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Posts Tagged ‘Bangkok’

Always in pairs, huge Chinese dolls guard the gateways of many of Bangkok’s temples.  However, none are as impressive as the examples found in the famous Wat Pho – home to the country’s largest reclining Buddha.

The statues are known as “Up Chao” in Thai, meaning ballast, and actually many were brought from China for this purpose.  The main trade from Thailand to China was in heavy resources such as tin, lead, wood and rice, on the return however the lighter Chinese products weren’t enough to weigh the ship down in the water, so these cheap concrete statues were perfect for the job.  However, many of the statues in Wat pho were believed to have been specially made by Chinese artisans in Bangkok as a  thank you to the royal family of the time.

 

 

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A great place to see real Thai people getting to grips with on of the country’s most popular hobbies.  Men come to spend hours studying the amulets looking for unique and rare examples to add to their collection.  The most expensive will contain hairs from auspicious Monks, and will have been blessed over an extended time.  Strangely, the trade in Buddha images is illegal in Thailand – To get by this the representations are “Rented” to the collectors.

Here are a few of my photos:

A selection of Amulets

amulet 1

Buyers pore over amulets

amulet 7

amulet 3

Pictures of a young Prince as a Monk

amulet 4

A collection of statues, and an Artisan creating a large example

amulet 5

amulet 6amulet 10

Lucky catfish

amulet 8

A cat naps on top of the Amulets

amulet 9

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Keeps your eyes open in Bangkok and you’ll see some pretty crazy stuff.  Here’s a few of the random things that I found.

My favourite brand of whisky….

black cock

What an awesome statement.

tuk tuk

No hand grenades, no S&M, no sexual harassment???

noooo

No explanation needed!

no fng

How are they gonna know if it doesn’t smell?

no farting

I know I am.

coffee.

Well those glasses should help with his eyesight…

painted dog

Karaoke – yes, Sexy ladies – yes, Disabled – yes, Filming no, obviously!

no filming

Cute and crazy shit- some things definitely get lost in translation

cute shit 2

cute shit

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No trip to Bangkok is complete without a trip to Wat Pho and the Royal Palace – wearing your only pair of trousers and long sleeve shirt in the blazing hot sun, no immodesty here please!

But it’s definitely worth it – Lustrous gold and brightly coloured glass all shine in the sun drawing your attention to the remarkably detailed stupas and Buddha statues.  The palace itself tries to be as close to heaven as possible – the only fitting home for a dynasty which have traditionally been seen as demi-gods.

Along with Wat Pho, the palace is seen as the focus of Buddhism in Thailand, and although the royal family have now moved to a modern European style palace, this area is still a deeply religious one – hence the long sleeves.

It is, however, a bit of a tourist trap, with wave after wave of people bussed in on their Thailand tour, so it’s never going to be a relaxing experience.  But as with all tourist traps – there’s a reason they’re there!!

The Great reclining Buddha’s toes

buddha toes

Buddhas lining the corridors that surround the central temples in Wat Pho

buddhas wat po 2buddhas wat po

Some of the many demons and gods protecting the religious areas of the royal palace

demon 2

demon 1

demon 3

Mother of pearl detail on the Buddha’s Feet

mother of pearl buddha foot

The huge reclining Buddha

rclining buddha

The Great Buddhas face and that of a Taoist statue outside protecting the temple.

reclining buddha facetaoist statue

Not BKK, but a nice photo of a local kid on the beach in Koh Chang

kid beach koh

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So Back in the big BKK.  Munching on the endless supply of street treatson offer on every corner, nook and cranny.  This time we’ve been staying in the city’s Chinatown area, the oldest Chinatown in the world.  Here you can find a great mix of Thai and Chinese cuisines and the ever prevalent noodle Soup by the bucket load.  Theres also BBQ meat and fresh – so fresh it’s still alive – seafood everwhere.  I’m loving it.

Chinatown here has the hectic pace of it’s counterparts all over the world, with open markets, street vendors, traffic, chaos – but somehow, organised and calm chaos.  Is that possible?  Anyway love the vibe you get walking round this historic ghetto.  You can find anything you want in the markets, chill out amongst the incense in Taoist temples,or head down to one of the many restaurants selling sharks fin and birdsnest soup at hundreds of dollars a pop – Or you can just do it like me and eat the cheap stuff with the locals.  Here’s a few of my favourite dishes.

Dim Sum – Actually I don’t even know what was inside this thing.  All I know is it was awesome.  Sticky, sweet, possibly vegetarian and there was lashings of crispy shallotts on top.  The guy was sitting at the side of an insanely busy road, making the wrappers with a rice flour batter and then stuffing them with his magig mix.  Apart from this though the dim sum list is endless – Pork, shrimps, more sweet stuffall wrapped up an steamed, or possibly fried.

Chicken satay -This is a bit of Malaysian Chinese creeping up north of the border, although i’m not sure that Malaysians have the rights to chicken on a stick.  And theres definately a cross cultural thing happening with the yellow South Asian turmeric defining the dish – India and China on a stick!  Don’t forget the peanut sauce.

Fish Ball Soup – An open front restaurant that only does fish balls.  And damn good fish balls too.  Theres not moch else to say about them really.  You’re a fan of fish balld or you’re not.  They’re fishy. Get these amazing ones – they’re made with real fish – at Jiang’s healthy fish balls

Mixed Pork and Braised Eggs over Rice – Right, this is the daddy.   BBQ Meat and rice.  Does it get any better?  Apparently the guys here thought they could improve by adding some sausage and a black egg – they were right.  Some super fatty  pork sausage and the creamy egg went amazingly with the crispy pork belly and the chewy shoulder strips.  Its all about the texture with the chinese.  All Need is some boiled beef tendon and a bit of tripe and we’ve got all the mouthy feelings down.

Fried noodles with Egg and Cured Squid – I really had no idea what this was when i was eating it.  Only after a trip round the local wet market did I find the cured squid that people were queing up to eat at this stall.  I thought it was some sort of chicken at the begining.  The texture is not chewy at all and its not fishy, just kind of nice.  Something anybody could eat.  Fried up with some broad  rice noodles – they are literally making them behind me as i took the photo – and some softly scrambled egg.  What a snack.

Sausage in a crispy crepe – I’ve really no idea about this one.  hot dog sausage, mayo and then wrapped up in a crepe – a strange one but a good one. Only in BKK!

Duck and Rice – When people used to come and visit me and Rich in london this is what we’d take people for – also a side of choi sum in oyster sauce – and it was always a hit.  Sadly the place in London’s Chinatown is gone – replaced by a pretty decent Taiwanese place – but here in BKK’s Ctown its still on man laminated, and badly translated menus.  For me it just says Chinatown, and a good duck rice is one of my ultimate treats.  It could possibly be my last supper.  Here in BKK it is, as i’m leaving first thing tomorrow.  So goodbye to Bangkok, the (culinary) love of my life.  See you in Vancouver.

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Undoubtedly the world capital for street food. You could literally spend weeks trapsing around Bangkok trying different dishes and never have the same thing twice.  The thing is,in practice it’s too easy to find something you really like and eat it all the time, especially if you pass the same way often – think duck noodle soup, I am.   

So for the last couple of times we pass through Bangkok this trip I’ve decided to stick to the without eating the same dish twice.  The Idea Comes from Richard Barrow on his fantastic Thai Food Blog – Although I’m not able to stay in Bangkok eating food for 30 day, as much as I’d love to, everytime I’m there for the next few weeks I’ll keep it going.

Anyway heres a couple of standout dishes from this visit:

Grilled mackerel wrapped in banana leaf – We got this on a stall on Samsen Soi 6 where there are a few places doing grilled fish.  I love the way the Thais cover their fish in bucket loads of salt before it goes on the grill – the seasoning penetrates right through and gives the flesh a slightly cured flavour.

Spicy Beef Salad – This young gentleman made me an unbelieveable Thai beef salad.   It had an incredible amount of fresh chilli and the guy working there was even worried I might not be able to eat it.  Obviously I proved them wrong, but it was the hottest thing I’ve ever enjoyed.  Lots of plain cabbage and Thai basil help to cool though.

Mixed Noodle Soup – My personal favourite dish in the morning has got to be a bowl of noodle soup.  This place we went to  on Phra Sumen was jam packed with older women munching away on steaming bowls of soup – a sure sign of a good meal I’m told.  The soup had fish sausage,fish balls, wontons, pork balls and was topped off by this huge corn cracker on top.  Cornflakes with soup mmm.

Pork and Vermicelli Kebabs – I’m gonna struggle passing one of the stalls selling these guys.  The meat is a bit fermented giving it a bit of a funky taste so not everybody’s cup of tea. 

 Chicken Rice – Actually  a Chinese  dish, but given the thai onceover with a super spicy and fresh dip for the chicken.  But apart from that its just a plate of perfectly poached chicken over rice, some of the broth with chinese celery,and a few chunks of cucumber.  Sometimes the simplest things are the best. 

Thai stlye seafood Salad – More salad, More chilli.  It always seems that when a dish has lots of cooling leaves and herbs the thais use this as an excuse to add a shitload of chilli.  This is just freshly cooked seafood, leaves, some thai basil and a sweet/sour/spicy/salty dressing.  More simple great food.  And where else can you get fresh fish for 60p?

Papaya Salad – Another Salad, why not?  It’s been absoloutely roasting in Bangkok this week.  All the fresh salads have been a godsend.  This is a classic northern thai dish of green papaya strips, long beans, peanuts, tomato.  It’s dressed with fish sauce, lime and lots of chill – of course- then its pounded up in a huge mortar to bruise it a little and mix it up.

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Piggy, Piggy, Piggy!!!

Well its been a long time, but the wait is over.  There is no social taboo surounding schweinefleisch in this country.  Its pork galore – Kebabs, Sausages, stir fry, balls, noodles, but my personal favourite is the dark soy braise that never fails to make my eyes water and my bell rumble.  Soft, moist well seasoned pork bits served over rice with a little green veggies, some braised chard and possibly a boiled egg, also dark and braised.  I could eat it every day.

This time I also discovered a variant with braised and crispy pork, served in an incredibly rich soup with those black eggs, some boiled pork blood and some beanstarch noodle things – and this is a brekkie dish.  God I love Bangkok

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