On Sunday, in Bangkok’s upscale Siam Kempinski Hotel, I had the privilege of experiencing the first ever example of molecular gastronomy in Thailand. In 2009 the excitement over Heston Blu’s bangs n’ whistles had started to fade in the West, and it was late that year that Henrik Yde Andersen introduced molecular gastronomy to Thailand - bringing the artistry, theatrical deconstruction, and boundary pushing of texture, temperature, and form to Bangkok with Sra Bua. Sra Bua is the baby sister of restaurant Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen, which was founded by Danish-born Yde-Andersen after a 'life-changing' visit to Thailand, and is currently the only restaurant representing Thai cuisine in the Michelin-star guide (as the Michelin guide does not operate in Thailand). As it to be expected, we were presented with avant-garde interpretations of classical Thai dishes - tom yam, pad thai, red curry. A lot of if goes back to the source, inspired by street food favourites like the Chiang Mai sausages deconstructed to reveal that familiar ‘street food smell’ of engine smoke that reveals itself when presented only to dissipate immediately, much like the coming and going of motorcycles and tuk tuks by a busy night market. Sra Bua was my first experience with Thai molecular gastronomy and I found it all terribly interesting and rather magical - I daresay you might, too, so take my hand and steady on, the show is starting...
February is my month of travel. By the end of it, the wheels of my adorably retro mint cabin bag will have rolled across airports in Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, Hanoi, two cities in Borneo, and London. Last weekend I travelled across nine time zones in 24 hours alone - reaching Kuala Lumpur from London on Friday, before buzzing off to Bangkok the following morning. I know it all looks very shiny and jet set - maybe she's born with it, maybe it's an Instagram filter - but I assure you that there is nothing distinctly glamourous about the crippling jet lag that ensues the constant crossing of borders. Monday and Tuesday were public holidays in Malaysia so my family and I nipped over to Bangkok for a long weekend.
Our third and last day was a much more relaxed, but not thoroughly unproductive affair. After spending two consecutive days in Bangkok alternating between work and shopping, Michiekins & I rewarded our selves by...going back to all the shops to see if we had missed anything. Siam Centre and Siam Paragon had never seen such determination matched by anything but...well, Thailand's valiant (and successful) efforts to resist four centuries of European colonialism. Yay!
But first, we took Luna out for a swim.
kidnapped liberated Luna from the Topshop Topman SS'13 Pool Party the week before, determined to show this shy inflatable creature a world beyond her ken. Satisfied that she'd seen enough of Bangkok for now, Michiekins & I left her behind at Hotel Muse and retraced our steps across the city.
We hit up what I call 'The Bermuda Triangle of Bangkok' ie. the vicinity of Siam Paragon, Siam Centre, and Siam Square. So named because all three are within walking distance---and I mean 'walking distance' by Malaysian standards ie. right next door'---and once you enter there's no hope of leaving without spending all your baht.
Strictly window-shopping of course; Siam Paragon's high-end offerings ie. Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Chanel & all the french labels are easily procured back in London and for even cheaper in nearby Paris. But it's nice to compare the window displays in Bangkok with those in Kuala Lumpur and London. It's one of my favourite things to do. I love set design, and as an illustrator seeing visuals in person is such a treat...like going to a candy shop. Besides with all the effort that is poured into the window displays, someone has to stop, take it all in, and show some love, oui?
We stopped by After You dessert cafe, that favourite of Thai socialites, tai-tais, and fervent Instagrammers.
I really wanted to try every single one of After You's famous Shibuya Toasts---the matcha one was especially enticing---but having been warned that the fat, fluffy stacks of chocolate and butter filled toasts were deceptively filling I settled for a little I Love You toast.
Just a giant stack of toast stuffed with peanut butter, chocolate sauce, honey, topped with chocolate coins, chocolate sticks, ice-cream, and chocolate buttons...no big deal. Casual breakfast fare.
I also bought the cutest pastel coloured giant marshmallows that I didn't get to take a photo of because I ate them in the taxi in a fit of hunger-induced lunacy.
My sweet tooth not entirely satiated, we nipped over to the Mandarin Oriental Shop...
...and picked up some macarons. My favourite were the mint, the mojitos, and the rose.
We crossed the street over to Siam Centre.
I was told that the shop displays, decor, & general 'arty vibe' of Siam Centre made Publika pale by comparison but I thought, How impressed can I be, when London has Dover Street Market, Selfridges, Harrods...
Well consider me impressed.
Dubbed 'The Ideapolis', Siam Centre is a shopping mall bursting with art exhibitions (Andy Warhol, Yohji Yamamoto), eccentric & elaborate displays, installations by artists & celebrities, fashion events...
...even a 'Not Swimming Pool'.
Siam Centre had that energetic, pop-culture, creative vibe, and plenty of cool street wear with crazy graphics & print that I'd love to wear if only I was still 15.
There were also more than a few shops with a gothic feel; dinosaur bones, black skulls, taxidermy etc. that I love, whether or not it remains en trend. Dark hearts are forever ♥
There was a Magnum cafe that I'm sad we didn't have the time for...
...but I already got to customize my own Magnum ice-cream at Jovian Mandagie's fashion show the week before. So I can't complain, really...
My favourite thing about Siam Centre? That their selection of Jeffrey Campbell shoes are better than London's, almost enough to rival America's, and cheaper too! There's a whole shoe shop that sells last season JCs at 30-50% off. All of this is not relevant if you're a trend slave that only buys whatever is 'hot' or 'in' right now, but, a word of advice? Whatever 'in thing' you've bought just for the sake of being 'relevant' right now will be 'out' in a month, thus eventually making everything you own the one thing you fear---redundant. So...don't shop for the sake of being on trend, just buy whatever pleases you, OK...?
...I also considered these, because I needed a pair of sneakers for Future Music Festival Asia the following week. Realised I'd cause myself (or some fellow unfortunate enough to step on my foot) some serious injury so I settled for these---
...but in green.
Flats I wish I bought but didn't.
As the sun set, we made our way back to the hotel, and headed to the airport back to Kuala Lumpur.
A much-needed city break, in a city of frenetic pace but kind smiles and gentle souls!
I ♥ Siam and I ♥ Bangkok. See you soon!
March 22, 2013
Our third and last day was a much more relaxed, but not thoroughly unproductive affair. After spending two consecutive days in Bangkok alt...