Wednesday, January 18, 2017

D's Birthday Luncheon

Went to Regent Hotel's Italian restaurant Basilico for a birthday luncheon in honor of D. Forgot how awesome its brunch buffet is. Food's still great. Breads are good. There're plenty of meats, lamb shanks (on bone), mushroom risotto, and sufficient variety of food for different diets. Love those fruit juices. I overdosed on sugar from like five glasses of guava and pink guava juice. :P Made all the noise we wanted in the little room, had time to chat with everyone, and rolled out of there at 4pm.

The best part of the buffet- the cheese room. You so need to get in there. Yup, THE CHEESE ROOM. Italian cheeses mainly- cow, goat and sheep. It's a long table filled with all types of cheeses including a 75% Dark Chocolate Gorgonzola from Lombardia. Barolo wine infused gorgonzola, caprino with pepper and oregano from Pietmonte, sfogliato al balsamico, et cetera. Gorgeous choices of buffalo mozzarella from a few towns in Napoli. I portioned out quite a chunk of stomach space for cheese, and those beautiful beautiful beautiful tomatoes. Mmmmmm.

I had forgotten to take the camera and only remembered it when we drove out of the estate. Had to turn back to get it. I didn't want to just settle for photos taken on the phone. The birthday girl gave strict instructions for 'no gifts'. Fine. So I wanted to capture the memories and laughter at luncheon, to make a gift of something warm and happy for her this first month of the year; for the birthday girl to have keepsakes of friendships that have endured through the years. And I can only do that with a proper camera. Ordered D and everyone to pose. They obediently did so. I got my shots. ✌🏻

Much love and with all our wishes to your happiness, D.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

PJ Harvey at Esplanade Theatre

I'm a huge fan of Polly Jean Harvey, ever since the first time I heard her when I was an angsty teen. Her style has evolved and changed through the decades, and I still like her music so much. Her recent ninth studio album 'The Hope Six Demolition Project' (2016) totally blew me away.

As much as I enjoy PJ Harvey's lyrics and Seamus Murphy's photography, I've not read or flipped through 'The Hollow of the Hand', yet. I'll get there before the year's out. Also didn't zoom to Kinokuniya at her signing session to get her autograph on a copy of the book. :P For now, I'm happy to have watched a great first gig of 2017 at Esplanade Theatre.

Accompanied by nine musicians on this tour, PJ Harvey didn't pick up the guitar tonight. She didn't need to. Spot the legends! There's her long-time collaborator and respected musician and record producer John Parish, and there's guitarist and drummer Alain Johannes Moschulski. The band focused on 'The Hope Six Demolition Project', which explained the odd set-up for the drums. They did some fun old songs. So stoked to hear 'Down By The Water' (1995) and '50 Ft Queenie' (1993) live. Woah.

Monday, January 16, 2017

All That Is Evil

Many would be familiar Ian McEwan's 'Atonement' (2001) which was made into a film in 2007 directed by Joe Wright, starring Keira Knightley, James McAvoy, and Saoirse Ronan. I finally got around to reading Ian McEwan's 1975 collection of fairly morbid short stories 'First Love, Last Rites'.

Incest, children roasting cats on a spit, murder, pedophiles, the author brought out all the dark and twisted realms of the human mind. To that, I'm not sure if I should even call any story within 'a favorite'. But it made for a very good read on vacation. The title story 'First Love, Last Rites' is confusing. It's not creepy. It's like...plain. A summer romance between two young adults that developed into something more steady, and a rat in the walls of their room. I didn't quite understand why. Is it the mundane life that the author is fascinated with or how his characters seem to be so soul-less, but not committing any heinous act or go under torture?

'Conversation with a Cupboard Man' is so sad. Of a grown man who hasn't been allowed to grow up normally because his obviously disturbed mother tried to keep him infantile when he was already eighteen years old, keeping him out of school and literally spoon-feeding him. Till he appears to be mentally sub-normal to the average world outside of his home and comfort zone. When he tries to be independent, society fails him, humans fail him, his demented boss locked him in a huge kitchen oven and turned on the heat. Ouch. He even enjoyed jail-time because he was taken care of and stuck to a schedule. He didn't have to fend for himself.

Ever since the oven, I want to be contained. I want to be small. I don't want this noise and these people all around me. I want to be out of all that, in the dark. Do you see that wardrobe there, takes up most of this room? If you look inside you won't find any clothes hanging up. It's full of cushions and blankets. I go in there, I lock the door behind me and sit in the darkness for hours. That must sound pretty stupid to you. I feel all right in there. I don't get bored or anything, I just sit. Sometimes I wish the wardrobe would get up and walk around and forget that I was in there. At first I went in there only very occasionally but then it got more and more frequent till I started spending whole nights in there. I did not want to come out in the mornings either so I was late for work. Then I stopped going to work altogether. It's three months since I've been. I hate going outside. I prefer it in my cupboard.

The last story 'Disguises' irritated me to no end because of its ambiguous ending. ARRRRGH. Henry's mother passed away and he's taken in by his probably talented and eccentric actress Aunt Mina who makes a big deal of dressing up in stage costumes for dinner. Henry went along with it till one night the Aunt forced him to cross-dress as a pretty lass and she was a male soldier. Henry didn't like it. He was eventually taken with Linda, a new transfer student. That kickstarted the 'rebellion' against Aunt Mina and taking a stand to say no to her emotional blackmail.

She took her hand off his shoulder, she sat on the bottom step, and then, 'And what am I meant to do on Sunday when you're off with all your friends?' This sudden change, he was the giver when before he was the asker, he was standing and she was sitting by his feet, there was nothing to say, he was numb. After a while she said, 'Well?' stretching her hand towards him, he moved a little closer till he was where she could take both his hands in hers, and she looked at him over her glasses, she took them off, and he saw then the moisture collecting in her eyes' rims. That was wrong, that was a terrible thing, a terrible weight on him now he felt, can people be so important? She squeezed his hands tighter, 'All right,' he said, 'I'll stay.'

Sunday, January 15, 2017

ดูคุณเร็ว ๆ นี้ประเทศไทย :: ขอบคุณสำหรับทุกสิ่ง

It was invigorating to feel the breeze in my face, sticking my head right here in the sand, and not think about the world or home. It's also time for solitude. That's probably why I love the sea and diving so much. You're effectively alone in the deep blue. That silence is so awesome.

This particular period really induces an aversion to reading headlines, op-eds, comments and even friends' opinions. I didn't swear off social media, but I'm just not on it the way I usually am. Well, having no cellular signal at sea and sleeping by 10.30pm every night contribute loads to diminished screen-time. This break has given me the headspace necessary to deal with all the nonsense this year.

The MacBook sat quietly for most of the time in Rayong. I can get on it when I'm back in Bangkok. Uploading photos from the camera to the MacBook is easy, but I didn't make a conscious effort to edit photos for the blog because I used the time to either read or take long walks by the beach at sunrise and sunset. I only bothered to scribble notes and drafts to save them to be published later. Hurhurhurhur.

Our lovely huge corner suite provided beautiful private time and plenty of space to sit, read and do my stretches in the mornings. In spite of our stern and repeated warnings, the dear friends took care of our entire bill at the Rayong Marriott. ARRRGGGGGGH. Although we took care of gas, food and spa treatments, it's still not enough to cover the cost of a week's gorgeous accommodation in Rayong. The friends knew it, and insisted, delighting in how it chalked up points for their hotel reward program. Whatever. I give up. Gaaah. Needless to say, the man is flabbergasted, again.

By now the man has settled into an easy rhythm with these friends. Or rather he's a lot more easy-going than I am. So it's probably tougher for me to take to his friends than for him to take to mine. :P Unless I define a group as 'our friends', then that's cool. Otherwise it's virtually impossible for me to even want to go on vacation with people who can't understand how much admin details, space and privacy I require, because you know me, OCD-maximus, fussy and all that.

I'm so glad to have the chance for an extended vacation with these friends who're absolute sweethearts, and effectively family. Time with them is always precious. ขอบคุณสำหรับทุกสิ่ง ฉันรู้สึกปลื้มใจมาก มันน่าประทับใจมาก ขอบคุณสำหรับความเอื้อเฟื้อของคุณค่ะ 💖💫😘

Sneaked a shot. My soul-sister.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


At the hotel's quiet-enough lounge on the 33rd floor.

All the Bangkok traffic and crowds were a little jarring from the peaceful week in Rayong. 😐 At least I have a comfortable and quiet hotel room to retreat to at The Okura Prestige. I'm not in the city to do mad shopping or anything beyond the usual stocking up of medicines at Boots. Don't have to traipse all over town searching for restaurants or whatever since all Thai food cravings have been satisfied.

Importantly, I get to have a clean meal at the hotel's very decent Yamazato Restaurant. Well, as in light in flavors, and kind to the digestive system. My tummy is already a little upset, so cooked food is preferable. It isn't food poisoning; tummy is churning due to indigestion and uhh over-eating, so it can still take spices and chillies. Heh. Anyway, there're no chillies to be found in this restaurant's menu. Frankly, Yamazato isn't a place for sushi and sashimi omakase. It does cooked food well, and is fine with kaiseki(There're other better sushi restaurants in town.)

I was greedy and went for the kaiseki. Absolutely unnecessary. I'd have been happier with an udon and three other small items. Anyway, my option of kaiseki held eight courses. Couldn't finish them! Ignored my main of a wagyu-whatever three slices of beef and the rice dish which was a chirashi-don, and dessert of chestnut pudding. Ate the fruits. Tummy was fine.

Bael :: มะตูม

This trip, 'bael' (มะตูม, pronounced 'matoom' in Thai) keeps jumping out at me; in the form of fruit infusions at the spa or as cakes at the cafes. I was wondering what the heck it is till I realized it's familiar to me as 'Asian quince'. Or specifically, 'Bengal quince'.

Ate them all. Well, a bite and a sip. The spas and massage parlors we went to this round provided pandan and bael infusions before or after treatments. Not too bad, except it's always too sweet for me. End up having a glass of water instead.

A generous slice of bael cake at the friends' Bangkok restaurant 'ShouldBe' nicely concluded the 'quince experience' this trip. Yes, their restaurant is really named as such. 'Food as it should be', they proclaimed. Okaaaaay. I have to mention that ShouldBe does a pretty good spaghetti carbonara with no cream. Spot the egg yolk! A little odd in terms of interpretation, but I could live with it. Ate it all up, leaving behind the pieces of bacon.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Pizza Massilia Bangkok

Back in Bangkok and the first thing the man wanted is pizza. Pizza is like the man's all-time favorite food, and my all-time dislike. UGH. Okay. I know where that came from. We've been catching up with Amazon's 'Eat the World with Emeril Lagasse', and there's one episode on Franco Pepe's Italian pizza. Emeril Lagasse partnered up Nancy Silverton (of LA's Osteria Mozza and Pizzeria Mozza); she drove him around Campania in Italy to check out burrata, olive oil, and finally ended up at Franco Pepe's renowned pizza eatery in Caiazzo, near Naples.

Didn't need Thai food anymore. Hahahaha. The whole bunch us went to Pizza Massilia. Shared everything. Lamb chops, beef, pasta and of course, pizza. The man can't stop raving about how good those pizzas were. The decor threw me off, but yes, this place does a very good pizza indeed. Their vegan and vegetarian selections are awesome. Very good flavors going on. Still, I only wanted one slice. I've never met a pizza that I wanted to eat more than two slices of.

Luckily for me, there were other humans present to share the food. Whewwww. I could simply have a bite or so here and there. Needed to manage potential indigestion, so I mainly stuck to a very simple aglio olio. Good olive oil used, but if only they didn't douse the pasta so liberally. Fairly satisfying.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Happiness At Sea

Considered going to the Khao Chamao-Khao Wong waterfall at the Khao Chamao National Park. Ultimately ditched the idea because the scenery and layout are pretty similar to Pa-La-U Waterfall! Right down to the fish pools. Heh. I might as well hang out every day at sea. Did so! 🖤

I've got fairly bad sun-spots on my face that will only darken; no lightening products will help. The BFF clucks in despair at my seeming nonchalance. The sun-spots have worsened and I should do something about it. But honestly, even in this age of fashion, social media and whatever, I can't be bothered. 😬 I spend so little on skincare, facials and make-up. Not my priorities at all. I've got allergies to calm. Sunscreen and hats and not spending silly amounts of time in direct sunshine will suffice. I love the sea and being out in the sun. Not about to stop that.

I've given up on running or hitting the gym on this trip. Snorkeling is a form of exercise. Did a little spot of light diving too. We can easily find secluded beaches to swim to and fro little rocky outcrops. Swimming in the sea utilizes more calories than in a calm pool. Lived in dri-fit pants and tops all day. They dry so fast anyway. I can swim in them unencumbered. I refuse to wear a bikini at sea. How to properly swim long distances in it??!

Went fishing only for the amount required for lunch. Plenty of snappers. Woooohoooo. Yes, the boat driver packed along knives and steel brushes. We can still deftly scale and gut a fish in a makeshift outdoor kitchen. Hey, I can use a camping knife and not stab anybody hor. Skewering prawns is the easiest. Didn't need the boat driver to do all the work. He chuckled at us. These not-so-green tourists can cook. Hahahaha. In the late afternoons before sunset, when we headed back to the hotel, we gathered mussels from sticks left stuck in the seabed since a day ago. Mussels make great snacks lightly boiled in olive oil, white wine, garlic, Thai basil, chillies, pepper and salt.

Surrounded by the glorious blue and green for hours, I was at peace, and joyful. 💙