My first visit to Chinatown

Yesterday 4pm,  I boarded the village mini van and headed to the airport link station. This the start of my journey to Chinatown. I had no idea how long it would take and of course I was there way way too early…….changing from the airport link to the MRT and a very fast journey right to the end of the line . There I was to meet 29 other people for our food tour of Chinatown.

I sat on a small wall outside the Bangkok Center Hotel, the meeting point of our tour.

Soon I was joined by more people. Some ladies had brought their husbands, mums and guests. It was good to meet new people and exchange conversation.

Our large group was split into 3 smaller groups and we were met by our guide Olive. She was going to have a hard time as we were the group with food allergies. Some to seafood and me of course, chillies!!!! We were given history snippets while we walked. A very busy area and she was always watching out to make sure we didn’t get knocked over. Crossing the road in Bangkok can be quite a risky business.

Soon we came to this temple. I will have to return to go inside and view the 5 and half ton solid gold Buddha….wow what a sight that will be. Olive gave us the background to how the temple was built and why. I can’t remember what it was called now though. Sorry.

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Its a pity the light was fading as I sure this would have been a much better photo. The gold was amazing.

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Then onto the gates of Chinatown. Wow. The head of the dragon. I even got to stand on a special gold stone right under the gate. Apparently the story goes the stone is a supernatural stone giving you supernatural powers and a place to make a wish.

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Couldn’t resit really standing in such a special place. We were told to turn to the temple and face Buddha and make our wish. Lets see if it comes true.

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The detail on the carvings were amazing. Here’s a closer look.

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To the side of each pillar was a huge Chinese Lion. Olive asked us if we could see which was male and which was female. Turns out if you look closely the female lion has a cub under her foot and the male, can you believe it – a football……..

We took the path to the right of the gates, which is shaped as the body of the dragon right into Chinatown.

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Making our first stop at the shrine of mercy. Adjacent to the Chinese Hospital for the poor. Olive explained about acupuncture and cupping. I myself am having acupuncture for my poorly feet.  I have had acupuncture back in the UK and Chinese healing massages. They most certainly work.  There seemed to be lots of interest in alternative therapies among the ladies.

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The sun was setting and the lighting changed. The whole place seemed to come alive and the bright lights could be seen.

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I had been told Chinatown is hot, sweaty, congested but honestly I didn’t find it so. Yes, OK Thailand is nearly always hot but there was a good breeze. It was busy but not bad. I had expected a lot worse. There is so much to see. It seemed everywhere there were restaurants, street vendors, everybody selling their wares. I am certainly going back.

Our first stop was this stall Selling what I can only describe as a Chinese equivalent to donuts with green custard. The taste was amazing. You would never think to try green custard. It would be of course if you had any idea what was in the tub anyway. Here’s a photos.

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Absolutely divine. The owner (in the photo) had photos hanging up of himself, his stall and a member of the Royal Family buying his food. Olive told us he is the best. The custard was made from pandan leaves. So delicious. I can taste it now. You dunk your donut type treat into the custard. Delicious but of course very fattening. I tried to be good and shared one with another lady in the group.

Next stop was the red shirt sea food kitchen. Nothing to do with anything political just that each restaurant wears different colour shirts. We had a stir fry dish of mimosa (water vegetable) with garlic and chillies for the other ladies in my group. Followed by huge prawns and dipping sauce. There was also a chicken and mushroom soup. Delicious. It came in a steaming metal pot with a burner underneath and they had very kindly put the chillies in a separate dish so I could have some soup too.

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As we sat eating you could see at all the restaurants it was very busy. The restaurant over the street was the green shirt kitchen. Its a really good idea to find the restaurant you went to eat at and can’t remember the name.

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As you can see there was a lot going on. We were even subject of curiosity as people stopped to snap our photo. Maybe not seen so many western women all together??? just not sure as there was many Westerners (Farangs) about.

The next stop was the dumpling shop. Apparently a very famous shop.

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Again, how could you forget this chap. Certainly stands out. We chose bbq pork dumplings and some of the group chose the custard buns. I missed out as the other ladies said the custard buns were worth having again and again and again.

Then we went over the very busy main road. Olive asked the Policeman if he would stop the traffic so we would cross and bless him, he did.

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This was a shot taken as I waited for the pork and peppery soup. We sat on tiny stools and the smallest metal tables I have ever seen. Wow the pork was delicious but the soup unfortunately was too peppery for most of us and we all ended up having a bit of a cough. Remember to drink lots of water on  your way around. Olive made sure we got plenty of water to drink which was really thoughtful of her as it was getting very hot as the night wore on.

There was lots of fruit vendors around. Selling amazing looking fruit and fruit drinks. I got a big bag of crispy pears for 100 bhat (less than a pound in UK money). I could have bought loads but knew we still had loads to do and I didn’t want to miss getting to the MRT with the rest of the group.  There were some lovely strawberries. I had paid double just the other day and they were so horrible I had to put them in the bin. But these ones looked delicious

The next stop was Thai ice cream. There were some very strange flavors. From iced tea, coconut with basil seeds through to Lychee sorbet. I chose the last one. I thought the safest bet. It was I have to say quite good. One scoop being enough of course.

Then only a few yards to another stop for sesame dumplings in a ginger soup. It is a very popular Chinese dessert. I actually thought this was my favorite dish of the evening.

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We ended it rather strangely I thought with Dim Sum at the Canton House. Seemed to spoil it after having 2 sweet dishes but never mind. Only 2 ladies tried the fried jelly fish!!! I have to say, I passed….it looked awful. For those of the ladies that could not eat seafood. There was chicken and cashew nut, my favourite but alas, huge dried chillies in it. Deep fried sea bass with garlic. I was so full, I would have loved to have some but I just couldn’t eat another bite.

Then we meandered back to the MRT to end our night. I will go back as there was many shops with beautiful silk garments. Shops selling nuts and sweets and all sorts of things. Definitely worth another look and we only saw the main road through China Town.

Can’t wait for next months activity which is a visit to Jim Thompson House.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olive Restaurant, Ekkamai

We went a couple of weeks ago to Olive Restaurant in Ekkamai. Soi 12. Just off Sukhumvit 63. Its not only beautifully decorated. Like being transported back to Greece but the food was fantastic.  The staff were friendly and nothing seemed to be too much trouble for any one.

We were a very large group of ladies and how they seated us all was amazing. We were served Mezze, a selection of small dishes of delicious food. Feta and olive salad to start us off. quickly followed by dish after dish of tastes. Hummus, baba ganoush, hot pitta breads, tzatziki, falafel , crispy fried squid and so much more. The food just kept coming. There was certainly more than enough to go around. I couldn’t say there was anything I didn’t like.

Oh I nearly forgot to mention the wine. A good sized glass for only 198 bhat. What more could one ask for.

The meal was finished off with a lovely cup of coffee and baklava. Not to sweet and clearly home made. Delicious. I think I could even find this in my car. Not too far from us if the traffic is light.

I am now trying to arrange for my OH and I to go back and pay another visit. I have told our Arab friends about it as I think they will love the authentic food.

Well worth a visit.  Hope they don’t mind that I took a copy of their photo and put it on my blog

Rhonda and Peter pay a quick visit. Susan and Bill too.

Rhonda is my friend from OZ. Hope she doesn’t mind we talking about her on here!!! Yikes, sure she won’t mind.  She and her husband Peter come to their apartment in Jomtien  a few times a year. A couple of years ago I met them when I was learning to play golf. We have kept in touch ever since and before when we lived near Pattaya we would meet up and have lunch.

This time they came to Bangkok for the day. It was great to see Rhonda and we had a lovely lunch in the Greyhound restaurant in The Emporium Mall at Phrom Pong.  Peter had gone off to Chatuchak Market.

We had a lovely afternoon of chatting none stop.. Catching up and looking at photos. Ah it was so nice. Peter arrived a few hours later his back pack full of items purchased at the Market. I haven’t been as yet so next time they come back I am going to kidnap them for the day and they can be my guides. Some 8,000 stalls is a lot to get lost in.

We wandered through the mall and found another restaurant and stopped for a glass of wine for me, a beer for Peter and a fresh coconut for Rhonda. More talking and then it was time to say our goodbyes.

Why do I carry my camera and never get it out my bag???

Hurry back soon.

Then on Sunday I get a call from Susan (my aunt actually) they are in Hua Hin and are coming to Bangkok for an over nighter. I had always presumed Susan and Bill had been to Bangkok before. We arranged to meet last night for dinner.

So here was me all dressed up for a posh dinner!!! WRONG. They had brought with them their lovely friends Pauline and Steven. I must have appeared to be a right stuck up, fuddy duddy. No street vendor food for me after getting tape worms last year. No way. Plus being allergic to chillies is a real pain, literally.  Oh and did I mention I NEED air con all the time. I just seem to have one hot flush after another.

We wandered down  a street market. Haven’t done that for ages. There were quite a few good things on offer.  Bill and Steven looking at the girlie bars. We found a nice pub type restaurant. The Duke of Wellington. Western and Thai food ordered and happy hour drinks purchased. Ah…… I just can’t do without Air Con. They did have it on but with only 3 walls and an open front to the restaurant it wasn’t doing much for me. Again, why did I not get my camera out??

We left them to their tour of the bars and we headed off home in a taxi. What an experience that was. Sometimes the taxi’s seem to want to end your life before they even get paid. Wow, talk about hold on for dear life. OH said to give him a good tip as it may be the last one he got the way he drove. Probably be in an accident soon. Lets hope not. Don’t know why some of them have to drive so dangerously.

Good to get out and about.

Hope Susan and Bill got back to their hotel safely.

 

Marriott Night Out with the British Women’s Group

Welcome Back Drinks with a finger buffet in the Manhattan Bar for both ladies and their partners.

OH and I had decided since moving to Bangkok we had “dropped of the map”. I think living in the suburbs is a bit different to living right in the middle of the city. 1 mini bus and 2 trains later I arrived to meet OH at the BTS station. A short walk and we  arrived at the JW Marriott Hotel in Plon-chet.

This hotel is beautiful. We were not sure where in the hotel to go. We asked a hotel employee and he was happy to take us to the correct room. So efficient. Not just giving us directions but actually taking the time to take us up the escalator to the right place. Then very kindly finding a safe place for OH’s lap top as he had come from work.

We had a lovely evening and the finger buffet was really good. Not one thing had chillies in, which was a God send for me. I didn’t have to make OH the chief taster. All tiny morsels of food on sticks. From lovely sausages rolled in bacon to tiny curried vegetable pasties. Absolutely stunningly presented.

Waiters and waitress’s passed amongst us with silver trays of food and drinks or you could also go up to the buffet where there was smoked salmon, mini quiches etc etc.,  There were also tiny desserts of carrot cake,chocolate cake, fresh fruit and tiny glass’s filled with chocolate mouse. Delicious.

Good company and money raised for a good cause. Can’t wait for the next event.

I just need to be a little bit more outgoing and mix a bit more. I find it hard to approach people if I am not in a working environment…………silly me.

Now I wish I had taken some pictures too.

A trip into Bangkok for an early supper

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We decided that we would have to venture out into Bangkok. So last Friday in the afternoon I parked my car at airport link station and climbed the stairs to the platform. There are lifts but the stairs are certainly a challenge. Some stations have escalators too. Some stations have a lovely breeze due to the trains being run above street level on overhead lines, but some oh my goodness they are so hot. I don’t know how people do this every day.

OH is now most definitely a commuter. It’s certainly good exercise and the trains are lovely and cool with good air conditioning but they do get very busy at rush hour.

Anyway, I am digressing. OH couldn’t get away from work as planned so I decided to check out M&S inside Central (department store) at Chid-lom. I was so excited at the prospect of finding Per Una shorts and tops. Well, was I disappointed. Everything was crammed in and it was winter stock!!!! M&S would be so shocked to see their stock displayed in this way.

I thought I had been saved from stocking up at home on the underwear front. Alas no. The prices, oh my goodness, 3 times the price for shape wear knickers. Equivalent to 30 pounds a pair!! outrageous. I know they have to have them imported but really. So I guess I will be stocking up once again on my home visit.

I did come across a lovely cotton top from a different department so I thought I should treat myself and a coffee of course while I waited. A few minutes later and a phone call to say OH was on his way and I would meet him at the next station. I managed to get on the right train and off at the correct station. However, finding the right side of the main road to be on to meet OH caused a big telephone argument.

When people are doing this journey every day its no sweat. They know exactly which exit of the station (all overhead) goes where. I did not and found myself on the other side of the road with no way to get across!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how stupid is that you ask yourself. Up and down those bbbb….. steps I went back and forth. So I had to wait for OH to come and get me and show me how to get to the other side. I just know he thinks I am really stupid sometimes (well, most of the time probably).

It was hot and humid (just for a change) and we didn’t know where to go to eat. Again, with all the thousands of places to eat, how come we didn’t know where to go. We found one place but all it offered after 4pm was sandwiches, soup and salad. OH suggested a pub called Bullies. Just like stepping back into a Wetherspoons back in the UK. I had a chicken fillet burger and chips. Delicious and the wine was good and sensibly price too. The staff are efficient and friendly too.

OH had fajitas and a soda.  We wandered back in the rain to the Novotel, where OH had stayed for 2 months while I was looking for a house and finished off the evening with a couple of little cakes and lovely coffee.

Back onto the Skytrain and then airport rail link for our journey home. I think we were both exhausted. Have to have more planning next time.  Got me out of the house though

 

My first, my last and my only dinner party at this house

Finally after being her since February had my first, my only and my last dinner party in this house.

It was impossible before to have people over for dinner due to the horrible smell that enveloped the house in the evening. It would start around late afternoon and by 8pm the living area was smelling of drains. Despite the landlords best efforts to find out where the smell came from it remained a mystery.

Only with the heavy rains that we have had recently has the smell disappeared. So finally and before its too late I had some friends over for dinner. I love cooking and I wanted to try out two new dessert recipes, lemon roulade and an ‘easy’ peach tart.

Here is a picture of the table before everyone arrived.

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The starter and main course I had made many times before but making the new desserts made me a bit anxious. Turns out the lemon roulade was a real hit but we were all so stuffed we never got around to eating the peach tart. So here is a photo of the dessert that never got eaten. I was so sure it wasn’t going to work. I had written the  recipe down from goodness knows where. Mix to a batter the recipe said, well with all the milk it had said to put it in was so runny I was sure I must have missed some vital ingredient off the page. I had nothing to loose, just wait and see once it had finished cooking. Low and behold that extremely runny mixture had set. lets just hope it tastes OK…….

I did dust it with icing sugar but with the heat in the house (despite the air condition being always on) it just seemed to melt into the top of the tart.

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Wasn’t wasted though I took half around to Joan’s to have with our  coffee this morning.  Still never got to try it though as she had already bought a cake. Ah well, there is always tomorrow. Nursing a hang over today. sicky sicky……… too much red wine I think.  Just couldn’t face it this afternoon.

I felt fine this morning. Well I did go back to bed just for a wee while. Then we had yet another power cut. I was just about to go in the show when the power went off. I am digressing again….its the mind…sure I am going a bit doo lally.

Last night was a success. Stuffed to capacity and quite a few bottles of wine later I said goodbye to Joan. As we went down the steps what did I see but the tail of a snake!!!! Couldn’t believe it.

Managed to get Joan back up the steps and Cliff and Nok held onto Tess and Buddy while I grabbed my snake stick. Sorry I didn’t take any photos. It wasn’t very big thank goodness. It was black with yellow rings around it.  I managed to flick it out of the gate and well away from the cars outside. Lets hope it doesn’t come back. I hope it realises that I was not a threat.

My friends said I probably had paid it to make an appearance. They think I am brave to tackle snakes but I think its just your adrenaline kicks in and I fear for the safety of myself and my animals if I was to turn away and let it stay in the garden!!!!  Plenty of lights on outside from now on. Its just too close to the front doors.

This morning I looked up what type of snake it could have been.

Wolf snake (not venomous) or a juvenile King Cobra. I really do hope its the first option and not the 2nd as they say King Cobra’s have photographic memories and they remember who has hurt them!!!!! Hope it doesn’t got and find its parents and come back to get me. No wonder I couldn’t sleep last night.

 

 

Marriott Lunch

As I said yesterday I was meeting Joan for lunch at the Marriott. I had never been before so was really pleased with the hotel. From the outside I think the Marriott looks pretty dated. A concrete block of white walls with the occasional plants trailing over the balcony. As if some one had tried to soften the harshness of it all. Not in keeping with the look of a top hotel.

Opening the glass doors from the shopping center entrance – what a hidden treasure.
Now, this does have excellent customer service. The girls were dressed beautifully, paying attention to details, not a hair out of place. The warm smile and the excellent English was so charming. Their management should be proud.

The open reception area, with polished wood floors and high ceiling led to big chairs and small polished wood tables where we were to have our lunch. Oh but the wind…. goodness knows where that had come from. It was blowing a gale. The waitress happily closed the big shutters and she put us in a little corner away from the wind. The whole setting was beautiful even though windy. Those big shutter doors  led through to a beautiful pool area. Ah, what a pity it was so windy. We could have sat outside and taken in the morning sun.It was what I could describe as an outside in room if that makes any sense. You were inside but you felt like you could have been part of the outside.

We did have to wait quite a while for our order, the waitress came twice to apologise. Being kept informed was a good idea and the wine was so lovely, served in huge glasses that we didn’t mind at all. We had so much to talk about. When the waitress arrived with our meals, mine a seafood pasta and Joan’s a lasagna there appeared to be an extra dish of chicken Caesar salad.   They had given us a complimentary salad for waiting so long for our meal. How nice was that??

Polished off with another glass of mellow wine and a cappuccino I was content.

I always judge a restaurant by its seafood pasta (that is, if its on the menu). This came with good size scallops, large prawns and what I think may have been lobster pieces. Certainly not the normal run of the mill, clams and chewy calamari rings. The sauce was very light and the portion size seemed just right for a ladies lunch!!!

Off today to La Baguette at the Woodlands resort, so I will report later.

Shouza is coming to cut the grass today, but it looks like rain. Think it may be cardigan time again this morning.