Wednesday, 21 February 2018

My favorite pizzas in Bangkok

My favorite pizzas in Bangkok

Pizza and prostitutes have two things in common: 
they start with letter p and have a 10-80-10 distribution:

10% are poor and I wouldn't go back and warn friends; 
80% are okay, which means I might go again, but eating street food or wanking to porn instead would have saved a lot of time and money; and 
10% is good, and I will go again. This post is about the top 10% (pizzas, not prostitutes).

Madrid restaurant in Patpong
Go it's own post here: http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2015/12/words-of-praise-madrid-tavern-in.html I have been there many times, and brought 8 (?) friends who all liked it, and others think the same: http://www.gaythailand.com/forums/topic/10182-madrid-pizza-place-in-patpong/ I have the medium size white cheese and spinach pizza for 265 THB:



Monsoon Restaurant in Sukhumvit Soi 8
Four cheese pizza for 280 THB:




Attrasingh Patisserie in Nang Linchee  
Pizza salmon and capelin roe for 130 THB (small pizza, hence the low price): (didn't take picture? insert later)

Mama Dolores in Yen Akart (and small branch in Sri Bam Pen)
I go to the small branch in Sri Bam Pen (junction to Yen Akart) because there is no service charge and I found it more delicious than the same pizza in main branch (even thought main branch has a wood-fired oven, and small branch has not). I have the margarita (medium size 140 THB) with additional pineapple and cheese (35 each):


Scoozi in Mega Bangna  
Pizza Bismarck (Ham and Egg, misspelled *Bismark in their menu, and I don't like 10% service charge and 7% VAT added to prices in menu). Two visits, around 2015 and 20jan2018.


Pizza Pomi at Yodpiman
Salmon and asparagus for 600 THB, most expensive I ever had, but from their terrace you have view over Chao Phraya river to Wat Arun. One visit around 2015.

Lido in Sri Bam Pen
I live in walking distance to Lido in Sri Bam Pen, and have eaten there occasionally since I first came to Thailand in 2009, but all my meals there were in the 80%.

Many other pizzerias in Bangkok and all over Thailand, none left a lasting impression.

Wood-fired pizza oven permutations 
Pizza should come from a wood-fired pizza oven, a difficult word and there 24 permutations of the four elements, here is one 
(1feb2014 Vientiane near fountain):



This post was inspired by http://www.gaythailand.com/forums/topic/8932-best-pizza-in-bangkok/ (Michael 13jun2013)

Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC

Monday, 12 February 2018

Bangkok Beggars Banana Allergy

Bangkok Beggars Banana Allergy
(I tried to make it an alliteration and failed, any ideas?)

Fri 10mar2017
Sitting with a Farang friend FF in a restaurant, table next to road, a disheveled person DP passes and stops and holds open his hands. FF gives him 20 Baht. DP doesn’t say thank you, but asks for 20 more. I have a bag with bananas that were for FF, but FF has his apple week and doesn’t want my bananas. I hand them to DP, who doesn’t want them either. FF is a do-gooder (except for proposing straight boys in third - world countries) and can explain everything: DP didn’t say “thank you” because he doesn’t speak our language, and DP might not like bananas or have a BANANA ALLERGY, hence the title.

from: http://www.sfgate.com/opinion/article/Street-persuasion-Some-beggars-choose-hard-core-2904677.php 

Other weird things FF said:
When I told FF about the boy who probably stole my headphones, he said “It’s only headphones” (omitting the fact that the boy would have stolen whatever was in reach).

When I told FF about a boy who stole money:  
“He probably needed the money more than you.” 

FF said that Thais can survive in the jungle, and I cannot despite my PhD. Months later, I found the answer to that here: OK so Thais can survive in the Jungle and we couldn't. So can Monkeys.
http://www.pattayatalk.com/forums/topic/53503-why-you-may-think-thais-are-stupid/page-2 

“They are so poor because we are so rich.” or was it “We are so rich because they are so poor.” Weeks later I found a reply “Our countries are so clean because their countries are so dirty.”

From a scientific or philosophical point of view, FF is an adherent of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deferent_and_epicycle (the beggar has a banana allergy) whereas I am an adherent of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occam%27s_razor (the beggar wants beer, not bananas). 

Do Bangkok beggars take bananas?
The above experience prompted me to make an experiment: 
how many beggars will take or refuse bananas?

When I offered bananas to the one legged beggar who has been living at the corner Sri Bam Pen / Yen Agat for years, he stopped me with a wave of his hand “mai ao, mai ao” (I don't want, I don't want) and looked at me as if I had insulted his mother. 

When I told the story to a Thai friend TF, she said the beggar is a “silly fool” (her words), he is not hungry now and cannot think ahead that he might become hungry later. Anyway, TF only gives money, because it’s more convenient for her. 

from: https://hiveminer.com/Tags/francisco%2Chobo 

On Mon 3apr2017, I managed to force some bananas on a beggar near The Ascott on Sathorn road.

But the effort of carrying some bananas with me (at a state of ripeness that they can be eaten now or tomorrow), and watching out for beggars, became too much so I stopped this experiment before collection sufficient data for a meaningful statistical analysis. 

Rich and poor
The whole story made me think about the conception of poor and rich, have and have-nots.

Our (Europeans and places elsewhere where they have settled like USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand) wealth derives partially from intellectual superiority and partially from exploiting other countries’ human and natural resources. None of it can be extended to the entire population of the world.

The premise that we are rich and they are poor is wrong. They are not poor, they live sustainable. We are not rich, we are exploiting other countries’ natural and human resources. That’s only possible because other countries are dictatorships.

If the planet’s resources were spread evenly, it would be like the Philippines everywhere. Which of my readers wants to give up their holidays in Thailand to raise other countries above the poverty line?

Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC

Saturday, 3 February 2018

The Trees of Siam

The Trees of Siam 

By chance I learnt of a book "The Trees of Siam : Treasures of the Land under the Royal Benevolence of His Majesty the King รุกข มรดกของแผ่นดิน ใต้ร่มพระบารมี".  


Published by The Royal Photographic Society of Thailand RPST:
http://www.rpst.or.th/รุกข-มรดกของแผ่นดิน-65-ต้น/
and can be viewed online: http://tree.culture.go.th/mobile/
There is no direct way to download the book, but "print as pdf", and a bit of patience (394 MB data) did the trick. Thanks to a friend for the hint.

However, reading a book online versus on paper is a bit like watching pornography versus sex. I want the book in print! Ask in several bookstores: no have. At the end, I go to the office of the RPST in BACC and inquire: the book is not commercially available, it was sent to dignitaries and VIPs, and they forgot me! But finally, I get one second hand.

I have been to several of these trees.

ChristianPFC in front of Giant Krabak tree in Tak province:


Rain Tree in Kanchanaburi (the tree on cover of the book):


Another book that is similar and that I equally cherish is "Illustrated Landforms of Thailand ภูมิลักษณ์ประเทศไทย" that I got at a book fair.



Two gems, both bilingual English and Thai, that gave me a lot of entertainment and inspiration.

Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Sightseeing along public transport lines

Sightseeing along public transport lines

There are two books that describe along public transport lines. In Thai language, and following the usual pattern: 
เที่ยว กิน ช้อป sightseeing eating shoping.
Of these eating and shopping is of absolutely no interest for me, that's why I rarely buy this kind of book as it's a waste of 2/3 of money and 2/3 of dead weight for me.

ลองเรือเที่ว around BANGKOK
(My translation: Go by boat around Bangkok; strangely English titles and Thai texts are quite common in Thai language publications.) Actitives near the Chao Phraya boat piers. 250 THB, 293 pages, 1st edition 2011.




เที่ยวท้ากรุง
Activities along the BTS and MRT lines, including new purple line. Was given for free with purchase of MRT card, 143 pages, no date but probably 2016.




Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC

Saturday, 27 January 2018

Moulmein attractions

Moulmein attractions

Places I have visited during my 25-26dec2017 stay in 
Moulmein = Mawlamyine = Mawlamyaing, 
in chronological order:
Nowrlaboo Taung Pagoda 
Zin Kyaik Waterfall
Unnamed elephant rock shrine
Unnamed Hindu shrine
Kyaik Kabaraye Pagoda 
Unnamed brick chedi ruin
Win Sein reclining Buddha in Mudon
Kyauk Ta Lone Pagoda Taung
Thanlwin Bridge
 
This is just a selection of what Moulmein and environs has to offer. Having rented a car with driver, I skipped walking around town, because I can do that on a repeat visit on my own.

(1 THB = 42 MMK, 1 EUR = 1600 MMK, 1 USD = 1350 MMK)
Night train from Yangon to Moulmein, upper class 5500 MMK, schedule 20:00 - 6:00, real 19:58 - 6:15. My driver is already waiting. Originally I thought 75 kMMK is a bit expensive for one day, but in hindsight it seems a fair price including petrol and a total of over 14 hours (pick up 6:15, bye 20:30).

Nowrlaboo Taung Pagoda
16°38'30.5"N 97°30'10.2"E = 16.641817, 97.502838 
Park car at base camp on main road. From there 6.6 km up the mountain by shuttle service (3 kMMK for front seat, cheaper on the back, 8:21-45). 

Not just one, but two overhanging rocks, covered in gold, with a pagoda on top! 

 

View west (Gulf of Martaban):



We got there early with only few visitors, but on our way down three full trucks passed on their way up:



Zin Kyaik Waterfall
16°41'23.6"N 97°26'03.4"E = 16.689877, 97.434268
Only a dribble of water in dry season:





There is a roofed stairway to the upper levels, with some stones painted as crocodile or fish:



Aerial picture by a Farang friend's drone in Aug 2017:


Unnamed elephant rock shrine
16°39'12.6"N 97°26'45.6"E = 16.653506, 97.446005
Accidental find, a cluster of rocks that have been made into two elephants, stop on return trip to take picture:



Unnamed Hindu shrine
16°35'40.2"N 97°28'15.8"E = 16.594498, 97.471056
Accidental find, stop on return trip to take picture and record location:


Kyaik Kabaraye Pagoda
16°35'28.8"N 97°28'51.0"E = 16.591324, 97.480827 
Another accidental find driving past by car, stopping on return.
A Bodhigaya replica and a garden full of pagodas and statues, can be seen from the railway that passes.



Unnamed brick chedi ruin
16°32'10.9"N 97°35'45.1"E = 16.536371, 97.595872
Pointed out by my driver, and I love ruins, stop for picture.


Win Sein reclining Buddha in Mudon 
16°19'24.1"N 97°43'27.9"E = 16.323348, 97.724415
At the time of construction (start 2010, now structure complete but interior not) it was the longest reclining Buddha in the world, at 180 m length. 

But since then matters have become more difficult: in Thailand there is one to be 209 m long once construction is finished http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2016/07/wat-pa-sawang-bun-in-saraburi-province.html and the Chinese carved one out of rock that is 416 m long (but the structure is not man-made, and only parts are carved) http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/travel/2015-04/01/content_19964742_3.htm

So at time of posting this is the longest structurally complete, man made reclining Buddha in the world.



Across, in anti-parallel orientation, facing the complete Buddha, a construction site for another:
 

Interior is incomplete. Various mural drawings and statues, i.a. depictions of Buddhist Hell.





Mausoleum with the body of the founding monk:


Entrance gate from main road. There is misinformation  on the internet, the statue is not visible from afar, you have to get on the premises and close to see it.



Kyauk Ta Lone Pagoda Taung  
16°19'03.1"N 97°42'19.4"E = 16.317519, 97.705379
Accidental find on the way to Win Sein reclining Buddha in Mudon. Mountain with various chedis on top. Entrance to stairs:



From there it's 411 steps to junction, and total 491 to left (southern) top (woman not allowed to climb up):



or 522 steps in total to right (north) top (note the gray stone and very sharp edges in second picture):




And there is a cave that passes under the mountain:



Sunset prevented further sightseeing. Following morning walk to 

Thanlwin Bridge
which has two lanes for cars and pedestrians and one for railway. Some day I want to walk across the bridge!



  
The island next to the bridge Shampoo Island has several pagodas and there is a boat service, but will have to wait for another trip.




Aerial picture by a friend's drone Aug 2017:



Some great attractions, and I have packed as much as possible in my short stay. I will be back to explore the town!

Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Dawei attractions

Dawei attractions

Places I have visited during my 26-29dec2017 stay in  
Dawei = Tawoy in chronological order:
Lek Khant Hill Pagoda (Launglon)
San Lan fishing village
Kyat Min Pagoda 
Shwetalyaung Daw Mu Reclining Buddha Statue
Dawei railway station and abandoned railway line
Myaw Yit Pagoda (Maungmagan)
Hot Spring (Maungmagan)

(1 THB = 42 MMK, 1 EUR = 1600 MMK, 1 USD = 1350 MMK)
Moulmein to Dawei by van,  12 kMMK. There are vans at 6:30 and 10, and a bus at 18. I took the van at 10, dep 10:01, short stops to let passengers in and out, lunch break 13:13-46, one passport control (copies of front and visa page required!), arrive in Dawei bus station 16:53. Out of town, mocy into town 2 kMMK (I should have negotiated down to 1).

Lek Khant Hill Pagoda (Launglon)
With help of a local get van to Launglon (1500 MMK for front seat, 9:34-10:22, then mocy 2 kMMK 10:26-35). The road from Launglon to San Lan fishing village is soil, but the road to the temple is concrete! T-junction to the temple at
13°56'59.1"N 98°05'38.1"E = 13.949735, 98.093926 




Walk to top 10:40-11:32 (595 m above sea level, road is fine for mocy or car). Houses for monks, western toilet, free drinking water, and some golden rocks and pagodas (no entry for women):





San Lan fishing village
From T-junction (concrete road to pagoda, soil road between Launglon and San Lan) hitchhike to San Lan fishing village.







Recruit a local boy with mocy to take me to Launglon and give him 3 kMMK, then hitchhike to Dawei.

Kyat Min Pagoda 
Has a Buddha statue with 6 fingers on his left hand (lying flat on lap, visible in mirror) which is housed in this building 14°05'07.0"N 98°12'08.9"E = 14.085275, 98.202484 



For the next day hire car and driver, 50 kMMK, 10:01-16:55.


Shwetalyaung Daw Mu Reclining Buddha Statue 
14°02'36.5"N 98°13'55.4"E = 14.043473, 98.232063
(constructed 1931, 75 m long, 21 high, 
data from: Stefan Loose Reisefuehrer Myanmar)






Dawei railway station and abandoned railway line
Southern end of railway line. Passenger trains slow and inconvenient times, so I did take the van (10-17) instead of train (4-17) from Moulmein.



But the track continues, then gets interrupted, and the last trace of construction work is 37 km by air south of the railway station (my investigation on google maps satellite). Several bridges have been built, and track has been laid and is still in place. There must be a fascinating story behind it!

Abandoned railway bridge and crossing:





Myaw Yit Pagoda (Maungmagan)
Temple on an island/peninsula (depending on tide), accessible by a bridge. 





What I found most interesting is the eroded granite on the shore:






Hot Spring (Maungmagan)
14°09'20.3"N 98°06'14.7"E = 14.155638, 98.104094
Entry 100 MMK. No locker or changing room. Can't enter the pool, ladle the hot water over your body. And once you are wet, you have to keep ladling, else you will get cold! A small disapppointment.



Next day Dawei to Kanchanaburi http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2018/01/dawai-to-kanchanaburi.html

Copyright 2018 ChristianPFC