74. All Through The Years

from “I Say, I Say, I Say”, Erasure, 1994.

We bought our Bangkok at The Park Chidlom around 10 years ago and in all that time we were never once in Thailand when the Annual General Meeting occurred. That is until now, and our current life on the road as International Vagabonds has coincided with the AGM and given us the first opportunity to go along.

The AGM was held at the Nai Lert Swissôtel, which is a classy hotel set in the very pleasant grounds of Nai Lert Park and situated just across the road from our condominium. Firstly was reception, and we had to sign in and register to participate, whilst enjoying tea, coffee, and some fancy little pastries. Some of the staff we know looked slightly surprised to see us there, which is understandable given it was our first attendance in the decade the AGM has been taking place.

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The Park Chidlom AGM – grabbing our seats early.
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The Park Chidlom AGM – the juristic and management team assembles; how exciting!

The meeting was interesting, though hardly of significance to anyone but the residents, so we won’t bore you with details here. Suffice to say we liked what we heard.

We did get the opportunity to chat with other residents and it was interesting that one of the guys standing for election to the committee made a point to introduce himself. He’s English like us, and certainly seemed to have the right idea about how the way things should be run at The Park, which is good as any foreigners on the committee are a good counterpoint to local members. This helps to ensure things get done properly and keep everyone happy.

Definitely a different activity during our travels – and maybe not the most exciting – but for us it was a good way to start getting a little more involved again with our condominium, especially as it’s financing our travels! 🙂

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73. Do They Know It’s Christmas?

Band Aid, 1984.

Due to our current travels and absence from the UK we find ourselves in a situation where we are missing the “traditional” early run-up to Christmas. So this year no spotting the Christmas goodies and the like in the shops from October onwards. No traditional pulling-on-the-heartstrings John Lewis TV advert. No Christmas songs on the radio in November. And no Brussels sprouts in the vegetable aisle, hurrah! In fact, considering we have been in tropical climates for most of the year, it doesn’t exactly even feel like autumn never mind nearly Christmas!

There are a few things we won’t won’t miss, like some of the horrendously tasteless decorations that some people put up on their houses, and the seemingly relentless promotion of Christmas and all the things you need for a successful one wherever you go. And the aforementioned Brussels sprouts. OK actually Philip will miss them, on account of him being a weirdo who likes Brussels sprouts. 😉

However, the consumerism that is Christmas has still managed to stretch forth its arm and we have seen small Christmas areas in the Central department stores selling various decorative items.

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Central Silom – not quite a rival to John Lewis’ Christmas department yet.

And in our favourite supermarket – the Central Food Hall – there are some Christmas foods, though not wholly surprising as they already stock various Waitrose and Marks & Spencer goodies anyway. There also Christmas foods from other countries too, as Thailand has quite a expatriate presence and so the main supermarkets have stock accordingly.

As of yet though the malls and shops don’t have any Christmas decorations up; we have only seen one shop with a little fairy-light festooned artificial tree so far. Maybe they are waiting until it’s actually nearer to Christmas! 😛

One Christmas thing we have done this week is to buy and post Christmas cards back to the UK. Given that we need to send them airmail we wanted to make sure we did this in plenty of time, especially as we are off to Taipei in one week’s time. Greetings cards – as we’ve discovered for friends’ and family birthdays this year – is not something that Thailand does that well. Most of the cards we’ve found have been too cutesy or just plain boring; humourous ones seem almost non-existent. Fortunately B2S – a large stationary store – has stocked some relatively tasteful packs of Christmas cards so we have been able to get cards that we aren’t too ashamed to be sending!

It will be interesting to see how Christmassy we feel as we get closer to the big day and how Christmas is done while we are in Taipei and Bangkok. If all else fails can indulge just a little bit and get some After Eight mints and listen to Santa Baby

72. What Keeps Mankind Alive?

from “Alternative”, Pet Shop Boys, 1995.

Food.

Aside from making sure we get from A to B and have somewhere to stay, eating is obviously a big consideration while we are on the road and exploring places new and old. And due to our travelling we don’t cook for ourselves anymore; we haven’t prepared a meal since we left London at the end of March (and yes, missing cooking meals just a little bit).

We try to indulge in a little of most every cuisine whenever we are in a foreign country while of course enjoying some of the local food too. However, between these trips we are spending time in Bangkok as it is very familiar to us and we feel right at home – not surprising given we have the apartment at The Park Chidlom too, even though it is currently rented out. And given we are here a lot we have gotten to know a few of the everyday eateries quite well, and this was given a boost after our three months in Japan earlier this year, which was just as well as there are a lot of Japanese restaurants in Thailand!

So here are some of our favourite places to eat when we’re keeping things simple for dinner.

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Yayoi – or Yayoiken in Japan.

Although we knew of Yayoi in Thailand before our long travels through Japan, we had only visited once and had a few appetisers. However, our Airbnb host in Tokyo (the very fine Sho) told us about Yayoiken and Coco Ichibanya, and they soon became firm favourites with us, and had outlets in all the Japanese cities we visited.

Yayoi (Yayoiken) is a teishoku restaurant, which basically means most of the meals are meal sets, where you get a main dish with various sides, and then always rice and miso soup too. There is a good variety of dishes to choose from with chicken, pork, beef, and seafood all available in various forms and cooking styles. And the food pretty cheap too, one of the most economical ways to eat out here.

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Fuji – Japanese food but not a Japanese chain.

While Japanese sounding in name, and definitely in cuisine, Fuji is in fact a Thai chain of Japanese food restaurants. Like Yayoi, Fuji serves teishoku meals but is also serves a lot more: sashimi, sushi, nigiri, bento, and pretty much most other Japanese food styles we have encountered.

Fuji is always very popular with Thais, especially in larger groups as we often see families dining here. Being so often busy it can be a bit difficult to get service at times, but the food is very good, reasonably priced, and worth the wait.

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Coco Ichibanya – curry, curry, and more curry.

Like Yayoi, we were aware of the existence of Coco Ichibanya in Thailand, though in this case we had never visited one until we had tried it out in Japan. Coco Ichibanya basically serves one thing: curry. But there are lots of curries you can have as with the different curry sauces and strengths, as well as meats, seafoods, vegetables, and other extras you can add, you can easily create all manner of curry meals. Quick, easy, and great value too, if we’re in a hurry we have a curry!

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Wine Connection – not Japanese in any way!

A recent discovery of only a few months ago, Wine Connection has become a firm favourite. This is the closest we have come to finding a brasserie akin to the likes of Cafe Rouge or Cote back in the UK. There’s a great selection of Western dishes, so cue steaks and grills, pasta, pizza, seafood, comfort foods (bangers & mash, fish & chips), charcuterie and cheese boards, and desserts (tiramisu, crème brûlée, pannacotta, etc.) and lots more. The food here is very good and not at all expensive.

We tend to see more foreigners in Wine Connection than our other regular dining haunts, though it is also very popular with Thais – who seem to be quite taken with the wines on offer; it’s becoming quite the status thing. And unsurprisingly with a name like Wine Connection, this restaurant chain stocks a good cellar and you can even buy a bottle from their in-house wine shop and have it with your meal if you want to. There’s also quite a good selection of craft European beers available as well. It’s definitely a great place for us to eat when we want something ‘non-Asian’ to eat.

There’s a great dining scene in Bangkok, like many other cities we’ve visited, and some of our favourite quality dining places are here: Eat Me, Luce (at the Eastin), and Ciao (at the Oriental) to name just a few. But if it’s just an easy dinner before a film or a quiet evening, then you’re more than likely to find us in the likes of Fuji, Coco Ichibanya, etc.

“Gep taang kup.” (that’s Thai for “the bill please.”)