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.

EATHAI

There are food courts in malls the world over.

And then there’s Eathai in Bangkok’s Central Embassy Mall.

Eathai is in a class of its own, and deservedly so.

Amazing food, amazing variety of cuisines, and all served with elegance and – important in a food court where there are lots of office workers – efficiency and speed.

As tourists, we had all the time in the world, but for office workers, quick, efficient service has to be key, and Eathai  delivers.

Whatever one thinks off food courts, they work for a couple like us: hubby highly allergic to any form of fish and shellfish + I don’t eat any kind of meat, but do eat fish + he loathes chillies (AND he’s Indian :P) and I crave ‘em.

Plus, and this one is on us, we don’t speak or read a word of Thai.

Eathai showcases Thai cuisine from all over the country, at separate food and cooking stations and – one thing I really appreciated – detailed explanations in English on the menu boards (above).

The system is very easy to use.  On entering the vast Eathai, in the basement of the mall, you are given a credit card which you use to buy your food.  And you settle at the cashier’s on the way out.  So no issues there.Since the food court is, as I said, vast, you never feel crowded.

Tables have lots of room between them, and the staff even deliver dishes that require more cooking time to your table.

  

I had scallops and garlic – it might not look anything special from the photo, below, but it was pure heaven.

Trust me.

Heaven.

Eating at Eathai is definitely more expensive than eating at a street food vendor, but for the location, the air conditioning, access to loos, service – it can’t be beaten.  This is a food court like no other.

We paid our own way (Baht 525 for 2 of us) and no-one in the mall knew that I blog or write reviews.

Another Hound Café in Bangkok

In Bangkok last week, our family had the usual issues of finding a mutually acceptable restaurant for our complicated dietary set-up.  Namely:

1 carnivore who is highly allergic to any seafood.  Even a hint provokes rapid & very bad reactions

+

1 carnivore who will eat some shellfish but is still a tad worried about allergies

+

1 vegetarian

+

1 pescatarian

Another Hound Café, located in the plush Siam Paragon Mall, came up trumps.

Billing itself as Italian with an Asian twist, the café is stylish and quirky, with excellent service.  We all ate well, and we all had interesting, different, not your usual run-of-the-mill food.

Plus they have the coolest “chandeliers” ever.

Super stylish bread basket, too:

The café’s justifiably popular oyster platter starter (below) was divine.

4 huge oysters served with very interesting dipping sauces, a bowl of fried shallots and cha-om tips (climbing wattle).

A vegetarian version of the cold Japanese salad (below) was declared a resounding success:

Everyone was happy with their food, and we all tasted as many of the dishes as our complicated dietary requirements permitted.

Below is a simple-sounding spinach tagliatelle dish was excellent.

Good food.  Polite efficient service.

We paid our own way, and I didn’t tell the staff that I blog and review.

Personally recommended.