Mango's Thailand trip report

May 3rd, 2009, 11:24 AM
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Mango's Thailand trip report

Hi everyone. Finally- I'm feeling like the clouds of jet lag are beginning to recede(or is that my hairline?)! I will do the best I can with the order of events since I don't usually try to remember their daily sequence.

We arrived at S'boom feeling pretty excited as usual and took a shuttle to the Novotel there. This was our first time there so we were surprised how beautiful the hotel's facade and lobby are. Equally surprised was I when seeing that the hallways and room were considerably below the standard that the front of the hotel is at. It was like someone mated the front half of the Penn to the ass-end of the Swiss Hotel...very bizarre. The hotel did have a nice tropical garden and decent breakfast spread.

Khon Kaen

The next day we transferred to Khon Kaen for the water festival. Usually our time there is pretty uneventful(boring) other than meeting family members, but this trip here was the most fun since we got to absolutely drench passerbys with large buckets of water. My intercostal muscles were hurting for 2 days afterwards from laughing so hard (and 6 nonstop hours of this). They must have really thought that we had lost our minds. The worst thing that happened to us as a result was getting flipped off by a kid. I do feel bad about drenching that freshly made-up ladyboy on the moped.

My father and I stayed at one of the older hotels in Khon Kaen, the Charoen Thani. It has a really nice old-school 70's feel to it (that is starting to disappear in Thailand). We ran into Aed Carabao there, (a huge Thai celebrity) the singer for the Thai country group, Carabao. As always, a very approachable person, but I understand that he has gone totally commercial(as compared to the times he would sing about anti-establishment/government songs). It was hilarious first seeing him in the lobby..

The next day we went to the Ubolrattana dam to eat real thai food (yes indeed, Hanuman!) on bamboo huts that are extended out over the water. We were the only farangs and got lots of looks. The food was pretty decent, but it was so hot and humid. Lots of people were out in the water riding balloon canoes being pulled by jetskis and others using these pedal-type, two-person mini-boats from the 70's. It was a nice diversion from what we normally do.

I must mention that there are a significant number of katoeys in Khon Kaen now, as opposed to 6 years ago. They're everywhere! Do the people in Thailand eat too much tofu?? In fact, on this entire Thai trip the lesbians and katoeys were all out in full force. Not that I care, but its becoming more and more obvious.. especially the chunky little butch lesbians in Bangkok with bleached hair and piercings that you see who are hand-in-hand with surprisingly pretty, straight-looking girls (dees). I often wonder if I'm on another planet when I'm here.


Phuket

We then flew down to stay at Patong beach at the (damn, I keep forgetting the names of our hotels lol, brb) AMARI CORAL BEACH, a beautiful hotel with a vast array of landscaped tropical plants. They had a number of restaurants and bars, but none had any A/C. It was difficult drinking in the intense H&H-- I felt so bad for the poor girl playing the Kim instrument in the hot, stagnant restaurant! The bad thing about Phuket is that you have to drive all over this hilly terrain to get do different parts of the island. We were so tired of flying and driving at this moment. I felt that 50% of our trip was spent in transit. I will never let this happen again!!

I wasn't really too impressed with Phuket. I must say I was expecting it to be total dump much like Pattaya is, but it really is refreshingly organized and clean. We went to the Fantasea show one night and it was Ok. The only things that cheapened its experience were the crappy ocean boardwalk-style games- like the ones where you throw balls at a stack of cans, etc., and the jewelry store that sells trashy chinese crap "art"(some pieces(of shit) for US$1,000). Why chinese?? Give me a break, FFS, we're in Thailand. Idiots. The show itself was fairly good, but had some piss-poor segments to it. I wouldn't recommend going there unless you're entirely bored out of your skull. (Let me know if I need to be a little more negative, lol).

The next day we took a boating excursion to the Similan (I think) islands. The driver picked us up at the hotel in his van that had a surprisingly funny 70's style interior. Kind of like those Chevy vans of that era. We then went to go pick up a couple more people at another resort. While waiting for the people to meet us, the driver of this van proceeded to back up to the lip of a precipice (or cliff) that was at least 50 feet down to the ocean's edge. The guy must have been blind or severely stupid. We were sitting in the back seat and I was looking out the back window (that had curtains covering it). Never have I ever let out such a string of F-word expletives as I did on that day. I was shitting bricks. Even after yelling "Yoot" multiple times the dumbass let the van roll a little more backwards after applying the brake. It was momentarily terrifying.. my heart rate must have been at 200bpm. The rest of the people in the van were oblivious to the whole thing until they looked out the window. It is often wise to have a good situational awareness when on vacation!! Whew! Then as we were leaving, the guy came at least a foot from the roads edge around a corner. The Australian girls sitting in front of us were paralyzed after this. I can't understand how some people are allowed to drive when they are oblivious to nearly everything. How do such people manage to live so long (he was in his 50's)? Anyway, the boat tour was nice despite being so hot. We stopped at a little beach at the final destination and laid down to relax. The cicadas there give the most alien sounds. Its a linear, high-pitched tone that makes you feel like you're in another world (which you are, when in Thailand). On the ride back, they served us a buffet of chinese food. I felt like Hanuman had prayed for this to happen to me. But, nonetheless I ate it because it was still, by definition, food. It then dawned on me that the chinese-thai girl who was sitting among us was a member of the family that owned the boat. Surprise!!

Next, the 3rd day, we drove around to the scenic points in Phuket. My father got his picture taken with a real Sea Eagle named "Rambo", on his arm. It was a gorgeous bird, much like the slender, petite Russian babe that we saw just moments earlier with her succulent cheeks straining out the back of her jean shorts.. So much beauty in this country, I must mention.

We did manage to have the most outstanding Thai meal on this trip in Thailand down here at Phong Phang (http://phuketindex.com/phongphang/#map). I was in heaven, as was the wife and my Thai-food-virgin father. Absolutely spectacular food. The driver of our car brought us here and he was rewarded quite handsomely for this. We originally thought he was taking us out into the country to rob and abandon us, since it is really kind of well-hidden, but this was the culinary highlight of the trip.

Anyway, these were the notables on the trip, and


Next part: Bangkok
Mango7 is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 12:59 PM
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Very nice start, Mango. the water drenching sounds like fun. Let us know how your father reacted to the various stimuli. Clearly timely, no penalty.
Gpanda is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 02:25 PM
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Great start Mango! Love to read how the Thailand regulars spend their time on vacation. Funny how Asia board regulars can "haunt" you vacation time,lol. I have heard many a voice of a fodors regular in my head at times over my SE Asian travels.
Looking forward to more!

Aloha!
hawaiiantraveler is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 03:39 PM
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Thanks for telling us about your trip. I look forward to more details.
Kathie is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 03:45 PM
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Thanks Gpanda. My father has led a pretty interesting life, and there isn't much that would catch his attention. He did seem unusually distracted when we saw this particular ladyboy dancing out in front of a bar in the redlight district of Phuket. He/She had the most staggeringly unbelievable body and was beautiful, facially. Neither of us have an interest in this sort of thing, but this LB was really outstanding-looking. I thought about paying the LB to sit on my father's lap, but I didn't want him to have a myocardial!

hawaiiantraveler- I have thought of you and many others on my exploits, funny you should mention it. I meant to have a long list of restaurants/food stall locations, but we ended up at the same places, pretty much.
Mango7 is offline  
May 3rd, 2009, 03:48 PM
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You're welcome Kathie. I just apologize for the overzealous use of naughty words. I guess I got a little carried away writing this stuff.
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May 3rd, 2009, 04:01 PM
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I'm honored to be mentioned by you twice in your report. I had circulated a memo telling all the tour operators in Thailand that you were coming and to serve you as much Chinese food as possible. I told them to look for a mango or papaya kind of bloke with a Thai wife and I guess it work! Glad you had a good time.
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May 3rd, 2009, 05:25 PM
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Part 2: Bangkok <<<<<

We were relieved to be coming to Bangkok since it really is the highlight of our Thai trip. We usually do a few day there when we first arrive in Thailand, but this time we ended up there last. Never again though!!

We checked into the Banyan Tree this time, under that fantastic promotion they had a while ago. They even upgraded us to a suite without asking!! It really is a nice hotel even though we never used any of its amenities...we didn't even go up to Vertigo! I have to mention that the breakfast there is simply the highest quality spread I've ever come across in Bangkok. Really fantastic..

The vast majority of our time was spent shopping at all the big malls and eating until we were ready to keel over. We ate multiple times at ThaSiam and the foodcourt(both in MBK), and the streetfood at the intersection of Silom road and Soi Convent. It was very good, but so darn hot outside..to the point where we couldn't really enjoy eating! We also did Kuppa one night, and then Suan Bua at the Sofitel Central Plaza (Centara now). This is one restaurant I would really recommend to you guys. The food is fantastic and the restaurant is done up in teak (I believe). If ever in this area, please do check it out.

My father and I went bowling a couple times. It was really fun, but it is a little warm there, especially when bowling at a fast rate. I was sweating almost profusely by the time we finished. After bowling (and sweating!)again on the second day, this is where the trip began to take a downturn for me. I started to sneeze like crazy, and then began feeling zoned-out from histamine release, clogged nose, etc.

I should have stayed in the hotel more often since I was sweating whenever we went out. Then one night we ate outside at this nice restaurant in Rama 3 (Sala Buri?) with some of the wife's friends. I couldn't believe that Thais would sit outside in 90 degree weather next to the Chao Phraya to eat... It was ridiculous. Then I stupidly had a couple drinks at the 360 bar in the Hilton afterwards. The next night we went to Central Plaza to shop and I felt even worse afterwards. When we left the mall I was sweating and told my wife I felt like a was going to fall down and die. I should've stayed at the hotel and avoided sweating, but I didn't want to lose any precious time in Bangkok. So we went to sleep. I remember drifting in and out of a deep dream state and was sweating because the covers at the Banyan Tree are so thick. In my dream I was looking for something under the bedsheets that would make me quit sweating and allow me to sleep normally. I was in a dream loop where you dream the same thing over and over. It was awful. I could never find what I was looking for in the dream, and then I had to get up to use the toilet. I stumbled over to the bathroom and when I got in there I became completely disoriented. I keep the light off when I'm in there usually, but this time I couldn't find the damned toilet. I didn't want to start peeing all over everything. I still felt as if I was dreaming and then I started to freak out. It was REALLY bizarre. I woke up the wife and told her that something was wrong with me. My heart was racing. I had the very weird feeling that if I fell asleep again I would not wake up. She calmed me down and then we went back to bed. When I was laying back I was thinking to myself that I should bring a medical diseases book with me when on vacation. Next thing I know, I'm sitting down leafing through a medical book looking up "pneumonia" in a bizarre dream state. I quickly jumped up and told my wife to take me to the hospital so they could rule out any unusual diseases/infections. So we jumped in a taxi at 3 am and I was examined in the ER. Long story short, I had a slight fever and a slightly-low blood 02 level. The doctor gave me some ordinary meds and told me to return the next day if I still was feeling disoriented for a brain scan or MRI. The next day I awoke at noon, ate, then went back to sleep until 8 pm. I ended up in bed for two days until it was the day to Move over to the Novotel Siam. I felt better on the last day, so we went to Siam Paragon for a several hours, watched a movie(Frozen Flower) at the VIP cinema there. It was excellent. Its always so depressing on the last day in BKK, but I was ready to come home this time!!

The last leg of the flight was nearly sleepless. The seats are so damned uncomfortable on the 777-381! (The 767 BKK-NRT flight seemed more spacious and I did manage to sleep). It was an exhaustive flight and I'm still feeling depressed and foggy after 5 days so far. Hopefully I'll snap out of it tomorrow! If anyone has any specific questions about the trip please feel free to ask. After this trip, it will be a long time before I go back to Thailand. I really feel burnt-out after this 6th trip (in 6 years). The things that were once exciting to me are now just ok. Its hard to explain why. Maybe because I feel that Thailand has significantly changed over the past 6 years..and perhaps I have too. Anyone else feel this way sometimes?

Thanks for reading you guys..
Mango
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May 3rd, 2009, 05:28 PM
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Lol, Hanuman. I guess you REALLY believe in Karma now.
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May 3rd, 2009, 06:07 PM
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It sounds like you had heat stroke. Getting sick always puts a different slant on a trip. Sorry yours ended this way. Next trip, drink more water and alternate time in the heat with time in cool air conditioning.
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May 3rd, 2009, 06:56 PM
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Kathie- Thanks. You may be right. It was a crazy experience. If you ever get sick in any foreign country, its best not to push yourself! Live and learn!
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May 3rd, 2009, 10:50 PM
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hey mango, hope you're feeling better. i've been eagerly waiting your trip report about street food in bangkok. which street food stalls did you eat at, at silom road and soi convent? do they have a stall number? how can i find it? what did you have? was it good? do you reco it? i would like to try it next time i'm there, so your recos will be valuable to me.

also, i thought you didn't eat at the food court at mbk? which stall did you eat at? what did you have? was it good? do you reco it? is it real thai? and where is thasiam? always interested in new places to eat.

just back from dc, few days it was in the 90s, next few days 60s. wierd. dc still a great place. legals still one of the best, imho.(kumamotos were excellent)
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May 4th, 2009, 03:28 PM
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Thank you Kuranosuke. Ha ha, you have many questions that will be hard for me to answer, but the best rule of theumb is to just walk around and order what looks appealing to you. We didn't do the street food very much this trip for some reason(the heat!!). The street stalls we usually go to are on Soi Convent, at Silom Rd. There are also some pretty good hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the same area. Just walk around and see what the are making. Its hard to lose this way. Even if you don't like something, it was so cheap that it won't matter. Just try something else. The quantities they give you are usually small, so sample lots of stuff. I wish I could give you more specific answers, but the wife usually leaves me at a table and runs off to get the food.

We did eat at MBK multiple times. I usually get the Kow Mun Gai: Chicken on top of rice(then you put the hot sauce that's at the window on). This is very good. I tried a muslim dish this time at the suggestion of a website (bkkeats?). It was at stall C-21 and it was chicken with yellow rice. It was pretty good, but not spicy at all. Another fantastic thing to get is the Hoi Todd(almost like an oyster omelet). It is usually found in any eatery and is very good. Make sure you use the red sauce with it, this is important!

ThaSiam is on the ground floor of MBK. It is near where you see all the massaging recliner chairs on the way to the taxi stand. There's a big red evil-looking pig that stands at the front (I've been very tempted to steal this pig and ship it home with me). Order a bowl of noodle soup with marinated pork (moo). On your table you'll see a quartet of spices/sauces. From three of these little bowls put two scoops of each bowl(The one you don't want to use is the clear vinegar bowl). Mix it up real good and enjoy. You may want to order another of the same soup, as we do (sometimes 3!). Then order the shaved ice dessert--This is really old-school!!

If you want to try a really nice restaurant and don't mind hopping into a cab to the Sofitel Central Plaza(Centara), try the Suan Bua restaurant in the same hotel. It is great! (You may easily be able to get there by the skytrain). Afterwards, you can go to JJ market (or vice versa) or the Central Plaza mall.

I happened to arrive when the weather just got rainy here in the DC area. It has been doing this for 6 straight days!! Sorry you had to experience this. The weather pattern sucks here, imo. I am in a slump still from the trip and being sick. But the wife just arrived this morning and I'm already starting to feel better now. Maybe I was just missing her!

Talk soon!
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May 4th, 2009, 03:34 PM
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Here is the Sofitel restaurant I was suggesting:
http://tinyurl.com/d8o4jb
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May 4th, 2009, 03:35 PM
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For some reason the map was cropped, but the hotel is on the upper left of the map.
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May 4th, 2009, 03:37 PM
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Here's a nice Thasiam review with pics:
http://southernoise-gluttony.blogspo...m-bangkok.html
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May 4th, 2009, 11:56 PM
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Great report on the food Mango and like you one of my favourite dishes in Thailand and South East Asia is Kow Mun Gai or Hainanese Chicken rice. Hoi Tod is also good but I would not touch it in the hotter months since I believe there's a greater risk of getting food poisoning. There's another dish you should try and it's like Hoi Tod but in a new variation, it's call "Hoi Tod Khanom Krok". You can find the best Hoi Tod and Hoi Tod Khanom Krok around Yaowarat.
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May 5th, 2009, 02:28 AM
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Someone else's picture of "Hoi Tod Kanom Krok" - http://www.flickr.com/photos/aaronca...7594380887055/
Hanuman is offline  
May 5th, 2009, 03:31 AM
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Mango-- Glad you are home and hopefully feeling better. I'm home just last night so up at 5 this morning. I slept all the way from NRT to ORD so not quite as exhausted as I sometimes get after that long flt.

I'm not burned out on BKK. In fact, I'm wondering if I will be able to go back again in August. I hope you think about your trip and then decide you want to return. Maybe not right away, but in a few years...?

Carol
simpsonc510 is offline  
May 5th, 2009, 06:14 AM
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Hanuman- Thanks for the recommendations. I'll certainly try the other version next time!! Thanks for the photo too :]

Carol- Glad you slept OK on the plane. I'm still feeling the blues pretty heavily..I can't figure out why. I would like to return to BKK. Perhaps my getting sick at the end of the trip (combined with the jetlag) has clouded my feelings. We have decided that it will be at least another 2 years before we go again...the pain of the flight length and jetlag has outweighed the enjoyment at this point, unfortunately. Anyway, thanks for your thoughts.

M
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