We've had fleeting visits to Thailand in recent years, but never really given it a good bash since the 1990s. So our original plan for this trip was to travel 1990's style with no modern gadgetry, only a brick sized copy of the Lonely Planet, our trusty Olympus muji film camera, a cd Walkman with a wallet of burnt discs, maybe even a wad of American Express travellers cheques stashed in our underpants. It sounded like a hoot until we actually thought about it longer than a minute. We'd cash in nostalgia for GPS any day.
We stay in the Silom Road area just for something different. We arrive around 10pm and ask hostel staff for directions to a night market. We are sent in the direction of Soi 20. We had visions of bright crowded jostling market with lots of stuff cooked on sticks. What we find is a couple of tables of boozy farangs in a dark quiet street. Poo.
We sulk a while then spy a closed wet market nearby - hmmm. Where there is a wet market there is food stalls - this place might be worth a look in the morning...
...we return to Silom Soi 20 for breakfast and we're cockahoop. The street is packed.
We start off with a coffee in this little shop that is three micro-businesses in one: out front is a Thai style drink stand next to little snack stand. Inside the shop is an espresso bar. Orders are sent in three directions and the bill comes back as one. Inside it's like Harold's coffee shop from Neighbours - well dressed and well-to-do folks sit around inhaling caffeine and gossip.
We order a Thai style ice coffee from the super groovy lady in her 1960's style yellow jumpsuit. The Thai coffee is crazy crazy sweet so we wash it down with an espresso shot from the guy inside and his seriously well maintained and loved espresso machine. Espresso machine guy is exceptionally polite. He wais us which doesn't usually happen over a cup of coffee.
There's a third wheel in this business, a lovely dumpling of an auntie making toast and ham'n'cheese croissants. We opt for condensed milk toast, because we're classy. The toast is thick, white and sweet, much like Shawn. Super toast lady puts the bread in a little toaster oven, pulls it out while it's still white then slathers it with butter, then grills it a little more, butter'n'all, before giving it a mild drowning in condensed milk. Which is Shawn's preferred way of dying. Toast is a popular street snack at the moment.
The pork is rich moist and tender, served with a a googie and preserved veggies on rice. That sucker must have been boiling away for hours, it's so very fall-aparty. We enjoyed it more than the $90 per kilo hipster brisket bbq we had at home just before leaving. And this one comes with real cutlery.
We get some crispy skinned pork as well, now this is what we call breakfast.
We head back for another crack at the morning market in Silom Soi 20. It's cooking with gas. Random market photos follow...
This chicken-rice stall has a crowd, and somewhere to sit. Sold.
It's very much like a Hainanese chicken rice you'd see in Singapore or Malaysia, tender, clean and moist.
Market stall pussycat hard at work.
This soup lady's stall was jam packed with punters and we had to come back a couple of times before we could nab a table. Little did we know there were seats inside as well...
...and inside was hairdressing salon / restaurant. Nothing like slamming down a soup while your perm sets.
The soup is so simple yet so perfect - clean and peppery. Oh how we love our noodle soups when we're on the road. These Thai soups are a blank canvas for you to flavour with the supplied condiments. We aim to replicate curler ladies fixings: laden with chili, blackened with fish sauce and near caramelised with three soup spoons of white sugar. We never get around to it.
Best restaurant decor ever.
On our three week Thailand trip we never got to try a takeaway lunch of pork and egg on rice, and they were absolutely everywhere, shame on us.
A little up Silom Road from Soi 20 we find these super tops folks making sock coffee.
We get sock coffee on ice, amazingly with no milk AND no sugar. But plenty of coffee jitters. Alison raids the 7 Eleven for train snacks for our short trip to Ayathaya. The ham and cheese pancake sandwich was disturbingly good.
We get the train at good old Hua Lamphong station, where you can also get a short back'n'sides on the train platform.
On the way out of town we see masses of freeway construction. Some of the construction sites had little makeshift shops and restos. If only we could have leapt from the train.