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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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Phuket, Thailand – An Indulgent Wellness Retreat at KEEMALA

KEEMALA
I have never been tempted to visit Phuket due to its notorious wild partying reputation, courtesy of Patong Beach. My curiosity to visit was finally piqued by Keemala, a new Small Luxury Hotels of the World property opening in December 2015. Located on the hillside in Kamala on the west coast of Phuket, Keemala is very different from other Phuket resorts in both concept and ethos – the property’s owners endeavour to highlight the island’s natural resources and local Phuket culture, as well as to promote healthy and sustainable living in their guest experiences. The wellness-focused experience is luxuriously magical and invigorating for the mind, as aptly expressed through its tagline “Beyond Enchanting.
KEEMALAKeemala is located near Kamala Beach on the west coast of Phuket, close to Patong Beach (10-minute drive) and Surin Beach yet far enough for a serene, relaxing getaway. The resort is built around its unique hillside topographical conditions, making use of natural features and slopes to offer guests full sea views, streams, waterfalls and indigenous trees.KEEMALAThe 5-star luxury resort’s design concept is based on the indigenous stories of four fictional ancient Phuket tribes, the ‘Pa-ta-pea’ (Earth), ‘Khon-Jorn’ (Wanderers), ‘We-ha’ (Sky), and ‘Rung-Nok’ (Nest) tribes. Each aspect of the property – from the architecture, décor, cuisine, activities to spa treatments link back to the key attributes of the four tribes. Upon arrival at the resort, this mythical tale  is told through an intricate tile artwork located at the entrance. I love the chickens on the wall!KEEMALAMuch effort is made in supporting local talents – its 38 villas (which comes with its own private pool) are designed by Thailand-based Architect Space and Pisit Aongskultong of Pisud Design Company, while furniture and fittings are sourced within local communities and hand-made using traditional methods. Effort is made to conserve the existing environment as much as possible.KEEMALA
With such strong design attributes, it is no surprise that guests get shutter-happy from the moment they check-in at the main lobby. Check out the amazing ceiling made out of tree trunks and intricately-tiled floor! (I was super tempted to lie on the floor for a photo lol)
KEEMALAWith a strong focus on nature and wellness, the resort is ideal for gusts who appreciate nature and relaxation. Its Mala Spa offers a range of carefully-curated spa treatments, wellness activities by visiting practitioners and Holistic Living Retreats for those seeking to unwind. Only natural, paraben and cruelty-free spa products by VOYA, Siam Botanicals, and Spa Ritual are used for their treatments. I had the opportunity to chat with their wellness consultant, and it was heartening to hear the thoughts that went behind their well-rounded wellness offerings, the choice of products and even their staff (their personal trainer has a doctorate in sports, and used to be a Muay Thai fighter, whoa!).
KEEMALAA fitness gym and comprehensive schedule of activities are offered for all guests, including yoga, muay thai (amazing cardio!), meditation, movement therapy, nature walks, outdoor TRX, aqua fitness, forest Tai Chi and special classes/talks by visiting wellness consultants. In addition, they do plan customized tours and itineraries for guests, so you have to try very hard to get bored here. Our charming personal butler North was always on hand to ask if we needed anything, made sure we were on time for our activities and warmly welcomed us back with a bright smile and glass of champagne (can I bring you home lol?)KEEMALAThe resort has four room categories inspired by the four mythical Phuket tribes, with the lead-in category being the Clay Pool Cottage (staring from THB19,050+++). The 16 ‘Clay Pool Cottages’ reflect the earthiness of the ‘Pa-ta-Pea’ clan who believed in a strong connection to the earth and were leaders in agriculture at the time.  They also excelled as fishermen, gardeners, carpenters, blacksmiths and miners. KEEMALANot only would they build their homes on ground level, they’d also incorporate earth into their walls, roofs and furniture. They’d build around life-giving rivers, on flat land; this was mainly to facilitate their strong agricultural skills and allowed them to fully live off their land. KEEMALAI love the high ceiling and skylight in the bathroom, makes me feel like I am bathing in the rainforest.KEEMALAThe 7 Tent Pool Villas are inspired by the ‘Khon-Jorn Clan’ (Wanderer Clan) who were an adventurous group consisting of foragers, herders, performers, traders and explorers, who spent their time trading goods with other tribes they encountered on their journeys. Due to their nomadic ways they’d prefer to construct semi-permanent homes, so they could easily move on. (I would gladly stay here forever!)
KEEMALAInside the Tent Pool Villas (starting from THB21,200+++) you will see the forms of wildlife and textures that have inspired the interiors, and materials were also chosen to highlight their pursuant lifestyle.
KEEMALACheck out the minibar hidden inside a giant wooden trunkcaseKEEMALASpacious Bedroom. I bet the nomads didn’t have it that good :pKEEMALAEvery detail is carefully curated, from the wooden keg basin to the tribal engravings on  copper water pipes that were specially commissioned for the resort. KEEMALAI can imagine reading a booking while sipping a cup of tea on the outdoor terrace, and having a dip in my very own pool with a glass of champagne in hand. (now where’s my bikini…)KEEMALAThe seven two-storey ‘Tree Pool Houses’ (my personal favourite) are built to represent the ‘We-Ha’ people who worshipped the universe and chose to live suspended from the trees to be nearer to the sky. The clan included the talents of healers, creators, architects and inventors.KEEMALAI liked how the different areas are spilt over two levels of living space, allowing utmost privacy. KEEMALAThe inviting bed beckons…The bathroom and bedroom are on the upper level, while the pool and lounge area are on the lower level.KEEMALA I could stay here all day… KEEMALALooks like utter bliss to meKEEMALAAnd this innovative structure is what I called home at Keemala – the ‘Rung-Nok’ tribe who inspired the design of the eight ‘Bird’s Nest Pool Villas’ (starting from THB25,500+++) enjoyed an opulent way of life. The interwoven design of their homes was thus to aid protection and privacy. This clan was thought to be more superior in both intellect and spirituality and comprised of artists, poets, musicians, philosophers and astrologers (I chose the right tribe, lol!).KEEMALAThe people would bathe under the moonlight believing that their souls would be replenished, thus the inspiration for these beautiful private pool villas. You can see the mountains, local Phuket life and Kamala Beach right from the pool which also comes with a jacuzzi.KEEMALA8-cellent interior decorKEEMALABest part about luxe travel – state your desires and your itinerary is planned and arranged for you by your personal butler – super stress-free! :) A pre-arrival form is sent so you can let the resort beforehand know your preferences from the amenities you need, hardness of your pillows, items you want in the minibar, to activities that you are interested in. KEEMALAUber spacious living space, I could play hide-and-seek here *cheeky grin*KEEMALAOur welcome jasmine garland which we placed inside the cupboard to make our clothes smell amazing :)KEEMALAInstead of a conventional minibar, Keemala provided a picnic basket which tempted us to go picnicking.KEEMALALocal coffee beans and a hand grinder are provided instead of a coffee machine, so you can make your own coffee fresh. KEEMALAWell-stocked fridgeKEEMALAThe locally-flavoured nuts were great snacks especially when lazing on the couch watching TV :pKEEMALAWe totally dig the retro-looking high chairs from a Thai brand. Our welcome fruit basket came with lots of local fruits as well.KEEMALAThe bathroom is a highlight by its own right – I loved the stone basins, the unique monsoon shower with its hand-made tile flooring (every villa has a different design).KEEMALAIn line with the resort’s eco-wellness theme, only naturally-made toiletries are offered KEEMALAA turndown service is provided, and this evening we had pomelo stuffed with cminced hicken for a light snack. KEEMALAKeemala has four outlets for dining – the main restaurant, pool bar, lounge area and a wine cellar ideal for small parties and meetings. I am impressed with the large and diverse menu offering, from local Thai food, Western, Chinese to even vegan and gluten-free choices.KEEMALAAs an extension of the wholesome spirit of Keemala, ingredients used in the cuisine are locally sourced and organically grown where possible. They have a garden where they grow their own herbs. Do say hello to their three adopted water buffaloes when you visit :)KEEMALAMeals were cooked with nutrition and taste in mind – that morning I chose a wholesome Chinese chicken soup with quinoa porridge. KEEMALAThe mushroom soup was memorably delicious.KEEMALAA native of Phuket, Executive Chef Poonsak carries more than 20 years of culinary experience under his belt and is well-versed in crafting gastronomic sensations for his guests, such as this very pretty oyster and soft-shell crab appetizer.KEEMALA
A piece of culinary artKEEMALAHealthy baked fish with vine-ripened tomatoes and olivesKEEMALAThe desserts are amazing at Keemala – this cheesecake was a feast for the eyes and tastebuds. The rich chocolate trio and mango with sticky rice were fabulous as well.KEEMALAMeals at Keemala are developed to match the tribe/room category that you are staying at as part of the storyline – I was surprised with a sumptuous “Rung-Nok” dinner which I could have right at my Bird’s Nest Villa – they would set up the dinner table by the outdoor pool, and the chef would barbecue the fresh seafood for you under the stars. Luck would have it that it was raining that day, so we had our treat indoors at the restaurant.KEEMALAThe gazpacho was a simple yet satisfying starter.KEEMALAA sumptuous bucket of sashimi and sushi, OMGKEEMALAThe star of the night – fresh catch from the Andaman Sea. Bon appetite! :)KEEMALAWe thoroughly enjoyed our stay at Keemala. The property was visually spectacular, being so different from the usual hotel offerings. It is also one-of-its-kind in Phuket focusing on wellness and relaxation. I liked how the tribal theme permeates every vein of the property, from the architecture, décor, F&B to activities. Furthermore, I appreciated the effort to offer guests an insight into the local way of life instead of the usual touristy gimmicks. Most importantly, we felt totally relaxed and happy during our time there. I am glad we stumbled upon this enchanted rainforest :)

KEEMALA
Now x’cuse me while I soak in utter bliss…c’etait une bonne vacances :) 

KEEMALA
Address: Keemala Phuket, 10/88 Moo 6, Kamala, Kathu, Phuket, Thailand, 83150

Tel: + 66 (0) 76 358 777
Website: keemala.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/keemala
Email: stay@keemala.com
Distance from Phuket International Airport: 40 minutes (Their airport transfer is swag – it’s a rugged-looking Land Rover with wifi access)

Nearest beach: Kamala Beach (5 minutes by car)
Note: Adults-only policy (14 years old and above)


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Thailand – Tips to Enjoying Songkran!

Songkran

All ready for Songkran – check out my big ‘gun’ and vinyl fluorescent skirt!

One of the items on my bucket list is experiencing Songkran, otherwise known as the Thai New Year or Thailand Water Festival. Celebrated every 13-15 April, Thais traditionally celebrate by politely sprinkling water on the hands of family members and close friends for good blessing, pay their respects to Buddha and engage in merit-making. Today, visitors to the Land of Smiles would know Songkran more as a water play extravaganza rather than a cultural event with it taking on a more festive mood, where the gentle sprinkling on family elders’ hands transforms into dousing complete strangers with water hoses and Super Soakers. I hesistated going for a long time cos’ I heard that the locals only target pretty girls – what if I come home all nice and dry? That would be the biggest embarrassment of my life! So armed with a small bottle of water (just in case the ‘worst’ happens and I need to douse myself) and an adventurous spirit, I conquered my first Songkran with a group of fun pals.

Songkran

Sawadee ka! We arrived a day earlier to suss out our ‘battlefield’. Look what I brought for a waterproof bag – a lunch warmer bag from Daiso lol! It worked beautifully :)

Songkran is celebrated in around Thailand, with major celebrations happening in Bangkok, Chiang Mai (the epicentre of Songkran), Hua Hin, Khon Kaen, Pattaya and Phuket. Smaller towns may celebrate in a more traditional and religious manner rather than water fights and merry-making. Half of Bangkok’s residents travel back to their home towns for family re-unions, but in their place an entire world of merrymakers descend upon the city like throngs of bees. Most offices, banks and shops/restaurants are closed during Songkran, so do ask if there is a particular shop/restaurant that you are planning to visit during your trip. Shopping malls and some stalls at Chatuchak do stay open.

Songkran

My water ‘comrades”!

Songkran, traditionally…

Until Thailand adopted the International Calendar, Songkran originally followed the solar calendar which meant it fell on different dates every year. Now it happens every 13-15 April, which means it’s easier for us to plan our holidays lol! The significance of the water festival is about cleansing, purification and receiving blessings for the new year. It is also a time for family reunions, temple visiting, doing good deeds and spring-cleaning the house.

Thais perform the Rod Nam Dum Hua ritual (National Elderly Day) on the first day of Songkran, where young people would sprinkle water into the elders’ palms as a form of respect and to ask for blessings. The second day of Songkran is National Family Day where families spend quality time together. The Thais would also partake in religious activities such as giving alms to the monks and ‘bathing’ Buddha statues both at home and at the temple as well as engage in merit-making activities during the festival.

Songkran

Motorcyclists are splashed with glee, although this is not encouraged due to road safety concerns. This person was doused cos’ he stopped for the tuk-tuk in front.

Songkran now…as the world knows it

As the world gets to know of Songkran over the years, the festival starts to take on a more merry-making spirit, and splashing complete strangers with water has become the main attraction of the festival. Festivities have stretched to almost a week-long. The only constant is the symbolism of water washing away misfortunes in the past year, and welcoming the new year with good luck. Songkrans happens during the hottest time of the year too, so it’s the perfect time for water play!

Water fights take place in the form of water guns, buckets to merry-makers on pickups spraying pedestrains with garden hoses attached to a gallon of water. (Firetrucks also get into the action with their firehoses!) Some go for hardcore by adding ice in the water. People will also smear a white paste on your face, which is suppoused to bring protection and ward off bad spirits. I was more worried about welcoming pimples (which thankfully didn’t happen). As the night approaches, dancing and partying takes place till the wee hours, only to resume when day breaks. Wicked.

Songkran

Even expatriates join in the fun

Songkran

See what I meant by them only going for the pretty girls lol
Getting chased by revelers while walking on the street is a common sight

Songkran

This Japanese tourist is no pushover – she retaliates with a fierce splash at the Thai stallowner! She couldn’t speak much English not Thai, but I could still clearly hear a “What the f***!” when she was ambushed with a splash haha. But it’s all in good fun.

Songkran

Chatuchak turns into a battlezone
The splashing happens mainly around the building exterior, so quickly scoot inside the shops if you want to avoid the splashing. (although I doubt you will escape totally dry) Remember to ask the stall owners to give your purchases double protection.

Songkran

Aiyoh, why you bully the boy?!

Songkran

This little girl was obviously having the time of her life

Songkran

At temperatures averaging 40 degree Celsius, the water drenching is actually cooling & nice!

Songkran

Some nice stalls will put out a pail of water for revelers to refill their water guns. Thank you, you will be abundantly blessed for the new year!

Songkran

Meanwhile, I indulge in my favourite cooling activity at Chatuchak – a chocolate-coated frozen banana, uber yummz! I also received a jasmine garland from a food stall there, so I smelled pretty awesome the entire day :)

Songkran

The largest and wildest crowd in Bangkok has to be at Patpong/Silom near Sala Daeng BTS. I couldn’t believe the number of people in sight (this was taken when the crowds were already dispersing)! You can get a pretty good bird’s eye view of the merry-making on the second level walkway.
Otherwise head to Khao San Road to be in the thick of action. Both Silom and Khao San Road are closed to traffic for 2 days of festivities.

Songkran

I wasted no time in getting ‘armed’ with a cute ladybug bought at the convenience stall. Water guns can cost anywhere from 199bht to 500bht (mine was 250 baht), and our experience was that street vendors might be more likely to charge more so get ready to bargain. You can check the ‘market rate’ for the various sizes at a nearby convenience stall before embarking on your bargaining.

Songkran

The square at Silom BTS turns into a marketplace selling water guns, food and an endless supply of beer.

Songkran

Watch out for passing vehicles spraying! This one caught us by surprise so I could only manage a ‘dreamy’ shot lol

Songkran

She must be so prosperously blessed with white paste on her face and drenched from head-to-toe.

Songkran

Silom BTS was a nightmare! We were scratching our heads too on how to get to our next destination.

Songkran

I must say the people were quite a sight; I was pretty amused :D

Songkran

The winged lass has the same ladybug as me!

Songkran

I am amazed the BTS actually allowed revelers to take the trains; poor cleaners!

Songkran

We had the most fun at this little street we stumbled upon at Silom Road; it was lined with watering holes and lots of revelers! We enjoyed the action so much we went back the next night as well.

Songkran

Tag team – A watergun in one hand and a pail of beer in the other
The good-natured Thais were always ready for a picture. In fact, a few tapped on my shoulder and insisted I take a picture of them :)

Songkran

Let the Games begin!

Songkran

Super soakers and a high vantage point reign – you become easy targets lol

Songkran

Hello everyone!

Songkran

Hmmm, I think your tools are too tiny for a good fight, but very suggestive squirts indeed… I was more game to carry the squirting ice cream cone I got as a free gift hee.

Songkran

We have Tarzan and a Miss Minnie.

Songkran

Talk about multi-tasking – this lady could sip her drink and take aim at me.

Songkran

Thailand is indeed the Land of Smiles! :)

Watch the ‘live’ action

Songkran

We had so much fun! The festival brought our great teamwork amongst friends and we thoroughly enjoyed our times together. This will definitely not be the last Songkran we visit!

If water fights and partying are too wild for your liking, you can still celebrate Songkran the traditional way by visiting temples where they have religious activities. You can visit temples in the Rattanokosin area like Wat Pho, Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Suthat Thepphawararam, Wat Chana Songkhram, Wat Boworn, Wat Benchamabophit, Wat Rakhang Khositaram, Wat Arun and Wat Kanlaya.

Songkran Survival Tips

  • Keep all electronics and valuables in waterproof bags once you step out of the plane (you never know when you are gonna get splashed). There are street vendors selling waterproof vinyl bags for mobile phones if you forget to bring; for cameras I would strongly encourage you to bring or in desperate times, use Ziploc bags – they are a life saver.
  • Go with a group of friends! You’ll have more fun during ‘water fights’ with comrades standing by you.
  • Bring lightweight and cheap clothes, since you will be wet (& dirty) 80% of the time (20% is when you are sleeping or hiding in the malls). Do bring an extra set (or two) of clothes just in case your clothes do not dry in time. Otherwise, just buy there.
  • Please, please put on some clothes – I have seen drenched men wearing only boxer shorts, and what I saw was enough to make me lose my appetite. Both lunch and dinner.
  • Try not to bring too many things out as you will be busy dodging water pistols and to prevent pickpocketing.
  • Take the public transport if you are heading out –traffic is paralyzed to a snail’s pace during festivities.
  • You can bring your own water guns or easily buy one at a convenience stall/ along the streets.
  • Do not throw dirty water – no one wants to smell like the sewer or grow pimples/rashes after!
  • ‘Ammunition refill stations’ are aplenty – you can buy water from the numerous stores/street vendors who have set up stalls along the street, or simply buy a drink from the stall and politely ask to refill your water guns.
  • Go easy on the splashing – Remember the main objective is to give others blessing, not start World War Three.
  • After you have been splashed (blessed), wish the person “Sawasdee Pee Mai” which means “Happy New Year!” or “Suk San Wan Songkranwhich means “Happy Songkran Day!”
  • Do not throw water at motorcyclists or use whistles to stop them, to prevent road accidents. Every year, hundreds of motorists die during Songkran (granted half of them were drunk).
  • Lock your car/taxi door – some over-enthusiastic/drunk reveler (occasionally) may attempt to open your car door to give you a splash.
  • Drunken revelry is a big part of Songkran. Expect hordes of people dancing and drinking in the streets. If you are uncomfortable with such scenes, stay inside the shopping malls or your hotel (then why did you even bother to come during this period???). Also avoid Silom and Khao San Road, the main merry-making districts.
  • Safety is of utmost importance – take care of your valuables and your chastity – my guy friend got molested when we went into an overly crowded street. If the person is too close for comfort, simply walk/run away.
  • Visit a temple or give alms to a monk! Making merit is a key part of Songkran.
  • Last and most importantly – Go in good spirit and have some good-natured fun; you’ll be abundantly blessed for the year to come! :)


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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 :)