Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Photobloggish Bangkok

Useful information picked up this trip:

Arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport
There are several immigration counters which may not be visually apparent on approach. The less obvious ones are less crowded. All immigration counters lead to the same baggage hall so it does not matter which one you go through.

Tourist Information
Exit the baggage hall through Gate C for the Official Tourist Authority of Thailand counter.

Official Airport Bangkok Map
The Official Airport Bangkok map was good for a higher bird's eye view of Bangkok City
River Route, Official Airport Bangkok Map
and for a special map of the Chao Phraya River route.

Bangkok Map and Airport Guide
The Bangkok Map and Airport Guide contained a detailed layout of the Khaosan area. Useful if you were staying there.
Khaosan Map, Bangkok Map and Airport Guide

The most useful map for me was the Official Bangkok Map. My backpocket copy was torn and sweat-soaked and politely declined to have its photo taken.

Local Telecommunications
Check out DTAC or AIS counters for pre-paid SIM cards for local call and international calls. Works out cheaper than Singapore roaming charges.

Getting from the Airport to the City
The connecting train line isn't anywhere near completion yet so the best option is to hop into a cab. The over-helpful AOT chaps standing outside Arrivals will ask if you want a taxi, by which they mean the uber-expensive airport limousine. Ignore them and head to the public taxi queue just outside the door nearest to the Official Tourist Authority of Thailand counter. (This is the most convenient one after picking up your maps but there are several others further down as well.)
Taxi Ticket, Suvarnabhumi Airport
The public taxi queue system is designed to check those iconic Bangkokian tourist scams. Tell the first person at the table your destination. He/she will write this on a piece of paper and give this to the person 3 metres away who will be waiting at the head of a line of taxi drivers. He/she will issue you an official taxi ticket with the details of your taxi driver. You can use this form to complain about unsatisfactory service.

Taxi charges = meter charge + 50 baht service fee + all expressway toll charges

Getting around the City
Forget about taxis and tuk-tuks especially during rush hours unless there's a movie you want to watch on the new cheapcheap handheld DVD player you purchased from Pantip Plaza.

The BTS and MRT train lines service most mall-shoppers' needs. Staying in accommodation near a station would cut down on transportation time and cost.

View from Baiyoke Sky Hotel
Kind friends let me bunk in with them in their twice-upgraded junior suite in Baiyoke Sky Hotel so I wasn't about to complain about the distance to decent public transportation.

Insectile Evening Snacks
Besides, there were crunchy evening snacks to be had at Pratunam Market below.

This quick pop-in to Bangkok, I wanted to get a taste of street food and a look-in on local hangouts (cf "farang-friendly" can't-tell-which-country-we're-in placezzz). The BTS and MRT weren't too helpful for that sort of thing, but the local chaps on motorbikes and the river boats were totally ace.

River Taxi Along Khlong Saen Saep, Bangkok
We got to the Saochingcha area around City Hall by riverboat from Pratunam to Golden Mount. The Official Map of Bangkok had a list of the stops along Khlong Saeo Saep. We jumped onto a boat in the general direction we were headed, told the conductor hanging off the side of the boat wearing a motorcycle helmet (assumedly to avoid a fracture from konking his cranium on overhanging structures) where we were going and paid the fare (10 baht).

River Taxi Life Jackets!
Oooh, lifejackets.

River Taxi Pulley System to Keep Out Splashes
Pulley system to keep out splashes.

Lady Along Khlong Saen Saep
Halfway through the journey, the boat-driver stopped along the route to have a chat with this lady...perhaps discussing his dinner?

Disembarking near the Golden Mount, an overfriendly chap told us that such and such a temple on the far side of Bangkok was "open for one day only for tourists" and then tried to charge us 50 baht for his kind advice.
Glory Glory Man United
We smiled blur buddha smiles and wandered off past the woodwork street,

Do Not Sit On Golden Idol
past the golden buddha idols (who will have you know: NO CAN SITZ!), to City Hall, where we were disappointed not to find any rioters.

Rioters outside UK Embassy
They'd all probably adjourned to riot outside the UK embassy, which I'd mistaken that morning for a yellow-themed mardi gras, on account of the people selling clappers and feathered bunny ears. So regretfully, no kicking screaming rioter could be acquired for the B who'd requested for one.

Niyom Pochana (109 Thanon Mahannop)
The "red pork" at Niyom Pochana (109 Thanon Mahannop. "Thanon" = "road" in Thai), as recommended by, was actually char siew.
"Red Pork" at Niyom Pochana
This version wasn't too bad for 30 baht but nothing Hong Kong Roast fans would make a destination of.

Just down the road on the opposite side was a cornershop selling good stewed pork noodles.
Stewed Pork Noodles, Thanon Mahannop
We were given the option of soup or "sticky soup" (35 baht each). The stewed pork was in the same style as beef noodles of a similar glutinous look with shreds of preserved veggies but this dish was sprinkled with toasted sesame seeds and accompanied by a spicier chincalok-like dip.

Coffee Lady, Thanon Mahannop
Next to the noodle shop was this coffee lady selling the best coffee I'd ever tasted from Nescafe Gold fundamentals. She used a coffee sock for the coffee and mixed it with some boiled milk which was bubbling in a great vat at the front of the store and evaporated milk from a can.
Really Good Iced Coffee, Thanon Mahannop
The iced coffee (25 baht) totally hit the spot on a hot afternoon.

Gai Yang Boran Barbecue Chicken
Down the road and a left turn at the Chinese temple was Gai Yang Boran for traditional barbecued chicken (240 baht for a whole chicken).
Gai Yang Boran Barbecue Chicken
This was alright but would be nowhere near the tastiness of the Isaan-style fried chicken of the next day.

Scooping Up Sticky Rice at Kao Neeo Korpanich
Further down the same road, Kao Neeo Korpanich had been specializing in sticky rice for 75 years. Mango sellers stationed themselves strategically just outside to provide the fruit for the popular Thai dessert (60B – ouch but the customers kept coming).
Sticky Rice and Mango at Kao Neeo Korpanich
Here I distinguished myself by heaving my grubby pack and bottom onto the table I'd mistaken for a bench.

Kao Neeo Korpanich
431 - 433 Tanao Road
Saochingcha Pranakorn
Tel: 02221 3554

Coconut Ice-cream at Nattaporn Ice-Cream Shop
A short distance away, 2 girls washing disposable plastic cups for reuse fronted the Nattaporn ice-cream shop. The only flavour available here for the last 60 years had been coconut. This was topped with jackfruit, sweet potato, kidney beans, barley and sweet corn (35 baht).

The Platinum Fashion Mall
The streetfood carts around Bangkok Bank would only come out after 4pm so we headed back to collect to shopaholics from The Platinum Fashion Mall: the fashion and bag sections of Chatuchak stacked into 6 stories and a basement and air-conditioned. The mall is touted as a wholesale centre. Previously, getting a wholesale price meant buying 3 items. In these difficult times, some shops have reduced the quota to 2.

Little Bunnies in Little Dresses, Platinum Mall
Outside, in the evening, there was a lady selling little bunnies in cute dresses. Naturally, this attracted a crowd of coo-ing girls and the SPCA calvary had yet to ride up to put a stop to this spectacle.

Seafood Alley, Outside Construction Site Near Central World
Between Platinum to Central World was a crowded row of nighttime seafood carts complete with drool-inducing smoking charcoal barbecues.

Somboon Seafood, Patpong
Greatly regretted not stopping for dinner after the rather bland affair at Somboon Seafood, Patpong. ("Ha, Somboon Seafood, only for big tour groups," a taxi driver had sniffed, "all seafood same same.")

Motorbike Taxi, Bangkok
Another day, a short pillion-ride on a motorbike (10 baht) from Ari BTS brought me to Baan Mae Yui, a local eatery recommended by Adri of Popagandhi.
Baan Mae YuiBaan Mae Yui
Cheerful "garden setting".

Ice + Lemon + Tea, Baan Mae YuiIced Lemon Tea, Baan Mae Yui
DIY Ice Lemon Tea (30 baht)
The waiters were uniformed, there was an open kitchen containing cooks in chef hats, and the layout spoke of money possibly having gone to a brand consultant. Dishes were 40-140 baht. Tasty but accompanying piped-in easy jazz could not disguise lack of wok hei. Ice-creams (30 baht) were good for the heat, especially the Thai tea and coconut flavours.

Baan Mae Yui
53/1 Soi Areesumpan 1,
Phaholyothin Road,
Phaya Thai
Tel: (02) 619.9952
10 am to 9pm

Fried Chicken, Soi Polo
A saunter away from the rioters at the UK embassy, down Wireless Road, before Suan Lum Night Market was some very good fried chicken in Isaan style (160 baht for whole chicken) along Soi Polo. The skin was fatless and meltingly crisp and the flesh underneath, fresh and tender. Slightly salty and very good with hot sticky rice (10 baht).

Kai Thort Jay Ki (Soi Polo)
137/1-2 Soi Polo
7am - 10pm

Dinner at Siam HouseSiam House Business Card
S's recommendation of Siam House for dinner was spot-on. The olive rice, shrimp rice, green curry, fish cake, tom yum soup were all delicious.

It was particularly apt that we'd been reading Luke 12:13-21 on the smugly but erroneously self-satisfied rich fool and were moving on to Luke 12:22-34 on fretting about food. But that's probably another post.

Goodbye Bangkok
Ciao Bangkok. NB: Liquids can be brought in past immigration and only have to be tossed at the boarding gates so with a little forward planning, you can avoid paying 40 baht for water and 190 baht for very bland tom yam soup at Mango Tree.



At November 08, 2008 1:39 pm , Blogger QuaChee said...

love yr photos - esp the ones in the places you eat :)


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