Bangkok

By findingmomo

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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.)

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We walk down Thong Lor and stop by the aunty peddling grilled bananas outside Hoi Thod Chao Le. The bananas are sold in fives, which is more than we can handle. Because they're a steal for just 20 THB we buy them anyway.

I bite into one, and it's scalding hot and also kind of bland. Maybe we're missing something. Now we're stuck with 2.5 hot bland bananas each. That's what you get for being greedy.

We also see a sign that's very 50 shades. Hehe. #naughty

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We arrive panting and sweating at Thong Lor Soi 13, where there's a complex called Seen Space. It's home to a number of chic boutiques and eateries, and we're here for brunch at Roast.

Sadly there's an hour's wait to get into Roast, so we head to a cafe called Mr. Jones' Orphanage for some air-conditioning in the meantime. Been to the outlet at Siam Center and I think it's more gimmicky than anything, but it's the best option we've got*. The whimsical playland concept is lost on me.

While waiting for our apple and date cake (blah) to arrive we notice a tin mug filled with toy soldiers. That's when things start to get fun.

*Because I'd completely forgotten about After You cafe across the road! Ugh!

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Finally our wait for Roast is over. After the cake at Mr. Jones' we aren't really hungry but order a main and a drink each, plus a dessert to share anyway.

When my hugeeee breakfast platter arrives I realize belatedly that it comes with complimentary coffee and OJ. Together with the iced tea I had ordered I now have three drinks to myself. We barely make it through half the strawberry waffle, and I am close to exploding by the time we're done. I swear never to eat again, and manage to stick by this resolution for the next 4 hours :)

That said, the brunch items here are really good and reasonably priced. Just don't be greedy like we were.

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We flag down a cab outside Seen Space to get to the Khlong Lat Mayom floating market, and encounter our second rogue taxi driver of the trip. He takes us to a pier and tells us that we'll be able to board a boat to the floating market. The taxi leaves after we pay the fare, and we find out that the pier sells only Chao Praya river tours for exhorbitant prices (we're talking USD60 per person) and of course we refuse to buy into their ploy, walking angrily out of the place.

We then realize that we are completely lost. Double ugh. Thankfully we spot these two boys dressed in lion dance costumes who look like they're heading home after practice, and we follow them back out into civilization. We walk towards the State Tower (that towering building in the distance with a yellow dome) to ask for directions to the nearest BTS station. And to use the bathroom hehe.

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It's fun walking around Asiatique, which occupies the premises of a former port. There's nothing to buy here that you can't find cheaper at Platinum or MBK. We do however end up getting a couple of cute t-shirts for fun. Apparently it gets more crowded and vibrant at night, but it's not so bad to have some breathing space.

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We have walked from Wongwian Yai BTS station down Soi Charoen Rat 4 in search of dinner. This neighborhood has narrow roads but the traffic is constantly heavy because of its proximity to the Wongwian Yai roundabout circling the King's monument.

We were here for Somsak Pu Ob, which according to eatingthaifood.com (the Internet food guru of Thailand) serves the best goong ob woon sen (shrimp glass noodles) and pu ob woon sen (crab glass noodles) in Bangkok. Please, read more here: www.eatingthaifood.com/2013/07/thai-seafood-somsak-pu-ob-bangkok/

Apart from us everyone else was local, and they looked at us with placid amusement when it became clear that we weren't. One of the ladies speaks a little Mandarin, so she was assigned to us.

Expect a longgg wait because there's only 1 chef and he cooks just 4 pots of glass noodles at one go. I got so hungry I started crunching on the ice cubes in my Coke - a big no no at street food stalls, but my stomach took it okay.

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It's a 1.5 hour wait before our orders finally arrive. I think my stomach is beginning to digest itself (don't talk to me about science).

The extreme hunger might have clouded my judgment, but the goong ob woon sen (the prawn one) is one of the best things I've ever eaten. The massive prawns are succulent and smoky but the magic lies in the glass noodles, which have absorbed all the prawn juices they can hold, and the resulting flavor is... it's out of this world.

The pu ob woon sen (the crab noodles) is very good, but can't hold a candle to its prawn counterpart. At the moment I can't think of anything that can.

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Getting to Talad Rot Fai night market wasn't easy - we took a cab from On Nut BTS (pronounced "On Noot", in case you're wondering) and said "Seacon Square" and "Talad Rot Fai" to several drivers, even showing them the Thai translations we'd gotten the staff at the BTS station to help us write.

Took us about 15 minutes before we finally found a driver who knew where we were trying to get to. He took some seriously dark roads and I thought for a fleeting moment that we might be trafficked somewhere. Unlike the two taxi drivers we'd encountered earlier he turned out to be a decent guy, and we alighted across the road from Seacon Square, following the crowd across the footbridge and towards the night market.

The market was crazy crowded. Talad Rot Fai had a hipster slant to it, and there were things like from guitars to motorcycles to antiques being sold. Several live bands were performing in random cafes as well. There was also a shop selling lovely vintage skirts in one size only, as we've come to expect in Bangkok. When we asked about a particular skirt, the salesperson pointed at Weiqi and said "Too big", then pointed at me and said "Too small." Bahahaha rude :(

This is also not a place where you'd want to use the bathroom. Just sayin'.

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We settle down at a cafe decorated with retro ornaments for too-sweet milk tea and chocolate toast, which is blamed by Weiqi as the cause of the terrible bout of food poisoning that she later on suffers. Nothing happens to me. But it could just be me.

After what seems like an eternity, during which we have circled the market thrice, the bangles are finally ready for collection. Some girls choose to engrave their names on the bangles. Others engrave words they hold close to their hearts. I belong to the latter category.

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Weiqi left at the crack of dawn to catch a flight back home because of work commitments. Gah. I was on my own for the rest of the trip. Slept a few hours more before rolling out of bed for a swim.

Left the house just in time for lunch. The day before I'd noticed a stall at Thong Lor selling roast duck and I was craving that for lunch. Googled "duck noodles" in Thai so I could place my order. "Bamee ped," I tell the lady confidently.

When my order arrives it has me wishing I'd also googled "large portion" in Thai. The two skinny Thai girls next to me look perfectly content with their tiny rice portions. I ignore them and order Coke (non-light non-zero) to make this meal a balanced one.

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In the mood to look at sea creatures, I head to the aquarium at Siam Paragon.

The highlight of the aquarium is the two-storey high glass observatory. I sit on the second storey and look at fishes as well as the people looking at them. It's easy in a dark, quiet and beautiful place to feel lonely and emotional, so it isn't long before I move to the shark exhibit. I try to get a hammerhead to stay still long enough for a picture but am ignored. A nearby diver notices and swims closer so he can be in my picture instead.

When the fishes start looking delicious I realize I am getting hungry. I leave in search of food (Curses upon you, tiny bamee ped!) and am waylaid by Zara. My attention span is a problem.

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A recent House of Cards episode has made me paranoid about train platforms with no protective barriers. At Siam station I make sure I have my back against a pillar so no one can push me onto the tracks, and eye everyone with suspicion as we wait for the BTS train to arrive.

Thanks to my vigilance, my overactive imagination and I make it to Chit Lom station unscathed. This is the station closest to Platinum mall, but it's still a partially unsheltered 15 minute walk away. I wonder if there's a better way to get there.

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I was last at Platinum back in November and it was packed with tourists. Had to squeeze through a sea of people to get from shop to shop.

The crowd is gone now. Two people were killed by a bomb at the nearby Big C supermarket last week and most tourists are staying the hell out of this area. I don't think I'm being foolhardy - I'd decided to come here because as of yesterday protests in the city had been consolidated into a single one at Lumpini Park. And if you've experienced the warmth and kindness of the Thais, you'd know that it's atypical of them to resort to violence. The bombing was an isolated tragedy. Life has to go on, or the bad guys win.

But enough preaching from me. I breeze through three levels of shops at Platinum, stopping only occasionally. Too lazy to browse properly so after buying just one top I get bored and decide to cross the road to Petchaburi Soi 19 for some braised pork rice at the famous wanton mee place. It's closed for the day, and I am filled with sadness.

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Reeling from the devastation of a consecutive failure to eat the Pratunam braised pork rice, I am unsure of what I should do next. A row of tuktuks lined up at the side of the road catch my eye. It's my fourth time in Bangkok but I have yet to take one of these so I figure, what better time than now?

I haggle halfheartedly (so bad at this stuff) with the driver and he agrees readily to my quoted fare.

I climb unglamorously onto the seating area of the scooter and we're off. It's a bumpy ride, and one that exposes you to the sounds and smells of notorious Bangkok traffic. Still, as we speed along a highway, I find myself enjoying the rush of the wind in my face.

I strike up a conversation with the tuktuk driver, Pong, who's Laotian but came to Bangkok at the age of 13 in search of work. After working a series of random jobs he found himself driving a tuktuk, and he's been doing this for 15 years since. When he drops me off at my destination he asks if he can come by to pick me up again when I'm done, and I readily agree.

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I'm at Pad Thai Thip Samai, arguably the most famous pad thai place in the city. It's located in the same area where the Grand Palace is, and can be pretty hard to reach via BTS. Just hop on a cab or tuktuk and tell the driver "Pad Thai Pratupi" (which translates into the rather macabre sounding "ghost gate pad thai"). Most of them should know where to take you.

Rather than sticking with regular pad thai I have ordered a fancy version, pad thai haw kai goong sot, or jumbo prawn pad thai wrapped in an egg. There's an English menu with pictures so you don't have to worry about ordering. I saw more tourists here than at Platinum hahaha.

Be sure to try their orange juice, which is famous in its own right. Apparently the queen of Thailand loved the pad thai here so much that she gifted the restaurant with her secret recipe for orange juice and so they started selling OJ along with their pad thai. Sounds a little random and bossy to me (Would you dare not to sell OJ created and imposed on you by the queen?) but I'm sure the queen meant well. In any case the OJ was refreshing and sweet, so just go with it.

The pad thai arrived and looked awesome. Felt like I'd received a present wrapped in egg, and I saw the envy on the faces of the Korean mom and daughter pair seated next to me, both of whom were halfway through their regular pad thais. Go big or go home, girls.

Taste-wise it was meh. I didn't like how sweet the very orange noodles were and there wasn't enough wok hei (fragrance) in the dish. Underwhelming, but the queen's OJ saved the day.

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Pong was waiting by the side of the road when I left Pad Thai Thip Samai. He asked if I was in a rush to get home, and I said no.

Without charging me anything above our agreed fare, Pong took me on a short tour of the surrounding Phra Nakorn area. As it was sundown the attractions were already closed, but I saw the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha softly illuminated by the rays of the setting sun. Elderly people were sitting on benches in a park, chatting and laughing. It was a side of Bangkok that I had never seen.

When we returned to central Bangkok we were caught in rush hour traffic. By the time we got back to Thong Lor it was nearly an hour and a half after I had boarded the tuktuk. Feeling both thankful towards and bad for Pong, I gave him the extra cash I hadn't spent on shopping that day. It wasn't much money, but I hoped the gesture had made his day, like how he had made mine.

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I am feeling peckish as a result of the less than satisfying dinner I had at Pad Thai Thip Samai.

After alighting at Thong Lor I make a little detour to Mae Varee (the mango stall featured on Day 1) and grab a box of mango sticky rice. Most people would stop here but no, not I.

I see the famous food street at Sukhumvit Soi 38 from across the road, and suddenly it's like my feet don't belong to me anymore. They take me back up the stairs to the BTS station and towards Soi 38, and inexplicably I find myself joining a queue for pad thai. I order the seafood pad thai to go, and scramble guiltily and excitedly back to the apartment with bags and bags of food.

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Technically the mango rice is dessert, but judging from the serving size I think it's meant for sharing.

I tuck into the pad thai as soon as I've switched on the air-conditioning in the apartment. And taken the picture below. And washed the cutlery. Digressing again.

The pad thai is superb. Blows the one at Pad Thai Thip Samai out of the water. Warm, fragrant noodles that are firm to the bite. It's also kind of gross that this is my second pad thai in five hours.

The mango rice is also excellent. I took care to drizzle only half the amount of coconut milk provided but I think that was plenty enough. The crispy mung beans made for a delightful contrast to the sticky and chewy texture of the glutinous rice. Mangoes were fresh, soft and sweet. Amazing.

So happy so happy :)

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This morning I don't feel like waking up early, but the thought of last night's double pad thai and mango rice combo is enough to jolt me out of bed. I hit the pool and am alone once again. The other residents in this condominium don't seem to be fans of swimming.

Lunch today is at a noodle place called "Saew". I have followed the directions on this article (bit.ly/1yfLF0p) to a T, heading to the line of shops between Sukhumvit Sois 55 and 57, matching the photo in the article to the storefront before entering. Subsequent research however tells me that the real "Saew" is 3 streets away at Sukhumvit Soi 49 (4sq.com/1yie8pW).

Doesn't matter anyway. Imposter "Saew" serves great food. I wasn't about to repeat the same mistake I'd made yesterday with the bamee ped, so I point at the most expensive item on the menu, anticipating a large bowl of noodles.

For about USD2.50 I get a mix of handmade fish dumplings, fishballs, fishcakes and meatballs... sans noodles. Hahaha I must have ordered a soup instead. Zzz on the bright side at least it isn't fish gizzards or something. Also the mildly spicy and sour broth sure is tasty. Soul food. So good.

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Coffee break by li-bra-ry occupies a standalone two storey building. It has floor to ceiling glass windows and looks like a perfect place for whiling an afternoon away. When I'm there the downstairs seating is fully occupied, so they agree to let me sit at the loft.

I've ordered their signature waffles, which arrive looking like something stolen off the set of a sci-fi movie. My one regret is that I didn't pose for a picture with my hand hovering over them like there's a force field pulling them upward.

The crispy waffles smell and taste amazing. They have a soft interior that's just... intense kaya (coconut jam). I love kaya to death and would come back just to have these again.

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On the way back to Phrom Phong station I decide to go for my first Thai massage ever. Can't explain why it took me so long either. I guess I just never thought it necessary to splurge on something like this.

If anything, this establishment looks super legit. It's pricey by Bangkok standards but it's spa level service you get. A variety of massages are offered here: www.asiaherbassociation.com/en/shop/index.html. I went for the 60 minute herbal ball treatment on the staff's recommendation.

By the end of the massage I was a convert. All the knots in my shoulders were gone and I felt light as a feather. Smelt so good too, thanks to the heated herbal ball. The massage was so relaxing I fell asleep a few times.

As is the case with most full body massages, some parts of the session were a little intimate so nevernudes beware hahaha. Don't worry, the staff are all female and very professional. You're also assigned a private room, so there's no chance of anyone else walking in on you.

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I give up.

I've walked up and down Petchaburi Sois 5 and 7 at least 3 times, trying to locate P'Aor: www.eatingthaifood.com/2013/06/the-best-tom-yum-goong-noodles-in-bangkok/. Even with Google maps I cannot for the life of me find the place. No one here speaks much English but they try to help me as much as they can. "This close," says the lady at the pharmacy. But it's not 10 pm yet... I'm not sure if we understand each other haha.

Eventually I settle for a family-run restaurant, and the girl taking my order can't be older than 13. My orders are confined to the pictures of food on the wall. I point to what looks like curried crab over rice. She scurries over to the front of the restaurant to hand the order over to a teenage boy who's handling the wok like a pro.

The food arrives and it's... mushy. Haha. Gotta give credit where it's due though - if I tried to cook the same thing and fed it to someone I would probably land in jail for culpable homicide.

The mystery of where P'Aor is remains unsolved.

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Terminal 21 is a travel-themed mall next to Asoke BTS station. Visitors have to pass through a security scanner (I don't think it's functional) at the entrance of the mall, like at the airport. Each floor is decorated like a different country, even the toilets. Bit kitschy, but not a bad way to attract visitors.

I felt like catching a movie, but the cinema wasn't airing anything I wanted to watch. The first time we watched a movie in Thailand was interesting - While the trailers were playing before the movie a notice appeared on screen, and everyone (including us) stood at attention while the King's anthem was played. Political opinion may be divided but one thing that all Thais have in common is the love for their king.

With nothing to do and nowhere to go, my instinct is to head to the gourmet supermarket at the basement. I grab a yoghurt parfait from Red Mango on the way.

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When checking in I had told the lady at the counter that Weiqi had returned on an earlier flight and would not be taking the seat she had reserved next to mine.

Biggest mistake ever.

Had the worst flight of my life back to SG on SQ. To sum it up there was a man sitting next to me who appeared to have a flu and was sniffing a pungent ointment (smelt like a mix of rose syrup and thinner) throughout the flight. Couldn't ask for a change of seats because the flight was overbooked. I tried keeping my breathing to a minimum (hahaha ridiculous right) but the sickly sweet scent was so strong I could taste it in my mouth.

The stewardess serving us also largely neglected me in favor of the sick man, who was white. "Cheers!" she said with a wink after handing him his order of red wine, before she moved on to the next row without asking me what I wanted. This happened more than once. Didn't tell her off only because I was oxygen deprived hahaha.

Didn't touch the in-flight dinner at all - not that I was supposed to anyway, but still :( - and ran for the bathroom as soon as we touched down at Changi.

Haha sorry this journal has to end this way. It was a great trip overall but the flight back left a nasty aftertaste. Oh well. May the next flight be a better one.

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Chatuchak Market in the afternoon is where humans go to melt into puddles. Well as the biggest weekend market in Thailand people go there to score bargains, but it's too hot for me to even consider browsing. The only things I've ever bought here are ice-creams and cold drinks.

I came here last year, thoroughly regretted it, and somehow here I am again. This time we're here in search of THE famous coconut ice cream stall. Section 4, Soi 49, right outside the public toilet (sorry no other landmark hahaha). By the time we found it I was blinking sweat out of my eyes.

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The coconut ice-cream... melted really quickly in the brutal sun. I soon found myself drinking coconut soup out of a coconut shell. Objectively speaking it's good ice-cream, but there's not much of a difference between the ice-cream served at the famous stall and the one I had from a random stall last year. I wouldn't take the effort to hunt this stall down.

After finishing the ice-cream Sharon tried shopping for a bit, while I mostly skulked around looking for fans to stand in front of. We soon decided it was time to go and headed back to Mo Chit BTS station.

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All the indoor tables were occupied (gee, wonder why) when we arrived here at La Liart, a cafe occupying the same premises as Tokyobike. The staff were very accommodating and moved a table indoors for us.

We asked them for a dessert recommendation and the guy at the counter said "I like the chocolate banana bundt cake." Glad we trusted him. I also got the sea salt caramel mocha, which was as delicious as it sounds.

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Wanted to eat at a neighbourhood restaurant offering a spread of different Thai dishes but it was surprisingly hard to locate one in the vicinity of Saphan Taksin BTS station. Saw some street food stalls which were selling Chinese food like chicken rice and fishball noodles.

Walked down a few random sois before finally chancing upon this eatery run by a friendly married couple. The food was no frills and pretty tasty... just watch out for the spice level of the som tam (papaya salad). Incidentally the som tam was outsourced from the eatery next door haha. Common practice to do that here.

Overall it was a nice experience chilling here pre-dinner crowd, eating and watching television we didn't understand a word of.

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(...is how you cry for help in Chinese.)

If you're looking to go to Asiatique, a waterfront market, on weekend evenings, don't. Or head there in the afternoon and wait it out till evening. The shuttle ferry comes infrequently (once every thirty minutes) and is alarmingly overloaded. In the event the boat capsizes there is most likely not going to be a life jacket for you.

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Watched a morose clown twist some balloons glumly before heading to one of the riverside bars for drinks. A live band was singing indoors but with all the kids running around the place felt more like Hard Rock Cafe (gawd I'm ancient). Should've gone to the one next door with the outdoor band.

The accumulated stickiness from the day's heat is getting to me. Can't wait to get back to take a long shower. Oh Bangkok, you must know how much I love you to put up with your weather.

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As you walk the linkway from Chit Lom BTS station to Central World you'll definitely see the Erawan Shrine on your left - Buddhist devotees (plenty of Singaporean tourists en route to Platinum) mill around the Four-Faced Buddha, offering garlands and praying. The Buddha appears to be undergoing a facelift so uh you won't be able to see him if you're there right now.

Seeing this reminds me of Nepal, haha.

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Both times I've been to SabX2 (Petchaburi Soi 19) there's been a line out the door. At least the guy in charge of cooking the noodles is interesting to watch.

The crowd here is 90% Singaporean or Malaysian. Contrary to most online reviews, I don't think the noodles here are particularly outstanding. I returned to try the braised pork, and I did enjoy it. Servings here are miniscule, so you might want to size up.

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Central World is an impressively huge mall housing a great selection of brands. But I'm just there to use the bathroom. Hahaha. The poshest malls have the nicest toilets.

There's a linkway that leads from Chit Lom BTS station to Siam BTS station. It's a great way to see the heart of the city without suffering the afternoon heat.

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No escaping the sun now that I've exited from Ekkamai station - it's a 20 minute walk down Soi Ekkamai (Sukhumvit Soi 63) to Ekkamai Soi 12. Alternatively, hop on a motorcycle taxi to get to your destination.

This area, along with neighboring stations Thong Lo and Phrom Phong, have a sizeable expatriate presence. You'll never go a block without seeing a cafe here.

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Onion is a little boutique selling menswear and some really nice shades. Next to it is their cafe arm, One Ounce for Onion. I was the only non-local in a sea of hipster Thais, and that made me feel pretty good about myself hahaha.

I watch this couple in growing amazement. The guy is flipping through a magazine when their first cup of coffee arrives. The lady stands up, taking at least 30 photos of that same cup. Then an iced coffee is served, and she arranges that new coffee next to the first cup, takes a shot, moves one of the cups, squats down/stands up, takes another shot (repeat x30). By the time their food starts arriving I've lost interest but her boyfriend is still patiently reading. Poor dude's coffee must be foamless and lukewarm by now. I hope the lady's blog is successful at least.

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On vacations it's a constant struggle between not overeating and checking out as many must-eat places as I can.

At Wattana Panich, a 10 minute walk from where I had just ingested a whole waffle with ice-cream, I tell myself not to finish the whole bowl of noodles. Don't overeat. You're full. Stop. K just one more spoon. Gah. Maybe one more.

Before I know it my whole bowl is clean. Not a drop of broth is left. Why? Because the beef noodles here are just that good.

Must add that the huge bubbling wok of beef broth in the storefront is slightly hypnotic.

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Set out wanting to visit a far-flung cafe but ended up having a seafood lunch instead. Ah, the extent to which we get sidetracked.

In anticipation of a seafood feast, the Chinese dude at the adjacent table starts clipping his nails. Easier to eat crabs with short nails I guess, but surely there's a better time and place to do that...

This place is really popular with tourists. On the bright side it means they have English and Chinese menus. I thought the curry crab was pretty good. The rest of the food was just okay. They also served me an unchilled coconut, and brought me two ice cubes when I asked if I could swap it for a cold one. Not cool.

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The Honey Shibuya toast at After You is highly raved about online, but I'd advise you to save your calories for something else. Glad we ordered the miniature version to share. The complimentary free flow tea they offered was the best thing about this place.

Followed this up with an order of curly fries at A&W across the street. This one always hits the spot.

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Som Tam Nua's fried chicken is, as always, mindblowing. Incredible stuff.

As its name suggests, this place is known for its som tam (papaya salad). We ordered the salted crab version. Rather unfortunate that the crab was raw and black so it kinda resembled a spider... you can see some of it in the picture below. Maybe stick with the salted egg som tam.

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Settled down at the Japanese cafe and got us some (er, more) dessert. The strawberry daifuku was marvelous, but the crepe cake was a little heavier than most Japanese pastries are.

Will definitely return to try the bake shop! Incidentally this place is located along the same soi as One Ounce for Onion (bonjourn.al/journal/6845-bangkok/entry/26656-fascinating).

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On the same flight back as the one I took on my second leg returning from Kathmandu -> BKK -> SG. Thai Airways is one of my top 3 airline choices. This was such a different vacation from the previous one too hahaha - lots of eating and relaxing and frivolity! Which we all need from time to time. Also a little too much sun X_X

Thank you for always being awesome Bangkok! See you again soon ;)

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Back in one of my favorite cities.

My flight landed to coincide with the evening rush hour, so I decided taking the Airport Rail Link into town would be a better idea than being stuck in a cab for three hours.

Caught a glimpse of the dying embers of sunset as I walked from Makkasan station to Phetchaburi station. I also stopped on the bridge to watch commuters catch their train home.

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Took a long walk down Sukhumvit Road before randomly turning into Soi 31. Tried to get a massage slot at Asia Herb Association but they were booked out till 10.30pm.

So I retraced my steps to Isao, a place I remember hearing serves the best maki rolls in Bangkok. I ordered their signature Jackie rice roll, which is stuffed with tobiko (flying fish roe), tempura, avocado and wrapped with sliced prawns. Once you get past the fact that your maki roll is smiling at you, you'll realize Jackie really is worth all the hype - it's delicious.

I also had the sushi sandwich (spicy minced salmon and tuna on the inside!) encrusted with tenkasu aka tempura bits, as well as six gyozas, which were fried to crispy and juicy perfection.

Ended up with a distended belly and zero regrets.

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After Jan was done with his work dinner we headed to Thong Lo to check out this place called The Iron Fairies. It's a bar modelled after an ironsmith's workshop, with little bottles of glitter they call fairy dust placed in nooks and crannies. Be careful not to hit your head against one of the many wrought iron staircases or pipes all around the place. I visit cool places and then wreck my own street cred by sounding so uncool.

Cocktails were good! I had a watermelon daiquiri with "fairy dust" burnt marshmallow. Cute name.

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My first taste of kanom krok bai toey at a night market in Ayutthaya a few months back was unforgettable. After snoozing long enough this morning to feel grossed out by myself, I decided this kaya sweetmeat pastry was worth travelling to the Siam area for. Well it's not that long a commute from Nana, where I'm putting up at this trip, but the heat makes each step ten times more painful.

I'm glad I did it anyway, because the kaya kueh they sell at Siam Pandan is SO, GOOD. EACH LITTLE KUEH IS INCREDIBLY CHEWY AND KAYA-INFUSED. MY EXCITEMENT CAN ONLY BE EXPRESSED IN CAPS. But I died and went to pandan heaven after biting into one of them fresh off the grill. Please please you have to try these.

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Was a question that flashed briefly across my mind as I sat at Som Tam Nua, just round the corner from Siam Pandan. Oh well, it's not always that I'm in the neighborhood.

Som Tam Nua is a place I'd covered in my previous entries, but to recap - it's a place specializing in different kinds of som tam (raw papaya salad), but I'm really here for their chicken wings, coated in some kind of bewitching garlicky batter.

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The branch at Sukhumvit Soi 24 only had slots for foot massages so we got them to help book massages at their Thong Lo (Soi 55) branch, and then took a cab there.

All this might seem like a lot of hassle to go through for a massage when you can just walk into any of the hundreds of parlors lining Sukhumvit, but trust me when I say nothing beats the experience you'll get at Asia Herb Association. I walked out after my herbal ball massage feeling both relaxed and energized.

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Since we were in the area we popped by One Ounce for Onion (more for the a/c than anything, really) and then went to Vanilla Garden. We chose Vanilla Bakeshop to settle down at because I'd already tried the cafe, and there we ordered a fancy cronut dessert to share. The cronut was okay, and I enjoyed the burnt sugar layer on it but failed to appreciate the combination of vanilla ice cream and vanilla sauce.

Their drinks were hugeee as well, though I wish I'd finished less of my tea - should've known the Uber we were taking out of here was going to be stuck in a jam.

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We got an Uber to the Rod Fai night market, and the traffic crawled painfully on the last leg of the journey. We both really needed the toilet so we asked the driver to let us off at nearby Seacon Square, and after we left the mall we ended up taking a really circuitous detour to the market, which only has ONE entrance oh tragedy of tragedies. I'm usually very okay with walking but you must understand that it was 36 degrees (C of course) out ughhhh Bangkok I love you but why is your weather like so??

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Jan suggested heading to Chinatown for breakfast. There are a number of stalls here known for their kway chap (also a common breakfast dish in Singapore), which consists of flat rice noodles in broth served with pork. I'm familiar with the brown herbal kway chap broth but it was my first time encountering rolled rice noodles in a clear, peppery soup. I liked the kway chap here at Nai Ek Rolled Noodles well enough but I have to say that the crackling roast pork stole the show entirely.

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Just a few doors down from Nai Ek is a fishball noodle stall apparently famous with locals and tourists alike. The Chinese words on the signboard say 黄炳春鱼丸 which uh translates to Huang Bing Chun Fishballs? Haha you'll be better off noting that it's right across the road from Hotel Royal.

I thought these were okay - the thin yellow noodles were wonderfully springy and were accompanied by a pretty decent assortment of fishcakes. I've probably been spoiled by the bak chor mee back home, though...

We walked around the nearby market for a bit, stopping only to grab some groceries and a packet of khanom bueang (crispy coconut pancake) before hightailing it out of there for the air conditioned comforts of our hotel.

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People who have two breakfasts in one morning don't deserve to have lunch. Still I'm glad we had an undeserved lunch at Greyhound Cafe, a popular modern eatery with one of the most extensive menus I've seen. We took ages just going through the menu once. I definitely recommend the wings here - also this is the third time I'm having fried chicken in just over 24 hours...?

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