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Notes from a Bangkok Apartment

This isn't particularly orderly, as I'm sort of writing this before departing for Perth in 4 hours, with nearly no sleep. I compiled most of these in my head over the last month here. The apartment we're living out of is hyooge, and the bedrooms are hyooge. I got my own wheel, water bottle, food bowl, litter dish and hidey block and internetz and everything. I am not looking forward going back to my tiny little cubicle back in Perth.

I brought over Finches to edit, but I've had to fight for every minute I could get just to sit down long enough to stare at the stuff. The first night here, after three hours of being introduced to me, the apartment block's firewall killed all BT, eMule and IRC. Thailand, by default, hates Youtube. You'd think I'd kind of appreciate the lack of distractions and all, but mostly, I've been developing keyboard face over Finches whenever I could sit down with it, which, by the way, I actually need to finish editing very urgently soon. That, and all the other writing work left pending.

I still managed to read much manga. Much good manga was absorbed. I brought along the Dhammapada and a Buddha-pop introduction to Buddhism, which I didn't finish reading. The Buddha-pop made my eyes glaze over on the plane. I have actually found a manga that makes me thankful I lived long enough to read it. And funnily enough, the title in question is very much a study of Buddhist reincarnation philosopies, in the context of vampires. So at some point, expect me to rave at large about this. And now, in notes:

Transformers:- About the first 20 minutes is plot. The rest of the movie is GIANT ROBOTS EVERYWHERE! OMG!!!111!!!!

I watched it in a massive Thai cinema, where we understand that structures in Bangkok are built to incredible scales, with only the three back rows filled. I pitied the couple next to me whenever I giggled at every single dorky tech joke that came on screen. I spent the whole movie waiting for someone to go, "Transformers, more than meets the eye!", Autobot/Decepticon logo switch. I did inner wails at the trailers/Linkin Park video over what they did to Bumblebee, and then I actually watched the movie and became the only person in the cinema laughing at the awesomeness of what they did with Bumblebee.

This is the awesomest comic/cartoon adaptation I have ever seen. You will not be able to make me dislike it.

Kinokuniya:- Kinokuniya is worship. Bangkok has Kinokuniyas more than I can count. Kinokuniyas mean books! Books in literature, books in anthropology, books in sociological studies, books in history, books in books and Japanese books! Kinokuniya is on sale! Kinokuniya gave me 20% off Michael Pollan's The Omnivore's Dilemma and they wrapped my book for free, saving it from dust and scratches! Kinokuniya rules! Perth makes me cry!

Pocky:- Pocky sticks, like Fruit Loops, are much sweeter than I remembered them to be as a child. I don't know how I ever ate them now.

Maguro Cheese Fry:- I was told to try this item at Fuji when I got here. This is cuts of fresh Philly cheese wrapped in raw tuna, wrapped in spring roll skins, floured and deep fried. Served with tempura sauce. When you first bite into the roll, the barely softened creamed cheese oozes out of the perfectly fresh tuna, with the golden spring roll skin adding a slightly chewy texture.

Fuji Restaurants:- They're all over Bangkok. I haven't been to a Fuji in many years. The prices are reasonable and the variety of food is good. I may, however, not want to eat tempura for a while.

Japanese Restaurants:- The Thais are mad about them. Restaurant floors in major shopping complexes here are about 90% Japanese restaurants and maybe 10% Italian or Thai outlets. These are all high traffic establishments. The amount of people in this city is incredible.

Catfish Salad:- I only had this once, at Home Kichen on Soi Langsuan. It was really good. I regret to say that I only had catfish salad once in the whole month I've been here. Home Kitchen also makes very good oyster omelet.

Oyster Omelet:- For the best oyster omelet, you need to head to the food court on the top floor of Platinum Plaza. The stall has lighted menus showing off its prize product, and the line for it stretches out quite a bit. They make their omelets on a large skillet, so 3/4ths of the omelet comes to you lacy and crisp, with huge, fresh, perfectly undercooked oysters in the gooey starched centre. The pad thai is also worth asking for.

Beef Noodle Soup:- On the same row of stalls as the Black Canyon Coffee outlet at the Platinum Plaza Food Court, you'll also find a nice stall selling the direct local equivalent of Vietnamese beef pho. Unlike the Vietnamese noodles though, the noodles are served with beef brisket. The clear broth is good to declog the tastebuds after scarfing down the oyster omelet and pad thai.

Luk Chup:- These delicate little treats are made from balls of sweetened mung bean paste. They're then dipped in gelatine and painstakingly handpainted to resemble wee fruits and vegetables. You can buy a box of 10 for about 50 Baht (RM 5/USD 1). I suggest purchasing them at the Food Court on the top floor of Platinum Plaza. Their luk chup seem to be fairly fresh, and are really cute besides.

Black Canyon Coffee:- Thailand's largest coffeehouse chain. They make an excellent latte, very nice robust coffee. I'm willing to risk caffeine-migraines to drink their grog.

Platinum Plaza, Top Floor:- There's a really neat shop here that distributes knitted hats, gloves and leg warmers. I've forgotten the name of the shop itself, but all the products inside were made by a company called Ladies' Room. Really cute gloves. Directly opposite it is a shop called Unique Home that sells satin quilted bags (such as baby bags) and beaded denim handbags. If I remember correctly, they should be right at the end of the row parallel to Black Canyon Coffee. (I have a notebook, but I still have to remember to write in it.)

Designer Costume Jewelry, Platinum Plaza, Top Floor:- Right next to the Food Court and within view of the escalators are the designer costume jewelry stalls. Individual stalls specialize in specific themes, like semi-precious jewelry, strictly crystals, copper work, or even the colour pink. Spent an age going through all of them. Got myself a jade, carnelian and plastic seed bracelet to go with my old garnet bead necklace. The jade will match the jade barrel on the necklace, and the colour scheme's about right. The clasp is sturdy but to work with though. I've gotten by with asking other people to help me clip the thing together. Might have to rig the ring end of the clasp with string so I can pull it together over my wrist.

Also bought a variety of other pieces for possible eBaying. Got a couple of lovely beaded necklaces cheap. Both necklaces are about mid-chest to stomach length. There's a black one with a combination of oval monochrome frosted glass beads, larger round gold and black frosted glass beads, metal rounds and black plastic (might have been going for imitation jet?) beads that looks like it could go well on dark lace or a formal-casual dress/suit. This came with a ribboned black and grey fabric, lace and feather lily brooch with stamens strung from black plastic seeds -- the edges of the petals have glitter painted detailing. The second necklace is a different design with bronze-tinted white frosted glass beads, pale amber faceted plastic beads, imitation copper-toned pearls and metal tubes. This also comes with a matching lily brooch in fabric, lace and feathers, with similar beadwork stamens and detailing like the first.

Also got three lace and cord chokers from the copper work stall. All the chokers come in sets with matching earrings. The red choker is strung with 6 strands of fine maroon cord, 2 strands of fine red cord and maroon lace ribbons. It has a large disc-shaped pendant. The top and bottom portions are shaped like fans with inlays of clear crimson glass and creamy metallic red swirls edged with geometric carvings. The two "fans" are connected by rounds of variated crimson and creamy metallic red glass joined by tiny bronze curls, interspersed with red faceted crystals and red imitation pearls. The earrings are smaller versions of the "fans", inlaid with red faceted crystals.

The green choker is strung completely with 18 strands of fine lime green cord. The pendant consists of three loose bell-shaped copper segments each inlaid with 8 lime green faceted crystals, 2 small copper "donuts" inlaid with frosted lime-coloured glass and set with clear faceted crystals, and rectangular, round as well as teardrop-shaped cabochon glass. The back of the segments are carved into a bamboo mat pattern. The earrings are smaller versions of the segments inlaid with a sample of crystals and cabochon glass. This particular design has copper filligree caps at both ends of the cords before the clasps.

The black choker is strung with 6 strands of fine black cord, 2 strands of fine white cord and black lace ribbons. The pendant is rectangular, set with 2 rectangular black glass beads with opalesque centres, a large frosted grey glass bead set in a copper sunburst inlaid with clear black glass, a carved rectangular copper tile inlaid with grey glass and an enclosed daisy carved into the center (inlaid with black glass) and set with a clear faceted crystal, a copper sunflower inlaid with black glass and gunmetal plastic tube-shaped beads set with a clear faceted crystal, two small copper swirls, and four clear faceted crystals. The earrings are two small rectangles filled with the carved rectangular cooper tile and sunflower mentioned above, flanked by a single copper swirl and a clear faceted crystal.

Jeans:- Came to Bangkok looking for jeans to last me the next 5 years and got them. Isetan was on sale, so I picked up a pair from Sweet Camel (Japanese people and their weird, weird names...). Mostly, I wore the pair of jeans I was looking to replace, indicated to the shop assistant I was looking for a similar design, and got handed stuff to try. The Sweet Camel jeans were originally somewhat tight around the thighs, which worried me because of the amount of movement I usually expect from my jeans. I got the shop to cut the jeans down to my size, and hoped the tightness was just something I'd have to stretch the things into. After a wash and a wear, they seem to be getting looser, but the leggings still catch on my knees when I crouch. Then I went to Central Chidlom, and the place was on another one of its every-other-week major sales. Found a really comfy, really tough-looking pair of Lee's for half of what I coughed up for the Sweet Camel (seriously, who comes up with these names?). Clearly, Isetan of Bangkok is a different animal from Isetan of Kuala Lumpur -- where I usually shop for my jeans. Isetan KLCC always has these awesome jeans bargain bins where the jeans come in amazing-my-size at under RM100 (USD 25). I have a real personal fondness for Soda's jeans, which have always been pretty hardy things that last millions of wash cycles before they go threadbare. I live in my jeans, pretty much, so they damn well better last long. Isetan Bangkok won't let me leave their premises with any less than RM225 (USD 55) per pair.

Bangkok Supermarkets:- Remind me of home! The produce choices aren't quite up to KL's variety yet, but there's lots of new and interesting local vegetables to poke at anyway. We found cowslip creepers, which are more of a homegrown deal back in KL, and discovered bittergourd vine. Bittergourd vine, when poached in coconut milk, has a flavour similar to edible ferns -- kind of bland with a hint of sweetness, and a similar powdery after-texture too. There were these mildly bitter yellow bellflowers we deepfried in batter for want of any better idea -- the label was helpfully in Thai, and the entire dish was nice enough, though the flavour of the bellflowers were lost in the batter's seasonings. I have also managed to eat more Japanese eggplant than I care to eat for the rest of the year, and not nearly enough water convulvulus.

Thai chickens are really something else. We don't know what they do to their chickens out here, but the meat is clear pink, they've got texture, and a helluva flavour. One only needs to stick a chicken breast into hot water and out comes this amazing stock. And the eggs are awesomely yellow yolks filled with corn-fed goodness, and they have duck eggs in the supermarkets!

Thanks to the huge Japanese food craze here, many Japanese food companies have set up shop in Thailand, resulting in local Pocky, Meiji milk and Nissin ramen. This isn't inclusive of the stuff actually imported from Japan and elsewhere around the world. I actually found the American version of Ovaltine, the Dutch version of Van Houten's hot cocoa, and Droste! Droste, maker of my favourite chocolate pastilles -- how was I supposed to know they also made the bitter, bitter hot cocoa of despair? Bitter, bitter hot cocoa of despair is worth the migraine, every sip of it!

S.K.I.N.:- Found out from the delightful gakuhai that the music we all heard in the S.K.I.N. trailer was really a piece by Steve Reich called Piano Phase. Therefore, the music we heard in the trailer and seemed to generally like was not by S.K.I.N. at all. On the other hand, I also ran into a review of S.K.I.N.'s debut concert up at the J Rock Revolution site. How much of this is fan hype, and how much product? I don't know. But hey, they're saying Yoshiki is doing his lightspeed drumming, Sugizo is apparently being "erotic", Miyavi sounds like Miyavi and Gackt is all dramatic. Worth a listen, surely. And: there was indeed a piano duet. Maybe they'll actually get to the point of a piano duel yet.

Ueto Aya:- She's voicing Kai from the Piano no Mori animated feature. Some of you might remember her as the girl from Azumi and quite recently the cute air stewardess from Attention Please. I look forward to hearing her as Kai.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
benpeek
Jul. 4th, 2007 11:20 pm (UTC)
the awesomeness!
scanner_darkly
Jul. 5th, 2007 01:30 am (UTC)
Kinokunoya is indeed awesomeness. I haven't yet spent time in the one here in SF since I moved back a few years ago...bad me!

Also, I saw Die Hard rather than the Transformers movie - but I didn't have to deal with lines. It was fun. But on reading your review and kn1ghtshade's cryptic review, I do want to see it.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 01:49 pm (UTC)
Have you by chance seen CM Priest's review of Transformers? It's a better summary of my feelings, in a nutshell. A really BIG nutshell. :)

I saw the trailers for Die Hard before Transformers. I couldn't believe there was another Die Hard. I thought Bruce Willis already retired.
countlibras
Jul. 5th, 2007 02:59 pm (UTC)
you're alive!
I think I forgot that you went to Bangkok.

And I really want to want watch Transformers, partly in thanks to Cherie Priest's review.
http://cmpriest.livejournal.com/860388.html
Also, because I loved Transformers as a child. I even had a Decepticon toy - a black robot with purple trim that turned into a jet. I think my brother had Megatron.

I have out grown a number of sweets like Rice Krispy Treats, but certainly not Pocky. But I've noticed that not all Pocky are created equal. I love the authentic stuff and the LU version, but one time I came across a Thai distributor and absolutely hated it. And I'm just talking about plain chocolate. I am not even talking about the flavor varities of Pocky.

You've successfully made me hungry for Asian food. And I feel like I must go out and buy necklaces while I am at it.

As for skin, you can go poking around my friend Maria's lj. (mcvarmzi) I believe that she has a post or two that are public and pertain to SKIN. She freelances for Purple Sky, so she'll be writing up a professional article soon. However, it sounds like she doesn't get much space in the next issue just because the timing of the show and the magazine were off.

I'm in the middle of trying to convince Maria to go to Japan with me in the fall to see BT. How about you? Wanna come with? :D
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 01:44 pm (UTC)
I was bad, and I did not write from Bangkok to say I was in Bangkok, so people would think I fell off the planet. *sad*

I was more of a girl than I liked to admit as a child. Tis true I loved Saber Rider, Transformers, Voltron and the Thundercats, but my entire bedroom was covered in Rainbow Brite or Strawberry Shortcake and I liked Jem, and Magical Princess Minky Momo (my first and last magical princess anime...).

Re: CM Priest's review of Transformers. YES. TRANSFORMERS WAS LIKE THAT FOR ME TOO!!!!

I LOVE Rice Krispies. I abhorr any bar forms of Rice Krispies, finding them far too sweet. Though I like muesli bars lots. In Bangkok, I had the Thai Pocky. The pastry bit was relatively alright, but the filling was more sugar paste than chocolate.

I wasn't able to load Maria's LJ. It said the username wasn't registered? Since I'm back in Perth, I can go look up Youtube for SKIN, though. Sadly, back from Bangkok, I am now broke. Not to mention sad, but mostly broke. Also, the end of the year-ish, I may be mailed over on a family-sponsored holiday to Bangkok again. Or enlisted to watch the family home while they go on holiday again. Did I mention I was sad yet? *sigh*
countlibras
Jul. 6th, 2007 01:53 pm (UTC)
I am a dork and spelled Maria's lj name incorrectly as I have a tendency to do. Try mcvarmazi.

I loved Jem! And Rainbow Brite and Strawberry Shortcake. However, there was also lots of He-man, She-ra, Voltron, and Transformers. I think my Decepticon was as tomboyish as I got. My brother had an awesome Voltron toy. All the pieces actually came off like in the cartoon. My brother was really into robots as a child, which probably explains why I was watching Transformers.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 07:07 pm (UTC)
He-Man and She-Ra! :)

I had a lot of animal plushies. Literally well over a hundred animal plushies that became miserable to give away as I grew up. I don't think I had all that many cartoon toys though. I had a Strawberry Shortcake wooden stove, which I helped my Dad put together. I really treasured that thing. And maybe 2 or 3 Rainbow Brite/My Little Pony plushies. A few wind-up Smurfs. As far as cartoon products went, my parents really preferred to buy me books. I still have this gorgeous Shortcake calendar from 1987 and a hardcover book I have in storage I refuse to throw away. At one point, I even had the whole collection of Disney hardcover collectible books adapted from the movies.

All my boyish toys were computer games, an epic 23 years of them. ;)
countlibras
Jul. 6th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
I had about 100 stuffed animals - my dad threw most of them away when I didn't notice (there was renovations being done to my room, so they were packed away. He proceeded to get rid of them and some other things of mine while I was in my first year of college. There was much, much angsting).

I had a Strawberry Shortcake video game. I think I might have had a Rainbow Brite doll, but I certainly had some videos. I had a lot of She-ra dolls. Between me and my best friend, I think we had the whole collection. Honsetly though, I was mostly a Barbie and plushies kid.
vampyrichamster
Jul. 7th, 2007 04:24 pm (UTC)
The same happened to me. I came home one day and found most of my stuffed animals had been slowly given away while I was college. I put my foot down on the collectible Enid Blyton (I skipped lunch for years to buy most of that collection) and my Shortcake books.

I had one Barbie growing up, and a generic Barbie-like doll. Both were presents from other people. I wasn't much into human-shaped dolls. Even back then, they kind of freaked me out. :)
countlibras
Jul. 6th, 2007 02:00 pm (UTC)
Back to Bangkok at the end of the year? Wow, so many times! Unless of course you do end up house-sitting. (but you could sneak over to Japan, right? yeah?)

I think I'm committing myself to the 11/8 concert date - now I just need to plan the rest of the trip. So many things I want to do and I have no idea where to start!

By the way, there is nothing wrong with girly. I have my share of barely worn jewelry. ;)
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 07:12 pm (UTC)
I fear I shall simply have to live vicariously through you on Japan. :) I am supposed to be very good at doing the vicariously living thing, oh yessss.

A lot of my jewelry was bought for me by other people, which doesn't usually coincide with my clothing. That, and I habitually forget to wear jewelry altogether. ;)

Oh! Just finished a long round of Youtubing SKIN. It seems Gackt is singing his high notes, and his low, sexy low notes. Rather industrial rock. Wished I could hear Yoshiki properly. The guitars are hyooge. This was a band I wasn't supposed to look forward to...
countlibras
Jul. 6th, 2007 08:18 pm (UTC)
I bought all of my jewelry... but that doesn't mean that it matches my wardrobe. XD

Well then, if there are any tour goods you want me to pick up for you, just let me know.

This was a band I wasn't supposed to look forward to...
Awww, you know you totally were! ;)
vampyrichamster
Jul. 7th, 2007 04:31 pm (UTC)
Girliness is not my middle name! *whines*

Thanks for the offer! I don't really know what goods are on offer yet, but well see. :)
desertwolf
Jul. 6th, 2007 06:17 am (UTC)
Huh, I'm finding it hard to picture you wearing jewelery of any kind. Doesn't go with my waif/tomboy combo image of you. I seem to always picture you in jeans, sneakers and a black t-shirt with some random j-rocker guy's face on it.

Did you see that Darker Than Black got dropped by Shinsen? *sobs*
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 01:33 pm (UTC)
It's true enough I don't wear much jewelry if at all. I love jewelry. Indeed, I very much like staring at it and figuring it out. I just don't wear it very much. Your mental image of me is in fact my default dress code -- except I often wear flat/hiking boots apart from sneakers, and I don't have many tees (usually wear sleeveless cotton tops of some kind).

Thanks to my lack of fine bootlegged downloads in Bangkok, I have not checked Shinsen. But, in terms of speed and efficiency of putting out new DTB, may I suggest sudo? Their subs are actually just as good as Shinsen, although their style is a little more verbose.
desertwolf
Jul. 6th, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
Arigato, Afi-chan. I saw at AnimDB that they were subbing it but didn't know where to find their stuff.

*is downloading*

I did the flat/hiking boots thing too. Still have them actually but haven't worn them in... three or four years now?

Hmm, trying to picture you with jewelry. Jade would look good on you, yes. Maybe with an ankh or infinity symbol perhaps. How about a cabbit pendant? ;o)

*makes Ryo-ohki noises*
vampyrichamster
Jul. 6th, 2007 06:58 pm (UTC)
Douitashimashite. :)

Baka-Updates is the best bet for searching torrents, including for groups who don't have IRC/sites like sudo. *nodnod*

I really wouldn't wear boots with heels if I could help it. No traction to speak of, usually. Tends to drive me nuts that I'll see these cool flat boots in a manga, and find their corresponding real life counterparts will have heels meant for drag queens. :/

I do like wearing jade, yes. My most frequent piece of jewelry is a garnet bead choker with a jade barrel pendant. It works well with most of the stuff I wear. I don't usually wear religious symbols on principle -- even though the designs can be awful pretty. Funnily enough, I haven't seen all that much jewelry with the infinity symbol.

The Cabbit has it I should partake of a cabbit-backpack. Such things really exist, and frankly, I'm frightened. :P
mokie
Jul. 8th, 2007 05:21 am (UTC)
#1. Saw Transformers movie with two nerd boys. One was a squirmy giggly mass all the way through. Audience was packed and verbally appreciative while not being obnoxious about it, which is a miracle in itself. They cheered at the end. Goodness was had.

#2. Egads, half of this is food reviews. You hamsters... That said, my mum makes those cheese fry thingies, but with (American) biscuit rolls rather than spring rolls. Very tasty!

#3. Sweet Camel (toe) = *LMAO*
vampyrichamster
Jul. 8th, 2007 11:28 am (UTC)
#1 Transformers movie is awesome. Now that I have had time to properly digest it, however, I am still uncertain if the movie was pro-military, or nifty because it had so many updates on the Transformers story in references to modern times. Then the fighting robots, they overwhelm me. :)

#2 I could not help myself! Food was everywhere! And cheese fry thingies, they are guuuuuuuud. *wants to try the cheesy biscuit*

#3 I have this bad sinky feeling that Sweet Camel probably is derived from the toe, knowing those devious Japanese and their borrowed words. It is a brand of girl jeans, after all.
mokie
Jul. 9th, 2007 04:04 am (UTC)
I'm wary of calling it pro-military. I think it's more that, well, for the blowing up of things, you've kinda got to go military these days...
vampyrichamster
Jul. 9th, 2007 06:38 am (UTC)
*nodnod* I'm more inclined to say that this movie is set firmly in our times, with lots of relevance. Which is really one of the things I liked about it.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )