Bangkok: first use of the gluten-free travel card in Thai
Though it was not my first time to Asia, it was my first time in Thailand! To travel to such a country is not like traveling in Europe or North America… you are going to a different country in all means: culture, language, people, smells, voices, way of talking, cleanliness, way of driving, expressions, alphabet letters, and… of course… the way of cooking FOOD!
Whether you have a food disorder or not, when you travel to such countries, you must be careful with what you eat and drink, especially if it is raw food or non-bottled water… spicy food is another topic to be careful of… it is funny when you see non-Asian people ordering spicy food and getting a red face after eating the first bite without being able to stop drinking… poor people!
The base of the Asian diet is rice and boiled or fried vegetables, pork, beef, duck or chicken, therefore, to eat gluten free in Asian countries is not difficult at all. The tricky ingredient are sauces, especially those that are fermented, because can be fermented with wheat to thicken them (soya sauce is an example).
Well, because it was a business trip and I knew I would not have time to visit any touristic area in Bangkok, I decided to take this trip as an adventure to test the celiac travel card in random restaurants and eating only Thai food… and hey, it worked pretty well!
My routine was as follows: breakfast at the hotel, lunch at the exhibition venue (I will talk about it in next post), and dinner somewhere in the city. So that’s what we did! After two flights of 6 hours with 4 gluten free, fish free, fruit free on flight menu – yes, a very special one – we arrived to Bangkok at noon. Distance from the airport to city center was not that long but the time you need to drive it is horrible… traffic in Bangkok is horrible! Just for you to understand what I mean… 20 min to drive 100 meters… absolutely horrible!
After a great shower, we took late lunch at the hotel and went to meet our agent at BITEC, the exhibition venue in Bangkok. Actually, to order a gluten free meal in the hotel was not really difficult… they had an indication at the bottom of the menu asking their guests to tell the waiter about any food disorder they have… so that’s what I did and he kindly advised me what could I eat. Apart of that I also showed him the celiac travel card in Thai, in case he was not 100% sure of what gluten was.
We spent the whole afternoon with our agent at the booth, getting to know all his team and preparing everything to start with the exhibition the day after with everything ready. Later on, we went back to the city center to go for a walk through one of the shopping malls we had in front of the hotel. After doing some shopping, we went up to the top floor, where we found many different restaurants: Thai, Japanese, American, Chinese, Italian… many places to choose from, but we chose again a Thai one. First try with the celiac travel card!
I must confess I was not 100% convinced when I showed the celiac travel card in Thai language because while I was showing it to our waiter, another one came to gossip and read it, and started a discussion, and then they called a third one and continued discussing for 5 minutes… then they looked at me and pointed three different dishes. The only thing I said was “beef”, because I already ate chicken for lunch… so they offered me a non-spicy dish of chopped beef with vegetables, rice and a sauce I didn’t recognize… I know I took a risk there but hey, if the three of them were pointing the same options, they should be right…
After that we went back to the hotel. That night was sooo easy to sleep… I was exhausted from the trip and the jet lag didn’t arrive yet…
Breakfast at the hotel was quite European so not really important to talk about it. In any case, just tell you that the waitress already knew who I was – how? I don’t know – but she directly came to me saying “Hello Mr. Alberich, do you want me to prepare a special gluten free breakfast for you? “. I was shocked! But of course said YESS!
That day we went out for dinner with our agent. They took us to a restaurant I cannot recall the name, but was very good. After having our agent talking for a while with the waitress (I did not even have to show the celiac travel card in thai), they started bringing the food. They ordered like 10 different dishes, 4 of them exclusively for me: duck, pork, chicken and beef cooked in different ways. That was a great dinner. Apart, they gave us a souvenir from Thailand, with one of their elephant headed Gods. At that time, what worried me most was that spoons were shared for all dishes, so crossed contamination could happen… but again, nothing happened! Here I ate two totally new dishes for me: sticky rice (never ate rice as if it was bread) and a typical Thai dessert made of rice, mango and coconut milk. Special new flavors! I love traveling!
If you are looking for celiac travel cards in different languages, click here to find the one in the language of your next destination!
To not write too long posts, I will talk about second half of the trip on another post.
To see the pictures of the trip, click here.
BY CLICKING ON THE GLUTEN FREE RESTAURANTS MAP YOU WILL SEE ALL THE RESTAURANTS WE TALKED ABOUT LOCATED IN THE MAP:
P.S.: Please keep in mind that in this blog I share my trips, anecdotes and experiences about gluten free travel around the world. It is possible that, in any of my trips, I go to some restaurant not trained by the associations where the risk of being contaminated with gluten exists.
I kindly ask you to also take into account that the list of references can change. Please, always double check before eating in the restaurants we recommend.
Thank you very much!
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