SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

August 21, 2013

Story about Polo sport, airport and people

Filed under: Chit Chat,Travel — Alex @ 1:28 pm


I have been using Polo Ralph Laurent for more than a decade now. I used this brand often because I do like the smell of it and mostly because I am used to it, or I would say out of habit. One month ago I visited Myanmar and as I flying back to Bangkok, I bought my Polo Sport in one of the duty free shop located in Don Muang Airport. The size available at that time was only the 125 ml bottle pack. I would prefer smaller packaging, something that is less than 100 ml for easy traveling by air. Since there was nothing smaller than 125 ml, I decided to buy it any how.

After a month, is time for me to fly out again and this time I would be flying to Singapore. Bought a flight with Tiger Airways and was scheduled to depart from Survanabumi International airport. I love traveling light and always avoid having to check in any baggage. As I was packing my backpack, I managed to squeeze in all my clothing for a week. Feeling all happy, I suddenly realized that my Polo Sport is 125 ml. Being an experience traveler, I knew this would some what create a problem for me.

Security in the airport has been really tight and any liquid container that is more than 100 ml will not be allowed to be carry on board. I was hoping to find a zip lock plastic bag within my minimal possessions of things but to my disappointment I have none. Since I have to go to the airport within 30 minutes ( I am guilty of being a late packer! ), I decided to just bring my Polo Sport with me. I remembered seeing someone being given a zip lock plastic bag by the airport securities for containers with liquid that are over the allowed limit of 100 ml. With this in my mind, I was hoping to be given a plastic bag and board on the plane without any fuss.

As I arrived at the airport, I went to the check in counter to get my boarding pass. Got my boarding pass and went straight to the immigration counter to get my stamp of leaving Thailand. Walked a bit more and finally reached the airport securities area. This is the part of traveling by air I hated the most. Every country has different rules when it comes to airport securities. Some countries requires you to take off your shoes and some don’t.

By now I know the routine pretty well. Took off my belt, took out my laptop and put on a tray that is provided by the airport security and put my backpack on the scanning machine. Walk passed the metal detector without any problem but as I wanted to collect my backpack, one of the male airport security dude requested that I opened my bag. He then saw my Polo Sport and asked me to take it out and show it to him. He told me my Polo Sport is over 125 ml and I cannot bring it on board. I then asked him if there’s any zip lock bag provided by them so that I could bring my 2,200 BHT perfume with me. He said the airport does not provide any zip lock plastic bag. He gave me two options, either I leave my Polo Sport behind or I could check in with my luggage. I told him I do not have any check in luggage. His face reaction was really cold and at one point I swore he has the expression of, “I will be using Polo Sport perfume for the next few months” look.

I began to feel really annoyed and desperate at the same time. So I decided to go to the begging and pleading route, to get sympathy from this airport security guy. It didn’t work! And I started to get annoyed even more when he told me if I was carrying this Polo Sport in a duty free plastic bag, he would allow me to bring it on board. The problem with Survanabumi airport is, the duty free shops are only available after you pass the airport security. I then asked him if he could allow me to pass the airport security and head on to the duty free shop and buy something and put my Polo Sport in it as well. The answer was still a NO go.

He then suggested I go check in my Polo Sport at the check in counter which annoyed me even more. To me the idea seems so silly and I hate the idea of going back to the check in counter again. I was faced with a dilemma of either leaving my almost brand new Polo Sport or pay a certain amount of money to check it in. After deciding for a good 1 minute, I decided to go to the check in counter downstairs. As I was walking, my head was thinking all sort of ideas just to avoid checking in the tiny bottle of perfume. I told myself, maybe there would be some nice folks who are checking in their luggage and my Polo Sport could tag along. I just have to put on a sympathetic face and ask nicely, I convinced myself to do just that.

The check in counter staff was surprised to see me again as I was approaching her. I told her my woes but she told me that there’s nothing she could do. She seem more sympathetic towards me compared to the airport security dude. I asked her how much to check in my Polo Sport and she told me is 750 BHT. That’s like more than a quarter of the price that I paid for my perfume! I then asked her if she could keep it for me and I will get it from her once I return to Bangkok. She brushed off the idea politely by saying I might not be able to see her again that easy. I bet if I look like Mario Maurer she would just give me her phone number and keep my Polo Sport right away. Too bad I don’t even look remotely close to Mario, even when he is hit by a truck!

As I was deciding whether to check in my Polo Sport or not, I decided to try my luck in approaching passengers who might sympathize with me. I then saw two young couple of Chinese descent walking towards the check in counter. They look like nice people and I approached the Chinese guy and told him my situation. He wasn’t really interested in listening to my woes and before I could end my story, he just told me sorry and NO. Being human, I was kinda annoyed at the way he said no but at the same time, I can’t really be mad at him because of all the crazy tales we hear about airport scams. He is most likely playing it safe and not wanting to carry something for a stranger.

Feeling defeated, I decided to check in my backpack together with my perfume and paid the 750 BHT fee. Feeling really annoyed and pissy, I walked pass the airport security once again. Scanned my laptop, walked pass the metal detector once again. The process amplified my annoyance even more but I just kept calm. I didn’t even want to make eye contact with the airport security dude, just to avoid having to see him making a smug face or grinning with satisfaction. When you are annoyed, everyone will look like bad person to you.

Sitting in the boarding area, I still couldn’t let the incident die off. It has nothing to do with me being a stingy bastard but I wasn’t really sure who and why I am so pissy. I tried not to blame the airport security dude, as he was just doing his job. I tried not to be angry at the couple who refused to help me out as it is not normal to carry things for strangers in the airport. As I started to cool down, I saw some people carrying duty free bags with alcohol in it. This rules just doesn’t make any sense! Just because the alcohol were bought in the duty free area, this is allowed. He could be an expert bomber and has one whole bottle of Johnny Walker Black to create a bomb and blast all of us to kingdom come!

Finally it was time to board the plane, still feeling defeated and annoyed, I felt like telling everyone I see about how silly the airport security rules really are. I sat next to a guy who sat next to the window. He has earphones plugged to his ears, lucky him, he doesn’t have to listen to my rant. I was given the middle seat and hoping someone without earphones would take the aisle seat. Finally a familiar face was taking the aisle seat. This couldn’t be happening! It was the guy from the couple who didn’t wanna help me taking the aisle seat next to me. I can’t be ranting to him about what humanity has become with all these paranoia of awful airport tales.

As he took his seat, he asked me nicely in Mandarin if I want to take the front seat where the girlfriend or wife would be seating. He made it out to be like he is doing me a favor by offering me his partners front seat to me, which is like a few seats away from us. This is a budget airlines, and the front seat is not a first class seat like what he is making it out to be. I then calmly told him that I will take the front seat not because I wanted to sit in front but rather to HELP him with the sitting arrangement. I did emphasize on the word “HELP” to send my message across. I know it was not right to do that but some how it made me felt better as I took the front seat.

Note : Picture of my Polo Sport in a zip lock bag was taken when I flew back from Singapore to Bangkok. No problem with Singapore airport securities.


May 7, 2013

Sangsom the famous Thai whiskey

Filed under: Chit Chat,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 5:39 pm

IMG-20130508-WA0000I haven’t been consuming any form of alcohol in a regular manner for quite a while now. In fact I am proud to say that I am no longer the social drinker I used to be ( drinking 5 times a week is considered social drinking and definitely not an alcoholic, at least in my books ). I am currently in Bangkok staying with a friend who has a quarter bottle of Thai whiskey sitting around for a few weeks now. He has no idea how the whiskey got there as he is a beer drinker himself. The brand of the whiskey is call Sangsom, kinda sounds like Samsung. In terms of name branding, Sangsom would be more popular than the famous Korean electronic company that gives us the famous smart phones, like Galaxy S3 and recently Galaxy S4.

While Sangsom is not an electronic product, it is widely used around Thailand. It is famous among rural Thai people as the whiskey is really cheap. I have no idea how much it cost as I never bought a bottle myself. I’ve consumed it in pass occasions when I was offered by some Thai folks a shot or two without any mixers. Few months ago when I was at a trendy club in Bangkok club, I noticed some trendy Thai guys and girls ordering Sangsom whiskey with Red Bull. As you know, Red Bull is an energy drink originated from Thailand and later sold to an Austrian company. Don’t quote me on that but you are welcome to Wikipedia it as I am lazy to do it now myself.

So tonight, I just felt like drinking Sangsom mixed with Red Bull. Since there’s one quarter bottle sitting around doing nothing in my friend’s house, I decided to buy a bottle of Red Bull from Family Mart. He was pretty skeptical about how it would taste as Sangsom is well known to be potent and even nasty to some foreigners in Thailand. I bought the Red Bull but my friend does not have any fancy shot glass. I was so determine to finish up the quarter bottle of the famous Thai whiskey, having no shot glass will not stop me from my mission. An idea struck me as I was buying the Red Bull. I asked my friend to buy a bottle of Brand’s Chicken Essence and emptied it. That would be my shot glass!

I made this post because I felt really smart for using the tiny bottle of Brand’s Chicken Essence as my shot glass. But to be honest, I think I am just super buzzed after finishing the quarter bottle of Sangsom with Red Bull. It does taste pretty good I would say and if you do come to Thailand, you should give it a try.

December 7, 2011

Finally my new project Dinemates is ready for beta testing

Filed under: Chit Chat,Food,Travel — Alex @ 12:13 pm

I am happy to announce that my latest project is online now. I created a social networking site catering specially for Asian foodies. The site is currently under beta testing and few friends are invited to test out the functionality of the site. So far everything seems to be working fine.

I got the idea of making this site when I was blogging one day. I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be cool if I were to visit some new places and I can find a fellow foodie who would be eager to introduce me to their local cuisine. I tried using Facebook to look for fellow foodie but most of the people there are only connected to their good friends.

Then I thought, why not try a dating site. But then again in dating sites, most of the girls might expect me to be her soul mate and I for one am not looking for romance. In the end I decided, why not make a social networking site that could actually work as a dating site too. The only difference is, people can hook up for one common interest – “Good Food”. If people can find love via Dinemates, good for them. In a way, I think meeting via Dinemates might not have so much pressure as opposed to the conventional dating site.

I have no idea how this site will turn out to be but I do have plans line up to make this into an awesome site. Making a site successful definitely is quite a challenge as it will cost a lot of money and time. End of the day, the site just got to be useful and fun for its members. I hope to create more events and members will provide useful contents to its community. Is hard to compete with the more popular social networking sites but I still believe there’s room for a new social networking site like Dinemates that is very niche.

So head on to Dinemates and create a profile to make the site more interesting. Your presence is very much welcome. Oh and did I tell you that the site is 100% Free?



January 4, 2011

Back in the Philippines again

Filed under: Chit Chat,Philippines,Travel — Alex @ 3:09 am

After a few months away from Pinas, I am finally back here again for Christmas and New Year. Coming back to Philippines means I can afford to smoke cigarette again. While in Singapore, I still buy cigarettes occasionally and it cost me like PHP450 per pack. Cigarettes are really expensive in Singapore because of the tax. The government really want to discourage people from smoking. I always felt like an idiot whenever I buy a packet of cigarette in Singapore. You know the government purposely put the tax high in order to discourage you from smoking and yet I still buy it. What can I say, I’m a weakling.

I’ve always enjoyed spending Christmas and New Year here in the Philippines as the atmosphere here is always different. The combination of loud pop music, Philippines version of mini vuvuzelas and “paputok” ( firecrackers ) is the best. Firecrackers is ban in Singapore and we don’t get to hear it anymore. I was told that the loud music on New Year’s Eve would chase bad spirits away.

Another tradition here in the Philippines is that on New Year’s Eve, you are supposed to decorate your house with round fruits. Mandarin orange, longan, grapes and other round fruits are pretty popular. Is also best you wear polka dots theme attires and have many coins in your pocket on that day. This will ensure that you will have more wealth the rest of the new year.

I’ve always teased my Filipino friends about that tradition regarding the coins, polka dot fashion and round fruits. Wouldn’t it be great if we change those fruits into chocolate bars, polka dots into checkered themed attire and coins into monopoly money. That way we will not get only coins in the new year but more cash with big denominations and also those big ass mock checks with big figures on it.

I am just happy to be back in the Philippines and the sound of loud firecrackers seems to welcome me back. A prosperous Happy New Year to you and I hope you will be blessed with good health.

November 5, 2010

Happy Deepavali to all

Filed under: Chit Chat,Singapore — Alex @ 2:48 pm

I would like to take this opportunity to wish everybody, especially the Hindu around the world a very Happy Deepavali. In English it is known as the festive of lights.

My blog title “Spicegasm” is actually inspired by Indian food. I was exposed to Indian dishes at a tender age of 6 and it was surely love at first bite. In Singapore and Malaysia, this celebration is a public holiday. I get excited as a kid when Deepavali is around the corner even though I’m not a Hindu. I get excited mainly because I get to visit my Indian friends open house during Deepavali. Secondly it is a school holiday.

Some of you might be curious what open house means. Open house is when there’s a celebration like Deepavali, my Indian friends would “open” their house for friends to come visit. Free food will be served during your visit. You do not really need an invitation. As long as you are a close friend to those who are celebrating the auspicious day, you can just drop by with an empty stomach. I remember  I used to make a list of houses to visit during Deepavali. First open house to visit was a good friend of mine whose mom that cooks really well. I can still remember her mom’s chicken and mutton curry eaten with home made dosai. ( rice flour Indian pancake laced with Ghee ). I would normally skipped the cookies and snacks like muruku to save space in my stomach for her mom’s dosai.

Those were the good old days when life is simple and pure. I’m not sure if this open house culture is still practice as much at present. Maybe as an adult, we tend to be more conscious of everything we do. I have to admit I feel a little bit shy to go visit some Indian friends of mine as an adult. There’s so many excuses on my mind to deter me from visiting them. The excuses are like maybe they are not celebrating or worse, maybe they think I am there for the free food. When we were kids young and innocent, my main goal was really to pay my friends a visit. We were trained to be harmonious in a multi racial society. Okay, maybe the dosai and chicken curry did play a role in motivating me to be harmonious but I’m sure you get my point.

Oh how I missed the good old days. I can still remember the TV channel would be airing Deepavali musical specials and also Tamil box office movies. Tamil movies are not to be mistaken with Bollywood films. Tamil movies have their own superstars like MGR, Kamala Hassan, Rajinikhan and Prabhu Deva. My Indian friends used to be very amused with me as my knowledge on Tamil movies were pretty good. I just love to learn other people’s culture. I really make sure I pay attention to what they have to teach me and remembers it really well. I think if you respect other people’s culture and genuinely want to learn, is easy to remember.

I don’t get to watch Tamil movies as much now as I’m always traveling. Some parts of the world does not air Tamil movies. Last 2 months ago I was in Singapore and was flipping through the TV channel as I got bored with the reruns of HBO and Star Movies. I stumbled into this channel call Vasantham. It is a Tamil language channel ( maybe sometimes have Hindi movie ) produced by Mediacorp of Singapore. This channel is specially dedicated for all the Singapore born Indian. Showing on TV that day was a Tamil movie starring Prabhu Deva.

Watching the movie reminds me of my Indian friends who were big fans of his. They swore on their lives that Prabhu Deva dance better than Michael Jackson. I remembered a Tamil movie blockbuster during the late 80’s called Khadalan ( means Love in Tamil ) and one of the songs were a big hit among the Indian communities around the world. We used to get into argument like whether Indian songs would be received by the masses who are non Indian. I told them that is quite impossible for other people to adopt the Indian music. Even for me a guy who loves Indian food and have quite good knowledge on Indian culture like me still preferred the US and UK pop songs.

They told me that the songs in the movie Khadalan was really new and fresh and not the same like those old Tamil movies. The song writer for the movie was a young man named AR Rahman. They forced me to watch the movie and I still gave them the same conclusion. Prabhu Deva and AR Rahman will not be popular outside of the Indian community, period!

So fast forward 20 years later. Scenario number one – AR Rahman is now an award winning composer who wrote the score for the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire. Scenario number two – because of the success of AR Rahman, I decided to “wikipedia” Prabhu Deva to get more information. To my surprised, he did became popular around the world. He is known as Benny Lava to the non Indian communities. I will post a video which made Prabhu Deva famous world wide at the end of my post.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish my Indian friends a Happy Deepavali and admit that I was wrong about the Indian music and film industry. You guys were right and I am actually very happy for them. Now they can say that is not only the Indian food that makes Indian culture recognizable, AR Rahman and Prabhu Deva are way up there too.


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