SPICEGASM.COM My travel tales and food hunting

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.

January 27, 2013

Santichon, the Yunnan Village in Pai, Thailand

Filed under: Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 8:57 am

yunnan-villageI arrived in Pai yesterday evening. The journey from Chiang Mai to Pai by car is around 3 hours. I will blog more about Pai on a later date. This post will however feature more about Santichon, the Yunnan Village. This is not the typical Chinatown you see around the world. Santichon is mostly inhibited by Yunnanese whose grandparents crossed the China-Thai border to escape the Communist Party of China back in the days.


A Chinese gazebo in the middle of a tiny lake

Rows of shops made of mud selling Chinese tea leaves and other Yunnan stuff

Rows of shops made of mud selling Chinese tea leaves and other Yunnan stuff

Mud made houses up close


Feels like in China

The modern generation of these Yunnan people now are Thai citizen and can speak Thai and Chinese fluently. The Thai Government has turned this village into a tourist attraction. There are a few restaurants in the village selling authentic Yunnanese food and lots of tiny shops made of mud selling Chinese tea. A few shops are selling traditional Yunnan dress and if you do not wish to have those dresses in your wardrobe collection, you can have your pictures taken in them for 100 baht.


Wheeeee….the human powered Ferris wheel

I also saw some kids riding donkeys around the village. Another thing that look pretty cool to me is the human powered Ferris wheel. I do not see any safety belt but then again back in the days, maybe most Yunnan kids knows kung fu and safety belt wasn’t an issue. I walked around for a bit and tried speaking Thai to all the Yunnan people there. Everybody is really fluent and I find it really cool.

The restaurant that reminded me of old Kung Fu movies where they drink rice wine from bowls.

The restaurant that reminded me of old Kung Fu movies where they drink rice wine from bowls.


Stew pork leg Yunnan style


Stir fried fresh mushrooms from the mountains

Some sort of mountain vegetables stir fried with garlic

Some sort of mountain vegetables stir fried with garlic

After 30 minutes of walking around the village, I decided to go do what I enjoy most, EAT! Chose a restaurant an ordered some Yunnanese food. We ordered a stew pork leg dish, the meat was very soft and tender and the sauce goes really well with the “mantou”. Another dish was a stir fried fresh mushroom which was pretty tasty too. Lastly we ordered a vegetable dish which they claimed grows in the mountain. I actually don’t really care but I just like the sound of it. Eating wild vegetables that’s organic and all that. Hot ChineseĀ  tea was the choice of our beverage. The total cost was 490 bht. The food tasted pretty good and listening to Chinese New Year songs while eating stir fried mushroom in Thailand is pretty weird but I enjoyed it nevertheless.



January 23, 2013

Midnight Fried Chicken Chiang Mai Thailand

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 1:42 pm

I haven’t been updating my blog for quite a while. One of the main reason is that I’ve been busy with work and also changing my lifestyle for a bit. I will blog about it ( I hope ) in the near future.

Good friends of mine will know that whenever I am living or traveling abroad, visiting famous monuments and buildings are not really my kinda thing. I just prefer to live like the locals and basically do normal stuff daily. My schedule is never hectic and I do not go in and out of a tour bus visiting places after places. Instead I will wake up whenever my eyes opened and just go to some coffee shops or cafes that are popular among the locals.

I would normally order my food and drinks, and just chill in the coffee shop for an hour or two. Most of the time I am alone and I just enjoy observing people. Sometimes some locals who can communicate in English will talk to me and I’ve always enjoyed that. But most of the time I would be approached by locals who can’t speak in English who will still make an effort to talk to me. I enjoyed that too even though most of the time we do not understand each other. It involves a lot of head nodding ( pretending that we understood ) and short sentences in our own language, food being pointed and the famous thumbs up sign with the word “GOOD” being expressed in many different ways. I’ve done that more than a thousand times and it still never gets old for me.


Deep fried chicken, would be nice if juicier.

I am currently back in Chiangmai after an absence of almost 6-7 years. I am staying in a small hotel near the old city. The caretaker of the hotel is one really nice guy and he loves that everybody addresses him as Mr. Man ( pronounce as in He-Man ). I would blog more details about him and his hotel soon. He has brought me out on his truck and motorbike a few times to go eat food that is preferred by the people of Chiangmai. One night, he brought me to a place to eat at 9pm around the night bazaar area. He then told me that few meters down the road where we were having our meal, is a very popular food stall call the “Midnight Fried Chicken”. The stall is also popular for it’s special chili paste that is call “Namprik Num”. It is a special chili paste made of young green chili from the Chiangmai region. It opens only at 11.30pm daily and you have to stand in line to be seated.

Yesterday night at 11.35pm, I felt a little bit hungry and the image of crispy fried chicken was circulating on my mind. Add in the reputation of the stall “Midnight Fried Chicken” told gloriously by Mr Man, I really set my heart on to give it a try. The problem was that I do not know where exactly is the place and Mr Man was already sleeping. But when I set my heart on tasting the food that I am craving for, nothing will deter me from achieving that.

Deep fried pork intestine and special Chiangmai sausage with herbs

Deep fried pork intestine and special Chiangmai sausage with herbs

The weather in Chiangmai now is really cold and yesterday night was 20 C. I decided to look for the place on a bicycle that Mr Man provided for my daily usage. It would be fun cycling around Chiangmai town on a cool night. Equipped with my broken Thai, I was very determine to find the “Midnight Fried Chicken” stall at all cost.

Let me spare out the details of my screw ups in recognizing the roads and buildings and get straight to the point. It took me 1 hour and the half to locate the place, and asking about 7 random people about the location of the food stall. Two out of the seven Thai people never heard of the place and this was pretty encouraging. Finally I found the place and it was exactly like what Mr Man described. The tables were all full and I had to stand in line to either take out or to dine in. After 10 minutes of waiting, I finally got a table.


Pictures I took when the shop is getting ready for business and there’s more seats inside.

Look at the crowd!

Look at the crowd!

This is where I ordered my food by pointing.

This is where I ordered my food by pointing.

Special Chiangmai chili paste Namprik Num

Special Chiangmai chili paste Namprik Num

Sticky rice, boiled egg with Nam Prik Num, love the taste of it.

Sticky rice, boiled egg with Nam Prik Num, love the taste of it.

To order, the customers need to write down what they want. Since I cannot write in Thai, I told one of the workers if I could just go to the counter and point what I wanted. She nodded her head and I went and ordered my food via pointing my fingers, mixed with my broken Thai language. Ordered one big fried chicken leg, some deep fried pork intestines, boiled egg ( according to Mr Man, boiled egg and Nam Prik Num goes really good together ), a plate of boiled vegetables with Nam Prik Num and lastly a plate of sticky rice.

I ate it quickly as they were still many customers waiting to get their seats. It cost me 107 BHT for my meal and I think the price is rather reasonable. If you were to ask me “is the 1 hour 10 minutes bicycle ride worth it and will I ever come back again?” The answer is YES! Besides the ride back to my hotel took me only 15 minutes.

January 2, 2012

Cheap seafood by street vendors in Thailand

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 5:35 am

I think by now for those of you who has been reading my blog, you guys would definitely noticed that I am a big fan of Thailand street food. Besides being so affordable, the taste of the food is just simply amazing. Whenever we go out on a drinking session in some cheap beer joints, time after time we get the element of surprises. What do I mean by element of surprises? Well, whenever we go to drink in these cheap beer joints, we have no idea what our food will be. Normally these beer joints do not provide food but instead we get vendors on motorcycle or by foot hawking their goodies. It ranges from noodles, fried foods, Thai spicy salads and even seafood.

I really do love this experience, I am like a kid going to the candy store but in this case, the “candy store” comes to me. All you need to do is just sit down, chit-chat and drink, continuous stream of vendors with different type of food will just come to you. My personal favorite has to be seafood. Is normally steamed different types of shells like mussels and cockles. The river prawns are awesome too. The seafood sauce which is spicy and tangy really enhanced the taste of the seafood.

Here are some pictures of one of my drinking session with some of my friends.

Cheap Thai whiskey and Chang beer

Can’t remember what this vendor is selling but he is cool enough to let me take his picture with him doing the thumbs up

A Thai noodle vendor on her motorbike having a brisk business

Beef, chicken and pork jerky. Salty and tasty, perfect match for beer

Seafood vendor with his push cart offering various type of steamed seafood

Big headed river prawns, the head is super tasty and some people believe it serves as aphrodisiac. I not sure bout that but it surely will give you the spicegasm feeling!

Flower crab with some sort of water snails

Lots of cockles! One of the funkiest tasting seafood but loved by many Thai and Asian foodies

Baked mussels with the special Thai seafood sauce. So addictive just like pop corn, you can never stop. If only the cinema allow this item to be sold in Thailand, I bet it will beat the sales of pop corn.

Flower crab which has not much meat in it but is not about the meat, is about having something to munch and not to get full. Is kinda like eating pumpkin seeds.

There you have it, pictures of cheap seafood in Thailand. An activity where you can do it over and over without feeling bored. Most importantly, it doesn’t burn a hole in your pocket when you go with a few friends.

December 31, 2011

Unexpected experience in Thailand’s Chinatown

Filed under: Food,Thailand,Travel — Alex @ 12:49 pm

I was browsing the net for some cool places to go eat in Bangkok. I stumbled upon a site which offers a food tour in Chinatown. In order to join the tour, one got to book half a day in advance. I have to admit that I suck when it comes to doing things that is scheduled. I am more of the spur of the moment guy. So I did not book the tour and went to sleep.

I woke up the next day at 7am and I really felt like going to Chinatown and get the taste of Chinese Thai Dim Sum. The thing with Chinese food in the region of South East Asia, every country has its own special twist to it. It is normally a fusion mixed between Chinese cooking and the local style. So I thought would be a cool idea to go sample some Chinese Thai style Dim Sum. My friend Zach is still sleeping and I thought would be a good idea to invite him as well.

Busy street with many roadside vendors in Chinatown, Bangkok

Wen Zach woke up, I told him about my idea. He said yes and we should do it. So we were thinking whether to take the MRT or taxi. Since Chinatown does not have an MRT station nearby, we decided to take the taxi. How bad could the traffic be at 9.45am in the morning. We stopped a cab and the driver was more than happy to bring us there. That’s when our ordeal began!

I have no idea why the traffic was so bad on that day. It took us 2 hours to reach Chinatown from Ratchada. I bet without any traffic, it would probably take us less than 20 minutes to be in Chinatown. We had to go pee so badly while in the cab. By the time we reached Chinatown, our man pipes feels like is going to explode. I gave the taxi driver extra 100 baht on top of the meter charges and frantically trying to look for a restaurant. To my surprise, I didn’t see one single restaurant near the area where we were dropped off. It was all shops selling various merchandises. There’s a lot of street food though, mostly selling “Wan Ton Noodles”.

Street food in Chinatown, Bangkok

We walked frantically for another ten minutes looking for restaurants with toilets. My mind is no longer thinking of Dim Sum. I no longer feel hungry. Finally out of desperation, we thicken our face and asked a Thai lady vendor in our halting Thai – “Where’s the nearest toilet. She gave us some directions in Thai. We quickly thanked her and walked as fast as we could. “Thong Pai, Liaw Sai , Liew Sai, which means go straight, turn left and left again.”

We were so happy to have found a run down restaurant which has a working toilet. Is not 5 star quality but under the circumstances, this is more than welcome. I went first and asked Zach to sit down like we are customers. I have no idea why at this old age, I still feel embarrassed to use the restaurant toilets only and not eat there. Zach is no better than me when it comes to having a thick face. I guess no Dim Sum for us, whatever the shop sells, we will consume it.

This is the front of the beef noodle shop

When I got out of the toilet, I only realized that the run down shop is selling beef noodles. This is the kind of shop that I love. Run down shops in Asia always serve the best food, most of the time based on my personal experience. Judging from the crowd, the shop must be really popular. The waitress came to us and asked us what we want. We couldn’t understand a word and upon sensing that, she told us in Thai what they have. We could only understood the word noodles and beef. I just nod my head and put up a peace sign, indicating TWO please. I have no idea what we are going to get but at times is fun to eat something different in situation like this.

Customers waiting for their beef noodles

Beef balls that is really crunchy and bouncy – awesome!

My second round – beef tripe, tendon and more beef balls

Gelatinous goodness – beef tendon

She brought us two bowls of rice and another two bowls of soup with beef meat and beef balls. The serving is pretty small and after finishing my bowl of soup and rice, I wasn’t satisfied. I knew beef noodle shops would definitely have the cow innards like stomach, tendon and tripe. I went to the area where they prepare the dishes and just pointed to all the innards that I wanted, together with their awesome beef balls.

Can’t understand Thai, but it seems like this is a recognition poster by a TV station for serving excellent food.

After the meal, we walked a bit in Chinatown and as usual, like most other Chinatown in the world, is pretty busy. Rows of shops selling clothes, toys, hardware and many other products. The afternoon heat was pretty intense on that day. After snapping a few pictures, we decided to hop on a tuk tuk and go to the nearest MRT station. The ride was just less than 10 minutes and the MRT ride home was less than 20 minutes.

Rolex anyone?

Toy vendor

Rows of shops most likely own by Chinese Thais

This is the main reason I want Dinemates to be successful. I wouldn’t have to tell my friends in the future that it took me 2 hours to go to Chinatown to pee and eat beef noodles only.

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