Monday, January 14, 2019

THE CULINARY LEGENDS OF SILOM AND PRATUNAM

Bangkok after 65 days is kind of new and interesting.

And travelling out of the country after enjoying 65 blissful days of working-at-home is almost rejuvenating.

It helps that my first destination is not at the sterile environs of Chatrium's Naradhiwas Alley but at the bustling Rang Nam of boring Picnic Hotel.

It is where I got reunited with my favorite Bangkok fare [grilled pig's neck and a tall Chang beer], and finally ascended the winding stairs to the rooftop Mitr Bar, twice after our aquariumed meetings and mainly for the egg-wrapped fried noodles, and Thai beer [Singha, Chang, Leo] of course. 



But three nights at Picnic Hotel can be hell and two nights at the spacious suite rooms of Chatrium and its well-equipped gym and bountiful breakfast buffet is heaven.

There, I renewed my acquaintances with our two happy and one not-so-happy places with a pork stew for an entree at Chiangkhong, a really spicy beef salad for the main course at Ter Sab Woey Shop, and a so-so salmon salad for dessert at Charlie Brown's, all paired with different Thai beers.    

I was priming up for a whole day meet with ASEAN's leading women entrepreneurs, including the part owner of my favorite Lao Beer and the Thai King's granddaughter, and was so relieved at the positive outcome that I volunteered to drink the Bible juice of my new aunties from Brunei during our steak-and-lobster reception dinner. 



Then back to the boring Picnic Hotel where fortunately, a 2 pm check-in rule gave me enough time to foray for lunch in Silom, to a locally popular family-owned stall which is a 550-meter walk from the Silom BTS Station through familiar Convent Road to the crowd and smoke of Soi Phipat 2 where Som Tam Jae So offers what is reputedly the best grilled chicken wings in the whole of Bangkok.

"Long queue" said the lady in a tight black micro short while pointing to a skewered pile of order slips.

"I will wait" I said with a wai and a sad puppy face, determined not to be disappointed.

"Sit down" she said when she realized that I won't be going away, killing time observing loyal patrons pick their to-gos and place their orders while trying to contain a growing apprehension that I have been forgotten until 30 minutes later, the lady-in-a-tight-black-micro-short came back to me with 5 pieces of the best chicken wings I've had in my whole life, grilled crisp on the outside but delicate and juicy on the inside. 

It was one of my most memorable lunches in Bangkok ever.  


And I still have an hour to spare so I hopped back to the train to the Saphan Taksin BTS Station, walked 1.1 kilometers from there through Charoen Krung Road under a hot mid-day sun, determined to find Khao Tom Pla Kimpo with the aid of Google Maps for what is said to be the best fish soup in Bangkok.

I passed by centuries-old Wat Yannawa which is a Buddhist temple dedicated to a Chinese junk, and was about to accept the fate of a totally lost farang when I saw the other Chatrium [Riverside], and right across is a small shop with a lady stirring something in a large cauldron.

I showed them Google Maps and yes, I'm the right place but was told through sign language that they open at 6 pm.      


That was a huge disappointmentr but I made up for that the next day by forsaking Picnic Hotel's lousy breakfast buffet and service, and walking 1.4 kilometers to a Michellin-listed chicken rice joint in the Pratunam area.

Go Ang Kaomunkai Pratunam has been serving its orginal Chinese chicken rice recipe since the 1960s and has earned a legendary culinary status among the locals.

For 60 baht, I invited myself to be part of this legend, savoring each delicate piece of chicken like it's the end of the world despite my disappointment with the rice which is quite ordinary.

I realized after the meal that I left my camera's memory card in the hotel so I ordered another plate, took my photos through my phone, ate the chicken, and did away with the rice. 


It was a full week in Bangkok and I went back home to a Sunday District Meeting without relieving my bowels so I can tell people when I fart that I've been to the legends of Silom and Pratunam.   

Monday, January 07, 2019

THE YEAR OF THE PERIODIC TABLE OF CHEMICAL ELEMENTS

The first week of 2019 started with a whimper but ended with a loud bark [the Chinese Year of the Earth Dog is just 47 days aways] when for the first time in my Masonic life, I wore a lapel microphone to perform the Masonically important task of Master of Ceremony in our Lodge's 12th Public Installation of Officers, fumbling during the installation of the Three Lights but eventually getting back to my lines and finishing with a confident flair. 


The last day of the 3rd International Year of the Reef [Year of the Rooster in the Chinese calendar] ain't actually bad although our celebration is subdued due to Bulan's recent surgery, and I did welcome its first day with a bottle of my favorite whiskey although the first ride of the Gregorian calendar has to be on Day 2 since it rained on New Year's Day.


The first week of the New Year also marked the 50th year of Father Apolo's celibacy [?], the last fellowship of Kuya Ading as Master of the Lodge, my second... 


...and third foray to the bike trails, and my first work-related trip which is to Krung Thep Maha Nakhon [i.e. Bangkok's full Thai name].


Our finances is hurting and I wish 2019 to be a year of abundance and prosperity, and it will be if I finally win the Lotto jackpot and Oxfam pays my redundancy [i.e. money that a company pays to workers who have lost their jobs because they are no longer needed according to the Cambridge Dictionary].

Monday, December 31, 2018

OUR CHRISTMAS CAROL [with apologies to Clement Clarke Moore and Charles Dickens]

‘Twas 3 days before Christmas, when Bulan rapped the door
But not a soul was astir at the Center;
The Infirmary nurses asleep on the counter,
To Premiere we pranced through St. Nick’s sleigh...


Bulan was nestled snug in the hospital bed,
While visions of whiskey and lechon danced on my head;
But we had hospital fare for Christmas lunch,
Before brothers took me to a holiday schnapps...


Out of the hospital finally the day after Christmas,
I sprang out Tanduay Ice from the ref to the trash.
Away to trails we flew like a flash,
But the bill tore the tire and threw up our cash...


Goat head on a bowl of a newly boiled broth
Croc’s meat gave luster to a wet and chilly night,
When, from crumpled blankets Gollum appeared,
“Kiss Me, Kiss Me” danced the reindeers on a Sunday…