By Guest Reviewer Itsara Namtapi
Itsara Namtapi is UW’s Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant in Thai for the current academic year. Itsara received his Master’s in English Linguistics from Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok and then taught English and English for Specific Purposes, with a focus on tourism, at the university level. At UW, he teaches both beginning and intermediate Thai while also pursuing his own program of graduate study in Linguistics. Despite the demands of being both Thai lecturer and grad student, he still finds time to watch Thailand’s favorite genre of film: horror movies! Itsara’s cinema and cuisine recommendations follow.
If you still have a craving for scary movies after binge-watching all the classic horror films on Netflix, HBO GO, or Amazon Prime during the COVID-19 lockdown, I highly recommend “The Unseeable” (2006), a Thai ghost story with a strong Buddhist flavor. Pen Choo Kap Phi is the film’s title in Thai, which means having an affair with a ghost. It tells the story of Nuan Jan, a pregnant woman who ends up at a spooky mansion on the outskirts of 1930’s Bangkok while searching for her missing husband. Little does she realize that the unusual kindness of the owner who puts her up will soon let her unravel the mystery of the mansion as well as her own fate.
In addition to its pitch-perfect casting and beautiful cinematography, “The Unseeable” allows you to discover elements of Thai culture such as a cycle of death and rebirth, class and patriarchy, and slavery as well as the western influence on Thai culture during the reign of King Rama V. There are barely any jump scares, nor blood and gore. Rather, the movie is filled with an eerie atmosphere and the ending will surely linger in your mind for days. You can watch it on Dailymotion.
For any of you who are reading my review in Bangkok right now, I suggest you order take-out from Thipsamai, praised by a great many food critics and guaranteed by the Michelin Guide to be the best Pad Thai restaurant in Bangkok. The most famous item on the menu might be Pad Thai Sen Jan Man Goong, which is noodles fried with extra-large shrimp and wrapped in egg. In Thailand, the restaurant is more commonly known as Pad Thai Pratoo Phi, literally translated as Ghost Gate Pad Thai. It is situated in the area once called Pratoo Phi as there was a gate through which Bangkokians who had died from cholera during the reign of King Rama II were carried to Wat Saket for cremation.
Nowadays the area, which is part of Bangkok’s Old Town attracts hundreds of domestic and international tourists daily to enjoy historical architecture and savory street foods. Thipsamai is open from 5 pm until 2 am and there is also a delivery service. Order the legendary Pad Thai and taste it while watching “The Unseeable” and I bet you won’t be disappointed!
If you are not lucky enough to be in Bangkok right now, you can still try the national dish of Thailand (Pad Thai) at every Thai restaurant in Seattle. Ban Hua Sai is my top favorite place where you can also savor the flavor of authentic Thai cuisine. For those who cannot handle spicy food, you can go for crispy garlic chicken or avocado Dungeness crab salad. If you are the kind of person who loves the painful pleasure of hot and spicy food, try southern Thai curry like Keaw Kling or Namya Paktai. The restaurant is situated at the corner of Roosevelt and N.E. 94th, about 3 miles away from UW. It opens at 4 pm and takes the last order around 8:45 pm. You can also order delivery using Uber Eats or Grubhub.