Saturday, April 07, 2012

Dine in the Dark

I had the opportunity to experience Dine In The Dark during my Bangkok trip. It was a nice fine dining place at The Ascott, but I had no clue what the restaurant looks like except for the fact that it was filled with curtains/veils on the inside.

It was a strange yet enjoyable experience. It really showed me how dependent I am on my sight... my sight affects how I taste, how I hear, how I speak, how I feel and how I think. They are all linked whenever we experience anything in our daily lives. When you take out one of the elements from that linkage, you make the whole experience unfamiliar and strange.

8 of us went for this dinner and I only knew Natasha... the rest were strangers to me. That made the experience even more interesting for me. We were all led into the restaurant and to our seats by our blind waiters. The waiter also explained to us what was in front of us, where are our glasses: water and wine, where are all our cutlery, and he always tells us when he was serving us each of our course. But never does he describe what he is serving us.

I knew Natasha sat next to me but I didn't know who sat in front of me. So the conversation started with an intro as usual... erm... not quite so usual.

Me: "hi, I am Karynn" 
A voice in the dark: "hi, I am Ben" 
Me: "hi Ben, erm... sorry but I'm not sure which one was you as I was introduced to 6 new people all at once and I haven't quite placed the names on the faces yet." 
A voice in the dark: "It's ok, I don't know which one was you either, I am the only one here who does not work at whisper"
Me: "whisper???" 
A voice in the dark: "Ya"
Me: "... ... ..." (In my head I was wondering what he was saying) "I know Natasha from University, she's the only one I know here, the rest of you work with her at that World Society of Protection of Animals right?"
A voice in the dark: "That's whisper (WSPA). I don't work there, I am a photographer"
Me: (ting! lightbulb... oh WSPA, duh!)
Then there was the appetizer:

Me: "hmm, is this chicken?? eh, there is some crispy stuff on it...  what is that?' 
Natasha: "er, dunno, but it's definitely chicken. But sometimes I end up with nothing on my fork"
Me:  "hey, this salad portion must be huge, it seems to go on forever" (hmmm, how big is this bowl anyway, raba-raba the bowl. where in the world are the veges, lantak, probe in with fingers at a fine dining restaurant...muahahah nobody will know)
A voice in the dark: "I think I will use my fingers... since no one can see anyway"
Me: "Ya ya!! I already am. It's so much easier" (*grin*, macam la orang nampak)
Then, the main course:
Me: (sniff sniff) "how come got no smell??"
Natasha: "Is it pork??"
Me: (nom nom nom) "Hmmm, maybe... but the sauce is so sweet"
A voice in the dark: "I think it is duck"
Me: (nom nom nom, eh eh... it IS duck. ) Oh yeah, it IS duck! (shucks, I can't tell pork from duck?? @.@)

The dessert:
Me: "Oh, I taste bananas and ice cream!! yum... and some crispy stuff"
Natasha: "Is there cake??"
Me: "Dunno, I think I'm gonna use fingers again"
There were parts of conversation which was really strange because I could not see if the voice in the dark heard what I was saying, so I stopped halfway... until he asked more questions. Wasn't sure if people were talking to you or to the person next to you or next to them. All you hear are voices, you can't see the direction they are looking at, the expression on their face and everything.

We finally came out and saw the food displayed in light at the reception!!! Wooohooo, light & sight never felt so good before!!! We had a Chinese chicken salad with deep fried meehoon, then duck with a fruity sweet sauce, and a cake thingy with vanilla ice cream and bananas.

What I learnt?? Don't take your sight for granted!!!! And don't just depend on sight, all your other senses are just as important!

Thursday, April 05, 2012

The cocktail that is... Bangkok

There's plenty of things to do in Bangkok. This city truly has a wonderful mix of the old and the new, the east and the west... and endless creativity. If you're looking for places to go for a drink or two, you'd be spoiled for choice. The day I arrived, Natasha brought me to this place called the Iron Fairies. The place was very small, dark but packed with people. They serve cocktails in the form of fairy potions, I had some fairy dust with dragonfly wings and such. Yumz!! Refreshing but weird-looking... I could not make out what else was in it except for watermelon juice. The jazz band was good, not too noisy and they do all the all time favourites like "It Had to Be You", "L.O.V.E" and "The Way You Look Tonight". The petite Thai singer had a sweet voice but it was obvious she didn't understood a word and memorized what she hears... or at least what she thinks she hears. :p
Decor was old and weird, yet cosy & inviting.
Hey, they are in New York too???? Jeng, jeng jeng!

Since Natasha is a photography enthusiast, I decided to tag along with her for one of her photography expeditions. We woke up at 5++am to make it to this event. Sun rises pretty early so, it didn't feel all that super early to me. I was wide awake. Perhaps because Bangkok is 1 hour behind KL time anyway. We saw a sea of bald men and bald boys in orange robes. Not sure exactly what it was but it must be some kind of Buddhist festival.

Climbing up the closed parking lot building to get to the top.... to get a bird's eye view
Ta-da!!! There were suppose to be around 20,000 monks (I think.)
some went on top of a crane for that view
some on the roof of other buildings... and up to something even more

look! it's a bird, it's a plane, no... its... a remote control helicopter with a camera!!
Yes, photography enthusiasts go all the way to capture the best angle or view of their object of interest. Rather interesting but photography is really not my thang. My idiot-proof point-and-shoot camera is good enough for me. I don't take photos as a photographer, I take photos as a story-teller. I'll be motivated to take a shot if my eureka bells ring in my head that I can fit that photo into my story. :)

The Thai government loves creativity, promotes creativity and funds many non-profit projects to encourage creativity among its people. We visit the Bangkok Art & Culture Centre where I was warned, there will be exhibits in there that does not make sense.

Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
I liked the first exhibition of photography work by Philippe Ramette where he "engineered" photographs that seems to defy gravity. No photography allowed in there so if you are curious, go click his link & download his portfolio. Amazing photos... all untouched-up. Some, we could figure out how he did it... some we could not. Loved that one!

A group of Australian aborigines also displayed their stuff but their stuff were too abstract and un-understandable. Some of it was too dark and gave me the creeps too. Next was another un-understandable exhibition to raise awareness of HIV. Some of it were alright but mostly mind boggling, which is weird. How do you raise awareness when people cannot understand it??

The next one I liked was the hair art. Art pieces created by human hair... hair of cancer patients who lost their hair after chemotherapy. Sad but beautiful. This one I felt could really pull heart strings and increase public awareness of cancer.

Another cool place to go for drinks is at the rooftop bars. We went to the one in Banyan Tree... where the view is of higher priority than safety. Hehehe, the side railings were only waist high. But that was what made it so awesome compared to those practically 80% covered with glass ones like those in KL. You want to feel that rooftop breeze in your face and the adrenaline rush when you stand by the side of the railings and look at the long long looooong journey down. ;)

I is not afraid of heights... I love heights!
My melon-y cocktail... can't remember the name as I love to order stuff that I don't know what's in it. Yummy!  
My visit to the Thailand Cultural Center was a very disappointing one. They were under renovations... no shows, no exhibitions. Bleh. 
The garden decor was nice though... since I was already there might as well hang around. I <3 <3 Orchids!!!

Other than all these art/cultural centres, they even applied their creativity in other areas... an area that thrives in Bangkok, Shopping!! Terminal 21, just another mall?? Not quite... A mall with fancy design?? Kind of. A mall with the theme of an airport.

Every floor you go is a different city, Rome
even the decor and structure of the toilets are in theme with the floor's city
artsy roman ceilings
You can depart from one city and arrive at the next city in.... 30seconds!! How I wish travelling is that fast. I was in Tokyo and in a blink of an eye, I was in London.

even the guards' uniforms matches the city of the floor they patrol!
I wasn't as amazed by the theme as I was amazed by the extent of the details and the commitment to the design. If you wanna do something, do it all they way... that, is the commitment to an idea that can bring something to life!!

Also, hung out at the Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC). Unfortunately, only 1 of the galleries was opened. The rotating exhibitions were not opened. :( Was hoping to find displays of new young and upcoming designers that I like and can collaborate with to start my own brand. Sigh... I just took random namecards at TCDC and hopefully I will strike one that I like?? My search continues. TCDC had lots of literature from magazine to books on ALL sorts of design and art; namecard design, garden design, fashion, architecture, interior design, set design, costume design, playwright, theatre directing, and many many many more. There's a cafe there that aspiring artists or designers can hang out and do their research there as well. Cool right? 

Next up... the blind leading the sight???

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Beyond tom yam & green curry

I've been to Bangkok many times, but my last trip was different. Had the opportunity to experience many non-stereotypical Bangkok things thanks to Natasha. Living there for several years, she's practically a local there. And this trip, I kinda fell in love with Bangkok... now I wish I can too, can live there for several years.

It is such an inspiring city... the experiences, the diversity, the food and of course, the wonderful people there. I feel that whenever I have a dry-season for inspirations from now on, all I need is to hop on an Air-Asia flight there and soak in the over-flowing inspirations over there.

Firstly, the food!! Whenever Malaysians think of Thai food, it's always tom yam, green curry and mango salad. Erm... newsflash, there is more to Thai food than 3 measly dishes. No doubt, their tom yam is still wayyyyy better than those in KL, but if you are there, do take the opportunity to experience the gastronomic burst of diversity. The only teeny weeny thing is that they eat a lot of bean sprouts and me, being anti-bean sprouts had to painstakingly pick out all the bean sprouts. I must must learn how to say "no bean sprouts" in Thai.

Gosh! I think I shall continue about the creativity and the arts in Bangkok in the next post... this post is makin' me huuungry!!!!!