Bangkok, selected

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I thought I’d raise some selected Bangkok tips & recommendations I haven’t shared yet. You can find the previous Bangkok articles here.

A hotel with a rooftop pool

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A choice that elevates both your overnighting experience and holiday spirit. We stayed at Adelphi Suites Bangkok in the Sukhumvit area. A swim in the pool above the rooftops both kick-started the day in the morning and provided a soothing moment in the evening before heading out into the night.

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Get a piece of clothing custom tailored

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We tried Tailor on Ten on 93 Sukhumvit Soi 8. It is high-end.  The service is very professional and the craftsmanship is first-class. You can really feel the difference between prime quality and above average.  They have an online store and once you have had your measurements taken at the tailor, the sizes will be saved in the web shop. Book an appointment in advance, if you want to visit the tailor.

The Temple of the Reclining Buddha

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The Wat Pho temple complex houses many Buddha images and the most impressive one of them is the 46 metre-long reclining Buddha.  Even the soles of the feet are around three metres high. On the other side of the Buddha there is a row of 108 bowls for coins.  They also  teach and give Thai massage at the temple. The temple was clearly a popular visiting destination but not too busy. Remember to wear clothing that covers your shoulders and knees.

Our original plan actually was to visit the Grand Palace and we took a tuk-tuk there in the day. My travel companion queued to the Textile Museum in order to rent pants of full length for the palace visit. After a 30 minute wait we were ready to head for the ticket office. But, not so fast, it turned out. I had a big scarf that covered my arms and shoulders but the person working at the counter lifted it, shrook her haid and waved that more clothing was needed. Since another half-hour wait wasn’t too tempting, we went our way.

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Snack time!

There’s absolutely no point in skipping snack time as the street gastro is so fresh and juicy, be it fruit or seafood. Or insects, but my first and so far last insect tasting/ testing was on a street festival in Seoul a few years back and I think I’ll leave it at that for now. But, mangos, watermelon, pineapple and the fruit of the sea were all tasty.

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Glide down the Chao Phraya in a river boat

A convenient way to get around. Many of the attractions are close to the river. We took  a boat from the Reclining Buddha to the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. The price is very cheap, around 15 baht.  The river bus ride gives a different angle to the city. It’s a good idea to have a look at the map, to follow the route and learn the name of your stop, because it’s not too difficult to miss the intended pier. But definitely recommendable: a scenic boat trip through Bangkok for less than one euro.

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Jim Thompson’s House: if the turtles could talk

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Really, it’s worth the visit. I must admit, based on what I had read, I expected it to be nice, but I didn’t anticipate that it would be as interesting as it was. Jim Thompson was an American entrepreneur who brought silk to the Western market. He disappeared all of a sudden in 1967. His house represents traditional Thai architecture and houses fine interior design and beautiful art works. One curiosity was a labyrinth for mice; pastime a  of the old times, supposedly. Maybe the big turtles in the pond know what happened to Mr. Thompson…

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Hmmmm, what else? Definitely visit the buzzling China Town and have a tasty lunch, snack or dinner, or all three, there. For going to places catch a tuk-tuk, the three-wheel moped taxi. State your destination clearly right in the start;  if the tuk-tuk/taxi-driver says that China Town is closed on that particular day, he just might not be telling the truth. The Skytrain or BTS is a really fast, effective and effortless way to get to places and to avoid the traffic jams.

Take with you a water bottle, a little patience and a lot of lust for adventure and you’re set to go. Take in the lively bustle of Bangkok.

Thailand meets Kyrö: Thai curry and cocktails with gin and rosemary

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It has been three months since our trip to Thailand and the longing for some rich Thai flavors got pretty acute. So we decided to bring Thai kitchen into our kitchen and prepare some Thai curry. And before tasting the sweetly burning chili on our lips it was time to try the award winning drink that has been on the lips of many:  Napue gin from Isokyrö. The cocktail of the evening was Gin & Tonic with Napue, Fentimans tonic water, a branch of rosemary and cranberries. It worked.

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For the curry you’ll need the following ingredients:

1 teaspoon of olive oil
3 tablespoons of green Thai curry paste
1 can of coconut milk
1 tin of bambu shoots
vegetables (and fruits) of your choice: cauliflower, carrots, pineapple
lemongrass

400 grams of shrimp or chicken
honey
2 teaspoons  of fish sauce
fresh coriander shredded
juice of 2 limes
chili

And this is how it goes (originally a Ruokala recipe):

Heat a little bit of olive oil on the pan. Add the curry paste and then slowly add the coconut milk. Let the sauce boil quietly the whole time.

Add the bambu shoots which have been rinsed well, the sliced vegetables and the chopped lemongrass.  Let it stew until the vegetables are almost cooked.

Prepare the chicken on a frying pan and then add the chicken/sea food, honey, fish sauce and coriander.

Enjoy with Jasmin rice and let your mind wonder off to Thailand.

We made two kinds of curry: one with chicken and the other with seafood (shrimps and clams). They both turned out tasty.  But the sweet burning sensation was missing:  the curry could have been more spicy and next time I’ll add more chili and a more spicy curry paste. And prepare a bowl of Tom Yum as well.

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Three days on Koh Samet

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Koh Samet. My favorite moment of the day was in the early evening when the sun began to set and the shades of orange, pink, purple and grey colored the sky. I was in the warm ocean, truly in the moment and waiting for the dusk to descend and the first star to appear. And then the second and third.

Another favorite moment was having mojitos on the beach around midnight during low tide in the best company and watching the stars when the fireworks all of a sudden began.

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Koh Samet is a dagger-shaped island in the Gulf of Thailand and located approximately 220 kilometers Southeast of Bangkok, which equals a taxi ride of around two and a half hours and a big boat trip of 45 minutes. You can rent a speed boat or take the big boat from the port of Ban Phe to the island. We went for the big boat option since we weren’t in a hurry and this way we got to enjoy the sea views and the pleasant light breeze. The island is only about six kilometers long from the north to the south tip and it has several beaches (note: if you opt for the speed boat, remember to give the driver the name of the beach you are staying at, otherwise he might drop you off to the Na Dan pier).

The island is quite the perfect destination for example for a weekend getaway. The island is a popular holiday spot for people living in Bangkok. We were in Thailand altogether for eight days so the combo Bangkok and Koh Samet (with five and three days in each) worked really well. Koh Samet has beaches with soft and fluffy white sand, bungalow villages, tall palm trees and crystal clear water.

I wouldn’t necessary call the whole island a paradise island but it definitely had paradise beaches. Just one wish for the people working on the island and the visitors as well: especially since it is a nature reserve it would be really nice if the garbage at some places by the roads would be picked away.

We stayed at Ao Cho Grandview Hideaway Resort, which was very nice. A special mentioning goes to the restaurant on the beach and the delicious dishes. One evening we arrived late and ended up having a hot pot of  Tom yum and a savory curry just the two of us by the sea  under the stars with our toes in the sand when the restaurant closed and all the other diners had gone to their villas.

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So, what to do on Koh Samet? Swim. Swim. And swim. I love to swim. We had planned to do some hiking in the nature reserve on one of the days but any program which included going further than 20 meters from the sea didn’t seem too alluring. Besides swimming and floating in the sea we went beach hopping, canoed, enjoyed the spicy Tom yum, fresh fruit and light Singha in the restaurant by the beach, had a Thai massage, relaxed and read by the sea and marveled at the praying mantis in the roof of our bungalow’s terrace. With beach hopping I mean that we followed the shoreline and walked from one beach to another and where there were cliffs in between the beaches we climbed and hopped over them. During our beach walk we discovered that the beaches were quite different atmosphere-wise. For example the longest beach and a lively one is the Haad Sai Kaew: it has many beach restaurants and water sport activities whereas our beach, Ao Cho, was beautiful and peaceful and had an old beautiful wooden pier. If you are into doing all kinds of water activities, from riding a banana boat to snorkeling or parasailing, Koh Samet is the place.

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A few practical tips. If you want to go from beach to beach by foot, bring swimming shoes. There are rocks between some of the beaches and they can be slippery and a bit sharp. Also, bring mosquito repellent. Your legs will thank me. A flashlight can come useful if you want to do a nightly adventure, since it gets pitch dark. I didn’t see any street lights. There is an entry fee to the nature park area (that is, the island) of 200 baht. I can recommed Koh Samet for a relaxed holiday with plenty of beach time.

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