Wednesday, July 16, 2008

River express boats

Formerly known as the 'Venice of the East', Bangkok still has an excess of waterways that offer a great way of getting around. River express and canal boats regularly ply several routes unaffected by the constant traffic on the roads, and are very cheap too. Often cited as one of the top bargains available in Thailand is the 1 hour 15 minute boat trip from the pier near the Oriental Hotel all the way up to Nonthaburi, a Bangkok suburb, for only 10B (0.25 US$) per person. The Khlong Saen Saep canal boats go across Bangkok for the same kind of price also.

The river boats go up and down the large Chao Phraya river, and there are around 20 main stops. They can be substantially quicker than the equivalent journey by road. For example, a trip from the Grand Palace to the Silom district could easily take over an hour by taxi, while the boat ride will only take around 15 or 20 minutes.

The boats are long, fast, and normally colored white with a red stripe. Fares vary slightly according to the destination, they're between 5B and 10B. Boats seem to come around every 20 minutes, start at 5.30am and the last boat leaves each end at 6pm.

It's very easy to get confused when trying to take a River Express boat. At each pier, there is a cross river service (costing 1B or 2B), these leave almost constantly throughout the day. These are much smaller boats and often fairly empty, and are normally waiting by the pier when you get there. When you see (or hear the whistle of) a River Express boat approaching the pier, don't hesitate as they only wait for a few seconds. Everyone scrambles to get on and off as quickly as possible, and a slight delay will cost you a place on the boat. Tickets can either be bought on the boat or at the pier. Piers are marked in English and Thai, so it's easy to know where to get off.
A description of the route the express boats run is shown on the next page.

The Tuk-tuk

Doing a similar job to the taxi is Thailand's ubiquitous tuk-tuk (ตุ๊กตุ๊ก). So named because of the sound of their engine, these are motorized rickshaws and are popular amongst tourists for their novelty value. They are occasionally faster than taxis in heavy traffic as weaving in and out is easier, but generally about the same or slower. Without any luggage, 3 people can fit into one fairly comfortably - it's possible to fit more in but it gets a bit cramped. Fares always have to be bargained for, and it is sometimes possible to bargain tuk-tuk drivers down to less than the taxi flagfall of 35B when they make good value. Most times, they offer no savings over a taxi, except perhaps if you're good at bargaining and can speak good Thai. The initial price they quote is likely to be well over the going rate, but it's easy to bargain it down to a more reasonable one if you know roughly the equivalent taxi fare.

It's essential to bargain the price with tuk-tuks before getting in. If you only ask after the ride, it's likely to end in a request for an ridiculous fare which can obviously lead to an unpleasant situation.

Just like taxi drivers, the tuk-tuk drivers mostly come from the rural northeast of Thailand and don't have to undergo any training (some will not even have passed a driving test), so don't be surprised if they sometimes have no idea where your destination is. A subtle point to remember when in one is not to rest your feet on the rail near the drivers head, as doing so is extremely disrespectful towards the driver.

As tuk-tuks are open-ended, they expose passengers to the high pollution levels in the middle of Bangkok's roads and offer almost no protection in case of an accident. There is theoretically a ban on new tuk-tuks as they are so noisy and polluting, but it doesn't really seem to be being enforced at present. Nevertheless, many of the local residents are not too enamoured with tuk-tuks nowadays and, were it not for their popularity with tourists, the days of the tuk-tuk on the streets of Bangkok would surely be numbered.

Ericsson Completes Thai Airport 3G Network

ASIA Thailand : Ericsson has successfully completed the turnkey project of designing and integrating a multi-operator In-Building Solution (IBS) at the Suvarnabhumi Airport, Thailand's new international airport. The Ericsson IBS solution enables commuters and staff members of the airport, poised to be a major transportation hub in South East Asia, to enjoy advanced communications with seamless and high-quality coverage, as well as international roaming services.

The IBS system incorporates six different technologies, including WCDMA, and GSM. This solution will also be the foundation for the airport's in-building communications network to migrate smoothly to 3G in the future.

Ericsson was awarded the contract for the IBS solution for the new airport by the country's top five mobile operators -- Advanced Info Service (AIS), DTAC, True Move, Hutchison CAT Wireless and Thai Mobile.

As the prime integrator, Ericsson was commissioned to provide a comprehensive range of services, including program management, network design, installation, integration and testing for the combined wireless application solutions that will serve the five operators' customers.

Wichian Mektrakarn, Executive Vice President for Operations at AIS, says: "By cooperating with Ericsson in developing the GSM mobile network at Suvarnabhumi Airport, AIS believes that our customers, tourists and visitors will benefit from a premium quality network that provides high quality services for both voice and data communications. At the same time, they will also enjoy the value-added services that AIS is offering them."

Chutichai Napasab, CTO, Hutchison CAT Wireless, says: "We are confident that Ericsson's In-Building Solutions will deliver smooth connections to our customers in both mobile telephony and wireless internet. This is important as we believe Suvarnabhumi Airport will be a key hub for international and domestic commuters."

Vichaow Rakphongphairoj, Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer, True Corporation Plc, adds that "True Move is happy to work together with Ericsson along with the other mobile operators for this IBS project. This mutual appointment reflects the good cooperation between Thai mobile operators and Ericsson in providing solutions that are optimised for superior end-user experience."

Hans O. Karlsson, Country Manager of Ericsson Thailand, says that this contract further strengthens Ericsson's leadership in in-building communication solutions.

"This is indeed a significant milestone for Ericsson Thailand and we are honoured to have the trust of the country's five largest mobile operators to develop and implement the best-in-class in-building communication solutions, adding that Ericsson's global experience and strengths had been key in ensuring the success of the project, backed by a strong local presence and expertise," he added.

Under the project, around 1,200 antennas were installed to cover the whole area of the new Suvarnabhumi Airport, including 563,000 square metres of public area and car park space. Scheduled to open late this year, the airport is expected to serve up to 45 million passengers each year and this number may double to 120 million when the airport's second phase is completed.

Suvarnabhumi international airport

Officially opened on the 28th September 2006 to replace the aging Don Muang airport, Bangkok's new Suvarnabhumi international airport is actually in the nearby Samut Prakan province about 25km to the east of Bangkok. Suvarnabhumi was named by King Bhumibol Adulyadej and means "the golden land" in Thai, although it's English spelling is certain to lead to mispronunciations by visitors as it's actually pronounced like 'su-wan-na-poom'. Though Don Muang airport had three terminals, Suvarnabhumi has only one (very large) one that handles all international and domestic flights. At a size of 563,000sq m, Suvarnabhumi's terminal building is the second largest in the world.

Over 40 years in construction and eventually opened shortly Thailand's 2006 coup that removed Thaksin Shinawatra from power, Suvarnabhumi has had a controversial history of extensive delays, corruption allegations, political meddling, media reports of flawed construction and massive budget overruns - and that was all before the airport even opened.

The final bill for Suvarnabhumi stands at over US$3 billion and while it's undoubtedly a very impressive and modern structure, the Thai newpapers report new problems with the airport with embarrassing regularity. Issues range from the most serious of cracks on the runway and other construction problems to complaints from passengers of poor signage, long queues and inadequate facilities. In the initial period after opening these problems were compounded by up to 100,000 Thais coming to visit and picnic in the airport each day and putting strain on the airports facilities, but with waning public interest this is thankfully no longer a problem.

The root cause of the problems appears to be a rush to open the airport before it was really ready, and several senior Airports Authority of Thailand officials have been removed from their posts as a result of the mess. Latest (February 2007) reports are that Don Muang airport is to be re-opened for both international and domestic flights, to relieve some of the pressure from Suvarnabhumi and to allow the much needed repairs to take place. How this will work in practice is unclear at this point, but it could well mean passengers needing to travel between the two airports (a one hour or longer journey) in order to board a connecting flight. If you think this could affect you, you're well advised to check with your airline as soon as possible for the latest news.

If you've previously used Bangkok's Don Muang airport, note that it's no longer necessary to pay the 500 baht per person Passenger Service Charge at Suvarnabhumi. From February 2007, the charge was increased to 700B but it's now included in the price of your ticket. The departure tax for domestic flights is 60B, collected at check in.

Suvarnabhumi is organised into 4 separate levels:

Level one is the bus and taxi lobby where you can go to get downtown.

Level two is the arrivals area.

Level three is the "Meeting Center" level, where the majority of Suvarnabhumi's facilities are.

Level four is departures.

In addition, there's the separate Public Transportation Center (PTC) building which is about 10 minutes from Suvarnabhumi terminal. Free shuttle buses regularly ply the route back and forth between them leading from level one. If you want to get a public bus downtown or to a destination other than Bangkok, you need to head to the PTC first while if you're getting a taxi you can get one either from the terminal building itself or the PTC. More details are on the taxi and other ways downtown pages.

ATMs (with Cirrus/Maestro, Visa, Mastercard, Plus and others) and currency exchange are available at the airport 24 hours a day. The exchange rates available at the airport are generally not that much worse than in the city itself, and so you you won't lose out too much by changing money here. Internet access is available, but at a cost of 500B an hour it's up to 20 times (!) the price of internet cafes in Bangkok itself.

Other facilities at the airport include bars, restaurants (mostly fast food with Pizza Hut, KFC, Burger King etc... but there's a good and cheap Thai foodcourt on the walkway between the International and domestic terminals), a couple of decent 24 hour bars, duty free and normal shops, a small branch of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, Thai Hotels Association, and car hire. Trolleys are available but can't be taken past immigration. The THA can get you better rates at mid-range and expensive hotels than you would get as a walk-in, but you still pay more than the going rate. Make sure you have some idea about where you want to stay and what kind of prices you should be paying for it. Different hotels pay them different rates of commission so don't be surprised if they suggest other hotels to one you decided on - they aren't impartial by any means.

The airport has one attached hotel, the 4 star Novotel Suvarnabhumi Airport Hotel which is only 5 minutes away via an underground walkway. It has all the facilities you'd expect and rates start at around $90 a night.

Getting downtown is cheap and not too much of a problem, and there's no lack of options either: Taxis, airport buses, normal buses, limousines, boats, the train and even a helicopter are all available. When you book hotels in Thailand, your travel agent will likely offer airport transfers as an extra which may well be very overpriced - don't bother if it costs any more than US$15 or so (in total, not per person).

When leaving it is also possible to claim back VAT on certain goods you have bought in Thailand - the forms for this can be got at shops displaying "Vat Refund for Tourists" signs in the city. Take the forms, the goods themselves and your passport to the tax refund counter (which is in the departure hall), pay the 100B service fee, and you will be given the refund. Note they require to see the goods bought, which can be very inconvenient if they are packed away in your baggage. You must have spent a minimum of 5000B, and 2000B in each transaction, to qualify for this. It's a bit of a cumbersome procedure overall, which discourages many from taking advantage of it.

Pasteur Institute (Snake Farm) สวนงูสถากาชาติไทย

This interesting spot is located at the corner of Henri Dunant Road and Rama IV Road west of ChulalongkornHospital. It is a section of the Thai Red Cross, where one can have cholera, smallpox and typhoid inoculationsas well as rabies treatment. The institute has become a popular tourist attraction because of its large collectionsof live poisonous snakes.The snake farm is open to the public everyday between 8.30am and 4.00pm on weekdays and 8.30am - 12amon public holidays. The extraction of venum from the snakes is demonstrated daily at 10.30am and 2.00pm. onweekdays and at 10.30 on public holidays. Admission fee is 70 baht.

Bangkok hotels

There's a huge range of accommodation in Bangkok, and fortunately there's never any real problem getting a room at any time of year, whatever your budget. By international standards, room rates are generally very good value - ranging from the 50B (a little over 1US$) guesthouse dorm bed right up to The Oriental hotel, consistently voted as one of the best in the world. This is in part due to devaluation of the Baht in 1997 and it's continued weakness since, from which prices have never really recovered to their level beforehand.

For the majority of visitors to Bangkok, your budget will probably dictate the area where you stay. Banglamphu (Khao San Road) has many cheap rooms in the 100-300B range. For this you will generally get a basic small room with a fan with a shared bathroom. This is a very popular backpackers area, and the abundance of competition keeps prices fairly low. A slight step up for budget accommodation can be found in the Siam Square area. Sukhumvit road is another of Bangkok's big tourist districts, and has a very large range of hotels with rooms generally ranging from 700B up to about 2000B. Top end hotels are found all over the city, the very best (Oriental, Peninsula, Shangri-La, Royal Orchid Sheraton) tend to be located by the river, and around the Siam Square area.

Other than price, it's important to consider what you want to do while in Bangkok when chosing a location for a hotel. Bangkok's international reputation for pollution and congestion is not undeserved, and it's worth staying in the area where you want to spend most tim, as getting from one side of the city to the other can, to say the least, be a bit of a challenge. The relatively new skytrain connects the Silom, Siam Square and Sukhumvit road areas, and makes getting around here fairly painless - these are all good areas for shopping and nightlife, but with limited sightseeing opportunities. Many of the main tourist attractions (Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun) aren't on the skytrain line but in the Ko Rattanakosin district - depending on the traffic, it can take over a hour to reach here from Sukhumvit or Silom.

In Thai hotel terminology, a single room is one with one double bed, a double room has two. Therefore, it's perfectly normal for a couple to check into a single room. Prices are generally the same whichever you ask for, or only very slightly more expensive for a double. An additional charge that may apply is the 'joiner fee' that is levied by some hotels to try and prevent any 'guests' joining you in your room overnight. Another price that has to be paid is the 7% tax in that all accommodation in Thailand is subject to. The cheaper guesthouses will incorporate this into the price (or just not pay it at all), but for most of the 3* or better hotels this will be added to your bill on top of the rate you're quoted. On top of this, an 8% - 10% service charge is often levied also (If you see prices quoted elsewhere as 2000B++, that is what the ++ means). This is well worth bearing in mind when considering hotels, as obviously it can make a substantial difference to the total cost. It's also an important thing to ask any travel agent booking rooms for you, as some don't mention to try and make their prices sound lower while others quote all-inclusive prices.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Shopping in Bangkok

Thailand and Bangkok have developed into one of the best and most popular shopping locations in Asia, and with good reason. Prices are low, quality generally high and the range and variety is pretty amazing - silks, gemstones, tailor-made clothes and traditional handicrafts are all highlights of Bangkok shopping. Most shops seem to be open 10.00am to 10.00pm everyday of the week, and nightmarkets carry on even after this time - all very convenient in being able to go shopping at basically any time you want. Buying a shopping map is very useful in order to get the most out of shopping in Bangkok - despite the garish colours, the 'Nancy Chandler' map is actually very useful and probably the best.

Silks, nielloware, lacquerware, silverware, bronzeware, pewterware, pottery, gemstones and jewelry and all types of handicrafts are particularly good souvenirs of a trip to Thailand, while clothes and tailor-made clothes are widely available and inexpensive. Fake goods of all types abound and can be bought at a fraction of a cost of originals. There are different manufacturers of fake goods, so the 'Rolex' watch costing 6000B will be better than the 2000B one, which in turn is superior to the one at 500B.

Most vendors and staff at stores speak good enough English, though non-fixed prices are often bargained by you and the vendor taking turns in typing numbers into a calculator. It's worth learning how to say the numbers in Thai - this is easy, will save the calculator routine and may well get you cheaper prices too.

Street stalls and shops on the street will generally have lower prices for the same product than those paying premium rents in hotel shopping arcades and some higher end shopping centers and department stores. The price difference can also reflect on the quality of the product though.
Duty Free shopping can be done at the Thailand Duty Free Shops Company branch in the World Trade Center on Ratchadamri road. Goods can be pre-ordered here and then picked up at the airport - you have to show your passport and airline ticket in order to make a purchase. It's not really worth it unless you are particularly short of time at the airport.
Many of the larger and more specialized shops now offer shipping abroad, and they will sort out the necessary documents and permits for this. Insurance should also be included. If you don't feel comfortable with this, there are specialized companies that will do it and sort out the arrangements for a fee. The GPO also has a parcel-wrapping service, and smaller items can be mailed from here. Another option is to go Thai Airways office on 485 Silom road and, for a fee, they will ship them and sort out documentation for you.

Information of SAMUTPRAKAN (Thailand)

The Ancient City (Muang Boran) เมืองโบราณThe world’s largest outdoor museum, constructed in 1963, covers an area of approximately 500 rai,It is located in Tambon Bang Phu Mai, Muang District -- at the 33.5 kilometer post of sukhumvit Road(the old route), eight kilometers from the town center. This place features replicas of important placesof warship in each province, for example, Khao Phra Viharn, Panomrung Sanctuary, Wat Mahathat inSukhothai, the Lord Buddha’s Footprint in Saraburi, Phra That Muang Nakhon and Phra That Chaiya.Some of these replicas are of life-size, showing the exquisite craftsmanship of Thai art. Folk arts andfolk customs that are rarely seen nowadays are on display here.The Ancient City is open daily from8.00 a.m. – 5.00 p.m. Admission fees are 50 Baht each for adult, 25 Baht each for children under 12,

ขนมชั้นka-nom chan

The other day, I was having a conversation with one of the teachers in the lift. As usual, she had bought some Thai desserts from the market to share with her fellow teachers. She asked what my favourites were and I had to admit that I had only eaten a few. What sprang to mind, were the delicious desserts khanom mor gaeng and also the equally delicious khao nieow dtut. Now, most people at the school know I am writing Thai Food blogs, so she immediately volunteered to educate me in Thai desserts! And so today, she came up to me with a bag full of Thai desserts for me to photograph and taste! She explained which ones I had to eat straight away and which ones I could save for a later day by putting in the refrigerator. I can tell you, I was really stuffed today. But, it was a really good introduction.

Today I am going to introduce you to khanom chun, or layered dessert. It is named like this because it has nine layers. As you may know, this is an auspicious number. So, it is often used for important ceremonies such as job promotion (representing going up levels) and at weddings. In the above example, each layer is a shade of green. I have seen ones before where it was green/white stripes. If you have read my previous blog about khanom thuay you might be able to guess where the green comes from. Yes, it is from the pandanus leaf. You make the liquid by putting it in a blender and then straining it though muslin.

To make this dessert, mix the coconut milk and sugar. Bring to boil and then set aside. Mix the topioca flour with the plain flour and add coconut milk. Knead the mixture. Add the coconut milk and sugar which you had set aside. Now separate them into two containers. in one add the green water from the pandanus leaves. Leave the other white. (In the case above, some pandanus water was added to the coconut milk before boiling. Then later, more was added to the second container to make a darker shade of green.) Grease the mould with some coconut milk and then heat it in a steamer. First, add some of the white mixture and steam for 5–10 minutes. Then repeat this with the green mixture, white mixture etc. Finish with a green layer. Leave in the mould for 3–4 hours before removing it. Sounds quite labour intensive, especially as they only sell for 10 baht! The result is quite tasty. I would eat it again for sure.

ขนมครก khanom krok

Another one of my favourite street food snacks has to be khanom krok. This can be loosely translated into English as Coconut Pudding. It is basically a mixture of flour batter and coconut cream cooked in a pan over a charcoal fire. You can find them in most places around Thailand with the same basic recipe. Our local hawker is called Wirat, she is 42 years old and she comes from Lopburi (and she apparently wants to marry me - so she keeps saying). She is a friendly soul and I can't pass her in the morning without having to engage in some sort of conversation.

ขนมจีนน้ำยา khanom jeen nam yaa

These distinctive white noodles are almost spaghetti like. They are made from rice flour

In the above picture you can see the sauces for three soups that go with khanom jeen noodles. The larger one on the right is "nam ya ga ti" which is sometimes shortened to just "nam yaa". It is the famous version for the central region. In the top left is "nam ya ba" and bottom left is "nam ngiaw". The missing soup is "nam prik". The first two I mentioned have fish balls (look chin pla) but nam ngiaw is served with chicken pieces.

ขนมจีน น้ำยา - khanom jeen nam yaa
The fish curry sauce is made with fish, ginger, garlic, shrimp paste, shallots, galangal, lemon grass, peppers, coconut milk and fish sauce.

ขนมจีน น้ำเงี๊ยว - khanom jeen nam ngiaw
This curry is made with garlic, red curry paste, yellow bean sauce, diced tomatoes, turmeric, fish sauce, spring onion and coriander. You can use either chicken (as in the picture) or pork ribs.

The sauce is poured on top of the noodles. You then have a selection of vegetables which you eat with it. These include: basil, quail eggs, pickled mustard greens, shredded cabbage and beansprouts.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Thailand Tourist Guides


The country of Thailand lies in the southeast tip of Asia, and is one of the most frequently visited countries. It stretches for an area of, extending like a green woolly carpet to the brownish coastal plains. Administratively divided into 76 provinces, the country is full of people from origins of Thai, Chinese and Malay with Buddhism reigning as the dominant religion and a handful of Muslims to complete the list.

Thailand, formerly known as Siam has its capital city as Bangkok. The magnificent country of Thailand is busy with commercial activities and supports an excellent infrastructure, round the clock. Tourism flourishes well and is the reason behind the constant street bustling and busy with all time open shops and malls.
The map of Thailand is beautifully dotted with architectural evidences, magnificent shopping malls, sun-kissed beaches and palm-dotted islands, delicious foods and drinks, exotic hilly villages and other ancient grandeur of ruins. One will be perfectly balanced between comfort and adventure while cruising through Thailand for activities and chilling sensational events are well maintained to tantalize the tourist minds.
Thailand is sprinkled with rivers and canals all over with the Chao Phraya as the most important river, which abundantly waters the whole of Thailand. Dark looming mountains safely border the country, which runs southward along Myanmar. High plains in the east and green forests in the peninsula shared with Malaysia are the prominent features. The land of Thailand is full of labyrinthine roads, which curves itself into natural greenery and produce an awesome feeling in every heart. So its always fun to get lost and discover newness amidst nature. Although industries like tin, fish products, tapioca, textiles, furniture, plastics and electrical appliances flourish well here yet agriculture remains the primary source of sustenance. Thailand amongst other Asian countries is one of the largest producers of rice. The temperature normally ranges between 35 degree centigrade in April to 20 degree centigrade in December. The hot and rainy season dominate the climactic map of Thailand.

Name of country: Thailand
Former name: Siam
Capital city: Bangkok
Area: 517000 sq. km
Population: 62.2 million approx
People: Thai, Chinese, Malay.
Language: Thai
Religion: Majority Buddhism, a few Muslims.
Government: Constitutional monarchy

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Lemongrass soup with shrimp (dtom yam goong)

ต้มยำกุ้งdtom yam goong

Probably one of the most famous Thai dishes around the world is the one called tom yum kung. In English, it is sometimes called Hot and Sour Shrimp Soup or Lemongrass and Shrimp Soup. I took the above photograph at Pornsiri Kitchen in Samut Prakan this afternoon. This version has shrimp, but you could also cook it with chicken if you like. The basic ingredients are all the same. Shrimp, straw mushrooms, lightly crushed hot red chilis, sliced galangal, lemongrass stems, torn kaffir lime leaves, coriander, and seasoned with fish sauce, sugar and some lime juice. Use chicken stock to make up the soup. It is very quick and easy to make. In the supermarkets in Thailand, you can buy the starter kit with most ingredients for only about 8 baht!
If you would like to see how this dish was cooked, then visit our free downloads section:

This dish is number 21 in set 3. This video is 13 MB. If you have a slow internet connection or would like a better quality video clip you can now purchase CDs of the downloads. At the same time you will be helping to support the running cost of having so many free downloads! The pad thai video is the most popular one so far with over 1200 downloads in the last 7 days.

Top 10 Thai Street Food

For the last week or so I have been trying to think of my Top 10 for Thai street food. One of the good things about living in Thailand is the easy availability of some of the best food in the world. But this leads to my difficulty of being able to list a top 10. So, what I will do over the next few weeks is produce a "nomination" list first.
The criteria for the first list is food served on the street just around the corner from where I live! I have only included meals, so none of my favourite snacks and no desserts yet. You also won't see any ready cooked food so no curries on the list. All of these will come later.
Here is the list in no particular order:

1. som tam - a spicy salad with shredded papaya
2. khao mun gai tod - fried chicken served on rice cooked in chicken broth
3. rat naa - noodles and pork in a thick gravey

4. ba mee nam - egg noodle soup with wonton

5. pad thai - fried noodles with dried shrimp and tofu

6. johk - a thick rice soup excellent for breakfast

7. pad see iew - pan-fried noodles

8. khao pad - fried rice

9. moo pad krapow - pork fried in basil

10. khao moo daeng - red pork with rice

Well, that is the first attempt. Just reading through it is making me hungry! I will be posting more nominations soon. I will also be going through the list one by one with pictures of the foodstalls and finished product. I will be attempting to cook some of them so I will also be giving you some recipes.
Don't forget to visit the forums to discuss Thai food!

Top 10 Thai Food

I spent most of the day at the Book Fair at Queen Sirikit Convention Hall. The big fairs are usually during the school holidays in April and October. I used to comment that Thai people don’t like reading much (apart from cartoon books), but every year more and more people go to these book fairs. Today was packed and I could hardly move. I bought quite a few books that I will share with you later, but first I want to show you this book which is all about the Top 10 of Thai Food! Obviously one of my favourite subjects. As you can see, the book is in Thai. I think I already have the best of the cookery books in English. Most of them are quite limited and repeat themselves a lot. So, that is why today I was browsing through the cook books written by Thai people. A better selection for sure. I bought half a dozen cook books which will help me a lot identifying the ingredients of street food that I have already photographed. I could blog about Thai food every day, I am just lacking the information sometimes.
Anyway, according to this book, the following is the Top 10 list of Thai Food:

1.Hot and sour soup with shrimp
2.Green curry with chicken
3.Fried Noodles
4.Pork fried in basil
5.Red curry with roast duck
6.Coconut soup with chicken
7.Thai style salad with beef
8.Satay pork
9.Fried chicken with cashew
10.Panang curry

In Thai:
1.ต้มยำกุ้ง (tom yum goong)
2.แกงเขียวหวาน (gaeng kiaw waen gai)
3.ผัดไทย (pad tai)
4.ผัดกระเพรา (pat ga-prao)
5.แกงเผ็ดเป็ดย่าง (gaeng pet bet yaang)
6.ต้มข่าไก่ (tom kaa gai)
7.ยำเนื้อย่าง (yam neua yaang)
8.สะเต๊ะหมู (moo sa-teh)
9.ไก่ผัดเม็ดมะม่วงหิมพานต์ (gai pat met ma-muang him-ma-paan)
10.พะแนง (pa-naeng)

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pattaya A great getaway

Just two hours from Bangkok is the beach resort of Pattaya-at once busy and quiet. Spend some time here and you'll discover that pattaya is really a great getaway. From a small fishing village to a major tourist resort, Pattaya has certainly changed colors. It got of a US base at nearby Sattahip. Now the resort can lay claim to the same range of seaside attractions, the same diversity of recreations as this one. Food is great here, especially seafood which you have to try at a beachside restaurant for the sheer atmosphere. This seaside town also offers great international dining experience with restaurants catering to every taste, in every lane and by-lane. The beach is, of course, one of its main attractions. But those looking for peace and quiet could head for nearby Hat Jomtien and Wong Amat witch more than make up for the hustle and bustle of Pattaya.Tours to nearby islands, beaches and sightseeing points abound. In addition there is a full-range of activities for sports enthusiasts-snorkeling, scuba diving, shooting, bowling and great golfing. At night the city comes alive and is ablaze with lights. There is plenty to choose from-restaurants, beer bars, cabarets, pubs, discotheques and tranquil beaches (at night they are tranquil).


Pattaya is easily accessible from Bangkok by car taking only two hours along Bangna-Trad Highway via Bangna, Bang Pakong, Chonburi and Si Racha. Eastern Bus Station at Sukhumvit Soi 63 (390-1230) has air-conditioned coaches leaving Bangkok every half hour from 5 am to 11 pm and retaining from Pattaya every half hour from 5am to 9 pm Bht 77 one way.Hualamphong Train Station on Rama IV Rd (223-0341-8) has a daily train service departing Bangkok at 7am. The train departs Pattaya for Bangkok at 2:50 pm daily. Bht31 one way.


Beaches. As beaches go there are several-from Na Klua to Jomtien. The most famous is the one bordering Pattaya Beach Road and is packed with hotels, restaurants, shopping plazas, and bars. Jomtien Beach is relatively quieter and offers windsurfing, jet skiing etc.Coral islands. Close by are three small islands popular for the clear blue water, the largest of which is Hoh LAN. Motor boat trips to the island take 45 minutes, and often include viewing corals from glass bottomed boats, The other two islands are Ko Sak and Ko Khrok> also nearby are Ko Lin and Ko Phai Elephant Kraal. At the Pattaya Elephant Village, entertaining demonstrations of elephant training, racing, and round-ups can be seen. Mini Siam" The first miniature town in Southeast Asia, Mini Siam is at Km 143 on Sukhumvit Highway, ten minutes from Pattaya. 80 models of places in Thailand are featured, including Crocodile Farm, Phra Pathom Chedi, Victory Moment, and Wat Phra Kaeo. The Million Years stone Park&Pattaya Crocodile Farm, A magnificent natural garden. Forty acres of gigantic, grotesque stones Thai Bonsai over 200 years old and a zoo. Just 15 minutes from North Pattaya. 249347-9 Nong Mooch Tropical Garden. 20 minutes from Pattaya on Km 163 is this 500 acre park with Thai-style houses, orchid and cactus gardens, and a large artificial lake. If time permits, catch the daily cultural and elephant shows.Phra Tamnak Hill. Phra Tamnak Hill is at the southern tip of the bay, and offers the most panoramic view of the curved Bay of Pattaya.Ripley's Believe It or Not Museum. A fantastic place for the family. It boasts over 300 fascinating exhibits including the SOS messages from the ill-fated Titanic. It also includes Motion Master, Moving Theatre, two motion picture cinemas plus a Lazer Tag game and a hitch bumper car ride, 3rd floor, Royal Garden Plaza. The entrance fee is Bht 150 for adults and Bht 100 for chidden. Open daily from 10 am till midnight.Sriracha Tiger Zoo. The zoo has over 80 tigers besides other animals, Open daily 9.30 am - 6.30 pm. 341 Moo 3 Nongkham, Sriracha, Chonburi. 296556-8.Snake Show. For a really thrilling and interesting experience, visit Pattaya's Snake Show. Pythons, cobras and kraits are on show. Open daily 8.00 am -9 pm. 10/20 Moo5, Soi Noenphapwan, Nongprue. 945-297-8Tiffany's Show. Asia's most spectacular stand-in cabaret comes to life every night at Tiffany's Sixty transvestite dancers in stunning costumes and in memorable song and dance sequences perform with a touch of flair and comedy. Dailyashow time: 7 pm, 8:30 pm and 10 pm. North Pattaya, 2nd Road. Tel 429-642, 421-700-3Shopping. Pattaya Beach road is jammed with several shops for beachwear, souvenirs, liquor, jewelry, silks, Thai handicrafts and just about everything else. Or you can shop at department stores and shopping plazas like Royal Garden Plaza, Central Shopping Center, Mike Shopping Mall, Lotus Supermarket and Big C.

Chiang Mai The Northern Rose

Chiang Mai or the rose of the North is a city with a history and a popular. Tourist destination. A perfect holiday spot with good accommodation, great food, excellent climate and friendly people.
King Mengrai built the city of Chiang Mai in 1296. Historically speaking, Chiang Mai succeeded the nighnouring Chiang Rai Kingdom of King Mengrai. The king, who was the Prince of Nan Chao (in what is now southwest China), had earlier conquered the post-Dvaravati kingdom of Haripunjaya (modern Lamphun) in 1281. In the 13th and 14th centuries Chiang Mai became a part of the Lan Na Thai kingdom (the kingdom of a million rice fields). In 1556, the Burmese captured the city once again the first time was in the 11th century during the reign of King Anuruddha of Pagan. In 1775, the Thais recaptured it under King Taksin. As a result of these long occupations Chiang Mai architecture today shows a great deal of Burmese influence. The city is still small enough for one to getaround by bicycle-which gives it a ratherprovincial, relaxed air there are other pluses-pure Clean air and almost no traffic jams.Popular tourist attractions include Buddhist temples (of which the city has over 300 at the last count and the remnants of the moat and fortified gates, which bound the old city.This mountain getaway is also a convenient jumping-off point for treks, hill resorts, river rafting and scenic nature trails. The best time to visit Chiang Mai is from November to February, which is the cool season. The hottest month is April and the wettest September.


Begin at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, the biggest of Chiang Mai's tourist attractions, 16 kms northwest of town. Leading up to the wat is a 300-step staircase with sinuous naga side-railings. The temple, in its scenic location, is important both historically and architecturally. On the same leg of your tour, drive on to Phu Ping Palace, the winter palace of the royal family the gardens of the palace are open to the public during weekends and holidays. Wat Chiang Man. One of the finest examples of northern Thai architecture, it was built by King Mengrai in 1296. The wat has massive teak columns, and a marble Buddhist bas-relief that stands 20 to 30 cms high. This sculpture is believed to have originated in India or Sri Lanka some 2,500 years ago. Also of interests is the 10 cm-high Crystal Buddha. Wat Chedi Luang. The temple structure was built in the mid-15th century, and was severely damaged in either the 16th or 17th century. It is in a state of partial ruin, but is greatly revered by locals. The wat also plays a part in local Buddhist history, with the story of the Emerald Buddha being sited here in the late 15th century figuring prominently.Wat Kuu Tao Dating back to the early 17th century, the outer wall feature amusing sculptures that enlivens the otherwise staid temple architecture. With its spheres that diminish in size towards the top, the chedi of Wat Kuu Tao is unique in the region.Wat Phaya Sigh is Chiang Mai's best known wat. Construction of the wat began in the middle of the 14th century, with the viharn being completed by the end of that century, and bot by 1600. The wat takes its name from the Phra Singh Buddha image, which dates back at least 300 years and is supposed to have originated in Sri Lanka. However the statue's travels are clouded in a mist of uncertainty; a fact that heightens the myth surrounds the statue.Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre on Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road, is the stage centre for Lanna Thai cultural performance with a Khantoke dinner, the northern traditional style dinner. Objets d'art available for sale.Ban Rai Phai Ngam is a village of weavers famous for its cotton woven in the old style, To the left of the Chiang Mai Hot route Km68, about 4 kms off the main road.


Nature has a lot to offer in Chaing Mai.Doi Inthanon National Park is the highest peak in Thailand and one of the best equipped to welcome visitors offering marvelous scenery. There are several waterfalls in the park, Most well known is Mae Klang Waterfall.Doi Pui Tribal Village of Meo iss about 4kms from the Phu Phing Palace. Just and hour from the city, it offers a wonderful view of Doi Inthanon and handmade souvenirs.Doi Ang Khang is a demonstration site for cultivating exotic vegetables and flowers under the patronage of His Majesty the King. Haui Nam Dang National Park commands a breathtaking view of seas of mist, flower beds and tribales villages, It is about 60 kms along the Mae Malai-Pai Highway and then 6 kms on turning right On the same route is Haui Nam Roo (Sam Mueng), offering several tourist attractions such as Lisu villages, a huge opium field, coffee farm and fruit cultivation.There are several resorts mostly built in traditional Northern style: Chiang Mai-Erawan Resort, Mae Sa Valley, Kangsadan Resort, Royal Ping Garden and Resort Chiang Dao Hill, Ksisda Doi and many more.


Besides temples, there is a lot to see in this city. Tribal Research Institute is the place OT go to if you are interested in getting to know more about the several getting to know more about the several and quite different hill tribes of the region The institute is located on the Chiang Mai University campus, and has a small but excellent hill tribe museum, which features among other thins-hill tribe crafts and literature on the tribes. The crafts and literature on the tribes. The museum is open Monday to Friday, from 8.30 is to 4.30pm.Chiang Mai Arboretum. Next to the Chiang Mai University, very attractively landscaped gardens.Orchid Farm and Butterfly Farm. Along Mae Rim-Samoeng Road at Km 3 is the centre of all northern orchids. Two nearby orchid farm, Mountain Orchid and Sai Nam Phung Orchid Nursery grow the Queen of the Forest that blooms all year round. On Km 4 Mae SA Butterfly Farm has all types of butterflies.Elephant Shows. At Km 10 on the Mae Rim-Samoeng route. Every morning trained elephants demonstrate their formidable and highly valued forestry skills at Elephant Training Centre. On the same route at Km 19, elephants can be seen at the Pong Yaeng Elephant Centre also. Chiang Dao Elephant Camp is a riverside enclave, at Km 56 on Highway 107, featuring daily shows of elephants at work and elephant rides.

Islands Guide

Phi Phi Islands : The name refers to the mangrove wood found there. Six Islands are in the group; Phi Phi Don,Phi Phi Ley, Biddah Nok, Biddah Nai, Yung, and Pai; total area is 42 square kilometers, They were incorporated into the national park in 1983.

Panyee : This small island has a picturesque village, which rests precariously on small pilings and extends out across the water. It is inhabited chiefly by Muslim fisher folk, whose unique culture has existed, cut off from the mainland and most modern amenities, for more than a hundred years. Souvenir shops and seafood restaurants cater to visitors.

Phang-nga Bay was declared a national park on April 29, 1981. It lies in the districts of Phang-Nga Town and Takua Thung and the total area is 250,000 rai (1 rai = 1,600 sq. meters). Most visitors are intent on viewing Phang-Nga Bay's bizarre landscape, which includes more than 120 singularly strange looking islands. Places of interest within the National Park include: Koh Panyee, Khao Pinggun, Tham Lod, Koh Hong, Koh Khai, Koh Kien.

Raya Island: is the major island in Andaman Sea. Raya Island is best suited to thouse who love a solitary life and want to have a touch of peacefulness at sea.

Similan Islands : A group of 9 small islands 50 kms. off the west coast of Phang-Nga in the Andaman Sea. It can be reached in about 10 hrs by boat from Phuket or 4 hrs from Thap Lamu Port or Takua Pa in Phang-nga.

Coral Island or Hey Island : This island of Phuket's south coast is so well known for its coral reef that it is often referred to simply as Coral Island. in addition to the splendid reefs there are two fine beaches on the north and west. Hey island is part of a marine preserve, but accommodations, restaurant, various watersports, and diving are all available. Boats leave from Rawai beach and Chalong bay. There are also package tours available.

Surin Islands : The five islands are : Koh Surin Neua, Koh Surin Tai, Koh Ri, Koh Kai,andKoh Klang. The two large islands, Surin Neua and Surin Tai (which mean, respectively, north and south) have ten bays in which coral gardens are found.

Lanta Islands National Park covers 152 square kilometers of Lanta Islands. This island forms the most southern district of Krabi Province. It was known long ago by its name in the Malay language, Pulao Satak, which means Long Beach Island. Later so many Thais, Both Buddhist and Muslim,came to live on island that there seemed to be a million eyes, which is what some people think Lanto menas in Thai. Others hold that the name is corrupted from Javanese lan tas, and means a fish grill (which is built of wood with a square grill on top where the fish are set in a circle). Several important islands are in the national park.

iPhone 3G

Introducing iPhone 3G. With fast 3G wireless technology, GPS mapping, support for enterprise features like Microsoft Exchange, and the new App Store, iPhone 3G puts even more features at your fingertips. And like the original iPhone, it combines three products in one — a revolutionary phone, a widescreen iPod, and a breakthrough Internet device with rich HTML email and a desktop-class web browser. iPhone 3G. It redefines what a mobile phone can do — again.

iPod classic


With 80GB or 160GB of storage,1 iPod classic gives your music and video room to move. It also has plenty of energy (up to 40 hours of audio playback2), good looks (a sleek, all-metal design), and a great personality (a brand-new interface with Cover Flow). In other words, iPod classic makes an ideal companion. Why not get to know it better?

1GB = 1 billion bytes; actual formatted capacity less.
Testing conducted by Apple in August 2007 using preproduction hardware and software. Rechargeable batteries have a limited number of charge cycles and may eventually need to be replaced (see Battery life and number of charge cycles vary by use and settings. See for more information.