sure I was about to have to break down and pay for some rabies shots. Luckily, the dogs lost interest once I turned off their street. But I was trapped on this little alleyway– any time I would tiptoe back out onto the main road, the dogs would chase me back again. Finally, I decided to sprint through and take their wrath. But this time, they didn’t chase. Lucky break…
After all that excitement, I was quite ready for some iced tea. Right on cue, I ran into my favorite vendor at the night market, who it turns out has a day gig selling snacks at a stall on this side of town. She gave me a place to sit, some iced tea, and a bamboo boat full of khao gliap– rice dough filled with peanuts, onions, and sweet coconut milk, sprinkled with dried garlic.
I felt that after being presented with so much food, I should at least help her make some more. So she showed me how to make the khao gliap, and I took over. Spread a thin layer of batter onto the skillet (a plastic bag tied over a pot of boiling water), let the dough steam, pour in the topping, fold, fold, fold… and voila! People were coming to buy them faster than I could make them! I spent the rest of the day there and boy, was it hard work. But throngs of my students came by to buy snacks from me, and I felt the most a part of the community then than I have so far. Great day!