Meyer: Finding things to do in Thailand is never a problem


The “axe” cut of beef at the restaurant formerly known as “Food Glorious Food.” I think that name still describes the place!
By : 
JAN MEYER

Fairly often I hear the question: “What do you do when you go to Thailand?” It’s a fair question. We keep returning to the same spot for weeks every year and for years on end. So, it would be an easy assumption that one would eventually run out of sites to see and things to do.

For Thailand, it’s easier to relate what we don’t do when we’re there. We don’t cook, clean, do laundry, or drive. While those are necessary chores, they still remain on my list of ones that are not fun. I do enjoy cooking for guests, but that is a choice. I don’t enjoy grocery shopping, and even less the process of unpacking and finding places for the groceries. So, Thailand is a break from all of that.

What we do there is eat out. We do have breakfast at home, but that is easy to “fix” and we each do our own, same as at home. Lunch and dinner in Thailand means going to a restaurant, almost half of the time with friends. We try new places, some on our own and some suggested by those friends. I have always been amazed by how they all seem to know so many great places to eat, many “off the beaten path.” Sometimes I have asked how they know about this or that restaurant. The response is always that they heard about it from friends, and/or the owner is retired from the same big company from which most of them retired, and for which I was a consultant for many years. There seems to be a “food network” among them on which all of this good eating-out information is passed along.

Sometimes we return with them to spots that we’d visited and liked before. One of those was a delightful small restaurant which we’d first visited last year when it was named “Food Glorious Food.” This year, the name has changed to simply Bob’s Grill. Bob is the long-time Australian owner; Gareth is the British chef.

I was happy to find that nothing else has changed about the small place. The concept of the very small place remains the same. There is no menu. Instead, you go along the supermarket-style meat counters and the glass-doored freezer to pick what you want. Bob’s specializes in beef and lamb, but seafood is also available. Add vegetables and whatever else you want: if they don’t have it that day, they will tell you and suggest something else.

This year we had an “axe” cut hunk of beef, called that because on the plate it did indeed look sort of like an axe. Literally fork tender, it was served family style. We also had lamb, and “skate” fish. The only thing I didn’t care for that we tried was the fish, but our friends assured us that because it wasn’t a good season for us, it wasn’t up to its usual taste.

One of the two children in our group had been celebrating his sixth birthday for a few days, so this one was no exception. Chef Gareth whipped up a huge and delightful dessert; it didn’t seem that any of us were too full to eat our share of that concoction of cookies, fruit, and lots of whipped cream.

Over the years we have stayed in different places. For a long time we stayed in a “serviced apartment.” That is more like a hotel suite with a kitchen, so we had a kitchen/dining area, a sitting area, and large bedroom, with a nice bathroom. The “service” is made up of the maids who clean and replace bathroom towels every day. The bed linens are changed every three days.

When our friends finished turning one of the empty houses in their family compound into a guest house, that became our Bangkok home for a few years. That was two-stories, with a bedroom and our own bath on the upper level, with a kitchen, another bathroom, living and dining rooms on the lower level. The family swimming pool was just about 10 yards from our door. There were a total of five houses in this compound, one of which was torn down to put in the pool. Another is occupied by the brother of our friends with his spouse and adult daughter. One was occupied by our friends, and the fifth one was empty. Sadly, the family sold this entire property; this year when we walked by it, the “progress” on the condo high-rise that is being built is moving along.

For a couple of years, we moved back to the original serviced apartment, until, yes, the family that owned it sold the property which was then torn down. This year, we saw that progress is being made there too on the new building that will reportedly also be condos. Last year we were back to a different serviced apartment, and this year we were at another new place. These different sites have all been in different neighborhoods so when we are eating without friends, we explore the neighborhood and its restaurants. In this new neighborhood we didn’t find them all, so we’re looking forward to being there again next year to continue eating out! And I did spot at least one museum that I didn’t know was there, so we’ll continue finding new places like that in that city of over eight million people and many surprises.

Yes, “What do you do there?” is a fair question. The answer isn’t any different when someone is spending the winter in the relative warm weather of the southern U.S. We do about the same things in both places with one exception: going to the southern U.S. usually means the cooking and household chores continue, just in a different venue. That doesn’t seem like a real winter “getaway” to me!