By Adam Purcell and Narumol Trachoo
Agalico Gardens & Tea Room
HIDDEN away on Sukhumvit 51, this delightful coffee shop has all the charm of an English countryside manor and a beautiful garden to match. When you first wander through the front door – which isn’t signposted – you may think you’ve accidentally walked into the home of a wealthy person who’s hosting a Hi-So tea party. A white-washed living room decked out with comfy couches and rattan chairs is full of well-preened patrons tucking into chocolate cakes, scones and drinking tea from fine china cups. Out in the garden, which is lush with plantlife and decorated with Balinese statues, other customers lounge on benches, read books in hidden, shady corners, and speak in hushed voices. It’s all very peaceful, and very surreal when you consider that just a short stroll up the street is busy Sukhumvit with all its honking horns and shrieking vendors. Adding to Agalico’s feeling of exclusivity is the fact it’s only open Fri – Sun (10am – 6pm). A real hidden gem.
For more info Tel: 02 662 5857 www.agalico.co.th
Bangkok Protestant Cemetery
SQUEEZED between a bus park and an abandoned tobacco factory on Charoen Krung Road 72/5, this hidden cemetery is steeped in history.
Established in 1853, it has notable foreign interments such as Henry Alabaster, advisor to the King of Siam; John Fennell Belbin, Captain of the SS Bangkok, who died at his post in 1876; Hamilton King, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the United States of America, who died in Bangkok in 1912; and Friedrich Schaefer, M.D., founder of and surgeon at King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital, who died from an infection acquired when operating in 1914.
The graveyard has been kept free of weeds and clutter for the last 40 years thanks to an elderly woman who lives in a wooden house at the far end of the graveyard. Take along someone who can speak Thai to her, and if you spot her in the graveyard raking
leaves, wander over and have a chat about the cemetery’s past; fascinating stuff that can’t be printed here.
Chao Mae Tubtim (Goddess Tubtim Shrine)
TUCKED away behind the Swissotel Nailert Park Hotel, and accessed via the hotel’s underground car park, the Tubtim Shrine is a small spirit house located on the banks of a klong. Unlike other shrines you see in Bangkok, this one is full of phallic symbols of all shapes and sizes, plus small porcelain statues of children. While this may sound a little creepy, it’s all very innocent. Thai couples visit the shrine to pay respect to the goddess of fertility, who they believe resides in the Ficus tree and will help them to conceive.
Ka Tron Restaurant
EVER wanted to write a postcard home saying: “Last night, I went to a restaurant in Bangkok where I wore a pink helmet with a metal spike on it, stood on a stage, and caught a catapulted cooked-chicken on my head!”? Well, thanks to Ka Tron Restaurant, you can.
‘Clucking’ crazy in the most delightful of ways, Ka Tron is unlike any other restaurant in Bangkok. Specialising in ‘Flying chickens’ – that is, cooked chickens which are fired from a catapult and caught by a waiter riding a unicycle, in front of what looks like a shrine devoted to chickens – Ka Tron is a great place to spend an evening with friends.
Besides the “Flying chicken” (B120), which is a must order, the restaurant also serves a wide selection of Thai dishes in beef, crab, seafood, duck, frog, and ostrich categories. Most dishes are around the B120 mark, portions are generous, and the quality is good.
At 8.30pm a live show ups the ante with flaming chickens being fired at the waiter in quick succession. On our visit we saw him do a sterling job of catching them with his hands, head and mouth.
Diners are then invited to go on stage to don the pink helmet and attempt to catch a chicken, orange, and lime. Catch the lime, and you get your meal for free. Catch the chicken and orange, and you get a rubber chicken. Brilliant.
Karaoke rooms are available for 500 baht.
Ka-Tron Restaurant, Bangna-Trad Road Km1 (opposite BITEC)
Tel: 02 399 5202
FOR just over three years Cook Chom has been serving ‘five-star-inspired’ cuisine for a fraction of the price at his eponymous street side restaurant near Thewet Pier, Krungkasem Road.
With over 35 years’ experience working for top hotels in Thailand, such as the Landmark, Hilton, and Asia Hotel, Cook Chom certainly knows his onions - as well as plenty of other ingredients, of course.
While his restaurant may be off the beaten track, it’s packed daily with Thai diners who flock there to sample dishes like Shell with seafood and cheese (B180), Spanish omelet (B70), and Grilled filet of snapper with saffron sauce (B90).
Near Thewet Pier, Krungkasem Road,
Tel: 02 628 8208, 085 904 6936
Open: Tue-Sun (Closed on Mon) 10am-6.30pm
Talad Loong Perm
THIS market on Vibhavadii Soi 22 sells a wide range of top brand clothes, handbags, shoes, perfumes, cosmeticsand accessories at a fraction of the usual cost. The secret? Well, many of the items are brought into Thailand by the cabin crews of various airlines who bought the products for less overseas, and are now passing down the value to their customers here.
Vibhavadii Soi 22, Vibhavadi Road (behind Thai Airways headquarters), Open Mon-Sat, 9am - 3.30pm (Closed on Sun)
Pirom Plaza (Saphan Lek)
SET over five floors, this huge market sells toys and cameras by the thousands. While there’s a lot of counterfeit gear here, you can still find genuine collector’s items, such as Manga models and Gundam robots, and all kinds of models and games. If you’ve got kids and you’re looking for a gift idea, you’re bound to be inspired here. Be warned, though, it’s a cramped and hot shopping experience.
Near Grand de Ville Hotel, MahaChai Road. www.piromplaza.com
Indie T-shirts at great value
IF you love T-shirts with quirky and cool motifs, head to the fourth floor of Baiyoke Sky Tower 2 (Bangkok’s tallest building). Here you’ll many stores selling T-shirts emblazoned with the logos of hip bands, Banksy graffiti, humorous graphics, iconic movie stars, and much more. The majority of tees range in price from B150 – B180, and the more you buy, the cheaper they get. Do try before you buy as the sizing varies from store to store and, as we found when squeezing into a supposedly Large T-Shirt, can often be misleading. Also give the fabric a good rub between your fingers; if it feels too thin, it’s likely to shrink in the wash. Don’t let this put you off, though, as there are some great T-shirts to buy and some excellent bargains to be had.
Learn to fly a jumbo jet – on land
YOU can learn to fly a jumbo jet in Bangkok without even having to leave the ground. Located on Silom Road near Sala Daeng BTS, The Flight Experience Flight Simulator has a full cockpit layout with high-fidelity 180 degree panoramic visuals. The simulator is approved by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (ACASA) and includes instruction from working airline pilots. Rates start at B4,350 for a 30 minute scenic flight.
Siboonruang Building, 1 Convent Road, Silom.
Tel: 02 237 9895-6
Bicycles for sale
IF you want to buy a bicycle but don’t know where to start, simply take a trip to Chula Soi 30 (behind Chulalongkorn University). Here you’ll find around 10 shops selling everything from tricycles, folding bikes, and fixed gear models, to mountain bikes, and even granny-style bikes with baskets on the front. While the majority of bicycles on offer are second hand, you can still get your hands on new models. Some shops, such as Sombat Bicycles (www.sombatbicycles.com), even import the latest bicycles from Japan, including electronic models which make puffing-and-panting up hills a thing of the past. Bicycles range in price from B1,000 – B10,000.
THIS buzzing jazz bar on Pra Arthit Road is a creative hive where seasoned and amateur jazz musicians meet to swap performance tips and take part in awe-inspiring jamming sessions. Created in collaboration with Silpakorn University’s Faculty of Music, Jazz Happens provides the perfect stage for the faculty’s students to kick-start their music careers. They don’t get paid for playing here – there’s just a tip box at the front of the stage – but they get a wealth of experience. On any given night the crowd consists of a vibrant mix of students, alumni, and professors taking turns to entertain the audience. With tasty Thai food and inexpensive drinks on offer, it’s a great place to spend an entire evening.
62 Pra-Arthit Road, Tel: 02 282 9934, 084 450 0505,
Open Mon-Thurs, 7pm-midnight; Fri-Sat, 7pm-12.30am;
Retro furniture at Wat Suan Keaw
YOU’LL find plenty of bargains on new and second hand furniture at Wat Suan Kaew temple. As part of its charity projects, the temple collects and restores furniture of all kinds, and even sells new teak furniture cheaper than Bangkok’s department stores. If you’re into vintage or retro furniture, a visit here is a must. Made-to-order furniture is available.
Wat Suan Kaew, 1 Moo 1, Bang Lane, Nonthaburi
Tel: 02 595 1444, 02 921 6466, 081 850 9796 Open Mon-Fri, 10am-4.30pm; Sat-Sun, 9am-4.30pm (Closed on Wed)