A Weekend at the Hilton

We are all facing dark times but some clouds do indeed have a silver lining so the lady and I are doing our part to prop up local tourism by spending a night at one of Bangkok’s many luxury hotels on the cheap.

The deal is that one can spend a night in a very nice room, enjoy ‘executive lounge’ access, more on that later, and get a free breakfast for the plumb price of Bt1800 for two. They aren’t doing the early check-in and late check-out that some other hotels are offering but it was heavily implied that it would be an option when checking in. There’s also a pair of free cocktails at a fancy bar down the road at Em Quartier.

We were greeted by this chap, whose name now escapes me (should have taken notes), who appears all over the hotel in sculpture with his girlfriend. She’s French and came to Bangkok with her poodle and hooked up with a well dressed dude from Argentina or something.

After check-in and an inspection of the room we headed down to the lobby for afternoon tea. The executive lounge, with its lofty heights and magnificent views is closed so we’re in the cafe. Perhaps they don’t want us plebs stinking up the privileged spaces reserved for the jet-set but it’s more likely that it’s closed to save a bit of cash. The luggage above isn’t real, it’s the furniture and serves as a motif on the ground floor, at least. There was a wedding upstairs so we didn’t explore. No idea what deal they got but I expect it was a good one.

Here is afternoon tea. No buffet but I had two of these. The scone was a bit flat but the other snacks were excellent. After getting stuffed and having about five excellent coffees we headed for the pool.

It’s up top and doesn’t have a bad view. A lot of hotels have fences or structures around the pool that block the view but one can’t complain here. You can see our friends here again. I had planned to have a swim, as I never seem to have time to swim at the pool at my apartment. I thought it would be a languors weekend and even brought an extra book, but there was no time to spare. Five thirty PM was approaching and that was happy hour in the lounge cafe.

That’s right, it’s two hours of free-flow and hot snacks. As you can see, the snacks are nicely presented but aren’t that flash, but on to the booze!

Heineken beer, Australian shiraz and I didn’t try the white. There’s cocktails too and it’s all you can drink for the next two hours, so not a bad deal really. If you can drink a bottle of red (each, ha!) you’ve probably covered your costs for the accommodation.

Speaking of the accommodation, it’s as nice as you’d expect:

I’m not a big fan of the bathroom with a glass wall. For a long time I thought it was so you could have a shower and keep an eye on your new friend and make sure she doesn’t lift your wallet, but it turns out it’s so daylight can get in. It does have an electric blind, which puts me in the mind of a James Bond villain, as does the telephone next to the loo. The room scores points for having a separate toilet so your girlfriend doesn’t have to watch you pinching one off through the window.

Hotel breakfasts are either a horror or a joy. Many Thai three-star places specialise in boiled ham slices, chopped up cocktail-franks, barely-toasted bread and cold fried eggs. A five-star buffet abounds with delicate pastries, fried mushrooms and lashings of bacon. I’ll let you work out which is the horror and which the joy.

I’d call that a compromise.

Now, to close up, I noticed a lot of cost-saving measures during my stay and it’s clear that a night at the Hilton that pulls more than three figures is different. But it’s damn good value for a weekend in town, pretending that you’re a fancy-pants for a night and you still get soft sheets, great aircon and a hot bath.

Let’s go Shopping!

A couple of weeks ago the lady and I went to Macro to do a little shopping and pick up a few curiosities. If you don’t already know, Macro is like a supermarket for shops and restaurants. When you buy a packet of out of use-by chips from the corner store run by an old Chinese lady, she probably got them from Macro! We go to Macro because they have cheap produce that’s very fresh, but it’s always fun to look at some of the stranger items on offer.

Ever wondered where restaurants get their frogs’ legs from? Well now you know. Macro! God knows where Macro gets them from. Vietnam, probably.

Including crocodile is a little pedestrian. It sounds very exotic, but if you take this home and put it on the barbeque you’ll probably be disappointed.

Boar is… boy pigs right? The stuff that Obelisk eats. So this is technically pork, right? I guess the subtext is that this is wild boar? Maybe I’ll buy some one day and see how it compares.

Frozen cow… boobs? Not especially cheap. Don’t recall seeing this on the menu recently.

Beef gallbladder. In bile. Who eats this stuff? Whomever they may be they’re paying Bt260 a kilo which would get you a nice steak a few rows over.

There’s a lot of excitement among scientists when a giant squid washes ashore on the beaches of New Zealand or somewhere and everyone scrambles for a look before it rots away. They should just come to Macro.

The label says snapping but the tag says soft shelled but no matter how you cut it, you’re eating a turtle.

OK kids, it’s time for the main event. I’ve become accustomed to seeing street vendors pushing around a cart of fried bugs and have been known to purchase some as a snack, even when nobody is watching. I’d never reflected on where the vendors get their bugs from, I just assumed they found them under the mattress each morning or something. I actually doubt they’re buying them at Macro as they’re not even cheap by the kilo but if you would like to try your hand at poached silkworms or fried bamboo grubs, this is the place for you.

This one is pretty tempting. These little buggers don’t look very inviting but deep fried with salt and spice they’re delicious.

Crickets are kind of a staple in the bug-eating world. Crunchy and tasty but without the big legs that get stuck in your teeth like grasshoppers.

And that’s it for this shopping trip. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tour of Macro and worked up an appetite.

Olive Backed Sunbirds

A couple of these have been hanging out on the washing line.

Olive Backed Sunbirds

I had a look in Birds of Thailand but wasn’t able to decide if these were sunbirds or spiderhunters. The trouble is that the sunbird males have a blue bib.

Sunbird or Spiderhunter?

It turns out we were looking at a pair of females. Confusion was cleared when a male turned up. He performed a brief courtship dance and flew off with one of the females. Then this appeared.

Sunbirds build a hanging nest out of spiderwebs and, in this case at least, plastic raffia.

The nest is complete now but I’ll need to take some more photographs. Sorry about the poor quality of the shots but I’m shooting through flyscreen and the birds don’t seem to want to work when it’s sunny.

Now the nest has finished they’ve gone off somewhere for what I read is a week. Probably fattening up before spending all day sitting on the eggs.