Jetsetting Foodistas: A Travelogue by JoeyBangkok & Pattaya in 5 Days* Apologies in advance for my rather all-over-the-place entry
I have to confess. I was supposed to write a decent narrative/account of my trip to Thailand, complete with bells & whistles and, actually, I did sort of do that. Unfortunately, I wrote it for my personal blog, so it's not exactly ideal for me to just cross-post it here. However, after giving it some thought, I decided to, at least, run through what I did in Thailand and, of course, give you an idea of the food I devoured there. Devoured, because I ate so much and, upon coming home to Manila, I was 4 lbs heavier! That was maybe the most delicious journey to four extra pounds I've ever had, though, so it was very much worth it.
(And, entre nous, I lost the 4 lbs eventually anyway.)
And yet another confession: I've been on the look out for a really good Thai resto here in Manila and I have yet to find one (suggestions, anyone?), so upon arriving in Thailand, you can bet that I ate and tried everything I could. (Diet? What diet?)
My first day in Thailand was spent in Bangkok. We stayed at Baiyoke Sky Hotel, with Indra Square right across from it. Indra Square is easily my favourite place to shop in Thailand. Not only was it cheap, open every day (and had a night street market/bazaar every single night), but it was literally shopping at my doorstep. Travel tip? If you're going to Thailand, pack light and pack extra bags for all the shopping you will be doing. Everything there is sooo cheap, from the clothes to the food. To quote my mum, "You will go mad with the shopping there!"
Another thing I love about Indra Square is Food Street, this little food court on the building's second floor. There's a wide selection of food there and everything is, of course, cheap. My favourite thing to eat there is the Seafood Tom Yam from the stall at the very back (beside the stall that has duck). It's at 40 Baht a bowl (around Php 50 or US$1.25), and it's really good and really filling -- perfect after a day of hardcore shopping and haggling.
Baiyoke Sky's breakfast buffet gave me a resounding and very satisfying "Good morning!" on my second day. Soo much food! My dad told us to eat plenty (he didn't have to tell us twice haha) because we were going on a temple tour and we didn't know if we would be able to come back in time for lunch. I had fruits in yogurt and newly-cooked naan bread. No photos, unfortunately (cameras weren't allowed), but I can assure you that they really know how to do their Breakfast Buffet in Thailand. Or, well, at least they did in the two hotels I stayed in.
We left for our half-day temple tour and visited the Marble Temple and the Standing Buddha Temple. Fortunately, we were able to make it back to the hotel with time for a quick lunch at Food Street before our ride to Pattaya arrived.
This time, I tried glass noodles with seafood (40 Baht) and had some of my mum's lunch, which was some sort of seafood noodles (40 Baht) both really yummy. My dad had this bowl of spicy wanton noodles (40 Baht), which I didn't dare try since my dad loves his food extremely spicy. I also tried what the guy at the stall called sweet combination (25 Baht for two toppings) where you had your pick of halo-halo-like ingredients/toppings in sweet coconut milk and topped with shaved ice -- delicious. I had mine with red jelly-covered guava and and what the guy called melon, but tasted a lot like avocado.
In Pattaya, we stayed in A-One Hotel, a luxury cruise ship-themed hotel. After checking in and stashing our things in our rooms, we went off to walk around Beach Road. This is where I discover farang, this really sweet guava they grow in Thailand. It has this light apple-green coloured exterior and the inside of the guava is white and wonderful. In Pattaya, they sold it at 20 Baht (Php 26 or US$0.60) for one on the street. I found out later that you can also buy this back in Bangkok for only 10 Baht. I suppose they upped the prices since the area we stayed in (which is also where the stall I bought from was located) is really a tourist area. Still very cheap though.
Unfortunately, I don't have a photo of farang (which, funnily, is also the Thai word for 'foreigner' -- I'd imagine they made all sorts of double-meaning jokes with that word) because I'd usually consume it before I'd remember to take a photo of it. Oops.
After going to mass at St. Nikolaus, we went back to Beach Road to have dinner at Open Shore, which, our waiter told us, just opened and was Filipino-owned. That, of course, made us pretty happy with our choice of restaurant. Not only was the food great, but the service was very good and the man entertaining the diners for the night was great fun and particularly fond of us. I had phad thai with shrimp as my main dish and we ordered spicy seafood salad, thai herb salad, and a grilled seafood platter to share.
We woke up bright and early again the next day, this time because we had to catch our speed boat ride to Coral Island, where we were going to spend our morning. Nice as they were, I'd have to say that the beaches in Pattaya and in Coral Island don't hold a candle to our beaches here. I'm not much for swimming around and sunbathing, so I spent most of my morning napping under an umbrella with someone giving me a massage. I did walk around a bit in search of some farang, but found the only stall selling some with not-so-fresh looking farang that were much more expensive (40 Baht!) had I bought it along Beach Road. By midday, we were back on Beach Road, with a shuttle taking us to where we were to have our lunch.
We had our lunch in this Chinese restaurant near Gems Gallery Pattaya. Our lunch here was part of our travel package, so we didn't really know what to expect. After our guide paid for our meal at the desk and we were seated at our table, we were immediately brought several dishes, most of which I didn't know the name of. We each had pineapple rice (topped with pork floss) and then several dishes to share: a clear soup with dark green leaves, kangkong in some sort of salty sauce, something that looked and tasted like patatim, some sort of fried pork, steamed fish, and slices of pineapple for dessert (which was prolly the original content of the hollowed pineapple "shell" our pineapple rice came in). We were also served pitchers of their house tea (rice tea). It was a surprisingly good, simple (but plentiful) and satisfying lunch.
We were back in our hotel a bit past one -- a good number of hours before our ride to the Alcazar Cabaret (a Las Vegas-style transvestite revue). My mum and I decided to go get massages while the men stayed behind in the hotel since it was so hot outside. I think Thai massage may be the most painful massage I've ever received, haha! It was, however, very satisfying afterwards.
The Alcazar Cabaret was super! They were all sooo sexy and some of them were really, really pretty. I really loved the Dream Girls costumes they had. If you're ever in Pattaya, you can't miss this show! I mean, not only because it's fantastic, but it's a very, very important cultural symbol.
We had dinner along Beach Road again, at this seafood place called Mr. 99 where you can go fishing in the middle of the resto. Our waiter was really nice friendly. He kept teaching us how to say things in Thai while we taught him how to say it in Tagalog. For dinner, I had Phad Thai as my main dish again and my dad got us an assorted seafood plate to share.
The next morning, we traveled back to Bangkok and checked ourselves in again at Baiyoke Sky Hotel. This was the morning of our encounter with Mr. Evil Tuktuk Driver (MR. ETD). He was really nice at first, even offering to take our photos in his tuktuk before we went off to MBK. On our way there, he tried to coerce us to let him take us to visit his sponsor's store (The Gems Gallery again, apparently) before he took us to MBK. We kept refusing him and he told us he'll take us straight to MBK only if we paid him 200 Baht. My dad, of course, said no. A very very angry exchange followed after that, but, luckily, my dad is still way scarier than MR. ETD so he dropped us off a block away from MBK and rode angrily off. Although he was prolly more scared than angry since my mum took down his name and license number and threatened to report him to the police.
We had lunch at this Thai resto in MBK. I had phad thai again while a tall glass of sweetened chamomile tea. We left MBK soon after lunch though, after deciding we could do better shopping in Indra Square. We then took the train to Mochit to go see the Chatuchak weekend market. It was Monday, but we wanted to go scope out the area anyway. Mostly because it gave us a reason to use the train, haha.
After walking around the area for a while (and buying fruits -- this time I just had some papaya; farang relatively has a lot calories), we took the train back to the station nearest to our hotel. We walked some blocks back to Rajprarop Road, where we spent the rest of the afternoon shopping at Indra Square and then had dinner at Food Street. I had the seafood tom yam again, since it was my last chance to have it before we left.
We flew back to Manila the next day. My inflight meal consisted of mixed tapas (albacore tuna with radish pickles and melon balls), an appetizer of prawn terrine and Westphalian ham on asparagus mimosa, a seven-grain roll, an entree of roasted chicken ballotine in morel sauce served with sinamak pommes noisette, green tea, and pistachio dacquiose from Bizu.
Thailand was loads of fun! I honestly can't wait till my next visit. This time, I'll be armed with more bags, a bigger budget, and a diet waiting for me for when I come back home to Manila several pounds heavier, haha! Wait for me, Bangkok ♥
See many, many more photos of my trip to Thailand on my flickr.