If you could only make one dessert pit-stop in Bangkok, it has to be AfterYou Dessert Cafe! In the absence of distractions (animals, excessively hipster embellishments) the establishment focuses on a competitive menu and plain awesome desserts! Since Taiwan’s Dazzling Cafe experience and toasty good times in Korea’s trendy coffeehouses, I’ve not had good toasts in a while. Until Shibuya Honey Toast and Ferrero Icecream Toast came into my life at AfterYou and my life is worth living again. Teehee. Scroll for toastporn, millefeuille and photos of the cozy cafe interior, featuring the ChaiArmy up to our usual shenanigans, this time in Thailand for Red’s birthday celebrations (all pictures taken with my old iPhone 5 because 6+ had to stay home, in case it decides to stay in Bangkok and to never come back)
Just waiting for the day that AfterYou comes to Singapore too, like all other high-profile franchises.
Thailand might be most famous for vernacular and religious buildings, but its modern-day architecture has surpassed world-class standards. We hunted down this structural wonder, with the luxury of time and an inexplicable need for coffee, situated across the famed Wat Phutthaisawan, along Chao Phraya river.
Sala Resort’s boutique accommodation in Ayutthaya features 26 guest rooms (all uniquely designed) including a duplex river view suite and a pool suite, a small art gallery as well as a signature restaurant with a splendid view of Chao Phraya (reservations required, but helluva beautiful place to sit and ponder about life). I loved their deconstructed wave-inspired bricked buildings that were impressively designed to capture a play of lights. Coffee and canapés. In Thailand sauce maketh a meal complete.Designer living spaces and boutique serviced apartments are increasingly receiving its share of love in the land of smiles, even in city-centred resorts away from beaches and the sea. Interestingly, ‘photogenic’ qualities plays a big part nowadays as holidaymakers want to take incredible pictures for their social media platforms on top of collecting snapshots as memories. The deciding factors of holiday accommodation are as much about concept as they are about prices, location and people factors.
Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.
In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.
The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.
It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods.
Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.
If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.
40 miles north of Bangkok lies Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, capital of Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. Ayutthaya Kingdom was destroyed in 1767 by Burmese army who took down the city. Ayutthaya, like Rome, has since left most of its ruins within sight. Officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is its Historical Park, whose ruins were a peek into the kingdom’s past grandeur.
Dia and Ake drove us on a daytrip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The journey could have taken way longer (by means of Thailand’s inter-city railway) than our tranquil 1.5 hours drive to the country side which I truly enjoyed. Having lived in a city all my life, the drive was akin to entering a timezone ungoverned by conventional rules of time. I was fascinated by farmers in paddy fields seeming to move in slow-motion, accustomed to a lazy pace of life. The last time I’ve ever immersed in such a slow-moving city was during a layover in Mumbai, India, but even then I was concerned by and paranoid of the city’s hygiene. Here I rolled down my windows to let unfamiliar country smells invade my olfactory senses. The experience was truly rural and underrated.
With Dia and Ake, our tummies were in for a treat. Along a stream that leads to Chao Phraya River, we located Yang Deaw Restaurant, a local eatery well-known amongst the natives for grilled river shrimps.
An old lady, aided by 2 others only a decade younger, took our orders, prepared the seafood, grilled the prawns, chopped the vegetables, served the dishes, iced our tea and washed the dishes in a small pantry; hence service was, like everywhere else in the country, slow. Oddly enough, us city-dwellers never for one second lost our patience. I contemplated going to the kitchen to help mince the pork and skewer some prawns.
Highlight of the meal: river shrimps! In all its fresh glory. Caught right off coast at neighbouring streams surrounding Ayutthaya. When de-shelled, these shrimps were almost the length of my forearm (note: I have long limbs)
We left Yang Deaw feeling like our lives was complete, then we drove further north, nursing an intense food coma with tonnes of iced tea. One of our major pit-stops was Wat Panan Choeng temple, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, part of Ayutthaya Historical Park. Fervent Thai Buddhists usually made it a point to journey to this temple to pray for the best of luck on New Years and special occasions. The Golden Buddha statue is known as Luang Pho Tho, who stands at 19meters tall.
We were there for a ceremony on that particular day – Thais were flocking in to pray for good luck for the coming year (2015). Fervent Buddhists purchased golden cloth to ‘clothe the Buddha statue’. We purchased one each and handed the golden sashes to a temple staff, who then proceeded to mumble his blessings, before tossing the golden cloth to 3 pairs of waiting hands standing on Luang Pho Tho who would catch the cloth, tie them to the existing length covering Luang Pho Tho. During the ceremony, Buddhist monks would then chant a long series of words in Thai. We joined the fervent Buddhists in kneeling at the Buddha’s feet with our heads bowed. When the time came, the monks and temple staff began throwing the tied cloth back at us and people in the front started pulling the cloth for us people at the back. The cloth went over our heads as a symbol of protection and having us ‘covered’. After we were all draped in gold cloth, the chant went on in Thai for about 5 to 10 minutes, before we returned the cloth and made our donations to the temple.
The first of my posts on Ayutthaya had touched on aspects of local food and Wat Phanan Choeng. In the coming posts I’ll be sharing on other places to visit in Ayutthaya, including the famous ‘Buddha head in tree‘ featured in many travel guides on Thailand. Stay tuned for more!
Yang Deaw Restaurant
5/1 Moo 4, Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-in, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya
“I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free”
― Angelina Jolie
2 Jan – 7 Jan // There are only two places I travel to on impulse when alone: Korea and Thailand. In under 24 hours I went from Christchurch – Singapore – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi with bare minimum rest. What made it all worthwhile was seeing Elizabeth, Dia, Ake and Terence in Thailand! Literally only booked my Bangkok-bound tickets 16 hours before, as I was contemplating between a solo-trip to Seoul, or a vacay with friends to Bangkok. Meanwhile, caught 5 movies onboard and savoured at least 6 Vanilla Haagen Dazs minis amidst fellow travellers who managed to fall asleep!
Upon touchdown, Dia brought us for fine Thai food. Could always depend on her to get us the best! Thai sticky rice, fried pork skin, papaya salad, crispy chicken, and my favourite lychee shake – I was completely satiated! That lychee shake is perfect for Thailand’s scorching heat as it expels heat from your body better than jumping into a pool of ice. Plus it’s sooo good.
Honestly I’d thought a solo trip might have been a better idea, because out of the five of us, I was the only single girl while the rest were attached to each other. But turns out I was wrong. I had a blasted good time!
On ur first day, we went easy on shopping / exploring. Aside from Terence who was only in Thailand for the first time, Beth and I liked to take it slow. Ake and Dia are Thais who lived within Bangkok.
Snoopy was having it seasonal run at Central World with its Universe Of Happiness exhibit for Christmas! Picture a sea of Snoopys and pop music blaring from gigantic speakers, and you get people fighting for pictures or plotting ways to kidnap a plastic white dog (I was tempted to!)
After lunch and picture-whoring with dogs, we made our way on foot to Chit Lom. Many foreigners make the annual pilgrimage to Erawan Shrine at the Chit Lom / Ploenchit intersection. I find myself back here more than twice a year to jostle with the fervent Buddhists. Do not expect a temple though as this is an open-spaced shrine on a street corner. This is a good place to explore Thailand’s culture as there are Thai dancers on special occasions as well as street stalls on the adjacent streets.
It’s way too hot here so be sure to ditch your jeans and sneakers for shorts and slippers!
The rest of the day was spent searching for funky local eateries, and knowing Dia and Ake, it’s never just street food. They’ve got a solid list of mid-high class restaurants they frequent, which only locals would know. Which I would post some pictures of in upcoming posts. So stay tuned 😉
Legend has it: a boat carrying Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) capsized at Ko Samui, killing the old couple who, for their son’s sake, were sailing to Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of their in-law’s daughter. The locals believed then that their organs turned into the rock formations which are now widely known as the Grandpa and Grandma rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks). No prize for guessing which body parts they came from!!
Ake drove us all to this south coast; the rocks are located between Hua Thanon and Lamai Beach, roughly 17 kilometres from the airport. How did these rocks come about?
It’s a puzzlement as to how these rocks came about, in such close proximity, if we choose not to believe in the folklores of the local community. Nature’s imitation of Art (artistic ribaldry) continues to amuse and baffle us beings. Seriously, mortal art will never match up to the art of nature.
Grandma rock was partially submerged due to the high tides and the area was cordoned off because a tourist had slipped and fallen to his/her death a couple of weeks ago. This is what the Hin Yai Rock looks like!
Drawn by the ring road’s sleek and appealing post-colonial design, we parked here on our way to Lamai Beach for beach-wear shopping. The ring road consists mostly of restaurants (Pazzo Italian Cuisine and Wine Bar, Mulligan’s Irish Pub) and boutiques (Chicstation, CocoVilla Supermarket, Lamai Boutique). The street stalls on the road leading away from the plaza sells pretty much all the stuff we need!
Eight of us embarked on 4-hour jet-ski safari that took us on a tour of 7 of Thailand’s offshore islands. While Josephine maneuvered the ride for the journey to the snorkeling island, I drove both of us back to Koh Samui. We had aching arms for days after the ride. Jet-skiing is such amazing fun once you get the hang of it…the way you handle the waves, rising tides and getting soaked from top to toe…it’s all about taking the plunge and just trying. I never thought I would like jetskiing but I’ve seriously fallen in love with the sport!!
For a list of island water activities – such as kitesurfing, paddle-boarding and scuba diving – visit Water Edge Sports!
Day beds, bean bags, egg chairs, shishas and the island’s most varied selection of cocktails on the beachfront: there’s nothing not to love about CoCo Tam’s Bar. The music was sooo good we had to ask the bartenders for their playlist! Ideal for after-dinner chillout drinks, we took a short walk here from H Bistro @ Hansar, and watched the sunset on Koh Samui whilst chilling out on our beanbags with cocktails. A jug of Samui Sling, anybody?
Worth a second trip down here when we come back for Koh Samui’s Full Moon Party in the future!
This is Koh Samui’s very own Black Moon Party at Chaweng Stadium on a Friday Night. Thailand’s offshore islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui are best known for their Full Moon, Half-Moon and Black Moon parties. Us party-goers were a good mix of Caucasians, Chinese and Japanese tourists, as well as the local Thais, filling the stadium for just 200Baht per entry. Thai artists were offering to decorate our body parts in neon body paint for a 100Baht but we managed to get ours for free! Also enjoyed the awesome spinning by the island DJs and the crazy neon party lights in the house.
We’re gonna make it for the Full Moon Party for our next trip, definitely! Partying’s always fun and safe when you’re with the right mix.
Soi Reggae, Chaweng Beach,
Chaweng, Koh Samui, Thailand
I’m hella fortunate to have Thai friends who know all the best hideouts and dining places. While waiting for a couple more friends to touchdown in Koh Samui, we dined at the beachfront H Bistro at Hansar Resort. Its French Mediterranean menu boasts the likes of grilled Hokkaido Scallops, pan-roasted Miyazaki sirloin, smoked duck prosciutto, white asparagus soup with langoustine and white truffle. oil. Best of all, it’s amazing close to Samui’s open-air international airport, so it’s a great place to hangout before catching your flight or for filling your tummies upon touching down.
H Bistro is directly adjacent to Hansar’s indoor pool, whicb faces the ocean and Koh Samui’s Bophut Beach. The post-monsoon winds were crazy, we chose to sit indoors instead.
Spinach Ravioli with Pork:
Calamari Rings and Crabmeat Patty:
Smoked Salmon Tartine, my favourite!:
Bophut Beach is lined with restaurants after restaurants targeted at tourists, offering a major selection of fusion and seafood-centred cuisines. Loved the ambience at H Bistro! Plus it’s so near to the sea, we took a good long stroll after our meal before we set off to pick up our friends. Its lunch a la carte differs from its dinner menu, which boasts more main courses than its usual lunch set! 5 days seriously isn’t enough to try everything on Ko Samui!!
The entire week spent in Koh Samui, we basically feasted all day long on authentic Thai food and fresh-from-the-ocean seafood. The high tides plus bad weather made it nearly impossible for water-sports, so we cancelled our initial plans to take the open-sea scuba-diving license exams. On our first morning we drove to ShaSa Resort for the best mango sticky rice on the island. The resort’s incredibly enticing infinity pool is the first sight that greets all diners and guests, followed by a crazy bird’s eye view of the ocean and beach. The restaurant serves a fusion of Thai, Siamese and Western cuisines but they are best known for Kaw Neaw Ma Muang (mango stickies). I particularly enjoyed the island mojito and the incredibly warmth service from the ever-smiley hosts.
The thing I love most about resorts on islands is that every single square feet is photo-worthy. If you’re tired of swimming in sodium-laden ocean water, the pool’s great at ShaSa! With an insane view to boost 🙂 It’s no secret, I LOVE THAILAND!!
Upon leaping off the speedboat, we dived approximately 15m underwater off the shores of Koh Samet. Watch our dear friend Ice (also the videographer) prod and poke at our video superstar. In actual fact, this scaly friend is our scuba-diving instructor’s personal trained pet – it does tricks upon being rewarded in food and kind.
Headed for Thailand’s Koh Samui with my favourite travel pals in exactly 3 days’!! ❤
So stoked about scuba-diving, and living the island life in my friends’ resort. Also can’t wait to start partying at the local hotspots on Chaweng Beach.
On our last trip to Koh Samet, another offshore party island in the Gulf of Thailand, we spent our afternoons snorkelling, swimming, speed-boating, tanning, scuba-diving, Thai-massaging, getting our asses bruised from bumpy rides on the island lorry and eating the freshest seafood the island has to offer.
Though we won’t be in time for Koh Samui’s famous full-moon parties, my local Thai friends insist that the island’s year round nightlife is insane. I’ll believe when I see it!
The minute our home-bound aircraft took off, I missed Bangkok already.
Even with my infected tummy hurting so badly from seafood poisoning,
the land of a thousand smiles can’t shake me off.
Thailand, I will be back!!