A relaxing (ha!) break in Thailand...
You took three kids under 5 to Thailand? Yup, yup we did. It was 36 degree heat and punishing humidity, we didn't manage to do a fraction of the ambitious eating plans we had, the travel logistics were punishing. But it was a hell of a lot of fun. Horizons were broadened, fantastic food was eaten, and there was a lot of time spent sipping watermelon juice in rooftop pools which is a win whatever your age.
I don't have solid tips and recommendations for you. A lot of it is a blur and we had a screaming child wrapped round each leg at most points, so movements were hampered. But I can squeeze out some broad brushstroke suggestions. Here goes:
- BANGKOK: the trip reminded me how much I love this city. It is vibrant, modern, there's heaps going on and the hotel architecture is just sublime. The Covid situation and general lack of tourists has skewed the pricing and allowed us a stay at Kimpton Maa Lai for rooftop pool action (and watch out for the perma-crufts competition in the lobby). And I'm sure you can image how good a pan-Asian breakfast buffet is. If you were in doubt about including the capital in your trip, do it.
- FOLLOW THE FARANG: my main source of info for Thai eats was the subscription instagram account @followthefarang. It is an absolute goldmine of mapped Bangkok eats with a lot of more general information about Thai food that is more broadly applicable. It raises money for charities in Myanmar and Chris, the chap who puts it together has eaten so widely that you can be certain there will be no duff recommendations.
- SOM TAM SALAD: can you eat too much? Nope. Is it worth ordering at every meal? Hard yes.
- JAPANESE INFLUENCE: am I in Thailand or Okinawa? At times I wasn't sure as in the time since my last visit - albeit 10 years ago - the Japanese influence, mainly in the form of restaurants and combini, has intensified. This is all to the good as there are some genuinely good izakaya options and the small plate style of ordering definitely suits the hot weather. The more casual izakaya connected to Nanami Japanese BBQ restaurant was a favourite.
- LAWSONS: following on from the last point, make sure to spend a substantial amount of time in Lawsons. It has fantastic aircon for starters but a lot of the same products as the Japanese branches - onigiri, floofy baked goods, dried fish snacks - but with the addition of durian and pandan flavours which is all to the good. Just avoid the egg sandwich like the.... covid. It might be a triumph in Japan branches, but this just hasn't translated to Thailand where it is gritty and sweet and yeuk.
- MAKE A PANDAN CROISSANT: those breakfast buffets I mentioned? You might get pandan custard to go with donuts. Sneak some into a croissant. You won't regret it.
- PHUKET TOWN: I was really charmed by this place. The old centre isn't big but the street food on offer punches above its weight. I am a sucker for merchant shop houses and the fried chicken (Khanom Chin PA Mai) and shaved ice we randomly stumbled across were sublime - details on our instagram. We also snuck in a very good dinner at The Charm Dining Gallery which had a lot of local specialities on its menu, which I would recommend. Also a lazy susan which, with grabby children, I would not.