John Chew (poslfit) wrote,
John Chew

Bangkok, part two

Tue 15 Jun 2010 23:35:25 EDT

I have no idea why I never ate breakfast at the Novotel Siam Square the last time I stayed there, and will regret the lost opportunity for the rest of my life. It took me a while to fall asleep last night, I think it must have been 03:00 when I eventually drifted off for the last time, watching reruns of Olympic table tennis, so I wasn't surprised that I slept in until 09:00. I got up, turned on NHK World, checked my email and eventually headed downstairs a little before 10:00.

The buffet at The Square on the second floor of the Novotel is comprehensive and diverse. There's everything you would find at a good hotel breakfast buffet in North America: dozens of kinds of pastries, bread, jams, teas, coffees, fruit juices, bacon, sausage, ham, eggs and omelets cooked to order. Then there are halal, Indian, Chinese (including dim sum), Japanese and Thai sections. I made a beeline for the last two.

I started off gently, with miso soup presented in Thai build-it-yourself style, adding tofu and green onions. It was competently made, with the standard bonito broth, and not bad for something that had been sitting on a buffet for a few hours.

I moved on to the congee, again presented with all the ingredients on the side. I wasn't sure what most of them were, so I tried a little of each. I liked the green onions, pickled vegetables (I think some sort of allium, some sort of zingiber, possibly galanga), the pork rind, and the pickled fish (though I should have only used half as much).

I went back for some vegetable fried rice, unidentified sweet crunchy thing, two types of dim sum dumplings, stir-fried vegetables (mostly leafy brassica) and a promising looking dish labelled simply "pork". Everything tasted fine until I got to the pork. which looked stir-fried with Thai basil and three types of chilis. Tears came to my eyes instantly, so I ran back to the buffet for some white rice. Once I put out the fire in my mouth, I found I was still weeping, no longer from the heat but because the food was so good. As I ate two more bowls of rice with the Thai basil pork, I felt the memories of all the bad food I've eaten since my last trip to Bangkok slip away like the memory of a nightmare fading in the arms of a loved one. I could feel the experience of the food spread from my mouth up into my sinuses and down my throat, into my stomach and out across my body and throughout my pores. I'm happy.

So the reason I had trouble falling asleep last night was not just eleven hours of jet lag. I had managed to stay awake for most of the day yesterday, taking only one brief nap in Amnuay's office in late afternoon while working there setting up for the tournament, and I usually like to take an afternoon catnap even when working at home. No, it was the two-hour Thai massage we went for at 10:00 P.M. last night. If the spa didn't close at midnight, I could easily have slept through the night then. Amnuay was laughing at how much of the massage I slept through; I thought it was pretty funny myself how much of the time he spent on his cellphone. (He's even busier than usual, trying to put together this event in just a few weeks, after the uncertainty of the civil unrest last month.)

I would be remiss not to mention yesterday's meals. I had lunch at a cafe called Chimney, owned by Amnuay's brother. I had tom kha gai, green shrimp curry fried rice and two cha yen (thai iced tea), all excellent. Dinner was at a shabu shabu restaurant, very good, while everyone watched the exciting New Zealand vs. Slovakia World Cup match that ended with NZL scoring the tieing goal in injury time.

Plans for today are to continue to get set up for the event, which begins tomorrow. I'll head out for a walk around the neighbourhood around lunchtime, to get some exercise and sun, and meet up with the event staff in the late afternoon.
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