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Musings on Travel, Fashion & Fun


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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 :)


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Kombi Rocks: Peace, Love & Horfun

Kombi Rocks

Visiting a retro destination in my 60s flower child ensemble
Vintage Dress – Bazaar
Black and white vintage bag – Dustbunny Vintage
Flower necklace and flower ring – Forever 21
Handmade glass floral earrings – DIY
Golden woven flats – Siam Center, Bangkok
Hairband – DIY

Tucked away in a row of old shophouses opposite Serangoon Stadium, is a retro diner named Kombi Rocks which makes me feel like stepping into a time machine back to the sixties everytime I visit. It’s also a good excuse to put on my pretty vintage dresses and let the 60s hippie child in me loose.

Kombi Rocks

If you think you have stepped into another timezone, you are not alone ;)
Dining at Kombi Rocks is an adventure in itself, with its fleet of gleaming vintage automobiles parked outside and kitschy trinkets from the past displayed at the diner. All the cars have their own names too! Want to know what they are? Read on…
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks

Gathering place of all things old school
On a lucky day, you can see cute Vespas or Volkawagen Kombi vans from neighbouring countries gathering at the diner. I always get shutter-happy there.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

This ain’t no novelty theme crap
If you are going to write Kombi Rocks off as another novelty theme restaurant in town, you can’t be more wrong. The restaurant has been around for over 40 years. It was first started by sailor-chef Lim Koon Kee as Koon Kee Restaurant serving Thai-Chinese cuisine (Mr Lim’s wife is Thai) at the Civil Service Club and then Hwa Chong Junior College.
After a restful retirement for 2 years, Mr Lim was coaxed out of retirement by his youngest son Chef Hai who now helms the kitchen. It was rebranded as Kombi Rocks in 2012, still faithfully serving Thai & Chinese recipes passed down three generations.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Dining the old school communal way
Even the diners came in three generations, what a heart-warming feeling

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Being huge fans of vintage memorabilia, Chef Hai and his wife Pearl has since peppered the diner with loads of quirky trinkets and rents out their fleet of Kombis and vintage memorabilia collection as a second line of business. It also makes visiting the dining experience uniquely interesting!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Icons of the good old 60s: Volkswagen Kombi & Beetle
The Kombi is also the vehicle where the diner got its name. The automobile fascinated me so much, I read up about it after my visit. I must say it’s a very intriguing read, to the point I yearn for one myself. More about the Kombi later…

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fancy a vintage watch?
All the vintage items in the diner are for sale…well, almost all :)

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I was quite excited by these retro telephones. I wonder if I can attach them to my handphone and use it as a receiver, cool huh?

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

If anyone says I look right at home amongst the pile of vintage items, I’m gonna kill you.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Vintage refrigerators which apparently still work, but with the energy efficiency of the 60s as well.
Well, don’t you agree they make really cool bookshelves too? And I am so in love with the glittery gold helmet on the right.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

We all live in a yellow submarine, yellow submarine, yellow submarine
Another icon of the happy 60s – the Beatles!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

*Wolf Whistle*

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I so dig this retro chair. Want!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombi Rocks serves both Chinese & Thai cuisine. Its signature dishes include its wok-hei hor fun (freshly prepared and sold out everyday), mee goreng (which was inspired by a pasta dish in South Vietnam), fishmaw soup and red wine fried chicken.
Can’t decide what to order? Go for the Kombi-nation Platter!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

My favourite dessert of all-time
And who says old school dishes can’t stay current – pair your retro yam paste dessert with moscato!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

What’s old school without a giant Root Beer Float? BURP.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Yummylicious Wok-Hei Beef Horfun
This was really goooood – it was love at first bite, smokey and chewy, soft & slurpy at the same time. I suddenly saw my childhood flashing past, such a nostalgic taste!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fish Maw Soup

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Red Wine Fried Chicken
Another love at first tangy bite. I can finish the entire plate on my own.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Okinawa Red Spinach friend with Belachan
This was also pretty good, and I licked the whole plate clean. Recommended!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Ngoh Hiang

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Thai style vermicelli salad with shrimps
This was not bad, but not as fiery spicy as me & D would have liked.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

That’s Chef Hai with Mediacorp star Vivian Lai who was there to shoot a TV feature on the diner
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombi Rocks does loads of private parties – just tell them the occasion and they’ll decorate the diner accordingly. Can I celebrate my 21st birthday again? It wasn’t that many years ago, you know? *sheepish*
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s also an extremely popular spot for retro weddings – Fancy getting married in a barber’s chair?
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The quirky diner has also attracted fashion shoots – yes, even lingerie. Old-school definitely has its irresistible sex appeal!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s so irresistible even Batman popped by.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

You’re never too young for retro
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Do take a peep at the garage just behind the diner after your meal – it’s full of vintage auto treasures such as this mini Honda motorcycle. I really want to take it for a ride!

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The diner’s 1961 Kombi affectionately named Ang Bao, isn’t she a headturner?

The allure and fascination of a Kombi infused me after my first visit to Kombi Rocks – why its popularity? Why the cult following? Why would someone name his business after a vehicle? Why why why?

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Nothing screams “Let’s go exploring!” the way a Kombi does
Photo: Chris Vicars

The Kombi was first introduced by German automaker Volkswagen in 1950. Officially known by a very unsexy name of “Volkswagen Type 2,” it’s also known as a Kombi, Transporter, Microbus or Camper. It attained its iconic status as a symbol of hippy and surf culture that grew in the mid-to-late 1960s due to its utilitarian features – capable of carrying surf boards, musical equipment and various loads inside or on its roof – combining well with its cheap price (2nd-hand Kombis could be picked up for a few hundred dollars) and easy maintenance (it never really breaks down anyway).

More importantly, the Kombi exemplified the free spirit of peace activists, lovers, world travellers, campers and families moving about together across the world, and it was probably the only vehicle that transcended age, economic and social strata. The only other thing which came close to this is probably the iPhone.

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I have never seen two Kombi vans which look exactly the same
The versatility of a Kombi goes right back to its name, which comes from the German “Kombinationskraftwagen,” a combination of passenger and cargo vehicle. I have seen it as a camper, a mountain bike hauler, a moving van, a diner, a construction supply truck and loads more!
Photos: Chris Vicars

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Spot the Kombi in this 1968 photo (Singapore)
In the past, you could find a Kombi anywhere in Singapore. Sadly, Singapore’s COE system is probably what ‘killed’ almost all of them and had them resold to the neighbouring countries. Now you can find them mostly in Malaysia and Thailand. Sigh.
Photo: Picture Archives Singapore

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

It’s no exaggeration when one says you can live life out of a Kombi. I would love to see the world in one, together with D.
Photos: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Fancy a retro drive? Hire a lovingly-restored one from Kombi Rocks Rides
Kombi Rocks rents these vintage beauties for weddings, novelty tours and photoshoots. All proceeds go toward sustaining the beauties to last many more generations.  From left: Sugar Baby Kombi, Scooby Doo Kombi, 912 Porsche, Black Bandit Beetle, Safari Kombi, Angbao Kombi. Front: Frogeye Austin-Healey Sprite. Which is your fave? Mine’s Ang Bao :)
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

The thing I observe about Kombi owners – they love their cars like a family member
They affectionately name their Kombis, treat them with more tender loving care than to their spouses, sleep with them, get excited when they see other Kombis, bring their Kombis to vintage car fairs around the world, and have loads of stories with their Kombis to share. They are such happy, shiny people!
Photos: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

These Kombis ain’t no country bumpkins, u know – they were at the opening of Singapore’s chi-chi W Hotel
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Sugar Baby decked out for a wedding beside a white 1964 Triumph Spitfire

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

All decked out for a wedding
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

I want to get married in a Kombi. Now I just need the man.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Kombis also excel as car boot sale stalls – talk about versatility!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Vintage cars and live music? Kombi Rocks support up-and-coming Singapore bands through Kombi Sessions, an online video series that capture them in an unique live acoustic setting – the backseat of vintage Kombi.
http://www.vimeo.com/53304464%20

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Bubbles & Romance
I feel like falling in love.
Photo: Kombi Rocks

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

What a cute wedding Kombi-nation!
Photo: Kombi Rocks

If I had a Kombi, that’s what mine would look like all decked out in fairy lights
Photo: Pinterest

Sadly, all production of Kombis will end in Dec 2013. Volkswagen is calling it quits because the vehicle won’t meet new safety standards set to come into force in 2014 in Brazil – the only country where the model is manufactured. Upgrading it with dual front airbags and anti-lock brakes was ruled too costly. For now, around 250 Kombis continue to be produced at a lone plant in Sao Bernardo do Campo daily. Will that mark the end of an era? Maybe, maybe not.

With the Kombi die-hards around, I am sure they are now even more committed to maintaining and restoring these babies, and I am sure we will still continue to see the Kombis for a long time to come. I will treasure each Kombi sighting more now; perhaps I should give them a kiss everytime I see one. I just hope I don’t corrode the paint :p

Kombi Rocks Volkswagen

Maybe the 60s never really went away
I can’t wait to visit Kombi Rocks again!

Kombi Rocks
66 Yio Chu Kang Road
Singapore 545568
(Opposite Serangoon Stadium)
Tel: +65 9008 6918
Website: www.kombirocks.com

Operating Hours:
Mon – Tue: 12:00PM – 3:00PM, 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Thu – Fri: 12:00PM – 3:00PM, 6:00PM – 10:00PM
Sat: 11:00AM – 11:00PM; Sun: 10:00AM – 10:00PM

Bus Services:
Serangoon Swimming Complex stop – 136
Serangoon Sports Complex stop – 43, 70, 70M, 103, 109, 147, 156, 317, 534, NR6
Nam Peng Center stop – 80, 81, 82, 101, 107, 107M, 153
Serangoon Stadium stop – 24, 76, 81, 82, 103, 317

Public car parking available at Serangoon Stadium

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This post was written as a themed challenge for the Singapore Blog Awards, Best Individual Blog category. If you like what you read, I would be most grateful if you could head over here and give me a vote: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2013/category/?cat=individual  You will need to do a simple one-time registration, and then you can vote once a day until 23 June 2013. There are prizes to be won for 5 lucky voters too (JBL Charge Stereo Speaker worth S$249 or JBL Flip Stereo Speaker worth S$195)! Thank you very much for your kind support :)