Ferns

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In my garden, the sword fern is a pest. I love the New Zealand silver fern and consider it very elegant. I love the Sarawak ferns which are eaten as vegetable. But ferns are spread by spores and strangle my Tiger Orchid, Heliconia etc.

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This trip to Bangkok has opened my eyes that common plants when healthy and lush can be used to create a garden paradise.

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Below, the Patrick Blanc helix chandelier perched on pipes designed with slow drip automatic watering system. Real plants.

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These are fake ferns at the Emquartier.

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Nonetheless, the effect is therapeutic.

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At Siam Paragon

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You dont have to use exotic plants to create an effect. Hardy, everyday plants can still be dramatic, plus low maintenance.

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Indoor gardens using mirrors and shallow pool.

The EmQuartier
693 695 ถนนสุขุมวิท Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
+66 2 269 1000
https://g.co/kgs/QPTfDX
Getting there: BTS Phraem Phong Station

S&P at Siam Paragon
สยามพารากอน 991 Rama I Rd, Khwaeng Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330, Thailand
+66 2 610 8000
https://g.co/kgs/H6hTt4
Getting there: BTS Siam Station

These are my favourite things – Thai Street Food

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Thai miniature display set sold at the airport.

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Thai deep fried omelette from Ros Niyom at Basement of Emporium.

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Crab meat fried rice. Yumms. Big chunks of crab meat. 380baht.

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Mango and coconut ice cream everywhere.

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Thai mango with glutinous rice at 100baht. At Chatuchat, you can get for 60baht. But (?)  for me.

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Chiang Mai sausage at 180baht.

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I love street food. But over the years, Ive been less adventurous as my stomach is not very hardy. I try Thai Street Food but in airconditioned malls. But after a scare in New Delhi and Jim Corbett tiger reserves where our driver had to drive an hour to the next village to get a doctor, I have become risk averse.

The locals do buy off the streets, like this well heeled lady.

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Fish cake at JJ Mall near Chatuchat.

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Bamboo glutinous rice at JJ Mall

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Oyster Omelette at MBK Foodcourt, 6th floor.

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Thai tea and coconut ice cream from Chatuchat but only because it came from a machine. 45baht, same as Mall price.

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Ok, I confess. I didnt quite eat this betel nut snack.

Ros Niyom
http://www.rosniyom.com/index.php/branch

MBK Food Island
Wang Mai, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
+66 2 853 9814
https://g.co/kgs/4bUEj2

JJ Mall
588 Kampangpetch 2 Rd Chatuchak Bangkok 10900, Thailand
+66 2 265 9999
https://g.co/kgs/565NoG

Siam Skywalk – big overhead bridge

The solution to Bangkok traffic jam is to walk above the streets, oasis of greenery.

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We took a walk on the Skywalk which is a long bridge connecting Malls such as Siam Paragon, Siam Centre, MBK, Siam Discovery and walked all the way to the largest mall in Bangkok, the Central World and the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre.

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Walking on the bridge lifts you from the traffic din and pollution, sheltered from the sun and rain. Its breezy even because of the air tunnel.

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A painting of the late King of Thailand outside the Bangkok Arts and Cultural Centre (BACC).

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Inside the BACC. Bangkok has a fascination with circular floors.
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Wall murals.

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Bangkok Traffic Jam

One Siam Skywalk
Phayathai Rd, Wang Mai, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10330
https://g.co/kgs/C1E4St
Station: Siam BTS Station
(Siam Station is 4 stops away from Asoke Station, 30B each).

Em, where are you going

EmQuartier is my favourite mall in Bangkok.

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Waterfall Section, 5 storey high

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Patrick Blanc helix hanging chandelier at the Helix section. Drips irrigation cleverly hidden.

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Top floor

Is this a mall or a garden? 30,000 sqft

Take a lift to the overhead bridge to the M level where a bridge connects the 2 malls EmQuartier and Emporium.

The EmQuartier FoodHalls (Level B)and the Gourmet Supermarket (Level G) are Must visits.

We got our favourite rice crispies and Thai sauces 18B (such as Green curry and Chicken Basil stirfry) from Gourmet Supermarket.

And peeled pomelo. Quite expensive 259 baht. Or Mango sticky rice 120B at the stalls in the foyer if you are afraid your stomach cannot take the roadside stalls which only cost 60Baht. Enjoy in your hotel.

The mall is adjacent to Phrom Phong BTS Station on the Sukhumvit Line of the BTS Skytrain.

The EmQuartier
693 695 ถนนสุขุมวิท Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110, Thailand
+66 2 269 1000
https://g.co/kgs/QPTfDX
Getting there: BTS Phraem Phong Station

Purple on a Saturday in Thailand

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colors_of_the_day_in_Thailand

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I’m in Bangkok, Thailand, at the nursery opposite Or Tor Kor. Or Tor Kor is across the street from Khampaeng Phet MRT station, take the underground pass.

Saturday is celebrating the color of purple. I kid you not, check out the wikipedia site. Hence, Im not including photos of Tiger Orchids. But how to bring home? They are so tall.

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Purple has different symbolic meanings in different cultures. It is the color of Advent and Lent for the Catholics, a symbol of mourning for the crucifixion as well as for royalty – the resurrected Christ. To the Thais, purple is color of mourning.
http://wp.me/p1TOSd-7i

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It means 4 orchid plants for 100 baht.

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Look at these blooms from the bromeliad.

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Im not showing you the staghorn ferns. We are not even talking about Black double petal dessert rose in Chatuchat market.

If you come on a Wed or Thurs, which are plant days, there are even more varieties.

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I really dont know how to walk back to these shops inside Chatuchat.

Its a treasure hunt.

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Outside the German supermarket on Sukhumvit Soi 20 near Well Hotel which we pass by everyday.

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At the Benchasiri Park Park next to Phrom Phong Station.

Weekend getaway in Bangkok

For a quick getaway this Easter, we went to Bangkok via Singapore Airlines.

I booked Well hotel on Agoda to be on Sukhumvit and near a BTS station (7 m8n walk to Asoke) and near EmQuartier as well as a modern hotel.
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It met these criteria. Rooms were clean and comfortable.

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Location convenient to 2 BTS Stations, walkable about 7min and a MRT to Sukhumvit station meaning we could have taken a train to Chatuchat.

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There was a free hotel shuttle but we didnt use it. Good English channels on TV.

Small swimming pool which I can use. Nice and modern.

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When I booked the rooms, it didnt come with Bfast and the hotel was going to charge me $20 per pax. Later when I checked and rebooked, the rates came with free bfast. PS: never pay straight away.

The Bfast can be improved. Walk down and have Bfast at Au Bon Pain or at EmQuartier or Asok Station, Terminal 1.

What a traffic jam, we took 2hrs via taxi to get to our hotel, 25km away from the airport (go down to level 1 and take a queue #). 431baht + tolls = 500baht.

If I ever return, I will book Thee Hotel, just across the road from WELL Hotel, but no breakfast and cheaper by $30 per night for like size room, ie 30m or S31 Sukhumvit, nearer to Phaem Phong, near Carl’s Jr.

Another plus is that its 1 min away from massage where we tried The Thai Massage and Spa at 900baht for 90min Thai Fusion.

When we returned, we took the 630pm flight but left the hotel at 2.15pm. The hotel recommended us their driver for 500B to airport, and he got us there in 45min. Bangkok jam is legendary. As a child, I recall sitting in my uncle’ s car when it didnt budge and he suggested we walk home with my cousins while he stayed with the car. Things have improved but jams are unpredictable.

Well Hotel Bangkok Sukhumvit 20
Sukhumvit Rd – Sukhumvit, Khlong Toei Nuea, Khet Khlong Toei, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110
02 127 5995
https://g.co/kgs/i3zVKU

Gift ideas from BKK (BKK 5)

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Roasted cashew in tom yum flavour

 

Coconut chips

Coconut chips

Dried lemongrass and pandan tea

Dried lemongrass and pandan tea

Fish skin

Fish skin

Crispy pork

Crispy pork

Shrimp oil

Shrimp oil

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Green curry paste

 

Cashew nuts in tom yam

Cashew nuts in tom yam

Naraya elephant

Naraya elephant

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Aromatherapy scent in local container

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Cut flowers packed in a box

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Rice crackers in black and white sesame seeds

Each gift cost less than S$5. The shrimp oil is S$10, and sold at Amazon for US$17.99 + $5.95 for shipping.

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This is not all of my shopping list. I’m too embarrassed to list out the green ceramic and blue glass carafe, tiered dish, shirts, bags, lingerie and dresses. Question is how much can you carry even if SIA gives you an allowance of 30kg per pax.  Chatuchat is so much cooler than before, possibly there’s air condition? At the entrance of Chatuchat market, there’s a van offering foreign exchange.  So bring cash.
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Most of these items are bought from Chatuchat or Siam Paragon. There’re shops selling large driftwood sculptures to tiny figurines at Chatuchat and Asiatique. There’s so much to see, do and eat, that I’m so tired every night, I’ve no time for DVD movies at the hotel.

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Baisri – elaborate art of leaf folding BKK4)

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Folded Lotus Buds

In Thai ceremonies you often see a tall flower arrangement with folded leaves (banana or pandanus) known as Bai Sri tree. As well as krathong, where a pandan or banana leave is folded and stitched together to form a cup.  Its very Southeast Asian where in Singapore/Malaysia among the Malays you see weaving of pandanus into ketupat rice cakes.

According to Alex Kerr, in Bangkok Found, this Baisri is a form of architecture. A re-creation of sacred Mt Meru that stretches from India through China and Japan. Meru is the centre of the universe at the peak of which Lord Indra sits with his trident, surrounded by the cosmic.

In Baisri, rising cones and multi-layered extensions of folded bamboo leaves create the details of Mt Meru. This theme is continued in the layout of Angkor Wat in Cambodia and the layout of Wat Arun in Bangkok.

Baisri grows from the repetition of many tiny details – a typically Thai approach to art. (I highly recommend Kerr’s book, and can’t wait to read his Book on Japan. He’s actually considered a Japan expert before he moved to Bangkok.)

 

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Above: The grounds of Mandarin Oriental, a European style garden.

Flower arrangements at the Oriental Mandarin by the Chao Praya River.

 

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Baisri – petal folded upon petal to create an elaborate organic form into a huge imaginary flower. Flowers from an alternate universe.

On the streets of Thailand, you see garland sellers with jasmine garlands  dangling over dashboards.  Very South Indian.

 

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Folded lotuses float in water.

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My next trip I’ll certainly visit Pak Klong Talad or the Bangkok Flower Market which opens 24hrs. Best time to visit is after mid-night. If Bangkok is too hot for you, then go at night.

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Garden of shady plants on a narrow strip of corridor. Mastery out of limited space.

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Regal Siamese White Elephant with shawl of weaved white jasmine buds

Regal Siamese White Elephant with shawl of weaved white jasmine buds

Intricate weaving of the White Elephant’s shawl with Jasmine buds.

Elephants have been revered in Thailand for many centuries.  As strong beasts of burden, they were important in battles. A white elephant is even included in the flag of the Royal Thai navy, and the “order of the white elephant” is one of the highest honours, bestowed by the king.

White elephants are linked to Hindu mythology where Lord Indra is depicted sitting on an elephant in Mt Meru. In Thai Buddhist tradition, on the eve of the birth of the Buddha, his mother reportedly dreamed of a white elephant presenting her with a lotus flower, a common symbol of wisdom and purity. (See Wikipedia)

Keeping a white elephant was a very expensive undertaking, and would drain anyone’s resources. The owner had to provide the elephant with special food and provide access for people who wanted to worship it.

If a Thai King became dissatisfied with a subordinate, he would give him a white elephant. The gift would, in most cases, ruin the recipient.  Hence, the phrase,  a white elephant, an expensive but useless object, yet unable to dispose.  Like the set of expensive Chinaware your grandma gives you for your wedding.

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Art of folding leaf cups: ttps://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WX–YOyuaYs

 

BKK – 5 reasons to visit Siam Paragon

A visit to Siam Paragon deserves a post by itself.

I live in a city that invented food courts. But Siam Paragon is truly a fantastic experience.

5 reasons to visit:
1. See the vertical green wall

Vertical Green at Siam Paragon

Vertical Green at Siam Paragon

2. Convenient. Next to Siam station
3. Siam Ocean World at basement

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4. Thai snacks/ spices and condiments as presents. Lemongrass and pandan tea, the rice crispy (best on BKK) and other snacks in the food gallery. Best rice crispy I’ve eaten. Fresh.

Rice Crispy with black and white sesame and honey

Rice Crispy with black and white sesame and honey

My advice is to pay a little more and get it from Siam Paragon, as the products taste fresh, turnover is high. I’ve received Thai snacks from friends who travelled here, and had to bin the food with one bite because it taste of oil gone rancid.

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Thailand is a rice producer with over supply of rice – so the rice cakes are competitively priced with variations of toppings ranging from melon seeds, cashews etc. Cashews fried with curry leaves and chilli if you like spices.  For friends who love to cook, get them tom yam paste or shrimp oil.

Lemongrass tea and pandan tea boasts of toxic cleansing, calming effects and lowering blood sugar. Half the price of what you get at home.

5. Food court – where the mango for mango rice is only cut when you buy. Not earlier. The skin of Vietnam spring roll is made fresh and on the spot. So is the Tom yum soup – which means that the queue for these stalls take longer.  Get a fully refundable food card at the main entrance to purchase food.

Mango with Sticky Rice

Mango with Sticky Rice

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6. Food mart is amazingly huge (like a hyermart) with rows of Perrier, Evian, San Pellegrino. Chacuterie. High end living.

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[Maybe 6. Very conveniently located at the Siam Station on the Sukhumvit BTS line.]