My first visit to Chinatown

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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