Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Bangkok Getaway

Hi everyone! I just came back from Bangkok today so I'm going to share as much as I can from my experience in Bangkok before I forget everything! Now, Bangkok is usually most popular among teenagers and young people as the main activity there is shopping, and at very affordable prices! However, this time round, I went to Bangkok with my family, uncle and two paternal grandparents. That makes seven of us in total, with two senior citizens and a young child. We managed to pull off the vacation and everything (for the most part) went smoothly.

Transport from the airport to the hotel was a little tricky. We opted to take a cab - big mistake. The seven of us, the taxi driver and the luggage had to squeeze into a mini-van-sized vehicle. Five people squeezed in the second row! Furthermore, we were stuck in the dreaded traffic jam, making a thoroughly unpleasant and expensive journey. We paid 700 Baht for the trip, which is about SGD28. I guess we paid for the convenience, and also because we were unfamiliar with Bangkok.

The hotel we stayed in throughout the course of our vacation (4 days/3 nights) was the Adelphi Suites hotel. The hotel was recommended by some of my mother's colleagues who had just recently came back from a trip to Bangkok themselves. It is a bit more than SGD100 per night, for an executive suite. My uncle got a free upgrade from a normal studio room to an executive suite! My family shared one room, the grandparents another and then my uncle on his own. The executive suite came with a bedroom and a mini living room, two televisions, a sofa, washing machine, microwave oven and even a kitchen! I slept on the sofa, and it was actually rather comfortable. :-) As for the washing machine, we originally planned to wash all our soiled clothes in the hotel before coming back to Singapore. However, the dryer function did not work properly, resulting in damp clothes. So, I would not suggest you rely too much on the washing machine, be it whether to wash soiled clothes or wash clothes to be re-worn the following day! The hotel also offers a buffet breakfast (two sets per room) and free Wi-Fi! The connection was strong and I managed to upload my photos on Instagram almost every night! Haha!

The toilet of any hotel room is the most important "room" to me. Fortunately, Adelphi Suites's toilets are impeccably clean and neat.

My bedroom, haha!

The first night, we walked to Terminal 21 from our hotel. It is a train station away, from Nana station to Asoke station.

Terminal 21 is an airport-themed mall, which every floor having a different country-theme. It is quite interesting, this concept.

"San Francisco"'s Golden Gate Bridge

We settled dinner at the food court, Pier 21. Apparently, it is very popular with the locals and has very good food as well! Most (if not all) food courts operate using a pre-paid card, where you pay for a card and then use it to pay for your food. At the end of your meal, you can collect the balance left in the card from the counter.

Pad Thai, 30 Baht. I put a bit too much chilli powder and thus my whole mouth was on fire. I enjoyed the burning sensation though. The only flaw I can think of this is that it did not come wrapped in an omelette, unlike the one I had in Chiang Mai the year before. :-(

My grandmother's hor fun. At first, we were all like "Why do you eat hor fun in Thailand??!" but then this humble dish proved its worth, tasting absolutely delicious. The rice noodles were silky smooth and the gravy was not too dense. A perfect match.

My brother's omelette with rice.

The mango sticky rice (30 Baht) was not bad. The mango was not very sweet, but the sticky rice was really good! It is about a seventh of the price of the mango sticky rice(s) sold in Singapore yet definitely tastier than their Singaporean counterparts.

I had a matcha soft-serve ice-cream from a little shop selling "Hokkaido Ice-cream" in, that's right, the Tokyo-themed level. The red beans were a bonus, for an extra 10 Baht. The ice-cream was really smooth and I could actually taste the fragrance of the matcha in it! It was my first time trying matcha ice-cream and definitely left a good impression.

After dinner, we went to a nearby supermarket called TOPS (?). The supermarket was not very "super", meaning that it was quite small and, to put it rather bluntly, rather "ulu". Altogether, we spent less than SGD20 there, buying essentials such as detergent, shampoo, water and other tidbits.

Fruits galore.

As we did not really eat much the night before, I was ravenous by the time morning rolled around. Imagine how the buffet breakfast appealed to me - just like an oasis to a parched traveler.

The fruits and salad table, which I was rather apprehensive of as there were flies flying about...

Cute little swirls of butter (a.k.a solid fats)!!!

Grilled potatoes, tomatoes and baked beans. I love love love the tomatoes and baked beans

Pork ham, bacon and chicken sausages. I took none of these fatty meats ugh.

Basil-fried minced meat and mixed vegetables. I loved the vegetables, haha. How weird is it to go to a buffet and load your plate with vegetables? Well, that's me! Peculiar indeed.

Pancakes and French toast. Meh.

They served green curry with chicken for breakfast!!! Of course, there was rice as well. I felt that the curry had too much of a basil-y taste to it, but it was yummy nonetheless. Just that I felt a little strange eating curry and rice for breakfast.

Sushi rolls (didn't take any!)

My first plate! I was too lazy to photograph the subsequent plates teehee.

The buffet also included an egg station, where you can order eggs done in six different styles: hard-boiled, poached, over-easy, scrambled, omelette or fried. I was intrigued by the thought of having poached eggs in a buffet and so ordered them. It was, however, a disappointment as the eggs were sour! How odd, and so I did not eat beyond the first bite. Sour eggs are definitely a bad omen. The scrambled eggs were the best, and I had two plates of scrambled eggs on the last morning! Do note to ask for less oil though, as they are very generous with the amount of oil that they use to cook the eggs.

Bangkok streets in the morning.

We took a train to Chatuchak Weekend Market as it was a Saturday!

At Chatuchak, just outside one of the main entrances, we met a group of Singaporeans and bought iPhone cases with them. Apparently, they had four in hand and the stall owner was having a "Buy 5 get 1 Free" promotion. So, they very nicely allowed me to buy "with" them and keep the free case! How nice, right? The funny thing is, we actually under-paid them, as it was really hot and crowded and our mental maths were not very sharp at that instant. We paid about 130 Baht when it was supposed to be 160 Baht...oops! Oh well, I guess what I'm really trying to say is that random acts of together-ness between fellow Singaporeans when we are not in Singapore gives me this nice warm feeling inside. I know it's quite cheesy but really, you can't help but go "awww", right??!

Anyway, we got really lost in Chatuchak as it was worse than a labyrinth. Somehow, we ended up at the pets section, and guess who (or what) we found...

THAT'S RIGHT! Deep-fried insects!!! It was so pungent and disgusting that I actually toyed with the idea of eating one just for the sake of eating it, but ONLY for a nanosecond. The insects were really gross and gave me goosebumps, hehe.

A man peddling his hand-made candy on the side of the road.

A mini food street.

Chocolate-coated bananas!!! Sadly, the bananas "weren't ready" when I went to order. :-(

If you go to Bangkok, you have to try their orange juice. The OJ there is squeezed from real oranges, with no added sugar or artificial chemicals so it is really healthy and really sweet as well! Just look at the intensity of the orange!

After walking for three hours, we finally found what we came for...

COCONUT ICE-CREAM!!! I see many people posting photos of this coconut ice-cream on Instagram and I just HAD to try it since I was in Bangkok. It is served in a coconut husk, with a few pieces of coconut and a free cup of coconut water. All this for just 35 Baht! I had two cups of coconut ice-cream, hehe. The ice-cream was smooth and had lumps of yellow in it. I have no idea what those are but they are really delicious, a great complement to the coconut ice-cream.

As it turned out, there was another stall selling coconut ice-cream right outside the other entrance of Chatuchak Market, and it is of the same franchise...oh well at least we got to exercise away all the fats!

Next, we went to Or Tor Kor Market, which is just beside Chatuchak Market. It is dubbed the world's fourth best market and we just had to visit it.

We bought a humongous Thai durian for only 300 Baht, haggled down from 600 Baht! What was interesting was the way in which they cut up the durian for us...

They place each "section" on a thin, translucent sheet of paper so that we may eat the durians without dirtying our hands. How innovative! The Thai durian is totally different from the Malaysian ones which I am used to. However, it's always good to try new things and I don't think that the Thai durians are that bad either, though I personally still prefer the durians from Malaysia.

Who can forget about the lovely Thai mangoes?

Mango sticky rice sold in packets for take-away.

These small pineapples are also perfect for bringing home. We bought 2kgs worth of these mini balls of yellow heaven.

The MRT in Bangkok also prohibits the bringing of durians on trains, hahaha. Note that there isn't a fine though...

In the afternoon, we went to Central World on the way to Platinum Mall. We were extremely fortunate as we got to take part in the Thai Food Festival held just outside Central World, for that weekend only! There was two long rows of famous sellers of Thai foods, making it extremely convenient for us to get our hands on good Thai food, assured of its quality.

The Food Festival at night.

Rum and Raisin waffle from the waffle stall at the Platinum Mall food court. I heard that it was very good but I found it a bit too sweet. It was coated in a sticky coat of sugar syrup and had sugar grains dotting it...a little diabetes-inducing, don't you think? Other than that, it makes a great snack!

Ah, who can resist a Krispy Kreme doughnut? Not me, that's for sure. We found (or rather, hunted down) a Krispy Kreme outlet at Siam Paragon but they were only left with (a whole display shelf of) original glazed doughnuts and these chocolate rainbow-sprinkle doughnuts. I had the original and my brother had...this. I prefer the original and would have ordered it even if there were other tempting flavours, anyway.

Instead of the buffet breakfast the next morning, I bought a matcha red bean bun to eat for breakfast instead. The red bean paste was very rich and you could actually taste the beans, but the bread hardly tasted of matcha. What a letdown!

We visited the Grand Palace that morning. We took a cab there, and the cab driver offered to drive us to the Grand Palace and then to Platinum Mall for 800 Baht. The entrance fee alone to the palace is 500 Baht per person! It was very crowded as it was a Sunday morning, and who other than Chinese tourists flocked the palace, causing a lot of noise and chaos all around. Do note that to enter the palace, you need to be properly attired, meaning that you have to wear clothes that cover up your legs and arms and well, practically everything.

Yes, the palace was beautiful, but the heat and crowd there made it rather unpleasant and my grandmother was visibly worn out. Maybe this is not an ideal place for senior citizens, especially during the mid-morning peak of the sun.

Lunch was at a Thai restaurant in the Big C building, opposite Central World. 

Tom Yum Soup (90 Baht)
It was a little too sour for me, but I didn't eat much Tom Yum as I was more inclined toward the green curry.

Fried egg omelette
This was so fluffy and so good and so perfect but also SO oily.

Deep-fried fish cakes
Not bad, but rather comparable to that from BaliThai or other restaurants in Singapore.

Green Curry Chicken
This was beyong awesome. I finished all the curry and just enjoyed drenching my rice with the thick green curry. Mmmmmm...

The total bill for a meal for six people came to be about 600 Baht, which is close to SGD24. You can't get so much nice food for a price like this in Singapore!

Treasure found in the Big C supermarket.

We went back to the Thai Food Festival across the road for a light dinner, as my uncle's local friend bought us lots of food to eat.

Very famous and very delicious Thai Iced Milk Tea. Thankfully I asked for no sugar, or I'll be in a sugar coma after drinking this.

Hand-down one of the best Pad Thais I've eaten, and only for 50 Baht (SGD2)! I got to see the lady cook this though, and a whole packet of sugar and three ladles-full of oil went into this...but it was split among ten portions. Ah well, once in a while it's fine to indulge in street food.

Fried fish (150 Baht, SGD6)
SO FABULOUS what more can I say. Although it does not look very appetizing, it actually had a lot of fleshy white meat under it, and its skin is very tasty too! It is also not overly oily, even though it is fried till a crisp.

Sunset I saw at the platform of the Siam BTS station.

Shopping haul from Bangkok.

I love collecting these T-shirts at each country I visit!

For your reference...this really helped me during the trip, especially in the planning of the itinerary! Feel free to download it!

All right, that's about it! In conclusion, I think that Bangkok is more of a destination for budget shopping as the prices of clothes here are really a steal. Food-wise, it is difficult to find a nice Thai restaurant so you usually end up in a food court, which is fine, but...

Oh, don't forget to sign up for a Thai massage as well! I had an hour-long Thai massage session for 350 Baht one night and it was unforgettable, to say the least. It is definitely one of the must-dos when you are in Thailand!

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