Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Bangkok Bits and Pieces

I felt like I hardly know Bangkok anymore after a hiatus of more than 6 years since our last visit. The unbearable city traffic and inefficient airport immigration has been the major turn-off for me for coming back more often, but with a few "new" restaurants now gaining worldwide fame we thought we should pop by for a quick long weekend to check some of them out. Gaggan is obviously top of our list, being named Asia's Best 3 years in a row and clock is clicking for its eventual closure in 3 years' time, but there are a few others we would like to try too.


We are staying at St Regis Bangkok this time partly because its proximity to Gaggan (told ya our itinerary worked around our dinner there!) I figured given if traffic was really bad for worst case we could still walk over. The location of the hotel was brilliant - right next to a Skytrain station accessible directly from the hotel through the footbridge, and within 10 minutes of walking distance is the row of shopping malls including Central World and Siam Paragon on the busiest street in Bangkok. Other than hopping to eat at a few places, we ended up staying indoors at the shopping malls most of the time. Service was on par with what I expected from Starwood/St Regis, with my only complaint being the stringent policy of not extending any SPG privilege to people booking through travel agent, which is what we did this time. All we got for our long-time loyalty to the program was a plate of fruits and a hand-written card in our room. Meh.


Nonetheless our (non-upgraded) room was spacious with a decent view of the city with a glimpse of the sports club on the side on the high floor. The signature St Regis butler service was great - on few occasions we asked for coffee or tea in our room and they were delivered promptly. Breakfast at Viu, their lobby café was decent. Not the most sumptuous buffet spread I have seen in Bangkok or elsewhere, nor as luxurious as the one offered in their Bali property, but it's adequate with a long menu of breakfast dishes made on order, providing the extra personal touch. We were happy with the accommodation choice.

St Regis Bangkok: www.stregisbangkok.com


We ran into the street food stalls outside CentralWorld by chance - thanks to the Bangkok traffic it's already late when we were able to drop off our luggage at the hotel after landing, so we decided to walk over to CentralWorld just to find something to eat in the food hall or something. That's when we saw this amazing blocks right outside the shopping center filled with street food stalls. It's set up just like typical hawker center with communal tables around and each stall carry their own specialty dishes or drink. We found a table in the shade and began exploring. The grilled freshwater snakehead fish looked amazing done over open-fire grill with a salt crust outside and lemongrass stuffed inside. The meat was soft and flaky, and tasty with the sweet and sour dipping sauce served on the side. It was of amazing value - for less than HK$50 (or US$6) it's good for 2-4 persons to share. Next to our tables were the stalls making pad thai and boat noodles - both cooked to order and dirt cheap. As far as street food is concerned, it's comfortable and clean. Still no air-conditioning which was a bit of a negative, but then with the shopping mall right next to it, we could hop in and out for some much needed cool air in between dishes.

CentralWorld: www.centralworld.co.th/index.php

A visit to the spa is the thing we always do whilst in Bangkok. We love the skincare products by Thann, a Thailand-based brand, so we went to check out their Thann Sanctuary Spa at Gaysorn Plaza, one of the closest shopping centers to our hotel. It's on the higher floor right beside their boutique shop. Only a handful treatment rooms were available (perhaps 5-6 - so advanced reservation was required) but the room was of decent size and well equipped, including the couple room that they booked us into, with the whole set of Thann products available at our disposal. We went for the body scrubs and aromatherapy massage for a combined two-hour treatment ended with some snacks and herbal tea. We felt pampered both by the ambiance and excellent service, and I highly recommend this place.

Thann Sanctuary Spa: www.thannsanctuaryspa.info

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