Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Purr Cat Cafe Club, Bangkok

There are already countless blogs out there that highlighted this interesting adaptation which originated from Japan (Bangkok Girl, Live Less Ordinary). The Cat Cafe where you are surrounded in cats as you sip tea and devour their cake so delicious. I will just blog to share my experience and not write on how to get there, what they offer, rules of not pulling cats' tail to see if it meows and all that more. One thing the rules did not mention is "no dogs allowed", so I think you can bring a couple of Rottweiler there if you are going.

Cats cats!!!
The cats, they do not come to you when summoned, they are not desperate for affection because in their life there since opening, they already had a thunderstorm of them. Only the working staffs seemed to have the psychic ability to bring crowds of cats close to them - the hands that feed the mouths. Customers can pick up just about all imaginable cat toys sprawled everywhere and tempt the cats close by various actions of dangling, teasing and shaking. It didn't work for me. Giving out my best imitating feline mating call did not work. So brute force did work where some kidnapped the cats unwillingly from other patrons whose head had turned to other directions.

Improvise. Figuring out they must have been tired of all the toys already there, I found a piece of long simple uninteresting thread. I threw the end out a distance and waited for cats to pass by. As they did, I pulled the thread in and the cats jumped at it. Soon, I was fishing in many cats. It worked great. I could then take pictures with them leaving the patrons surrounding me with just their coffee and cake. It's interesting that other then herding the cats with a Rottweiler towards you, fishing techniques works.

I just love Cats
There were some cats spotted wearing an unattractive diaper. They are no kittens but large adult furballs. We asked the staffs why and was told some badly behaved cats that like to pee all over had to be controlled. I think the cats are just trying to mark their territory and take ownership of things. Without them diapers, dominant alpha cats could go about spraying customers in fluid and go "you're mine!!!". Cats love milk. I saw one licking the foam off the coffee of one customer when she was not watching. Then I next saw the customer sip the same coffee. No one told her, I did not... smiling. Customers were a mix of tourist and Thais. As for Thais, mostly girls and they were very attractive. I can now tell my visiting friends next time where to meet good looking Thai girls. Unfortunately, the fishing with a thread technique did not reel any of them onto my lap. My alpha female, she was sitting next to me, very ferocious.

Purr .. . .

Friday, February 21, 2014

Thai Credit Cards and Foreigners

Free Free!!!!
It's next to impossible to get a credit card here unless you are one of those lucky expats earning big bucks. Currently from my knowledge, Siam Commercial Bank approves only when your pays scale is above 100k per month. What do they think we all are? But that's just the way it is, we are unwillingly typecast as big income earners. Expats will have more luck with Kasikorn, the last time I spoke to a banker just a week ago, he told me 50k. How about Citibank? I was rejected so many times even though I had the same card from my home country in which my credit limit is the pay scales of CEO's here. Whatever it is, get one if you can.
One of the benefits of us expats spending using our Thai cards is, I got 8000 Baht of cash vouchers in which I brought things I usually will not buy. It was in the current Home Works Expo at Bitec. On overseas assignment, we can accumulate ridiculous amount of rewards points and it is a darn good thing. For Kasikorn, 1 point is earned for every 25 Baht spent. From time to time, we can convert these into cash coupons. Normally it will be 1000 points for a voucher that is 100 Bath in value. That ain't worth it. Wait it out. Eyes sharp, I had done 1000 points for 200 Baht, that which I got a branded watch at less than half its price after topping up. I had also got a darn Electrolux Cremapresso machine going for 8000 Baht or so for free, it breaks down every 3 months. I've got 2 Motorola Wireless telephones free too. Currently they are underutilized and sitting in my store because the phone lines to my house is still not laid.

These good rates do not come often and I had not seen them in ages. In Home Works Expo, a good exchange of 1200 points for 200 Baht was spotted and I jumped at it. And so, the Black and Decker car polishing power tool was mine for just 27 Baht, and a 6000 over Baht satin bed sheet I topped with only 50. The casher was not happy as she had to punch in the voucher numbers one by one into the system. I could feel the aura of curses emitting from behind the counter. Never mind that. I can experience satin and sleep in peace, the energy restored from a good sleep will be use to shine my car.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Dim Sum and the Hatyai Folks

Pick your Own
It was on one of my work stints that I discovered the habits of local Hatyai folks down south. They love to eat Dim Sum in the morning for breakfast. Traditionally, Dim Sums are of only bite size proportions, meant to be gulped down in one mouth. The breakfast eateries there kept the practice well, aka, most if the portions are very very small. We selected what we wanted from a cold line of displayed dumplings, braised meats, noodles and all other Cantonese yum-cha stuffs. They were then heated up in steamers and served on our table. We picked them with chopsticks, ate from metal plates, doused them in a variety of sauces and had hot tea to accompany.

Cold Pickings
Since our group was made up of four famished men who just woken up, we easily filled the entire table with a mountain of metal bowls and bamboo containers. Table too small, food too many and we still hungry. So we ordered the infamous Bak-Kut-Teh, which was herbal pork ribs soup, Northern Malaysia style. It was too herby for me, I prefer the southern version that's peppery and the tastes of sweet pork essences more permeating.

The quality? I can only say, I ate because I was hungry, not I ate so much because it was good. Those dishes going for less than 20 Baht each tasted like it was made out from a low quality production line, something like a siew-mai is made of 85% flour, 10% spices and 5% of meat. The ironic thing is, those Dim Sum places, so many dotted all over Hatyai, are almost always filled to the brim in the mornings and remains very popular especially with the Malaysian travelers that overrun Hatyai on the weekends. In my opinion, in Thailand, best places for a good Dim Sum prepared by skilled chiefs are still to be found in Chinese restaurants within up-market hotels. But nevertheless, if in Hatyai, I will still eat because I hungry in morning and its cheap.

So Small.... so very Small Portion
Bak Kut Teh

Friday, February 14, 2014

Snapper's Fish and Chips at Sukhumvit Soi 11

This is it, I found my love. I am a Fish and Chips kind of person and I love fish. I have been deprived of good Fish and Chips ever since the day I moved here. Bangkok is full of deceitful western eateries that cooks out horrendous dishes. Most Fish and Chips here are over fried stingy pieces of cheap watery dory that simply disintegrate upon chewing. They do not hold that bouncy tender texture where a good fish should have. And the chips are equally stingy in portions, I normally can count the number of chips easily with all my fingers. And then I found Snapper.

Somewhere on Soi 11, not too far a walk from the main Sukumvit, the best Fish and Chips I had in ages. The prices are so reasonable for the variety of imported fish to choose from. Calamari in generous portions separately ordered, the bowl of onion rings I should not have summon because it's really too large an amount for my stomach. Bisque, so thick and full, and the batter on them fish the right way done. A hot tea to end the meal chosen from an assortment of tea presented in a wooden Harney and Sons box. It seems all good western food can only be found down town. It was worth the trip from my suburban house.

Good Tea
Good Food

Monday, February 10, 2014

Another Big River Prawns Restaurant

Sitting by Chao Paya
Bangkok and her surroundings, never short of places to explore and fancy places to eat. A good drive into Phatum Thani and there we found yet another exquisite place for lunch. How we found this place was because we suddenly had a craving for prawns. So we searched the realm of Thai forums and saw recommendations of several eateries near where we stay. We were yet again pleasantly surprised by what we stumbled upon. This restaurant is called Baan Chid Krung. The crustaceans were rather pricy going for 1400 Baht per kilo so we only had two. They weighted 250g each or thereabouts. You can't compare that to river prawns that sells for 200 Baht per kilo elsewhere because the cheaper ones going wholesale at Ayudhya are of a much smaller size. Though we paid hefty for the meal, the setting itself was just worth it. The Fried Rice with Prawn Egg was fantastic too. It was winter cool when we were there in January, it was the perfect afternoon as we lunched and watch the barges and anticipated if the jet skis crisscrossing the Chao Paya will crash into them. Thailand, my food paradise, the reason for my increasing waistline.

Sitting Area
They Alley
BBQ Prawns
A Few Good Dishes

Monday, February 03, 2014

Marndadee, Chillout at Chiangmai

So Heritage
Marndadee Heritage River Village, there is a reason to the heritage title. You live among the paddy, they have farmers tending the crops at certain time of the day. On the compound, the terraced sections of inundated agriculture takes on center stage. The different styled accommodations, wooden and concrete, fringes the crops. I arrived late in the night on my northern trip after a full day from Mae Sot to Chiangmai. In the room that I checked in, there was a scarecrow out front. There it stood, an evil shadow of a figurine in front of our Sino Colonial room, the silhouette of a ghostly figure with its head posed like its neck was broken. That's when I realized scarecrows are not only meant to scare birds, but to scare a few drops of pee out of me.

Scary Scarecrow
On the second night, we stayed in the Rice Barn. A wooden house erected on large stilts, each of those strong support, parts of an old sturdy tree. The resort aims to retain the rustic authenticity of the north, so a majority of parts in the barns are actually recycled from pieces of rural houses which had ran out of their useful past. Both the Sino Colonial room and the Rice Barn we stayed were fully loaded with antiquity. And every room there is christened by a name, not a number. The name which is from a nearby district and no two are the same.

I find the Rice Barn most interesting of stay, but very small she is I have to say. Going up a flight of wooden stars, there is a patio that overlooks the bordering Ping river out front. Wooden chairs and a low table, that was where I spent the afternoon sipping tea. Our neighbor, French Fries they ordered, relaxing with a cold bottle of beer in the stillness of the lazy afternoon sun. The entrance into our room is made up of two swinging doors, very small and can get stuck going in especially with luggage.

Rice Barn Interior
The barn is made for hobbits I am sure, I think they made it small so that it's a novelty. A large bed took up most of the space within, and we had to move furniture around when we wanted to open them windows to let the winter air in. The Sino Colonial rooms are much larger and easier to move around in comparison. The Rice Barn spots more luxury, she has a colonial style bathtub that stood on four legs in her bathroom. But small, very small so you may overturn the tub if your are too large. And below the deck a sitting area there is, a hammock for one to snooze, a table and two chairs for my blogging there is.

Rather Cramped
This resort had only opened in recent months, operationally they seemed to be still figuring out how to run the place smoothly. Tell tale signs were the inadequate sitting space for breakfast with the food line setup in what seem to be in a abrupt fashion. Egg station, cooks and all, enclosed in a small pack area on the second floor. Breakfast selection was limited, but the taste was pleasantly above acceptable. However, the food ran out too fast, and a different dish was served later in place but of an equally small quantity.

Chamber maids had trouble coping with the full occupancy rate it seemed. We were told our room was ready but we had to wait a half hour below our barn before the staffs came to ready our room from the previous occupant's stay. Actually they never came till we called the reception to complain. And that's where for the first time in my life I seen elderly ladies move so fast up and down the stairs executing frantic task carrying bed sheets, linens, the broom and the mop in flight.

Below Deck
If you travelled enough, you will know that in most hotels, there is a lack of free electrical outlets to charge your phone and gadgets. Not in Marndadee. I counted 14 free outlets in total within the Rice Barn. I can charge my phone or power my notebook almost anywhere. Also interesting to note about Marndadee is that your room doors can be locked form the outside. So much like Medieval times, you can engage the latch on your neighbor's door, lock them in and set their barns on fire.

We had picked this resort to be the finale of our trip and glad we did. Its far away from bustling Chiangmai, getting there required some travelling through surrounding pastures of paddy fields. How more natural can it get? This last leg of our journey, after tiresome driving and all, we rested well in Marndadee not venturing out anywhere no more after lunch. It was the night before New Year's eve. As we sat chilling out beyond dusk, the croaking frogs orchestrated the night. Occasionally our barns were illuminated in a radiance of colors, followed by a delayed faint crack of distance fireworks. The chilly air we breathed, the winter blanket we were in.

By the Ping River
Outside the Diner
Rice Plants
Just Simply Rustic
Th names of the Rooms
Out by our Room
Within the Barn
The Surroundings
Sino Colonial Room
Outdoor Dining
Can get Stuck
Lock from the Outside