01 Mar 2014

Bangkok by findingmomo

1/13

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The cab ride from the airport is harrowing, as the Thai-Chinese uncle tries to con us by backing out on his earlier promise to switch on the meter, saying he'll give us a better price by avoiding the protest sites at Siam and Asoke. I put our landlady on the phone so she can scold him in Thai hahaha. He switches on his meter after that and, seeing that we're Chinese, insists in Teochew, "You are Teochew too, right? I wouldn't have conned a fellow Teochew." Ya okayyy that's not how you were acting earlier uncle.

After checking in at our lovely studio apartment located right next to Thong Lor BTS station, we set out to explore the neighborhood and grab some lunch.

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Research has led me to decide on an eatery called Hoi Thod Chao Le for lunch. We're here for the hoi thod, or crispy oyster omelette. Read that the pad thai (stir-fried noodles) were good as well, so we got both to share.

The pad thai was just okay. The hoi thod, however, was glorious. The batter was fried to a crisp on the outside and encased a soft eggy interior in which fresh, plump and juicy oysters were suspended. I wanted to give a pat on the back to the aunty frying it at the entrance.

Beware the sweetened drinks - the roselle tea was supposed to help with digestion but I think it gave me diabetes.

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We head to Siam, site of one of the protests, because one of my favorite boutiques, Innit Bangkok, is at Siam Square. Vanity > Safety.

Turns out the protests happen to be dying down that weekend, and the mood on the streets actually seems quite... festive. Like a carnival. People are peddling all kinds of goods on the blocked roads and policemen are nowhere to be seen. Tourists are conspicuously absent from the usually crowded area as well.

I don't manage to find anything I want to buy at Innit this time, but the quirky streets of Siam Square are always nice to explore.

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First time at Chatuchak. It's a crazy huge weekend market that's divided into 27 sections consisting of 8000 stalls selling everything you can imagine, so if you're into this stuff you might want to set aside your entire weekend for it.

Despite its popularity with Singaporeans, I've never been here because apparently it's sweltering. But since there were fewer tourists in Bangkok due to the protests turning violent recently, I thought that this might probably be the best time to go.

Nope.

Relied on orange juice - which turned warm within 5 minutes of leaving the ice bath - and coconut ice-cream to stay sane.

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We've taken the MRT (not to be confused with the BTS) to Phahon Yothin station, where Union Mall is located. There appear to be a ton of apparel stores but for now we're in A&W indulging in typical Singaporean behavior, i.e. gorging ourselves on their curly fries and ice cream waffle.

By way of background - A&W used to be a popular fast food chain in Singapore but closed its last outlet here in the early 2000s. Since then they've become some kind of a pilgrimage destination for Singaporeans visiting neighboring countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand, where they're still operating.

Gone off topic, but you can read more about it here if you want: blog.omy.sg/jerome/2013/06/23/the-first-drive-in-in-malaysia-and-singapore/

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On the way back for dinner we had to transfer from the MRT to the BTS at Asoke interchange. Asoke was one of the major protest sites, but from what we'd heard we would be fine as long as we kept to the train station, which was above ground.

We peered down curiously from the station at the crowd gathered at Asoke intersection. Like Siam that afternoon, the mood was relaxed and almost convivial. Everyone was waving their arms along to a singer who was singing a patriotic song on stage. We stood there and watched them for a little while, and I found myself a little reluctant to leave.

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I've been craving the gai yang (grilled chicken) at Sabai Jai Gai Yang since I first had it five months ago. It's so good, especially when paired with the spicy and sour green chilli dip. You'd be hard pressed to find a more flavorful chicken anywhere.

We also tried the boo pad pongali (curried crab), which was decent. Would probably be more satisfying if they'd used fleshy Sri Lankan crabs instead of dungeness crabs, which have low meat to shell returns. And would probably cost thrice as much. I can't run a business.

Getting here is simple. Just alight at Ekkamai BTS and walk down Sukhumvit Soi 63. You'll see a signboard with a rooster on it on your left after a 10 minute walk.

We also saw a deep-fried fluffy cat salad on the menu, but weren't up for it. Let me know how it goes if you try it.

(I'm pretty sure they mean "catfish", although I guess I could be wrong.)