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.

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.

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.

What’s the best 15 Baht deal in Bangkok?

Well, it has to be the hour long trip up the Chao Phraya river in the orange flag ferry.

An hour’s boat ride for 15 baht – doesn’t get much better, especially when the trip takes you past some of Bangkok’s most iconic sights, such as the Royal Palace and the striking Wat Arun.

The 15 baht fee is fixed, whether you go just a few stops up river & hop off to sightsee, or take it all the way to the end point, Nonthaburi. We often do this, on a day when we feel like enjoying the river, but without any fixed agenda.

Hop off at Nonthaburi, buy a snack, watch people feeding the fish with bright jolly-coloured fish food, and then head back down river.

Fish feeding is taken very seriously here

The hour up (and then back down) the river is a delightful lesson in history and geography. There are temples and churches and mosques and stilted villages and luxury condominiums. Plus there’s a palace.

The whole visual 9 yards, for those famous 15 baht.

Monks hop on and off the ferry, along with school children, fellow tourists, regular commuters. The river is always busy – ferries, longtail boats zipping up and down, barges – it is fascinating.

Depending where you are staying, there are ferry stops all along the river, but a good, central place to get on the orange flag ferry is at Saphan Taksin (0 on the map above) where the noisily busy ferry staff herd you into a queue. As soon as the ferry arrives, you quickly board, and then the boat leaves in a second. There is no dawdling around. This is a regular passenger service that happens to stop at some of the most beautiful sites in the city, but it sticks to a timetable, make no mistake.

You can buy your ticket at the pier before boarding – the staff all speak rudimentary English. (You already know how much it costs, right?!). Or you can buy your ticket on board.

It isn’t luxurious by any means, so if you want a slightly less crowded and slower-paced trip up the river, opt for a tourist boat.

But for value, local colour and efficiency, you cannot better the Chao Phraya River Express Boat, to give the orange flag ferry its full name.

They operate from 6 in the morning till 7pm and depending on the time of day there are boats every 5 minutes. I don’t think we’ve ever waited more than 10 minutes.

Have fun, and just remember, you read it here In my blog.

If you enjoyed the post, please do like & share 🙂

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

Visiting the Jim Thompson house, Bangkok

It’s been a little over 6 years since I last visited the Jim Thompson House & museum in Bangkok, and revisiting it was every bit as interesting as I remembered.

It was pretty crowded (as is Bangkok, all the time it seems), but the crowd management and visitor flow is very well managed.

You have to visit the house with a guide, & you’re divided up into groups of about 10/12 people, according to language.

You leave for the visit at intervals: we waited about 10 minutes until our charming young guide, with very good English, started the 35 minute tour.

She would always wait until the previous group had moved on, which, given the small size of the rooms and the astonishing artefacts on display, was very prudent.

Jim Thompson was an American who lived in Thailand in the 1950s and 60s, and who was integral in reviving the neglected cottage industry of Thai silk weaving.

He was also an architect and a connoisseur of antiques.

His home was constructed from 6 old houses that he bought and had transported to Bangkok where, using his technical skill and his fine eye for style, he combined them into an eclectic home, where he melded some western traditions (like having a dining table) with his exquisite Thai furniture and furnishings.

Jim Thompson disappeared without trace in early 1967 and his fate remains a mystery to this day.

What remains – as well as a flourishing Thai silk industry – is a gem of a property, with stunning antiques and a delightfully shady garden by a canal.

Entrance costs Baht 200 per person.

As mentioned, you have to take a tour, and photos are not allowed inside the house and museum, though they are in the garden.

There are (free) lockers to leave your belongings.

Well worth a visit.

There is a cafe, and a shop selling the beautiful Jim Thompson clothes, scarves and bags – the designs are truly fabulous.

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

Bangkok Boat Company

We were a group of 6 holidaying in Bangkok, so the “Breeze & pleased” family offer from the Bangkok Boat Company was perfect: a fixed price for 6 people, for a 2 hour trip through the less-touristy canals of Bangkok, with 2 visits included.

We got excellent directions from the company of where to meet our boatman, which is at the water‘s edge by the Wuttukat BTS station. Walk down a side street, cross the temple and there, right by the elaborate spirit house, is the jetty where your private long tail boat collects you:

The tour was fascinating and a real eye-opener, when you see just how much of the city is canal-based.

We floated past peoples’ homes and many beautiful “wats” (Buddhist temples), waved to children swimming in the canals, saw numerous monitor lizards, while the boatman pointed out the main sights to us, and identified many of the fruit trees we passed.

There was a 20 minute stop at an orchid farm (with absolutely no pressure to buy):

and another stop to feed shoals of hungry catfish:

The Summer House, Bangkok

On a recent rainy Friday in Bangkok, I stopped by The Jam Factory to explore, to potter and to have lunch.

As one does.

The whole area is super – a former factory beautifully & thoughtfully renovated and turned into a mixed-use area. The architect responsible for the project has his offices there, there is a book shop, a couple of eating places, a shop, a lawn, a fab old Bodhi tree, views of the river – it is a delight.

You can forget the thundering traffic of nearby Charoen Nakhon, and rather turn your sights towards the river and experience a slower pace of life.

But on a really rainy Friday, there was obviously no way I was going to sit outside for lunch, so I missed out on the huge tree-shaded terrace and the river views offered by The Summer House.

I ate indoors, the only person all the time I was there, sadly.

I decided to experiment, and chose a flower omelette and a flower salad – and 2 dishes for one person was way too much.

A case of serious over-ordering, since the portions are very generous.

I’d been reading about the use of flowers in Thai food and wanted to try it out, but I made one cardinal error. I didn’t notice that the flower salad was fried, and I am not at all fond of batter fried foods – think tempura, which I avoid like the plague.

How did I miss this, you ask?

What word in “crispy” did I not understand? Goodness knows!

I think I was too focused on the vegetarian and flower bit.

But the salad was beautifully presented, and I sort of ate around the fried bits.

So…the salad was good but a bad choice. For me, that is.

The omelette was nice, but I can’t honestly say that I tasted the flowers.

But once again, such pretty presentation.

I drank this:

Absolutely no complaints – it was what it said!

Such a lovely peaceful space, with great, attentive service.

And all for me…

It isn’t cheap, but I will definitely go back. And next time, I’ll be sure to read the menu a little more closely.

I did not tell the staff that I write reviews, and I paid for my meal myself.

Personally recommended.

Oh yes – the address in English, for non-Thai speakers:

41/5 1 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600

ASICS Tanren sports bra

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 pressure whatsoever to write any review nor blog about the company

But since I honestly do like their sports bra, why not?

I have worn and tried sports bras of many companies in the (almost) 6 years that I have been running and the ASICS Tanren bra really is top of the range.

What I particularly like about the Tanren is that it has a conventional hook & eye fastening system at the back, meaning you avoid some of the terrible contortions otherwise involved.

The fabric is, naturally, tight, so you do have to stretch your arms a bit through the arm holes, but nothing as panic inducing as one bra I have (I won’t mention names) – God knows how supple that company thinks the average woman is, contorting and twisting your way into their bra.

Another plus about this bra is the adjustable straps. Not all sports bras have ‘em.

Trust me.

Quick aside. You know what I like about the photo above? That the model ever-so-slightly bulges over the back of the bra.

As most of us do.

Makes me feel a whole lot less stressed.

I have 3 of these bras – one black & 2 yellow.

They’re not cheap, at Rs3599 a piece, but they are top quality.

Mine get worn, in rotation, nearly every day (though I admit to favouring the fab yellow ones more than the conventional black one 😛 ) and there is no sign of wear and tear at all.

Ah yes, before I go.

What does that D1 mean on the back of the bra?

Good question.

ASICS has a system of letters and numbers indicating the functions of the apparel, and each garment will have one.

The DI on the Tanren bra means that it is made from a moisture-wicking and quick-drying fabric that stays dry.

And it does. I can vouch for that.

I’ve run in these bras in extreme killer humidity in Delhi, in Mumbai (running the marathon) and in Bangkok, and they do wick away the moisture.

Personally tried, tested and recommended.

The River Art Hotel in Chiang Mai

Pre-review disclosure: we knew of the owners of this delightful hotel, via some official, work stuff in Bangkok.

Knew of them, as opposed to know them.

We’d never met, never even spoken on the phone.

All we knew is that they ran a hotel in Chiang Mai.

So when we decided to visit the city (after a gap of 35 years, but that’s another story altogether) we chose the River Art Hotel simply because of this tenuous connection.

And also because it looked so quirky from the photos online.

What a fun hotel it is.

We stayed 3 nights in the River Art Hotel & had an absolutely wonderful time.

The hotel is located a short distance outside town, an easy rickshaw ride, and has an unbeatable location, with a garden going down to the Ping river.

It is peaceful, quiet, there are birds everywhere, meaning breakfast in the garden is a delight.



The hotel is beyond stylish.

It is fun, it is colourful, and every corner has a different piece of modern, pop art.

This lovely fella greets you in the lobby
An atrium-styled lobby

There is quirky pop art at every turn, much of it making you laugh out loud – like the crocs peeping out from plants in the garden, and one placed cheekily by the pool.

The pool is small but just what you need after a day’s sightseeing.

We stayed in a garden room, with a fab view, a balcony, rocking chairs…what more can you ask?

Stylish way to store the in-room tea and coffee

The hotel only serves breakfast, so we explored the local restaurants down the road, walking to dinner every night.

One of the delicious breakfast choices

The staff of the River Art Hotel could not have been nicer, advising, explaining, and were super helpful.

The hotel is non-smoking, other than in the garden.

It is also dog-friendly, and the owners’ dog exemplifies this attitude, happily following us back to our room for a quick cuddle.

Would we stay here again, on a subsequent visit to Chiang Mai?

100% yes.

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

Address: 96 Wang Sing Kam Rd, Patan, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50300, Thailand

Phone: +66 80 071 2946

For a quick reply about a booking, you can contact them via their Facebook page.