19.9.18

Bangkok - Soi Ari 4

Bangkok, soi Ari 4 and brunch at Bar storia del Caffé
Tiki murals

English
Soi Ari 4 is deeper in the neighborhood but displays a large variety of eating and staying options for those daring to explore that far. We have tried places though with varied results. Rokukyu69, the Japanese restaurant with the colorful wall turned out to be cheap, but not so good - somehow they thought that frying gyozas was cool, so I would not recommend it. On the bucket list are Pakalolo the tiki bar and Yuzawa another Japanese that seems to be of Chinese influence due to the variety of hotpot options - not sure how keen you are on soup considering the heat.

On the caffé side we have Porcupine - nice for hanging out, but with disappointing menu heavy on most-likely-warmed-up-pasta and little else, Bar storia del Caffé - very hyped, good meals if you can handle the extremely slow velocity.

I noted a couple of hotels for the stay bucketlist Josh and Rest which you may want to consider if you are after a chill local time in Bangkok.

Spanish
Soi Ari 4 está bastante escondido y quizás por eso, no esperas encontrar semejante variedad de restaurantes, cafeterías, bares, hostels y hasta un SPA. Al comienzo de la calle aparecen Rokukyu69, un Japonés cuyo mural es bastante mejor que la cocina - por alguna razón pensaron que freír las gyozas era una buena idea, seguido de Yuzawa, que todavía no hemos probado; Porcupine un café con potencial para beber algo - pero no comer salado; Pakalolo un bar Tiki con un concepto cuando menos sorprendente y un par de hostels que pintan bastante bien, Josh Hotel y Rest.

La estrella de la calle se reserva para el final, sin duda Bar storia del Caffé es un hotspot super instagrameable, donde se reúnen cámaras y huevos escalfados a partes iguales. Quizás sea una buena opción para empezar el día antes de emprender una dura jornada de compras en Chatuchak.

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17.9.18

Bangkok - Bangalamphu walk

Bangkok, walk around Bangalamphu
A place where the clock stopped ticking.

Bangalamphu, the place of Lamphu
Bangalamphu is the old Bangkok encapsulated in a leafy district.

The infamous Khao San road may be the most known attraction in the area, it is definitely most interesting if you ask me. When general Chao Phraya took the Taksin down and established the capital as Rattanakosin, moving the city proper to the river's eastern bank(click to read more about the history of Indochina, where Siam and Khmer empires succeeded each other). He had new fortifications built around these boundaries and dug new moats and canals (Khlongin Thai) that give Bangkok the Asian Venice vibe, which are still in place today. Within these boundaries we find a myriad of monks, temples, artisans and monuments worth visiting.

Today we take a walk around the other Bangalumphu shown in this map. I walked from Nathional Monument BTS, I would rather recommend you to take a tuk-tuk or taxi from there instead:



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14.9.18

Ari brunch - Bar storia del Caffé

Bangkok, soi Ari 4 and brunch at Bar storia del Caffé

Tucked away towards the end of Ari soi 4 (map) is the extremely popular Bar storia del Caffé, which shares location with a very interesting spa called Calm, which is in my bucketlist.

The  decoration as great as the fare they serve. Staff is a bit slow - good things take time seems a recurrent motto in Thailand - but the dishes are well worth it. If you are a sucker for bread, make sure to order the extra toast as some brunch plates (eggs benedict, as an example) come without it. As usual in Asia, if it ain't in the picture, then it ain't included.

I felt brave and ordered the sunny side eggs, which were thankfully NOT fried but grilled #beyondhappy. It gets extremely packed during the weekend so you may have to queue, but it is anyway quite interesting to observe the army of blogger-influencer wannabes taking shots at the door and capturing the food, even if when it eventually turns out to be a shared dessert among 5 people. Price wise is on the expensive side of Bangkok, but still ok for foreigner I guess - less than 12EUR for the eggs, a coffee and some soda water.

If you are staying in any of the hostels in the very same street, sincerely recommended option for a fancy breakfast! Someone at work recommended this place, guess it is some kind of celebrity hotspot, based on the continuous attention and photography it gets from local girls.

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12.9.18

Bangkok - Siam square

Bangkok, shopping at Siam square

Siam square
Siam Square's first buildings were constructed in 1970 on land belonging to Chulalongkorn University, as a way to provide rental income for the University. Streets West of Siam Square One shown in the map below are a labyrinth of local fashion, high quality counterfeit, cheap accessories, tailors, cafés and restaurants, particularly popular among teenagers.

I don't go shopping much, but sometimes I drop by Siam square - so far I've come back with some cool clothes for dance class and more goodies from Hamburger Studio, as they had stuff that never made it to EmQuartier. I have to say I find this area way more exciting than the surruonding malls (both Central World and Siam Paragon are very confusing to me), check the streets west of of siam square one out and let me know!



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10.9.18

Bangkok - Ban Bat

Bangkok, Ban Baat

Dāna
La práctica de cultivar generosidad es uno de los pilares del Budismo. Al desprendernos de las posesiones materiales no sólo nos alejamos del sufrimiento que conllevan los impulsos adquisitivos sino que además tenemos la oportunidad de mostrar nuestro respeto hacia los monjes que muchas mañanas te encuentras en las esquinas de Bangkok, sentados con su bol, esperando a que alguien deposite comida - ojo! el dinero no es una ofrenda aceptable.

Bàht
El bol que tradicionalmente usaban los monjes budistas para recoger limosnas tiene una historia que se remonta al comienzo de la Tailandia moderna con el reinado de Rama I (1782-1809) cuando el rey estableció 3 pueblos de artesanos especializados en esta labor. El bol de limosnas tradicional está hecho con 8 piezas de metal, que representan el Noble Eightfold Path o noble camino óctuple aka los principios de la fé budista, que se agrupan bajo 3 categorías:

Sabiduría (paññā)
  1. Visión (dṛṣṭi • diṭṭhi): Entender que las acciones y pensamientos tienen consecuencias más allá de la muerte.
  2. Intención (saṃkalpa • saṅkappa): Cuando alguien abandona sus pertenencias y adopta la vida de monje, lo hace renunciando a la sensualidad, la maldad y la crueldad.
Conducta ética (sīla)
  1. Discurso (vāc • vācā): No mentir, no hablar con malas palabras o por detrás de la espalda.
  2. Obra (karmānta • kammanta): No matar ni herir a nadie, no robar, carecer de deseos materiales y sensuales.
  3. Medio de vida (ājīva • ājīva): Alimentarse de limosnas, poseer únicamente lo esencial ara sobrevivir.
Entrenamiento de la mente (samadhi)
  1. Esfuerzo (viāiāma • vāiāma): Evitar los pensamientos sensuales.
  2. Consciencia (smriti • sati): Estar siempre presente.
  3. Meditación (samādhi • samādhi): Practicar hasta culminar en la unificación de la mente.
Ban Baat
Aunque los monjes sigan abundando en las calles de Bangkok, los artesanos que construyen estos boles a la antigua usanza han quedado reducidos a las 6 familias que habitan Soi Ban Bat, una pequeña calle congelada en el tiempo. Gracias al turismo, siguen vendiendo boles (cuyo precio oscila entre 500-2000THB) de tediosa fabricación - normalmente finalizan un bol grande al día, alguno más si son pequeños.

Esta calle, situada bastante cerca del Golden Mount se puede visitar gratis, pero nos deja con una lección desgarradora acerca de la artesanía que corre el riesgo de perderse en el olvido si no contribuimos a mantenerla. Un poco a lo Jim Thompson, los turistas son hoy en día los que más contribuyen a la supervivencia comprando boles.

Aunque los artesanos que veis en las fotos son bastante mayores, también estuve con un chico joven (no llegaría a los 20 años) que se mostró muy atento enseñándome sus creaciones - la estantería de boles finalizados que veis al final del post.



Una calle por la que no pasa el tiempo, muy recomendable.
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Este hombre andaba cortando pétalos de metal.
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Me enseñó sus fotos de joven
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Es impresionante ver a la persona fotografiada muchos años antes y ser consciente de que lleva haciendo lo mismo, día tras día, en el mismo sitio, durante toda su vida.
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Por otro lado, esta especie de cestos están listos para soldarles los pétalos.
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Al darse cuenta de mi presencia, dejó de soldar para tenderme un recorte de prensa extranjera plastificado, que relata la historia de esta pequeña comunidad.Bangkok, Ban Baat
Por último, esta señora refina la forma a martillazos, hasta que queda suave y uniforme.
Bangkok, Ban BaatTras esto, se hornean para darles más consistencia y ese color oscuro, como muestra el resultado final!
Bangkok, Ban Baat
Dos potenciales compradores de camino a la calle.
Bangkok, Ban Baat
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8.9.18

Ari Fridays - Frank mansion

Frank mansion, Ari, Bangkok

Sometimes we go out - when we do it's hands down Levels, sometimes we stay in da hood. One of the best things about living in Ari is how of a lively area turns out to be - plenty of cafés, restaurants, bars with live music, small hipster gigs, massage, nails and tiny cute little shops - without the sensorial overload of traffic, hustlers and tourists that await in Sukhumvit. Just a very nice feeling to be able to reach places like Frank thorugh an uncompromising 2 min walk - let's see what the night has to offer.

Frank Mansion [WEB]
Address: Frank Mansion, 3-4/F, Ari One, Ari Soi 1, Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-048-3225
Website: Frank Mansion
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6pm-1am



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31.8.18

Bangkok - Dice!

Dice space in Ari, coworking, coffee, games and lounge

I have passed by Dice!s door a gazillion times on the way to my beloved nail salon (Happy hours) few meters further down Ari soi 2. Judging by the entrance and claims about coffee / coworking, it stroke me as a hipster barista where entrepreneurs in rounded Oliver Peoples dropped by and debated business ideas over creamy cappuccino.

Once again, Jorge proved me wrong.

Dice! has a lot more to offer than coffee, in fact it is a whole building of amazing opportunities to work, play and chill at the terrace, where hipster parties are arranged on Saturday evenings. It felt like time travel to my beloved Stockholm, specially that day when Fer and me ended up in a VICE Magazine party thanks to some tickets I grabbed in the air, while being thrown from a mysterious van touring my hood, Södermalm. People wearing vintage, home-made projections, plastic cups and a cool crowd. We were too hangover to drink, but we def enjoyed the time and the chat.

Quite a lovely plan to wrap up a rainy Saturday, hanging with the locals.



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29.8.18

Shibuya center gai「渋谷センター街」

渋谷センター街
If you give me 1 day in Tokyo, I'll take you to Shibuya. If you give me 1 hour in Tokyo, I'll take you to Shibuya. If you give me 1 min in Tokyo... It'll be Shibuya.

Tokyo is not a monumental city in the sense of Rome or Paris, where there are clear sights that one must see surrounded by charming streets and little corners, tucked away the crowds here and there, often by and for the locals. In Tokyo anything can happen, but you can never tell where, how or why. 

Tokyo is a magic tale where all the people you cross by, play a character.

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27.8.18

Baan Khrua - la belleza de lo inesperado.

Baan Khrua neighborhood in Bangkok
Khlong Saen Saeb canal

Baan Khrua
Al salir de la casa de Jim Thompson decidí continuar caminando a lo largo del canal por el que había llegado allí, desde Ratchatewi BTS. Supongo que el tránsito de los barcos me llamó la atención, en contraste con las casas tradicionales cada una con embarcadero y barco propio, en cuyos porches pasaban varias familias la lluviosa sobremesa. Todo tenía un regustillo tradicional, pero en ese momento no llegaba a ser consciente de hasta qué punto.

En el mapa se ve un poco raro, la mayor parte del tiempo caminé a lo largo del canal.



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26.8.18

El rey de la seda

Jim Thompson the king of thai silk
Ayer visité la casa de Jim Thompson, cuya vida es una de las más fascinantes del Sudeste Asiático. Quizás por ser una persona con empeño, visión y positividad me resulte un perfil tan inspirador al nivel del inimitable Rauschenberg. En un nivel abstracto mi propósito es similar: Divulgar, entretener y crear entusiasmo en Occidente, acerca de las maravillas que esconde Asia.
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22.8.18

Ebisu「恵比寿西」- Daikanyama「代官山」aka the place to be

 A walk in the cool hood of Tokyo, Ebisu and Daikanyama
Ebisu, god of the fishermen.

If you've been following our steps for a while know it wasn't easy to find a place to live in Tokyo.

We started in Aoyama - damn so young, happy and optimistic about the future... But i couldn't read a word of Japanese yet - and had a background of other expat acquaintances living Kamiyacho or Shinagawa. But we kept searching for an apartment we liked aesthetically which was well connected to both Shimbashi (where I worked) and Yokohama (where Enrique worked). I clearly remember the day we visited Park Axis Daikanyama - just like with our apartment in Söder or my home now in Bangkok - I knew it was our place to be. Time went buy and every day, we grew more fond of the choice.

For you as visitor in Tokyo, it may not be so easy to find a hotel around Ebisu station (unless you can afford Westin) but if you do, man that's the perfect base to explore the city, connected to JR Yamanote, Hibiya metro line and various JR lines going North-South, making it easy to reach Kamakura or Odaiba. Walking distance from Shibuya, with a vibrant-yet-local restaurant scene to explore. This is the place to be.

The post today is a nostalgia walk, for all those who came visit us and an exciting portrait of what the beginning of this route can provide for the newcomers in town! You can also check out some more additional information on the dining scene of Nakameguro (also very close from Ebisu West exit) and how pretty it turns during hanami season (cherry blossom watching) which is superb here.
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20.8.18

Izakaya「居酒屋」: The soul of Tokyo Friday nights

Izakaya friday nights
Friday night, at the Izakaya

Flashback...
My godfather visited Japan last week, with his wife and kids. The initial plan was for me to tag along and play local guide, but dates didn't work out as my work event in Malaga aligned with the only remaining week in their packed summer calendar. It did not matter though, I created a few condensed guides of our Tokyo highlights (Kamakura, Shibuya, Asakusa, Odaiba) and spoke with him almost on daily basis. Somehow his words would always transport me back in time, to various different experiences throughout the years and visitors.

We spent summer 2017 in Seoul and reserved took a long weekend to visit Tokyo. A very emotional experience as Enrique had not came back since we left in April 2014. In 3 super packed days together, we did a nostalgia journey to our favourite things - you may move out of Japan, but deep in your heart you never really move on from Japan.

Friday night, our friend Tomomi booked a table in a popular izakaya near her job. Eventually she got tangled at work - which is why you can't see her pretty face joining us at the table - but gifted us with an amazing opportunity to revive one of the best parts of our salaryman life, the Friday escape.

Japan like Korea, is a country with an amazing cultural heritage. Beyond arts and temples, one could highlight the high morals, taste for perfection, pride on a work well done and honorable behavior, which turn the tourist experience into the most amazing on Earth but the daily life into a high-pressure endeavour. A double-edged sword of all sorts.

When Friday comes, salaryman run to the izakaya - sometimes followed by the karaoke, like we did once... Get some skewers, secure cold beers or high-ball (coloured soda with whisky) and let the packed tiny space become noisier as their faces turn red. There are some famous places - like Ebisu Yokocho - but I find more interesting the real ones, that only those who work in the surroundings know well.

... and culinary advice
People planning their vacation sometimes contact me, asking about good restaurants, which I try to capture here. When it comes to Tokyo, the FAQ revolves around sushi places. The spectrum of Japanese cuisine is broad, with an unbeatable price for value and null chances of food poisoning. We always brought guests to experience sushi at Katumidori but in general,  my overall recommendation would be to would rather aim to use food joints in Japan to get a taste of the local lifestyle.

Restaurants in Japan are "themed" meaning that they often revolve around one single thing they excel on e.g. ramen, sushi, katsu-don (beef rice bowl), unagi-don (eel rice bowl), but you cannot have something else and definitely, you cannot change the menu options (swapping rice by greens is NG).

Given my culinary preferences (raw, green, wine) and my fascination for cultural nuances, izakayas aka the Japanese tapas bar are my favourite pick. Here you are almost expected to get drunk, while ordering from a picture menu illustrating a wider variety - grilled fish, chicken skewers, gyoza, salad, sashimi... If you come in a group, it is often possible to book a separate room to hang out with your friends, where you are allowed to spend as much time as you like - but hey if you have nobody, just grab a seat at the counter and chat with the other loners (pictured above).

Below two are authentic izakaya where my local friends took me during my visits to Tokyo last year. Hopefully you can squeeze them in and catch a glimpse of salaryman cooling down.

石志水産品川店 Shinshimizu Izakaya (near Shinagawa station) [MAP]
〒108-0074 Tōkyō-to, Minato-ku, Takanawa, 3 Chome−26−33 京急第10ビル
03-5475-2533



魚真 渋谷店 Uoshin Fish Restaurant (near Shibuya station) [MAP]
2 Chome-25-5 Dōgenzaka, Shibuya-ku, Tōkyō-to 150-0043
03-3464-3000



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