Dear travellers and vacationers,
Both, Snehsha and I have been to Thailand before, primarily to treat our tastebuds and indulge in economical retail therapy. Our previous trip was in 2013, when we had spent a week in Koh Samui as well.
This time, we decided to begin our trip by joining the marketing and PR team of JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, to explore authentic Thai culinary experiences in Bangkok, followed by a quick staycation in Pattaya and then some deserving shopping in Bangkok again, before we returned to aamchi Mumbai.
I apologise to all my readers for the delay and my incapability to clear my backlog any sooner. I sincerely hope you enjoy reading our chronologically arranged travel story from Thailand.
|Captured from our early morning flight, moments before our touchdown at BKK|
We departed on a flight from Mumbai on 23rd September at 1:00 AM IST and landed at 7:05 AM ICT. I did not expect the long queues at on-arrival visa counters to make us wait at the airport for 3-and-a-half gruesome hours; with our luggage, after an early morning 4-and-a-half hour long flight from Mumbai to Bangkok.
Guys, please do not go to Thailand without a visa, even if it is easily available on arrival. It is not worth spending as much time as you took to get there, after you get there. Contact a travel agent before your departure, or simply pay 2000 baht instead of 1000 on the ‘express’ visa counter at the airport, to skip that devastating queue and save your valuable time.
Drivers sent by Courtyard by Marriott were waiting for us at the exit and we took another hour and a half to reach our destination; which was approximately 50 kms away from Suvarnabhumi Airport.
|Here’s what our room looked like at Courtyard Marriott in Bangkok|
|Not very spacious but our room was well-ventilated, had adequate sunlight and overall very comfy|
After checking-in quickly, we headed downstairs to MoMo Cafe for lunch.
|Some vegetarian salad and veg sushi for her|
|I always enjoy sipping on Thai Iced Tea in Thailand and Courtyard Marriott serves it up well with strongly brewed Ceylon tea|
|I couldn’t resist starting my meal with some authentic Som Tam: Thai green papaya salad|
|Chef Rungtiwa shares a moment with Farzana Contractor from Upper Crust|
|Chef Vishal and I caught in the moment candidly, fooling around for the camera together|
Min Buri means “city of fish” and today, it exists as one of the top 10 wholesale and retail markets in Thailand. The market is divided into 3 main sections, spanning across two city-blocks; starting from 2:00 AM, where vendors sell fresh vegetables/meat/fish, exotic fruits, delicious snacks and irresistible desserts till 8:00 PM every day.
One can call and consider Min Buri to be a sleepless market and it is the only market in Bangkok, conserved to retain the traditional Thai way of living even today.
We hope you enjoy these moments captured from Min Buri market.
|Fresh salad, made for you as you like it, on the street!|
|Some chicken satay to keep me company during our stroll|
|It was a pleasure to know about different kinds of eggs available at Min Buri from this friendly and joyful shopkeeper|
The first dish we tried and mutually liked during our walk was this popular sweet snack called Kanom Krok Bai Toey: made with flour, coconut sugar and pandan leaf extract; which provides this dish its bright green colour and heavenly aroma. It was slightly sticky, quite chewy, enjoyably fluffy and surprisingly not too sweet.
|Kanom Krok Bai Toey / Pandan Pancakes|
The second kind of street food we tried and liked was called “Takoyaki” – which is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with wheat-flour batter, usually stuffed with minced or diced octopus + tempura scraps + pickled ginger, brushed with takoyaki sauce and mayonnaise; garnished with edible green seaweed. We chose to have chicken and enjoyed sharing this explosive bite-sized treat from the same plate.
|South Indian friends, this looks like Punugulu doesn’t it?|
|Uff! Just look at that glaze!|
|One ball as a perfect bite, one for everyone, so let’s not fight
After walking around for more than an hour, all of us were extremely exhausted and needed either a dose of caffeine, something to quench our thirst or perhaps a quick intake of sugar to revive our energies. I ended up having almost a meal on the go, tasting one unique snack after another; so I decided to go find an interesting dessert to end my experience.
I remember walking back to the spot where we assembled, looking for something I haven’t tried before and while doing so, I found some never-seen-before duck-shaped jelly being sold at a counter next to a vegetable vendor. The texture of the jelly was like tender coconut but creamier, and it tasted much sweeter than coconut too. If you like the flavour of coconuts or enjoy a tender coconut often like I do, you’ll definitely enjoy a dozen of these coconut jellies as much I did.
|We promise this will make you forget every other coconut jelly you’ve ever tried|
|Discovering new street food left me as happy as this candidly captured kid at the market|
|I swear we weren’t this happy before we started walking around Min Buri market|
After our food-walk at Min Buri, we were all invited to join Chef Rungtiwa for dinner with her family at her own house in Bangkok, where she grew up and learnt all the authentic Thai recipes from her aunt and other elders in the family. While she stays away serving guests at JW Marriott Mumbai Sahar, her family runs a small cafe right next to their humble abode.
Thank you Rungtiwa; for hosting all of us, cooking for us and sharing your stories. I thoroughly enjoyed listening to your endeavours and achievements of your culinary journey so far.
|Chef Rungtiwa posing with her proud father|
|The small cafe owned and managed by Chef Rungtiwa’s family|
Thailand is all about their sauces! Our first day in #Bangkok this year ends with an unforgettably warm, cozy and homely dinner hosted by Chef Rungtiwa Sorlae at her humble abode in the city. Her aunt tossed up a few authentic #Thai recipes for all of us, including this simple yet soulfully satisfying dish made with #ricenoodles, #eggs, #chicken, #squid, #springonion and #coriander served on a bed of fresh #lettuce, topped with fried crispies. Watching @chefrungtiwa and her family cook in their kitchen, brought us immense joy and I'm impressed to see how sweet and hospitable she is. All set to crash at @courtyardbangkok right now and start dreaming about the extremely addictively spicy #fishsauce that was served to us earlier today. The sauce is not in the picture but watch out for its recipe given by the chef herself, keep following my live updates on #InstagramStories or #Snapchat during another promising day of various culinary experiences from #Thailand tomorrow. #JWSaharThaiTrails #BKK #ThaiFood #ExploreThailand
Only when I entered the temple, I understood why my friend was right
|Marble illustrations and inscriptions in Wat Pho have been recognised by UNESCO|
Wat Pho acts as a pilgrimage for devout Buddhists in the country’s capital. After feasting my eyes upon the gigantic reclining Buddha, I noticed there were many pots lined up along the back wall of the temple – 108 pots to be precise. That is a significant number referring to the 108 positive actions and symbols that helped lead Buddha to enlightenment.
|My first encounter with prayer pots at Wat Pho|
|So I took a deep breath and waited till the last pot to make my wish|
Walking around Wat Pho was a kind of spiritual experience that I might not be able to express in words; but I can assure you that praying while walking along those 108 pots was deeply satisfying to my soul. It might have not been Nirvana but it wasn’t far from it.
After our relaxing and rejuvenating time at Wat Pho, we headed to Chef Rungtiwa’s cousin’s date farm; and even if you might have not watched the videos I’ve added above, I request you to watch the video below to know more about our experience at that farm.
After a light lunch and our tour of the date farm, we headed to Chinatown for dinner and I was ready to face one of my biggest fears in life: eating fried insects for the first time. First-timers like me should drop all instincts and just let go.
Serving as the center of gold trade in Bangkok for centuries, Chinatown has a history which is older than the city itself. The sights, sounds and smells of this part of Bangkok, were an assault to our senses; so all visitors should be prepared for unpleasant surprises, especially those who consider themselves as faint-hearted.
|Please don’t ask me how it tasted because I hate to admit, surprisingly fried grasshoppers taste good|
|Lofty neon signs with Thai and Chinese scripts everywhere you see|
My sincere advice to all my readers would be avoid taking a vehicle to this roadway of Chinatown, only because it is always jammed with buses, vans, tuk-tuks and luminous pink taxis; even at ungodly hours post midnight.
Both the mini-vans organised for us by Courtyard Marriott, dropped us off to explore the narrow sidewalks and commercial alleyways; and returned only after we were done with our dinner at a streetside yet extremely popular food-stall called: Fikeaw Yao Wa-Rat.
I cannot share more than this picture from Pattaya because NSFW!
|Fresh jumbo prawns on display at Fikeaw Yao|
|Look at that huge display of fresh seafood and vegetables!|
If you visit this stall, please do what we did. Take a deep breath, soak in the uncanny vibe and enjoy an unforgettably delicious meal served on a plastic table, while you sit on plastic chairs, in a smelly and crowded alley. After you taste the food, nothing else will matter.
We ordered for a seafood platter, some Tom Yum soup, a large portion of stir fried morning glory and some fresh steamed prawns served on top of peppery glass noodles. You must order the soup.
|Sea food platter: prawns, squid, crab, clams and octopus served in ginger garlic pepper sauce|
|Stir-fried morning glory|
|Definitely the best Tom Yum soup I’ve tried so far|
|Best dish we tried that night: steamed prawns with glass noodles|
We ended our 2nd night by gathering in our hotel lobby after dinner. Some of us stayed up till dawn to enjoy drinks and debates over personal opinions about different kinds of global food.
Our last day on this Thai culinary and cultural trail began with a ferry ride across the Chao Phraya River, to visit Wat Arun, which is perhaps the best known landmark of Thailand.
|An early morning ride to the oldest temple in Bangkok|
|The 4-corner prangs, which house images of the guardian gods of all four directions, reinforces the central symbolism|
|One can spend hours just lying on the lawn’s grass and staring at the sky|
Our lunch today was another addictively and explosively spicy #ThaiMeal at Chatuchak Market: #PadThai and #PapayaSalad. The live band performance added more joy to our experience and it was tough to bid adieu to all co-travelers hereafter. Thank you for hosting us @courtyardbangkok, and thank you @chefrungtiwa and @vishalatreya for your kind hospitality. We're heading to #Pattaya for a night to explore various bars out there. Watch out for live stories tonight! #JWSaharThaiTrails #thaifood #thailand #chatuchak #thaistreetfood #thaitrails #BKK #explorethailand #streetfood #asianstreetfood
|#JWSaharThaiTrails ends at Chatuchak|
|I cannot share more than this picture from Pattaya because NSFW!|
Breakfast in #Pattaya after a crazy night spent partying at the walking street, was thoroughly enjoyed at Swensen's with some fresh #strawberry #smoothie, a #waffle #sundae, sinfully smooth #caramel sauce, decadently gooey #chocolatesauce and a portion of extra #waffles on the side. Take that Monday! #thailand #desserts #strawberrymilkshake #experiencethailand #pattaya #breakfastofchampions #nomondayblues
Marriott is considering organising such itineraries for their guests in Thailand.
|Goodbye, Thailand. TBB will be back very soon!|