4 January 2003, Bangkok
Today was a late start, and we ate a late and leisurely breakfast at Au Bon Pain in Siam Center. At around 11:00 we walked down to the World Trade Center and visited the Narayan Phrand shop across the street. It is actually run by the Thai government’s Ministry of Industry. They have a wide variety of handicrafts and other items, but the prices seemed a bit on the high side. On the other hand, the quality seemed to also be on the high side, compared with some other handicrafts we have seen. We didn’t buy anything there, though. Instead, we went across the street to the Naraya shop in the World Trade Center. Despite the similar name, the two shops have nothing to do with each other. Naraya sells what I can only describe as quilted stuff. I’m sure there’s a term for it, but I don’t know what it is—take two layers of fabric, put some padding between them, and then stitch it all together. What is that? Anyway, we bought presents (slippers, picture frames, cosmetic bags, etc.) for various people there.
By that time we were ready for lunch, and we ended up eating at a Japanese place called Akane. Strangely enough, the music they played was Korean. It kind of felt like we were in a Japanese restaurant in Korea. There seemed to be a lot of Japanese restaurants in the WTC, which led us to surmise that a lot of Japanese tourists shop there—Japanese tourists who like Korean music, of course. When we were paying for the meal, I asked the girl working the register if she knew that the music was Korean, but she either could not understand me or didn’t care. I just thought it was funny to be listening to Korean music in a Japanese restaurant in Thailand.
Before leaving the WTC, we bought a nice duffel bag at a very reasonable price. We put our purchases from Naraya inside and headed back to the Siam Discovery Center, where we bought presents for my younger brothers (a mousepad for the one who doesn’t leave his computer and some incense for the hippie) and my father (my mom got some quilted stuff). Then we went back to the guesthouse and rested for about an hour, as Hyunjin was not feeling well.
At 17:00 we went back out to MBK across the street, ostensibly to shop for some clothes for Hyunjin. She couldn’t find anything she liked, though, so we wandered around until it was time for dinner. Then we made our way up to the 7th floor, where LP said a food court/beer garden offered a nice view of Bangkok. On the 7th floor we found a cinema—apparently LOTR:TTT is very popular right now in Thailand—and some fast food places, but no food court. As it turned out, the food court was on the 6th floor, and the view was not all that great—there were only a few large windows, and you could only see out them from a few tables. Hyunjin still did not feel well, so I wandered around trying to find something to eat. It was a bit like cable TV—there were about a hundred booths to choose from, but none of them really seemed to be all that spectacular. Perhaps I was just overwhelmed by all the choices and irritated by my hunger (strangely enough, the hungrier I get the more difficult it is to decide on what to eat). We eventually decided to go down to the food court on the 1st floor, where we had eaten before. Despite the fact that it’s supposed to be open until 21:00, though, all the booths were closed—even though it was only 19:00.
Frustrated, we left MBK and headed back toward the guesthouse. I sent Hyunjin in to rest and found a rice noodle stand. It wasn’t the best rice noodle soup I’ve had, but it was decent and it filled a hungry stomach. The good thing about rice noodle soup is that they leave the seasoning up to you. You get the basic noodles and broth—which is pretty good as is, in my opinion—and then you season it with the four basic condiments found on every table in a Thai restaurant: fish sauce (if you want it a bit more salty), chili pepper sauce, dried ground hot peppers, and sugar. I usually eat it as is, but many Thais like to dump in spoonful after spoonful of ground peppers.
On the way in I bought a half pineapple, since I figured it would be quite some time before I can get fresh pineapple again (not including tomorrow, of course). Hyunjin is resting now, possibly even asleep, but it’s only 21:00. She hasn’t been feeling well today, though, and she needs her rest for the Weekend Market tomorrow and our trip back to Korea.