There are experiences that seem to transport us to other places. Destinations that you can visit in your own back yard that make you feel as though you’ve traveled a hundred miles.
For years I listened to the whispered rumors of a Thai Temple right here in Tampa. An actual Buddhist temple sitting alongside the river. I’d heard that they hosted a Sunday Market that people travel from all over to visit.
Drawn by the temptation of real Thai food and a desire for a final adventure of the season together, we embarked on a family outing to see if we could find this local treasure.
What we found was a tropical oasis from another place all together.
The rumor was that the food was on a first-come-first-serve sort of basis, so we arrived right before opening at 9:30 a.m. to be sure we could get a spot.
You must understand, this is not a usual tourist attraction. It’s a REAL Thai temple.
In fact, both my mom and I were not in “acceptable” attire for visiting inside the temple, so we just marveled at the elaborately colorful outside instead.
From the lamps, to the roof, to the statues, this was one impressive site.
Led by our noses, however, we quickly made our way over to the other building situated along the water, where the food is.
Thai women and men cooking, mixing, selling, wrapping and preparing various food line two sides of the building’s porch. One after another, after another, after another offered up familiar and new Thai items that had been made special for this occasion.
As we all had different palates, we all went in different directions to peek, sample and pick out the various goodies for our lunch.
So many choices required a couple walks up and down the length of food alley.
At the very end of the long row of food was a long line stacked with hungry looking people. When I inquired as to what it was they were waiting for, a couple people didn’t know, and someone else said, “soup.” Apparently it’s a very tasty soup worth waiting for.
(Did I mention that the food is also inexpensive? I only spent a total of $12 for three different things and it was enough to feed two people!)
With our selections bagged up, we meandered along plank walkways to picnic benches scattered beneath a tall tree canopy by the riverfront.
We spread out our various scores for a quick comparison…
Before diving in.
Creamy curries, fresh vegetables and zippy herbs all mingled together and made a real treat for the tastebuds.
Seating is available on a first come, first served basis, so we let some other folks settle in at our tables once we had filled up. Instead, we headed to the long pier where boaters can pull up and dock.
The sun beat down as we enjoyed the views.
I even toyed with the idea of going for a little dip…
I passed on the swim and opted to explore the plant market that was nestled in one corner of the property instead. Plants of all shapes and sizes, colors and scents covered tables.
Some were more show, while others had almost magical powers, like the lemongrass, which promised to repel mosquitoes and biting insects (some of my arch nemeses)!
I nearly walked out with the whole lot.
After exploring pretty much every inch of the property, we finally called it a day and made our way back to the car park, where lines of cars were still pouring in and out of.
Quickly voting the day a huge success, we all vowed to return some other Sunday, perhaps in the winter, when things cool off.
Or maybe it will just be a random Sunday for me, when there’s a slight cool breeze and I can bare waiting in that long line for a hot soup. Yum.
Definitely check this place out if you’re feeling adventurous or just want some incredible Thai food. Be a courteous guest though and read the guidelines on their website about proper attire and visiting hours.
If you want to visit the market, their held each Sunday starting at 9:30 a.m. until the food runs out.