Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Bangkok…before the protests

In December we were supposed to visit Myanmar for work, but a little thing called the SEA Games put paid to that.  The South East Asia games are the Commonwealth games equivalent, and are being held in Nay Pyi Taw this year and accommodation was all booked out.  So at a loose end we headed to Bangkok for a week – its quite nice to have such problems.

We had an excellent time eating, exploring and enjoying relatively low winter temperatures which probably stayed in the 24-32 degree range, day & night.  On the bad side we were there as protest tension started to escalate and we were pleased to leave the day before things really got ugly.  While we were there the crowds were genial, but there was the potential for all sorts of unpredictability...as erupted the day after we left.

It turned out to be a food focused visit.  We eat well in Vientiane, but it was a treat to have more variety to choose from.  Thai/Lao food is always on our doorstep so we avoided ‘expensive’ local restaurant food – and either ate street food or happily paid expensive prices to get get our treat of ‘western’ food.

Highlights were a trip to Smith restaurant, a nose to tail meat restaurant which was appearing on a number of best restaurant lists.  Food prices were not excessive and the decor with it’s industrial feel was a interesting change.  There were meat-hooks (some just visible outside behind Andrew’s head below), and decorative knives and butchery tools.

We started with cocktails and moved on to boutique beers.  We did avoid the wine which was a bit overpriced.

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Here (and somewhere else we were drinking) the beer was served in a jam jar – a bit of a current Bangkok fashion fad.  Fashion over function, as the grooves around the glass rim are not ideal.

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The food was delicious and we both had the pork belly and the Eton mess to follow.  mmmm juicy & flavoursome strawberries, we haven't had those in months!smith
smith2

And our other western enjoyment was the Firehouse for a couple of excellent burgers, cooked medium rare, peanuts in the shell and happy hour beers. Oh, and waitresses all had really short skirts, if you are into that sort of thing :-)

Firehouse

But probably the highlight of that night for Andrew, was sitting at the pop-up street bars, converted VW combi vans.  Cheap Mojitos & endless street traffic, he would have been happy to spend more time there!

combi drinks

combi mojito

happy cmbi aj

And at the other end of the scale we ate plenty of street food.  It was all delicious, fresh and cheap, cheap, cheap.  35 cents for a tasty sausage, $1.20 for a plate of noodles….

While searching for a good street with a variety of food, I found reference to the local food tents – places where the locals went for lunch. So after a visit to the dentist for Andrew – supposed to be a cosmetic consultation, but ended up with an appointment for a root canal – we headed to one such ‘tent’.  With a large selection of vendors around the outside and plenty of customers, food was flying off the hotplate/wok/tureen and onto the plate.

food hall
  pad thai

And this was the best Pad Thai of the trip- $2, with giant prawns – YUM

Pad thai YUM

We wandered down a side alley in Chinatown and felt the heat of the fires under this noodle stand – from about 2 meters away.  The fires were pumping and the shop was doing a roaring business so we decided to join them.

noodles

noodles chinatown

So all in all, we can say we ate well, didn’t dehydrate and with all the walking that we did we must have been in negative calorie territory!

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