Northern Food Finale Plus Bangkok Dining and Exit

Arriving late after being “Shang-haied in Shang Hai” we decided to wait a little later to eat on the first night of my friends arrival to Chiang Mai. We wondered the blocks between and around our condo and her hotel. Finally, we decided it was time to dine and gave up on her waking to join us. We picked a place we had been pleased with last year. Nines Kitchen is a small restaurant with outside dining on a somewhat quiet street. We ordered our appetizers of 7 Fried and lemongrass salad with shrimp and my phone buzzed, my friend was awake and hungry after her flight mishap nap. My honey walked down the street to get her and when they got back we ordered an additional lemongrass salad and dug in. The salad was delicious with papaya and carrot shreds tossed with a spicy marinade, sprinkled with ground peanuts and topped with succulent shrimp. The 7 Fried on the other hand was fairly disappointing with literally a few fries on the plate plus chicken nuggets and shrimp croquets which actually weren’t bad. We ordered Khao soi, Pad Thai with shrimp and chicken vegetable stir fry. All were very tasty and fresh and the check came in at a more than fair price point. We wandered a bit to exercise off some of the food then made our way to introduce my friend to the sweet art of Thai massage in hopes she’d settle in for a good full nights rest to allow her to get past any jet lag.

Backtracking in this food extravaganza just for a moment, I want to mention a great lunch time meal we had the day we drove to Hang Dong. Located in the Tawai Creative Village just beyond a shop with beautiful hand created teak tables we found the garden setting of Casa Shade to be very enjoyable. My honey and I ate simply but thoroughly enjoyed the mixed vegetable salad, fried rice and chicken egg noodles. The garden setting was not only beautiful but extremely relaxing.

Introducing my friend to the old city found us dining for a light lunch at The Corner. This was an easy location to relax a bit, try to cool down and do some people watching. Our order included Massaman curry, Penang curry, spring rolls and a fruit plate. All was delicious and flavorful. We did however continue our wandering in the humidity of the afternoon and my man needed a cool down so he purchased a coconut ice cream from one of the street vendors. I must say both us girls ended up wishing we would have divulged our sweet tooth with this 35 baht goody. It was a single dip served in a coconut shell, surrounded by fresh coconut meat and topped with crispy fried rice.

The Good View offered a beautiful view of the Ping River for sunset dinner on another evening when we made our way across the Iron Bridge after wandering the fruit market. We needed bananas for breakfast and my friend had not seen this brightly colored vibrant area yet. As we stopped for our fruit, my honey struck up a conversation with a Thai woman about how to select the best bananas, instructing us to search out the smallest yet plumpest and instructing us to eat two a day for good digestive health. When he indicated “Okay, I’ll take them.” She chided him and said “No, not these, they mine.” She was delighted when he bought them for her. It made her day for a mere 20 baht! (Such a sweet man like that #karma) 😉 We dined at a table outside along the river bank as we watched the Thai men rowing their canoes and local fishermen standing in the water drawing in their nets. Live music bled into the area from the inside stage. My friend enjoyed Duck curry, my man had a Green chicken curry and I had the spicy vegetable and prawn soup. The price point was a bit higher at this location but the ambience was fully worth it and the food was tasty.

Another early evening found us at Rajdarbar across from the Duangtawan Hotel. We had gotten the taste of Indian food in Penang and our taste buds called for more as it did one of our last evenings in the country at Bukhara’s on Sukhumvit. Both places provided excellent food, not at nearly the low price we found in Penang but very good and the service was excellent and both places provided cloth napkins which always puts a check mark in the customer care category for me. Between the two places we enjoyed chicken and mutton masala, papad, mixed pakora, paneer pakora, tomato and chicken shorba (soup), chicken tikka, chicken three ways platter, missi roti, and onion and garlic naan. Without a doubt the bread and sauces are my favorite part.

Celebrating our 22nd anniversary we snuck away by ourselves to a place called David’s Kitchen at 909. Dining at its finest is what we expected and this place delivered in a big way! We went by tuk tuk and were greeted at the car park and escorted to the hostess who immediately took us to our seats. Gracing the table was a welcome card and an anniversary card with red felt hearts placed atop our napkins. A nice touch indeed. We started with a cocktail. I enjoyed Rum on the Leave, basically a Thai style mojito with fresh keefer lime and mint with shallots and my groom had a Russell Reserve Bourbon Manhattan. A mixture of freshly baked rolls and salty butter were brought to the table as we enjoyed our drinks. As we moved to placing our appetizer request we ordered a Riverby Estate’s Australia Sauvignon blanc. It paired very well with the seared scallops trio served on a sweet potato mash and house made Gravlox salmon. From there we moved on to soups. An original recipe French onion and a Green Pea. Next up was a shared Caesar salad with Seared Ahi tuna. For the special occasion we had carried a select bottle of wine with us all the way from Idaho. A 2002 Penfolds McGill Estates Shiraz. It served as the velvety accompaniment to the lamb shank and beef bourgeoisie we had for our entrees. For dessert we chose sticky toffee pudding with coconut ice cream, cappuccinos and grand mariner and a port. Every single bite of this dinner was over the top with flavor and every item paired well with our beverages. As is the tradition of our marriage, we enjoyed this fine dining experience and toasted to many more wonderful years together doing just this sort of activity. As we paid the bill I was presented a bouquet of 7 pink and red baby rose buds and given well wishes. This restaurant took it one more step the following day when we received an apology for not being in attendance from the owner who was out of town on business for the first time ever since opening his restaurant. He personalized the thank you with his own well wishes for our anniversary. It was a nice touch.

Our first night in Bangkok found us enjoying food and friends at The Mexican. The traditional southwestern fare was tasty but we kind of left with a bad taste in our mouth over a dispute on the bill. The waiter must have thought we would miss it. We didn’t. It literally represented nearly $75 in American more than we anticipated when he dropped the check. Therefore, I am sticking to my mantra and will not give the location more than a mention.

Our good fortune brought us to the city of Angels at the same time as our friend who owns My Place in Chiang Mai (man from Vegas; woman from Mae Rim). We were excited to meet them for dinner this evening in the city instead of only getting to socialize in their bar while they are hard at work. My friend flew here with us to wind down her time of breaking away for a vacation in a far off land as well. Crazier yet is the coincidence that landed us here at the same time as my husband’s cousin (from Vegas) who was visiting his fiancé (which he does two weeks a year; two times a year). She has a shop in Chonburi but was originally from Surin. Quite a fun whirlwind of Nana and Cowboy and Sukhumvit which joins them and all of us staying at hotels between them. Parties of five, the mixing and making and strengthening of friendships in a far away city, it seemed fairly surreal as did most of these few days at the end of this Snowbird Getaway 2018. It’s amazing how time really does fly.

We had two dinners with the cousin and fiancé. One was Italian and Thai, mostly appetizer style with wine which was very good. Via Vai but on Soi 8 offered a great place for us all to catch up/get acquainted. Afterwards, all five of us piled in a tuk tuk. Yep, bet we were over the weight limit but it sure was fun, as was taking in the activity of these sois. Even if this is an area where you could not condone the red light district atmosphere, it is at least worth a gander when you make it to the city.

Our second dinner with this crew of five ranked up there with one of the best experiences of the trip and kicks off more discussion in this post about things to do when you visit Bangkok. This dinner destination was not easy to get to but it takes you to the sea. If you have no days scheduled on the beach/islands, it’s got to be the next best thing! Bangkok Seaview Seafood was where we headed late one afternoon. It is on the outskirts of Bangkok, past Central Festival Mall where the high rises give way to canals lined with mangroves and homes built on stilts. We were taken to a pier via the Rama II roadway. If you decide to delve into this experience make sure you have the driver call to get precise directions. Once you are at the pier you are taken by long tail boat (50 baht fee) to this floating restaurant on the edge of the Bay of Bangkok. Going in the late afternoon to time your dinner with the setting of the sun makes for great atmosphere. You can choose to dine seated at tables or at low to the ground tables to sit cross legged and eat Thai style. We dined on sea bass prepared grilled with garlic, and steamed with Thai chili, cockles, sea worms, tempura battered squid and spicy stir fried prawns. The food was good, not outrageously great but the experience took it over the top. At the end of dinner we were long boated back to the pier where you want to insure you have made easy arrangements with your driver from earlier to retrieve you as there are not taxis easily had in the area. The sliver of a crescent moon glistened on the rising tide waters providing us another element of the beauty of nature found right on the edge of this metropolitan area of over 14 million. Our driver charged 1000 baht to transport the five of us and deposited us at Nana station where it was easy to walk to our respective hotels. It was a wonderful idea our host of the country was so proud to surprise us with!

Chatuchak Market is definitely a worthwhile place to venture on any weekend if you have the gumption to brave the high digit humidity and the crowds to take in this sprawling thirty five acre market. We have gone each year we have been to Bangkok. The first two years we did a little wholesale buying which allowed us to do some wheeling and dealing to create good profit margins. This year we went to purchase small rolling carry on bags and to show the place off to our friend from home who found some things for herself as well as gifts for loved ones at home. We had a fun afternoon but indeed it was sweaty. If you decide you want to add this activity to your Bangkok visit the easiest way to get there is on the cool of the BTS skytrain. Get off at the Mo Chit station and follow the crowds!

The Grand Palace and the adjacent Wat Pho have been on my list since we first started visiting this land and although we have cruised by them when on boat rides on the Chao Phraya we had never actually walked in them. I wanted the check mark on my list and my traveling companions were kind enough to indulge me. We took Uber to the site and got out near the Wat and started there. 100 baht is the entry fee if you want to actually go in and see the famous reclining Buddha constructed of brick and plaster and gold leaf with footprints of inlaid mother of pearl. There is many areas for reverence, respect and contemplation as is the case in Wats and temples throughout this land whose population is 98% practicing Buddhists. Attaining enlightenment was the goal of the Buddha as it is for the followers. The lore and characteristics of this faith intrigue me and I will address some of these pieces of knowledge I am attempting to put together to gain greater understanding for myself in a subsequent post. The most striking characteristics of this site for me were the giant Chinese Warlords standing guard at each entrance as well as intricate garden areas with running water and statues which lended to my contemplation of the symbolism created by statues displayed throughout this society. Watch for my post on the subject and join me as I seek more knowledge on the belief systems found here.

The heat of this day was fairly unbearable but my partners continued to humor me as we walked the perimeter of the grounds of the Grand Palace and took in the beauty and cleanliness of the surrounding government buildings and grounds. Finally we arrived at one of the entry gates only to find that the Palace had been closed to the public on this day at noon in honor of the opening of a new exhibit. Alas, another reason to come back again 😉

I am in the midst of the confusion of flying from one date and back to it as we left Bangkok last night/this morning at 2 AM, landed in Nanjing, China for six and a half hour layover and the strangest immigration/customs process we have experienced to date in our travels. Our (and about a dozen other foreigners) passports were actually confiscated as we were escorted through multiple check points and finally given back so we could make our way through the final security screening to go to the boarding area. It was definitely unnerving and I was grateful for the long layover because of it. We land at LAX on the same date at 11am after about twenty three hours of travel. Seriously the hardest part is the return. If not for that time difference factor, there would be zero reason for us to say no to heading back to Thailand again. We truly enjoy this country and these wonderful people and the value of the exchange rate.

Worthwhile for a mention is the hotel we used as a buffer before leaving Bangkok. Checking out at noon from Aspen Suites off of Sukhumvit and not leaving until2am, we knew at the very least we would want a quick shower before going to the airport for the long haul trip home. We booked the smallest room at Polykhumthong Boutique Resort. This garden setting hotel had a wonderfully warm pool and a small restaurant and the staff was attentive. For quick stays on arrival or departure via BKK we would highly recommend this little spot which ran us $17.

For now, we turn the page to Spring Fling 2018, follow along and see what info is in store for you next! It’s gonna be so good! #cometravelwithme

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