It was enough gardening for one day and both Waan and Kanda were moaning they were hungry. If there is one thing you should quickly accustom yourself to when you have a Thai partner it is that when they are hungry it's a good idea to feed them. They are like Gremlins, if you dont feed them, they turn into something bitey, barky, shouty.
Where do you want to go I asked. Home Pro Bang Pli might seem an odd place to go and eat but we all three have a good reason to go there. Waan's sister lives in the neighbourhood and I have an old ex-pat friend who lives there but most of all Home Pro has a food/restaurant area with some pretty good options. In my head I was making plans for tonights entertainment with Bleakopeth <-- the nickname my ex-pat friend uses not the ear splitting growling like a hungry Thai wife metal band who I can't stand. Oddly the Bleak' can't stand my kind of music either. We have little in common but we sure know how to get thoroughly wasted in the beer bars of Khlong Toei together.
So we had a late lunch in Hua Seng Hong, an absolutely meaningless name, and as I cannot read Chinese I'm not sure what the company actually mean by it. In Thai they spell it ฮั่วเซึ้งฮง but that is likely a translation of the Chinese name. I'm explaining this because if you ask a taxi to take you to Hua Seng Hong they will think you have gone mad and possibly you want to cut the heads off some swans. If you want to try it and don't speak Thai print the name out and show it to the driver. Otherwise just ask for Home Pro Bang Pli and go searching. Either way it is well worth finding, inexpensive, and way better food than the major restaurant chains like MK and S & P.
We ordered up the hot pot because Thai women love it. It comes a close second to a Moo Yang for them and actually it is a very nice soup. It's just that being a bit traditional when I go to a restaurant, if it isn't a salad, I like the kitchen to do the cooking. I mean you might as well buy the ingredients from a market and go home! But Hua Seng Hong do have a menu as well and some of the dishes I will go out of my way to go and eat and amongst my favourites are the Salmon steak in a hot green peppercorn salad. It is breathtakingly good or as Thais say, saap, which sounds decidedly understated in my opinion. We have so many ways of describing food that we are enjoying and yet in Thai it is either saap or aroy. If I told the Thai chef that his pork and mushroom in oyster sauce was so good I could eat it again, he would make it again. I discovered this when I once told Waan's sister her moo grop was so good I didn't want it to end which upset her because she thought I hadn't been given enough to eat. So, don't try any variation, just say it was aroy. Saap meanwhile, or saab, or even zaap, is an Issan expression that I think means sliced or chopped and chop sounds like chawp which means 'I like it'. Like I said; it is understated.
The decision was made that we would go window shopping to walk off the food so we headed for Bang Pli's 100 Year Old Market which was an odd choice considering it is a great place to eat and that it is just down the road from the Sananwan Palace that the 'girls' didn't want to stay at. Having just been fed meant I could moan as much as I like about the fact because the Gremlins were no longer dangerous. The semi-floating market has been next to the Bang Pli Yai Nai temple for considerably longer than 100 years. Its history is lost although there is a small museum and it is thought it may have been here as a trading post near the southern port in the days of Siam that being at least three centuries ago. It is quite a small market and geared to the locals which means there is interesting stuff to buy and very cheap.
While looking at a statue of Ganesh made from marble with a gold silk sash round its shoulders and a label that read 600Baht Waan's sister called and asked if we could meet tonight. That blew my plans for a night on the tiles. I toyed with the idea of telling them to have a pow wow and I'll go off with Bleak' but after the other night when I came home at five a.m. I think I lacked the courage. Actually I gave in so I could 'live to fight another day' would be a better way to put it. All three of them, well why not I was already outnumbered, wanted to go to Koh Lanta restaurant up Thanon King Khao.
This place is aimed at tourists. It must be because it has a fantastic theme like some Chinese fantasy or 007 entering some Oriental casino in a place we have never been. All the signage, the menus, even the toilets are written in English, and yet the only customers they get are Thai from businessmen to politicians. It appeals and sucks you in enticing you with overwhelming scale. Everything is huge including the dishes, the fishes, and the lake and I tried my very best to not be dismissive because of its touristic attempts. But I failed. I hated the 30 foot high overbright green neon sign for Heineken. I hated the candles on the tables that were not bright enough to help you read the menu. I hated the noise and the pretentious business meetings and the falsehood of saying Raan Ahaan Saap when it just wasn't.
The sign at the entrance says 'You have eaten crab now see the best' and it isn't. It's Ok, I'd even go so far as to say it is above average, but in Thailand that is a fail. It is high priced serving budget food but having told you how bad it is I would suggest it is still worth a visit. You won't see anything like this anywhere else. It is interesting, photogenic, unusual, and there are no tourists despite Suvarnabhumi airport being within spitting distance.
Anyway, I made up for it by getting drunk in the restaurant instead.