I was away from Singapore during the worst two days in Singapore's stock market history. As the world's stock market went tumbling down, I was sitting on a bed waiting for breakfast to be served. Do you ever have a feeling that the market always crashes when you're not around? It's like there's someone out there who just knew when to screw up the market when you're away on a holiday. Anyway, where did I go? I went Bangkok.
|I always go to Fuji restaurant in Bangkok for my Japanese food fix. I'm pleasantly surprised to see them opening up multiple branches. The sashmi there is to die for, especially with the low price.|
This was less than a week since a bomb went off near the Erawan shrine (the four-face buddha), so of course, it's with a little trepidation that I leave the safety of Singapore. This trip was full of incidents that, if I'm more superstitious, I'll have totally abandoned it. Here's a list of problems:
1. The bombing incident at Bangkok, which occurred less than 1 week before the schedule departure. It's like some godly power telling me to abandon the trip.
2. Unable to change, or postpone the trip, because of work and some un-claimable clause from travel insurance
3. During the check in of the flight at Changi airport, it was discovered that my name isn't on the list despite having a printed confirmation slip from Scoot. It was with a lot of phone calls back and fro to some call centre at Philippines that another flight scheduled 4 hours later can be arranged. Half the day is gone by then.
4. After confirmation of the flight, it came to my knowledge that the hotel is not confirmed. So, this is the first time that I'm going overseas without confirmation of a place to stay.
5. Everything is settled once Bangkok is reached. But on our return flight, we realised that the baggage limit is reached. Why? Because the travel agency didn't include include it in, and we ended up having to pay another sum to settle the issue.
6. And the whole trip have to be marred by another flight delay by about 1h 30 min.
I seldom go on holidays, but when I do, I've the luck to experience all the cock ups known to frequent travellers, haha! Still, it was an experience to have it and perhaps some lessons to learn from all these 'mis-adventures' too. It makes me wonder why get any insurance in the first place lol! Thankfully, the insurance that I bought has this ubiquitous SG50 discount, so I'm paying $26 for two.
|These glistering little packets of carbs with the golden sweet Thai mangoes, poured with the slightly salty and warm coconut milk, is such a treat that I ate it everyday while in Bangkok|
How is Bangkok like? I've not been there for a long while..perhaps by at least 5 years? I think the Bangkok now is more cosmopolitan. On the basic level, there really isn't anything different from Singapore. There's a lot more tourist, especially middle eastern ones, who are all clad in black with the women entirely covered except for their eyes. They are looked upon by the locals with a little bit of curiosity mixed with caution, especially in light of the nationality and ethnicity of the bomber in the recent incident near Erawan shrine.
|This should cost about 60+SGD? Here's a very decent meal for 2 cost about 50+ SGD, including all the sashmi you ever wanted to try in Singapore but is deterred by the pricing.|
The locals are full of shiny examples from K pop celebrities, with their straight Korean brows, whitened skin and dyed curly hairdo. Almost every female I come across, which is about 9 in 10, all fully clad with make up. From the socialites dining in atas places near Central and Paragon area, to the cleaners and servers who work in the food court, almost all the females wore makeup. On more than one occasion, I saw the shopkeepers finding some reflective surfaces near their shop fronts and applying their mascara and lipstick. It seems clear that the South Korean wave had also hit this place, and pretty hard too. This is an interesting phenomenon to observe as an outsider.
One of the most glaring observations, other than the heavily made up female local population, is that there is apparently no people older than say 50 years old in Bangkok. If you see someone around that age in Bangkok, I can bet you my last Thai baht that they are tourist. Food courts (yes, they have that concept too, likely imported from Singapore since I saw Food Republic there as well) are also served by staff and cleaners no older than 40. It makes me think about the kind of people whom we hired back in Singapore. Where did the elderly folks in Bangkok go to? Why are the elderly folks in Singapore still working at their age? Again, the stark contrast in the age of the workers is something to take away from this trip.
|I love MBK. It's a blast from the past with all these old tech gadgets. Going there is like going back to the 90s in Sim Lim Square, complete with counters filled with pirated games and DVDs. Look at the macintosh!|
While we are walking around, I wanted to try out some authentic Thai restaurant in the shopping district. After searching for a few hours, we came to the realisation that there is no authentic thai food. I mean, if a tourist comes up to me in Singapore and ask me where to find a restaurant that serves authentic Singaporean food, I'll be hard pressed to say which one. Likely I'll recommend hawker food, but again, what food best represents an authentic Singaporean food experience? This is a difficult question to ask, and a deeply ideological one at that. Our identity is often tied up with food, and perhaps Singapore is just like that - a rojak of different cultures all mixed together, with a spicy but unifying sauce of wanting to do better than the countries we came from.
Bangkok serves a lot more international food than its own food. Any type of cuisine that you crave for, you can probably find them there. But just like Singapore, there's an overwhelming bloom of Japanese and Korean food. Everywhere I go, I see Japanese food culture influence - Harajuku's ice cream crepe, thick pork broth ramen, Sushi bars and omu rice. I don't like Korean fare, and don't care to try any of it but I see Korean hotpot and buffet sprouting every corner. Will it take over their local cuisines? I think yes, eventually, though I hope not. I really love my tom yum and mango rice. Anyway, everyone should try the Japanese food in a proper restaurant there. The prices there are really value for money and we feasted on sashimi like a mad Robinson Crusoe on rampage.
On a side note, you can see that security is stepped up tremendously. Every junction and every entrance and exit of shopping malls are fitted with a guard and a metal detector. You have to open your bag every single time you enter. Army and police officers dotted the streets and malls, and the general feeling of safety is there. But for those who had been on guard duty, you know how safe these acts are. You can't check everything but it does bring a certain level of safety psychologically. Maybe that's all that matters. I still went to Erawan shrine, on the strong request of my wife, and prayed that everything goes well in our family and friends. Will go back to return our wishes and make more offerings of flowers and incense again, we promised.