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Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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Thailand – A Taste of Thip Samai: Bangkok’s most famous Pad Thai

Thip SamaiPad thai, apart from tom yum soup, is one of the most famous Thai food, and not trying it while in Thailand is like not having chicken rice in Singapore. My quest for the best pad thai in Bangkok brought me to Thip Samai, which has been around since 1966.

Thip SamaiLocated just minutes away from the The Giant Swing (Sao Ching Cha), is it not difficult to spot the stall with the perennial long queue outside as it is popular with tourists and locals alike. Locals know the place as Pad Thai Pratu Pi (Ghost Gate Pad Thai) because it’s located near by the gate of The Golden Mountain, which houses the dead body of Wat Saket. Be prepared to queue about 10 to 30 minutes, unless you get to the stall once it opens at 5pm.

Thip SamaiCooking is done on the sidewalk outside the stall, so be entertained and tempted with smells while you wait in line. I was a bit doubtful whether if it would be as good as its reputation with the clockwork-like cooking. That said, I noticed that they used charcoal stoves to attain the coveted ‘wok hei’ flavour.

Thip SamaiHe must have been doing this for a long time judging from the fury of his pan flipping. The heat was also scorching hot; it must be tough standing in front of the sauna stove for hours.

Thip SamaiYumz! What a tantalizing wok of phad thai! Someone pass me a pair of chopsticks…At its most basic, pad thai is thin, flat rice noodles fried with tofu, preserved radish, dried shrimp, and seasoned with dried chili, tamarind pulp, sugar, and fish sauce. Egg is fried together with the noodles or, increasingly, wrapped around them in the form of a thin omelet.

Thip SamaiDespite its nationalistic-sounding name, pad thai was only introduced in the 1930s. Few versions of its origins exist. One version that is often heard is that pad thai came from Vietnam, where it is known as pho sao. The Vietnamese made this dish during the Ayutthaya period and, at the time of World War II, the Thais adapted it and named it pad thai.

Another version claims the street dish came into being during Field Marshal Plaek Phibulsonggram’s stint as prime minister between 1938 and 1944. Due to the bad economic situation during these war years, the government encouraged Thais to eat noodles as it was cheap, filling and nutritious when fried with pork and vegetables. Recipes were distributed to teach the people how to cook it. Others also claim that pad thai originated from the Chinese owing to its stir-fry method and use of local ingredients such as tamarind pulp and fish sauce.

Thip SamaiFinally seated! The ambience felt traditional and it was reassuring to see many locals around.

Thip SamaiThe menu is quite a no-brainer – just pad thai. The original pad thai comes in 2 sizes, and they also offer Superb Pad Thai/Pad Thai Haw Kai Goong Sot (ผัดไทห่อไข่กุ้งสด) which is pad thai wrapped in egg omelet, and Pad Thai Sen Jan Man Goong (ผัดไทเส้นจันมันกุ้ง) which is noodles fried with juices from the head of the jumbo shrimp (oh cholestrol! but sinfully good).

Thip SamaiDo also order their shaved ice coconut or orange juice to go with your plate of pad thai. The orange juice is almost as famous as the stall as it is chockful of pulp. The price differs from day to day based on supply. It is not exactly cheap, costing almost as much as the plate of pad thai itself, but worth it.

Thip SamaiI sipped on my orange juice and watched the crowd as I waited for my pad thai to arrive.

Thip SamaiTa da – le Superb Pad Thai! I never knew fried egg could smell this good, and I felt like I was opening a treasure box. The dish comes with lime wedges, raw bean sprouts and garlic chives which you can mix into the noodles.

Thip SamaiAdd chilli flakes and a dash of sugar for extra oomph. For me, as-is was good enough. It was memorable enough to make me return for a second visit on my next trip. This time, it wasn’t as good as the first time I had it as the noodles were a little soft for my taste. Be nice to the staff, cos’ they gave me a Thip Samai sticker as souvenir when I left, haha.

Thip SamaiI would probably give other pad thai stalls a try in my quest for the most authentic and delicious pad thai the next time I am back in Bangkok. Thip Samai would still remain my recommendation if friends ask for a pad thai place in Bangkok. Afterall, it is an institution for this particular street food loved by locals and foreigners.
Pad Thai Thip Samai (Pad Thai Pratu Pi)
Address: 313 Maha Chai Road, Samran Rat, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200 Thailand
Hours: 5:00PM – 3:00AM daily
Phone: +66 2 221 6280

What you can show to the taxi driver or when asking for directions:
ผัดไทยทิพย์สมัย (ผัดไทยประตูผี)
313 อาคาร บริเวณภูเขาทอง ถนนมหาไชย (มหาชัย) แขวงสำราญราษฎร์ เขตพระนคร กรุงเทพฯ 10200
เปิดทุกวัน เวลา 17.00-03.00 น. (หยุดทุกวันพุธต้นเดือนและปลายเดือน)

Getting There
Take a taxi. There is no nearby BTS not MRT. It is quite close to downtown Bangkok so it should cost less than 100 baht by metre. Plan your visit together with the following places of interest in the late afternoon (remember they only open at 5pm) – about 15 minutes walk from Khaosan Road, few minutes walk from the Giant Swing / Democracy Monument / Golden Mountain (Wat Saket). I used Google Maps to guide my walk.

If you really wish to take the train, you can take the Silom Line to Saphan Taksin Station (S6 Station), go out through Exit No. 2, take Chao Phraya Express Boat to Ta Chang Pier and take a taxi or tuk tuk to Thip Samai. That is, if you have loads of time to kill.


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Film Camera Shopping – Love at First Sight

Siam TLRI have been shooting with a DSLR for two years now, and I wanted to really get back to the basics of photography with a fully manual film camera, as a way to move on to the next higher level. So I made it a point to visit Siam TLR, which came highly recommended to me by my photography friends, during my recent trip to Bangkok.

I stepped into the shop with nothing specific in mind, and I knew I had found THE ONE when the first camera that the owner showed me was this amazing green ostrich vintage darling. It was simply love at first sight.
Siam TLR
Siam TLR is relatively easy to get to, being located at Mahatun Plaza which is just next to Phloen Chit BTS.Siam TLRTake Exit 2 or 4 from Ploen Chit BTS. You can see Mahatun Plaza from the BTS itself. You do not need to walk into the building; Siam TLR is located at the side of the building where 7-Eleven is.
Photo source: Siam TLR
Siam TLR
I can remember the sense of anticipation as I approached the shop…which vintage hottie will I be bringing back with me? :)Siam TLRThe spacious shop is basically an enthusiast’s workroom –  rows and rows of lovingly-restored vintage cameras sit atop shelves, looking pristine and almost mint. You can feel the love and pride of the the owner, who started out Siam TLR 10 years ago as a hobby and online resource for Thais who were interested in old cameras. Khun Surasak restores all the cameras himself at the workroom, and if you are looking for an Olympus, Polaroid, Lomo or Kodak vintage camera, you are at the right place.
Photo source: Siam TLR (I was so excited, I forgot to take photos :p)Siam TLRMe with the owner Khun Surasak – he is so superbly nice and patient! I think he was rather amused with my excitement as I feasted my eyes on my rare green ostrich leatherette Olympus OM1-N (1972 model – which happens to be older than me!). Khun Surasak told me “10 years in business, and this is the first time I see this green one!”

The bimbo in me asked Khun Surasak many, many questions about how to use a film camera, and he answered every single one of them with ease. He speaks a smattering of English, which really helped since my Thai was limited to ordering food and asking for prices or different sizes lol. It feels very different when a shop owner loves his cameras versus one who is only interested in closing a deal.Siam TLRYou know I am into a serious relationship when I not only get the camera, but a family of lenses. All the equipment were in amazingly good condition, and Khun Surasak threw in the lens filters – how absolutely kind! I am so gonna take good care of this special camera, and everytime I click on the shutter button, I will remember the friendly and kind man who sold me this treasure. I will be back for more, Siam TLR! :)

Siam TLR
Address: Mahatun Plaza Building Ground Floor, Phloen Chit Road
BTS: Phloen Chit
Tel: +66 (0)8 1431 0351
Opening Hours: 11:00AM till 6:30PM daily
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/SiamTLR.Shop


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Bangkok – Talad Rod Fai: Treasure Trove of All Things Vintage

Rod Fai Market

Where would you find pristine vintage vehicles , unique one-offs and an amazing hippy atmosphere of yesteryear? Only at Talad Rod Fai. It’s meow-vellous.

When in Bangkok, visiting a weekend/night market is definitely on every lady’s – and man’s itinerary. The usual suspects would be Chatuchak, Asiatique and Patpong which have now become tourist meccas. For a more authentic experience, I would strongly recommend a visit to Talad Rod Fai (Rod Fai Market), also known as the Train Market.  For now, it’s where the locals are, where there’s a welcoming hippy atmosphere and most of all, where you are likely to uncover a treasure at a great value.

Set up by antique enthusiasts Thanayut ‘Troy’ and Khun Phirot, the outdoor night market is a treasure trove featurring hundreds of vendors selling an incredible array of vintage collectibles, antique furniture, secondhand/modern fashion to all sorts of retro bric-a-brac. The weekend market is divided into three main sections, namely the ‘Market Zone’, ‘Warehouse Zone’ and ‘Rod’s Antiques’ . While you can find modern fashion typical of other markets at a lower price, it’s the unique one-off vintage pieces that you should keep a lookout for.

The original Rod Fai Market was location next to the train tracks (hence the name) behind Chatuchak Market. It was forced to move in 2013 to make way for the expansion of the BTS Skytrain line. After much difficulty, the market finally found a new home at Sri Nagarindra just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall (a well-known local mall) just outside the city centre.

 

Rod Fai Market

Look out for this landmark ship along the main road. Turn into the small road and you have reached Talad Rod Fai.

Rod Fai Market

While it is primarily a weekend market, there are some cool restaurants, bars and shops in the sheltered area near the entrance that are open daily at night.

Rod Fai Market

Spiderpig in a Hawaiian mood welcomes you to dinner

Rod Fai Market

The live band is really quite good!

Rod Fai Market

I am in love with these recycled cinema chairs

Rod Fai Market

Upcycling is the word here, even for scooter seats.

Rod Fai Market

The little doggies are sooo cute!

Rod Fai Market

The Market Zone has more than 2,000 stalls selling products such as trendy fashion, children’s toys and homeware similar to what you would find at Chatuchak and other night markets, at a lower price (for now, since the crowd is mostly local).

Rod Fai Market

If you are a vintage fashion lover, you would have found heaven.

Rod Fai Market

The pieces were so cheap, I had to ask the stallowner twice about the price. I bought enough for the stallowner to ask “You selling in your country?” Oops.

Rod Fai Market

If the shoe fits.
You will find stalls with their wares laid out on the ground, similar to how Rod Fai Market started years ago. This stall sells so many second shoes, and I spotted a pair of Converse, Doc Martens and Timberlands…

Rod Fai Market

Drooling at the G-Shock watches

Rod Fai Market

The only time you can get a man interested to shop :)

Rod Fai Market

So many toys! And dirt cheap. This is a very dangerous place for a shopaholic lol.

 

Rod Fai Market

Oooh, we spotted an adorable stall mascot. She is a diva and refuses to budge from the fan, but we forgive her cos’ she looks so cute.

Rod Fai Market

When we say you can find almost anything here, we mean it. Even eyebrow threading and eyelash perming.

Rod Fai Market

I predict you will spend a fortune tonight.
Yeah, I didn’t need a fortune teller to tell me that.

Rod Fai Market

There were some interesting stalls selling plants and essential oils as well.

Rod Fai Market

Fur kids are very welcome here too!

Rod Fai Market

Have a try at the local street food as well, they are very affordable and make good supper bites. Just forget about the waistline for one night.

Rod Fai Market

This, is where the treasure trove is.
Housed in this converted factory building, Rod’s Antiques is a collection of genuine antiques and vintage items in all imaginable forms sourced from all over the world – classic cars in pristine condition, steam engines, scooters, furniture and more. We were wowed away from Step One.

Rod Fai Market

Fancy a 1950s Cadillac that looks like it came out of the factory a day ago? You have come to the right place.

Rod Fai Market

I felt so excited seeing this old school petrol kiosk! Wowww…

Rod Fai Market

I half-expected this car to start speaking to me. It looks so much like the one in the Cars movie.

Rod Fai Market

Hello, baby.

Rod Fai Market

Photography is welcome, but you are requested not to touch anything as the items are old and rare. Unless you are buying them.

Rod Fai Market

What a cool fire engine truck for a kid. Why didn’t I have one of this when I was younger??

Rod Fai Market

Train steam engines

Rod Fai Market

Now I know what to do with my old bicycles. Do an ET scene and pray it doesn’t drop down.

Rod Fai Market

Everything is a treasure here. Nothing is too broken to be forsaken. I should reserve a place for myself here soon.

Rod Fai Market

Fancy some vintage furniture? We have chandeliers too!

Rod Fai Market

Forgive me Father, for I have sinned…I overshopped once again :p
Was quite amazed to see this here, even this they have!

Rod Fai Market

Rod Fai Market

You can really find anything and everything here. Even a life-sized Elvis :D

Rod Fai Market

Check out the makeshift bars with cheap cocktails just beside Rod’s Antiques

Rod Fai Market

The bars are converted from vintage cars! How innovative. It’s definitely a cool place for a casual night out.

Rod Fai Market

At the Warehouse Zone, you will find stores selling secondhand t-shirts, vintage furniture and all imaginable items. Most of these owners are vintage enthusiasts themselves, and you can share their passion from the sheer amount of rare items on display. The stores are friendly in general, and you are welcome to explore at leisure. It’s like a “Make Love, Not War” kinda atmosphere :)

Rod Fai Market

Whoa. This would be a cool four-wheel drive to have.

Rod Fai Market

Rod Fai Market

Rod Fai Market

Cool-looking stall owner ;)

Rod Fai Market

Check out the abacus and cool swing chair. #want

Rod Fai Market

They teach you principles in life here too.

Rod Fai Market

This, is the treasure of treasures – how many of you have seen a kerosene-powered fan before? And it’s in working condition! Simply amazing.

Rod Fai Market

Since email and Microsoft Word came about, the humble typewriter has been gradually forgotten. I still think it’s a sexy machine, with all the pounding and sliding action.

Rod Fai Market

Now this is creepy.

Rod Fai Market

And we are On Air…
Clever way to upcycle this TV box into a lamp.

Rod Fai Market

You gotta be kidding me – even traffic lights?! LOL

Rod Fai Market

If only the luggage can tell of its owners and journeys…

Superman with Charlie Chaplin

Was pretty tickled at this sight. The owner definitely has a sense of humour :)

Rod Fai Market

Do make a trip down to Talad Rod Fai on your next trip to Bangkok. When the sun goes down, be prepared to be live it up :)

Talad Rod Fai
Address: Sri Nagarindra Soi 51, Khwaeng Nong Bon, Khet Prawet, Krungthep Mahanakorn 10250  (behind Seacon Square)
GPS: 13.691867,100.650171
Tel : 081-8275885, 086-1267787, 081-7328778, 081-7525588
Opening Hours: Thurs to Sun 5:00PM to 1:00AM
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/taradrodfi
Website: www.rodsantique.com
Email: moowan78@gmail.com

Getting There
1) Take the BTS to On Nut station. Take a taxi to Talad Rod Fai (about 20-30 minutes depending on traffic). If your taxi doesn’t know Talad Rod Fai, tell them Seacon Square Shopping Mall – it’s just beside.
2)Take the Airport Rail Link line to Hua Mak station. Exit to street level, walk east about 200 metres to Sri Nagarindra. Cross the road and turn left. Take Bus 145, 182, 207 or 537 heading south. Ride for about 5 kilometres and look for Season Square Shopping Mall on the left. Get off in front of the mall. Face the mall and walk right towards Talad Rod Fai. For an easier life, just take a taxi from the train station.

Unless you are feeling adventurous, taking a taxi from the nearest train stations is highly recommended. Life’s too short to sweat over transport routes :)