The One With Brilliantly Bangkok – Of Red Oven, So Fit Infinity Pool, Banyan Tree Spa & 99 Rest Backyard Café

It’s odd to be awake and asleep at similar times as if it was just like any other day.

By dawn, I was awake having a fierce internal debate whether to wake up to do my blogging for the day, or to go back to sleep because, hey, if you can’t sleep in on a holiday, what kind of holiday would that be? The former usually wins, and as a result I am usually dead tired by ten at night and the mounds of fluffy pillows didn’t help. It’s a good thing The Travel Mate (TTM) has been very understanding.

Lights were out by eleven, after a day packed with unexpected and unplanned activities.

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When a foodie was told that breakfasts at a particular hotel restaurant buffet accepts no reservation and it is all first come, first serve basis, please excuse him for being unbearably overexcited. Because that usually meant the restaurant has got great reputation, and with much haste we went on down to the popular Red Oven for a spot of breakfast.

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The restaurant itself looked very, very promising. We dined out at the terrace – a great open balcony with the same incredible view of Lumphini Park. Red Oven was achingly hip, with dark furnishing and waiters donning so-cool-it-hurts uniforms, and the food was laid out in simple lines, ready to tempt this hungry foodie.

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Alas, at times we shouldn’t judge a buffet by how it looked. The best part? The cold cuts and its variety of cheeses were to die for. Special mention to the Sunday roast as well. The worst part? Everything else. Clearly it was a disastrous case of style over substance. An overdose of ready-made and hence cold-and-rubbery made of eggs, tasteless Asian noodles and congee, and a wide selection of could-be-better desserts completed our first proper breakfast experience in Bangkok.

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Truth to be told, the place itself and its ultra impeccable service (just like the rest of the hotel) would guarantee us return to sample its fare every morning (plus we discovered breakfasts were included in our room rate). Probably we will just focus on using the time to plan for the day ahead instead of just criticising the food.

By the time the last disappointing muffin crumbs were wiped away, the sun rose invitingly over the city, and it was time to check out the infinity pool and So Fit.

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Reality check: Yours truly can’t swim. Second reality check: I forgot to bring my gorgeous white swimming trunk (plus they no longer fit). But the TTM had really wanted to bask in the sun and even this non-swimmer could see how titillating the turquiose-blue pool was. So I fashioned a trunk out of one of my shorts, and off we went.

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Ladies and gentlemen, I am happy to report that the pool is as gorgeous as it looks. I could paddle up and down the pool with little difficulties, and the facilities – from the superbly outfitted grey-tiled toilet to the open-by-eleven “water bar” (read: source of all liquified debauchery) – were a God-sent. I happily soaked up the sun with the TTM while marveling at the concept of an infinity pool (it was my virgin experience), before it was time for our Highlight of the Trip.

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The Highlight of the Trip was planned right at the beginning when we first talked about a holiday to Bangkok. I have heard amazing stories about it but never had the gut (okay, money) to try it out. Their amazing therapists, indulgent treatments and world-class facilities were legendary.

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Of course I was referring to the Banyan Tree Spa. We booked ourselves into a three-hour treatment; we reckoned that’s what credit card limits are made for. Our therapists, Khun Ew and Khun Bomb were deferential and unfailingly polite, and soon we were led to our room to start relaxing.

I must have been gushing like a little girl when I saw the inner sanctions of the spa as even the discreet therapists were chuckling to themselves. We were shown to our disposable “panties” (someone gotta tell them it’s brief when it comes to the gentlemen), and after a quick change and a relaxing foot scrub over which we were interviewed for our various treatment preferences, we were led to the hydrotherapy treatment room.

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It was like walking into a heated spaceship. Lying facedown on the pad with a piece of cloth over your head, and a bell given to you in case you need to “ring for help”, don’t exactly inspire confidence.

But I worried too quickly. The sound of rainshower with its raindrops cascading up and down my back soon lulled me into a contented sleep. After that, it was an endless series of scrubs, showering, sesame oil treatment (for the third eye, I was told), honey and milk moisturisers etc. We spent over an hour being fussed over by the ladies. It was like the ultimate shower for the extremely lazy, filthy person.

I walked out of the treatment slightly dazed by the amount of water used to clean my body, but hey it’s now the massage!

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I have had high hope for the massage of Banyan Tree, but obviously that requires careful selection of its range of massage options available and my desired outcome. The Thai Classic should have been labeled part strenuous, part painful – it was like having a stretching session at the gym. But Khun Bomb was ever the consummate professional. I was deluged with a wide range of essential oil and when the one-hour massage was over, I felt like a walking burner pot.

It was by then mid afternoon and we headed to 99 Rest Backyard Café located somewhere at Suan Luang. While ordering for a cab we were told “it is very far out, almost at the airport”, I looked at TTM with puzzlement and wondered if the bell boy was pulling our legs.

It turned out that he wasn’t. Two cabs refused to take us and only the third (a young chap driving a cool modified car) seemed down on his luck was willing to take us. The journey took over an hour, at least three u-turns at various expressways on the outskirts of Bangkok and one stop to consult with the locals.

Of course we tipped over the top for the 100-bath-ish cab ride.

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We were the first patron of 99 Rest Backyard Café. The restaurant was almost Europe-like, nestled amongst a foliage of green that even the fussiest gardener would be be proud of. It was a setting perfect for weddings, with its inviting pond and outdoor terrace and charming woodworks… Stanford would have deemed it befitting his swans and male chorus.

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We were seated inside the restaurant – a retrofitted colonial building with all the markings of an European restaurant – and decided that since we came such a long way for the meal, we should move in for the kill.

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So we ordered, and ordered. From the one-for-one martini menu to the bite-and-snack menu and and from the 99 Eats! menu. TTM has made a great choice with the restaurant because everything that came out from the restaurant were top-notch. In fact, we were having a hard time deciding which was the best dish of the day. In the end TTM said it was that single piece of seared scallop from my plate of inky spaghetti with seafood, and I thought chicken lollipop were delightful. Everything else – from the duck confit to deep fried calamari to the guava-and-apple crumble – deserves a proper blog post.

I promise I will ask the restaurant to include driving instructions in Thai in that post.

After that, it was another dreadful an hour and a half journey by cab into the terrifying belly of monstrous Bangkok traffic jam. My mood took a plunge for the worst as the feel good vibe from Banyan tree starts to wear off, and I nodded off despite of the blaring radios because the cab was almost stationary.

It felt like an eternity has past before we arrived back at the hotel, and in a move to make myself feel better I deluged on some snack-shopping. Alas, after a good long shower in the hotel, and a couple of cookies in bed, I was fast asleep. TTM took pity on me and called off our Silom plan for the night.

See more of my Brilliantly Bangkok posts:
[catlist tags=bangkok-2013 numberposts=-1 orderby=id order=asc excludeposts=this]

Eating Out & Restaurants

Red Oven
Part of Sofitel So

99 Rest Backyard Café
Rama 9 Rd, Suan Luang, Bangkok 10250
+66 2 300 4339

Exploring Around & Attractions

So Fit
Part of Sofitel So

Banyan Tree Spa Bangkok
21st Floor, Thai Wah Tower II
Sathorn Road, Bangkok 10120
+66 2 679 1052/4

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