Thailand


I’ve told you about my Thai “sister” before. We have known each other for 10 years now and talk daily (depending on how busy we both are). I was hoping to have time to stopover in Bangkok on my way to or from Bhutan but, alas, couldn’t fit it in.

I asked Lalida whether Cath Kidston bags were sold in Bangkok. She found out that yep, there is a Cath Kidston shop in one of Bangkok’s many shopping malls and asked me what I was after. I sent her a photo of the red bag you see below – but then didn’t get to Thailand.

Next thing I know, Lalida had secured the bag in a 25% off sale (bargain!) and was going to send it to me. I lectured her on not spending money. We joke about how I “lecture” when I’m telling her not to do this or that. Of course, she never listens!

So about a week ago, the lovely red bag arrived in New Zealand with a card that says If I Don’t See You Pretty Soon. This is also a bit of a joke between us as I visited Bangkok in 2011 especially to see Lalida but she has yet to visit New Zealand. I joke I am on protest, refusing to visit Thailand, until she visits us.

Meanwhile, this will become a much-loved and used handbag that will remind me of Lalida.

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On the suggestion of my blogging colleague, Marc of Creative Spark, I checked out Vanilla Cafe in Bangkok. It’s located at 53 Ekamai Soi 12, Sukhumvit Soi 63, Bangkok and the moment I walked in, I knew why Marc had recommended it. For me, it was a bit like stepping back into the 1950s (not that I ever lived in the 1950s but I’ve always liked mid-20th Century interiors).

The cafe itself sits next to Sauce, a bookshop, and both are located in a tranquil garden with a quaint path that leads to stairs that take you to Vanilla Cafe. The interior is full of mid-20th Century “antiques” like old coloured telephones; kidney-shaped low wooden tables; and vintage toy cars. The interior is light and spacious, thanks to the large glass windows.Thank goodness we visited on our second day in Bangkok because I heard the area where the cafe is located was later flooded.

The best way I can describe the menu offerings is a fusion of Japanese, Italian and American. I was eyeing off the desserts so decided to go for a toasted sandwich with some tempura-type chips. Pretty standard fare really. But the desserts – well, I had crepes with banana and caramel sauce. Sensational.

The service was pretty bad though. They took ages to bring out the food and there was hardly anyone at the cafe (I think due to the threatening floods). This is offset by the ambiance of the cafe though. Next time I’m in Bangkok, I plan to go back and this time take note of the names of dishes and the price. I also plan to visit the other two cafes Marc recommended: Spring & Summer; and Audrey Cafe & Bistro. I was disappointed about not getting to Audrey’s – thanks to Bangkok’s floods. But hey – great excuse for another visit to Bangkok.

Lalida and I enjoyed our time at Vanilla Cafe.

In Thailand, a foreigner is referred to as a farang. This term is used mainly for Caucasians and it depends on the context as to whether it’s an insult or not. More often than not though, it’s a neutral word and so I am the farang aunt for Peem and Poom. These cute boys are the sons of Lalida’s brother but I didn’t get to meet them when I was in Thailand recently. Peem (who is 4-years old) came to meet us at the airport but was so shy, he hid behind Lalida in the car and I never really managed to meet him properly due to Nam-tuam. I didn’t meet Poom (2-years old).

We gave the boys some New Zealand gifts – a soft toy Kiwi for Peem and a white fluffy lamb for Poom. Peem is staying with his father at the factory he works at due to the flooding, so I don’t have any photos of Peem opening up his gift. But here are the cutest photos of Poom enjoying his new friend, a New Zealand lamb. I LOVE the largest photo of Poom smiling at the lamb. Just too too cute!

I’ll be doing a post soon on a couple of fascinating places I visited in Bangkok: the Vanilla Cafe and Jim Thompson’s house. I’ve been to Jim Thompson’s before but I love going back every time I visit Thailand. Today’s photo shows the cafe, which overlooks a calming pond full brightly-coloured Koi.

 

Walking around Bangkok is always a feast for the eyes. In the most unexpected of places, you’ll suddenly come across some shrine or temple – in this case, a shrine to the Hindu god Brahma with four faces (which symbolize the four books of the Vedas). What struck me were the many small elephant statues at the base of the shrine.

Thai people are quite suspicious and believe in many guardian spirits or angels. A very common image I saw is the guardian serpent, Naga, whose job is to keep bad spirits at bay. You see Thais paying respects to all sorts of gods and spirits, including Indian ones.

And when a Thai person believes that a god or spirit has helped in their life, they pay respect through offerings such as food, flowers and, with Brahma, small elephant statues. I would love to have spirited off with a couple of the cute elephants, especially the gold ones, but thought that would be very bad karma indeed!

Rome had tempting cakes and pastries and Malaysia was equally tempting. But who knew Thailand would offer colourful, intricately decorated cakes. The attention to design and detail is very impressive. I had to take lots of photos to show you various cakes decorated with marine life and mermaids; people; cars; landscapes.

Some of the cakes had bright blue icing (a bit off-putting), whilst others featured gorgeous emerald green and buttercup yellow icing. I was sooooooooo tempted to buy a cake and see whether it tasted as good as it looked. My experience with Asian cakes and pastries is that they are often not as sweet as their Western counterparts and can sometimes be disappointing. Having said this, I scoffed a stunning mango pastry layered with delicately-spiced whipped cream in Malaysia.

I resisted the urge to buy a cake in Bangkok though. Serious brownie points to me! To give you an idea of cost, one of the cakes I was looking at weighed 2lbs. The Thais use the Imperial system of measurement so I have to convert this to metric…hang on…..that’s around 0.91 kgs. The cost of a 2lb cake was 1,100 Baht or around NZ$43.00. I reckon I’d pay that just to taste one of these sensational looking cakes but due to the floods, no time. I also spotted some macaroons, which I love, but also avoided these. Note to self: try to ease up on holidays and let go occasionally.

You know how I can’t resist scanning a menu – not for the food items so much – but for the spelling mistakes, grammatical errors or oddly-named menu offerings. Rome proved to be exciting – remember Chop Of Pig and Good Made Food?

Well, Thailand is just as good for it has Drunken Chicken. Yep folks: should you fancy a bit of chicken for dinner, you can have the usual – grilled chicken, stir-fried chicken, baked chicken, steamed chicken but why not step out a bit and have….drunken chicken!

I have no idea what Drunken Chicken is all about as I didn’t order it. I went for the stir-fried chook. But I had visions of some poor chicken having its fill of white wine and falling into the cooking pot in a drunken stupor.

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