On Sunday I made it to the Pumpkin Lady's restaurant. It's the little hole-in-the-wall eatery that I visited with Mark and his mom a few weeks ago. It was probably the best food I've had since I've been here, so I wanted to go back. I had a map but I'm not that good with maps, so I was a little uneasy. One of the Thai secretaries here helped me practice saying the street name and the name of the food I was going to order until she could understand what I was saying.
It's near Victory Monument, so it's a little out of my way, but I figured it would be worth it. A change of scenery is always nice. I got off the BTS and started walking in the right direction. Or what I thought was the right direction. Unfortunately, it looked totally different from what I remembered. Last time we had walked underneath a huge overpass and then turned left onto the Pumpkin Lady's sidestreet. There were a gang of motorbike drivers all hanging around at the corner, and a truck selling durian on the other side of the road. The street I was on was a busy market with no overpass. When I turned onto what I thought was the main street, it didn't look right at all.
I kept walking and finally spotted a sign for a cross-street that read "Ratchawithi 7." The street Pumpkin Lady's street was "Ratchawithi 6." I was close! The only problem was that I needed to turn left onto the street and I was on the wrong side. Traffic was pretty bad, so there was no way I was going to get across the street. The solution? Walk all the way back to the end of the street and cross on a catwalk. I finally got to the other side, but it still didn't look familiar. I asked a guard for "Ratchawithi 6?" He didn't understand me at first, and I had to repeat a couple of times before he understood. He nodded serenely and pointed me down the street. I finally found the right street, but still no sign of bikers or a durian truck. I walked down the street and then, there! Right in front of me was the giant overpass!
I went under the overpass and saw the bikers. The durian truck was mysteriously missing, but oh well. Probably on some other corner hawking his smelly wares. A little further down on the right stood the smoothie stand. We stopped there after dinner last time to get some delicious banana coconut smoothies. And then, there, further up the street on the left was a green canopy. The Pumpkin Lady's restaurant!
I had been wondering why Mark had called it the Pumpkin Lady's, but I saw why as soon as I entered. The old lady there smiled at me, exposing a mouth of missing teeth with only two survivors hanging from the top. Her smile further wrinkled her brown face as I tried to tell her my order.
"Lahb KA moo?" She answered, cocking her head. I nodded, and she shooed me inside.
The building didn't have a front wall, and the green canopy hung over the front steps and the tiny kitchen in the front. Inside the eatery sat five tables, all covered with plastic teddy-bear tablecloths. The wall was graced with a scuffed cuckoo clock, and a tv in the back blared Thai news.
I sat next to the open window, trying to ignore the tv. Outside the window was a garden made up of plants in clay pots, a few hanging from the eaves. I watched people going in and out of the apartment next door, and kids riding by on their bikes. Soon, the Pumpkin Lady was in front of me with a green plastic plate. It held little pieces of meat, green leafy vegetables, onions, and other bits of goodness all drowned in a thick, clear broth. I ate the meal, alternately looking out the window at the apartment building and plants, and out the front wall at the street.
I could barely finish the meal. I really quite full halfway through the dish, but I felt bad about leaving that much food. I made myself eat more, and I could feel my stomach stretching with each swallow. I finally finished enough to not feel disgraceful and paid the Pumpkin Lady. Thirty baht. That's almost a dollar for dinner.
I walked back down the street, dodging motorbikes, cars, and children playing badmitton. I couldn't resist getting a smoothie from the stand, so I stood on a wooden plank while she blended my drink, trying to avoid small children and an overflowing drainage ditch. After I finished the delicious icy drink, I was almost too full to waddle onto the BTS and head back home. But I managed.