A day on the river

Every morning we have breakfast at the hotel’s ground floor cafe. It is open to the street and my favourite table is by the low window boxes that line the edge of the cafe by the road. There’s a Thai eggplant growing there, and I like to check the progress of the fruit. The first morning we ate there, it had one fruit on it.  Now there are 5 and they are growing fast!

There are at least 2 dozen street food stalls in our street, mostly up the Sukhumvit end. We haven’t tried any of them yet, but I’ve picked out a couple that I want to eat at … sometime when I’m not so full of all the other food we’ve been eating. There’s the Thai omelet on rice stall and the mushroom soup stall. The omelet stall doesn’t seem to keep long hours, but the mushroom soup lady works hard. We see her in the mornings, and one night she was wheeling her cart home when we were walking back to the hotel at around 8.30pm.

Yesterday we took Liam’s advice and caught an Orange flag ferry up the river to Nothaburi. We got a Grab car to take us to Saphan Taksin Pier. The Skytrain also goes there, but we wanted to see what it was like driving there. The roads were crowded and mostly slow, but our driver was excellent. When we got to the pier, a man tried to send us to the tourist boats, a reasonable assumption I guess, then pointed us in the right direction when Greg told him we just wanted to catch the ferry. There’s a huge assortment of river craft, ranging from very upmarket tourist cruise boats, hop-on-hop-off tourist boats, passenger ferries and ferries that just go across the river. The one we took went between Saphan Taksin Pier and Nonthaburi and it was packed full of locals and tourists but by the time we reached Nonthaburi it was just about empty. Most tourists got off at the Grand Palace or one of the temples along the way.

When we got off the ferry, we saw lots of stalls selling brightly coloured versions of the packing beads we call ‘ghost poo’, which we use when we pack boxes to send to customers. I bought the smallest pack just before we caught the ferry back to Bkk, it cost about 40c and after I’d handed my money over I said to the seller ‘Now, tell me what it is’. His reply – ‘Fish food’. Ha! It was worth the 40c for the laugh and the photo. We took a photo of it when we were sitting on the ferry and I watched a Thai guy looking at me. I’m sure he was waiting for me to start eating it! I left it on the ferry.

Nonthaburi has a large food market, lots of shops and lots of street stalls lining the footpaths. And lots of places to eat, of course. We found a little cafe that sold 6 different dishes – Greg had pork with rice, I had noodle soup, total cost $3. We wandered through the food market and found more things to eat – rice crispy biscuit things with caramel on top, little bananas on skewers cooked on a char-grill and multi-coloured dumplings – orange / carrot, yellow / pumpkin, green / spinach, purple / taro. I ate them so quickly I forgot to get a photo! The ferry back was less crowded & we got seats on what turned out to be the splashy side of the boat, but we dried quickly. The ferry trip took about an hour each way. We caught the Skytrain back to the stop near the hotel and rested up before dinner.

There’s a Korean shopping mall on the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 12. Lots of BBQ and other restaurants, bars, shops and a dessert cafe. We had Korean barbecue at Jang Won, a 4-storey place that had private rooms on a couple of floors, but as there were only 2 of us we just got a table on the 4th floor. What  feast! We ordered pork slices and beef bulgogi, which came with about a dozen little dishes of kim chi, pickled onions, sauces and other things. The pork slices came first, on a hotplate on a gas stove. The wait-staff were very attentive and at one point took the tongs away from me because apparently I wasn’t cooking the meat properly, or something. When we’d finished the pork, they took that hotplate and stove away and brought the bulgogi on different kind of hotplate on a stove. And then just left us to it, but this time we didn’t know what to do!  We waited for someone to come back, but no one did, and eventually the Korean guy at the next table told us to stir it up and eat it before it burnt!

It was all delicious and cost a total of about $30. And then even though we really had eaten enough, we went to the dessert place and ordered 2 desserts which were huge! We should have shared one, and realised that that is what most people do after we’d sat down and looked at what people at other tables were doing. There was a group of 5 girls next to us sharing one dessert and when Greg went to collect ours, the young woman at the counter asked ‘how many people?’. We did manage to eat them both, though.

Toast is a ‘thing’ here – there are street food stalls that sell savoury and sweet fillings on thick pieces of toasted bread. The 2 desserts we had were both toast-based. 3 thick slices of toasted bread which are then assembled in a tower, covered or sprinkled with toppings and then cut into small squares. I commented to Greg that those desserts would have to be about as far away as possible from the sourdough bread I bake at home.

The thai lady selling Mushroom soup in Soi 8 (left)
On the ferry amongst the many boats on the Chao Phraya River

part of the $3 lunch
Nonthaburi market

the road to the pier Nonthaburi
Fish food not people food
Korean BBQ
the desserts that were meant to be shared, not eaten by only one person