Bangkok Dining: Dimsum at Yuan, Millenium Hilton by the River 

It’s the weekend and though I am still feeling under the weather, something about sleeping at the early hours of 9pm and waking up in the wee hours of the morning is refreshing.  The sky is blue, the birds are chirping and the wind is in the air.  It is refreshing and a great way to re-energize.  Of course, another great way to re-energize is to go out and have some good food with good company.  If you fancy some dimsum I recently discovered a new place upon recommendation of a dear friend.  It’s called “Yuan” (which makes me think of the Chinese Yuan which is the local chinese currency).

What I love about this dimsum place is that you get freshly made dimsum. None of that frozen and re-steamed kind of dimsum.  Each portion is large and you can taste the quality of the ingredients inside.  I had some dimsum made out of snow fish, the usual shumai, fried taro with red pork, fried cream buns and a few other dishes. My favorite was the fried cream bun.  It’s crunch on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside.  Great food, just go run afterwards.

If you opt for the “All You Can Eat” dimsum which goes for 730thb net it does not only include dimsum, but you are also give choices of soup, noodles and dessert.  A great deal if you eat a lot.

I had the fish soup with thousand year old egg, fried noodles with red pork, jelly fish,  and mango pudding.  Everything was delicious.   Nothing like those greasy chinese food I had while in college.  At Yuan, everything is good quality and non-greasy.  I suppose this is what real Chinese food should be like.

Ambiance ?  It’s by the river so that’s always a plus for me.  If you book early, you can get a seat by the window, but since the restaurant is relatively well-known it gets quite crowded and all tables are fully booked.  Not somewhere to go if you want a quiet romantic lunch.   If you want a private room, they also have a large room which is in a corner so it has a beautiful view.  It’s also large enough for kids to be running around in.

The decoration is modern and simple.  My kind of place.  The greatest surprise, however, was the music.  Throughout the entire lunch I could hear beautiful chinese music playing in the background and just assumed it was a CD playing.   Only later did I realize that the music played at Yuan is actually live music.  A young lady sits on the upper level of the room playing a chinese string instrument.  (forgive me I know not what you call it.)

Another great surprise for those who like to watch people cook is the kitchen.  It’s separated by a glass wall from the dining area so you can sneak a peak at all the chefs cooking.  I feel like I am Ratatouille watching all the action from a corner.  I see the dimsum section being steamed to order, the noodle section sizzling away on the stove and even the peking duck being roasted in a wood fried oven. It’s amazing.  Everyone knows what to do to get our food out on time.

Getting there? The journey for me is always as important as getting to the destination and getting to Yuan is in itself an adventure.  It’s located at the Hilton Millenium Hotel by the Chaophraya River on the Thonburi side so for Bangkokians who live on the other side of the river, the Thonburi side is somewhat of a mystery and feels like unchartered territory even though it’s just a bridge across.   I have good news though.   If you feel like going carless and avoid the traffic, this hotel by the river is skytrain BTS accessible.  All you have to do is go to the “Saphan Taksin” station and take exit number 2.  Follow the walk way until you reach the pier.  There will be piers for the Chaophraya Express but those are for those taking river tours.  To your left will be the hotel boat piers.  There are signs available telling you which hotel boat stops at what pier.   Each hotel boat usually comes 15-20 mins apart so just take a seat and enjoy the view.

Oh here’s their contact info:  Millenium Hilton Hotel:  http://www1.hilton.com/en_US/hi/hotel/BKKHITW-Millennium-Hilton-Bangkok-hotel/dining.do;jsessionid=00E1A6D4599DA83DC74FFB61B8F0AC19.etc82

Address

:  123 Charoennakorn Road, Klongsan, Bangkok, Thailand 10600
Tel: 66-2-442-2000    Fax:  66-2-442-2020

It’s open 11.30am to 10.30pm, but when I called they said I could arrive at 11.00am.  🙂  Have a good dimsum everyone!

Bangkok Must See: The Deck and the Temple of Dawn

In my previous post I took you to a little coffee shop that overlooks the river and has a majestic view of the Temple of Dawn.  If you aren’t too tired after the walk around the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, I suggest you make one more stop before you journey back to rest.  If it’s too hot and you have more days, come back another day to visit the Temple of Dawn.  It is indeed beautiful and one that should not be missed.

I wrote about my visit to the Temple of Dawn earlier last year, so check it out if you are interested 🙂 
( https://havingmetime.wordpress.com/2010/05/14/the-temple-of-dawn/)  It is a beautiful site indeed.

What I didn’t mention last year though was this little restaurant right opposite the Temple of Dawn called “The Deck”(which a friend kindly mentioned yesterday 🙂 Thank you.  It is located not too far from Vivi the Coffee Place and it too is part of a boutique hotel called Arun Residence (http://www.arunresidence.com/).  This hotel is so small it has only five bedrooms but it is indeed cosy and cute.  I’ve never seen the rooms so I can’t say how they are, but I have been to the restaurant more than a few times.   They have a stunning view of the temple and it’s somewhere I like to take my friends from abroad especially in the evenings or for a few drinks.  It’s unique and not like just another hotel bar where people go to “be seen.”  Here you go to “see” and to get in touch with your romantic side.  

Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy hotel bars, but depending on the mood, the weather, sometimes I just want to be outdoors and at peace.

The food itself I thought was average, but there are a lot of people who like it.  I’m not sure if it’s the ambiance that makes it taste good or whether the fact that we are usually quite hungry when we get there.  I suppose you’d have to go taste the food for yourself 🙂  They serve both thai and western dishes like spaghetti and salads.   They have both indoor and outdoor seating, but the one with the best view is outdoor on the balcony.   There on the second floor you will having dinner opposite the Temple of Dawn with lights shining on all its glory.

Most nights, you’ll find couples out for a romantic dinner, but some days (like when I go) it’d be a slightly bigger group of friends out for a good time.  I discovered that its best to make a reservation before going, and if you want to take someone out on a date, make sure you ask for the table on the left of the balcony.  It offers a clearer view of the Temple 🙂  Oh, beware of mosquitoes.  I get bitten all the time but it doesn’t deter me from enjoying my time.

What you shouldn’t miss though is the little bar on the third floor.  The stairway up is small and not for those who are scared of heights,  but almost certainly a sound expressing delight will escape from anyone’s mouth when they first see the view.  I remember my first climb up.  I didn’t expect it to be so beautiful, but there was the temple, right opposite me with nothing but the sky between us. I immediately lost my heart to it.  On a clear evening, it is magical.  The dark sky, the soft sounds of the waves reflecting the light that illuminates the Temple of Dawn give it all a surreal feeling.

There are a few high tables and a little sofa where you can order a few drinks or coffee and just bathe in the glory of the Temple of Dawn.  The view itself is enough to make the trip worthwhile.  I wonder what it was like in the 1800’s. Without buildings nor electricity, it must have been a dark and mysterious presence looming over the river.  How I wish I could travel back in time…. Maybe I’ll go back for a visit soon if it doesn’t get too hot.

Bangkok Must See: Vivi The Coffee Place

There is a hidden secret that was discovered by a colleage a few years back right and one that I truly enjoy visiting. Thank you na ka.  It’s a little coffee shop called “Vivi The Coffee Place” located right next to the river of Kings and it is somewhere that is perfect if you want to stop by and have a little rest after a visit to the Grand Palace or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  It gets hot and humid and having somewhere to just chill and relax by the river is ideal.  Or if you just need a little hideaway, this place too is the perfect place.  It’s quiet, it has a gorgeous view of the Temple of Dawn, an ancient fortress and you can spend a good number of hours just reading away.  Away from all the crowds of people you usually find on streets and shopping malls.  Here you are at peace.

The Coffee shop is part of a boutique hotel called “Aurum” which in itself is a beautiful building that makes you wonder if you are indeed in old Bangkok.  I believe the building is new, but it has been built in a style that reminds me of the old buildings in Paris.  What I love about it is the feeling you get when you first see it.  You are walking up a small little “soi” or alley surrounded by old Thai shop houses and then suddenly you find yourself standing in front of a beautiful building and the entrance to a coffee place.  You feel like you are an explorer finding a secret.

The service is friendly and if you go early mornings, you have the place to yourself.  There’s seating both outdoors and indoors.  Outdoors you get to sit on a little balcony right next to the river and facing the Temple of Dawn, and indoors you get to be in the comfort of airconditioning.  You also have a view of the temple, but it might be somewhat obstructed by those sitting outside.  Wherever you sit, it’s still a beautiful little coffee place.  Their bathroom is also very clean so if you are in search of a clean bathroom (which is most often the case when one goes on holiday) this one is great.

Check out their website! It’s mostly about the hotel though…but it’ll offer you a map of the place.  Enjoy!  http://www.aurum-bangkok.com/

 

Calmed by the River Nile

Gliding down the River Nile, it is not surprising why since ancient times, it has been a source of inspiration for many.  As I sit on the sundeck looking out at the vastness of this river, I imagine that not much has changed here over the centuries.  The riverbanks are lined with palm trees and uninhabited fields.  I spy an occasional buffalo and watch birds fly in the clear blue sky.  A sense of calmness comes over me.

This River, I imagine has this effect on people.

The cruise ship quietly glides down the Nile at a steady pace, no rush, no hurry.  It is elegant and at one with the river.  I too am starting to a feel a bit of this calm rub onto me.

I lie down on the sundeck and watch the change in scenery as we pass by.  For most of the time, all I see in front of me is the vastness of this river which has been the conduit of civilization for thousands of years.  This great river had been the source of life for without it’s waters, which also proved to be an important mode of transportation, life would have been very different in the desert.

Palm trees stand out against the clear blue sky and together with the wild grass the river banks transform into a beautiful sihoullete.  I am enthralled.  I wish I had brought my watercolour set so that I could paint this view, but then I want to travel light and I’m not that much of an artist.  It’ll have to be another day.  For now, I opt instead to do a rough sketch in my little moleskine notebook. 

It’s quiet up here on the sundeck and the engines are so quiet I don’t hear much other than the splashing of the water as we glide by.  Occasionally we pass by another cruise ship and then to the delight of all those on the sundeck, we’d start waving at those on board the other cruiseline.  It’s friendly.  It’s fun.  I’m feeling chilly with the wind, and have wrapped myself up in my scarves but on the other sundeck people are sunbathing.   I gather they must come from somewhere very cold.

Cruising down the River Nile, we have no space for stress, for anger, or for all those emotions that make us humans insufferable beings.  Here, we are back to nature and at peace.  I feel like I am reliving a bit of history.   I feel like time has slowed down and that I have found a part of me that had been lost in all this crazy, hectic world.  It’s effect is so unlike any other that just writing about it, I can once again feel myself sitting there on the sundeck with the breeze through my hair, sitting, watching the scenes roll by.  I am at peace, I am calm.  If only I could feel like this everyday……. 

The thought remains as the sunsets and I am reminded that another day has ended.  Another end brings with it another beginning and another chance for me to once more find myself at “peace” with the river.