The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok

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A peek at the poolside with its canopied beds, The Oriental Hotel, Bangkok

The Chao Phraya river, with its deep green waters and numerous junk boats languidly making their way up and down its vast length, lends a sight of utopia to the many luxury hotels that make the Bangkok skyline today.

The oldest hotel in Bangkok, and even slightly older than the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, The Oriental Hotel parallels Singapore’s Raffles Hotel some, in terms of history of famous writers being there and era of being. At 132 years old this year, The Oriental Hotel is the grandest dame that sits by the warm and musky Chao Phraya.

The Verandah

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A view of the pool, standing from riverside facing in

Located beside the pool, with outdoor seating that lends a splendid view of the Chao Phraya, The Verandah offers guests the most tantalizing Thai dishes to savour. We took our time taking in the unhurried view of the boats going with the rhythmic waves of the river before settling down to order our food – a bowl of tom yam khung and a bowl of red curry duck, served with rice.

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Red duck curry and tom yam khung, served with rice

The soups were served in heavy ceramic pots atop a tealight each, to keep warm right down to the very last drop.

Thai food can be exceptionally spicy, so look out for what they call chili padi which are the tiniest of chilies that look practically harmless but can make numb your entire tongue and the better half of your throat if eaten with their seeds. Even a seasoned Singaporean chili lover might have a problem with these tiny things.

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Condiments of salty ikan bilis and chili padi with soya sauce served with the soups

Don’t despair though if you can’t make it to any of the top hotel resorts in Bangkok to try their savoury dishes, because one can get good food along the streets of Bangkok at a fraction of the Hotel prices by the very experts of any Thai food recipe. Each food stall or hawker tends to specialize in one dish, the secret recipe of which may be handed down from generations by the hawker family. These dishes are sold at around 25 – 30 baht (less than $1 USD and around $1 SGD or 6 SEK) per dish. Nothing stores well in the humid Bangkok climate, so choose any roadside stall where you see plenty others eating and you know they have a quick turnaround of food; these roadside stalls or hawkers would be quite a safe bet for lunch or dinner.

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