Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Bangkok

Paula and I were The Original Junket Girls in HK.  We were sent there to receive an award on behalf of MWC, and she brought her entire family along and did the rounds of Disneyland, Ocean Park, etc.  For my part I brought Ches and Boots, who was then just an itty-bitty breastfeeding baby, and we went on a side trip to Macau.  A few months after Pau and I both left MWC for SM.  We are a.k.a. The Ingrates.  Hahaha.

It was in one of our Ortigas lunches that Pola hatched the plan of us going to Bangkok together, minus family this time.  I've been to Bangkok twice before, but I wasn't about to pass up a good time with a dear friend.  I think we mommies deserve some time out from our 60 million motherhood duties, especially if we're also holding full-time, full-stress office jobs.  Besides, I have a Negativitee shirt that says 'Kaladkarin'.   It's so me.       

Hotels - as with most everything else, for that matter - are cheap in Bangkok, and even five-star ones are affordable.  We chose Lullaby Inn, tho, a boutique hotel recommended by tripadvisor, bcoz we figured why waste our money on five-stars if we were going to be out most of the time, anyway.  I don't remember tripadvisor failing me, or at least not big time, so I always refer to it for my travel issues.

Lullaby Inn was a great choice.  It was clean, quiet, and stylishly decorated, the staff extremely helpful with everything we asked them, and the location was such a winner.  It was walking distance to the Patpong night market and only a short train ride away from the Asiatique ferry.  It's in a quiet, tree-lined street, yet at the same time everything you need is within easy reach:  good restos, convenience stores, forex.  

The only downside is that they served breakfast only starting at 8AM, so if you booked tours (which we did, of course) that left early, you'll have to make do with the continental breakfast kind that didn't need to be cooked:  toast, jam, cereals, yogurts, fruits.  That's already plenty, actually, but hey, we're Pinoys, we eat rice for breakfast.  Hahaha.  As it turned out, we got to have the heavy breakfast of sausage, bacon, and eggs (plus all the other stuff from the continental breakfast buffet if we wanted) only on our first morning there, bcoz that was the only day we didn't have to leave early for a tour.  Pola and I combined powers and our charming/flirting/threatening skills on Pish and Lek (our two favorite staff, bcoz they happened to be the only two who could converse in English), so they will let us have our full breakfast before 8, to no avail.  Oh well - you can't say we didn't do all we could To Score That Bacon, up until our very last morning there before we headed off to the airport to catch our flight back home.  Hahaha.            






(A woman whom we thought was an owner - but whose English was not so good - tried to explain to me that the sculpture above is the only one of its kind in the whole world ... or maybe that the sculpture is made from only one piece of wood.  Aaargh. Lost in translation.  Can we just say that it's a very nice sculpture and leave it at that?  Hahaha.)

Our first order of business was shopping.  Bangkok Travel Tip Number One:  pack light and just shop there to complete your wardrobe for the trip.  Everything seems to be cheaper in Bangkok.  Most of the stuff they sell at the Greenhills tiangge are actually from Bangkok, or at least made in Thailand.  For me, the best place to start is MBK.  It's like Greenhills tiangge but more of a mall style, bigger and nicer, not as cramped, and air-conditioned, thank goodness!              



Pola and I bought matching clothes here that we would wear for the rest of the trip.  We also found several of Ate's favorite all-white (or in this case mostly white) stalls in Greenhills.  (I got her two white tops.)  Look, Boots has a pharmacy in Thailand!
  


MBK is also where we got free milk teas at the nice food court just by showing our passports. We weren't all that hungry bcoz we had that heavy breakfast/brunch, so all we ordered was pad thai, but we just had to have the free Thai milk teas.  Hahaha.  PG.  I love the Thai version of milk tea.  It's exactly like that tall orange drink they serve at Jatujak, creamy with a taste of something like herbs.  I had it at every single meal, and for snacks, too.  

We pretended to be pretty little French girls in this trip.  HAHAHA.  Whattariot.  It started when Pola hailed this cab that tried to charge us 150 for a 60-baht ride to MBK.  Pola said he probably thought we were French and moneyed.  Hahaha.  So then we decided:  we'll be French during this trip.  But we couldn't even think of any French names!  I knew Les Miserables is French, so I became Eponine, and Pola was Cosette. Wait, Pola is actually Jean Paula, so her complete French name was Jean Cosette.  Hahaha.

It turns out that her maternal grandmother is actually truly French.  Her surname was Broseau or something.

Pola:  Mestiza kaya yung lola ko, kamukha ni Mary Walter.  Hindi ba obvious sa face ko?
Me:  Hindi.  Kamukha mo lang si Chichay!

Hahaha.


We crossed over to the Siam Center.  My agenda was to visit my first ever Cath Kidston shop there.  I've been ordering online all these years, and have never been to any of the recently-opened CK shops in Bangkok and Singapore.  (The older CK shops are in Seoul and Japan, which I haven't been to.)  So in preparation for this trip, I listed down all the CK branches in Bangkok, with the plan being that I would visit at least one during our stay.  Pola knows I'm obsessed with CK, and was only too willing to oblige.

And here I am with my latest favorite Cath Kidston bag in front of my first ever Cath Kidston store:



Aaah, now I can die in peace.

No, I didn't get my bag from the store.  It was actually Chester's Christmas gift to me.  As a matter of fact, I didn't buy anything from the store.  The prices were higher than if you ordered online direct from the UK, even with shipping costs and all of that.  Also, I'm trying to be a good girl this year and downsizing in terms of clothes, shoes, bags - in other words, All  My Stuff.  (This doesn't mean I won't accept the Kate Spade you promised, Ate.)  I'm actually in the process of a major cabinetry summer project with our good, old reliable contractor Melody, to try and put All My Stuff in order ... before my shoes take over our entire house.  Groan.  

So I just browsed around the Cath Kidston store, had my fill of all that colorful, kitschy loveliness, like I'd died and gone to my own version of heaven.

The Siam Center supposedly holds the award for Best Shopping Mall in Asia.  



I'm not sure what the criteria is for that award, nor am I even familiar with the entity giving out the awards. Personally, in terms of architecture and design, Greenbelt still gets my vote - with Ayala Museum there, the sprawling gardens, even its own chapel.  Siam Center is different, tho, in that it has a lot of these quirky corners and concept stores.  In most shops the decor seems to outnumber and overshadow the items for sale.  Siam Center is definitely unique.

These spots are practically begging to be captured in pictures.  So there was Love, Happiness, Faith - Pola and I were looking for Sexual Gratification, but it was nowhere.  Losers.       





I love Pola's crazy poses.  My three boys have this talent as well, of knowing exactly what pose will work for a certain picture.  I don't. I'm just the photographer.  I'm so boring.

Will you look at these bold, beautiful shops.  They are the embodiment of My Life's Guiding Principle:  Even if you don't do good, at least you look good.  With these stores, even if they don't sell well, at least they look truly well. Hahaha.




Even the toilets look fabulous.  The entrance has this glass design of books so you get all confused and wonder if you've found yourself in the library instead.  But no, it's the loo.  And the doors of the cubicles have these cryptic messages like this one about unfinished business.  I'm not quite sure if it refers to love and mushy stuff like that - or your pee/poop in the toilet.  Hahaha.  Apparently, Pola's message had something to do about moving on from a closed chapter or something like that.      



Even the restos are unique.  We even found one called Tom N Tom's Coffee, and we wanted to try it in honor of the other member of our MWC trio, Thom.  It served pastries like sweet potato pie, tho.  

Me:  Utang na loob, Pola, hindi ako pumunta ng Thailand para lang kumain ng kamote!

Hahaha.    



We settled on something called Petit Audrey instead, in honor of Thom's baby girl.  One of Pola's and my favorite past time is something called Dissing Thom.  Hahaha.  I can't remember a single time Pola and I were together that we didn't laugh our asses off over All The Hilarious Things Thom Has Ever Said And Done.  We love our Enteng to bits.   

Another favorite past time is something called Didoy Illusions.  Hahaha.  Didoy is, hands down, The Best-Looking Guy Ever Employed in MWC, and we just happened to get lucky that he joined our little circle in Finance.  He's a great person, too, not just this rich kid/commercial model/now London-based banker.  Pola and I were already mommies when we met him, but that never stopped us from harassing any of the boys. Hahaha.      

Me:  Requirement ko kase for a husband, dapat older and darker than me, so sinabi ko na kay Didoy una pa lang, sorry, hindi tayo pwede.
Pola:  Pareho tayo, Ate, kaya hindi ko rin pinatulan si Didoy e.

Hahaha.  Hence, Didoy Illusions.

We loved the look and whole ambience of Petit Audrey.  It was perfect bcoz we were pretending to be French. Hahaha.  I love being crazy with my friends.







We headed off to Asiatique at dusk.  I think it's a relatively new area bcoz I don't remember it being around the last time I was in Bangkok about ten years ago.  We didn't really have any definite plans; we just went to Asiatique bcoz Lek recommended it, and it was near - a short walk, two train stations, and a ferry ride away.  The ferry was free, too.   

We were lined up at the pier just as the sun was setting, hence we had the privilege of viewing the beautiful Bangkok sunset as well.  I've heard that what makes our Manila Bay sunsets so colorful and lovely is the air pollution; if true, I guess this applies to the Bangkok sunsets as well.   





We were so glad we went to Asiatique.  The write-up in the hotel website says it's a cut above the usual shopping center bcoz of its focus on promoting Thai heritage.  I'm not entirely sure what that means, but I know I liked what I saw - the giant ferris wheel, the clean and wide area, the courtyard set-up of the funky shops.  It's like Tiendesitas but in a much bigger, grander scale.  That it's right by the Chao Phraya substantially adds to its charm.  It reminded me of Darling Harbor in Sydney, actually.  With way better shopping options, too.  






There were 60 million stalls selling cute and fabulous stuff, most of which you can find elsewhere, tho there were a few that we didn't see in any other shopping area.  What's unique about shopping in Bangkok is that most of the stuff are made in Thailand; you almost never see the usual made in China.  The prices were not bad, too, considering the whole ambience.  Locals and tourists alike flocked to the area.  It's always good to see locals shopping or eating in a certain place, so then you know you're not being ripped off.  
  







There is even a bar in the shape of a lighthouse.  Winner!


Pola and I had dinner at one of the Thai restos.  She's allergic to seafood and has a low threshold for spicy stuff, so of course yours truly ended up with most of our order (Thai pork nuggets and spicy minced pork) and I gave her wide berth on the fried rice.  


Asiatique is also home to Bocha, which may be Bangkok's version of Chatime.  All kinds of milk teas to choose from, and lots of yummy pastries, too.



It was late when we finally had our fill shopping. We could've stayed until the place closed up, but we had to be up early the following day for a tour.

Pola was crushing on Forever 21-type itty bitty shirts for young girls.

Me;  Feeling mo kabataan pa tayo, teh?
Pola:  Kaya siguro hindi ako pumapayat, kase alam ni God ang laswa ng mga isusuot ko pag mapayat ako!
Me:  Pau, may binulong sa kin si God.  Sabi nya leave him out of this!

Hahaha.