You are spending five weeks in Asia with your husband, and you’ve just taken an overnight train from Bangkok to Chian Mai in Thailand. You’re no spring chicken, and those trains aren’t the smoothest of rides. You’re husband’s been up all night complaining that his back is killing him.
“It feels like it’s about to go into spasm”. He moans.
The train rattles along. The night creeps on. One, two, three o’clock in the morning. Still no sleep. You’re starving, but there is no buffet cart on this train. Far too basic for that.
You get off the train at six thirty in the morning. Your eyes are gritty, your mood is rotten, and your stomach is empty.
Politely refusing rides from the local songthaew drivers, you make your way across the street carrying your heavy pack. Looking with envy at the sensible travellers who have cases with wheels.
There is a Seven-Eleven opposite the railway station. Good. You’ll buy a coffee and try and put some life back into your fifty-one-year-old body.
Next to the entrance to the Seven-Eleven, you notice a street food stand. A small table with a blue umbrella. There is a woman. She is holding a frying pan over a flame. Shaking it this way and that. Next to her is a basket of eggs and lots of little pots filled with different things. Chilli and lemongrass. Spring onions and garlic. Fish oil and soy.
There is a sign. “50 Thai baht omelette”. Sod it, you think. Why not? How bad can a woman cooking eggs at the side of the road next to the train station be?
You order the omelette and wait. “One egg or two?” she asks. Two, please. And make sure you include the yolk. No white-egg-only-healthy-faddy-rubbish-diet for me.
Your husband is getting agitated. Should he call a Grab? Why didn’t we wait until we got to the Condo and THEN order some breakfast? Where’s the tiger balm?
You ignore him and look away. You are ravenous and need food. Now. The next time your husband opens his mouth, you might just stab him in the neck with a chopstick. You don’t function well without sleep.
You stand and wait. Patiently. Smelling the smells. The morning Thai sunshine warms you from the ankles up. Soothing you’re tiredness and melting your crankiness. The aroma of salty fish sauce and zingy lime juice wafts to your nose. The woman breaks the eggs. Never letting go of her metal spatula.
You watch. Mesmerized. Like watching your mother peel the potatoes for the chips. Within minutes the meal is ready. You and the woman exchange glances. It’s almost as if she knows. She spoons a slice of sticky rice into a polystyrene container and flips the sizzling omelette on top. She hands you your breakfast and smiles.
You open your mouth. The omelette is soft and crispy with crispy burnt bits on the edges. Salty and sour. Perfectly cooked. The onions give just the right amount of bite. The flavours rush to the top of your nose, lifting your taste buds. One, two, three mouthfuls. Each better than the last. Pure and simple deliciousness.
I have been travelling all over the world for thirty years, and that omelette, my friend, was the most memorable breakfast to date.
Thank you for reading. To hear more about my and my husband’s adventures as we travel around the world, making a living online and trying to pretend that we’re cool and don’t hate each other, then we would love it if you’d listen to our weekly podcast: “It’s a Drama!”.
Until then, go and find that lady and have an omelette for me.
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