May 1, 2011
Thailand, a paradise for Celiacs
Well I just got back from the vacation of a lifetime. Yup, that's right, Thailand! One of those places you dream about but think you will never really have the opportunity to go to. Well thanks to living in Europe and for cheap flights, it is possible!!! So after the long and wonderful hockey season, we decided to celebrate not only my husband's team winning the cup, but also the fact that he got a 3 year contract deal. So that means we get to stay here for another three years, which I could not be more thrilled about! I have a job and most importantly I have made a life here.
Ok now back to Thailand. This place is paradise and an EATING paradise for Celiacs. Thanks to the Thai diet which mostly consists of rice based things, you can eat without any major worries. I will say though that before I embarked on this journey I did quite a bit of research. My biggest question was does Thai soy sauce really contain gluten?? Well I couldn't answer that before I left and I still can't answer it after coming back! I would also like to thank my fellow Celiacs who have posted about visiting Thailand, especially the blogger from Fort Worth who blogged about her experience. All of it was very helpful.
Now down to the details.....We got a package deal, so that meant the flight, transfers, hotel, and breakfast were included. The airline was low cost, so unfortunately no GF meals were available. But I survived by bringing lots of snacks, a sandwich for dinner, and a PB and J sandwich for breakfast. For the way back I was able to bring some thai food with me, that was still just as delicious cold. The hotel was right across from Nai Harn beach. I spent the days sitting in my beach chair eating gf pad thai and drinking numerous banana smoothies. With that being said, here are my tips, thoughts, and experiences on visiting Thailand and most importantly on EATING GF in Thailand.
1. Bring your own bread! I didn't even attempt to look for anything GF there. I brought some bread for breakfast, some crackers (which I never needed), and some of these breakfast biscuit things that British people seem to love. Breakfast at the hotel was completely managable as they provided lot's of fresh fruit, eggs cooked to order, scrambled eggs, fried eggs, a delicious thai porridge made of rice and chicken, and even gf fried rice (although make sure you always ask!!).
2. Don't take your thai restaurant card. I believe that this will only confuse them more. Some thai people don't speak much English, so it is just easier I found to have someone at the hotel write in Thai: No soy sauce, No oyster sauce. I flashed this at the restaurant and food stands and it worked everytime. I was able to order pad thai, fried rice, stir fry, etc. I never got sick and it was much easier than trying to explain what I could and couldn't eat.
3. Most curries are naturally GF. I ate green curries, red curries, and even masaman curry. I even ate some fried spring rolls, which I was not completely sure about, but I didn't get sick afterwards! I believe that most of the wrappers are made from only rice, but you should make sure to ask.
4. Eat from food stands. I had wonderful BBQ chicken that was some of the best I have ever had. The more authentic the Thai food is, the less likely it is going to have gluten in it.
5. If you decide to take a boat trip, you can check ahead of time for what they will be serving for lunch. We did a tour to the Phi Phi Islands that included a buffet lunch. Upon arriving there I flashed my card to the thai waiters, who spoke no English, but they were able to point to things and say no. They had a green curry there, so I knew I wouldn't starve! I also took some snacks just in case. However, the tour itself was somewhat disappointing as our guide was terrible. However, the scenary was beautiful, but if you are looking for some killer snorkeling spots, I recommend somewhere else. The coral was mostly dead here. But if you want to see some white sand beaches and where "The Beach" was filmed, then the Phi Phi Islands are your destination!
6. Drink as many smoothies as you can, I recommend the banana one!
7. Treat yourself, get a massage! The oil massage I got cost something like 6 dollars for an hour. And if you are really feeling up to it you can go for the thai one. Although it is pretty intense!
8. You might feel sick, but remember you are in Thailand and stomach bugs are normal! Just because you are having some issues does not necessarily mean you have been glutenated!
9. Eat outside the hotel!! The hotel restaurants are expensive, westernized, and your chances are a lot higher of getting glutnated at your hotel vs at the Thai restaurant 200m away.
And finally my biggest tip of all is don't let being Celiac prevent you from visiting the world! So get going and pack your bag, book you flights, and enjoy a vacation of a lifetime!