wander process


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Thai Time Machine

It was a weekend full of old things.

At promptly 4:30pm on Friday afternoon, I hopped on the back of Lydia’s motorbike. I was going to Lamplaimat, then to Khorat, then, finally, to Mo Chit in Bangkok. After a series of waiting and buses, I made in to Adam’s apartment by 12:30 that night. It was then that I remembered that most people aren’t crazy enough to spend 8 hours traveling one way, just to spend 36 hours in one place.

But I am not most people. Like other nights in which I’ve rolled into Bangkok rather late, I ended up staying up even later, talking for hours.

Before getting too into our Saturday, Adam and I stopped at Thai Home Industries. Thai Home Industries is a shop housed in former monks’ quarters. It sells actual, handcrafted souvenirs (rather than the cheap stuff produced in China) and I found that it had really exceptional table service-related souvenirs. I might drop in later to buy a beautiful set of charcoal-burned and silver salad tongs.

Everything was in a disarray, and I felt like I was in a shed that happened to house classy dining products.

 

I had quite a day planned for Saturday. First, lunch around Chulalongkorn University. We dined at a delicious place that I forgot the name of and may never find again. So much delicious Isaan food.

Som tam┬áthai (papaya salad, the not-spicy-for-Thai-people kind – it’s my very favorite Thai food), moo yang (grilled pork – the best moo yang I’ve had yet!), yam pla duk (catfish salad, but not the fluffy kind. we ate it up, bones and all). And khao neaw. No proper Isaan meal would be complete without some sticky rice.

Wonderful.

Following lunch, we embarked on a journey to a place I had been dreaming of all week.

The Nightingale-Olympic. Bangkok’s oldest department store. It opened in the 1930s and hasn’t been updated much since then. You can read about it more in these articles.

The night before, Adam and I were talking about this store when a coworker let us know that this was where Palmy’s “Kid Maak” video was filmed. I imagine if you’re reading this, this statement means precious little to you. As it should. But if you have spent any length of time in Thailand, this Palmy song is UNAVOIDABLE.

It’s also one of the 3 Thai songs I know. We were more excited than ever to explore the store.

When made our way there (conveniently located right around the corner from my favorite egg custard place).

We meandered among the 1950s-style brassieres (I don’t think they were allowed to be called ‘bras’ yet), tarnished musical instruments, ancient pots of Merle Norman makeup (apparently that’s what keeps the store in the black), and even a whole row of those ‘exercise’ machines that are really just a fan belt to jiggle your fat around (these things are still used at gyms in Thailand). Mannequin parts were strewn about.

I had been thinking for quite awhile about starting a globe collection. Nightingale-Olympic had a beautiful little globe tucked away on the bottom shelf of the case. I asked how much the globe cost. Anee, tow arai, kaa? It wasn’t for sale. It made me wonder how much of the other items in the store weren’t for sale.

Unfortunately, photography was not allowed. Total bummer. You know me though, I snuck a picture (which I was promptly chided for). We were all ready to do a bunch of ridiculous poses around the store but the sales associates salted our game.

I highly recommend watching the Palmy video in order to get a feel for how stuck in time Nightingale-Olympic really was. Adam and I were walking on the stairs to the second floor and getting a little ridiculous – “Palmy has walked on these stairs!”

If you get your kicks by traveling to strange places, definitely make a trip to Nightingale-Olympic when you’re in Bangkok (I can easily suggest more weird places for you to visit as well).

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The rest of the day, I lazed around CentralWorld. I was on a mission to get some new sneakers (my current Chucks are in a truly sorry state and I need some comfy shoes for an upcoming trip to a far less tropical climate, as it’s been Havaianas 24/7 for me here) but all I ended up buying was some gelato – a triple scoop cup of dark chocolate, wine, and mascarpone. So good.

Later on, we went to Cabbages & Condoms for dinner. I haven’t mentioned this yet on the blog, but I now work for the organization that runs the Cabbages & Condoms restaurant, which is a Thai institution and an obligatory stop on any trip to Bangkok. So I ended up leaving one Cabbages & Condoms land for the weekend, only to spend my time at another. Luckily, different C&C restaurants have different menus and we were all craving vegetarian food. We feasted on five different dishes of mushrooms and tofu and red rice.

Typical of me, I hadn’t yet planned when or how I would return to Bangkok the next day. After a few minutes on the internet, I looked up train times and decided to take the train back. And that’s where I’ll leave things until my next post.

A note to friends: I finally got around to figuring out my address. Please get in touch if you’d like it! Sending and receiving mail is my favorite thing, so you’ll have to send me yours as well.