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In the Land of Smiles 5: Dinner and Condoms

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Gim

Population growth. The scourge of the developing world. The root of that famous vicious cycle that causes impoverished countries like the Philippines to be stuck in their respective economic quagmires. Not so for Mechai Viravaidya, who founded Thailand’s most successful non-profit, non-government agency, the Population and Community Development Association (PDA). Through the PDA, Mechai shared his belief that for any family planning program to be successful, condoms and other contraceptives should be as accessible and acceptable to the people as vegetables in the market- thus the concept for Cabbages and Condoms was born.

Cabbages and Condoms, a really decent and homey (think casual dresses) resto located at Soi 12, Sukhumvit Road, Bangkok (Between Nana and Asok BTS stations) is a restaurant with a mission: promote family planning and population control. Proceeds from the resto go straight to the to the PDA which then promotes and develops projects geared towards family planning in the provinces. This goal has garnered a lot of publicity for the restaurant, even makingit on Time’s must do list in Bangkok.

Of course, we wouldn’t have passed up the chance to experience the place during our stay. We ordered the house special of Soft-shelled crabs, Pork Spare ribs with honey, and rice. For dessert, we had banana fritters with ice cream. Though a bit pricey (average dish costs around 200-300 Baht), the fact that we were contributing to a cause made it easier to part with our money. Besides that, the dishes were really good, although spicier than we actually would have liked. But overall, still a pretty good eat.

Spicy Soft-shelled crab

Pork Spare ribs- we demolished this in five minutes flat

After Dinner pose

Of course, a night at C and C wouldn't be complete without posing with the famous condom mascots!

Now it's Flishi's turn!

After Dinner Freebies- yes, they give out free condoms

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In the Land of Smiles 4: Chatuchak Market

Posted on 18 August 2010 by Gim

Ah, the famed weekend market of Bangkok; Chatuchak market wasn’t all that hard to find. All you have to do is ride the BTS Skytrain all the way to the last station, Mo Chit and follow the crowds. Yes, the crowds. Occupying a huge plot of land adjacent to Chatuchak park, the market itself is made up of a labyrinth of shops, food stalls and sidewalk vendors (including those that sell cute baby gifts).

Amidst the crowds- tired but still managing a smile

And it’s packed with people- tourists and locals alike jostle one another to shop, haggle, and shop some more for more merchandise than you can possibly handle. The reason for the crowds is all too clear- dirt cheap clothes (I bought a nice casual shirt here for only 30 Baht! The decent, really-OK-for-work collared shirts can be bought for 150-200 Baht apiece), pasalubongs and street food (you just have to try the marinated duck with flat noodles- scrumptious!).

I dunno what's it called- all I care about is it's scrumptious!

Fli, that's so masarap!

Needless to say, with items this cheap, we burnt a lot of Baht for a day at the market. On the other hand, we came home with loads of clothes and trinkets!   :)

White collared shirt- 30 Baht, Black formal coat- 100 Baht, Levi's straight cut jeans- 400 Baht, Chatuchak experience- Priceless! :)

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In the Land of Smiles 3: La Table de Tee

Posted on 17 August 2010 by Gim

Foodies. That’s what we like to call ourselves. And it’s pretty obvious why. I love to cook. We both love, love, love to eat. Our time spent together is like one loong food-trip. We just love sampling new food (specially if they are served in those really nice contemporary coffee tables)!

Proof of this is the fact that the first thing we did on arrival in the Land of Smiles is buy 70 Baht worth of Thai food minutes after disembarking off the plane. OK, fine, so we bought the food from a 24-hour convenience shop inside the airport. But it still was Thai food after all.

So it was that we were excited as starving chickens (pardon the pun, we really were excited for Thai cuisine) when our mutual friend Chu, invited us for a dinner out at La Table de Tee, a French-Thai fusion gourmet resto located at Saladaeng Road, Silom, Bangkok. Conveniently located around 5 minutes from the Bangkok BTS Skytrain (Thai version of our MRT, just waaay better) Sala Daeng Station. A full 5-course meal costs a very reasonable 750 Baht (That’s affordable, considering that it *is* a Michelin grade place). True to our foodie nature, we took pics of each and every course we ate!

Japanese Pumpkin and Garlic Soup! Very creamy with a hint of lime

Sweet potatoes and Basil- astonishing how they made the potatoes taste like mozarella cheese!

Seafood and Couscous- savor de marisco galore!

Pork Sirloin and Ginger- Sizzling pork with bit of bacon and drizzles of honey! Yum!

Choco Fondant and coconut ice cream- Pure Bliss!

And here’s us, satisfied and happy. I’m soo looking forward to my next La Table de Tee experience! :)

(L-R) Chu, Flishi, and Me

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In the Land of Smiles 2: Cambodia Illegals

Posted on 14 August 2010 by Gim

To visit the famous Wats of Bangkok, you have to take the Chao Phrya river boats. A round trip, get on- get off ticket costs around 150 Baht per person (Some of the boats are really classy with beautiful patio chairs). The boats will take you along the Chao Phrya river, which, we found out, also functions as a major water way thoroughfare. The Wats are found along both sides of the river.

Wat Arun opposite Tha Thien Pier

So after an entire afternoon touring the Wats, we waited on one of those numerous piers along the river for a boat to take us back to Saphan Thaksin station. After waiting for quite some time for a boat going back to the main pier (and finding none- there were a lot of boats but they were all going back on the opposite direction- away from Saphan Thaksin), we decided to ride one of those boats thinking that they would surely go back to the main pier.

How wrong we were!

Anyways, we got on one of those boats and settled comfortably in the seats, enjoying the sights and sounds of the river. After about an hour and a half, we noticed a change in scenery- the soaring buildings and skyscrapers of Bangkok were soon replaced by flat plains and rundown buildings. So I decided to ask the captain if the boat when the boat would turn back. His answer surprised me.

“No” he said; “No, go back. We going Cambodia. Passed border few minutes ago.” I was mortified. Cambodia! Shit! How in the world do we get back? To my immediate relief, he said- “Another boat going back Bangkok. Go down this pier (indicating a nearby pier). Wait for last trip back Bangkok.” And then he slowed, dropped us off and told us to wait. Barely had we sat down when the boat going back stopped by. We hastily boarded it and about two hours later, tired, hungry and exhausted we arrived back in Saphan Thaksin at last.

Note: I really wondered whether we actually did cross into Cambodia. A quick Google search of the Chao Phrya river reveals that it empties into the Gulf of Thailand. If you look at the map of the river, there are no tributaries even remotely leading into Cambodia. So perhaps I misunderstood the boat’s captain. *sheepish grin*

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In the Land of Smiles 1: The Wats

Posted on 14 August 2010 by Gim

Wat Pho BangkokThe Wats. We’ve all heard about them. Angkor, Wat Pho, Wat Arun… Well, OK, so I’ve only heard about Angkor. And that reclining Buddha made popular in Capcom’s Street Fighter, where it features prominently in the background when you fight Sagat in the Thailand stage. To be honest I wasn’t all that keen on seeing the Wats at first- thinking them very similar to the Chinese temples I’ve seen in Cebu. Of course, I wanted a few pics but I wasn’t that too into it, if you get my drift. But everything changed when I actually got to SEE them up close (tip: be in protective clothing, specially one that keeps you away from the heat!).

They were just BEAUTIFUL. Perfectly symmetrical, soaring and glittering in the afternoon sunshine; they really were a sight to behold. I really enjoyed posing for pictures and taking in the sights. But as our friend Dee says, touring these awesome ancient structures just drains your energy. I felt really tired, thirsty and sweaty after touring just one wat- Wat Phra Keow and the adjoining Grand Palace. Well, Don’t let my blabbing tire you out, just check out these pics! :)

Wat Pho Bangkok

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Arriving in the Land of Smiles

Posted on 13 August 2010 by Gim

I can’t believe how fast time flies. It seemed barely yesterday when we traipsed through immigration at Suvarnabhumi International airport, eager and excited to see the Land of Smiles (with camcorder from digital camcorder reviews at the ready). It’s been exactly 36 hours since we landed and here are a few really random thoughts off the top of my (and Fli’s) head:

As the plane was coming in for a landing and the city lights of Bangkok came into view: “Whoa, they’ve got really big highways!” (They were actually bigger than we expected them to be, plus they drive on the left side of the road!).

Chancing upon a group of people milling around one of the numerous cafes and restos in the airport: “Hey, Gim, there seems to be a lot of Filipinos in Bangkok”, then we heard them talking; “They’re not Filipinos, Fli! They’re Thais!” (They really do look like us, except that the women wear eyeliner that sort of curls up on the outer edges).

After exchanging currencies at the foreign exchange counter and being greeted by the traditional khob kun mak ka with hands pressed together in prayer by the bank teller: “They are soo polite! No wonder they have the reputation for being so respectful and hospitable.”

So far we’ve seen Sukhumvit avenue, dined at this posh French-Thai resto (La Table de Tee) and spent most of our time lounging around our hotel. Today, it’s off to see Thailand’s famous Wats (temples). More posts (and pics) later.

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