Daily Archives: December 15, 2005

The Pride of Bangkok?

What’s in a name?

Paragon signboard

“The Pride of Bangkok” “The Glorious Phenomenon” These were just some of the humble titles given to Siam Paragon, a new world-class shopping and entertainment giant located on Siam Square.

Opening ceremony was held on the 9th, and I was lucky enough to visit Bangkok right around that time, so I can give you a personal impression. The theme of the mall can be concluded in three words: bigger, fancier, most expensive.

As soon as you step through one of the many shiny glass doors, you’ll immediately feel dwarfed by the size of the place. It’s humongous. Emporium, MBK, Siam Center, or their Chiang Mai equivalents don’t even come close.

However, the owners are pretty much the same (50% owned by the Mall Group), and this shows too. Its size aside, Siam Paragon feels much like the aforementioned places. Floors filled with hi-so boutiques bearing tongue-twister names brandish the weirdest fashion, both inside and outside the store displays.

On any given ordinary day, this mall is no different than any others you’ve been to. Unless you are a fashion junkie or brand-name collector, this place has little new to offer. However, this was opening day, with all the bang and hoopla that money can buy, so that’s what this blog is gonna be about – followed by my personal opinion on it.

Curves on wheels, rags on riches

How would you spend 200 million Bt to create an opening ceremony that must please as many Bangkokians as possible, enticing them to come back for more? Organizers decided to give everyone what they want: Guys were lured in by the fanciest motorshow: an Enzo Ferrari (85 million), two Gallardo Spiders by Lamborghini (24 million), a Porsche and a Bentley were on display throughout the complex, with the sports cars accompanied by slender Thai beauties.


Female customers were not left out either: there was a fashion show where top models paraded around in the weirdest looking compositions. fashion models (Looking at some of them, it was hard to tell whether they are men or women.) Samples of international beauty products were offered on every corner. Singers, musicians and divas gave performances on every floor. There is also a huge, 20m-high crystal Christmas tree, worth a mere 10million.

All the above costed only half of the 200 million budget. The rest was spent on radio, TV and print ads (90 million), and PR activities (10 million).

The crown on the cake

If all that is not enough to make all Thais satisfied, visitors at the opening ceremony could get a glimpse of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who presided over the event. I didn’t even know someone from the royal family is coming, until security guards stopped me from going to the toilet. Restricted zones, you know.

My favorite things
My personal favorite store was remotely tucked away from the noisy extravaganza. scripture cabinet Although the top floor was still under construction, the floor below featured a couple antique stores. One of them was especially beautiful, with all the objects displayed with special care and attention, as if it was a museum. The quiet environment, the tasteful composition of fine arts felt like a refuge from the manic frenzy below. I talked with the owner of the shop. She’s been collecting Thai antiques for ten years, specializing on early Rattanakosin and Ayutthaya-era artifacts. She said she was frustrated with the way others reproduce contemporary versions of these antiques; they don’t pay enough attention, just look for the easy money. This is what inspired her to start making quality reproductions in her own factory. I could see what she meant. Her attention to detail was astonishing.

A belgian sweetshop is also worth mentioning. At first, I noticed it because of the Farang behind the counter. It turned out that he is from Belgium and makes the sweets himself! The price shows this though. A little mignon the size of my fingernail costs as much as two full lunches back here at CMU. Thanks, but no thanks.

How much does Siam Paragon reflect Thailand? And does Thailand really need this? Click below to see my thoughts on it.

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Floating Market – Damneun Saduak

Finally my dream comes true! What did I dream? I ever dreamt to visit the famous floating market for ages. I know it from the postcard where portrays the crowded canal where full with the selling fruits on boats.

Driving from Bangkok to Samutsongkram province since 7.30 am on last Monday, we followed the sign of Damnuen Saduak Floating Market. The rule of traveling, you should have Thailand map or navigation with you in order to avoid getting lost. The most problem of tourist without guide is getting lost because we cannot keep following the sign in ever place. Why? From our experiences, the provided sign supposes to direct us to our destination will not locate along the way that you travel. Let’s me rephrase it again that there will be not much sign to lead you to the destination unless you have your own map r navigation. Frequently, when you are in the city, it will no longer provide the direction sign to the point of interests and you have to take a guess which way you will make a turn between right and left.

To travel to the floating market, you should go there before noon otherwise there will be no more things to appreciate. I think it should be call as “Morning Floating Market”. The most favorite activity is traveling via boat to see the beautiful scenery and Thai traditional way. The cost of the hiring boat may be different, depends on the boat owner. It means you can negotiate to get the suitable price. For us, we hired a little rowing boat with 250 baht per trip. Along the trip, you can ask the rowing person to stop and buy something as you want such as fruit, food and souvenir.

surroudings of floating market

This photo illustrates the surrouding of Damneun Saduak Floating Market. There are many boats on the canel. It is the crowded market. Trafic jam can be found not only on streets but also on the canal!

Amazingly, you can see many tourists who sit on the boat were eating food i.e. noodles, banana and Thai dessert. Well, this is an amazing trip that you can have experiencing in eating noodles while you sit on the boat. Not many places provide such a service, only the floating market. Perhaps this is the root of the word “Boat Noodles” or “Guaytiew Ruea” (Guaytiew means noodles and Ruea means boat).

Boat Noodles

The boat noodles on the shore where we can take a seat and taste how delicious the noodle is.

Comparing with other “boat noodles”, I prefer “boat noodles” at Victory Monument in terms of the hot and spicy taste and cheaper price while the floating market provides the best location for dining the boat noodles – you can choose to eat the noodles on your boat or sit on the shore along the canal. Other different thing as I noticed is a boat noodle at the floating market does not have chicken blood as the major ingredient of boat noodles unlike other boat noodles. Sometimes, I explain this type of noodles as “Bloody Noodles on boat” to my foreigner friends in order to illustrate the noodles in clear aspect.

I assume that they may use different recipes. Mainly the most delicious boat noodles often state that they are from Ayuthaya or Rangsit, it depends and it taste very spicy because of the seasoning i.e. dried chili and parsley (using parsley to cover the smell of blood).

In my opinion, I think it seems to be a bit uncomfortable to eat noodles while you are sitting on the boat unlike sitting on the desk where you can sit stable and does not sway. That’s why we chose to eat noodles on the chore not on the boat and the cost is 15 baht per bowl. The significant characteristic of boat noodles is the noodles should be prepared and cooked on the boat.

We ate Khanom Krok that contained on the banana leaf. We had to be careful to eat it because it could harm your tongue by overheat of Khanom Krok. After that the rowing boat leaded us to the Souvenir Shop where you can have a free sample of fresh sugar water – in Thai we call it as “Namtan Sod” (Namtan means sugar, Sod means fresh). Namtan Sod (nahmH dtaanM sohtL) is made from nectar of sugar palm tree and it tastes differs from coconut water. The sugar palm tree looks like coconut tree. Thai people do not plant 2 of sugar palm trees in front of their house because of their height which look like “Pret”- a tallest demon which appear at night and crying at the top of its voice.

Moreover, you can find various products made from coconut and the price is cheaper than Bangkok. For example, the coconut lamp which made from polished and craved coconut shell. A bunch of 5 coconut shells costs 800 baht and a bunch of 3 coconut shells is 650 baht, which are cheaper than the price in Bangkok (I have ever asked for the price at “Made in Thailand Exhibition” and it costs 2,500 baht. The shop assistant told me that many foreigner customers buy this coconut lamp especially Japanese. Also it provides the painted paper/cloth fan, which cost 250 baht and 350 baht, respectively. The significant of the painted fan is the portrayal of floating market and Thai traditional village.

Along the canal you can find many tropical fruits especially 10-baht coconut for relieve your thirsty. It is cheap price when considering with the price in Bangkok or other places. I saw many of Foreigners who were eating banana. Why foreigners like to eat banana? My husband replied me that most of foreigners have never eaten tropical banana especially the smallest one i.e. “Glauy Namwa” – cultivated banana or Musa sapientum Linn (scientific name) and “Glauy Khai”- tiny egg-banana. In Germany, people will eat Africa banana, which is very large and long banana. Actually, I do not like to eat banana because I am afraid that other people will think I am a monkey-like person.

fruit on boat

Do you know that “Glauy Namwa” is considered as a very healthy fruit? Yes, it is. The ripe banana can be purgation but not much while the raw banana could be stop the purgation.

When we got off the boat, we went straight to find a place where we could enjoy the taste of “Boat Noodles”. Most of the noodles shops on the shore look the same, so it depends on our decision where to sit and eat. The taste won’t be too different and the price seems to be a fixed-price. My husband ate 3 bowls of noodles, and his favorite noodle is “Sen Lek” – rice flour noodles in smaller/thinner shape. Finally, we ended our floating trip with walking along the shore and took some photos.

Finally, we ended our trip with walking and surveying the price of souvenirs. Next trip maybe go to another floating market where locates in Bangkok – Taling Chun Floating market. However, I have to search for more information i.e. direction otherwise we won’t arrive the destination!