Saturday, August 11, 2007

Teeny Tiny Pastries and Donuts

One day last week, on one of our many wanders, we discovered an area in CentralWorld (yet another large shopping complex in central Bangkok) with lots of miniature dioramas, with a special focus on teeny tiny food items. Cute miniature food?? We were sold!

We returned over the weekend for the girls to take a course on making mini bakery items with the talented teachers from MiniThai. Although you can buy all sorts of premade foods and other miniature items (including some very yummy looking cakes), the girls wanted to learn how to make their own out of clay.

It was quite a delicate and time-consuming process that entailed making various components from different colored clay (imported from Japan, I was told!), dying the clay to the right color, assembling the finished pieces using glue and painting the bread so it was nicely browned.

The girls made sausage rolls, hamburgers, donuts, cupcakes, lollipops, fruit and little animals. They filled up a whole bakery display case with all their baked goods - artfully displayed in various mini jars, plates and trays. We were there for over 7 hours, with a short break for lunch (at Triple O, which I've since learned is a Canadian burger chain - will wonders never cease?!)

Besides the mini food items, they also had a number of large and small dioramas on display - typically of Thai village life, but to an amazing level of detail. One of the teachers told me that the larger dioramas sell for thousands of dollars and were special orders that were often shipped to other countries.

We came home with the bakery case full of items, plus a array of tropical fruit, a complete set of mini dim-sum and various small serving utensils and silverware. Our Polly Pockets and American Girls are going to have a big feast when we get home!

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Our Tourist-y Day

Even though we come to Bangkok almost every year, we typically don't do very touristy things. Amara had been touring around 7 years ago but Mei had never been to see any of the major sights. So we decided to go visit the Grand Palace complex and Wat Po one day - the top destination for any tourist visiting Thailand.

We took the Skytrain down to Saphan Taksin, by the Chao Phraya river. Then we hired a long-tail boat to take us on a tour of the klongs (canals), finally dropping us off at Ta Chang, the main pier by the Grand Palace complex. It was a fun tour and an opportunity to see how people live on the river - we saw kids swimming in the water, ladies doing laundry and a lot of people fishing (some of them had caught very big fish as well).

We wandered around in the Grand Palace complex for a little while - spending most of our time around the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the most important, highest temple in Thailand, where the King worships. It was very hot, so the girls started wilting a little - but beautiful nonetheless. Gold gleamed everywhere, with glittering mosaics reflecting the sunshine.

We took a little Tuk Tuk to lunch at a lovely restaurant on the river, with a beautiful view of Wat Arun across the river. It was called The Deck and was located in a little boutique hotel called the Arun Residence. The restaurant served an eclectic menu of Thai and Western dishes, but it's most redeeming feature was very good air conditioning!

After lunch, we walked across the street to Wat Po, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. The main temple was covered by scaffolding but the statue was as beautiful as ever. The girls made merit by dropping small coins in a row of baht, or Thai monk bowls. One coin in every bowl.

We finally took the Chao Phraya Express boat - a boat-bus service - back to the Sathorn stop, and took the Skytrain back home.

Mechanics Alive!

We decided to watch another movie the other day, looked up the movie times in the newspaper that morning, and took the lift downstairs at the appropriate time. It turns out the movie time in the newspaper was wrong and the movie had already started. The helpful ticket seller told me that the movie times in the paper were never right anyway - I should check the web or call for the exact times. This seemed somewhat absurd - however, we took the extra time before the next showing to wander next door to the Thailand Creative & Design Centre.

Thailand has become quite the center for innovative design and this center was opened a few years ago - it consists of gallery space for exhibitions, an auditorium and a large design library. One of their current exhibits turned out to be wonderful for the kids - Mechanics Alive! It was an exhibition of automata - or mechanical sculptures and scenes, on loan from the Cabaret Mechanical Theatre in the U.K.

We spent a happy 90+ minutes playing around with the sculptures - the last part of the exhibition was an area where we could build our own automata, which the girls enjoyed immensely.

And then we walked 10 steps back to the movie theatre to watch "Hairspray" (in the regular theatre, not a super VIP version).