Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bangkok on a Budget: A Gastronomic Journey

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This is a guest post from Diane Arevalo. All photos in this post were taken by Franz Navarrete during their trip to Bangkok. 

The sights and tastes of Bangkok:
Something holy, something naughty.
My boyfriend and I braved the streets of Bangkok, Thailand last August with less than one thousand RM (less than 300 US dollars) in our disposal. We were trying to save for our upcoming trip to Europe. We even wanted to cancel the trip. In the end, we were glad we didn't.
For this trip, we opted to shy away from the temples (I personally had enough of them from Siem Reap, Phnom Penh and Bali).  We skipped the Reclining Buddha and  the Grand Palace all for the busy side streets and occasional Paragon visits.  Our main objective? Scout for the best tasting Tom Yam, Sticky Rice and Pad Thai. And guess what? We found them!
Spicy Tom Yam
Just a few blocks away from our Lubd hotel (which was surrounded by office buildings and the metro), we found tom yam stalls where cooks prepared your soup as you order, nothing far from a sous chef who does not need measuring cups nor timers, their hands gliding over numerous plastic pots and spoons of spices. Thais are fond of spicy stuff. Thus, we asked for a notch down on the chili. Still, we still needed to chase down the heat with delicious frappucino. So we headed to a mobile stall endearingly called "Star Wars Coffee: May the froth be with you". And you can even buy a souvenir shirt with their wacky logo!

Starbucks has some tough competition here...
One of the best food finds for this journey was the Pad Thai.  Although the tom yam resembles the Filipinos’ Spicy Sinigang na Hipon, I can't think of any noodle dish that rivals Pad Thai.  Off Silom Square mall, a humble garage houses the greatest Pad Thai on earth. There was a long queue and it seemed we waited for almost an hour to be served.

Ah, finally, Pad Thai!
The next best thing was the  berry ice cream shop in the Paragon food court. The Tamarind Ice Cream is my favorite but that won't let me forget about Santol and even their classic chocolate which was at par with the Italian Gelato. The climax of this food trip is at the Greyhound Cafe (Paragon basement). The food was so great, it made me forget about my mobile phone which I lost in the same mall when we went around shopping after dinner.
Exotic ice cream flavors
As consolation, I got myself 2 cat shirts and half a dozen vintage looking earrings from the famous Chatuchak a.k.a. JJ market. The market is huge and teeming with shoppers and on lookers. It is much of a haven for retailers that DHL, TNT and FEDEX joined in the fun and offered their services side by side with the stores to customers buying wholesale.

All in all, the trip was a great break from our busy work lives in Singapore and Malaysia. It did not hurt our pockets at all! My bf loved the food so much that he is planning to bring his family on a trip back soon.

Have you ever been on a trip with a small budget? How was it like?

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