23 December 2009

Christmas Decor in Bangkok, part 2

A couple days back I gave you a glimpse of Bangkok's grandly scaled holiday decor and hinted at a second post featuring the wackier side of holiday decorations widely populating Bangkok during this time of year. Plastic tinsel and wacky metal creations float grace the air conditioned halls of Bangkok's Mega shopping centers, along with a helping of classic trees and graceful reindeer. But, at Siam Paragon this year, the creative team decided to feature two dimensional (kind of creepy) cut out paper dolls alongside ukelele playing trees wearing sombreros(!).

But, perhaps my favorite wacky holiday moment in Bangkok this year came at the discovery of the "Happy Walk Sky Walk". Located between the Chidlom and Siam skytrain stations, the happy sky walk is a crazy funny interpretation of the holidays. Take a walk in the mild, but still hot, temperatures of Bangkok's December as the traffic races underfoot, snowflakes and paper ornaments sway overhead and ear piercing volumes of Winter Wonderland and Frosty the Snowman scream overhead in the Happy Walk Sky Walk!

Happy Holidays (more recipes coming in the New Year... the kitchen is churning out Christmas cookies now!).

09 December 2009

Christmas Decor in Bangkok, part 1

With the holidays in full swing, I thought I'd take a couple posts to share Bangkok's Christmas decor. Like everything here, presentation is key. The scale is massive, the glitter and sparkles are abundant and, in some cases, the tackiness over the top. The following images are all from within one of Bangkok's "lifestyle" shopping centers. The tree towers over four stories tall and the toy soldier sits next to it towering three stories tall. The bells swing festively overhead as classic carols trumpet over the sound system.

And, another glimpse at Bangkok's Christmas decor coming up in a couple of days. Get ready for the wackier side of holiday life in the Big Mango.

Happy Holidays (more recipes coming in the New Year... the kitchen is churning out Christmas cookies now!).

What I love about Bangkok right now

Every once in awhile, it's good to take a look around and give thanks for a few of the things that get you really jazzed to be living where you are at that moment. And, what better time to reflect on things that make you happy than during the holiday? Here are a few of the things and places I love in Bangkok right now:

The Bangkok Zoo:
Maybe not the most impressive zoo on the planet, but when you're living in Bangkok and want an escape from the urban jungle this park-like setting fits the bill. Ordinarily, I'm not all that interested in the bird exhibits at zoos, but The Bangkok Zoo's bird island shouldn't be missed. In a land of tropical bird songs that play around the clock, the exhibit is an amazing look at the many feathered instruments. Peacocks roam freely, cockatoos fly overhead and hundreds of other birds that I don't know the names of flutter round.

Or Tor Kor Market:
Located at exit number three off of the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station, Or Tor Kor Market is one of the city's cleanest open air markets. Most items here are registered as organic and the brightly-lit, well organized haven for fresh food products is a relaxing place to visit. Farmer's from all over Thailand bring their goods for sale here, allowing you to taste fresh from the farm exotic fruits, vegetables, meats and prepared treats. Great for a visit while shopping at Chatuchak weekend market (right across the street) or for locals, like me, who enjoy doing their weekly shopping there!

Cool Air:
Believe it or not, Bangkok's cool season actually arrived with some low humidity this year. The temperatures are pleasant. As a testament to how refreshing this cool air can be to an expat, let me recount a recent, hour long conversation I had with three of my friends: "Can you believe this weather?! I'm able to add jeans and lightweight scarves to my wardrobe! I haven't broken a sweat in three days! I can take my kids to the park and they have energy to run around for longer than 10 minutes!"... and on and on and on for well over an hour. The cool air is MAJOR news when you're used to sweating your way through your day.

Ruen Mallika:
I loved my recent birthday dinner that my husband and I enjoyed at this quaint Thai restaurant situated far back on the soi. Housed in a historic 19th century teak building, the restaurant serves delicious royal Thai cuisine. Go, sit in the garden, flip through the massive picture book menu they present you with and order the edible flower platter! (located at 189 Sukhumvit, Soi 22, Road Khlong Tuei)

The smell of charcoal in the morning:
The fires begin in the early morning and simmer throughout the entire day. Everything from satay to curry to spicy meats grill atop the coals. But, when you are walking to your morning coffee and smell the charcoal fires burning, you just know you are in Thailand.

R.S.T. Natural Herbs and Spices:
A permanent vendor stall at the Chatuchak Weekend Market, this herb and spice store stock everything from Lemongrass tea to curry paste to garam marsala. I've only recently discovered this little gem of a shop and look forward to filling many bags full of their spices. An excellent stop for anyone looking for a taste of Thailand in their home pantry. (Located in the 25th section, soi 4 of Bangkok's Chatuchak Market.)

For a few of my favorite things from months past, click here and here.

Cooking in Thailand, entry no. 72:
Cashew Mix
This is one of the dishes served at my favorite neighborhood restaurants. You sit outside on the big porch, order a tall Beer Sing and start the evening with an appetizer of this dish. Here's my version of the Thai nut dish.

1 cup of whole cashews
1 teaspoon of red chili peppers, sliced thinly into tiny rounds
1 scallion, green part only, sliced thinly into tiny rounds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar

In a hot dry skillet, toast the cashews. Keep them moving around the pan continuously and toast just until crunchy and golden. In a mixing bowl, add the other ingredients. Add the toasted cashews to the bowl and stir well. Pour onto a small serving plate and enjoy alongside a cold beer (preferably while sitting on a porch!).