[THAILAND] o16. DAYTRIP TO AYUTTHAYA

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.

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A stream leading to Chao Phraya, Thailand
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Enjoying this incredibly scenic view while dining on the country’s finest seafood

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.

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A mouth-wateringly good salad with Thai version of the Chinese salted eggs, tossed with shrimps and chunks of chilli
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Steamboat / various fried fishcakes and pork dishes
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Pork in spicy gravy with salted eggs. Thai dishes are just so big on gravy and sauces it’s impossible to go without.

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.

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Looks ugly here, but this crispy salted fish blew our minds.
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Highlight of the meal: hugeass river shrimps!

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)

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Did I make you wanna lick the screen?

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.

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Our Thai friend Ake going about with his prayers by sticking gold flecks on small Buddha statues

 

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Luang Pho Tho @ 19m 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.

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Blessings from Luang Pho Tho
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Passing the golden cloth, over our heads

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A room filled with religious statuettes
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Devotees

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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

Wat Phanan Choeng

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o15. VINTAGE ROD FAI

Talad Rod Fai, Bangkok, is an open-air bazaar peddling an insane array of vintage collectables, quirky kitsch and memorabilia from yesteryear. Since its move in 2013 due to an expansion of the BTS Skytrain line, its reappearance at the new site accommodated a bigger, more international crowd. I loved the old Rod Fai next to the train tracks, where shop-owners displayed their wares on floors or did business right out of 1950s Cadillacs. The new locale is posh, less rugged than before, while retaining signature vintage elements.

Shopping was way down on my list of priorities as opposed to capturing these on camera.

“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.”
― Josh Lanyon

All things biker chic
All things biker chic
Vintage television
Vintage television
Lorries from another era
Lorries from another era
From before our parents were born
From before our parents were born
Vintage Chinese
Vintage Chinese

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For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
So old your nose will blow
So old your nose will blow
Coca cola signs
Coca cola signs
This still exist?!
This still exist?!
Route 66, US
Route 66, US
Old is gold
Old is gold
Rod Fai Gems
Rod Fai Gems
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
Leaving space
Leaving space
Pinball or something
Pinball or something
Vintage bikes...vespa?
Vintage bikes…vespa?
Mannequin.
Mannequin.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

Lori’s Diner, San Francisco

Breakfast at Lori’s Diner on Mason Street, a ’50s-style rock’n’roll American bistro. For the all-American oldies experience, this is the place to be! Love their classic red booths, checkered tiles and memorabilia of Coca-Cola, Elvis Presley and various cars of the era. 20140223-040311.jpg

All of Lori’s Diners are open 24 hours daily; the Lori’s on Powell Street used to house pre-war airplanes, a Chevy Bel Air, a Chrysler, a vintage Indian motorcycle and a pinball arcade. The place was packed and the 9 of us had to wait for seats.
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What the 3 of us shared so we could try everything: The Heart Breaker Sandwich (barbecued chicken breast with sautéed mushrooms on wheat bun), Strawberry Buttermilk Pancakes, and the classic Eggs Benedict.

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Famished from lack of sleep and jet lag, I was so excited for breakfast that I’d even googled Lori’s menu and decided on what to eat way before we met to have a meal. The food, and the atmosphere, met my expectations of an American breakfast joint, and I was pretty satisfied!

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I’m always saying ‘I need to come back again’ for good food at decent locations, but I have no real desire to return for another meal at Lori’s Diner. Not for the food, though the portion was huge it wasn’t that fantastic. Plus I hate bland and diluted coffee! This is one of those interesting places to have a meal at whereby once is enough (for me).

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Lori’s Diner
336 Mason St
San Francisco, CA, United States
+1 415-392-8646

Café Sommersko, Copenhagen

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Highly recommended by the counter staff at Urban Outfitters, we decided to have lunch at Café Sommersko, just round the corner off the main street of Strøget. The lunch crowd had more or less dispersed by 3pm, which was the time our stomachs were growling as we trooped onto the café’s upper deck. Sommersko’s menu consists of simple French-Danish fusion – the basic fare plus some fancy coffees with liquers that might interest you if you’re into that!

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I had a Caesar Salad and afternoon coffees. Jasmine had the goat’s cheese salad which was all sour, sweet and savoury at the same time! The food was alright if you disregard the poor service and slow delivery, plus the fact that its a tad pricey. Its a great chillout place if you’re just having a drink with company, otherwise the food was kind of disappointing. As a plus point, though, the view of the blizzard from its windows were really pretty!

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I’m just really glad for the good company of my amazing colleagues to Copenhagen, and they made the meal very much enjoyable. The next time, I’ll remember to just have a coffee with Bailey’s!

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Café Sommersko
Kronprinsensgade 6, 1114 København, Denmark
+45 33 14 81 89

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

ReStore – Vintage Cafè SG

Don’t be fooled by this cafe’s ‘furniture warehouse’ exterior! This well-hidden jem of an indie cafè in Singapore’s Tanjong Pagar Road is vintage-themed and oozing with old-school charm. Its pre-loved cafeteria/kopitiam chairs are even for sale!

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We were glad to realise that all lattes, including its mocha, caramel and cinnamon specialties, come with a choice of iced, hot or with ice-cream. The sparingly good selection of waffles, cakes, sandwiches and ice cream were also satisfactory.

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We ordered a Caffe Cinnamon and a Caffe Caramel, both with ice-cream, and shared a dark chocolate tart. To our disappointment however, the ice-cream was melted when it came so it was all blended into the hot coffee (was surprised that the waiter who took our orders didn’t ask us to specify hot or cold lattes). The dark chocolate tart was also soft in the crust, as if it has been left outside for hours before being served.

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Thankfully the ambience was its saving grace, plus the bonus fact that it closes at a considerably late hour of 11pm (could be later though!). Definitely hope the food and coffee could be improved, because I really love its location and selection of books on its shelves…

Restore Living
124 Tanjong Pagar Rd, 088533
Tel: 222 3510

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Vintage Shopfronts

Shops like these you’ll never find them in Asia. Especially where I come from, space is so constrained that anything below 3-floors will be extinct in the next 5 years or so. Baffled by re-modelling works of architecture in the European cities where its aesthetic appeal lies in its vintage houses! Swarovski is sandwiched between a neo-classical shophouse and a modern, ever so significantly highlighting its contrast.
London Swarovski

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These Victorian shopfronts in West End seem to live and breathe with age-old wisdom. Walking along the streets of London, I come alive with the promise of lessons in the cultural vibrance of the British!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Old Bailey

London Central Criminal Court

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Chanced upon the Central Criminal Court, commonly known as Old Bailey, in West End London. In the book A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, it is the courthouse where Charles Darnay is put on trial for treason. In the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Joshamee Gibbs is tried in the Old Bailey where Jack Sparrow disguises himself as Justice Smith!

Old Bailey
EC4M 7EH

London Lovin’: City Grandeur

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Overeager to see everything on my first trip to London, I took to exploring West End on foot. My fingers were working the shutter overtime, attempting to capture everything. Which I soon realised was impossible!

Damn, the rush to see it all wasn’t worth it.

Why click fast and leave for another touristy scene, only to ogle at photographs in the privacy of hotel rooms? So I let the images roll around in my head a bit before snapping.

For the life of me I cannot name all the buildings and streets, but certainly I can tell you how I felt at the moment, soaking in the grandeur of the grand London city.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Oxford Circus

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Stepping out from London Underground is like entering a different realm, and it did feel that way to me, exiting Oxford Circus Station. Topshop, Selfridges, Marks & Spencer, John Lewis, HMV, Debenhams have their flagship stores on this street.

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Each year, Oxford Street is decorated with festive lights. Each Christmas, a celebrity turns on the lights in late-November and these remain lit until the twelfth night (Emma Watson did 2004, and last year it was Robbie Williams).

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This year, Jessie J flipped the switch, with James Arthur and Conor Maynard! Inspired by falling snowflakes (well it did feel all White Christmassy without the snow!), the lights feature three quarters of a million LED bulbs. That’s beautiful, but insane!

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: St Christopher’s Place

The plethora of alfresco dining choices had me drawn in. The colourful interior beyond its ‘landmark purple clock’ delivered its promise of an eclectic shopping mix, right up the alley where London’s best bars and restaurants laid in wait. St Christopher’s Place sits at the heart of the West End and can be found between Selfridges and Bond Street station. I’m still a big fan of Pret A Manger’s latte, salad and sandwiches.

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St Christopher's Place London

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St Christopher's Place London 5

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

London Lovin’: Marylebone Parish Church Gardens

Trekked to Marylebone High Street on foot from Oxford Circus Underground.
(Yes it was a loooong journey and walking is what I do when I hate staying in the hotel room with nothing to do)
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It’s a cool late-summer day with overcast skies but no sign of rain –
perfect for a lazy walk in a park!
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Every Saturday, Cabbages and Frocks Market takes over the grounds of Marylebone Parish Church. Brainchild of the organisers of the London Fashion Designer Sales, there’s a good mix of stalls selling everything from oils and balsamic vinegars to hand made jewellery and vintage designer wear.

St Marylebone Parish Church Grounds, Marylebone,
Marylebone High Street, London W1U 5BA

London Lovin’: Dr Martens

Checked out the Dr Martens’ Store at Neal Street, Covent Garden
They have an amazing array of vintage collection Dr Martens as well as the latest one-of-a-kinds (Dr Martens x Agyness Deyn) which aren’t even on sale anywhere else at the moment.
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Left happy with my 1460 Matte Black, after trying on tonnes of colours which looked awesome on the shelf but didn’t suit me when I put them on.
BLACK is still the best!
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And here we go telling ourselves please don’t let this become an obsession, because I really also love these other pairs, and UK is the best place to buy DMs!!
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This metallic purple 1460 looks really great on its own but frankly, too shiny to match my clothes. Maybe next time.
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Cassidy in purple and black are sooooo punk. LOVE THE BLACK.
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PINK DMs!! Okay BUT I’m too old and ‘cold’-looking for baby pink.
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This one is SO VINTAGE. Comes in canvas-material which is way more comfortable than PVC. Maybe next time too. Urgh DMs DMs!!
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Seriously, if I find Pascal in Black and Acid Pink at SOHO tomorrow, I’m totally getting another pair.
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Alright that’s all for my boot-ilicious spam.
LONDON LOVIN’!!

The Dr. Martens Store
17-19 Neal Street
Covent Garden
London WC2H 9PU

For the Love of Music

Inspired by LP Cover Lover, an amazing site containing the world’s greatest collection of record album covers from the golden age of LPs, I checked out Amoeba Music on my recent trip to San Francisco.
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Occupying a 24,000 square foot former bowling alley on the eccentric Haight-Ashbury district, Amoeba Music is the world’s largest independent record and vinyl music store. The sheer size is insane. I literally had a jaw-drop moment when I saw floor to ceiling shelves chocked full of CDs, cassettes and records.
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If my parents had still kept their vinyl from the ’70s I would have considered getting the players
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Despite the impossible size, the store is impressively well-organized.
Just look at their cassettes collection.
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And from these books you can check if your desired CDs are available.
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I went with a bunch of people who weren’t planning on returning empty-handed, so we spent an entire afternoon flipping through records and grooving to the tracks on free-listening stations.

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Now, onto the amazing LP Covers I’ve found!
Here you go, LP cover lovers.
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Despite getting lost in the store for hours, I’ve barely touched the tip of the iceberg. There are too much awesome stuff in here.
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Amoeba Music even stocks up on AudioBooks
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Amoeba Music’s selection of vintage gig posters and ’70s pinup printables was just as impressive as their music collection.
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Madonna’s 1987 gig at Madison Square Garden.
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THE ROLLING STONES
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THE BEATLES
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Even Elvis Presley
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We barely grazed the punk, rock and roll section and already the sun was setting.
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If you’re here on a collector’s mission, do plan a list of records you’re looking for!
For non-LP-collectors like me, you’ll never know what you’ll unearth amongst the mountains of vintage and contemporary music. Art, loads of hidden jems, crazy album covers (and apparently loads of dust, true to a vintage store). This place is truly holy ground for music fanatics.

1855 Haight St
(between Shrader St & Stanyan St)
San Francisco, CA 94117

A slice of Copenhagen

Officially am the mad Asian girl snapping away with her iPhone,
at architecture that citizens of Denmark would have seen all their lives.

Here’s a slice of Copenhagen:
the streets of Vester Farimagsgade 9
as seen through my eyes.

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Taking shelter underneath my umbrella in the drizzle proves to be a disadvantage,
for my hands were really unstable,
and I had zero sense of angle/perspectives.

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Mad love for vintage architecture!!
Classical to be exact, but I’ve not exactly learnt how to differentiate the two.  photo IMG_9760.jpg

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Walked quite a distance considering I have 3 hours to kill between waking up and lunch with the crew. photo IMG_9749.jpg

My favorite hangout in the neighbourhood!
If I could wake up to this everyday, it would be such a blessing.
Felt so at peace with the world just by standing on the jogging path
overlooking this river.
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Beauty in the mundane —
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The hotdog seller was giving me a strange look,
as if he found it incredulous that I was snapping a photo of his hotdog stand. photo IMG_9827.jpg

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All these within the hour and I’m still in time for lunch.
Well-worth the 12hours we took to arrive at Copenhagen!

xoxo
Jean

P.S Biggest bonus of my job: catching sunrise 35000 feet above the ground
This is such a bad shot but you can see the sliver of red that indicates the rising sun…
Upclose, it’s absolutely breathtaking.
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