Tuesday, August 10, 2010

A rainbow after every storm (Charis posts)

Pleasant little things that can cure many a homesick heart:

Alas, they do not have good ol' IKEA here in Bangkok (although I've read snippets that the Swedish DIY-furnitures are coming to town!). The nearest they have is HomePro Plus which has just about everything you need for your house. The one I normally go to is in a 5-storey building connected to the Ploenchit BTS station. Although the prices are not as cheap and attractive as in IKEA, it does have a good variety of home improvement items and you are certainly spoilt for choice with what they have. What I miss, though, is the IKEA cafeteria with their fried chicken wings and free-flow of good coffee! 

Caught in a heavy downpour after class one day, I decided to hop into a mall, grab a latte and wait for the rain to stop. I decided to eat at a store called "Sang kaya" or something like that, selling toasted bread with various spreads such as peanut butter, chocolate, sang kaya and butter - the usual. Sang kaya is a Thai custard dessert not unlike our Kaya on toast spread which we normally have for tea/breakfast. It tastes the same, just a little more egg-yolky and sweet. You can see how generous they were with the serving too! The buns were literally swimming in the custard! Because it was sweet, it went well with my latte (less sweet) and I ended up just slurping the custard and ditching the bread. You can find this in the food court in Emporium Mall (Phrom Phong BTS station).

Every weekend, Samuel and I will ask each other the same question: What to eat today? We've been to several places now because of that - and last weekend found us in Siam Paragon. How surprised we were to find that Toast Box is in Bangkok! Okay, although they were not really serving Malaysian food (Toast Box is under the BreadTalk group in Singapore & listed on SGX), they were serving nasi lemak! The dish is not the best (one of my favourite is the nasi lemak in Village Park, Damansara Uptown) but the rice is acceptable - I always judge them by its rice and sambal. You can find them in Siam Paragon's Food Hall and have a nice view of the workers baking for BreadTalk.

Getting dizzy? This is the normal crowd you will expect on weekends in the malls. Just like back home, the malls are always crowded with people young or old. In Bangkok, you add in the number of tourists here, yet one cannot imagine that an estimated 200,000 people visit Chatuchak Market each day! 

I mentioned in an earlier post of the rainy season we are currently experiencing here. This picture was taken in our balcony during a heavy downpour which lasted for just half an hour. This has been happening quite frequently now, 20 mins of rain and suddenly the sun comes out again before the final curtain. 

This was taken just after a downpour and when the sun came out again. I always liked the outdoors after a heavy rain, it's almost as if all the filth and "old-ness" have been washed away along with the rain. And the best thing about it is sometimes, the rain leaves behind some treasures... 

A rainbow after every storm, that's what I want.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Invaders! (Charis on blindness caused by umbrellas)

It was only a hundred yards
As Dad is wont to say
One step forwards
And mine right eye I've checked out to pay!

Alas not quite, almost, almost!
Pink roses on black now filled my view
A second ago, I was almost toast
All because the rain fell, and not on cue

Before me, a sea of umbrellas
Above me, the heavens cried
Around me, the crowd not unlike guerrillas
"Metal spokes into "The Mark"!", how they must have tried!

I know, a funny attempt at writing a poem, but if you can't get it yet, it's rainy season in Bangkok! It has been raining almost everyday now and cloudy on days that's not. I like this weather better than the summer season when I must have sweat-off 1kg (yet gained a 2 kgs which doesn't make sense) and when there's actually some wind for the windows to let in! What I don't like about this season is the smelly laundry that won't dry well, being caught in rain that "fell not on cue" and the threat of blindness! 

One evening after a Thai class, I was heading back home as usual and what else can happen but the heaviest rainfall I've ever experienced in Bangkok. By then, I had reached the skytrain station and despite the roof above us, the wind was so strong, everyone had to scramble for cover behind their umbrellas. Yours truly was ill-equipped and had to contend with standing behind a notice board. A nice little lady had the same intention and we laughed later to find that we were still outrageously wet despite the "cover"! I bought an umbrella for myself after that.

Another incident was when I was going to a friend's place yesterday for a movie and it started to rain. I had brought along my aforementioned umbrella and was smug that I was prepared this time. Unfortunately, I wasn't the only smarty pants and seemingly thousands (please allow me some exaggeration, I deserve this much) of umbrellas of all shapes and colours all raised up. I always hate walking through a sea of umbrellas because all (negative) facets of humankind tend to surface then. Allow me to describe each kind:
  1. The Invaders - Easy to spot. Always clutching umbrella close to himself and walking fast, seemingly unaware of him invading the private spaces of the people he passes. Very dangerous, may cause injury - avoid at all costs.
  2. The Clowns - Easier to spot. Holding the umbrella outrageously high above head not unlike a clown in a circus. Unlike The Invaders, Clowns care for the privacy space of people around them but still want to keep as dry as possible. Not dangerous but not very smart - avoid copying at all costs. (Just imagine two Clowns crossing each other.)
  3. The Drenched - Easiest to spot. They are the ones that are given to submission after realizing they cannot walk a decent pace with the umbrella opened and refuse to look like a fool with an umbrella opened and still getting wet. 
You heard it here first! Most people go through each kind in succession. And I'll bet most of us have gotten almost blinded by an Invader. I think we should start campaigning the use of raincoats instead. If only they didn't look so dorky...

Who would've thought elephants need raincoats too?