Cheeseburger In Paradise

My second month in Thailand has already come and gone.

Even as I re-read that sentence it seems like a typo. That can’t possibly be true… can it? It feels like just yesterday that I was hugging my mother goodbye and boarding a plane at O’Hare. I still remember the snot-freezing temperatures (GROSS… but you know what I mean!)  and the 20-mile-an-hour winds.  I still remember the knots in my stomach made in equal parts by fear of the unknown and hunger for adventure. I even still remember which socks I wore that day and how I spent $10 on a cheeseburger.

I was hungry for adventure AND  a snack!

No fries or a drink were included in that price, mind you, it was just an extremely expensive airport burger that was worth every penny. It was cheesy, greasy, and the last deliciously authentic burger I’ve had for a while. Thailand does a lot of things very well, cheeseburgers are just not one of those things.

Fun fact: if you order a burger here, more often than not it will be a water buffalo burger. The meat from water buffalo is leaner, healthier, and a lot less delicious than the meat from its farmed, fat, and grain-fed bovine relative from the States.

I have eaten a total of 2 burgers here, the first out of curiosity and the second for research purposes. I will not be having a third. I had heard rumors about water buffalo in disguise, so I decided to find out for myself. I concluded that they were both, in fact, water buffalo and topped with cucumbers (weird), eggs (delicious), and no cheese (tragedy). One of them I paid 450 baht/ $15 USD for. I’m not proud of this, but it was all for the sake of science! Side note: you may have noticed I’m referring to these delicious sandwiches as “burgers”, not “hamburgers”. If you order a “hamburger” here you will get a slice of ham on a burger bun. This is adorably literal and extremely disappointing. You should specify “beef burger” if you want to get even remotely close to satisfying your craving for western food.

I mentioned briefly that neither of my burgers had any cheese topping. If you’ve ever met me, then you know how much I love cheese. Just like a true Sconny, I basically bleed the stuff. So you can probably guess how truly upsetting this was/is for me. Its absence on my burger, however, is just a small indicator of a larger issue with SE Asian cuisine. They just don’t have, cook with, make, or use cheese.  Actually, I take that back. Cheese isn’t a part of *THAI* cuisine. The cheese in Cambodia is delicious.

See…? Every cloud really does have a silver lining; even if your country/culture was taken over and colonized by the French.

Cambodia, unlike Thailand, also has great wine at a reasonable price. The (affordable) wine here is awful—think boxed red wine mixed with grape juice. Thailand’s take on pizza is pretty good, but I’d strongly discourage you from ordering the lasagna. I’ve stopped bothering with breakfast foods—Thais don’t really understand the concept. Don’t get me wrong, Thai cuisine is amazing. But like anywhere, it’s hard to authentically recreate a different country’s food.

My favorite dish here is the Massaman curry. Of course, I’m still a huge fan of pad thai, fried omelette, and tom yum soup, but Massaman curry takes the cake. It’s a mild and sweet brown curry that usually comes with your choice of meat, potatoes, onions, and peanuts. I order it with a side of steamed rice and always ask for “mai pet” or “not spicy”. Thai food can be extremely spicy, and while my blonde hair and white skin are a good indicator that I can’t handle the heat, it doesn’t hurt to remind your server.  I usually get a good chuckle out of them, and it’s better to be safe than sorry/hungry because you can’t finish your meal (I’m speaking from experience).

Sadly, after two and a half months of practicing, I can’t say I’m getting any better at eating spicy food. I am, however, getting better at Dandayamana-Janushirasana and can recite a handful of basic Thai phrases. I’m also officially TEFL certified and know that I definitely don’t want a job as a teacher (but OMG are the elementary school kids adorable). I’m also better at finding beauty in everyday situations and being happy by myself. Oh, and healthier. I’m  a good 15 lbs. lighter than when I left home.

Here’s my crazy crash diet plan:

  1. Eat fresh fruit.
  2. Get some exercise.
  3. Remember how absolutely beautiful you are.

I know, right? You’re welcome.

I guess a lot has changed since I left home. When I think about everything that I’ve done (and eaten!), that  familiar sting of negative degree wind across my cheeks becomes more and more of a distant memory. In fact, I can’t say that I’ve been cold—really, TRULY, cold—since I landed in Phuket. I get a little chilly on my way back from yoga when I’m soaked through with sweat (hot yoga is HOT) and the wind is whipping through the open air tuk tuk after sunset. I’ve actually started daydreaming about wearing jeans. I love the goose bumps I get when the beach breeze cools my skin after a dip in the ocean. I think it just snowed today in Minneapolis, so I probably shouldn’t elaborate any further, but you get my point.

You can take the girl out of the Midwest, but you can’t take the Midwest out of the girl. 

I love Thailand. But if I’m being totally honest with you, I do miss home. I miss my friends and my city and my mac & cheese. Even with the modern miracle that is human flight, I still find myself wishing the distance were smaller. I wish I could have all of my people here with me in the same place at the same time. I wish I could have white sand in-between my toes one minute, and Nicollet Ave. under them the next. But I know I’ll miss Phuket so much when I leave. I’ve been keeping busy here and trying to be present for every amazing moment.  My time here has gone by in the blink of an eye, just like Ferris said it would. I’ll be home soon enough, but for now I’m just trying to have as much fun as possible. Time really flies when you’re doing that though, doesn’t it?


  1. Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana.
  2. I miss you and I love you and I appreciate you reading my thoughts on cheeseburgers and modern miracles.





p.s. Again, I’m not trying to rub it in, but this was  my Saturday evening!

Bean bag chair
The “Local Bar” on Bangtao beach serves you cocktails (note my blue pineapple margarita) while you lounge on bean bag chairs!