Joe's first mango sticky rice
We are back from Myanmar and had a lovely time. But first things first - it's time to catch you up on our trip to Bangkok.

Our trip to Bangkok happened thanks in part to Joe's job. He had a business trip in the city, so I excitedly tagged along to turn it into a mini vacation for the two of us. Although Joe had already been to Bangkok once before for work, it was my first time there.

My first impressions of the city were that there are a lot of people in Bangkok (locals and tourists), the traffic is horrible, and the Thai's like to display very large photos of their royal family all around the city (seriously, their faces were on billboards, random signs along the freeway and streets, and on buildings). Joe and I hired what I'll call loosely, a car service, from the airport to take us to our hotel. Our car turned out to be a hearse-like car that I guess is supposed to be a replica of black cabs in London (according to signage in the car). I felt that the car's design was well intended, just not carried out very well. While we had a ton of leg room, the cab was very old and extremely hot thanks to the poor circulation of the air conditioning. Thus, our journey into the city was a comical one as Joe and I sweated profusely and I tried not to get carsick from the constant weaving between traffic and stop-and-go driving.

We got to our hotel with just enough time for lunch before Joe had to go to his first business meeting of the day. Our hotel was in the Sukhumvit section of Bangkok, a bustling economic center with many modern and new buildings. Joe and I had our first meal in Bangkok at a cute little Thai restaurant in the basement of a mall (unfortunately I didn't remember to record the name of the restaurant). We ate some of the best pad thai either of us have ever had, and Joe tasted mango sticky rice for the first time. For those of you who are unfamiliar with mango sticky rice, it's a very popular dessert in Thailand. Glutinous rice is cooked with coconut milk and is slightly sweet. The rice is served with mango and comes with a little coconut sauce drizzled on top. It is delicious and you feel slightly less guilty indulging in this than in a chocolatey dish.

Our cab to the hotel from the airport
First meal in Bangkok
Delicious pad thai
The inside of Terminal 21
After Joe went off to work, I indulged in a day of beauty and pampering since services in Bangkok are really cheap. My experience was wonderful, to say the least.

I accomplished my entire day of indulgence at the mall next door to our hotel, Terminal 21. Luckily and conveniently for me, most of the spas that came highly recommended online all happened to be at Terminal 21 (I didn't feel like facing the crowds and traffic of Bangkok on what was supposed to be a relaxing day). 

Terminal 21 is a very cute concept. The seven-storey mall is themed as an airport terminal with each floor representing a different location. As you can see in the photo above, one of the floors is San Francisco with a replica of the Golden Gate Bridge. Other floors include the Caribbean, Tokyo, London, and Hollywood. The mall has a wide mix of stores, restaurants, and a movie theater.

My day of pampering started with my first ever massage... and perhaps, the last one I'll ever have. I went to a spa called Let's Relax for a traditional Thai massage. My masseuse was a little old lady who was so small I wondered if she'd have enough strength to administer a massage. She showed me. Thai massages are full-body massages that include some stretching. The masseuse dug into my muscles, making me squirm at some points because it was either slightly painful or extremely ticklish. Since the masseuse was so small, she had to stand on my back at one point to twist my body to stretch my back. I'm not one for people touching me because I'm extremely ticklish, so the experience took a little bit of a mental toll on me as I tried not to kick or flinch lest I hurt the masseuse! I do, however, see the merits of massages because I did feel very relaxed at some points... enough so to fall asleep. I think the best part of the experience was the smell of the linens which was extremely aromatic and relaxing. The one hour massage only cost about US$16.

Next, I headed to the Take Care salon to get a quick haircut and manicure. My hairdresser, a Thai man, understood English well and executed a great trim for me. He and his assistant teamed up to blow dry my hair, going over it again and again to make sure my hair set in perfect waves. It was a great experience and only cost US$16! Then, I headed to the manicurist's table for a relaxing manicure that included lots of great smelling scrubs, skins masks, and lotions. The manicurist really had an eye for detail and did a great job. Again, I got a pretty good deal... only US$16 for the 45-minute manicure. 

I can't believe I only spent US$48 for a full day of pampering. This would have cost far more in Singapore or the US. I can see why people love visiting Bangkok!

Shortly after this, I met up with Joe and two of his colleagues from BASF for dinner. We ate at Terminal 21 at a restaurant called MK Restaurant, which is a chain in Southeast Asia that's famous for its Thai-style "suki" (also known as hotpot). Each table has a burner in the middle with a pot full of some sort of broth. Diners order different types of raw meat, vegetables, and noodles. All of this is dumped into the hotpot and cooked, then everyone ladles what they want into their own bowl. This wasn't one of my favorite meal experiences in Asia, but it was interesting and I felt very healthy. There is very little fat or oil in suki and I didn't feel stuffed after eating a ton.

Empty hotpot
Cooking several ingredients
"Hollywood" level of Terminal 21 where we saw a movie
To end the night, Joe and I did something we don't normally do on trips. We saw a movie. Yes, a movie. I had read that seeing a movie in Thailand is quite an event... and it was. Combine this with the fact that the last Twilight movie had just come out and that we don't see movies in Singapore because they are censored (we don't want to miss the good parts)... and I'd say we had good reasons for visiting a movie theater.

Going to the movies is pretty cheap in Thailand. It was about US$12 combined for Joe and I to buy tickets. And, the nice part about Thai movie theaters is that you purchase an actual seat as if you were going to a concert. This way, you don't have to worry about getting to a popular movie early to snag a good seat. 

The movie theaters in Thailand are really nice with big, plush comfortable chairs. I would have liked to have taken a photo, but cameras are not allowed in theaters. I suppose this is because many people illegally film movies to sell on the black market. Theater staff make you check your camera battery with them before you can enter the theater. 

Before the movies begin, all of the theaters play a tribute video honoring the Thai king and the audience must stand for this. It was kind of odd starting a movie this way, but the locals love the royal family and really get into the montage. At the end, they even salute the king, muttering some sort of phrase. 

While the theater experience was interesting, Twilight was terrible. Good thing we didn't spend a fortune to see it!

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