Three Nights in Bangkok: reading, resting & curry

28th February 2020

Tuesday morning, alarm set for 5.00 am UK time (12.00 midday in Bangkok), at the Tube before 6.00 for the 90-minute, three-train ride to Heathrow Airport. From there, Thai Airways to Bangkok.

I got the early Tube (London underground trains) because the first line is so busy, and I had a suitcase and a shoulder bag. Luckily, all three trains came within one or two minutes, while most of the journey was quiet (apart from some idiots playing videos on their phones out loud). Hard to concentrate on my book (‘Notes From Underground’ by Dostoevsky). By the time of the flight, I’d read a third of it.

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Repacking at the airport, putting the coat in the case, then onto the self-service baggage tag print-out, which I’ve just about mastered by now.

Checked-in, security checked, re-belted and all gadgets back in the bag. A lot of time to kill. A lot of pointless, over-priced shops in which to wander, no intention of buying anything … except coffee.

Eventually time was killed or wasted or passed but ironically enough, not flew; we boarded … and just as the flight to London, this was very cold. Air-con turned up (down ?), no doubt to combat the Corona Virus, but it was like eleven hours in a flying refrigerator. The bathrooms were even colder. Before long, people were sniffing, blowing noses, sneezing. The precautions seemed to be making people ill.

The flight ? We got there, that’s all that counts. Generally, the worst thing about travelling is other passengers. There was a young chap (sturdy, young & healthy, but was stuck down by the sniffles) two seats from me who simply could NOT keep still, and naturally, at one point, the lady (term employed with irony) in front put her chair all the way back.

Next problem – we arrived very early, even ahead of schedule but I couldn’t check in to the hotel until 2.00 pm. More time to kill. I had an over-sized cappuccino at the airport and slowly meandered to the Citylink train. The airport, as the plane, freezing. The train, as the airport, freezing and the BRT (subway) … freezing. Still only 8.30 am. I took an iced Thai tea in a cafe near the hotel and read, still wearing my jumper (a jumper ? In Thailand ?), and the cafe … freezing.

I thought I’d leave my case at the hotel and walk around, head up to a shopping mall until check in time. However the hotel, when I arrived at 9.30 looking like I’d spent eleven hours in a flying refrigerator, found me a room, so a big ‘thank you’ to the staff of the Red Planet.

For those who know Bangkok, I’m staying on Surawong Road, nearest BRT is Chong Nonsi by Silom.

The hotel, by night:

I thought I’d feel better after some lunch, so I took prawn pa-nang curry. In the evening, near the hotel, I went to Jianng’s Healthy Fish Balls where, for 60 THB (£1.47 / $1.90):

Then a walk south on Silom to the Hindu temple, Wat Khaek:

Across the road is a soi (small road off a main road) with lots of street food:

The next morning began with traditional iced Thai coffee at The Coffee Club. 80 THB (£1.96 / $2.53).

Then a walk up (north) Silom to Lumphini Park. On the way, I spotted a soi (Soi 5) with a street market. Typically, there are food courts. It was still early, so I decided to come back and eat lunch here:

And I only saw two other farangs (foreigners) here.

At the end of Silom is the Metro, giving access to the park. While there, I made a new friend:

And then … “The rain began, the jolly old rain.” Before the rain got too heavy, lunch back at the market at Silom 5

Prawns and noodles 70 THB (£1.72 / $2.21), extra spicy sauce.

Later, not really hungry but thought I’d take a walk and see what caught my eye. I found Restoran Ibu, near Wat Khaek:

Restoran Ibu on Silom

The food from the menu:

And the reality:

Just as good, I’d say. Ibu fried be hun for 100 THB (£2.46 / $3.16)

That night, the jet lag caught up with me. Couldn’t sleep, with the exception of a catnap around 4.30am, until 6.30 am and then only until 8.00 am. I gave up trying, and went out to read and NOT have any caffeine … instead, at a Cafe Amazon, by the Chong Nonsi BRT, a strawberry smoothie for 65 THB (£1.60 / $2.05)

Tomorrow is the flight back to Viet Nam, which should be painless, a mere 90 minutes, but I’m flying Vietjet and these smaller airlines tend to be low- down on airport take-off slots. Consequently, Vietjet has a reputation for always having delays. The last time I flew Bangkok to Sai Gon, the delay was longer than the flight.

And now, my final afternoon in Bangkok … and just twenty pages to go of my travel reading:

Image result for chabon amazing adventures kavalier clay

At 13.10, I finished the book, sitting in Lumphini Park. Time to walk back to the hotel, and some more street food – the market at Silom 10:

This is the stall I chose, spicy Thai vegetable soup (with prawn):

A mere 50 THB (£1.23 / $1.59)

For my last meal, where else but back to Ibu, this time for something traditionally Thai, prawns in coconut milk:

115 THB (£2.84 / $3.65). The staff are really friendly and I highly recommend this restoran.

And so, back at the hotel blogging. Reading, accomplished, curries – no problem, resting … not so much, but at least I’ll be home tomorrow – Unless Vietjet decide otherwise …

Goodbye from Red Planet

Red Planet – I paid about £75 / $96 for three nights. The rooms are fine for a single budget traveller and come with a fridge, large TV, safe and hair-dryer. The room also takes the three-pin UK plug.

On the downside, the walls are very thin (I can hear the chap in the next room talking and whooping and now he apparently has the hiccups). There is liquid soap, but this is not so good for hair, so bring your own shampoo, comb, also a toothbrush and paste. Being Bangkok, and near a night-time bar area, people come and go at all hours (this is a hotel, after all) and last night, there were doors banging until sunrise.

Room cleaning consists of changing the towels and supplying plenty of bathroom paper. Sheets not changed, but maybe if you ask nicely …

Adult Class, Level 3: Sentence building

15th December for 17 – 19th December 2019

Warm up. Describe what happens in this video.

How to ride a motorbike (?):

New expressions:

under the table (giving money to get something done quickly) / over the top (something that is too much or a person behaving too loudly).

In Asia, giving money under the table is, sometimes, the only way to get something done.

In USA many TV presenters are so loud, they are completely over the top.

Building longer sentences:

Make these simple sentences into a longer piece by using discourse markers, adjectives and adverbs and opinion phrases:

I work at ATS. My job make me tired. I have many projects to do. My co-workers are nice.

Relative pronouns– who (person), which (thing), where (place). 

Adverbs– add information

Opinions– I feel, I believe, in my opinion, from my point of view. 

Discourse markers – although, despite, however …

ATS, where I work, can be extremely tiring because there are many projects which, I feel, are very challenging. Having said that, there are many wonderfully friendly colleagues who make me feel happy.

Write a short piece about your school, university or work:

Sentence building:

although / despite / albeit

Can be used like ‘but’ and ‘however’. .. sentence structure may need to change:

Peter likes driving although he hates traffic. ONE sentence

Although he hates traffic, Peter loves driving. TWO clauses

King BBQ is very good albeit very busy NEVER starts a sentence

Despite being very busy, King BBQ is great. NOTE despite + verbing

King BBQ is great despite being very busy (or costing very much / having no beer.)

We love our jobs despite the fact that we have to work long hours.

Write longer sentences using albeit, although or despite.

T_ara are adorable. Their music is nothing special.

Vietjet is cheap. The flights are frequently delayed.

Korea is beautiful. The weather can be cold. (Also add adverbs)

Rolex watches are astronomical. They are good quality

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Music vocabulary:

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rhythm / beat / melody / production / arrangement / vocals / lyrics / solo

singer / vocalist /lead guitarist / rhythm guitarist / bass / drummer / keyboards backing singer / orchestration

Genres (types of music): pop / rock / country and western / punk / classical / jazz blues / opera / R ‘n’ B / techno / rap

What kind of music do you like ? Ask your classmates, and try to keep the conversation alive for as long as possible. You can say what genres you like, then give examples of artists and special CDs or records. How do you buy music, how do you listen to it (computer, CD, iPhone, MP3 player ?) Do you play an instrument ? Would you like to play something ? Do you ever go to concerts ?

Phrasal verbs:

give in / turn off / start off / put out / cut down/ cut out/ put up with

1 I’m working too much, therefore I must _________ on my hours.

2 You can’t smoke here ! ____________ that cigarette.

3 We have to _________ so much noise and dirt here in Cat Lai (industrial area).

4 I always __________ to my wife when she demands something; it is easier !

5 Time to knock off. Before you go, make sure to _________ your computers.

6 For health reasons, my doctor advised me to _________ fatty food.

7 The film ___________ great, but soon became too complicated.

Speaking practice:

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You are at a job interview and have to introduce yourself. Start by giving some facts, your educational background and how long you have worked in your current/ present job. Describe your personality and finish by saying what you like to do in your spare time.

Example:

I was born in …. and I graduated from …. University in 2019 with a major in Business Administration. Since then I’ve had two year’s experience in administrative work at ATHA and followed that with a stint in SLH Corporation.

I’m a very organised person, well-balanced and efficient. I’m hard-working and dedicated.

In my free time, I like to travel and I love to paint. In addition, I enjoy going out and having coffee with friends. I also support Barcelona and enjoy playing badminton after work.

Vocabulary booster:

I live in a:

 quiet, residential street. Peaceful at night.

lively and busy commercial area, many shops

dirty and dusty industrial part of town. Very noisy.

My home is a / an:

apartment and I live alone

rented room share with friends

house live with family

pros and cons – advantages and disadvantages

adverbs of degree (very, extremely, incredibly, remarkably, unbelievably) 

I travel to work by:

Motorbike. It’s quite / rather far and extremely stressful.

Use Grabbike. It’s very convenient albeit rather expensive.

On the bus. Although it’s incredibly cheap, it’s not very pleasant.

Idioms and expressions

At work I find myself doing the same thing day in day out. It’s tedious.

Learning English is, for me, easy, a piece of cake. It’s very important and fun.

In my free time:

I enjoy watching films and playing sports. I am competitive !

adore hanging out with my friends and family.

love shopping. I can spot a bargain and I hate being ripped off !

Learning English:

in my opinion, is vital for the future. It’s imperative we learn.

is a necessary task. It’s awkward and frustrating, but I need it.

is highly enjoyable and relaxing. I love to improve my mind.

The War Remnants Museum is

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extremely popular with tourists, a major attraction in the city.

well laid-out and organised. The exhibits are fascinating.

very sombre and thought-provoking. Well worth a visit.

educational and essential. We can discover much there.

not suitable for children, though I would recommend it to adults.

Increase your word power

Part 1: Match the basic words with others of similar meaning

For example boring = tedious

interesting / on time / forgetful / live (I live in) / smart (clever) / get (by hard work) attain / absent-minded /fascinating / punctual / intelligent / reside

Part 2

unhappy / honest / not often / tired / place / reliable // exhausted / seldom / miserable / trustworthy / dependable / environment

Part 3

small or unimportant / try / make / great / happy / not nice / / endeavour / jovial / prepare / insignificant / nasty / brilliant

Practice:

John is so forgetful; he is _______________

German manufacturers are reliable; they are ____________

The increase is very small; it is _______________

The plane was on time; the service is very _____________

She is so clever; she is very ______________

Now make sentences with the new words. Put class into teams and they have to make sentences with five new words e.g. (for example):

After studying for three years, John attained his BA Degree.

Use these phrasal verbs in new sentences – BUT in the past or continuous tense.

give in / give up / put up with / put off / take off / start off

New Vocabulary

passive smoking 

nightmare situation 

how can I put it ? 

a fair comment ? 

peer pressure ? 

emulate

inconsistent

willing = happy to do something

luke-warm

concise = short and to the point.

sneaky = crafty, cheeky 

I am __________ to help you with your homework.

Please be short and _________ when you give a speech.

The audience was only _____________ after the band played.

People can get cancer just by _________________ .

I have so much work to do and have a meeting with my boss; it’s a ______________

Speaking skills:

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Discuss a news story from today’s ‘London Metro’ http://metro.co.uk/

The ‘Metro’ is a free newspaper, available at stations and main streets in many cities over the world.

Interlude: Bangkok city-break.

After a few months of teaching, I really needed a break. An old friend from the Manchester / Bury area of the UK was going to be in Bangkok for a few days, stopping off before continuing to New Zealand. He suggested meeting up, and I don’t take any persuading to go to Bangkok – it’s one of my favourite cities. I booked my flight.

We made arrangements to meet, and I went by river taxi, along the Chao Phraya River, passing the Grand Palace:

And Wat Arun along the way:

I got off at the last boat stop, then jumped on a bus (the fare was nominal – about 10 or 15 pence / 20 US cents). Thai people are so lovely; I showed my map and the address and other passengers explained to the conductor, then they all told me where to alight and how to get to the hotel. I was quite far south, near the Asiatique centre (I’ve not been there – it seems quite touristy, but maybe next time …) and didn’t know the area but looked for a nice coffee shop, asked the lovely lady for help getting on the free wifi, and waited to meet my friend Alan.

Al and his travelling partner JJ were staying in a VERY nice hotel. They had free boat shuttle to the BTS station so we took that then grabbed a taxi to the Grand Palace. For non-Thais, the entrance is 500 THB (£12) but it is a must-see sight.

Alan from Bury, UK
Alan & JJ waiting for the river ferry to Wat Arun.

I was changing hotels next day, moving from Banglumpoo (near Khao San Rd) to Silom, a backpacker area to a business centre. Next day we met up by the boat ferry, took the BTS a couple of stops, and just hung out in the air-conditioned malls. Alan was asking if there was fast food in Bangkok:

And he was curious about durian, so after he left, I shot this:

I used to love durian but I told a student this and she bought me three pieces. I couldn’t keep it in my hotel fridge (yes, it really does stink), couldn’t throw food away (at least not in my hotel bin, see above reason), so I ate it … all three sections.

I felt like I had food poisoning; dizzy and nauseous. I couldn’t eat for about four or five days, absolutely no appetite.

I stayed at Red Planet, Surawang Rd, near Chong Nonsi BTS station and a great food court, full of locals, full of various curry smells.

No farang (westerners)

And as I have become vegetarian, I bought this: three items and rice for 50 THB (about £1.20)

Sorry for the blurred image – I must have been in a hurry to eat.

My hotel had a view of the Oriental Express Hotel:

It was the week after Tet in Vietnam, so there were still celebrations for the New Year.

But I couldn’t forget Vietnam:

The differences between Bangkok and HCM ?

Bangkok has an efficient and clean public transport system (BTS and Metro. The buses are better and safer than in VN but still a little dirty).

The noise. Traffic stops at red lights in Bangkok, people know when to cross the road without the danger of being hit. Motorbikes drive on the road NOT on the pavement. Traffic drives in one direction only. AND honking … this is considered impolite in Thailand, so the streets are busy but cars are not constantly beeping and hooting.

The taxis are generally trustworthy. If they don’t use a metre, say thanks you and look for a new taxi.

The food smells great, from expensive restaurants to cheap street food.

The people smile and are polite. They queue in order at train and metro stations.

Most people smoking are tourists, not Thai.

AND … in all my travels in Thailand, I have never seen anyone use the side of the road as a personal toilet; I see this just about every day in HCM. The Year of the Pig indeed.

But, unfortunately, I had to go back to HCM with Vietjet and, of course, before my 90-minute flight, there was a 2 and a half hour delay. Then back out into the Sai Gon sun. The taxi touts, the smokers, the noise, the horror, the horror …. and then back to work, back to screaming kids, apathetic adults and erratic wifi.

Yet Thailand is only 90 minutes away …