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Day 31 – The Long Road to Bangkok

April 3, 2010

Dateline: Bangkok, Thailand, Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bangkok does a good job of giving you interesting places to eat. Take tonight for example. I’m at a restaurant called Spring. The restaurant is primarily housed in a renovated, traditional Thai style house. The building retains the shape and floor plan of an old fashioned residence, but updates it with modern materials and styling. For example, the whole front of the building is glass and the motif is white. Not really traditional Thai.

My favorite part of the building is the vaulted ceiling entrance which has most of the seating. There’s a staircase that goes up to a large loft. The whole wall next to the staircase is made of bookshelves that are stocked with a fake library of literary works and art. If I ever get round to founding the next Microsoft, I’m having that feature put in my three-story den, which will be next to the indoor waterfall and lion enclosures and across from the space shuttle launch pad.

I’m here because Becca organized a night out. She’s been hankering for a break from motherhood and has assembled a group of her friends for dinner and some wine. I’ve been informed that I must drink and that Becca’s happiness depends on it. Say no more.

As lovely as the renovated house is, though, we’re not eating in it. No, we’re seated outdoors on the lawn. As anyone who’s had Sunday morning brunch with me can tell you, I love eating outdoors. Spring has taken my love to another level.

Not only are we outdoors, we’re eating while lounging on oversized leather cushions that are sitting on the lawn. This is a little slice of heaven for me, a man who feels that socks (and mosquitoes) are proof of the fall of man. Here I get to kick off my shoes and wiggle my toes are in the grass. It’s a civilized man’s picnic.

I’ve even dressed up a bit and put on a long sleeve shirt. In Bangkok, I would normally consider this lunacy, but since it’s after sunset, I’m quite comfortable. It also helps that Becca’s friends are quite nice, which removes any secondary reason to sweat.

Because this is a restaurant, I should talk about the food. We had a number of starters. Fish cakes were solid, but I consider those like French fries so it’d be more of a surprise if they were terrible. I mean, they’re really just fished versions of Chicken McNuggets, so they’re bound to be good. There was a salmon salad, which was fine, but not particularly memorable. It was even a little overdressed and soggy for my taste. There were salmon (I think) wraps that used Ethiopian flat bread, which gave the app a more sour base. I liked it. There was more, but I can’t remember it all.

My main was mutton with Malay style rice. I was a little disappointed in this. When I see a lamb chop, I expect it to be closer to rare than burnt. I could taste the charcoal in mine.

While the meal was so-so, the dessert was quite good. All assortments of chocolate mousse, chocolate crepes with chocolate sauce, and some sort of pudding things. At this point in the meal, I was just gorging. That’s partially because Becca abandoned her dessert to rescue her husband from a screaming child. I’d like to thank Ananda for his irritability, since it provided me with a double portion of sweets.

Now, despite my track record and the preceding paragraphs describing the food, you’ll notice a distinct lack of food pictures. That’s for two reasons. First, the lighting was crap and the few pictures that I did take make everything look like I covered the camera lens in Vaseline, limousine tint, and glaucoma. You can only make out the food if you jam your thumbs in your eyes and use your imagination.

Second, the food wasn’t that important. Which brings me to my point (yes, I have one). Food can serve many purposes. It can be art; something beautiful to be admired, appreciated, and enjoyed like a Picasso or Emmanuelle Chriqui’s breasts. It can also be functional. Think of scarfing down lunch at the office during a 10 minute break between conference calls. It can also be the activity which you all share with a good group of friends.

Tonight was about hanging out with friends. The food was not the best (but how often is it ever, really). The conversation, the friends, the lawn, the cushions, and my feet in the grass were all superb. It was a fine night out and I’d be happy if I could do it again some time.

Now, before all this eating out awesomeness, I arrived in Bangkok on a train. I slept on the bottom bunk and therefore had a window. This window was clear which meant the sun shone in. Since I’m a restless sleeper during travel, that meant that even though I had the curtains drawn I was up at dawn. I had to wait around for everyone else to get up.

Getting into Bangkok took longer than expected. We got held up by red shirt protesters who were marching through a train crossing. They all looked cheery and enthusiastic when we finally passed through them. I give them this, they have got spirit.

We disembarked about 30 minutes late. I said goodbye to my fellow Filipino travelers. The two French girls who I’d hung out with most of the trip headed off to Khosan Road to find a place to shower. Apparently this is a priority when you’ve been traveling from Kuala Lumpur for three days straight. As is the way of the road, I spent nearly 20 hours with them and never bothered to learn their names.

I packed it in to Suk 11 and napped until dinner with Becca. I have a feeling this round in Bangkok is going to be a lot more lazy than the last go. It feels hotter somehow and I don’t feel any urgency to do the touristy stuff. I did most of that on my last run.

No matter. I have to be here the week so my Vietnam visa can be processed. With a little luck, I’ll catch up with Christoffer tomorrow. If not, then perhaps I’ll finally get around to writing up that four-day scuba diving trip.

Yeah, I should probably do that.

____________________

Stupid Travel Tip of the Day: If it’s absolutely necessary that you be on time, do not travel into Bangkok on the day that thousands of Thai people decide to overthrow the government.

Not So Stupid Tip: If you’re doing an overnight train, pay a little extra for the bottom bunk. It’s not much more (less than $6 if I remember right). The bed is larger and you get a window, which despite my daybreak awakening, is quite nice. You also don’t have to crawl down a ladder if you decide to get up in the night and you get to stay closer to your luggage, which gets stored on the floor.

If you’re really savvy, you can find a way to request the bunks at the middle of the car. Those bunks have access to two plugs, which you can use to charge your electronics while you sleep. I have no idea how you request a specific bunk, or how to tell if your bunk is in the middle, but if you can swing it, it’s a pretty good deal.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Audrey permalink
    April 6, 2010 5:57 pm

    Nice use of the word “glaucoma.” Your life is officially more interesting than my life.

    • April 9, 2010 7:32 am

      Thanks. I have a hard time believing you though since I imagine that you’re in the middle of wedding planning. I’ve never heard of that being “boring.”

      My life might seem more interesting too because you’re getting the edited version. Sort of like the Amazing Race where they only show you the exciting bits and not the 18 train rides, the cramped bus rides, or the 2 hours walking in the heat.

      Of course, if you’d edited out the boring parts of my life when I was at work, you’d have occasionally watched me eat a good meal with friends, so I guess you have a point.

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