Bangkok, Thailand – 17, 18 & 19 October 2017
Tuesday morning and I decided I needed to finally visit Lumphini Park. I generally stay in Silom when I visit Bangkok, so it’s kind of shocking I’d never actually ventured inside the park. Well! It’s really just lovely – green and quiet and a nice respite from the bustling city surrounding it. And I saw some cats, so that’s the sign of a great day.
After the park, we walked up Wireless Road, past the US and other embassies on our way to Central Embassy mall. Besides some window-shopping (and availing ourselves of the Washlet-equipped toilets), we popped into Eathai downstairs for a snack of roasted bananas with caramel sauce and moo ping.
Next up: a movie! Bangkok’s malls, besides being home to amazing food, house some of the biggest and most luxurious movie theaters I’ve ever seen. If you’re willing to pay for it, you can sit in big luxurious chairs or even sofas or beds, along with pillows and blankets and food delivered to your seat. But I’m a cheap bastard and went with the OG style auditorium – which was still huge and comfy and reasonably priced. Oh, and we saw “Blade Runner 2049” – which I liked, but JHC, they could’ve been a bit more aggressive in that editing room. If we’d gone with the recliner seats and blankets, I’m sure I’d’ve dozed off at some point during what felt like the fourth hour…
After the movie, haircut for me and haircut and beard trim for Ak. He took me to his usual barber shop, David No. 5, a tiny two seat space right off Silom Rd. I got a great cut for only THB250! This place is now on my list of “must visits” in Bangkok. There’s nothing better than getting my fade cleaned up while I’m on vacation.
Dinner at Jae Koy, one the many great local places Ak has introduced me to here. There’s really nothing I like more than being the only farang in the place. Not only do I know the food will be good, I feel like I’m getting to see something most other tourists don’t get to experience. Food was delicious as always: grilled pork, larb, tom yum, noodles with seafood. A real feast!
In some ways, this was my favorite day in Bangkok – I think because it was so ordinary and gave me a small taste of what it might be like to actually live here.
Wednesday we tried to visit the King’s crematorium next to the Grand Palace – but didn’t have much luck. There were crowds everywhere and lots of street closures with very little in the way of instructions on how to get where we wanted to go. It would’ve felt like a bit of a wasted morning, but it was still interesting to see all the people down there – plus we had an appointment for massage that afternoon at Pai Spa, the first Thai massage place I went on my very first visit to Bangok two years ago – and happily, Jin, my therapist from that visit was there and her massage was as amazing as I remember.
Dinner that night at the new location for one of our favorites, Suppaniga Eating Room – or so we thought. We arrived at the riverside inn where it’s located and were directed to the elevator up to the roof. It was a nice spot with a lovely view – though for some reason, the staff seemed a little flustered by our arrival and my assertion that we had a reservation – but we were seated nevertheless.
We ordered a couple of drinks and a snack – and I remarked to Ak that the menu seemed kind of weird. A lot of fancy Western-sounding dishes like pasta, but little in the way of the Thai food we know and love at Suppaniga. We finally figured out we were in a different restaurant entirely – Suppaniga is on the street level, across from the hotel entrance. So, NBD, right? We paid for our cocktails and headed down for our actual reservation – only to discover that the afternoon’s torrential downpour had left the alley between where we were and where the restaurant’s entrance was flooded with knee-deep water. So, not our most successful evening – but we made do by heading back to our old stomping grounds and visiting our usual branch of Suppaniga. Granted, no view of the river and Wat Arun but the food was great as always and we were able to enter the restaurant without fording any streams…
Thursday was for shopping! First stop: Jim Thompson Factory Store, which I was so happy to discover last time I was in Bangkok. Got some new pillow covers and a couple of other goodies at prices not quite as high as in the shops in town. I think it’s mostly first quality, just last season’s colors and patterns. After this, we spent some time back in the malls and stopped in for an underwhelming afternoon tea at Erawan Tea Room.
Back at the hotel, Ak availed himself of the large tub in our bathroom and attempted to take a bubble bath. I wasn’t really sure what he was up to in there but there seemed to be quite a bit of commotion – eventually followed by the crestfallen exclamation that there were no bubbles.
When I went in to help get things sorted, I may have rolled my eyes – and Ak cried, “But I don’t know how to take a bath!”
“What do you mean ‘I don’t know how to take a bath’?” I said.
“I’ve never taken a bath. I’m from third world,” he replied, using his hilarious catch-all excuse for anything that he doesn’t know – or, as is more often the case, can’t be bothered with. Anyway, he had his bath and all went well.
Thursday evening was a special dinner at Restaurant Sühring, a German restaurant helmed by brothers Thomas and Mathias. It’s reputed to be one of Bangkok’s best restaurants and I had been wanting to try it for a while. Granted, I felt a little guilty about not eating Thai food for every meal, but I figured I’ve been to Bangkok enough that I can start expanding my culinary horizons a bit.
Ak was dressed in his fancy new shirt that he’d gotten for his birthday – sent to him by a designer friend Timmyyy from his latest collection. Appropriately, our first stop was at Vogue Lounge for cocktails before dinner.
Then we headed to the restaurant. This turned out to be fun! I’d not told Ak where we were going, only that it was someplace nice. I was sure he’d have figured out our destination, but as we continued along our way, he announced he had no clue where we were or what our destination could be. When we arrived and he saw the sign out front for Sühring, he was genuinely surprised and very excited for dinner – as was I!
The place is lovely – an old house with three separate seating areas: The Garden, an atrium looking out on the lovely grounds; The Living Room, the main seating area; and our choice, The Kitchen, where we sat at the counter and watched our chefs prepare all of our courses.
What can I say? It was an amazing meal and a wonderful experience. The service was both highly professional and very personable – there was none of the stuffiness that sometimes accompanies service in a high-end restaurant. We had some excellent wine, thanks to the recommendations of the sommelier.
And the food – wow! I enjoyed the entire meal – though looking back on it, a few of the courses that stood out for me and still remain very fresh in my mind were the pretzel rolls served with obatzda – a mixture of cheese and butter – along with tiny steins of beer; crawfish served with a sublime assortment of tomatoes and a scoop of Ossetra caviar; a simple and stunning cut of lamb; and a dessert with buttermilk ice cream and gin-and-tonic sorbet that made me laugh out loud at how amazing the G&T was.
And as clever and amusing as some of the presentations were, it never felt like they crossed into being overly precious. We also both really enjoyed interacting with the chefs, who served some of the courses to us themselves as they explained how they’d prepared it.
After twelve course, we left feeling deeply satisfied – but not gluttonous! – and happy to have shared such a lovely meal together. It was a wonderful evening.