Is Bangkok’s Golden Teak Museum worth visiting?

Honestly speaking, the Golden Teak Museum is not one of Bangkok’s absolute “must see” sights, but it is, however, great fun.

Moreover, since it is located in the compound of the absolutely stunning Wat Thewarat Kunchorn Worawiharn – which you really, really should see – then it makes total sense to include this charming, quirky little museum as well.

For 30 baht, you get to explore a beautiful 2 storey building, made entirely of golden teak, and over 500 years old. There are massive pillars, beautiful smooth floors (you leave your shoes outside) and a relaxed, gentle vibe.

The interior is a glorious golden colour

You learn all about teak:

This is a “slice” of a teak tree, annotated for all the centuries of historic events it has seen and outlived – pretty cool

There are very sacred statues:

And there are some extraordinary, life-size fibreglass statues of important Buddhist monks. But a word of warning – these statues are startlingly (almost disconcertingly) lifelike.

The detailing is extraordinary

There is also a very interesting photo collection of the Thai kings over the generations, including loads of lovely photos from last year’s coronation of King Rama X.

King Rama X’s coronation in 2019

There was an absolutely charming lady, speaking good English, who gently & unhurriedly walked with us, explaining the significance of the monks, and pointing out members of the royal family, and (adorably) ordering us to pose for photos in nearly every room.

You could not have wished for a more affectionate guide, around a sweet museum.

Personally recommended.

We paid our own way & no-one knew that I write reviews.

How good is the ASICS Hybrid Jacket?

Pre-review disclosure.

I am an ASICS running influencer in India (where I live) and as such get to try out and wear their products.

BUT – and this really is very important – ASICS has never once even so much as suggested I review their products.

Not once.

I am under no obligation or pressure whatsoever to write any review nor blog about the company.

But when I genuinely love a product, I review it here.

Which leads me straight away to the ASICS Hybrid Jacket.

I have worn mine all winter and absolutely love it.

For me, this lightweight, cosy jacket ticks all the boxes. Namely:

Zipped pockets, to keep stuff safe?

Tick.

Hood?

Tick.

See? In our harsh Delhi winter, I was toasty warm, using the hood.

Reflective strip?

Tick.

I’ve worn my jacket a lot – it’s been a particularly cold winter, so touches like the sleeves with thumb loops have been good.

Also, probably quite irrationally, I love sleeves with thumb loops.

The jacket show absolutely no signs of wear and tear, despite almost daily use these last few months. It is easy to move in, and feels flexible. I’ve worn mine to running group training sessions, involving bending & stretching, & it has worked perfectly.

Personally tried and tested, and 100% recommended.

I bought mine in India, where it costs Rs 6,999.

THE GENTLEMEN

Well, we all thoroughly enjoyed Guy Ritchie’s “The Gentlemen”.

“We”, by the way, were a multi-racial party of 4: an Indian, a Singaporean, an Anglo-Indian & a Brit. And we watched the film in Bangkok, with many Thais & Chinese in the audience, and everyone seemed to laugh a heck of a lot and enjoy the film.

So the casual racism that I‘ve seen mentioned in several reviews certainly didn’t upset anyone.

The film is clever, tongue-in-cheek, and has a super-starry cast.

What’s not to like?

Now, if you had to choose, who are the stars of this film?

I’m hard-pressed to choose a winner.

Hugh Grant is hysterically funny as a sleaze-bag, blackmailing journalist, and is clearly having an absolute blast, as he shuns his habitual handsome hero persona:

Colin Farrell is utterly fabulous as a nice/nasty boxing coach with his rat-pack of track-suited bully boys. And when they all wear their ludicrously OTT tartan tracksuits – too funny:

The gorgeous Henry Golding actually manages to look seedy and shifty, as the ambitious but over-reaching gangster Dry Eye & in the process, manages to slough off his “Crazy Rich Asians” gorgeous hunk image:

Michelle Dockery puts to rest her Lady Mary persona, with a funny performance as an Essex-girl-made-good, with Matthew McConaughey as her adoring husband:

Charlie Hunnam is truly fabulous, as the quiet, reflective foil to all the violence and plotting going on around him:

The plot?

Oh, yes, right. The plot.

Drugs, money, violence, blackmail, gangs, Americans, Brits, impoverished aristocrats, Russian oligarchs. Loads of swearing, slow-mo killings. That kind of thing.

But the plot is actually secondary to the clever filming, to the film-within-a-film technique, to the gritty English urban backdrop, and to the talented cast.

So, yes, in conclusion – who was my favourite actor?

It’s a dead heat between Colin Farrell, Hugh Grant & Charlie Hunnam. They’re all just so damned funny.

Manisanda Hotel, Bagan

Last year I stayed for a few nights at the Manisanda Hotel in Bagan, Myanmar, having chosen the hotel solely on the strength of its roof terrace.

According to online reviews, the view of the morning hot air balloon flight was supposed to be excellent from the terrace, and as everything else sounded absolutely fine as well, the decision was made.

And it was a great choice.

The view of the balloon flight over the hotel was, indeed, smashing & well worth waking up in the chill pre-dawn and standing on the terrace watching the sunrise:

Breakfast is served on the terrace – it is a perfectly adequate breakfast, with good coffee, a must for me – but everyone is actually more focused on the amazing sight overhead:

The hotel is in a lovely, quiet location (but within walking distance of an electric bike rental shop, which we used):

We had originally booked a room for 3, but even though one of our group dropped out, we were still given a nice, big room. Super clean, fab big bathroom:

Other than breakfast, we didn’t eat other meals at the hotel – we were out exploring, so I can’t honestly comment on the restaurant.

The staff at reception could not have been more charming or helpful, and our stay was a delight.

We paid our own way, and no-one at the hotel knew that I blogged and wrote reviews.

Personally recommended.

And, once again, that breathtaking breakfast view:

Address: Corner of 7th Street x Hnin Si Street, Kyansitthar Quarter, New Bagan, Myanmar (Burma)

Phone: +95 61 65 437

India Art Fair 2020

The annual art jamboree that is the India Art Fair opened today here in Delhi, on a gorgeous, sunny day.

We got there by about 3.30pm, a couple of hours after it had opened, and ended up walking the last stretch, since the traffic was its usual bonkers self.

The joy of being lucky enough to get a pass for the opening day is that the venue wasn’t jam-packed, and there was ample space to view the art on show.

There was also fab people-watching.

I always forget how stylish the art fraternity can be when it so chooses, so there were lots of gorgeous people, draped in all kinds of gorgeous outfits, wafting around.

Huge fun.

The art itself was, to my untutored eye, less “weird” than on many other occasions. There have been years when I’ve wandered round, trying not to roll my eyes at some of the pretentious rubbish pretending to be art.

This year there was far less need to roll my eyes.

We wandered happily through the not-too-crowded halls, meeting friends, and stopping to admire what caught our eye. All delightfully relaxed, unlike some years where it’s been a bit of a scrum.

So here, in no particular order, are some of the pieces that caught my eye this afternoon.

This amazing piece, entitled “12:26:26-12:26:28” is by Henry Hudson & is made out of plasticine, of all things
(I have no idea what the title means, by the way)

The painting, below, is “Coral Greed”by Antonio Santin:

Here’s a detail from “Coral Greed”:

Love the colours.

Remember I said that going early meant it wasn’t too crowded?

Like so:

Such a joy to have room to stand and admire.

I wasn’t quite sure whether the black bench thingy was to sit on or was an art work, so I steered clear…
This stunning “sumo” book on Tibetan art was eye-wateringly expensive.
Trust me, you don’t want to know.
But it does come with its own designer stand.
But it is very, very expensive. It is also very, very beautiful.

There were moon landing prints for sale, signed by Buzz Aldrin himself.

Ah yes, the old “how come the flag is moving?” question.
This display of wigs/hair extensions/whatever, I did find totally pretentious, but I was lucky enough to see the lady standing in front, so, yes indeed, it caught my eye!
“Attention is the Fire” by Umesh PK

The photos don’t do this painting credit at all – the light was absolutely stunning, and it was the luminosity that drew us towards the canvas, from across the gallery.

“Mahabat Palace Reflection” by Tauseef Khan
So, so skilled…

Gosh, this paining (above) really is technically so very clever. Whew!

This jewel like Raja Ravi Varma was in a darkened room, and the effect (once your eyes adjust) is simply gorgeous

Every year at the India Art fair, I play a little game with myself, trying to answer my own question “If you were allowed to take one piece home with you, which one would it be?”

This year, it would be these.

If I could be greedy and ask for the 3 ceramics + the wall-hangings, that would be wonderful.

But if I had to choose – these 3 gorgeous pieces would be mine:

The artist behind these gorgeous pieces is Rachi Koraïchi, and they are from the series “Les Sept Stations Célestes”.

Absolutely love them.

A fun afternoon, with plenty of interesting and eye-catching art, including works from many of India’s top artists on display (like Husain) alongside new, young artists.

It’s at the NSIC until Sunday 2 February.

Recommended.

We were invited, but not because I blog. No-one knew that.

Ned Kelly Hotel, Mandalay

I stayed in the Ned Kelly Hotel last year, on a trip with an American friend who’d made the booking mainly on the strength of the Ned Kelly having a roof terrace.

And the unusual name.

Turns out, she didn’t know who Ned Kelly was.

Nor, I suspect, had she quite realised what the word “poshtel” meant.

Because this uber cool, striking-looking hotel-hostel is a clever, laid-back mix of the 2 concepts.

It is a hotel and it is also a hostel.

Now how does a poshtel work, do I hear you ask?

Well, there are common areas, like a sitting room which comes equipped with a TV, sofas, a dining table and a kitchenette. They were hardly used during our stay there, and everything was spotless.

the communal

And in the bedrooms, each bed has a lockable cupboard below it. Like so

Actually, this might well be our room. There were just 2 of us. But 4 beds.

As you can see, the beds are a little higher than normal, ‘cos of said cupboards, but that’s no big deal.

Otherwise, it’s just like any smart, clean hotel.

No frills. But spotlessly clean.

Small but clean bathroom:

And the famous roof terrace? Actually there are two & they looked good when we checked them out on arrival:

But…that evening they were showing the Super Bowl on that giant screen, so the place was packed. And noisy.

So the very kind, very attentive staff served us our drinks up on the second roof terrace. Just the 2 of us. (And the Super Bowl).

An adequate breakfast (with excellent coffee) is served in the lobby café or outside on the terrace, there is good wifi, you can leave your luggage there on departure day if needs be, and it is all very chilled and very easy-going.

Great location.

Tuk tuks easily available.

We paid our own way and I didn’t tell the staff at the Ned Kelly Hotel that I blog and write reviews.

Personally recommended.

Is Icon Cineconic in Bangkok worth it?

Given the opulence of the setting, I think that Icon Cineconic in the uber-luxury, brand new IconSiam mall, is actually totally reasonable.

I live in India, and during a week of intensive cinema going in Bangkok – 4 movies in a week – every time we paid less than we would to see a film at a comparative-quality cinema in Delhi.

But, realistically, there is no comparison, in terms of luxury and space, between the smart cinemas in India and the cinemas in Icon Cineconic.

Bangkok wins hands down.

The mall where the cinemas are located only opened in November 2018, and yet has already become a major tourist destination, with ferries shuttling thousands of people there every day.

The cinema consists of a total of 2,781 seats spread over many different screensIcon, including a VIP screen, an IMAX screen, one 4DX screen, a Kid’s Cinema, nine normal screens and a 30-capacity “Living Room Theater,” which guests can rent for private parties.

We went to the normal screens and paid Baht 200 per ticket.

Everything in Icon Cineconic is on a massive scale.

There are banks of ticket machines, for example, along with charming people on hand to help, in case you need it. And, yes, they are all English-speaking, too! Twice we ordered our tickets on line & the procedure was simple and flawless.

There are huge escalators to whisk you upon and down to the cinemas, which are spread over a couple of floors.

There are wide corridors, endless sitting areas, there are unbelievably luxurious, marble-clad bathrooms. And everything is spotlessly clean.

Heck, there’s even a special bathroom for children!

Since we don’t speak Thai, we saw 4 movies in English, and they were all subtitled.

Totally recommended.

We paid our own way, and no one knew that I blog or write reviews.

Dolittle

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

What a truly underwhelming film.

The cast of “Dolittle” is beyond stellar : Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Jim Broadbent, Antonio Banderas, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Marion Cotillard, John Cena, Frances de la Tour…I mean, gosh, whew, yes, whew, WHAT a stunning line up.

The special effects are absolutely super.

The story line and the plot, however, are terrible.

Truly terrible.

Really & truly terrible.

You have to wonder what on earth Emma Thompson, Ralph Fiennes, Jim Broadbent, Antonio Banderas, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, Marion Cotillard, John Cena, & Frances de la Tour were thinking about when they signed up for this rambling, over-complicated, silly film?

Did they not read the script beforehand?

Did they not wonder what Queen Victoria and a scheming courtier (Jim Broadbent…why? Why oh why oh why?) were doing in this story?

I imagine little children might like it, because there are talking animals, though they might not get the Queen Victoria/scheming courtier sub plot. Lucky children.

Oh, silly me, I forgot to mention Robert Downey Jr.

What can one say about Robert Downey Jr?

God alone knows what accent he was aiming for, but I thought he started out as vaguely American-actor-trying-to-sound-Scottish, but then he drifted off into American-actor-trying-to-sound-Welsh, and a lot of the time he sounded as though he was mumbling, & you couldn’t hear him properly, so it was all a bit sad, really.

The film was too long, too convoluted, and too unfunny.

There should have been lots of charm & lots of humour, but other than the tiger reverting to being a cat & chasing a beam of light, that was it.

You could happily have axed 1/3 of the film without anyone noticing.

A total & utter waste of a fab cast.

A total & utter waste of amazing animation of the animals.

If you have little children, then I think they’ll enjoy it. There’s nothing the little dears can’t cope with – there’s even a flatulent dragon.

Yup, it descends to that level of slapstick.

KNIVES OUT

What a smashing film this is, and what a stunning ensemble cast.

“Knives Out” is a laugh-aloud murder mystery that seems to be constantly sending itself up, with every genre and cliche in the book thrown joyfully into the mix.

We have a rich, famous man celebrating his 85th birthday.

We have his greedy, self-serving family.

We have a large country house. Obviously.

The house has a lot of creaky stairs. Also obviously.

We have a devoted immigrant carer.

And to top it all, we have very genial but bumbling local cops and a savvy, old-school private detective.

Harlem Thromby, the patriarch of a dysfunctional family, dies the night of his 85th birthday party, and though the family and the local cops agree it is suicide, the private detective, Benoit Blanc, suspects murder.

The thing is, no-one, including Benoit Blanc, knows who hired Benoit Blanc to investigate.

There are twists and turns aplenty, and Mr. Blanc, the southern-drawly, cigar-chomping detective (brilliantly played by a brilliant Daniel Craig) soon enlists the help of the dead man’s carer, Marta, a Hispanic immigrant.

The Thromby family constantly tell Marta that she is part of the family, while consistently failing to remember which country she is from – one of several running gags in the film.

There are delicious moments – while discussing racism and illegal immigration into the USA in front of Marta, one of the family automatically hands his plate to her, treating the qualified nurse as a maid.

There isn’t an overt political agenda in the movie, but it is telling that the only person who seems to care for and genuinely grieve for Harlem is his nurse, Marta.

Such a fun film.

We laughed a lot.

We didn’t guess the ending, which is clever. (Don’t worry, I wouldn’t dream of plot-spoiling such a happy film).

Everyone is excellently cast, though Daniel Craig steals the show with his southern drawl and his tweedy demeanour.

Ana de Armas is lovely and likeable and beautiful as the morally upright Marta. She’s also a lousy liar.

Jamie Lee Curtis is great.

Ditto Christopher Plummer.

And as for K.Callan as the almost silent great-grandmother…she’s hilarious.

Cafe at Ease, Bangkok

Hardly a stone’s throw from the Jim Thompson House in Bangkok is a pretty looking café, all awash in pink and fairy lights.

Like so:

We called in for a mid-morning drink after visiting the Jim Thompson House, and Cafe at Ease turned out to be a cute, funky little place.

Borderline kitsch, but in a nice way.

In a very Instagrammable way.

Naturally.

My sister’s English breakfast tea came beautifully served and with the cutest cups:

There was quite a Japanese design aesthetic to the café:

I had sweet-pea cappuccino which was pretty to look at, but not much more than a standard cappuccino, to be honest.

There are cute little things to buy in pretty display cases that double as the counter, quite funky clothes for sale, making for an all-round very pleasant little refresher stop.

I was very taken with the display-case-tables, like the one below:

We left with ear-rings, by the way 🙂

We paid our own way, and no-one knew that I blog and write reviews.

Address (which is, as I mentioned, right by the Jim Thompson house) is:

38/1 Soi Kasemon 2

Rama 1 Road

Patumwan,

Bangkok