Hmmm what shall I eat today?
Thanks for sharing this with me Netball!
Hmmm what shall I eat today?
Thanks for sharing this with me Netball!
Tabasco on oysters, caviar on pancakes, lamb chops and prawns seared on the grill, these are a few of my favorite things! #BRUNCH!
If you’re looking for a sparkling wine flowing brunch in Bangkok, check out the “Sparkling Sunday Brunch” at the Grand Millennium hotel on Asok and Sukhumvit. The selection was not huge, but what they had was really good. Check out their raw bar, fresh grilled meats, and of course the desert room. I loved the chocolate fountain, which had banana cake as an option to dip in it! Yum!!
My only qualm, if you come as a group of four people everyone gets half off (making it 800 BHT/pp+ vat and service), but if a fifth person comes that person pays full price (1600 BHT) or you have to bring 8 people; Grand Millennium you’re missing out on money.
Overall, brunch was wonderful! Grab three or seven (lol) good friends and make it a sparkling day!
1. Decide on how long you are going to be there.
My husband and I decided to go to India for 2 weeks then head to Nepal for an additional week. Our friend Matt, was in India for almost a full month. It really depends on what your life schedule is like. If you only have one week available, limit the number of places you will go to so you can take in your experience there. If you go for two weeks that starts to open up your options. For me 3 weeks or a month would have been better.
2. Decide on your dates – when you are going to go and when you will return.
We went in April based on our vacation schedule. If you have a more open time-table find out when different holidays are celebrated, that way you will have an amazing authentic cultural experience (it’s better than going to see a show for tourist). Give your self at least a month to plan if you plan on going to visit different cities (thanks for that info Archana!).
3. Which region do you want to go to?
North for the Himalayas, South for the beaches and ancient ruins, East and West for cities, architecture, and culture.
We decided to do the classic “Golden Triangle” (Delhi, Agra, Jaipur) route so we could visit the Taj Mahal and the other great monuments there; Udaipur, because of the Mewar festival scheduled to take place while we were there; Khajuraho, to explore the ancient Kama Sutra temples; and Varanasi, to visit one of the longest inhabited cities on earth! If you have time break up your trip by visiting bustling cities and more quiet places, that way you won’t feel as overwhelmed. Our trip was pretty much a full-out marathon, with a day trip to Sarnath where Buddha gave his first lesson after becoming enlightened. Sarnath is close to Varanasi and a nice escape from the densely populated city.
4. How are you going to travel around?
Of course you can travel by car, train, bus, and/or plane. However, we learned that the best way to travel in India is by train. Honestly you have not been to India without riding on their regional rail systems. The most informative website I have found about train travel anywhere in the world and India in particular is a blog called “The Man in Seat 61” http://www.seat61.com/India.htm . Here are a few “off the top tips” about train travel:
a. Book your train tickets in ADVANCE preferably a month or so.
b. You MUST have a mobile phone number in India in order to book in advance. So start being nice to your Indian friends so you can use their siblings or cousin’s phone number. (Without a phone number you will have to email a copy of your passport and wait for someone to reply and from what I have read in other blogs you will have to send it several times before you get a response). If you’re as lucky as we were that brother will become your family to.
c. There are several different classes on the train KNOW YOUR COMFORT LEVEL. The highest level is AC1 then goes descends as follows: AC1 , AC2, AC3, AC Executive Chair (I never saw an option for this), AC Chair, Sleeper, and Unreserved 2nd Class. I rode in AC1 for the most part, but I was very comfortable in AC2, fairly comfortable in AC3, and perfectly fine for a 4 hour ride in AC Chair. I saw the sleeper class and personally I’m just not ready for that experience (some people were sleeping on the floor) and the seats in unreserved cost less than a $1 my sister rode in that once and saw a few monkeys popping on and off the train. AC1 is the most expensive but depending on the trip we’re only talking about a $30+/- ticket. Seat 61 has more details on the details on the differences of each class.
e. You will want to bring some food, food is often sold on the train but there isn’t a selection and its sold through a restaurant that comes on the train at certain stations. The train stations do have mini food stands for chips and other snacks.
f. It is super cheap to cancel your ticket if you do so within 24 hours before your train time… so book all the options you want.
e. If you do wait until the last-minute and there are only wait list options available don’t be afraid, book the wait listed ticket. I booked 3 pairs of wait listed tickets and got all of my seats, but if you book well in advance you can spare yourself the anxiety.
f. The train station will be busy, but don’t worry all of the signs are in English, there are even signs with how the train cars will be lined up so you will know where to stand on the track. There are also quite a few places where you can get information.
e. GO TO Seat 61 India and READ http://www.seat61.com/India.htm
5. Where are you going to lodge?
I personally enjoy booking a homestay rather than a hotel for trips like India. What kind of cultural experience are you going to have at a hotel? Why?
a. For the most part it’s like visiting your cousin, except you don’t have to wash the dishes.
b. You get a local perspective and that often means advice on local prices. (A hotel concierge and the people in line behind you are going to start looking at you like you’re crazy if you try to talk to them for more than 20 minutes).
c. You usually have the option of amazing home cooked food.
d. The host is generally concerned about your well-being because you are a guest in their home.
e. You get the chance to meet really great people and exchange experiences, info, culture, etc…
f. They’ll take you to where the locals go. For instance the Lall family (https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/244446 ), that we stayed with in Delhi took me to get henna on my hands on a street corner near their house instead of going to a tourist spot. The results: I paid a lot less than other tourist and my henna was AWESOME!!
I typically use www.airbnb.com to book my homestays (there are a few hotels that sneak in, but I’ve booked hotels on there too). Tripadivsor.com also will list a few homestays in its “Specialty Lodging” or “B&B/Inns” categories. Also, per the excellent advice of my new beya (big brother) Arvind, when staying in Varanasi find a NICE place to stay. Varanasi will set all of your senses on fire so it’s great to have a place that you can have a little bit of peace.
6. You’re a female and have heard about all of these crazy rape cases, what should you do?
a. Be aware of your surroundings
b. When in Rome dress like the Romans. Seriously, get over the whole “it’s not what I’m wearing, it’s men that are the problem” attitude. While this is very true, that attitude is not going to help you be in your safest position. I actually found it very easy and inexpensive to buy clothes while in India. Oooh another subcategory.
c. Use your typical unknown big city guidelines: travel in pairs or a group, don’t go in dark alleys, etc… Just be smart. Go to www.couchsurfers.org to make some local traveling friends if you are traveling alone.
d. I honestly had no issues (I was traveling with my husband). But I do have friends that have had no problems at all, some that witnessed potential issues, and some that have been harassed.
e. Go to India!
7. Read a few blogs like http://alisonanddon.wordpress.com/, look at tripadvisor, read lonely planet. Know your interest and find them.
8. Get mentally prepared to have your senses rocked! Depending on where you are coming from of course.
I have heard India described as an assault on all of your senses. I’d like to call it a celebration of them. Actually it’s a little bit … umm oops… a lot of both. You will see beautiful vibrant colors on beautiful people and things, and you will see people in some of the most impoverished situations, worst than you have ever seen, and you will see cows eating trash; you will hear melodic chanting and beautiful music, and you are definitely going to hear horns honking, pots clanking, and people screaming; you will smell roti, curry, dal, and incense, and you will smell cow manure and every once in a while.. curry pouring out of someones pores (but honestly a LOT less than I expected, this only happened 3 times); you will feel Baranasi silk, chiffon, and you will feel someone’s gut in your back because standing in line apparently means a continuous no “personal space” line; you will taste a real masala chai (forget that junk you’ve been drinking at Starbucks), Southern Indian Food, Karim’s ( you must go there and eat tandoori chicken and kebabs http://www.karimhoteldelhi.com/restaurants.html) and hopefully you will not try some street food that will make you sick; and in the mist of city chaos you will suddenly happen upon an oasis completely peaceful and serene!
Just understand, you will not like everything but you will love everything India!
9. You are different!
Especially if you’re walking around with an afro. The great thing about India is that Indians speak English and are pretty outspoken people. So instead of the typical foreigner stares that you get in other countries, in India people will come up to you and say “Hi!”, and ask to take a picture with you, they’ll want to exchange facebook info, they’ll want to know where you are from, and yes my fellow afro wearers they will want to touch your hair (so pull it up in a poof if you don’t want it touched, but honestly it’s just curiosity let someone touch that gorgeous fro. Exception: if you are in a crowd because once one person does watch out others will want to too).
10. GO to INDIA! Buy your visa, get on the plane, then get henna on your palms, drink the chai, take the train, eat the food, meet the people, do some yoga, get an Ayurveda massage, and just GO!! There is a city in India waiting for you.
If you have any other questions please feel free to leave it in the comment section below.
Another post on India will be coming soon…
This Pepsi advertisement with Beyonce has sparked up some conversation among some of my black friends here in Thailand and apparently other people have criticized it as well as mentioned in an article from Bangkok Post (where I got the photo from). The advertisement of the “whitened” Beyonce are all over Bangkok Sky Train stations.
I believe it’s an issue here because having “pink white skin” (one of my Thai friends told me this term) is generally the preferred skin to have in Thailand. It’s rooted on the basis that darker skinned Thais work outside where as white skinned Thais work or don’t work inside. This is still such an important part of their society that you will see people working outside on a 95 degree day with a turtle neck, hat, and face mask; this is not as much to protect themselves from sun damage but more so to not become “dam” or dark. I have heard co-workers mention being upset about getting a tan on the beach and happy about it clearing up. Where as in the US people show off their tans as a badge of hey I just went on vacation.
So as a person of African decent here in Thailand you are constantly bombarded with “whitening” advertisements: spas for skin whitening, lotion with whitening, deodorant with whitening, face wash with whitening, nipple whitening cream, even anal whitening cream. So, as you can imagine some Black women (including me) in Thailand can be particularly aware of these things when you have to search for lotion without whitening products in it, because hey there is nothing wrong with my brown skin.
So my question are, is this advertisement in the USA and has it sparked the same conversation? What’s your opinion?
Side note.. Tanned and brown skin Thai people you are beautiful.
1. Water Library
On Thursday night Matthew took me out on a great date for my official birthday dinner. First, we went to “Water Library” for cocktails, which is an amazing bar and restaurant. The cocktail bar is all black and it reminds me of a modernly designed home library with classic chairs. They do not have any books on their shelves but they have a library of customized liquors and biters, which they have designed. A few to note were Johnny Walker Black infused with chilies, Vodka and M&Ms, and Louis XIII Truffle. I had their amazing Sexy Lychee, which includes lychee of course, chilli infused vodka, their aphrodisiac bitters and a few other things served in a floating martini glass on top of ice. The second drink was the Bangkok Cocktail, which had a few different things in it including ginger, lemon, lychee, and a drop of their homemade bitters served in a classic cut crystal wine glass. Their service was amazing; everyone was really attentive and explained each drink to you as it was served. Both were amazing, but the Sexy Lychee was my favorite. The mixologist there are definitely on top of their game, as you can taste all of the flavors in the drinks and it doesn’t taste like a bunch of muddled syrup and alcohol. I thought I had good cocktails before but these were by far the best ever. So if you’re in Bangkok check out Water Library on Soi 12 of Thonglor for a nice grown up drink. I’ve got to head back there for dinner.
2. Soul Food
After that we headed to “Soul Food” (no they do not have Southern soul food but they do have great ribs), which is on Thonglor. They have great food also, we had two appetizers of tasty lamb and chicken samosas and a great pork salad. For our mains I had a delicious creamy crab soup and Matthew got their fall off the bone sweet ribs. Thonglor is definitely a treat and similarly to American Soul Food it is filling and food for the soul.
3. Hibesha Ethiopian Restaurant
I met a group of friends at Hibesha on Soi 3 (Nana) on Friday night for some amazing Ethiopian food. We ordered their vegetarian platter, a few lamb dishes, and a beef dish. The food is served Ethiopian family style and you eat the food with injera bread rather than utensils. This made eating more like a war because the food was so delicious and everyone wanted some of everything. We went with a group of about 15 people but this might be a better option for a more intimate group (a few people decided not to join in the finger licking madness). (Thank you for the photos Aaron Owlex)
4. WXYZ Lounge at aloft Hotel
After going to dinner we headed around the corner to Soi 11 off of Suchmuvit to one of my favorite watering holes WXYZ, that has a 500THB ($16) “Cocktail Marathon”. Good drinks, good times, good people, and straight tomfoolery. (Thank you for the photos Aaron Owlex)
5. Siam Niramit
On Saturday, my husband had another surprise for me! We went to see a spectacular show at Siam Niramit. This was a remarkable experience. When you arrive you get to tour a traditional “Thai Village” that they have set up; which includes houses, a river, a massage house and more. The show is done on the highest stage in the world and one of the longest panoramic stages in the world. The show depicts Thai life in various cities in the past; hell, in-between earth in heaven, and heaven (different mythical creatures are depicted in each); and Thai holidays. Siam Niramit had amazing colors, dances, and special effects including: a river that went across the whole stage, rain, flying people, a vertical view of the ocean with a person diving, live animals, and audience participation. Lets just say it was an amazing show! We got seats right behind their “Gold VIP Seats” and they were perfect.)