A short trip to Thailand...
If you've read my previous blog post, you know that I've spent a week in Thailand in September. On this very inspiring (and relaxing! (Massages!)) trip, I didn't get to do a lot of sketching - I had to keep up with my parents and my husband after all!
You might also know that I love drawing food and that I document my vacations as visual doodle diaries.
So there we have it: A food illustration as a summary of all the things I ate in Thailand, sketched in various cafes, restaurants and hotel rooms, then colored with watercolors as we arrived back home.
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I love drawing food and diary entries,
and this page is a visual representation of what I ate in Bangkok and Huahin.
Since I'm the only vegan in our little family travel group, I was a bit wary... already the flight didn't offer any special meals to be ordered in advance and my cereal bar supply was at zero.
I shouldn't have worried! While certain places (mostly bars or Western/fusion restaurants) limited me to black coffee, there was still an abundance of traditional Thai food options I could indulge in - and I discovered several vegan restaurants, too.
More Illustrated Travel Diaries:
Thailand: Markets, Sweets and Fruit
And of course: Fruit. Not only were they omnipresent and cheap, they made for pretty sketches, too. I couldn't get enough of the different kinds of mango and papaya, especially - those are so expensive in Korea!
If you travel to Thailand as a vegan, don't bother with bringing snacks - you can find all kinds of labeled (or just obviously vegan, aka fruit and vegs) food, even in small convenience stores.
Whenever we ate at markets or in restaurants where I couldn't determine if a dish was vegan or not, I went for dessert instead. Not the healthiest solution, sure, but since those weren't dairy-based but instead prepared with coconut milk I happily indulged.
A word of warning: Don't underestimate coconut milk. I rarely (if ever) buy it in Korea and wasn't expecting it to be this filling! Even a small dessert for lunch tided me over till dinner.
The various markets and street stalls offer mostly sweet vegan options, though. For savory dishes Thai dishes that don't contain fish sauce or shrimp, you might have to dig a bit deeper.
Vegan Restaurant and Hotel Option in Bangkok: Ariyasom Villa and Na Aroon
While we rented an apartment together for most of our stay in Bangkok, we indulged in a more luxurious hotel for the last night. (...and yeah, rainy season sales are great.)
The Ariyasom in Bangkok is a whimsically decorated and old-fashioned building with a restaurant (called Na Aroon, which you can visit even if you aren't a hotel guest) that serves the most delicious food we'd tasted on our whole trip.
There are vegan options as well as fish specialties, but no meat. A pesco-vegetarian restaurant, if you will, with the option and knowledge to veganize pretty much every dish on the menu that isn't vegan already.
I fell in love with all those Thai flowers - maybe a theme for another sketch!
My mission: Eat all the complementary fruit, everywhere.
Did I mention that we went during the rainy time of the year? While we avoided the worst of it, the last couple of days in Bangkok were marked by heavy downpours that invited to lazy coffee-drinking sessions indoors.
Can definitely recommend this season despite the occasional encounter with rain: Hotels are a lot cheaper off-season, you collide with fewer fellow tourists, and the weather didn't stop us from discovering the countryside and city.
Na Aroon's vegan menu was a dream, with spicy curries, aromatic wild (and blue!) rice and lots of appetizers. Eating the full course meal was a challenge, though, even after days walking around the city and working up an appetite! The portions are quite large and especially the coconut milk based dishes fill you up quickly.
My favorite was their red Forest Curry - a spicy soup without coconut milk but lots of vegetables and spices like fresh peppercorn, served with rice.
Vegan in Bangkok: The Veganerie
For simpler, but still delicious, fare, we visited the Veganerie. By now, this vegan restaurant and cafe has expanded to several locations in Bangkok. They serve a wide selection of smoothies, juices, desserts (waffles!), ice cream... but we mostly went for the savory dishes like salad bowls, zoodles (zucchini noodles) and take-out options like burritos.
One of their smaller shops is located in the Siam shopping mall center so I actually visited it several times on the way from and to our apartment.
I actually don't have much of a sweet tooth and prefer desserts like rice cakes with sesame fillings (yay Korea), very dark chocolate and the like to waffles, cakes and ice cream, so the Veganerie's expansive dessert menu didn't do much for me. I chose salad & noddle bowls instead - the salad dressings especially are to die for!
Since I just mentioned my love for rice cakes... you might want to keep your eyes open for the colorful Thai rice dumplings filled with sweet (huh?) peanut paste.
Other favorites of mine included vegetable dumplings and pretty much everything with Tamarind or ginger. I love spicy food and fruit, so Thailand was probably the ideal place to visit anyway...
Vegan in Hua Hin, Thailand
We didn't only stay in Bangkok itself but traveled down to Hua Hin, where we stayed at the Evason Hua Hin Resort for a couple days. Their spa service is famous and I had my first ever full-body massage there. Everything hurt - but hurt so good.
The whole resort focuses on a concept of sustainability - no plastic, everything served in glass bottles or wrapped in recycled paper, and it reflected on the food selection, too.
Their breakfast buffet had a lot of vegan options - not only "accidentaly" vegan ones, but an actual serving station for soups, noodle and rice dishes and curries, all vegan. And of course fruits, juices, cereal (with soy milk as an option) and bread.
If you could still walk after eating all that for breakfast, lunch options were available, too. Since we visited off-season, the restaurant's prices were reduced by half. Which... had me eating probably two times as much.
I'd never been to a place as luxurious but at the same time down-to-earth like this! It was lots of fun dressing up for fancy dinners after a day of discovering the Hua Hin countryside, or getting massages - I could definitely get used to this type of vacation! My husband and I are usually more of backpacking/camping/staying-at-a-friend's-house type of travelers, so a family vacation with my parents opened some new doors.
I did use Ebates to get a bit of cashback on our hotel bookings, though! If you sign up in 2017, you get an instant 10$ credit and then percentages off once you book via certain online booking sites. The couple %'s in cashback added up quickly for us!
In the evening, we focused on traditional Thai meals again, with the addition of cocktails, beer, and wine. There's even a winery in Huahin, so we tasted several local ones. I feel very grown-up as I write this.
The "Coast" restaurant located in the Evason Resort was our choice for the last evening. The food was definitely fancier than any other vegan food I had. Less hearty and filling than the Ariyasom, and more focused on unique ingredients, textures and taste combinations. I had mushroom-cashew-creme soup, for example, and a vegan raw tiramisu for dessert to share with my skeptical mom. Not a place I'd eat at every day, but definitely a unique experience.
The week went by way too fast...
We'd been visiting Thailand as an extended stop-over on the way home from Switzerland to Korea, so time was limited and our luggage a mess. But I can definitely imagine traveling to Thailand again and hope to discover some more remote regions, more delicious food and to find more inspiration for drawings!
I hope you found this little snapshot of vegan options in Thailand helpful - or at least enjoyed the drawings and my ramblings.