Monday, October 19, 2015

Bangkok Life Hacks: Free WiFi!

If you have been living in Bangkok for a long time now, does data connectivity give you constant headaches? If so, maybe there need not be any headaches at all? Let me explain.

According to my understanding, post-paid dataplans in Thailand usually come with limited high-speed data. For example, if you signed up for a package with 3GB of high-speed data, once you reach the limit, your data will continue to run. Good news is, you will not be charged for unlimited additional data usage, bad news is, this data is no longer high-speed. You will be given access to much lower-speed data with speeds closer to 512kbps, yes, so slow you might pull your hair out waiting for something to happen.

We all want to agree with this, but come on, give me my WiFi!!

How then, do you go around the problem and survive a full month with high-speed data? Firstly, you might want to call your telco's hotline. They might have a top-up package that will give you more high-speed access at a reasonable price.

A second way is to use this life-hack and see how far it can bring you.

If you still do not know, most reasonable postpaid data plans in Thailand already come with unlimited access to WiFi hotspots all over the country. TrueMove boasts that it currently has 100,000 such hotspots country-wide! This means that once you are in the vicinity of a hotspot provided by your telco, you are just a step away from disabling your dataplan and gaining access to unlimited, stable, high-speed WiFi. These hotspots are available in most indoor spaces like community malls, cafes, shopping centres and department stores.

How then, do we access this free WiFi then? Simple, just dial a number to receive your username and password (usually permanent for your mobile number), log-in and you are good to go! Here are the detailed instructions from the 3 main telcos in Thailand:

  1. AIS  
  2. TrueMove 
  3. dtac 
  4. AIS and dtac users can use 3BB hotspots too
Remember, you can use the same method to connect your laptops and other devices as well, or even share with your friends when they are in need. Just remember that one code can only be used for one device at any time!

Need more Bangkok life hacks? Leave me a message!

Disclaimer: The information above is accurate to 19th October 2015. The Stranger in Bangkok does not take any responsibility if any of the mentioned telcos make changes to their dataplans and packages.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Ping's Hotpot: The Best Hotpot/Steamboat Restaurant in Bangkok for Soup Lovers

I used to live for 2 years right opposite Seacon Square along Srinakarin Road. Before Centralworld appeared, Seacon Square was the largest mall by floor area in Bangkok, and is patronized by locals from all walks of life in eastern Bangkok. Aside of its sheer size, one other aspect of the mall stunned me. Last I counted, there were no less than 11 hotpot/bbq buffet restaurants occupying its top floor, with more than half of them completely full half the time. I later found out that the famous MK Restaurant has a whopping 422 branches across Thailand, which is more than double that of the number of outlets McDonald's currently has(!!).

We finally found a hotpot that we truly love.
Even though Thailand is well and truly a hotpot-crazy nation, with well-established brands locally (MK, Sukishi, Shabu-shi etc.) and internationally (Coca), I personally have found it difficult to eat at any of the big names, because a soup-lover like me cannot bring myself to enjoy steamboats with starting soup-bases which are almost as bland as water. Some are better than others, but on the whole, the focus of the local consumers seem to be their dips and the familiarity of the highly-advertised local brand images.

However, after 6 years, I am happy to say that I have finally found a restaurant that serves hotpot like it should be. Ping's Hotpot is located right beside Ping's Thai Teochew Seafood Restaurant in Pathumwan Princess Hotel, which I earlier reviewed on my blog to serve arguably the most delicious fish maw soup in Bangkok. I was told that the original soup base used for the hotpot is the exact one used to make their famous fish maw soup, so that's a good starting point. Ping's serves 4 other soups, the Teochew Herbal, Mongolian Spicy Herbal and 2 versions of Tom Yum, clear and milky. If you ask me, if you are here for the first time, you absolutely have to go for the original soup base, and probably the Tom Yum with coconut milk, just because you are in Thailand.

The original soup base on the left, and milky tom yum on the right, bubbling away.

Like its sister restaurant, Ping's Hotpot focuses on bringing out the best in quality ingredients. I especially enjoyed their assorted meatballs made in-house, as well as their seafood set, which included premium fish like salmon, cod and 2 incredibly sweet and succulent scallops.

My wife and I finished all these!

Wide range of sauces available, together with minced scallions, chilli padi and garlic. If you are not sure, just ask the helpful wait-staff to help you make a standard dip, which is what I usually do.

If what you just read is not tempting enough, let the Stranger in Bangkok tell you a secret that's not on the menu. If you have finished all your food but still have some soup left, there is actually a way to conveniently finish every last drop.

Order the boiled rice/ khaotom set!

In fact, I am almost embarrassed to admit this is my favourite part of the entire meal. With the remaining soup (preferably the original soup base), the meticulous waiter will require a few minutes to incorporate the ingredients above and turn it into the tastiest porridge you would have eaten in a long time.

A shot of the shimmering egg yolk before it's carefully beaten into the porridge.

Tadaa... the perfect ending to a satisfying meal. The porridge set costs 140THB and gives you 4 rice bowls of porridge.

I think I will need to end here. It has been an utter mistake writing this in the middle of an afternoon in which I do not have the time and resources to have a proper lunch. Time to grab a bite.

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