Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Bangkok with Gusto (Part V)

5. Siam Paragon Food Court

I must admit to being squeamish about eating street food, especially in Bangkok. Thankfully, the flavors of the street-food scene can now be found in upscale malls, even one as upscale as Siam Paragon. Truth be told, we went to Siam Paragon only to shop but because we were starving, our first stop was the food court. My, what a food court!

We found a table at a Japanese place near the skewered meats so that we can try as much food from the stalls as possible.

I ordered an okonomiyaki.

My parents both had the wagyu.

Then we finally did some shopping. H&M was our first stop.

I bought this black and white Aztec-style shawl.

Then we were hungry again so we explored the top floor where we found this restaurant.

I ordered their specialty pork belly, which turned out to be one of the best things I’ve ever tasted on this trip.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Bangkok with Gusto (Part IV)

4. Asiatique

With our new friend Peera (left-most)

One of the best things that happened to us in Bangkok was meeting Peera. I found him while looking for a rental car. I sent a message through aaathai.net that I needed a vehicle for 5 people the following day. Shortly after, I received a message from Peera. Request granted.

Peera was at the hotel lobby way before our agreed time. He patiently waited until we were ready. He was supposed to just introduce us to our driver and be off to the office but he decided to join us for the rest of the day, which was great because he spoke English really well (he lived in the US for more than 10 years), was full of information and was very warm and friendly.

He took us to see the Temple of the Golden Buddha


The filigreed Temple of the Emerald Buddha


The Royal Palace (This building stood out among others because of its Western style)


And Wat Pho


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Bangkok with Gusto (Part III)


3. Chatuchak Market

I wasn’t a big fan of Chatuchak because, the first time I went there, my feet were already sore from walking. I couldn’t avoid visiting the second time, however. No amount of dissuading can make my family believe that Chatuchak is not worth the trip. Thankfully, it was our first stop so everyone was still in high spirits.


The Lumphini MRT station was a godsend as it was a mere five-minute walk from our hotel.


A quick transfer to the Skytrain at Kampheng Phet and we were in Chatuchak in only 20 minutes or so.

The first things that caught my eye coming out of the station were the leather goods. There were shoes, bags, purses, handmade sandals, all of very good quality. My pick was a black cross-body bag that was big enough for my iPad.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Bangkok with Gusto (Part 2)

2. Ban Khun Mae


If I didn’t love my brother so, I would have settled for the nearest restaurant I could find. It was, after all, six hours since our buffet breakfast at the hotel, and I was exhausted from the shopping in Chatuchak. But because I knew he so wanted to try the restaurant that my SIL recommended, I indulged him. So did my aging parents.


After the seemingly endless walking and asking for directions, we found Ban Khun Mae. The bad thing was, all the tables were occupied. Some groups ahead of us were turned away (or maybe, they backed out after being told how long the waiting time would be – I couldn’t tell). I picked a friendly-looking waiter to ask and put on the face that wouldn’t take no for an answer. I couldn’t let all of that exhausting walk go to waste.

Tom Yum

He came back to me saying he’ll have a table ready in 10 minutes. Even before the waiting time was up, a table was freed and we were able to place our order. Service was swift and I remember eating one good thing after another, picking mostly from the most recommended items on the menu.

The fried mushrooms from the recommended items. We also ordered fish, pad thai and a savory dumpling that was also recommended. They were all good.

One of the best parts is seeing the bill and realizing that, with all the things we stuffed ourselves with, we had to pay only the equivalent of P500 per head.


After dinner, we had to walk back to Siam Center because JM wanted to shop at Forever 21. Instead of going back to the busy main road, we took the parallel back road and realized that the route was less tedious to navigate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Bangkok with Gusto (Part I)

Red Oven Restaurant at Sofitel So Bangkok

My memory of my first visit to Bangkok was starting to cloud over, having happened almost ten years ago. I remember being booked in a tourist class hotel, making friends with a group of gay tourists who became constant company throughout the trip, getting the shock of my life in Pat Pong (that warren of street hawkers, raucous bars and raunchy sex clubs), haggling for a sarong at the night market, visiting Ayutthaya and being very tired from the long, long walks.


With my folks traveling with me this time, together with my brother and my niece JM, the pace was decidedly more sedate. We wanted to eat well, sleep well and shop every chance we got. Since my niece was with us, we made the obligatory visit to some temples to give her a whiff of Thai culture.


How cool is this ceiling?

This trip had quite a few wins in my book, convincing me that this bustling city certainly deserves a third look.

1. Sofitel So Bangkok

 The chic reception-area-cum-bar

I first read about Sofitel So Bangkok in Daphne’s Blog. I remember being completely taken by the photographs because of the hotel’s design aesthetic. An ambitious stab at multicultural, yes, but it works. As a collaboration between Monsieur Christian Lacroix and contemporary Thai designers, the hotel brought the best of Thai and French sensibilities, even a hint of Scandinavian. It could easily have gone wrong in the hands of lesser artists.

Some may be put off by the hipster vibe, but it is elegantly executed and not overly young. My brother, ever sharp when it comes to good fashion, couldn’t resist asking a male staff where he can buy his very chic breeches. Unfortunately, it is an exclusive design for So Bangkok by Monsieur  Lacroix.


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