Megnut

Archive for November 2005

Remembering November in Paris

Empty chairsIt is hard to believe that three years ago today, Jason and I landed in Paris for a month-long visit between our move from San Francisco to New York. [Insert "time flies" regrets here]. I looked through my posts from November 2002 and memories of the trip came flooding back to me: eating warm chestnuts while walking along the Rue de Rivoli (and discovering I didn't much care for them and then throwing half the bag in the trash bin), having my first successful "conversations" in French at the BHV, mixing warm milk with melted chocolate to create the most delightful hot chocolates ever tasted, and just walking the streets and parks as the dried leaves rustled beneath our feet. And oh, those pain au chocolat sold at the boulangerie across from our apartment: nearly every morning they were warm when we purchased them, oozing chocolate from their crisp buttery folds straight into our mouths!

Red Sox lose their GM

Barely behind us, it seems the dark days of tragic losses for Red Sox Nation might again return: Red Sox General Manager Ends a Memorable Run. Is the "Curse of the Epsteino" in our future?

In Hong Kong

Jason's got a post about our trip to Asia. I meant to link to this before we left but ran out of time. So now we're here in Hong Kong but I'd still love to hear any suggestions you may have for us while we're here. So if you have some for Hong Kong, Bangkok, or Saigon, go ahead and post to Jason's thread. Of course I am especially interested in food suggestions and places to get great authentic meals.

Hong Kong flat duck

Flat ducksOne of the great things about living in New York City is the access and exposure to so many varied cultures and cuisines. Unfortunately that means that upon traveling abroad, one's first reaction to walking the streets of Hong Kong and its markets is to turn to one's traveling companion and exclaim, "Hmm, this is a lot like Chinatown." Except in NYC Chinatown I haven't ever seen the flattened ducks shown in this picture. I couldn't tell if that was fat or skin or a combination of fat and skin surrounding the duck. Nor could I discover what one would do with a duck like this after purchase. Reconstitute in boiling water?

Jaded and shallow NYC Chinatown/Hong Kong comparisons aside, so far Hong Kong is hot! I was ready for winter in October, and now I'll really be ready for winter when we return. But the breeze along the ocean is cooling, the ferry trips across the open water choppy and fun, and the shopping opportunities amazing! Or they would be if we cared to shop, which we really don't. So today we're heading to one of the outlying islands for a more "authentic" experience. And hopefully some reconstituted flat duck dumplings! Or, you know, some great fresh seafood.

Battle hairy crab

Scary hairy crabOr, Why I Won't Ever Try and Emulate R.W. Apple Again...

In preparation for this trip to Asia, I read various food recommendations over at the New York Times, including an article by Nina Simonds entitled Hong Kong Reignites Fire Of China's Regional Cuisines. Praising the Shanghai-style restaurant Xiao Nan Guo (Little Southern Country), she wrote:

At Little Southern Country, hairy crab, plump with sweet meat and available only from May through December, was succulent. It was in a rich, reduced soy sauce glaze atop soft rice cakes, which absorbed the mellow sauce.

The tempting words Available only struck me, along with her glowing review, so Jason and I went last night for dinner. I will now admit I am not the eater I thought I was. It is sad but it is true.

First of all, why was I suckered by the Available only? May through December? That's eight months! That's like telling someone they need to come to Vermont to experience winter, "we only have it November through April!!!!" Second of all, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EAT A CRAB!

This became apparent when they brought the plate to our table and there were two creepy sticky looking creatures. The waitress brought a cracker, but when I picked up the claw I discovered the dark covering was slimy (the hair, I guess) and I was repulsed. Then I noticed the top coming off the body and goo oozing out, and a minor wave of revulsion passed over me. I put down the claw and utensils and said to Jason, "I don't think I can eat this." He was all understanding, as he had no intention of eating it in the first place.

The soup dumplings were excellent though: the broth was lighter than in the US but still rich in flavor. I could have eaten an entire order myself. And Jason's "Grandma's pork belly" had crazy looking mushrooms that were delicious, and the pork was sweet and yummy too. So I didn't leave too hungry. Still, my culinary confidence has been shaken. Perhaps a trip to Alain Ducasse's Spoon is in order for this evening.

Related: How to... Eat Hairy Crabs.

Out to Hong Kong's outlying islands

Boats in harborToday we took the ferry to Cheung Chau, "a picturesque island with a waterfront that bustles with activity." Only a thirty minute fast ferry ride from Central, Cheung Chau was indeed picturesque when we arrived. Fishing boats were moored along the water's edge. School children walked through the streets in their school uniforms. An old woman with a large straw hat placed small fish on a screen for drying. A man worked to repair very fine wisps of fishing net in the bow of his boat. And everywhere people biked to and fro, as the island has no cars. We disembarked with the enthusiasm of tourists ready for a new site. And then the heat nearly felled us.

Outside Pak Tai TempleMy God, but it was hot! The clouds that hung above the skyscrapers of Hong Kong were gone, and in their place was relentless blue. Within minutes we were sweating heavily, and all thoughts of renting bicycles to tour the island were forgotten. We shuffled down the main drag, taking note of possible lunch spots, then ducked into the shade of the Pak Tai Temple, where we lit incense for long life. We should have lit incense for cooling breezes instead!

At Tung Wan beachThen over to Tung Wan beach, which was littered with sea glass of all sizes and colors. I collected two green souvenirs as we walked its unshaded sandy length. Then it was back to the harbor-side of the island for lunch, but not before my sandal had a blow-out. On day two of a twenty-one day trip! Sandal blowoutLuckily, the blow-out didn't seem to effect the mechanics of the sandal whatsoever, and I walked along almost in more comfort than I had when it "worked" as we headed to lunch.

Shade and a checked tablecloth alongside the water's edge beckoned us to Hing Lok restaurant. Looking over the menu, we bemoaned our lack of gastronomic capacity. So many delicious choices, but an emulation of R.W. Apple's culinary adventures was not to be. Jason ordered fried noodles with soy sauce and pork, I ordered "salt and pepper shrimps" and a (what turned out to be quite large) Tsing Tao. As we waited for our food, a woman came out from the restaurant with a live lobster in her hand, its tail flipping and flapping, showing it to the table next to us for approval before cooking. Again I cursed our small bellies with room for only one item each! Secretly I hoped she'd show me a handful of shrimp, but it didn't happen.

Eating yummy shrimpsSoon they whisked a heaping platter of pink shrimp to me and I dug in. By "pepper" I think they meant hot pepper, and by "salt" I think they meant garlic, but no worries, these shrimp were delicious, and I decapitated, peeled, and consumed with relish! When we were finished, we strolled back to the ferry, content to return to its air-conditioned comfort and our return journey "home," a delightful--if slightly shortened--outing to the outlying islands complete.

Battle hairy crab

Scary hairy crabOr, Why I Won't Ever Try and Emulate R.W. Apple Again...

In preparation for this trip to Asia, I read various food recommendations over at the New York Times, including an article by Nina Simonds entitled
Hong Kong Reignites Fire Of China's Regional Cuisines. Praising the Shanghai-style restaurant Xiao Nan Guo (Little Southern Country), she wrote:

At Little Southern Country, hairy crab, plump with sweet meat and available only from May through December, was succulent. It was in a rich, reduced soy sauce glaze atop soft rice cakes, which absorbed the mellow sauce.

The tempting words Available only struck me, along with her glowing review, so Jason and I went last night for dinner. I will now admit I am not the eater I thought I was. It is sad but it is true.

First of all, why was I suckered by the Available only? May through December? That's eight months! That's like telling someone they need to come to Vermont to experience winter, "we only have it November through April!!!!" Second of all, I DON'T KNOW HOW TO EAT A CRAB!

This became apparent when they brought the plate to our table and there were two creepy sticky looking creatures. The waitress brought a cracker, but when I picked up the claw I discovered the dark covering was slimy (the hair, I guess) and I was repulsed. Then I noticed the top coming off the body and goo oozing out, and a minor wave of revulsion passed over me. I put down the claw and utensils and said to Jason, "I don't think I can eat this." He was all understanding, as he had no intention of eating it in the first place.

The soup dumplings were excellent though: the broth was lighter than in the US but still rich in flavor. I could have eaten an entire order myself. And Jason's "Grandma's pork belly" had crazy looking mushrooms that were delicious, and the pork was sweet and yummy too. So I didn't leave too hungry. Still, my culinary confidence has been shaken. Perhaps a trip to Alain Ducasse's Spoon is in order for this evening.

Related: How to... Eat Hairy Crabs.

Flickr cooking

My friend Leslie's done a great thing with Flickr that I haven't seen before: she's created a little cookbook for a specific meal. She's got a vegetarian dinner with recipes. It's a set of photos for, "stuffed eggplant and apple cherry crisp, including step by step instructions and recipes. (see last two photos for dessert recipe)." You click your way through the photostream as you prepare the meal. Genius! I love this idea, especially as a way to communicate basic cooking skills to beginners! Or to demonstrate a technique that's always hard to communicate through words alone (or even pencil drawings), like trussing a chicken. I'm going to try to document my meals in this way when I get back to the US of A and start cooking again.

Delicious portable beverage drinking

Those who know me in real life know that I don't drink much beyond water, coffee with soy milk, and wine. OK, and some juice (orange or V8) in the morning. But I usually stick to water throughout the day because I don't like all the sugary drinks we have in the US everywhere, like sodas, or juice drinks like Sobe that are still full of sugar. So yay! for Hong Kong, where I've found two yummy drinks while out and about to accompany my water guzzling.

Malted soy milkFirst is Malted Soy Milk, which boaz recommended in Jason's thread about our trip. I spotted it when we stopped for bread snacks near the Star Ferry. Since I love soy milk, and I love malted milk, I figured malted soy milk would be perfect for me. And it was! It was a tasty sweet little treat, and I plan to have it again.

MUJI cafe au laitThen yesterday we headed to Mong Kok to check out the MUJI, and boy what a MUJI! It had food (freeze-dried!) and drinks even! So after stocking up on MUJIlicious items like demitasse spoons, a 3D acrylic snowflake, a lovely eggplant-colored scarf, and some simple items of clothing, we topped off the basket with drinks! Jason got a fizzy apple juice, which I didn't try but he said was, "interesting." And I got this MUJI cafe au lait. It was amazingly tasty, and I gulped it down in about two seconds after leaving the store. MUJI, please come to NYC, and bring your delicious bounty of drinks with you!!!

The mango queen

Mango puddingJason has a nice write up of our tasty dim sum lunch yesterday at Spring Moon in the Peninsula Hotel, Soup dumplings, part 2. He mentions that I had mango pudding for dessert, which I did. And it was so yummy! I've turned into something of a mango fanatic this trip. When I lived in Mexico I tried many times to enjoy mangos, but I never did. And since that time (which admittedly was a long time ago!) I've never tried mangos again, until day one of the breakfast buffet at the hotel. But now I'm mango loco. I have a huge plate of them every morning. And when I read about mango pudding, I knew I'd have to try it.

I've never had mango pudding before, so I can't honestly say it's the best mango pudding in the world, as Arthur claims. But it was perfect, as perfect as I could imagine mango pudding to be. There were small chunks of mango mixed in with the lightly sweet creamy yellow pudding. The pudding was smooth and it captured that distinct tang of mango, so the aftertaste on the tongue was a feeling of being refreshed rather than drubbed by sugar. It encapsulated all that I love in a dessert: a sweet light finish to a meal rather than a sugary over-the-top "I'm so full now I'll burst" termination. I might have to have it again today. Apparently you can order it in the cafe in the lobby!

Mango mania ensues

After yesterday morning's post, I went on a mango splurge day, or as I'll forever remember it, "Day of Five Mango Happiness" (to give it a phony Chinese translation spin). First I had a huge plate of mangos for breakfast. Then at lunch we all shared two mango desserts (more on that meal to come). Then while walking around Soho we stopped at a mishmash snack stand -- mishmash because in addition to the Nepalese dumplings we had, they offered fish and chips, hamburgers, pizzas, and assorted other things -- where I had a mango lassi. Finally atop the Peak, we enjoyed ice cream cones, and what flavor did I order? MANGO! Mango ice cream rules, and when I get home to the USA and get an ice cream maker and find a good place to buy mangos, I'm going to make mango ice cream! Can I squeeze in six mangos today, our final day in Hong Kong? Is today perhaps "Mango Ultimate Happiness Day"?! We shall see, my friends, we shall see...

The joy of the morning swim

Morning swimThe hotel we're staying at in Kowloon has a lovely pool on its roof with views across the harbor to Hong Kong. And for whatever jet-lag-related reason I don't understand, we've been waking up around 6:30 AM every morning. So we've taken to heading to the pool for a nice morning swim. And it's lovely! I love swimming, and there's something especially nice about starting the morning that way [insert possible crazy explanation here about a new day being a rebirth and pool being like cozy womb, etc. etc. etc.]

Afterwards, we head downstairs for our complimentary morning breakfast buffet which is amazing. I've been eating a huge plate of tropical fruits every morning while I enjoy a nice strong cup of coffee and read the South China Morning Post. Looking across the water at the skyscrapers, watching the boats pass, enjoying my meal and my dining companion's company, it's been the nicest way to start the day of any vacation I can recall.

We've got so much blog we don't know where to put it all

cover of new yorker with you've got blogIt's hard to believe, but five years ago today Rebecca Mead's article You've Got Blog, How to put your business, your boyfriend, and your life on-line was published in the New Yorker. My how times have changed! Though the magazine uses the word 'blog' regularly now, Rebecca's article was the first about blogs for the magazine, and the first mention of the b-word in its pages.

The article was also a really big deal for me. Of course, you wouldn't know it from what I wrote at the time:

I'm only going to mention this once, right now: there's an article in this week's New Yorker (November 13, 2000, the cartoon edition), p.102. I'm in it.

That's because I was horrified by the article. When I'd spoken so freely to Rebecca about my life, I'd somehow assumed it was just background material because my understanding was that she'd be writing about our company, Pyra. When I opened the magazine and saw the first line, my heart sunk. I guess I was just embarrassed, or something. It just seemed so dumb and cheesy that an article that (in my mind) was supposed to be about blogs -- important stuff! -- was about -- ick! -- love instead!

It took a long time before I realized how good the article really was, how Rebecca had taken something obscure and geeky and placed it in a context every reader could understand. And after all this time, I don't think many other articles have come as close to getting to the heart of what blogging is about (or at least was about at that time).

A lot has changed in the five years since Rebecca wrote "You've Got Blog." Pretty much everyone knows what a blog is now, and most people are probably sick of hearing about them. Pyra was bought by Google, who now own Blogger. Neither Ev nor I nor any of the people who were involved in Blogger when Rebecca came to visit our offices in San Francisco are involved in the product anymore. Most of us don't even blog very consistently these days. And I don't think any of us qualify as "A-list" bloggers anymore -- there certainly are no more shrines to Pyra!

And my life too has changed. I started another company and then left it. I left blogs and technology and I spent time working as a cook on Nantucket. Then I sort of came back to it, cooking less and less but never really diving back into tech. And Jason and I spent time in Paris, moved back east, spent more time in Paris, and moved around the east coast. Blogging grew and grew as my direct involvement in all things blog diminished, especially here on megnut.com.

I write a lot less these days, and rarely about such personal topics the way I did when Rebecca was reading. But there's something I've wanted to share for a while now, something I thought some of you might like to know, especially those who came to this site because of "You've Got Blog." Extra-especially those who wrote some of the nicest emails I've ever received in the history of this site, and those who wrote with words of support and encouragement about my relationship with Jason. I found one tonight that said simply, "Hope you two last a lifetime." :)

So for everyone who's been reading for five years, I just wanted you to know: a few months ago Jason and I got engaged. We're going to be married early next year. I guess we finally mastered the techniques for having an analog relationship as well.

Adios Hong Kong

We're off tomorrow morning for Bangkok so two parting photos of buddhas for you from Hong Kong until I post again. First, from yesterday's walk along Hollywood Road in Hong Kong:

On the street in Hong Kong

Then a self-portrait from today's trip to Lantau Island to visit the Po Lin Monastery and its awesome Big Buddha:

Big Buddha

Learning to cook like a local

Though it was our first day in Bangkok, we dove right into the action by heading to the Baipai Cooking School for a half-day of Thai cooking classes. A friend of Jason's from Minneapolis recommended Baipai and I whole-heartedly second her recommendation! It was simply a wonderful experience.

As you can see on their web site, they offer five different schedules. I picked today because it featured my favorite Thai dish (at least favorite Thai dish eaten in America): fish cakes, or tod man pla, plus the old standby pad thai. The cooking school picked us up at our hotel, and soon we were donning our aprons and headed into the kitchen to learn how to cook Thai food!

Tab Tim Grobb, or Water Chestnuts in Coconut MilkOur first item was a dessert (because it had to chill) called tab tim grobb or "water chestnuts in coconut milk". Our translator and guide Mona told us it literally meant "crunchy ruby" in Thai due to the dessert's lovely red color and crispy texture. It was easy to prepare, and we learned how to prepare fresh coconut milk (see this photo of me using a traditional Thai "rabbit" for coconut grating). Grating and milking fresh coconut is very time consuming though, so unless I hire some prep cooks for my home kitchen, I'll be using the canned stuff.

Jason making Tod Man PlaNext we prepared tod man pla, aka Fish Cake or "Deep fried oily fish." The best part of making this was slapping the fish mixture into the bowl to incorporate all the ingredients. In this photo you can see Jason using his hands to mix it all together. No photos of the slapping, it required serious concentration to keep it from flying out of the bowl and splattering around the kitchen!

My tod man plaAfter we finished each dish, we took a break to sit down and eat it. We ate so much I was very full by the end of class. Here in the photo you can see my tod man pla. It was yummy! Also, I learned you can substitute other meats for the fish, like chicken or pork. I definitely plan to make this when I return home.

Ingredients for Tom Kah Gai soupAfter fish cakes, it was on to tom kah gai, or "chicken 'n galangal in coconut milk soup," another one of my favorites! I learned that this soup is all about the galangal, tom kah means "boiling galangal" and then you add gai (chicken) or some other meat or fish to it. Galangal is related to ginger and you can see it with the crazy stalks in this photo of all the ingredients for the soup.

My tom kah gaiHere's my completed tom kah gai at my station. One of the great things about this class was that we each had our own station. So after Nam and Mona demonstrated how to prepare each dish (and gave us a sample!), we went to our stations and did it ourselves. There's nothing like doing it yourself to really learn how to make something.

Guay Taew Pad ThaiOur final dish was the familiar "pad thai" or guay taew pad thai (noodle stir-fry Thai style). It, like everything we learned today, was straight-forward and simple. The complex flavors and depth of Thai food belie the ease with which it can be prepared, at least the dishes we learned today! In this photo you can see chef Nam -- having cooked the noodles until they absorbed all the liquid -- adding the eggs in the side of the wok. Once they're cooked, you fold the noodles back on top, and then incorporate the remaining ingredients. The result was the best pad thai I've ever tasted!

My guay taew pad thaiAfter we finished cooking our pad thai, we returned upstairs to eat it and to enjoy our now-chilled and ready to consume dessert of "crunchy ruby." And like that, our lovely class was over. :( I didn't even manage to take a single picture of the facilities or our gracious hostess/guide/translator Mona.

My tab tim grobb, or water chestnuts in coconut milkIt was a great class. Not only did I learn how to prepare some traditional Thai dishes, I also learned about new ingredients and I'm now inspired to incorporate some of the new flavors into the more traditional "American" dishes I like to prepare. And I can't wait to locate and buy Thai ingredients back home and recreate these meals again for dinner. My only wish? That I could go back every day for cooking classes at Baipai!

Details:
Baipai Cooking School
Bangkok, Thailand
http://www.baipai.com/

As of Nov. 15, 2005, half-day class was 1,400 baht, or ~US$34, including transportation to and from hotel

Thai massage and the worrier

Nearly everyone I've ever spoken to who's been to Thailand says, "Oh! When you go, you've got to get a Thai massage, they're AMAZING and like only five dollars!!!" So while we were in Hong Kong, as my feet swelled and hurt from so much walking and my backache strengthened from lugging my camera around all day, I told myself to be patient, to wait for Thai massage in Bangkok. All would be put right. Today we finally found a spot and asked for foot massage and Thai massage - nearly two hours of massage for 300 baht each, or ~US$7. You'd think I would have enjoyed it. You'd think I would be happy now. But no, if there's anyone who's such an over-thinker/worrier that she'd worry during a massage, that would be me!!

First, I've noticed I've been getting lots of little bruises on my arms and legs during the trip, which happens to me whenever I don't pay enough attention to what I'm eating. Plus I just bruise easily no matter what. So when the masseuse went to town on my feet and legs for the foot massage, all I could think was, "Oh no! I'm going to get more bruises!" This concern distracted me for quite some time, until she massaged near my kneecap, which prompted a string of "kneecap dislocation" scenarios in my brain, all ending with me in a strange Thai hospital having my kneecap re-located, while screaming in pain and trying to explain to Jason where I'd saved the electronic receipt for our travel health insurance on my laptop.

Then we moved from foot massage into another room for Thai massage. Again with the pain, again with my worries about bruises, until she started pushing and pulling my limbs. As she pressed the sides of my skull I thought about something I read once about how you can kill someone by pushing on the soft spot near their temple. What if she pushed there, by accident? How qualified was she, really, if they only charged $7?!

As she worked around the vertebrae of my neck, all I could think was: my neck is small! What if it's smaller than she realizes and she accidentally breaks it and I'm dead here on the mat while Jason is happily massaged and relaxed next door?! When she pulled my toe to crack it, I thought it might break. When she bent my back, I thought I'd pulled a stomach muscle. I was certain she'd torn my hamstring when she yanked me forward, but it managed to snap back into place when she released me. I just kept thinking about how I'd never run again, maybe never even walk! All because I was greedy for a Thai massage...

When it was over, she folded her hands and did a wai, a Thai bow, and thanked me. Amazingly I could still move. Even more amazingly, Jason was all smiles. "That was good," he said, as we made our way to the exit. I didn't say anything at all.

Learning a language from riding the subway

The best way to learn a new language quickly and for free: ride the subway!! I discovered this trick when I was in Berlin in October, 2001. It was my second trip to Germany but my first in nearly ten years. I didn't speak any German, nor did I have any idea even how to pronounce much. But I took the S-Bahn and the U-Bahn, and as we arrived at every station I listened to the announcement and looked at the corresponding name of the station. It's amazing how much you can learn by riding the public transport in one week. Not only did I learn the words for "exit", "left", and "right" but also how to pronounce a lot of place names in German.

So of course this trip, I've been listening very closely, first on the MTR in Hong Kong, and now on the Skytrain in Bangkok. And it really helps! I still can't speak any Cantonese, and my Thai doesn't even have "left" and "right" yet, but just hearing the way the sounds are strung together, and putting those sounds to a station stop, it really helps me understand the language a little better. Now if only there were a Skytrain station named, "Do you have sticky rice and mango on your menu?" I'd be all set!

Three photos from Bangkok

As a change from all the words, here are three pictures from Bangkok.

View from the Chao Phraya river
From the water taxi in Bangkok, Thailand

Steamy soup
In the Aw Kaw Taw market, Bangkok, Thailand

Flowers for floating
Floral floats, or Krathongs, for purchase on Loy Krathong Day, spotted by the river beneath the Skytrain at Saphan Taksin. You light them on this special day under the full moon and then float them away on the water. The Krathongs carry away your bad luck for the next year.

A delicious coconut tart discovery

Coconut custard concave tartsAs Jason mentioned yesterday, we've been eating a lot of street food in Bangkok. At first I was a bit trepidatious, but with each item my courage increased. Everything was so yummy. So when we saw this man at the Aw Kaw Taw market pouring some liquid into what looked like a giant egg poaching pan, I wanted to try them out.

Coconut custard concave tartsAs I approached he said it was coconut, so we purchased a little container of them and sat down. They were amazing: warm and creamy, sweet but not cloying, and crispy around the edges because of the thin crepe-like shell. We wolfed them down, and returned later for more. Today I wanted them again but didn't see them at any of the street vendors. They are on my list for tomorrow though, and I will find them again.

A visit to Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson HouseToday we visited the Jim Thompson House, a museum in the former home of an American architect who lived in Thailand for twenty-two years before he disappeared in Malaysia in 1967. The house is comprised of six traditional Thai houses that Jim Thompson moved from various parts of Thailand to Bangkok and reassembled in authentic style. It is filled with some incredible antiques that he collected during his time here, including some rare Buddhas from the seventh and eighth centuries.

The 100 baht (US$2.50) entrance fee included a 35 minute tour in English which highlighted the architectural twists Thompson made on his traditional Thai structure. Since Thai houses are built without nails and in panels, they are easy to break down and move by boat (so people could relocate to better farmland as necessary). Thompson reassembled his several small houses into one large Western-style house. He placed some of the panels backwards, so that the innate carving usually seen on the outside of the house could instead be appreciated by those on the inside. He mixed Western elements, such as glass chandeliers, with Asian antiques like temple paintings and Buddha statues. He also took Asian items and reworked them to create Western furniture, for example two mah jong tables pushed together to make a dining room table. (Thais traditionally sat on the floor to eat.) He also took small drums and turned them into lamps.

Alas, no pictures were allowed inside, so you'll just have to imagine it all (and look at the website). The whole place had such a lovely, airy, minimalist, tropical feel. It was gracious and understated, calming, and surrounded by lush gardens. If I were to live in Bangkok, this is the house I would want to live in. And seeing it made me sad that Jim Thompson isn't alive today. It seems like he would be a really interesting person to meet.

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