Yes, exactly. The closest thing I got to traditional Thai cuisine was that Pad Thai dinner by the hotel pool and in the wedding party. Now I’m not sure I ever was in Bangkok if not for the wedding party at The House On Sathorn.
It was just too tempting not to dine in Gaggan, an eponymous restaurant offering “Progressive Indian Cuisine”. We hurdled the reservation process, and now cherish memories of a 22 – dish degustacion. Dining in Gaggan means prepping yourself to be tricked and deceived. Nothing tastes exactly as it looks. Like those mashed lentils rolled up like a croqueta around a chicken bone, masquerading like a drumstick sitting on some apple and tamarind chutney. Magic! Up till the 17th dish, it was all one-bite tastings. Each crafted and prepared like some piece of art and wonder of science. All senses engaged, all savory, then the bomb. Or bombs. The Lamb Rangoli and the Crab Curry aren’t bite-sized. More, but not too much. So very Indian too, and nearly traditional including how the curry was served in Indian tiffin boxes or pails. The desserts that followed seemed like yummy experiments in The Lab (exactly what our dining area was called) where each was not simply delish, but fun to eat too.
IMO, Gaggan is our best excuse without raising eyebrows to eat Indian food while in Thailand. But wait. Chinatown. In Bangkok? While the shopping Mecca lurks in Platinum, Paragon, MBK, Pratunam, Chatuchak, here I find myself in Chinatown. Around Yaowarat Road which is the heart of Modern Chinatown in Bangkok. Not to shop. But to check out temples and museums. You got that right. Chinese temples and museums on Chinese history. Thailand being home to the largest overseas Chinese community in the world also has the oldest and best-integrated overseas Chinese community. Even Thai monarchy — King Rama I no less — claims Chinese ancestry.
From Yaowarat Road, trash your maps and explore the many narrow alleys here. Dodge and snake around the many food stalls and ambulant vendors plying their trade since the 18th century. Wait till dark to see the lofty neon signs in these vibrant streets and footpaths. When tired, catch your breath and sneak into the Yaowarat Heritage Center to learn more on Chinese immigration and integration into Thai society. Or try any of the Chinese eateries to snack on dim sum in airconditioned comfort.
Wat Traimit. Bangkok is never short on temples and shrines. But Wat Traimit has an interesting story to tell. It’s solid gold Buddha in “Sukhothai style” was accidentally discovered when the statue was moved, lifted and dropped. The plaster casing broke, and underneath was found this pure gold massive Buddha, claimed to be the world’s largest gold seated Buddha. A diorama was assembled as well as a documentary film to illustrate how the statue was transported and the discovery of the gold statue within the plaster casing.
So there. I flew to Bangkok for a wedding I couldn’t miss. Then I indulged on Indian cuisine in this land of pad thai and meandered around the alleyways of Chinatown. And would you believe I didn’t shop at all? I came with my tiny roller bag and flew home with the same checked-in baggage at 8kilos. I’m so proud of myself 😀😀😀