Loving Life

Monday, July 17, 2006

Bangkok - city of massages and spicy food

Jin and I along with RY and Lin made a quick weekend getaway to Bangkok (we managed to secure a good deal on flights at S$182 nett per pax several months back). After a quick check-in at the boutique Luxx Hotel, we made our way to nearby Chinatown for supper. Bangkok Chinatown is quite well-known for bird nest and shark fin soup noodles. Honoring our credo as newly certified divers, we decided to give the fins a miss and had a bowl of delicious and nourishing (although a bit sweet) bird nest broth instead along with interesting road side clear noodles (pictured) and wet fried rice.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Even though I've been to Bangkok many times, this time I thought it would be fun to do something a bit more touristy...so I booked all of us on a half day tour to visit the "real" floating market. Unfortunately the main downside to this was the 710am pick-up (groan!) :( After a 1.5 hour drive we transfered to a motorised long boat. Got showered with muddy brown river water but hey, guess that's part of the experience :). The boat ride took us through some banana and coconut plantations and we saw lots of locals using the same water we were on for washing (of all kinds and all parts =)).

After a short ride, we reached the floating market and were told that if we wanted to ride the smaller man-powered long boats through the market, we had to pay another 150baht each *grrr*..talk about money making! Anyway, part of being a tourist is being fleeced so we paid up. The boat ride was fun... I got to at least experience trading with the boat vendors who were selling all manner of food and wares. We bought a coconut and some local Thai delicacies. The rest of the story is better told through the slide show below :).

Siam Paragon
This is Bangkok's newest and if I am not mistaken - largest shopping mall. Very similiar to Taka and Paragon in Spore - except for their food court area. It's super huge! with tons of stalls. I was craving pad thai (pictured) so my choice was easy. We also ordered some really good fried chicken to share. Lin and RY bought lots for shareware too - fishcake, otak, thai mini sweet pancakes.

Spa -ing
One would have thought in the a city where spas sprout like mushrooms, you can easily get an appointment. How wrong we were..every other "nice" spa we called up that weekend was either full, did not have couple rooms or time was not suitable. In the end, we decided to try out the no name spas along Patpong and tumbled upon Green Leaf. It looked clean and the ultra comfy recliner chairs helped seal the deal. I went for the foot + shoulder, neck, head massage. The 2 hour massage was splendid and at less than S$30, a terriffic deal! We went back the next day where I had a repeat session of the same package..hey, who's complaining :).

Staying at Luxx
Luxx which I assume is short for luxury? is a nice boutique hotel off Silom street. Checking in was quite fast and we had to walk up 2 flight of stairs to reach our small room. Not recommended if you have lots of heavy luggage. The rooms were clean, nicely decorated and good enough if you only plan to sleep in it and not spend the whole day lazing in. RY and Lin were shocked when they were shown their assigned room which someone had forgotten to clean...the cleaner's mops and rags were still lying around! The nice staff were quick to react though and offered them the suite at the top floor which was HUGE. It had a patio, kitchen, separate living and sleeping space. Only downside was that they had to climb double the flights of stairs. heehee...oh, check out the cool bath tubs in our rooms :)

Breakfast at Luxx was a continental affair. You are given a slip of paper to tick off what you want to eat and naturally we went for everything - eggs, bacon, toast, cornflakes, yogurt, fruit, juice, coffee etc. Their crossaints were especially good.

Service wise, they did mess up on the breakfast timing but with pleasant smiles and accomodativeness, how can one stay upset. :). Not a bad place to stay if you only have USD58 for a night and want a clean bed, a hearty breakfast and somewhere with good access close to main tourist attractions.

Food-ing at Ishq
My colleague Myra recommended this place. Housed in a 105 years old Portugese Colonial residence, Ishq serves a mixture of Pan-asian style cuisine. This refers to food from Laos, Cambodia, Thai, Vietnam and SEA. For starters, we had the combi platter (pictured) for pork balls, springrolls, crab sticks and seaweed wrapped beef. I always say every meal should start with appetizers followed by dessert. Mains can be skipped and this should have been one of those occasions..not because the mains were not good..but just because the appetizers were yummier :).

The mains were quite standard - we had a banana flower salad..I first tried this at Ruen Thai in Suntec and I still feel that theirs is better than Ishq's - flavourful with tiny bits of shrimps. The one at Ishq just tasted ordinary (although I liked the spiciness) but portions were a good sized. We also ordered the duck confit, green curry with lamb and deep fried seabass. The duck was a tad too dry and some extra sauce would have been nice. The green curry had more brussel sprouts than lamb and curry..we actually ordered 2 bowls of rice to go with the curry but ended up not finishing the rice as the curry was lapped up too quickly :p. The seabass was quite interesting - they removed all the meat from the fish and placed the cube sized meat at the side for easy eating. It was cooked with lemongrass but I think garlic and onions would have made a nicer combination. We did not try the dessert as RY wanted to eat the sinfully good, condensed milk laden pancakes from the Patpong street vendors.

Oh, the ambience was really nice..classic colonial and the toilets alone made this place worth the visit :)

Final meal in Bangkok before catching flight home...
After squeezing in our last spa session at Green Leaf, we wanted some simple Thai noodles for lunch. Across the road was a Momo noodles shop. Momo essentially means instant noodles - the fried style. We were really hungry (it was like 3pm!) so I forgot to take pictures of the food..heehee. but the noodles, salad and tom yum soup was made for me..super ultra spicy! ..I paid for my indulgence in the spiciness with a fiery stomach all the way home :(.


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