Joy in Knysna

The Garden Route reminds me quite strongly of my road trip in Victoria and South Australia. There are the trees, of course – half of South Africa could pass for the antipodes with all our gum plantations – but also, increasingly, the ethnic cuisine. My most vivid association with Australia is the Asian food, and there’s a little corner of Knysna – the Thai Kitchen next to the Italian pizzeria around the corner from the Indian restaurant – that fits the bill.

Meet Joy. She’s the chef at the Thai Kitchen.

Joy in kitchen

She also does massages, as we discovered when we asked if she knew of anyone. Here she is with Laura. 

Joy and Laura

She lives in Fichat Street with her family. We were bracing for something dodgy, but it was all very ordinary and middle class. While she massaged me, she told me that she’d lived in Joburg until she got pregnant, then moved back to Bangkok. But the pollution was bad for her son, so she moved to Knysna. She has two boys, who both attend the local primary school, and she likes it, although she prefers Thailand.

Oddly enough, she learned to massage in Johannesburg, not Thailand. Presumably, when South Africans find out you are Thai they want two things: food and a vryf, and if you want to maximise your income, you do both.

After the massage, she showed me the garden where she grows the vegetables she uses in her cooking.

Joy points to her garden

She gave me seeds for a sweetly aromatic herb – what it’s called I’m not quite sure. I don’t have green fingers, but I am taking some seeds back with me and I will give it a try.


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