Grilled Sticky Rice

This is a thai street food that I really love. It’s extremely cheap and a pleasant way to fill up without upsetting your tummy. Also, slightly charred, super crispy rice is a guilty pleasure which I relish.

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Peachy Guesthouse, Bangkok

Casa Nithra only had a vacant room for one night, so I had to find a different room for my last three nights in Thailand. On a whim and a hunch, I decided to see if there were any spots available at Peachy. I had had so many intentions of treating myself to fancy hotels during my entire stay in Thailand, but there was just an invisible string drawing me back to Peachy.

You see, when I was down and out, Peachy is where I lived. It’s a tiny bit noisy and it’s full of dirty obnoxious hippies, but for a private room with a shared bathroom it’s 120 baht per night which is roughly 4 USD. To get a sense of just what a good deal that is, you would normally be hard-pressed to find a bed in a dorm for less than 150 baht, and most other private room/shared bathroom deals are about 180 baht and above. Peachy is the cheapest accommodation around, not to mention the best value. I can understand why the dirty obnoxious hippies like it so much. I’d just appreciate if they understood that some non smokers are no smokers because it makes us physically ill. I mean, wouldn’t it match with hippy dippy ideals to take everyone’s interests to heart and just go outside for your smoke?

Anyway, I digress. Unbeknownst to me, when my friends at Peachy knew I was back in Bangkok, they reserved one of the coveted corner rooms for me (the corner rooms are a little darker at night and quite a bit larger than most of the other rooms).

I’m glad I went back to Peachy for those last three nights in Bangkok. I hadn’t realised how much Peachy had become my home, but coming back to Peachy really was like coming home. It’s a place where I’m welcome, where I belong, and that is such a pleasant, calming feeling to have, to know that if nothing else is right in the world for me, I have a place where I can go back to.

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Casa Nithra, Bangkok

Apologies for the short hiatus from the blogosphere. I was having difficulties uploading all the photos I wanted for this next post so I gave up for a few days, and then for quite a few days after that I had a really hard time getting myself back into the blogging swing if things.

Anyway, when I arrived back in Bangkok from Chiangmai, it was about 12:30 am on New Year’s Day. Everyone was in the street and happy and partying. I just needed to find a place to sleep. So. I set out searching for a hotel or guesthouse that had a vacancy. Unsurprisingly, most places were booked solid, but I just kept plugging at ‘er, moving my way through the streets, stopping at every hotel and guesthouse to ask about vacancies, and being turned away at every one. I was fully prepared that I might end up sleeping in a park or pretending that I was also an all-night New Years reveler, and since that was my alternative, there really was no harm in going on such a long walk to find a room. I started at the end of Pra Arthit Road opposite the Riva Surya, and the first place I could find that had a room available was quite a way away on Samsen Road. It was the Casa Nithra, which I almost wrote off completely and bypassed because I figured that there was no way they would have any rooms available and, even if they did, they were unlikely to give a room to someone as dressed down as I was with no luggage. But I was wrong on both counts. They gave me the last room they had available that night. It was 3,000 baht including breakfast or just 2,700 baht without breakfast.

I had been pretty curious about this hotel for a long time, as I used to walk by it on my way to work during my poor days when I was just scraping by in Bangkok. From the outside, it’s a pretty amazing, stylish-looking building. From the inside, well, it’s okay. It was nice but it was also just a normal hotel room.

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The next morning, I went down to breakfast and discovered that they included BACON as part of their buffet. Let me let you in on a well-known secret about bacon: it is God’s gift to humankind. True story. Let me let you in on another secret about being an expatriate in a strict Muslim country where bacon is strictly prohibited: you do not actually realise how deep your love of bacon runs until you are deprived of it. When you are finally reunited with bacon, well, the following photos can show what happens.

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Sixty House, Chiang Mai

Unfortunately for me, Rom Po was only available for one night, which meant that after my one night in a beautiful boutique hotel, I had to go looking for something else. It being just two days before New Years, vacant rooms in Chiang Mai were beyond scarce. Finally I found Sixty House, which had a room vacant for two nights, but only if I was okay with a fan room. Considering that when I had lived in Thailand (during the hot season, no less) all I’d been able to afford was a fan room, and considering it was now the cool season, I was okay with accepting the fan room. I was airtime worried about the quality and cleanliness of the room when they told me the price (only 280 baht per night for a room with a private bathroom), but at this point, I really couldn’t afford to be choosy unless I wanted to end up sleeping on the street and you know what? I was actually pleasantly surprised when I finally got to see the room. Sure, it was very small, but it was absolutely clean and it even had two small windows, so in the end, I lucked into a very cheap, very clean little guesthouse.

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Rom Po Boutique Hotel, Chiang Mai

You’ll find Rom Po not too far from Thapae Gate. I found it wandering through the streets, willing to take the first thing that came my way. The very first thing that came my way was an imposing (but not in the good way) hotel called Thapae Place. I walked in and asked if there were rooms available. I was hot, dirty, and tired, and I desperately needed to pee so I didn’t much care what my room looked like; I just wanted to get in there, set down my heavy bags, and use the toilet. Well. The ladyboy who checked me in was not concerned at all about getting me into my room. He/she took his/her time in every step of the process checking me in. Another guest called down to reception with a request and he/she actually put the process of checking me in on hold so he/she could attend to this other guest instead. I tried. I tried so hard to be patient, but when it felt like my bladder was about to explode and I might pee my pants, I asked as politely as I could muster whether it might be possible to speed up the process because I desperately needed to pee. For some reason, the ladyboy took this as a huge insult and started being even ruder to me, but he/she did hurry up and give me the key to my room. Well. When I got up there, the room hadn’t been cleaned and it was ugly. Looking through the open door across the hall, I saw that that room was clean and was slightly nicer. So I went back downstairs and told the ladyboy that I’d like to change rooms because the one across the hall was nicer. He/she said the reason he/she had checked me into a dirty ugly room was because I’d been tapping my foot impatiently (I hadn’t) and had demanded to get into a room immediately (that was slightly true, but only after watching the ladyboy putt around for fifteen minutes doing his/her best to prolong the check-in process).  You should have heard the sneer in his/her voice. At that, I said, “I think I’d like my money back” and the ladyboy called me a bitch and said he/she didn’t want me staying there, anyway. So I went up to the room to retrieve my things. As I was just zipping up my backpack and fitting it onto my shoulders, the ladyboy burst into the room. He/she couldn’t leave well enough alone and felt the need to come upstairs and threaten me. In the end, I was able to leave the hotel, if a little shaken up.

So. I still had to find a place to sleep. Literally the very next guesthouse after Thapae Place was Rom Po. It was a peaceful, beautiful oasis, made all the more peaceful and beautiful after the horrible ordeal I’d just been through at Thapae Place. I was greeted by two very friendly, very happy, very bubbly Thai girls. They’re the type of girls who are effortlessly ridiculously cute, a cuteness so cute it could be nauseating except it’s, well, cute. A room at Rom Po was only 1000 baht per night, which is a pretty good price considering their rooms are quite nice. At Rom Po, there was no official welcome drink like there had been at Navalai, but I got something better: when the girl at reception flipped through my passport to check me in, she noticed it was almost completely full of stamps, and she showed a keen interest in all my travels. No one ever asks me about my travels in real life, and usually even if someone does ask, they make it clear pretty quick that they were just asking out of politeness. This girl was sincerely interested in my stories about the three years I lived in Burma. It was nice to finally share those stories with someone.

Anyway, the rooms. The rooms at Rom Po are nothing short of classy. They’re all dark wood and polished concrete. Super beautiful. The doors are a kind of French door that close with a padlock and somehow just adds to the charm. The place, itself, is a calm, quiet maze of dark wood stairs and corridors.

There is a restaurant attached which serves up the standard Thai food for tourists, such as green curry. What’s more exciting at this restaurant, though, is their ice cream served with a shot of Bailey’s or khalua. I had never thought to top my ice cream with a liqueur and it was simply divine.

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Navalai River Resort, Bangkok

Alright, this is a blog about food, but my thinking here is that some really nice hotels also do really nice food, so I want to share both the photos of the beautiful room and of the beautiful food.

Navalai River Resort is an interesting building on Pra Arthit Road. It’s imposing and impressive in a classy, relaxed, understated way both from the road side and for the river side.

One thing I really liked about Navalai was that when I checked in, I was disheveled and filthy (literally– my flip flops had broken which meant I’d been walking around barefoot which meant my feet were black) and my baggage was just one tiny backpack (not a traveling backpack, just a regular backpack– I’m a light traveler), but instead of treating me like I didn’t belong and shooing me out the door, the guy who checked me in was very friendly and welcoming. Score one for Navalai!

He also gave me this delicious welcome drink:

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Since it was the holiday season, I was charged the (inflated) holiday price. I paid 4200 thai baht, which seems like a lot to me, but if you’re used to hotel prices in North America or Europe, it may not seem like that much to you.

The rooms themselves were pretty standard, although very nice for me after my years of poverty that I’m just now starting to pull myself out of. Each room came with a huge balcony, but it’s a shame I didn’t think to photograph the balcony.

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There is a window in the bathroom. I thought this was an interesting, if not a little strange, touch to the room sat Navalai, although I soon discovered after a few more nice hotels in Thailand that windows in the bathroom seem to be a trend here. Go figure…

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There was a buffet breakfast included in the room price. I do have a picture of that breakfast, but it’s on a different phone, so I’ll have to add it later. For now, I’ll just share this story about it: the seating area in the restaurant attached to Navalai is an outdoor terrace which faces the pier. When I lived in Bangkok and when I was just scraping by, I used to ale the boat to work early in the morning. The first boat of the morning coincided with the breakfast buffet starting, so every morning, I would stand in the pier waiting for my boat and watch those early risers enjoying their breakfast buffet, hating them because I was sad and lonely and hungry and poor and they were not, and the cast majority of those people didn’t know how lucky they were.

Peanut Butter M&Ms

I have a soft spot for Peanut Butter M&Ms not only because of the peanut butter/chocolate combination but also because they remind me of an old boyfriend whom I still sometimes pine for.  Anyway, I was happy to find festive Peanut Butter M&Ms in Sultan Center the other week during my great candy haul.

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