Monday, December 26, 2011

Melly Kid-Mak from Bangkok!

This is the first time in a long while that I celebrated Christmas in such an elaborate manner, I have almost forgotten what it's like. Those warm Christmases spent at my church's year-end camps feel like a distant memory. While I struggle to figure out where all those lost Christmases disappeared to, this year, in Bangkok's winter chill, I got the feeling back again.

Thanks to Wendy's spontaneous invitation, our festivities started on Xmas Eve:

A gathering of new and old friends, with good food and laughter, mainly revolving around some birds described in assorted languages
We ate Caesar Salad tossed in a gigantic Parmesan cheese bowl

We had nearly-exclusive access to a full roast turkey

And the fun spilt over to Xmas day itself, which started with going to church with a big group of friends, which included 2 Singaporeans, 1 Malaysian, 2 Thais and 2 hybrid kids. In the jingling of all the commercialised marketing gimmicks and carols, it is easy to forget the actual meaning of Christmas is to commemorate the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Very aptly, many Thai people pronounce Christmas as Kid Mak, which literally means think a lot in Thai. If everyone can just sit down and spend a few minutes to Kid Mak of the countless things that happened in the past year, I am sure most of us will realise how much grace God has showered over us every single day. That's the actual significance of Christmas, it's most certainly not about presents, turkeys, snowmen or Santa!

The day continued with me transforming myself into a Top Chef wannabe

Christmas, to me, is also about families getting together and sharing heart-warming food at the table. This year, I had the privilege to cook for Li Li, my Baby in Bangkok and our family friend Wendy, so I had to Kid Mak again to ensure an enjoyable Christmas dinner.

Dinner's ready!

The ladies I cooked for.

The result: Crispy chicken thigh with baked potatoes and creamed mushrooms. 
After several rather un-challenging games of Monopoly Deal over some nostalgic Christmas carols, we ended off a perfect day with arguably our favourite dessert in Bangkok - Larna Cake!

After seeing the ladies totally enjoying the humble food I placed on the table, I realised another truth, that the diners can not only taste what is on their plate. They can also taste the warmth and love of the cook. I am sure that it was the latter that made the dinner so wonderful.

Yii family: Christmas 2011

Inevitably, our family picture taken during Christmas will be completely different in 2012. I am looking forward to it.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Our first baby steps in Hua Hin

Sun, sand and sea @Hua Hin

In case anyone is wondering where the Stranger in Bangkok went to, the answer is that I am still here in the city of angels (also known as Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit), enjoying the very perfect winter (though it's slowly getting less cool) and trying to get back into the groove of having a decent volume of business after 2 idle months (thanks to the floods).

If you are a frequent reader of this space, a trend that you wouldn't have missed is that my posts in the last few months have revolved around food. If that's what you think I am doing in Bangkok, eating and only eating, this post will prove you wrong, because I am only going to post 1 picture on food, yes, only 1!

Here you go, 1 picture right? Hua Hin's famous seafood!
Anyway, this post is on a trip in October to Hua Hin with Li Li and 2 of our dearest friends in Bangkok, Wendy and Nueng. I am embarrassed to call this our babymoon because prior to this, my baby has already been to Greece (unknowingly), Singapore and other smashing parts of Thailand like Amphawa. However, since this is likely to be the only trip we deliberately planned in view of the impeding arrival of our little one, I shall call this our official babymoon.

Wendy and Nueng taking a leisurely stroll at our nice resort Baan Talay Dao
I don't actually like visiting places which are infested with overseas tourists. I am a foreigner myself, but since I am ready to call Thailand my second home, I would like to visit places where Thai people go to, like the Khao Yai area or places like Sam Chuk Market, where I can easily pass off as a local. That said, it's still peculiar that I took 2 full years to take my first step in Hua Hin, a leisurely resort town situated 3 hours drive from Bangkok (I've been to a more secluded Cha Am before though). Thanks to Nueng's recommendation, I am happy to have enjoyed myself immensely there before it is completely taken over by foreigners (please don't become another Pattaya).

Pretty mom chilling in our room

Aside of eating and chilling at our resort (in our rooms and by the beach), Hua Hin has a couple of new man-made attractions, Plearn Wan (a "feel-good" market that tries to bring you back to the 80s) and a new Hua Hin floating market, which is really just a market around an artificial canal. I think these, as my friend would say, are places Bangkokians open (miles away from Bangkok) to earn money from fellow Bangkokians.

The 3 pretty ladies at the entrance of Plearn Wan
One of the many colourful photospots at Hua Hin Floating Market

Since there's nothing unforgettable, let's capture those memories with our camera
Without being too critical, I have to say that these 2 places, though artificial, do exude an air of nostalgia and light-heartedness. If you are just looking for a place to have a slow stroll and some nice pictures taken, these places fit the bill perfectly. But beware of falling into the trap of buying too many things back for your colleagues as most items could easily be found in Bangkok(possibly at a cheaper price).

Another view from our excellent resort
At the end of the day, going to Hua Hin is all about throwing all your worries away and sitting around with your best mates. So what if most leisure spots are artificial, so what if the sand is not the whitest? As long as there is the sun, the sea, GOOD SEAFOOD and a laugh with people whom you love hanging out with, what's not to love?

Final group photo before we went to look for EVEN MORE seafood

Thank you Wendy for being such a great companion in Thailand, and thank you Nueng for recommending the resort and driving us all the way there (sorry for making you sick!).

Hua Hin's a great place, I just have a feeling my baby would want me to bring him back again, soon, to see everything with his own eyes.

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