15
May
17

Bangkok Diaries: Pad Thai and Airports

Pad Thai is my favorite Thai dish and I wanted to conclude our trip by having some of the best Pad Thai in Bangkok.  And I think we found it and that’s basically all we had time for on our last day in the city.

The only time we rode a “tuktuk” was on our last day, on way out of our hotel

With our check-out just hours away, we don’t have enough time to really do anything.  But we still got to eat and for our last lunch in Bangkok, I searched the internet for recommendations on where the best Pad Thai can be found.  Of course, this is subjective and before our time at the hotel expired, I picked one just a train ride away.

We encountered an old man which does not speak any English selling this.  I don’t know what it is exactly but it kind of tastes something like sugar cane with coconut sugar.

We ended up picking Pad Thai Mae Am along Rama IV Road for a bunch of reasons.  First, its name keep coming up in the lists that I’ve seen.  Second, it’s located in an area that we have not been but is conveniently just a train ride away from our hotel.  And third, their shop looks like it caters to locals.  We wanted good, authentic, Pad Thai as the locals would have it and not the commercial version for the tourists.

Location of Pad Thai Mae Am (ผัดไทย แม่อัม)

From our hotel, we took the MRT from Sukhumvit Station and alighted at Khlong Toei Station.  From here, we just walked and followed our mobile map to where the store is supposed to be located.  This is actually quite a challenge as the store do not have any signs in English and I don’t read Thai.  All I have is this mobile map that I hope brings us to the right spot, and some photos in my mind from posts I’ve read.  And when we get to that spot, what do you know, there are two very similar stores there both having no English signs!  I just recalled an image in my mind of what I saw about Pad Thai Mae Am and went with the further one nearest the street corner.  And as we sat, I exhausted my brainpower to look for signs that we are in the right place.  Eating the “wrong” Pad Thai when “the best” one is just beside us is the last thing we’d like on our last day in Bangkok!

I remember seeing a photo similar to this as I was searching for Pad Thai Mae Am

Then, I saw my conviction.  I noticed that they have certificates from travel websites on their wall (all written in Thai).  I compared what was written in where I assumed the establishment’s name would be with how Pad Thai Mae Am’s name appeared in Thai from search engines (ผัดไทย แม่อัม).  I compared one character at a time and found an exact match—yes, we were in the right place!

The simple interiors of Pad Thai Mae Am

Pad Thai Mae Am is as authentic as you can get.  It is located in an area where we didn’t find any tourists, there’s not a single Latin alphabet on their wall, and their staff do not speak a single English word!  And as I saw locals coming in to have their meals I feel like I’m seeing a slice of their typical day.

I really liked this hot sauce and I had this a lot during this stay.  Unfortunately, the label is all in Thai so I don’t know what it really is.

Pad Thai Mae Am is really the only place we ate in Bangkok that gave us free drinking water as we sat on our table.  Interesting that the much more expensive places that we ate never gave us any free water.  What I also find interesting during our limited stay in Bangkok is their love for straws!  For every drink that we ordered, be it at a restaurant or a convenience store, they never fail to give us straws!  They provide straws even for a Yakult!  And even here for the free water, they provided straws with our glass.

Straw!

While waiting for our Pad Thai, we were given some condiments.  I recognize most of the items there, but there’s one that I have no idea what it was or how it was eaten.

We were given these while waiting for our Pad Thai…

Minutes later, our Pad Thai arrived…

Pad Thai (฿120)

Now this is the Pad Thai that I was really looking for!  The type that is covered in egg with noodles in a pinkish hue.  Sure, it doesn’t look that special but it easily beats the most expensive Pad Thai I’ve tried!  It’s so good I wish I ordered two!  If we weren’t that pressed for time, I probably would.  I also tried it with the condiments we were provided except for the one that looked like leeks.  I saw how to eat the yellowish one from a local so I tried it myself, but it’s too “exotic” for my taste.

Mind your head

And after finishing our delicious meal, we hurried back to Sukhumvit via MRT for our last round of pasalubong shopping at Terminal 21.

Back at Terminal 21 for the last time…

There’s an ongoing sale of interesting toys, from Gundam to Pokémon, that day

Inside Terminal 21

Afterwards, we went back to our hotel one last time to fetch our things.

One of the things that I love buying on the streets of Bangkok are these waffles from a store simply called “The Waffle.”

As expected, trains are our means of transport back to the airport.  From MRT Sukhumvit Station, we went to Phetchaburi Station which is just steps away from Airport Rail Link Makkasan Station.  At this point, it’s like we’re playing back our arrival a few days ago in reverse.

Our train back to the airport

I think all big cities should have trains going in and out of their airports.  It gives travelers peace of mind that they have a reliable and predictable way of getting in and out of the city.  And for the case of the Airport Rail Link, the trains are really clean, cool, and fast so despite the airport being distant from the city center, we were there in less than an hour.

Checking our flight status… DELAYED!

As any traveler would do, our first activity in the airport was checking-in our baggage and secure our boarding passes.  For some reason, the queue to our airline was long despite us being very early for our late afternoon flight.  While waiting, we learned that our flight is delayed, and as expected, it has everything to do with air traffic at Manila.  I honestly don’t remember any flights that I had to Manila these past few years that wasn’t delayed.  Oh well, more time to explore what Suvarnabhumi International Airport has to offer!

One of the imposing statues in the airport

This airport is one of the biggest I’ve seen anywhere

The very high ceiling of the airport

Looking back at the airline counters, on our way to the international departures area

Suvarnabhumi International Airport is one of the largest airports I’ve ever seen!  It has a lot of stores offering everything from food to souvenirs.  We had a chance to get some food from here, and I noticed that nowhere here offers free water.

This greeted us upon entry to the departure area

One of the more interesting-looking shops in the airport

Flight delays really wreaks havoc on your plans.  I would’ve preferred to be in Bangkok, enjoying the sights and sampling more food, than be stuck in an airport regardless how good the airport is.  There’s also more chance that you’d splurge the longer you stay.

Pathway leading to the gates

Looking outside through one of the big windows at the terminal

Eventually we got tired of walking and decided to proceed to our gate to wait for boarding.  It’s unfortunate that the setting sun is on our gate’s side so it kind of felt like when we’re in an oven despite the air conditioning.  We’re also constantly reminded of the passing of time, time that I feel like we’re all wasting.

There’s no escaping the sun…
Yes, I got really bored…

It was almost dark when we finally boarded the plane.

Boarding…

Here’s our plane

One last look back at the airport

It was already dark when we got to the skies

In fairness, our food was really good!

It was very late at night when we arrived in Manila.  Amazingly, traffic was still heavy along EDSA.  Traffic never fails to greet me back home!

As always, here are my tips:

  • The supermarket at Terminal 21 Sukhumvit is a good place to shop for local delicacies that you can safely put inside your luggage.
  • The Airport Rail Link is probably the cheapest, fastest, and most convenient way to get to Suvarnabhumi International Airport.
  • There’s at least one convenience store in the airport and it offers unique items.  If you think you’d get hungry while waiting for boarding but don’t want to pay airport prices, get your food here.
  • The queue for the tax refund counters are very, very long so if you have applicable items and you intend to get a refund, be at the airport extra early.
  • The conveyor belt where you get your bags at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 2 does not seem fit for the volume of passengers it services so be prepared to wait a very long time to get your checked in bags.

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