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Thailand

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Thailand

Flag, Thailand In May 2012, we visited Thailand.  It was the first time I had been back in seven years.  We spent two nights in Bangkok on either end of the trip, but most of our time was spent on Koh Phi Phi. On the way back to Bangkok, we stayed overnight in Ao Nang and had the best fish dinner of the trip. In 2005, not long after the tsunami, I spent a month in Ao Nang.  It's completely different now.  Everything changes, no?

 


Around Bangkok

For about 3 months, we lived in Bangkok. Actually, my wife lived here for three months, I was only here for 6 weeks. Rather than create a separate entry for each of the places I want to remember, I compiled everything into this one article. If I stop being lazy at some point, I'll rate each one and create separate entries ... or I'll figure out how to review them on TripAdvisor and have a feed show up here. In the mean time ...

  • Restaurants
    • Cafe Tartine. On Ruam Rudee, there is a great little cafe that we visited often. It's western food. The salads, sandwiches, lattes, and quiches are quite tasty. It closes around 8pm, so it's not a late-night place. It's a good brunch and lunch option. Mains cost about 250 - 450 baht. Lattes are around 100 baht.
    • Bourbon Street. It's an American owned and operated restaurant that makes delicious Cajun food. The shrimp po boy, blackened fish, cole slaw, and potatoe salad are family favorites. It's between 250 and 450 baht for a main or sandwich. 
    • Tummy Yummy. Thai food in a nice little spot along Soi Ton Son, near the Chit Lom BTS stop. We've ordered delivery and eaten in. The 
    • Food Court by Centre Point on Wireless Road. I love to get grilled chicken, papaya salad, and sticky rice (90 - 120 baht) from the stall right at the end nearest Embassy Place.  It's open during the week and closes by 1pm. It's really just a lunch-time spot service the folks who work in the surrounding office buildings. There are about 6 different vendors with buffet trays of prepared deliciousness. Rice and three dishes runs about 60 baht. You can't beat it.
    • Hyde and Seek. It's the outdoor, classy bar in the same area as Cafe Tartine, just behind the Plaza Athenee.  Ambience at night is nice. It's relatively quiet and Ruam Rudee is obscured from view by the bushes they've grown. I thoroughly enjoyed my Brandy Alexander, but drinks are around 300 baht. 
    • The Nest. It's an 8th floor rooftop bar crowning the Le Phenix Hotel on Soi 11, Sukhumvit. Although it's not 60 stories like some of the other bars, it has a nice, unobstructed view of the skyline. Drinks were around 300 baht. 
    • Beruit. Mediterranean. We ordered from there are few times, but have never been to the restaurant. The hummus is quite good. There was a great fish dish I ordered (I can't remember what it was). Prices are 300 - 600 baht a main. Not cheap.
    • Dean & Deluca. I know it's lame, but the coffee is good. They've just got the espresso making down. Iced lattes run about 120 baht. 
    • The Peninsula. Sunday Lunch Buffet. We did Christmas Brunch here. It was US$100 a person. It was worth every penny. Desserts, meats, sushi and cheeses. All you can eat. And I ate a lot. The wild boar and the wagyu beef were out of this world. 
    • Coffee Beans by Dao. Dessert. Delicious. Delivers. Coffee Beans by Dao is a Bangkok (Thailand?) chain with delicious desserts. My favorite is the lemon cheesecake, though the espresso cake and the mocha toffee cake are equally delicious. 
  • Activities
    • Jitti Gym. While in Bangkok, I had the opportunity to train a little. One of my friends told me about Jitti Gym - they're friendly to foreigners and they're right off the MTS Ratchadapisek stop. So I went. Love it. There are two sessions - 8am and 3pm. I have never made the 8am class because morning are rough with an infant. However, the afternoon classes are pretty laid back. You can show up when you want (within reason), you warm up with some rope skipping and stretching. Then it's a few rounds of combos with the pads, then technique work on the pads, broken up by rounds on the heavy bag, and finishing up with super light sparring. Right now, each session is 400 baht, or 600 baht for morning and afternoon.
    • Loy Nava Dinner Cruise on Chao Praya.  For about $50 per person, four of us went on the 2 hour cruise. They've got two times, 6pm and 8pm. The cruise is on an old rice boat, it's open to the air, and tastefully done. The menu is set and comes out in courses. We saw the Chao Praya Princes boats from ours; they had horrible karaoke, massive buffet, and about 100 people. It did not have the intimate feel of the Loy Nava. The boat pilot did a little turn around at Wat Arun, letting both sides of the boat see the temple lit up in the night sky. Gorgeous! What's great is that the dinner fee includes pickup and dropoff from your hotel/residence.

Som Tam Nua

Som Tam Nua is a restaurant off Siam Square that serves delicious Isaan food from the northeast of Thailand.  I can't even tell you what we ordered, but pretty much everything we had was delicious. The fried chicken was a massive hit - we demolished two baskets of the stuff.  The papaya salad was also quite delicious.  I'd say you can't go wrong ordering anything off the menu.

When we were there - around 8.30pm on a Saturday night - it was packed with locals and we waited until about 9pm for a table for five.

392/14 Soi Siam Square 5, Rama 1 Road.
Tel +66 (0) 22 51 4880.

Open daily, 10:45 a.m.-9.30 p.m.

Arayaburi Resort

On Koh Phi Phi, there are a ton of places that you can stay. There are backpacker flop houses and high-end resorts. We stayed somewhere in between at a place called the Arayaburi Resort.

It was a little confusing at first because the hotel is part of the Bayside Hotel. The grounds are all the same, everyone eats the same breakfast in the same place in the morning. It's just that the Arayaburi folks pay more for slightly larger bungalows and perhaps for more mosquitoes.  

The bungalow itself has A/C, a screened sliding door, a space to chill outside (if you can withstand the mosquito onslaught), and a decent bathroom.  The views are nice, but it's not like you're right on the beach or that you have an unobstructed view of the water and near-by islands. 

It's also quite far from most of the places that you're going to do anything - i.e., eat good food, go diving, or go rock climbing. We didn't check out the bar scene because it's not really our thing, but if it's your thing, you can be out quite late.  Still, there was just something ho-hum about the place. We enjoyed Mango Bay on Phu Quoc much more and paid less each day for our room.

Breakfast was fine - they had eggs made to order, so-so coffee, tea, and a buffet of fruit, pancakes, and noodles.

I probably wouldn't stay there again, but that's because I think we could find the same level of amenities for a similar place elsewhere on the island.  I think if you read the TripAdvisor reviews, you'll have a pretty good idea about the pro's and con's of the place.

Le Meridien

For the last night in Bangkok, we stayed here.  The hotel is called Le Meridien at Plaza Athenee. Part of the Starworld Group, which includes the W, Westin, and a few other nice hotels, meant we were in for a treat!  We splurged a bit here - $150 for the night - but it was worth it.

On the 4th floor is a beautiful pool with a great view of the city.  The hotel is close to the Ploen Chit SkyTrain stop and a whole bunch of good stuff - like La Monita, our new favorite Tex-Mex restaurant.  

We also received complimentary coffees from the Glaz Bar on the first floor. We were strategic, getting the coffees on Friday before our 5am departure on Saturday.  We chilled them in the refrigerator and had them for breakfast. Delicious.

Aspen Suites Hotel

Based on a recommendation from a friend, we spent our first night at the Aspen Suites Hotel. It's on Soi 2 Sukhumvit, near the Ploen Chit Skytrain stop.  The room was great - of course I don't have photos - and very reasonable. We paid about $50 for the night and had two TVs, a large sitting area, kitchen, king-sized bed, and a small study.  Wow!  Despite using the key-in electricity control (you know, stick the key into a slot near the door so you have electricity in the room), the room did not have the typical mildew smell that plagues hotels that usually let their rooms get steamy hot when guests aren't in them.

The hotel offers a free tuk-tuk ride to the end of the soi and has a decent restaurant downstairs.  M had her first Thai-made pad seew. Delicious.