F By the river Chao Phraya - jeepneyjinggoy

By the river Chao Phraya

Countless trips to Bangkok and more plans are piling up by the bucketful with each visit. There is no end in sight to my must-do list with surprises popping every time I find myself in this Asian capital city. To say Thailand is amazing is an understatement. Maybe this is how a wanderlust-stricken person feels when in love with a place- he never can get enough of it and always have a reason to head back. Or maybe, it’s fated.

It is hot and humid in Bangkok, crowded and perennially busy, traffic is unbelievable, but I love it. It is a charming place, culturally rich and exciting. If there is one country in the Asian region where they have mastered the art of tourism, Thailand is it. Of course, it helps that they have numerous ancient temples, sunny, white sand beaches, a diverse offering of entertainment and a cuisine to thrill the palate.

Thai food is titillating, which your taste buds can credit to the spices or its fresh ingredients. From thinly sliced vegetables that make up a refreshing salad to the sweat-inducing savories, the food of Thailand is uniquely flavorful.

One of the most exhilarating experiences to have in Bangkok is to savor the Thai cuisine along the busy streets or over dinner by the river Chao Phraya. The latter is romantic as it is calming with the starlit waterway offering a panorama totally the opposite of the daytime bustle on the other thoroughfare of the city. This was on my bucket list.

Dining with myself in a tres chic restaurant of a fancy hotel by the famed river of Bangkok was a plan conceived while window-shopping along New Road on a lazy Sunday morning. It would a story to tell, another adventure. The entry was finally ticked off my list recently. A dining episode, I am happy to share, from “home”- at the Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok. One thing on the list changed though, I was not alone.

Dining in Thailand is best with the locals. The evening’s culinary journey was in the company of the Puntuhong siblings, Karn, the Public relations secretary of the Mandarin Oriental and his brother Gun, from the International Public Relations Division of the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the perfect company with inspiring stories of Bangkok’s cuisine, culture, lifestyle and tourism, then and now.

Our banquet hall was on the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River from where the Mandarin Oriental sits, the Rim Naam, the hotel’s Thai restaurant. It is one of the most popular dining places in Bangkok attracting both the locals and foreigners. The restaurant’s delectable spread can be enjoyed at the Sala Rim Naam, the ornately decorated Thai pavilion reminiscent of Northern Thai architecture with a nightly classical Thai performance, or al fresco at the Terrace Rim Naam.

It was a riverside feast for us over a bottle of the house Shiraz....

.... the Naam Prig Makham, dip of chili, young tamarind, minced chicken and shrimp accompanied by deep-fried Siamese sardines; Nuea Yaang Naam Tok, grilled beef sirloin salad with dried chili powder and ground toasted rice; Tom Som Pla Grabog, sweet and sour soup with grey mullet and ginger; Gaeng Phed Goong Bai Chapu, prawn curry with betel leaves; Pla Hima Phad Prig Daeng, fried snow fish with garlic and red chili sauce; Bua Loy Sam See, warm sticky rice flour dumplings in sweet and salty coconut milk; Nuea Kua Kling, southern-style fried beef tossed with yellow curry paste, white turmeric and kaffir lime leaves; Ped Yaang Naam Makham, roasted duck with tamarind sauce and grilled pineapple; Khow Soy Gai, northern-style egg noodles with chicken in curry sauce and condiments.

Good company, fabulous view and great food, how can dining in a fancy hotel I can call home by Bangkok’s renowned river not be memorable?

For more information about Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok, visit their website: www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok/

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in Sun.Star Davao on May 17, 2012.