The Link – A conversation on stress reduction, good nutrition; all while eating organic food in Pai.

I continue to cultivate my belief that life takes me where I need to go, introduces me to the right people and teaches me the right lessons, only if I trust the process (see my article “How Travelling Helps Me to Let Go”).

This morning I went out for a ride on my bicycle, and after a few hours it was time to eat. On my second day here I had stopped to take a look at the menu of a restaurant that had caught my attention earlier. It was a simple restaurant with nothing fancy to pull me in. I had to meet some friends somewhere else that day so I couldn’t eat there, but seeing “Cashew Nut Cream” and “Sesame Seed Cream” on the dessert menu had me promise myself I will go back there. I tried after dinner but it was closed. Ah well, would have to be another time.

I then stopped another time and chatted with Ling, the owner, while just having the Cashew Nut Cream (which was really tasty). She was having dinner with her friend, which they let me taste. There was some kind if spicy tomato paste which looked like our Mediterranean bruschetta mix (but warm), raw fresh vegetables, which I found out are organic from her garden, and a good sweet and sour vegetable stir fry, and also some other things which I’m not sure what they where (and had meat in them). But all local and all good! She told me to come another day in the afternoon because on evenings she only opens if she has bookings or if she feels like it, if she feels like it!!

Nam Prik OngNam Prik Ong – A northern dip with a selection of homegrown organic vegetables to go with it!

So today, I stopped there after a few hours riding my bicycle in the sun. I was hungry, so I ordered the sweet and sour Cantonese dish and asked for the tomato dip (vegan on request – because the one she had last time had fish in it). And with the dip came along a whole dish of raw, fresh, organic leafy green vegetables, some of them freshly cut from plants in the shop, others from her organic garden, and others from friends who grow organic vegetables. I hadn’t eaten a good raw meal since Malta two months ago so my mouth watered at the sight of it all! The cabbage even had a sweet taste lingering in there… so good!

Mushroom Stirfry

A stir-fry of 5 different kinds of delicious mushrooms!

After lunch, Ling sat down and started chatting with me, which is when things got more interesting. She told me all about how she decided to leave her stressful life in Bangkok where she managed hotel kitchens and came to live in Pai. She’s been learning about food since she was 16, always tuning her knowledge. She now opens her restaurant just in the afternoon, and, if she has bookings, in the evening. This leaves loads of time for herself, to exercise and to learn more about what she loves, which is food and good nutrition. She went on about the way food should be eaten to preserve the enzymes and nutrients in it. We talked about beta-carotene, the shelf life of fresh juices (which a lot of restaurants leave sitting there making the juice lose most of the nutrients and enzymes we need to digest it – fresh out of the juicer is the way to go with juices).

I learned that throughout Thailand there are around 600 different pastes, each region making its own. What I had just eaten was Nam Prik Ong, which is a dipping sauce originating in North Thailand.

We also talked about how life is to be lived, making just enough money to be happy and leaving time to enjoy life EVERY DAY, not just on holidays and weekends, or when we grow older. We both felt that since we started exercising, watching what we eat (getting all the right nutrients from eating a variety of whole foods, plants, fruits and so on), and leaving time to enjoy ourselves, our overall health got better. This is also due to reducing the stress factors in our lives. I enjoyed listening to her tell me that she just closes when she needs to, she wants that freedom.

I’ve seen this elsewhere in Thailand. Just yesterday I was eating in a curry place. The guy had people coming all the time cause the curries he makes are just so delicious, but at 5pm he just said he will leave and close cause he has to go for his football, which he does daily after some weight lifting –  “come back at 7”. So great to see people leaving time for themselves, not worrying that there business will fall to pieces if we close for an hour, a day, a week, maybe even a month. We can easily become slaves to something that was supposed to make our lives easier (through making more money). The means becomes an end!

I told her about Permaculture when she was telling me that she was organizing her garden and wanted to find a way to keep growing vegetables all year round. She wrote it down and said that she’ll look into it, another new piece of information to research. In the meantime, I wrote down the names of all the pastes she mentioned and made a mental note on the good attitude towards life which this woman has.

It’s really great when I meet locals I can converse with (I wish I knew all the languages). I keep finding interesting people along the way; the journey just leads me to them. A short conversation with each other teaches something to both of us. Also another good reason to stop at less busy places or eat at less busy times, which is a good time to talk to the owner. I learn new things about the culture, things I could apply to my own life. And they learn things from me, things I learnt from others, and the information keeps being shared and improved! Everyone finding his own way!

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