Category Archives: Traveling Thai

Bangkok Gluttony

Again, another foodie post I did for my own food blog. But hey, I’m a sharing type! 🙂

I went home for a few weeks this past month. This trip home was a unique one (aside from the obvious circumstance). I mean, I don’t think my family and I had eaten out that much within 2 weeks in our lives. But it was easier for us and for our maid if we were to eat out during the week of wake at the temple.

Not all of the restaurants in Bangkok has a website, so I’m just going by what I remember and will try to give you guys a link the best I can.

Where I’ve eaten:
– Royal Kitchen
– Khun Ying
– Le Dalat Indochine
– Greyhound Cafe
– Kalprapruek on First
– Zen Cucina
– Paesano
– Le Pre Grille

Brace yourself. This is a LONG one. 🙂

Continue reading

Thai Pronunciation Guide

With the opening of the brand spanking new Suwarnnabhumi Airport, I think it’s important that we let the foreigners in on how we pronounce the name.

Suwarnnabhumi : su-wan-na-POOM

I know it should read “su-warn-na-boom-me” according to its spelling, but that’s not how us Thais say it.

Most of the time, any Thai names written in English is pronounced differently than how it looks.

Romanizing/Transliteration isn’t always a good thing. 😉

The way Thais spell out Thai words in English makes the word appear luxurious. Look at how pretty the words look versus how it would look spelling out phonetically.

Sawasdee –> Sa-wad-dee. The “S” at the end of “was” is an “D” sound in Thai spelling.

Thaksin Shinawatra –> TAK-sin SHIN-na-wat

Sorry. I couldn’t resist. 😉

Another case in point, Thailand is pronounced TIE-land, not THIGH-land. (Please, hold on to your jokes. How else could I convey the pronunciation in writing!?)

All kidding aside, how we spell our names out extravagantly in English is not just for show.

Like, Suwarnnabhumi, we spell out according to the Pali or Sanskrit roots.

The name of our king, for example, Bhumibol is pronounced Poo-mi-poan in Thai, but it is written out in English according to how it is spelled in Thai (and “L” stands in for “N” sound at the end of a word, and such) and staying with how root word should be spelled.

But how do you know how the root word should be spelled?

Okay. This is purely from my observation. If someone has a better explanation, by all means please illuminate us all. But my theory is that the English has ways of jotting down the words in Pali, Sanskrit, and other languages and dialects spoken in India. Like, yoga. Yoga is known in Thai as Yo-ka. Maharaja –> Maha Racha. So certain words are supposed to be romanized a certain way. Something like that.

Still with me?

Before we go further, let me just say that this is a GUIDE on how to pronounce Thai words written in English in order to better communicate with Thais in Thailand…and to be able to pronounce the names correctly and feel proud of yourself! This is NOT a Thai lesson. For that, please visit LearningThai.com

Now, you may continue with a cheat sheet to pronouncing Thai words written in English.

Continue reading

My Ah-ha! Moments

Perhaps it’s because I flied solo a lot more during my latest trip home now that my mom (sick) and my friends (work) are no longer available as my sidekick, and that I am older and can drink more than one beer before passing out drunk, I just suddenly realize a few simple things in life of a Bangkokian I never noticed before.

Here goes my “Ah-ha!” moments and survival tips about taxi cabs, pedestrians, love affair with food, and nightlife in Bangkok.

BANGKOK TAXIS

Available…NOT!

Cabs that have “Available” sign (Wang – or empty) lit up in the window doesn’t necessarily means that they are actually available. Many cabs would leave the light on eventhough they have passengers. Laziness or forgetfulness on the cabbies’ part? Either way, it’ll leave you feel like a jackass hailing a cab that wouldn’t stop.

Dude! What are you doing in my cab??

This is not New York or London where you can hail a cab, get in, tell them where you want to go, and they’ll take you. In Bangkok, you hail a cab, open the door and ask the cabbie if he would take you to your destination. If he says yes, you get. If not, close the door and hail another cab.

Oh yes, Thai cabbies can say no. Not quite what the government had in mind when they wanted all the cabs “modernized” to meter system. The meters were installed in cabs to regulate the pricing of fares and so that the cabs will take you anywhere you want. Before this, you have to haggle with the cabbie and they can tell you that they don’t want to go where you’re going. Now, you may have the regulated fare but the cabbies can still refuse to go to your destination. Why that is? Apparently, the longer time spent sitting in traffic–usually related to distance you want to travel–the less money the cabbie would make during that time. So, you’ll find yourself in a pickle trying to get a cab to take you to Central Chidlom from the Grand Palace during rush hour.

Cabbies wait for no man…

…just before 9 a.m. and again before 3 p.m. unless you’re on their way to turn in their cars or they are independent (which is quite rare). You’ll see empty cabs zooming right past you, empty and all. Those times are like the shift change in taxi driving world. The cabbies rush back to their respective cab companies to turn in their cars or they get fined if they’re late. Understandable. Only when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere yourself.

Continue reading

OakMonster’s Quick Guide to BKK

Hi kids! Long time no see! 🙂 Still busy over here but I figure I post this info out for you guys to start talking and getting more suggestions out for my friend Celeste.

You see, Celeste is going on a tour of Asia with her boyfriend, stopping in Bangkok for 3-4 days. She has asked me about what to do and where to go.

After referring her to Thai-Blogs.com, shamelessly, I wrote the following piece of tourism nugget of the places I like best. Please note that this is ONLY my opinion. But I’m sure Celeste will appreciate everyone’s input as well.

Here goes my quick effort. A piece written after a long day at work and a couple of beers… 😉

== == == ==

Dear Celeste,

Okay. For 3-4 days in the city, you’re going to have to hit these spots. Don’t worry. Any cabby with English skills will know where to take you.

First rule, remember that anything that is written with “Ph” and “Th” or “Kh”, the H is silent. Once you know that, communicating with the locals get much easier. i.e. Chao Phraya River – reads Chao PRAya River, not FRAya. 🙂

Second rule, just don’t go out there if you’re in the country on the weekend without checking local English-language newspaper first. We are having a lot of political rallies on the weekends at different spots in the city. That would a) make traffic worse, and b) be a chance the crowd would gather where you’re going especially if you’re heading for Old Town.

Third, bargain down HALF of asking price if you’re buying a stall or night bazarre/market type. You must fake that you’re not really that interested. If you show the sign of “Oh my god I sooo want this!”, you just lost your haggle power! 🙂 Same goes with anywhere in Asia really.

Fourth, what I’d recommend to you could vary depending on where you’re staying. Getting across Bangkok is easy if you’re close to the Sky Train route. Tell me where you’re going to be staying, and I can help you along so much better.

Where to go in Bangkok also relies on what day you’re in town. But for SURE you just can’t miss these places.

1. Temple of Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace – “Wat Prakaew”.
Standard Bangkok trip. Cost you a few bucks plus cab fare. You can spend most of the day wandering around the historical area. In the same area, there’s the National Theater and the National Museum. And of course, Chao Phraya River. Catch another short cab ride to the famous Kao San Road, backpacker’s heaven and trendy Thai kids’ haven.

2. Patpong
Yes, the Red Light district. As much as I hate the stereotype of Thai = prostitution, but I must recommend Patpong. Not only for the go-go bar gawking purpose, but the shopping there is divine at night. Tons of stalls offering “Louis Vuitton” purses. They close the streets down once the sun goes down. But watch out for the folks hawking the “Show upstairs”. Brandon and my friend’s friend from Australia were quite horrified. LOL.

3. Suan Lump Night Bazarre.
A sanctioned night bazarre by Lumpini Park. Huge outdoor bazarre open nightly. Great food. Great bargain. Just around the corner from the Thai boxing stadium. You can hop from Patpong to here on a cab.

4. Soi Lalai Sap
This one is a local secret spot. Nestled in the alley way of Bangkok Bank on Silom Road, the heart of the Financial district, is a strip of shopping paradise that comes alive from 11-2 on a weekday. The whole alley plus a few air-conditioned ground floor spaces are packed with everything from clothes, suits, shoes, dresses and evening gowns, jewelry and gem stones, to food and fresh fruit. But only from 11-2 weekdays.

5. The Red Cross Snake Farm
Just around the corner from Patpong and Silom is the Thai Red Cross. They have a snake farm and show in the morning for affordable price. Money goes toward the operations and other functions of the Red Cross.

6. Siam Square, Siam Paragon, and MBK Mall
Siam Square has been THE place to be for generations of Thai teens. But at the same token, it is a shopper’s paradise. The Siam Paragon is the new high class mega mall that just opened. With Hermes and Versace peppers the mall, other brand names deep in the department store, and Ferrari showroom on the top floor, still nothing beats their massive food court on the ground level. Everything you could possibly imagined! MBK on the other hand is down to earth everyday stuff.

7. Jim Thompson House & Museum
Jim Thompson, an American, revolutionized Thai silk industry back in WWII where he ended up falling in love for Thailand and the region. He built his traditional Thai house and today it is a museum. Wonderful place to visit and only a Sky Train ride away!

If you’re there on the weekend, definitely check out Jatujak (or Chatuchak) Market. You can get there via the subway. The JJ is THE mother of all bazarre/swapmeet type place. Everything is dirt cheap. And they have EVERYTHING.

If you guys can afford it, check to see what your hotel has to offer when it comes to tour packages. We’ve found one years back that was an affordable day trip to go to the Floating Market, just outside of Bangkok, and some other attractions all over the city. That would be worth your money.

If you also have a day to spare, and once again, check with your hotel, see if they have a day trip to Ayuttaya. Ayuttaya was once the capital of Siam. The city was massive and grand before we got our butt kicked by Burma who burned down the city and took our gold to build there frickin’ Golden Pagoda. (Yeah, I’m still bitter about something that happened over 200 years ago.) Some tour drives you out there and back, but there’s a package of driving there and riding the boat down the river back, or riding the boat both directions.

Let me know if you want more (or less) guidance!

Cheers,

Oakley
== == == ==

Of Flight and Feathers

Fishing boat and memorial float at Baan Naam Kem fishing village

Hi all. I’m back stateside. I actually stayed in Bangkok until February 14, but it was a busy 4 extra days that I didn’t have time to tell y’all. I’m so sorry! (Especially to you, Richard S!) And I went straight to work, clocking in at 6:30 a.m. on Wednesday after having arrived on US soil at 8:30 p.m. on Valentine’s day.

I am a little jetlagged, but not too horribly. Thanks too the new Thai Airways’ non-stop flight which I will tell you more about later on.

To top it off, We are moving to Los Alamitos, just a city over, this weekend. Oh yeah. No rest for the wearies!

Now, that Thai Airways flight. For the $1085 I paid for my round trip tickets on the non-stop LAX-Bangkok flight, it’s worth every penny.

THAI offers direct flights from LAX, NYC, and soon Moscow, to Bangkok on the plush Airbus A340-500. There are 2 flights each week, Tuesday and Friday.

What I love about it most is that even in economy, you have your own entertainment unit! As in, YOU have control of what you want to watch, listen, or play. The programmings will keep you entertained through the flight. And of course, there was none of that annoying layovers.

Economy seatings have a little bit more leg room and larger seats. The lay out is 2-4-2 instead of the cramped 3-5-3 configuration.

The Premium Economy gives you even more leg room an wider, more comfortable seats, similar to Economy Deluxe I’ve flown on EVA Air.

Once you get into Business and First classes, it becomes a whole other ballgame. These guys have that modular seats that can lay out flat. Services up in these classes is other worldly, and I’m sure the food would be absolutely divine.

How do I know? With my dad’s mileage gold card, we got upgraded to Business Class on the flight back from Phuket. Tea was served in real cup, and cake on real plate. And that was only an hour flight! I was so impressed. No wonder folks who can afford it fly business/first!

The non-stop flight is 17 hours from LAX to BKK, and 15 hours from BKK to LAX. They provide a meal shortly after take off, again somewhere over Japan, and one more time just before landing. Without stopping, that saves about 4-5 hours out of the entire flight.

This non-stop flight saved me precious time as my original stay was only 10 days, losing one day already on traveling. And I must say that the shorter flight time cut down jetlag considerably. I barely suffer any jetlag on my way over–a little sleepy in the afternoon but could be staved off by some coffee. On the way back is still pretty severe as always, but not as much. At least I wasn’t waking up in the middle of the night too much, but I was absolutely useless at work after 2 p.m.

The only semi bad thing about the flight is arrival and departure time in Bangkok.

You arrive at the crack of dawn at the airport, giving you a whole day to run around the city and effectively fighting off jetlag. But the traffic trying to get back into the middle of town is THE legendary Bangkok gridlock. The flight leaves again in the evening, which you’d once again be in traffic. Worse yet, if you have the Friday night flight, plan to leave the city very very early.

Summary: If you’re tight on time and a little loose on the budget, I’d suggest coughing up a little more and go with THAI non-stop flight.

We’ve talked flight. Now, feathers.

Since I won’t be able to type up the story of my visit down in Khao Lak as yet, I’ve put up photos on my Khao Lak 2006 Flickr album. There are captions there that would tell you a little bit of the stories.

Until then!