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The Mystic East - a tale of hot food, hot weather, airmiles and imodium.

The Mystic East - a tale of hot food, hot weather, airmiles and imodium.

Jan 8th, 2017, 05:14 AM
  #61  
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Day 22: Bangkok

Our last day in Bangkok started with breakfast in the hotel. I had scrambled eggs with chopped peppers, a range of pastries, fruit and yoghurt, and then apple crumble with cream and flambed bananas. Don’t ask me how the latter two qualify as breakfast – I wouldn’t have expected to see them on the buffet to be honest, but it would have been rude not to try them, since they were there. At the same station as the apple crumble I also saw crème brulees, and took one for Tommy so he would be complicit in puddinggate and couldn’t tell me off.

Plans for the day ahead included a bit of shopping in the upmarket malls, a visit to Lumpini Park, and then a trip to one of the lesser known sights – an artists house on the klong (canal), with a puppet show thrown in for good measure.

The posh malls were not that far from our hotel, so we opted to walk, despite the building heat and humidity. En-route we passed patisseries, massage parlours, and food vendors starting to set up their charcoal grills on the street, or chopping mango and papaya and arranging the slices neatly on ice. Lime green and bubblegum pink taxis honked angrily at mopeds crossing their path. Though the area was quite a bit smarter than that surrounding our first hotel, the pavements were still just as uneven in places, and if you glanced up, the familiar tangle of wires still criss-crossed the sky.

In the mall Tommy bought new earbuds to replace an old set that had worn out due to a mixture of heavy usage and a lilac-furred feline that liked to gnaw the wires. We also perused beautiful silk accessories in Jim Thompson - only after I’d had my iced chocolate milk confiscated by the eagle-eyed staff though. Then on to the jewellery section of the mall, which had virtually every high-end jeweller and fashion house you could possibly think of. We started in Tiffany, as I have coveted one of their key pendants pretty much since the dawn of time. It was pay day and I was sorely tempted to treat myself to a last minute souvenir, however my car was due its MOT the day after I got back to the UK, I had a plumbing invoice still outstanding, and it was of course Christmas in a couple of weeks time, so by superhuman willpower I resisted.

We next wandered passed Mikimoto (I am not a huge fan of pearls truth be told) and Bvlgari, which was a bit blingy for me, and then finally Cartier, probably my most favourite jewellery house of all. In the window of Cartier they had a jawdropping panther bracelet exactly like the one owned by Wallace Simpson, a mass of diamonds and sapphires, the cat’s mouth acting as the clasp. I had no idea they were still making the Panthere range, though I suppose there’s always a chance it was an isolated antique piece from the deco era. I actually prefer the Le Baiser Du Dragon range from a few years back, which is much more oriental in style, and very delicate, lots of onyx, jade and baguette-cut diamonds. I helpfully explained the fundamental differences between the two collections to Tommy, and I could tell he was fascinated.

We spent longer than anticipated at the mall, so ended up scratching Lumpini Park from the schedule, to ensure we didn’t miss the puppet show. Hopping onto a skytrain, we made for Wongwian Yai, the nearest stop to the canals, fortuitously managing to snag seats for most of the journey. I say nearest stop – we were still not within walking distance of our final destination and had to grab a taxi from outside the BTS. This proved more problematic than we had expected as none of the drivers had heard of the address we wanted, and it took three attempts before we managed to find someone to agree to take us, and then only if Tommy had Google maps up on his phone and took charge of navigation. Not knowing the thai for things like ‘straight ahead’, ‘slip road’ and ‘underpass’, said navigation also necessitated a fair bit of gesturing from Mr M and the odd sneaky peek at the phone from the driver, but they did a great job between them, and we found ourselves at the end of a side road leading to a bridge over the canal in quite short order.

I loved the canals! Devoid of the crowds we’d seen everywhere else in the city, they felt like a real oasis. Wooden houses on stilts crouched low over the water, baskets of flowers and trailing greenery hanging from almost all of them. Using the planked walkways fronting each building we wandered past a hairdresser’s salon (complete with poodle sleeping on one of the cracked old leather chairs), people with makeshift stalls in their doorways selling food to feed the canal fish, and old women firing up woks over gas burners, ready to cook the family lunches. Long thin river taxis sped up and down the waterway, reckless captains at the tiller, creating huge bow waves which slapped against the wooden piers.

We found the artists house on a corner and, after taking off our shoes and putting them on a rack, nipped inside. A couple of people were working at old wooden school desks, their palettes caked in years’ worth of dried oil paints. On the wall were etchings of the canals. A small wooden counter served coffees, and we ordered iced ones and sat at a table enjoying the views out on to the water. Enormous open-mouthed carp were surfacing as a young woman threw fish food to them, the water a boiling mass as they thrashed against one another fighting for the brightly coloured pellets. Eventually we moved to another area of the house which had two or three rows of seating set up overlooking an internal courtyard where the puppet show was to be performed. The seats were a mixture of folding chairs, cinema style rows and even an old sofa.

The puppeteers came out and introduced themselves, and then after a brief speech and a film acknowledging the dead king, the show began. It was a short but enjoyable performance depicting the story of a mermaid and her beau. The puppets were beautifully costumed in silks and rich brocades. There were three puppeteers to each puppet, allowing the most subtle of movements, and the operators receeded into the background with their black clothes and blacked out faces. At the end of the play, puppeteers and puppets ventured out into the audience, to steal handbags, baseball caps and kisses from those watching!

I really loved this bit of the trip, partly because it made up for missing the Hanoi water puppet show when we were ill, and partly because it was just such a tranquil part of Bangkok, and it felt as though we’d discovered a bit of a hidden treasure. 100 more brownie points to Tommy for finding something so special to end the holiday!

We made our departure as soon as the show finished, as we had to be back at the hotel by 4ish for the Emirates car service to pick us up and take us to the airport. Luckily, just across the canal bridge, there were songtaews waiting to ferry you back to the main road, saving a long walk, and once there, we had a much easier time nailing down a taxi to take us to the BTS than on the way there. Back at the hotel we drank coffee in the foyer and collected our bags, which had been held for us after check out. The car arrived a bit early and we had a very smooth journey to the airport with almost no traffic, which sounds great, but actually it upset me a bit as it meant the last precious moments of the holiday flew by.

Once at the airport, I dithered over whether to change the sandals I was wearing to ankle boots for the journey home – Tommy said not to, and I didn’t really want the hassle of opening my case in the middle of the terminal to swap footwear over to be honest. I will just say though, that the woman in front of me in the business queue was upgraded to first and I bet I would have been too if I’d had proper bloody shoes on!!
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Jan 11th, 2017, 04:14 AM
  #62  
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Tommy's links from the same thread in the Asia forumbr />
uruabam on Jan 10, 17 at 8:25pm
Hotels for the trip

Bangkok

Golden Tulip Mandinson Suites
http://www.goldentulipmandison.com/

Marriot Thonglor
http://www.marriott.co.uk/hotels/tra...tel-sukhumvit/

Chiang Mai

Thanatee Boutique Hotel
https://www.booking.com/hotel/th/tha...7f1605c0c77ec0

Ho Chi Minh City

Paradise Saigon Boutique Hotel
https://paradisesaigonhotel.com/

Hanoi

Essence D'Orient Hotel & Spa
http://essencedorienthotel.com/

Halong Bay

Gray Line Halong
http://www.graylinehalong.com/

Koh Chang

Nest Sense Resort
http://www.nestsenseresort.com/
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Jan 11th, 2017, 06:38 AM
  #63  
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Day 22-23 Bangkok to UK

Once in the Emirates business lounge I didn’t fancy a full meal, instead opting for the cheeseboard, taking a vintage cheddar, some brie, walnuts and crackers. I got one of the lounge staff to pour me champagne and sat reading my Kindle for a while. Pudding was lemon meringue pie and coffee.

Upon boarding, I had a bit of a dilemma, as the film list had updated since my last flight and there were quite a few things I fancied, however since take off was scheduled for 8:30pm, I suspected that after dinner I’d probably just want to try and sleep. Eventually I decided I could always catch the movies on my second leg, which was a 7am-ish departure from Dubai, and thus a less snoozy daytime/daylight flight. Dinner on board was asparagus soup, Arabic roast chicken, and a crème fraiche cheesecake with raspberry coulis. About half way through pud the attendant came rushing up to me with another plate of dessert and an expression of concern, explaining that she’d given me the mousse with lychee and redcurrants instead. I said it was fine – I was quite enjoying the lychee thingy (even though I never would have knowingly ordered it in a million years), but she was really worried and wanted me to have both (I declined). I can only assume they have some real a-holes who would make an a-grade fuss about things like that for her to have been so upset. After dinner there were Valrhona chocs and coffee. Oh I nearly forgot – more champagne before take-off and another breakfast martini once airborne.

I did actually manage to sleep for a little while on this flight, which is almost unheard of for me – I’m quite a nervous flyer - but I think the 8 flights in the space of 3 and a bit weeks had inured me somewhat, and I feel like I’ve made really significant progress with this. We landed at Dubai shortly after midnight and got off the plane for the near 7 hour wait in the business lounge before the final leg to London. I kept dozing off in the lounge and got so frightened I would miss my next flight that I actually ended up setting the alarm on my phone. During my wakeful hours I had the odd coffee and pastry from the lounge freebies, and also ice cream from a ‘help yourself’ Haagen Dazs freezer.

When the time for boarding finally came, it turned out to be quite a long way to the boarding gate for the final flight (they’d changed the gate about 3 times btw) , and I was really glad my luggage was checked all the way through to Heathrow and I only had a handbag. Once on the A380, I couldn’t manage champagne at 7am so just had orange juice. There was a light breakfast of pastries and coffee, and then I switched on the ICE system to watch my films. To my annoyance, I found a completely different film menu to the last flight, and basically everything I had mentally bookmarked was missing, including ‘Elf’ which I’d been really looking forward to watching to get me in a Christmas frame of mind for my return. Although as it turned out, the weather was quite bad in the middle section of the flight and it would have been difficult to concentrate on anything anyway. Cabin crew were told to return to their seats and no hot drinks to be served. We bounced up and down for about two hours, uncollected glasses clinking menacingly. I was fortunate enough to have already been served my lunch as I was right at the front (8B) and had been one of only about 3 or 4 people to get their grub before the service was suspended. I had spicy pumpkin soup, a hot chicken schnitzel sandwich from the Rockpool restaurant in Oz (Emirates partner with Qantas and this was a Qantas menu option), and then yule log. Finally the weather calmed and drinks spills were cleared up and heart rates returned to normal. I noticed that despite it being a daytime flight a lot of people still opted to snooze, hidden under warm blankets on their fully reclined seats.

At Heathrow we had to wait to disembark as there was an unspecified medical emergency onboard, but finally, we were off and through security. In common with all my previous flights, despite having a fast-track card I was ushered into the normal queues with the rabble. One final little perk however – at Heathrow, Emirates have a dedicated waiting area where you sit until your car is ready. This had tea, coffee, a fridge full of cold drinks and various snacks and biscuits. I waited about 10 minutes for my car which took me home along a grey and miserable M25.

All in all, this was an amazing trip which I will remember for the rest of my life. Thanks to Mr M for arranging everything (we both looked at hotels and drooled over in-flight menus prior to booking, but he did all the really crap stuff, like keeping an eye on internal flight schedules and prices, train tickets and exchange rates, not to mention making sure I was suitably full of ice cream, iced coffee and cocktails once out there – kop khun ka Tommy!)

Footnote: I’ve left the blue business class tags on my bags to remind me
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Jan 11th, 2017, 08:08 AM
  #64  
 
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Footnote: I’ve left the blue business class tags on my bags to remind me>>

lol, R. we got upgraded to business on one leg of our trip back from Oz [sadly not the longest leg] and I left those on for a long time.
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Jan 11th, 2017, 08:33 AM
  #65  
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I might have them framed at some point
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Jan 11th, 2017, 08:38 AM
  #66  
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Or possibly even....

http://www.chipsetc.com/making-your-...ast-items.html
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Jan 13th, 2017, 01:15 PM
  #67  
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I almost forgot - the dock people were of course statues, at the artists House.

https://flic.kr/p/PXME3F

https://flic.kr/p/PXMCvn
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Jan 13th, 2017, 02:07 PM
  #68  
 
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Well, this has been a terrific read, and I thank you for taking the considerable amount of time to write it. Your writing is not only delightfully "pictorial" but witty as well, and I've enjoyed every minute of your journey and experiences.
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Jan 13th, 2017, 04:26 PM
  #69  
 
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I always enjoy writing trip reports because I get to relive it. I really enjoyed your trip report, and I hope you also enjoyed reliving bits of your journey.
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Jan 16th, 2017, 05:42 AM
  #70  
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Thanks both. I enjoy writing them, and I also envisage they might serve as a bit of an aide-memoire if/when my memory starts going! Glad they have been helpful.
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Jan 16th, 2017, 06:29 AM
  #71  
 
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You do make it very easy to enjoy reading a trip report. I look forward to your next one.
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Jan 17th, 2017, 03:29 AM
  #72  
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Thank you CC
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Jan 24th, 2017, 04:48 AM
  #73  
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Few bonus pics of Thailand from Tom's photos - his sunsets are better than mine.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/494523...57679491281675
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Feb 7th, 2019, 10:19 AM
  #74  
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I am really pleased to see this (and presumably other TRs?) have been resurrected in the Lounge, especially now that it has opened up again. Enjoy
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Feb 7th, 2019, 10:37 AM
  #75  
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Moving this to the Asia board where it belongs.
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Feb 8th, 2019, 09:36 AM
  #76  
 
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Lovely, lovely trip report....I enjoyed every bit of it. Thank you for sharing!
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Feb 8th, 2019, 03:06 PM
  #77  
 
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What a fun read! Thanks.
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