First Day in BKK

Although it was certainly no picnic staying awake for pretty much the entirety of my 24-hours door-to-door journey from SF to BKK, it was absolutely worth it to wake up early Thursday morning in my hotel room with pretty much no jet lag.

I started off by engaging in an OCD and for-me relaxing bout of unpacking, complete with hanging up shirts, folding my underwear and putting it in the dresser and calling the front desk to ask them to empty the mini-fridge so I could feel it with beer from 7/11. I had a bit of time to spare before my spa appointment downstairs at my quite lovely hotel, Le Méridien, so I decided to start things off with an authentic Thai breakfast: a bacon-egg-and-cheese bagel sandwich at Au Bon Pain. Yes, I am indeed the worst – the FWIW, the place was filled with Thai, so perhaps I’d gotten a more authentic start than I’d realized!

Back to the hotel for my “Jet Lag” treatment – and hour of foot massage and an hour of Thai massage. Delightful, obv. Then met up with my good friend Ak, a local fellow I’d met last October with whom I shared the bond of misanthropy and love of cats – truly BFF material. We headed around the corner to Ruenton Coffee Shop, a decidedly peculiar venue that looked a bit like a ‘70s Marie Callendar’s knock-off (and located in the cast-in-amber early ‘80s splendor of the Montien Hotel – like I said, peculiar) yet is reputed to have some of the best khao man gai (Hainanese chicken – basically boiled chicken and rice) in BKK. It was… serviceable. Now granted, I’m no expert – but Ak agreed that the chicken left something to be desired texture-wise. It was bit too soft – bordering on slimy. The rice, however, was especially good – unlike many khao man gai places on the street that use oil to prepare the rice, this rice had obviously and deliciously been made with fresh chicken stock and fat. YUM. Oh, and both of us took a pass on the side of coagulated chicken blood…

Next up was my idea to take the architectural walk laid out in one of my guidebooks. And we kinda did – though it really wound up being Ak leading me on a meander through the Charon Krung neighborhood. I must say, he’s a wonderful guide. One of the highlights of our walk was a view of the “ghost tower” – a huge, unfinished condominium tower whose owners went bust and could afford to finish construction of the 47-story building and so abandoned it. It’s been topped off, but none of the interiors were finished (including windows) and it now sits empty and graffitied and is a magnet for thrill-seeking visitors to climb to the top.

Nearly as thrilling at this was our next stop – Dairy Queen! Now I love me some Dairy Queen. And I especially love me some Mango-Sticky Rice Sundae at DQ BKK! OK, the mango syrup was a little cloying, but sticky rice solves pretty much any problem.

Next stop Siam Paragon to meet up with some of Ak’s friends. He’d engaged me as his wholesaler and transporter for about a dozen Colourpop Ultra Matte Lip. Apparently, it’s all the rage with the kids these days and is also unavailable in Thailand. Honestly, I was happy to bring them, because I know as well as anyone the great joy that accompanies being asked where one can acquire some element of one’s wardrobe or “look” and being able to respond, “Oh, it’s from (place very far away). You can’t get it here. It’s impossible.” Though after making the delivery, I was advised the product was popularized by one of the Kardashians – which had I known initially would’ve elicited a “HARD NOPE” from me, as those people are the fucking worst.

We also got to see the 1600 Pandas exhibition – 1600 papier maché pandas on display, representing the total number of pandas still in the wild. The pandas were pretty cute – but it also certainly drove home the fact that these creatures are very much on the edge of extinction.

ANYHOO. Back to my hotel so we could freshen up and head out for what I anticipated would be a great dinner at Issaya Siamese Club. And TBH? Not so much. The place has a certain charm – though the restaurant’s location in an old house was a bit shabbier than it was chic. The staff were all lovely and attentive; and their cocktail game was spot-on, with my Ginger-Basil Kicker a particular favorite. To start, we had BBQ baby back ribs which were OK, though too fatty for my taste and served at a high enough temperature that the sticky glaze posed serious risk of injury to one’s fingers. The banana blossom salad needed more texture – it was bland and kind of mushy.

For mains, we had a simply grilled chicken breast that was finished with a Thai whiskey flambé at the table. It was tasty and well-cooked. Also had a Mussamun curried lamb shank which was the star of the meal – tender and spicy. Dessert was also a favorite: jasmine panna cotta with rice ice cream and rice tuiles. The panna cotta’s texture was perfectly creamy and the jasmine discreet and not too perfumey.

All in all, the meal was fine – but considering the prices and the long list of plaudits the place has received, I left feeling disappointed and with a considerably lighter wallet.

Ak and I stopped for a nightcap at Small’s and then I headed back to my hotel. Slept like a baby and was up early Friday for Day 2 of my adventures!

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