Sukhonn is far from the chaos of her home in Bangkok and working in the service industry in Oman, she knew that her country would be very busy in the next few days for the Thai New Year which is a national day in Thailand.
Popularly called Songkran, a Sanskirt word that means transformation or change, the holiday falls on April 13 every year but for 2019 extends to April 15.
“The streets are filled with people. It becomes this big party that everywhere you go, you have to prepare to be splashed with water,” she said.
This is one of the highlights of the celebration — the water splashing street parties had been so popular it kept on drawing crowd from all over the world annually.
“Thais are very family centric. So we love spending this time with our family and sharing meals while partaking on different activities and celebration,” Sukhonn said.
Thailand in recent years has been one of the go-to destinations for many Omanis. A cheaper option to travel and boasting beautiful beaches, rich culture and heritage and welcoming people, hundreds of Omanis continue to be lured to its shores for a quick getaway almost every quarter.
While Songkran and its festivities are yet to gain popularity in Oman, pockets of celebrations are happening all over the city. Although full-fledged water fights are yet to happen, many of the local hospitality centres are opting for more tamed celebrations and instead, are taking the Songkran as an opportunity to highlight Thai cuisines.
“Thais are known to love spice on their food,” shared Suphannee Thumma, Chef de Cuisine of Soi Soi, a flagship restaurant of Kempinski Hotel Muscat.
Because majority of the employees at the restaurant are from Thailand, they are able to maintain the authenticity of the flavour of the food.
“When you taste authentic Thai dishes, you can expect to be transported to Thailand’s bustling streets. The name of the restaurant alone is inspired by the word “soi” which means street in Thai. Here, we make the experience as authentic and representative of the Thai culture as possible,” she said.
“What people have to know is that preparing authentic Thai food is quite simple. It’s either deep-fried, stir-fried or grilled but you can expect us to play with the spice. We use a lot of Thai herbs, peppercorn and chili and we make sure that the meals end with delicious desserts like for our special menu here, Khanom krok or Thai coconut custard which ties the whole meal together,” she shared.
Chef Suphannee shared that when she designed the menu, she wants to take people to an adventure. Goong sarong or crispy-fried marinated prawn wrapped in yellow noodle and Gai teriyaki or the grilled chicken in bamboo stick already communicate the tropical nature of her culture. Pla muek nung manoaw or the steamed calamari will surely hit the right note with everyone who loves seafood while the Phad chaa taley or the sauteed seafood that comes with lime leaves and chili provides diversity to what people eat.
Chef Suphannee shared that to fully experience a culture, one can actually start with the food.
For Sukhonn and her friends, small acts like this give their culture a form of recognition and they are looking forward to the day when they can fully celebrate the water splashing party in Oman.
“That would make Oman truly feel like home,” she said.
Soi Soi’s Songkran menu will be available from April 11 to 13 at 6.30pm to 11 pm.