Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
The intrepid and indomitable Travelling Gourmet TM jets to the City of Angels and reports on the…
MARVELLOUS Land of Smiles that is the Royal Kingdom of Thailand and the SAS (Safety and Security) here. As my Thai Airways Boeing 747 jet banked to starboard I saw the beautiful city of Bangkok shimmering in the warm rays of the sun. Baggage collection and Immigration was hassle free. My chauffeur who also was the chauffeur for Jack “Alibaba” when was in Bangkok a few days ago, told me, “Bangkok is very safe now, no more demonstrations…” A most comfortable and pleasant ride in a Mercedes 300S with ice water and ice cold towels to beat the sweltering heat of Bangkok! In about 43 minutes I arrived at the opululent Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok where there is 24 Hour Security Guards check the undercarraige of cars with mirrors on a long handle.
In an exclusive interview with the Grand Hyatt Erawan Director of Security, Vaiphob Pinvisest, Khun Vaiphob told me, “Since the Erawan bomb incident two years ago, we have tightened security. We have additional security screening at the entrance to the hotel with Metal Detector archways like in international airports. We update our Intelligence with the Thai Police and Army, and are always alert to potential threats. There is also regular and extensive training for our Security and hotel staff, and training in case of an ‘active shooter’ incident. Our Security department works very closely with the Royal Thai Police and Intelligence Agency. We also have a lock-down policy in case of a major incident. Our Security cross-train with the US Embassy OSEC team too. We have wide perimeter and CCTV surveillance to identify potential threats.” There are other measures in place but as I am sworn to secrecy, I cannot comment on them. Suffice it to say that I felt very safe and secure to stay in probably the most well protected hotel in Bangkok. Vaiphob, who has served in the Special Forces “Red Berets” of the Royal Thai Army added, ” I consider Bangkok and the Grand Hyatt Erawan really safe now.” Vaiphob is also the Vice President of the Thai Hotel Security Association.
On a gentle amble to the renowned Erawan Four Face BUDDHA Shrine, I saw a combined Thai Police and Army Checkpoint just beside it. It is just about 1 minute away on foot from the Grand Hyatt. The fragrant smell of incense smoke filled the air as I prayed and observed the devotees praying. A group of pretty ladies in traditional costume sang to the music from a Thai orchaestra. It was all peaceful and tranquil…as it should always be in a place of worship. An air of serenity permeated the atmosphere…The Thais are like the flexible bamboo…ever resilient and quick to bounce back from adversity. A most admirable trait to always emulate. Khum Beau, the charming and courageous Marketing Communications Manager of the hotel was on duty during the bomb attack in 2014 and had to deal with the terrible aftermath. She told me, ” The journalists supported us a lot…a few days after the bomb, we had a event and they came to support and attended…we were very grateful…” NEVER EVER let terrorists and bad people frighten you. The good will always win in the end! That is my belief! Die Gedanken sind frei!!! Immer!
Excellent ERAWAN Tea Room!
On a cool evening, I went to try the cuisine in Erawan Tea Room…Famous for its signature Litchi Tea on ice and other Thai specialities….it does not only serve Afternoon Tea BUT Lunch and Dinner too! The ambience is warm and cosy with unique high backed Lana style wooden chairs, blacjk as a reven’s wing. Arguably, one of the BEST Thai restaurants of its class in Bangkok. Ich liebe es! (I love it) OMG! The Ocean Trout in a Curry Coconut Milk Soup with Galangal and Lemon Grass is to rob the Bank of England for! Diminutive Chef Achara is a lady with a very happy Aura and radiates joy and happiness. It was clear to me that all her dishes were cooked with LOVE! Very Good cuisine always comes from the heart! The following day, Chef Achara kindly let me in her kitchen to teach me the finer points of Thai cuisine. I have trained in Thai cuisine in the famed Mandarin Oriental Hotel on the Chao Phrya River in Bangkok and also in the School of Thai Cuisine in the Dhara Devi Mandarin Oriental Hotel (now no longer part of the Mandarin Oriental Group), so Thai cuisine is no stranger to me. I was so grateful to Chef Achara for teaching me her signature Ocean Trout in Coconut Milk Soup which is sooooo good! Chef welcomed me in to her spotless kitchen by saying, “Welcome to my home!” Mise en place all done, she took just minutes to conjure up her specialities like Thai Pomelo Salad. The big paysanne chunks of fresh Ocean Trout took just 31 seconds to cook in the flavoursome Coconut Milk Soup! Just perfetta! Not overcooked at all! It is always a great honour when a Chef welcomes you into her kitchen. Kop khun kraap Chef Achara!
Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones…
Later I savoured every morsel of the flavoursome Ocean Trout to the sound of Mick Jagger and the Rolling Stones belting out “I can’t get no satisfaction!” in the background…Ironic as I was more than satisfied. One of life’s little ironies. Sixties and seventies music played lazily in the background as I dined. With dessert of Thai style teardrop shaped Chendol with big chunks of Taro (Yam) in a Palm Sugar spiked “soup” topped with crushed ice…Frank Sinatra’s daughter, Nancy Sinatra, sang “You only live twice” from the 007 blockbuster movie of the same name.
The other place for yummie Thai noodles is You and Mee…a most catchy and witty name. Mee also means noodles 🙂
At the Grand Hyatt Erawan in Bangkok, it’s putting on the Ritz everyday!
The Spa and 25 meter Pool (1.5m deep) and high tech Gym, not to mention the Sauna, ice cold Plunge Pool with mini waterfall, and Steam Room are also very enjoyable. Every morning at 06:00 my Breitling woke me and I was very happy to go to the Gym and have an early morning swim! The cold water makes our bodies burn more Calories to maintain the normal body temperature of 37 degrees Celsius! Exercise is vital when there is a lot of food tasting to do!
If you appreciate SAS (Safety & Security) plus luxury in Bangkok, the City of Angels…the Grand Hyatt Erawan is for you! Arguably the safest hotel in Bangkok…ENJOY! 🙂
Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok
494 Rajdamri Road
Tel: +66 2254 1234
To be continued…