The Great American Rib
If you're craving an obscenely large plateful of American food, then you might want to head for the Great American Rib in Sukhumwit 36. Get off at Thonglor BTS and walk to the mouth of soi 36, where there is a large group of motorcycle taxi-drivers. Any of them will deliver you safely at the front door for a ten baht fare if you say 'Amelikan Lib'. If you ask for the 'Great American Rib' then God knows where you'll end up - just don't come crying to me.
Once at the restaurant, you can sit outside under the twinkling fairy lights (which although hot is far superior to the characterless air-conditioned indoor section) and feast on their incredible 'platter for two' - which includes shredded pork, spare ribs dripping in barbecue sauce, spicy chicken, home-made cornbread. mashed potato and corn-on-the-cob. Go hungry - but just don't go at 6 'o' clock in the evening as the wife and I did yesterday. You'll get what I call the 'watching eyes' syndrome. It's that awful situation when you and your partner are virtually the only diners in a restaurant and the place has far too many waitresses - all with nothing to do. I kid you not, we had fifteen waiting staff (I counted them) watching us, monitoring us, waiting for a sign, a subtle gesture, that maybe my plate wasn't big enough or my ice-cubes were the wrong shape. Is this something that's unique to Thailand I wonder? For me it's one of the great downsides of dining out in Thailand.
The Ancient Village in Samut Prakarn
If you’re ever in the position of having to show relatives or friends around the city and you’ve done all the tourist-guidebook favorites like The Grand Palace and Chatuchak Market, then Muang Boran, The Ancient Village, in Samut Prakarn is a little gem to impress your visitors with - especially on that difficult fourth or fifth day when everyone’s had their fill of shopping and had enough temples, monks and scented joss-sticks to last them a lifetime. The ancient village is in essence a pleasant theme-park with a rather fine collection of scaled down historical buildings and structures depicting architecture from the four corners of the kingdom (now how’s that for a bit of guide-book speak) For those in an energetic mood, it takes a good 2-3 hours to walk around the park, but walk around is only something barmy farangs tend to do. You certainly won’t catch the Thais doing that. They sensibly choose to drive around the circuit in their air-conditioned Toyotas, stopping off for the occasional photo shoot or to get their laughing gear round some barbecued pork or some chicken and sticky rice. But to do The Ancient Village on four wheels is to miss the very essence of what this scenic and memorable tourist attraction has to offer.
A word of advice – go on a weekday when you’ll probably have the whole place to yourself. The weekends often see hordes of badly-behaved overweight schoolchildren all holding competitions to find out who can scream the loudest and generally be the most obnoxious. The park authorities also provide bicycles (and I use that word in its loosest possible terms) for those with cast-iron backsides and for those who don’t mind feeling like they’re part of a circus act. The last time I visited Muang Boran, I must have test-ridden about 20 different machines before I found one with wheels that went in the direction I wanted them to.
I can’t conclude a section on Muang Boran without having a little moan about the double-pricing tariff when you buy your entrance ticket. Foreigners pay approx 300 baht (which includes the comedy bicycle) - Thais pay a lot less. And that’s the way it is. I know this is an issue that many foreigners get hot under the collar about. Let's just say that depending on your character you can either shrug your shoulders and tell the ticket-sellers how many world wars you fought in….or you can go off and write pompous letters to the Bangkok Post. Neither of them will get you anywhere.