chez Agnès
Some minor adjustments needed
Monday, July 15, 2013
Wow it's been an exact whole year since I last wrote here. 2013. What a year!

Must have been my most spontaneous and exhilarating year yet.

Reached the top of a mountain and managed to conquer my fear of the vast open deep waters and went scuba diving.

Left for the US of A a mere day after getting back from attaining my advanced dive cert.

Despite growing rich in experiences, I felt like my relationships with loved ones have took a step back.

And have still yet to kick the habit.

It's half a month into the second half of the year. Time to make new resolutions and some adjustments to my life.

Turn down service at Banyan
Monday, July 16, 2012

One thing strange I found out bout some hotels in Bangkok is that they station chambermaids on every floor of the hotel, and these chambermaids enter your room multiple times throughout the day. I discovered this last year when I was in Bangkok on conference. Went to my room to grab my jacket, came back an hour later and found that they have straightened my tousled closet. And replaced fruit from the fruit basket.

G and I came back from the humid streets of Chinatown, and it was such a welcome to find freshly lit sandalwood incense on the burner. And a little gift by our pillows.

It's actually a jasmine scent basket to hang by your bedside to let you sleep better.

Guess we really needed all the aromatherapy as we were going to indulge in some fruits of the strong smelling variety. Turians! They were surprisingly not very pungent, yet creamy and sweet. Personally I prefer the bitter variant. But I'll happily accept durian of any kind.

Durian admidst fine cutlery and champagne glasses, doesn't get better than this!

Aftermath of the turian, gdnight folks!

Bangkok Chinatown
Sunday, July 15, 2012

Chinatowns, you find one of them in different cities all over the world. I've been to the ones in New York, Yokohama, Sidney, San Francisco. My mum makes it a point to visit the chinatowns of the different places, and I'm amazed at how Chinese all over the world manage to make a part of the city they settle in look so similar.

G"s mum got us to buy some salted fish, however as we only started walking the streets of Chinatown after 6pm, most of the stalls were about to close and we didn't get too many enthusiastic store keepers tending to our enquiries. Most of them spoke only Thai and Chinese only.

Roasted pork with all that crispy skin! And kway chap! As much as both G and I love both of these, we were way too stuffed!

Not too stuffed for durians though, OR as i'd like to call them turians, Thai durians! The guy getting us a good price for them!

Because all the stores were all closing their shutters, we decided to head on to Thong Lor. Took the train there and spotted was their priority seat sign. Priority to the monks!

Thong Lor 8 is one place you need to hit when you're in Bangkok, I love all of the shops there. Discovered this place a year ago when I was in Bangkok for a conference.

One thing about G and I is that we kinda found a middle ground when it comes to shopping. He doesn't understand how I can spend so much time, AND money, on blog shopping. I on the other hand just get a splitting headache once I step into Sim Lim. Somehow, both of us really love shopping for homeware, furniture and groceries! Strange, but true.

Stuffed from the sea
Saturday, July 14, 2012

So to make sure our trip had a bit of touristy element, we decided to include Chinatown in the itinerary. But I'll leave the full glory of Chinatown picture 'til the next post.

What's missing in Singapore is really cheap seafood, where you can order anything you like on the menu and still be left with some change for dessert.

Read some good review on tripadvisor for T&K Seafood, so off we went in search of this place. The search didn't take too long though, our tuk tuk driver knew exactly where it was located. Score! or not. Either it was a local haunt through and through, OR a huge tourist trap.

T&K was located in a shop house. Though it was barely 5pm, just late enough to classify it dinner time, the first level of T&K was already packed to the brim. We had to climb to the second floor which was packed with diners as well, go through a cram narrow balcony which was part of a kitchen, to the next shop house unit and finally found available seating.

G and I found this photo hilarious, coz the kitchen staff actually posed for our photo. Photobomb!

What better than beer to accompany seafood, and since we're in bangkok, G decided to go with some local Chang beer. Was $3 for a large bottle.

Different concoction of chilis, mmm simply love how much spices and herbs go into thai cooking.

Oyster omelette, you have to ask the guy how this tasted, because I don't take them oysters. 'All the better..', claims the boyfriend. He gets them all!

Now this is my favourite, yellow curry prawns!!! Just look how huge the prawn heads are....

Crab vermicelli, this blew our socks off! First of all, CRAB, my favourite seafood EVERRR!

And then at the bottom of the claypot we found a huge chunk of pork lard.

All in all, we spent less than $30 on all these, not a must visit in my opinion. But good seafood at reasonable prices. Eating with the guy made it even more enjoyable!

Som Tam Nua
Friday, July 13, 2012

Still stuffed from breakfast, we decided to head for our planned lunch destination anyways. Nestled along Soi 5 of the Siam Square compound was this little gem. Som Tam Nua. Well, that would be what the last Thai character would be read as. Well we didn't know that. And all we knew of the shop was that it was called Tam Nua. So we walked past the place a couple of times, asked a couple of locals before we checked with the waiters in the shop.

What we noticed was that it was still some time to a proper lunch time, yet this eating place was filled to the brim with locals. We were lucky to get a seat, a window-side one even!

Heya hottie! In all sense of the word..the weather was scorching! Love that the ice in bkk was always slushified.

Gosh the Thais' unique blend of spices and chillies just baffles my tastebuds!

Som Tam is Thai for papaya salad, and that was the specialty of this place. Crunchy unripe papaya strips tossed with long beans, fried pork rind and thinly-sliced soy bean cakes in a light dressing. Perfect for the hot weather.

Pork shoulder meat stir-fried with mint leaves and dried chilli was another of the shop's specialty. Do not order this if you do not like your meat tough.

Authentic thai-styled deep fried fish with the works. This I love! The wonderful mixture of sweetness from the onion, saltiness from the spices, tanginess from the mint leaves together with the crunch of the fish skin fried to perfection. Mmm mmm mmm! And best part of it all? Didn't cost an arm and a leg!

And who could go wrong with fried chicken. And Som Tam Nua certainly did not disappoint with their marinate. This plus that sweet and sour chilli just hit the spot.

Couldn't wait to dig in despite still being full from brekkie.

All the food was polished up of course!

So stuffed we almost couldn't fit through the entrance. Haha but no the entrance was strangely narrow somehow.

And if I had loads of cash to spare, this would be the place in bangkok I would spend it. Located right opposite Som Tam Nua, they have the most eclectic designs I've ever seen. They have another branch at chaktuchak and another at a mall. But gosh Rotsaniyom, why are prices so steep!

Guess the guy was really bored when I got too caught up in stationary shopping. Oh but my heart melted when I turned to try out some cutesy pen, and caught sight of his message. Love!

Breakfast at the club lounge
Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Smiling for my guy! So I found out that if there was one person who wakes up earlier than me to get ready, that would be G. I make it my personal vendetta when i travel to be the first one up and hopefully all prepped before everyone else wakes up. So that I can sit somewhere, swing my legs and be given the prerogative to nag if i feel like. Thankfully I have the most patient boyfriend who sends me secret messages on Draw Something while i rush around like a mad woman.

Staying in a club room at Banyan meant that we could choose to have our breakfast at the lobby or at the Club lounge. We really loved the egg menu. Le boyfriend was feeling adventurous, so he had his eggs done Florentine-styled. I chose to be safe and yes boring, so i had a mushroom cheese omelette!

Oh bkk's the land of cheap-ey and so yums street food, yet we set out with well-fed stomachs thanks to our buffet breakfast, oh but who's complaining!

Oooh angsty street messages..

Decided to first hit Siam Paragon. G came up close to his dream car, drooled, purred, willed it into his future.

And I need to leave this blithe encounter here for memory, because it tickles both of us til this day. Well so we decided to do a quick run back to our room after breakfast, grab water and maps and all. Below the doorbell of each room, there was this considerate lit-up sign that told us the housemaid was doing housekeeping. Hmm, both of us didn't really know what to do at this instant. Should we go in and disturb her. Or should we just stay outside until she was done. After a couple of minutes, we decided to just head in. At this instant, the housemaid opened the door, she was trying to get her trolley to fit through the door so she didn't see us. The moment she looked up and saw two wary persons staring at her, she got startled and of all things, she let out a exclaimation. "O-DYYYYY!" We half-mumbles our apologies, shut the door and rolled around in laughter! Cheery start to the day indeed!

The walk from Blue Elephant to Lebua
Tuesday, March 20, 2012
Whilst I have no pictures to best represent this post, the experience itself was notable.

Our tummies were very well filled from our meal at Blue Elephant, so we decided to take a walk to the sky bar at Lebua just to walk off the meal.

On the internet, the train stop nearest to the sky bar was just beside the Blue Elephant. We could see the lit up dome from where we were, but the frustrating thing was that it was situated just beside an expressway, and we couldn't cross the expressway just like we crossed any other roads.

Hence we had to make a detour, walked away from the sky bar, used the train station as an overhead bridge, and then walk through this quiet neighbourhood.

Scary much if there wasn't a guy with me. G asked if I would do this alone, hell no! Would have jumped into the next cab that drove up and depending on my level of brevity, either head to my destination or be a scaredy cat and head back to the hotel.

So we were walking along a stretch of road that was dimly lit, and the cars that were driving on the same stretch of road were all speeding. That was when we saw a whole brigade of vehicles with their sirens blaring past. Immediately, I was thinking of my mum's warning that there might be bombings in bangkok, what with all the recent terrorists attacks.

Thank god we turned into the adjacent road, and coincidentally met the tuk tuk driver who drove us to dinner. If that wasn't enough to lighten the tense slash scary mood, walking the next twenty steps into Lebua just made it all better again.

By a strange turn of events, we took the same tuk tuk back to banyan tree after we descended from the sky bar. Knowing that our driver wasn't a scammer made me forget our scary long walk.

The next morning when we woke up and read the papers, we found out that a huge fire had broke up in the Grand Mercure hotel nearby, resulting in two casualties. So that was the cause of the sirens we heard last night!

Sky bar at Lebua
Monday, March 19, 2012

Second rooftop bar for the night, the view was as jaw dropping as Vertigo's. But with the rising dome that was magnificently lit at night, it pushed jaw dropping up a notch.

And boy was it windy!

The Sky Bar at Lebua was located near the river edge of Chao Phraya, at the State Tower.

It was in one of the scene of The Hangover II. This being the second time I was back, it was way overcrowded!

We climbed back up for a breather from the crowd. Was a lovely finale to our first anniversary. Standing at the balcony overlooking the twinkling night scene, in the late night breeze, in a foreign place. Happy anniversary B, here's to many more years of new experiences and adventure.

Blue Elephant Bangkok
Sunday, March 18, 2012

G and I made it to the Blue Elephant in style, skidding into the driveway on a tuk tuk. The doorman stepped forward, as if to open the door of our vehicle for us, then realised there weren't any!

The Blue Elephant was a restaurant and cooking school nestled in a century old colonial-styled mansion. It offers thai cuisine in exclusive places around the world in the likes of Dubai, Paris and London.

I've never heard of them, but stumbled across this place on TripAdvisor. Wanted to bring G to somewhere nice for dinner, to show my sincere appreciation of his help these few months with doing up my own room. I shortlisted three places and he chose this. And I'm really glad he did, because we really enjoyed our meal.

From the tablecloth to the cutlery and even the candle, everything was either elephant themed or blue. We requested for a table for a view. And they placed us in a cozy nook in the corner.

The dim lighting made taking a picture difficult, and this was the second better picture taken by the staff. Just absolutely love this place!

Right after placing our orders, the first dish was presented. Compliments of the chef it was! Just a little starter to our starters. I can't remember what it exactly was. There was a roll made from soy, and prawn with a little light dressing. Was yummers anyways.

Then our starters arrived. Love how the wait staff changed our eating plates every time a new dish was brought to the table. This made sure the plates were always warm. And they held it with a cloth, instead of directly with their hand. The little touches of consideration just made the whole dining experience really wonderful.

Just bear with me. I'm a sucker for noting down details when it comes to exquisite food like this.

Starting with the blue little  dumplings at the top of the plate. This was Chor Muang, a recipe from the Chaowang's kitchen (The Royal Kitchen). They are steamed floral-shaped dumplings that acquire their royal blue appearance from the dye of the butterfly pea flower, with some vegetable stuffing. Tasted a little like the ang ku kueh back home.

Moving clockwise, we come to the Rice Field Catfish and Prawns Salad. This was a salad of crispy rice field catfish and Supanburi prawns with organic lemongrass and ginger, tossed in a spicy lime dressing. The last time I was in Bangkok, I had this dish but we had to wrap the crispy catfish in lettuce by ourselves. Here it was presented in a leaf, tempura styled.

Next was the Blue Elephant Spring Rolls. It was their special recipe of rare 'Black Chicken' and vegetable stuffing, served with red sweet and sour chilli sauce.

Rught at the bottom was the Chicken Satay. This was strips of grilled and marinated chicken fillet, to be accompanied by homemade peanut sauce, and cucumber salad.

All the accompanying dips were presented in lovely little saucer.

Impressed by the starters, the soups came next. This was Tom Klong Sea Bass, spicy and sour sea bass soup with roasted organic herbs. This was rated three red elephants on the menu in terms of spiciness, so I guess it meant it was really spicy. Thankfully though, I loveee spicy food!

The second soup was Tom Kha Black Chicken. This consisted of black chicken and organic galangal. For those with a less adventurous palate, the black chicken can be substituted by free-range chicken. Rated just one red elephant in terms of spiciness. This was a milky soup in a spice level that was comfortable to take.

Main courses was next, served in the style of a family sharing.

Panaeng Nua - A rich red curry of Kho Khun Phon Yang Kham, Charlolais-Simmental beef in coconut milk, flavoured with sweet basil.

Tamarind Duck - Grilled medium rare duck breast topped with sauce made of golden sweet tamarind from Petchaboon Province, accompanied by fried shallots and crispy kale.

Bamboo Fish - Fillet of sea bass marinated with herbs, grilled in a bamboo case.

Blue Elephant Phad Thai - Fried rice noodles with fresh prawns, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and tamarind dressing.

Tips of Ivy Gourd Vine & Mushrooms - Claimed to be all the way from the virgin hill tribes to busy bangkok, crispy gourd tips and flowers and mushrooms stir-fried in a low fat soy bean oil and aromatic sauce.

We were served jasmine rice and wild rice as well, as an accompaniment to the main courses. I eat very little rice at dinner time, but the rice was so fragrant and fluffy. Lovely!

And just when we could not stuff ourselves any further, dessert was served. This was Couple 'Blue Elephant', which was an exotic variety of Thai fresh fruits topped with vanilla ice cream, mango bits and a little butter waffle.

We had tea and coffee after. I asked for hot lemongrass tea.

And it came in the most charming teapot!

The guy had coffee...

They came with 3 types of sugar, brown sugar, white sugar and sugar cubes!

Explored the mansion after our meal, such a nice charming place to have a restaurant and a cook school.

Oh hello there little elephant teapots, how I regret not bringing one of you back home.

One of the best dining experiences I could ask for, G's choices in food are rarely disappointing. This place may be a little costly but if you're not a shoestring budget, I'll highly recommend the Blue Elephant. This place just blew me over with its charm.