I served in the Peace Corps in Northeastern “Issan” Thailand from 2003-2005. That was before I gave up eggs and dairy and started eating mostly vegan. Eating out as a vegetarian in a small town did have its limits. Eating paht pahk roo-ahm (friend mixed vegetable) got old that first year before I became fluent in Thai, so I started cooking for myself.
I would go to the market, see an ingredient I’ve never seen, and ask the people selling it how they cooked it. Friends would come to my house and make vegetarian versions of dishes I loved in my kitchen. That is the best way to learn. Watch someone use the space and cooking equipment you already have to make their signature dishes.
But not every foreigner in Thailand has that luxury! Taking a cooking class has huge benefits where ever you travel. When I was 25 years old I took a cooking class in Bangkok with famous vegan Thai chef May Kaidee, and that changed my life and my kitchen forever. And I will never stop seeking ways to grow as a vegan cook.