When a Bangkok local makes a point of urging you towards an out-of-the-way restaurant with the delectable promise of good food, take heed: opportunity is seldom a lengthy visitor. So it was that I found myself traveling down a winding alley to the fortuitous gates of Gedhawa, a homey establishment specializing in the subtle, herb-fragranced plates of Northern Thailand. Decorated in silk lanterns, rough-hewn wooden tables, and all manner of mid-century pop culture ephemera, it could easily come off as kitschy in less skilled hands. Yet when you’re escorted to table by a kindly older woman who could easily pass as your grandmother – if your grandmother was Thai, that is – the illusion suddenly becomes clear: you’re in an idealized version of someone’s home, so get ready for home-cookin’ Thai style. The accordion-style menu proved exhaustive – and exhausting; after all, there’s only so much one can reasonably eat, despite the temptation – and eyes ten times larger than my stomach. In the end I settled on a couple of favorites, mixing in a few adventuresome unknowns: sai oua, a spicy pork sausage fragrant with lemongrass and galangal; coconut-flecked shrimp, crunchy, sweet and irresistible when dipped into a sauce of palm sugar, vinegar and chili; green papaya salad – a masochistic addiction of sweet meets heat – was practically combustible; wrap-it-yourself pork larb redolent with spices and fresh mint; pad thai, simple and elegant, with just enough unexpected fire to make it interesting. I couldn’t have planned a better meal for my  last night in Bangkok if I tried. And a good thing I didn’t.

accordion-style menu

spicy thai sausage

coconut shrimp

green papaya salad

pork laab

pad thai



rice delights

Yhi Spa at Paradisus Playa del Carmen is wedged both physically and philosophically in the middle of the Cancan to Tulum hi-lo continuum, a potent reminder that sometimes it’s not about the brand but the breeding. Yhi might not be well known in the wellness world but that shouldn’t be taken as a reflection of it’s pedigree – or its commitment to authenticity. The signature treatments in this particular spa are a reminder that maize wasn’t the only grain prized by the local Mayans – they had quite the taste for rice, too. Beyond pairing it with beans, natch. Whether used as an extract or oil, its natural antioxidants were valued for inhibiting free radicals. Used as a water, rice has moisturizing and softening actions, improving the flexibility of skin with a healthy dose of Vitamin E. After an afternoon spent soaking up too much sun, Rice Delight proved the perfect palliative for me: a double dose of exfoliation and massage using rice in all its permutations. Rich in both proteins and amino acids, it left my skin as smooth as silk, proving that sometimes a happy medium is a happy place indeed.


tastes like communism

While the Hong Kong History Museum provides a fascinating and in-depth look into the city’s place within the context of two great empires, I must at all costs advise against a sidetrip to the cafeteria. Less a culinary adventure than an unappealing survival course, it is the first disgusting meal of the trip. Honestly, I can’t even remember what it is I had ordered at this point. What arrived was a study in browns: brown beans in brown sauce accompanying brown meat; a brown vegetable chunk in a bath of brown broth. Had there been a brown-shirted staff in Mao jackets I wouldn’t have flinched. The rice, however, was white.


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