Alf and Elisabeth's
Christmas in Bangkok, 1997

Journal by Elisabeth Matherat

(p.s. She is French)

Bangkok with Alf in 7 Lessons

Traveling with Alf in Bangkok is quite an unforgettable moment in somebody's life! It is my 6th stay in Thailand but this time is unique in many ways. Let me explain you why in 7 important points. I will talk about food of course as a French, will not forget Thai culture, including sex life there.

Alf's friend, Susan arrived one week after me. But first let me quickly remind you some basic information about Thailand.

1. Thailand in Brief

Thailand is Southeast Asian, a predominantly Buddhist kingdom almost equidistant between India and China. Thailand is approximately the same size of France! and a population of 58 million. 80% of the population engaged in farming or related occupations. Rice is the largest export, but also tapioca, sugar, natural rubber and of course tourism. ... Let's see why Bangkok is such an interesting country to visit ... especially with Alf ...

2. Transportation

We are Dec 15, 12h40 -- Flight from Paris to Bangkok will take off in a few seconds and I am comfortably seated in first class, drinking a glass of Moet et Chandon. The dinner started with a glass of the so rare pink Dom Perignon 1986 with hot savouries and mixed nuts, followed by Sevruga Caviar, cream of Asparagus soup ... and so on ... after chicken, we had a wonderful choice of cheeses that I will probably miss in Thailand. With a glass of Cos d'Estournel 1992 (a very good Bordeaux grand cru classe). After such a treat I immediately fall asleep. It was an eleven hours flight and I arrived in Bangkok at 6 o'clock in the morning.

If you travel first class, a little electric car pick you up at the gate and you pass through the customs very quickly. Then your luggage arrived promptly. If you stay at the Oriental Hotel which is the best hotel in Thailand but probably in the world, a limousine service is waiting at the airport. A very comfortable air conditioned Mercedes will take you to this little paradise which will be described on the next chapter.

Talking about transportation, as every country, you have taxi but also theses unusual little 3 wheels taxi they call here Tuk Tuk because of the noise they make which were fun in the past but not really anymore as pollution in Bangkok is so bad! Many good Hotel are by the river Menam, you can use, as a convenient transportation, the Hotels boat but also, little boats with unusual motor. Life on this river is very busy, probably transportation by extremely large barges provide most of transportation here in Bangkok. Alf, Susan and I took this little boat for few hours but I was so surprise how Bangkok changed! So many buildings by the river - The tradional floating houses called the khlongs gradually passed into history. As well as the colorful floating market. I'm so glad I have seen it and so sorry it doesn't exist anymore! It was a unique market!

3. The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok

The Oriental Hotel in Bangkok is one of the best Hotels in the world for many reasons and I will try to explain to you why. For Andrew Harpers hideaway reports, it is the best Hotel and believe me it means a lot! Service and small details makes the difference.

Last time I stayed at the Oriental, it was 10 years ago and I think that the service now is even better. It was such a pleasure to come into the lobby again when I arrived from the airport! It was 7 o'clock and Alf was sleeping.

The room was very spacious over looking the river with a private salon where we used to have an aperitif before dinner. Every day at 6 o'clock, room service brings you some Thai amuse bouche, different every day. We also had some new exotic fruits every day with a little description on a card.

I used to have my breakfast at 11-11h30, I enjoy staying in bed late in the morning (as Alf) because from March to November I awake at 7 o'clock, every single day. So imagine the pleasure I have to sleep late when I don't work! They served breakfast late with an amazing choice of dishes. I had some Orchid every day and a rose on Sunday. Alf could read his three newspaper, including the Herald Tribune, compliments of the Hotel every day.

If you explore the rooms carefully, you find many little things, which are so helpful. For instance, you have at the desk a large envelope with paper sheets of the Oriental where your name is printed. In the bathroom you have so many amenities that you can forget everything if you want, including bathrobe, sleepers for the room but some others for the swimming pool!

Being at the Oriental for Christmas is an exceptional treat that very few people can enjoy. Decoration is incredible with Christmas trees everywhere, music and so on. The hotel was fully booked for the period and we decided to have our Christmas eve dinner at the river terrace with a royal buffet and a very good band! and you know what? I had the most romantic and sensual slow of my life with Alf that evening. Dancing by the river, good music, 25 c and in the arms of the man you love ... Is there anything better in life? not for me. At 10h30 we had one of the most beautiful fireworks I ever saw. Sometimes I was wondering if I was not dreaming! ...

4. Reataurants and Bars

Thai food is known to be chili hot but traditional Thai dishes must not be predominantly hot. The special combination of herbs and spices used in preparing Thai dishes is what gives Thai food a very distinctive character. There are about 20 main herbs and spices which form the real basis for Thai cooking! We experimented at the Oriental Rim Naam which is the traditional Thai restaurant with traditional Thai Music and dances. It was a delicious eight course dinner with Lobster, King prawn with curry sauce, herbed chicken soup with coconuts milk and some other very good and spicy dishes.

But the Oriental Hotel also provides different restaurants such as 'Lord Jim' where we can have succulent seafood specialties as well as a Sushi bar we experimented twice with Alf. Susan had grilled king prawns, also very good! We also tried 'The Verandah' where they served light snack through the day. We had some very pleasant lunch by the pool. We went few times at the 'Barbecue Terrace' which is one of the very few large terrace of its kind in Bangkok. The choice is so large and attractive that it was very hard to make a choice.

There is an Italian restaurant by the riverside with homemade pasta but we didn't tried this one. I was about to forget the excellent 'China house' where they serve the finest classic Cantonese cuisine I ever tasted, including the Dim Sum Menu which is a 14 different Dim sum dishes, something unique! Homemade by Four Master chef from Hong Kong. We went there three times. It was so good. Unfortunately in France, even in Paris, you can't find any good Chinese restaurant.

The Oriental river cruise is a luxury way to explore the River of Kings and to reach the magnificent ruins of Ayudha -- the old capital. It is a full day tour starting by deluxe coach, have lunch where a delicious Thai cuisine is served and go back to the Hotel by boat. Alf and I stayed at the Hotel as we know already Bangkok quite well. But Susan had a very pleasant day and really did enjoy her visit.

I will end with the exceptional French restaurant 'Le Normandie' where the cuisine is handled by Taillevent, this famous Three stars restaurant in Paris. The restaurant is located on the top floor overlooking magical river sights. The Batard Montrachet 1989 with Lobster ravioli and Oysters with chive sauce was another crazy eccentricity we had in Bangkok but unforgettable. We had dinner few times in a traditional Thai restaurant and very unusual. We had to take the boat to go a little bite further, stop at the river City where some beautiful shops are.

By the river, you have this restaurant. You don't have any menu but you choose, like in a market what you want to eat. Prawns, Crabs, Fish and Lobster are all alive in aquarium! Needless to tell the quality of the food we had. We had fresh vegetables and green asparagus chopped with soy sauce, we also picked up some king prawns cooked with garlic, blue crabs with spicy ginger sauce and onions and a very good fish fried. ... One day we took the famous drunken shrimps. They put the shrimps alive in white wine and after awhile they do jump high! Then there are steamed cooked with the same wine. The taste of that dish is exceptional. We also picked up our wine and Alf and I enjoyed the Pouilly Fuissee from Drouhin ... a perfect combination with sea food ... this casual place was our favorite and we will never forget to go back every time we will go to Bangkok!

5. Music

Traditional Thai musical instruments, the Jazz band playing at the Bamboo bar, the quartet playing in the lobby. Pictures of the dances at the Sala and costumes.

6. The Oriental Spa

The Oriental Spa is a unique Thai health and beauty center by the river, just in front of the Oriental Hotel. The serenity and simplicity of traditional Thai architecture calms your senses in preparation for relaxation treatments in a complete privacy of luxuriously appointed suites. The first day I arrived, I had the wonderful jet lag massage which is the ideal massage to banish the fatigue and sluggishness associated jet lag. Oil is used, followed by refreshing gel with cypress oil and menthol to leave you a feeling of lightness.

The second day, Alf joined me in the amazing luxury Oriental suite with a private sauna, Whirlpool and "hammam". We were lying on the floor next to each other, a soft music started, light was dimmed and two beautiful Thai girls came in. We started with a Papaya body glow followed by a 30 minutes essential oil massage. We also tried the unique Oriental massage. This is a unique style with a firm base in traditional Thai massage movement handed down through history. Wearing Siamise style pajamas, the whole body from scalp to toes, benefits from the pressure point massage and stretching movement! We decided to have different massage every day. ... What a treat! Our skin was as soft as silk ... and we were floating after each massage ...

By the Spa, there is a Sport center, tennis, squash court and golf practice nets. Alf was at the sport center every day while I was reading a good book by the pool!

7. Sex

I couldn't talk about Thailand without talking about sex but to make it more attractive and easier, I will tell it in French, so take your dictionary now!

Aller a Bangkok et ne par parler de sexe serait un regrettable oubli! La Thailand est connue pour la sensualite et la beaute de sa population mais aussi par la legerete de ses moeurs! Il y a une certaine ambiguite dans le regard des femmes autant que dans celui des hommes. Le plaisir semble faire partie a part entiere de la vie des Thailandais.

Alf et moi n'avons pu nous empecher des egarer quelque peu dans les rues sordides et les bars a putes de Patpong. De tres jeunes et tres belles filles venant pour la plupart de Chieng Mai parfois meme de Birmanie dansent en string sur un bar ou vous prenez un drink. Un numero est accroche a leur tenue, a vous de choisir your lucky number. Certains shows tres erotique, parfois outrageusement pervers sont egalement librement proposes et executes par ces reelles beautes aus courbes parfaites. Peu d'hommes resistent a de tels atouts. Le body body, massage effectue par le courps nu de la femme sur le votre est une tradition a ne pas manquer.

Apres avoid deambules dans la salete de ces rues et bordels de miseres, nous sommes rentres sagement a l'hotel. Je n'ai pourtant pas pu m'empecher de penser avec tristesse au regard de ces jeune filles charge d'une immense detresse ...


Needless to repeat the exceptional Christmas I spent with Alf in the colorful and beautiful city of Bangkok. Let say that Bangkok is the Venice of Asia, where all the lovers of the world should go. ... We did and we both enjoyed it tremendously.


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