"Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself." - Charlie Chaplin

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Nut and Itchy plus 2 in Koh Chang & Bangkok

Saturday, 26th April

LY, FH, D and I arrived in Bangkok close to 1am on Saturday morning, thanks to a delay in our flight on Friday night. By the time we got to our hotel for the night, it was close to 2am. Sukhumvit Inn wasn't exactly the most comfortable hotel I've lived in, but it was air-conditioned, reasonably clean (sort of) and D & I were lucky enough to get hot water. At RM70 a night, I suppose it wasn't too bad a deal, considering we were checking out in a few hours. Located between the Thong Lor and Ekamai BTS Skytrain, it was a pretty convenient location, and we walked to the Eastern Bus Terminal after breakfast.

The bus ride to the east coast was quite long and uneventful (almost 5 hours). We got on the Super 999 bus, which departed on time at about 9.30am. When we got to Laem Ngop, we hopped onto another bus for a short ride to the pier, and finally a 40 minute ferry ride to Koh Chang Island. Yeah, a whole day of travelling.

On the island we had to wait for the songteaw, and they seemed to cram more people than they should into it. But what the hell, we were already in for the ride. The road leading to our hotel was a long, windy and bumpy one. We passed some shops and probably the more crowded beaches on the island (White Beach). The place looked a little like a cowboy town, making me wonder if this island was such a good idea.

We finally arrived at Siam Bay and the lobby didn't look too bad. Airy and spacious, with heavy wooden tables and chairs at its restaurant. Being the cheapskates bargain hunters that we were (LY and myself), we booked the cheapest room available online. Hey, it looked pretty decent in the pictures. Air-conditioned 'bungalows' facing the sea. What more could you ask for?

Well, a flushing toilet would have been nice. We got a big ceramic water pot filled with water instead. The bathroom had a mouldy smell. The curtains were dirty and stained. And there was hardly enough space to walk around in the room once we set our bags down on the floor. OK. For about RM120 a night, it was a big let down. The 'bungalows' were no better than little wooden chalets.

We decided to pay more and upgrade to the newer bungalows on the other side of the beach, but none were available that day. So we slept that night under the mosquito-netted beds (the little holes in this 'bungalow' easily let in mosquitos) and looked forward to the morning.

Dinner on the 1st night, view from restaurant.

Sunday, 27th April
After breakfast we bummed at the pool and the sea for a bit. The beach was nothing much to shout about (yet another let down), but the sea was clean and inviting. The water was clear and we could wade half way towards a little island off the shore. There were fishes swimming around our feet and I held a live wriggly sea cucumber in my hand for the first time. I even got to swim a little in deeper waters as the sea was calm.

The pool overlooking the sea and sun-worshipping.

At noon, we could check into our new bungalows. Aahh... much better. Nice wooden floors. Concrete walls. A good air-con. A semi-outdoor bathroom. And a lot of glass, so you could actually laze in bed and stare out at the sea. Or in our case, D & I played Boggle.

Our new bungalows and the beach.

View from inside.

Later in the afternoon, we kayaked to the little island. It was quite rocky and we could see corals and fishes below as we glided across the water.

We spent both evenings hanging out at the restaurant, playing Uno and drinking beer after dinner. The dinners were lovely - we ordered very fresh and deliciously grilled humongous prawns, a huge BBQ fish on the first night, a yummy steamed fish in sour and spicy soup on the second, fantastic calamari and grilled pork. All washed down with Singha beer of course. It was quite relaxing as we pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.

Dinner on 2nd night and Uno!

Monday, 28th April

The boys had enough of the sun the day before, but LY and I still wanted our last few hours of sun before we check out and leave the island. So we spent some time in the pool and the sea, without much sunblock. We got sunburnt a little, but this made up for the overcast skies we had in our last beach holiday.

The little island off the beach and random sea creatures.

We left the island at noon, took the long bus ride back to Bangkok and checked into Asia Hotel. Best of all, we dug into a good meal we've been waiting for all year at Siam House next door. We had the deep fried fluffy catfish, green curry, and delicious pork in dry curry paste.

Dinner at Siam House.

Great stuff. And we ended the night with a trip to the tailor at our hotel.

Tuesday, 29th April

Today was 'Makan Day', and we followed the recommendation listed in a website extolling the merits of street food in Bangkok. It took us to Thong Lor, where we tried the Seafood Pad Thai (pretty good), duck and beef noodles (so-so), mango sticky rice (not bad). Then we went took the BTS to Saphan Taksin and the river ferry to the old part of Bangkok, where we tried a few more stalls in the Saochincha area.

We have to say the recommendations by this website were mostly mediocre at best. Though it was nice to see different parts of Thong Lor and Saochincha (LY and I had better meals in this area last year), the food didn't really justify our long journey and the heat we had to endure.

In Thong Lor area:

Chow Le Seafood Pad Thai

Mae Varee: Mango Sticky Rice

The Ponchana Duck beef and duck noodles recommended highly on the website were so-so. It's quite far into the street and is certainly not worth the long walk or cab fare. The noodles we have back home are much nicer.

In Saochincha area:
We first looked for the meatball soup place in front of the City Hall, which was a major disappointment. They had more flour and starch in them than meat. After sharing a bowl we walked around looking for other stalls on the list but we couldn't find them. These little apams, however, were lovely.

Khanom Buang on Phraeng Nara - Sweet (with dried persimmon) and savoury (with dried shrimp) apams.

What I liked about this area were the quaint little streets and old buildings. Nearby is Chotechitr, where you can find authentic home-style Thai cooking. LY and I enjoyed it when we first came here last year, but the lady owner was quite nasty this time round. This despite the fact that we were the only table at her restaurant that afternoon. When a bunch of white tourists walked in much later, she was all smiles. Made me feel sick. Suddenly the Mee Krob wasn't so tasty anymore. We walked around looking for other stalls. Some weren't open while the ones that were open offered mediocre fare. The day got really hot and we finally left the area for Siam Paragon.

To console ourselves, we had a lovely dinner at Chokchai Steakhouse again, at Prasanmit Plaza on Sukhumvit Soi 33. A place we thoroughly enjoyed last year. I ordered the 30 day aged steak this time. Double the price. Twice as fatty. But really delicious.

Wednesday, 30th April

Shopping day today. Spent most of the day in Platinum Mall and Siam Paragon. I didn't buy much but D got an awesome deal on a really nice Samsonite copy suitcase, souvenirs and a couple of Simpsons T-shirts. Strangely I didn't see anything I felt like buying.

Lunch at the food court on the 6th floor was a disappointment as well. The gingery tau fu fa I was looking forward to tasted awful. The syrup tasted burnt, while the beancurd was all but silky smooth. So disappointing I didn't bother taking any pictures. Read last year's post about the lovely tau fu fa.

For tea, D and I found a little chocolate place in Central World Plaza where we had chocolate shots and chocolate cupcakes. The cupcakes were yummy and oozing with chocolate (white, milk and dark) from the inside. The shots were really small though. Not exactly value for money, but because they forgot to serve us toast with the shots like they were supposed to, they didn't charge us for it. SCORE!

Finally, we had a little fitting frenzy at the tailor's before a feeding frenzy at Siam House, our last meal with LY and FH as they were flying home the next day. This was followed by a 2-hr massage next door. I was reduced to a snoring and drooling animal by the end of it. Anyway, back to the dinner at Siam House...

Spicy Pork Salad, Pandan Chicken, Tod Mun Pla (Fish Cakes), Morning Glory

Thursday, 1st May

We had breakfast in the hotel and started to pack a little.
Then it was off to lunch at Tony Romas and more last minute shopping at Siam Paragon. Pork ribs! Totally divine. We ate all the ribs below between D and me. Yes. 2 full slabs. One sampler with all four flavours, and a full slab of the honey basted one. Yummy.

While LY and FH went off to shop some more and left for the airport, D and I saw Ironman at the Imax Theatre in Siam Paragon. Everybody stood up to sing the national anthem before the movie was screened. You could tell how much they loved their King. The song and video accompanying it was quite moving, actually.

After the movie (which was WAY COOL, I heart Robert Downey Jr.), we went to MBK. Dinner was at the 'International' Food Court which was awful and expensive. I had Mieng Kam, but they used kai lan leaves instead of betel leaves. Bleh. D's clear tom yam was so-so, but didn't have the kick to make it tom yam worthy. Don't waste your time here!

We took a crazy tuk-tuk ride back to the hotel after that.
Sometimes going on one is like a deathwish.

Friday, 2nd May

Last morning here and we tried our luck with Chatuchak, hoping it would be at least be partially open so D can experience this happening market. We got to Mo Chit station, walked towards the market around the park, and found, as expected, only a few shops open. There were hardly any people around and it started to rain. The humidity and enclosed space made it quite uncomfortable. But still, it was quite fun bargain hunting what we could. We even found a place that sold fishes and marine life.

Then it was back to the hotel, lunch at Siam House again, a foot massage and then off to the airport. There were more misses than hits this time round in terms of our food adventure. But it was fun all the same.

Last lunch: Clear Tom Yam, Morning Glory and Crab Vermicilli

These are specialty rice from Siam Paragon Gourmet Market. They were pilled up in huge colourful bins of rice. I couldn't resist. Couldn't take pictures inside though. Oh, and look what we were playing in the plane on the way home? Time went by oh-so-quickly.

All photos taken by my camera phone. Not bad huh?

-To Bangkok 2007 (a)
-To Bangkok 2007 (b)
-To Bangkok 2006

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