Before I launch into a food-filled monologue, I want to do a bit of cross-promotion for an Australian travel blog that we’re really enjoying.
My cousin Brodie and her family – husband Grant, 10 yr old son Sidney and 7 yr old daughter Meg – are doing a camping trip through outback Australia. They left Sydney a few weeks ago, drove across to Adelaide and caught up with us and my family, then headed north. While they’re away Sid is writing a blog and adding some really lovely photos of the places they visit. They were at Uluru a bit over a week ago when it rained , and saw The Rock with water flowing down it, something that very few people ever get to see.
On Thursday we visited Pantip Plaza, which used to be The Place for geeks to go and look at all the latest computer whizzery, buy software and computer games and generally just soak up the atmosphere in the multi-level Temple of Geekdom. Now, it’s all very quiet with many stalls and shops closed and not many people around. There was a very ‘girly’ shop on the first floor selling makeup and cosmetics and I figured that the girlfriends went there while their boyfriends shopped at the computer places.
Then we went to Victory Monument to find ‘boat noodles’ which are sold on a nearby canal. Another excellent tip from Sam and Brianna. There’s a little stretch along the canal known as ‘Boat Noodle Alley’ and we found Rua Thong, “Golden Boat” Noodle Shop. It was packed with locals slurping their way through assorted bowls of noodles, so we took a number and waited for a table. We really didn’t know how to order, so just picked out a couple of different bowls from the menu which offered a choice of 12 variation of dry noodles or noodles in soup. And then we had a couple more after that. I asked a waitress how the other tables had so many bowls and she waved her hand over the whole menu, so it seems like the proper way to order is to just get one of everything on the menu. Large groups would order multiples of the set of 12. So now we know for next time. At the end of the meal, they just count up the number of bowls stacked up – 12 baht / 50c each. We were the only Westerners in the place, which always makes me feel like we’re doing it right.
We had dinner at our old favourite Cabbages and Condoms in Soi 12, just a couple of streets from our hotel. We have visited every time we’ve been in Bangkok and went to one in Chiang Rai too. My mum recommended it as she and her friend had visited when they did a trip to Thailand in the late 90s. It was set up by a philanthropist to promote the Safe Sex message, and some of the profits are directed towards development programmes initiated by the Population and Community Development Association. At the end of the meal, they give out condoms instead of after-dinner mints, and there’s a gift shop that sells a range of condom-themed stuff in addition to some lovely things made by local craftsmen. Mum still has a drinking glass decorated with condoms!
Lovely atmosphere and good food – Greg always has the pineapple fried rice, I always have the Mee Krob fried noodles with prawns, and we had a few other things too – Miang Kham betel leaves topped with shallots, ginger, dried shrimp, toasted shredded coconut, lime and chillies, plus a stir-fried pork dish and banana fritters.
Greg has reconnected with a friend from Uni. Thanks to Facebook they are back in touch after 40 years! Liam and his partner spend quite a lot of time in Bkk, and he recommended a restaurant on the other side of the Chao Phraya river. So we decided to go there for lunch yesterday. We took 2 Skytrains, a Grab ride (the local version of Uber) then a bit of a walk down tiny lanes, got lost and misdirected a couple of times and finally found Bahn Phleon Dee restaurant on a canal. If we’d known what we were doing, it might have been easier to get there by canal boat … but maybe not with our non-existent Thai.
Wow, what a gem of a place to eat! Best food we’ve had here. Prawn cakes, fried rice with chicken and stir-fried prawns. But here’s the best bit – Greg put a photo of me sitting at a table near the water on Facebook, Liam saw it and used Facebook messaging to phone Greg from Bulgaria, and they had a long chat for the first time in 40 years! How cool is that?!
Liam gave Greg lots of good advice on places to go and things to do, so after lunch we visited the Royal Barge Museum which has a lovely display of current barges and fragments old barges, many of which were destroyed during WW2. It cost extra to take photos, so we didn’t. Here’s a Wiki article instead
Next on the list was a visit to Wat Saket, the Temple of the Golden Mount. Built on a hill, it offers a great view of Bkk. We walked on a bridge back across the Chao Phraya river, then along a couple of canals, but by the time we got to the temple it was after 5pm, so we’ll have to go back another day. We took a canal boat from Phan Fa Lilat pier part of the way back to the hotel and the difference between catching a boat and catching a Skytrain was incredible, especially at peak hour. The canal boat was almost empty, and it was a great trip, where we got to see a part of Bkk that is only visible from the water. We got off at Prutnam Pier and joined the throng of people walking along Ratchadamri Rd to Chit Lom Skytrain station. Caught an absolutely packed skytrain – so full that at the next station the platform conductor wouldn’t allow anyone else onto the train!
We just walked down the road to one of the many restaurants for dinner. Det 5 – busy, noisy, entertaining and good food. I had prawn pad thai noodles, because there is no such thing as ‘too many prawns’. Greg had a burger and chips. It was a good end to a good day.