Tag Archives: Thailand

An Ode to Coffee

I love coffee. In fact I love it as much as I love beer. However, unlike beer, I need coffee. I need it desperately to start my day and function as a human.

Part 1: Cheap disgusting Coffee

The earliest I can remember drinking coffee is during college, to stay up at night to pretend to study. Since we were poor, it was Nescafé Instant coffee that we had. It was disgusting, but it was stimulating enough to keep one awake. The cold coffee at Anna’s was slightly better, although he didn’t put enough of the powder in, unless you nagged him. Anna also used the same Nescafé instant shit, so there was a theoretical limit to how good it could be.

Now, I would rather have an injection of caffeine directly into my veins than drink this cheap shit.

Disgusting Coffee
Disgusting filth, PC: gtPlaza

For the real brewed version, we went to Café Coffee Day or Barista. My favourite drink at Café Coffee Day was Iced Eskimo, a kind of slushy which took a long time to melt and finish. At Barista, I almost always had a Vanilla Frappe. Needless to say, we couldn’t afford this regularly.

During the first few years of work, I alternated between Nescafé instant at home and the office coffee machine. Around this time I also went lactose intolerant so started having my coffee black (Americano).

Part 2: Switch to Brewed Coffee

Eventually, I bought my own cheap brewing machine. I used to buy beans from Barista and used a grinder to grind the beans. I remember once I got coffee beans from Brazil and they were amazing and strong. After I switched back to my regular beans, I had caffeine withdrawal for a week.

Soon, I started suffering from acidity from the strong black coffee.

I read about cold brewing and how it is easier on the stomach, so started doing that. The results were great, but the prep was too troublesome and messy.

I also stopped having coffee after noons, as it didn’t let me sleep at night. I also discovered that the Chinese don’t really drink much coffee and view it as an unhealthy drink; preferring tea instead.

Eventually, we almost stopped going to Cafe Coffee Day and almost always preferred Barista.

Part 3: Sleepy Owl Cold Brew

I came across an advertisement for Sleepy Owl cold brew on Facebook one day. I read that they supplied cold brew concentrate in boxes and immediately ordered some. Soon, I was hooked. It was everything I always wanted:

  1. It was delicious.
  2. No prep required, all one had to do was mix and drink.
  3. It was easy on the stomach, while still packing a punch.
The best coffee I ever had, PC: Simpl

For the next few years, Sleepy Owl poured over ice was all I had at home. I remember during the COVID lockdowns, I was once almost out of it and had to ration till I could get another box delivered.

My Sleepy Owl recipe (after a lot of trial-and-error) was:

  • 225ml water
  • 2 cubes of sugar
  • 75ml Sleepy Owl Cold Brew

I carried Sleepy Owl’s brew bags when I travelled, too.

During this time, I also developed a morning coffee ritual. I wouldn’t look at my phone after waking up. Instead, I would make myself some cold brew and then sit next to the window with my coffee, looking out. I would do nothing else during this time, except sip slowly on my cold brew and savour each sip. I would do this for up to an hour before I would check my phone and start my day. It was beautiful.

Alas, it was not to last forever.

Eventually I moved to Thailand, along with the last 2 boxes of my Sleepy Owl cold brew. They lasted over a month, but eventually I had to look for alternatives.

Part 4: Thailand and Nespresso

I looked for Cold Brew in Thailand, but it was rare and not easy to get as concentrate. A fiend of mine suggested Nespresso; so I got a Nespresso machine. It combined the advantages of freshly ground coffee (pods are sealed) and convenience (just pop a pod in and press a button). To keep my acidity in control, I stick to pods with strength levels of 5 and below.

Nespresso, better than nothing, PC: Nespresso

It is no sleepy owl, but at least it tastes good and I can have different flavours every day. My favourite pods are Tokyo Lungo and Shanghai Lungo. My recipe is:

  • 320ml water
  • 2 cubes of sugar
  • A shot of Nespresso Lungo

There’s no Cafe Coffee Day or Barista here, but I love Cafe Amazon, a Thai coffee chain. I love their Iced Espresso.

My morning coffee is still the best part of my day. I can’t wait to return to India once again and get myself some Sleepy Owl & Barista.

What is my Hometown?

When I was making a Facebook account recently, it asked me what my Hometown was. I thought about it for a while, but didn’t have an answer. Looks like I have had such a nomadic life, I don’t have a Hometown.

Here’s a list:

YearsCityDuration
1985-1985Bhubaneshwar, Odisha<1 year
1985-1985Kolkata, West Bengal <1 year
1986-1989Gwalior, Madhya Pradesh~3 years
1989-1990Dhani, Madhya Pradesh~1 year
1990-1990Dewas, Madhya Pradesh <1 year
1990-1994Indore, Madhya Pradesh~4 years
1994-1997New Delhi, Delhi~3 years
1997-1998Durgapur, West Bengal~1 year
1998-2002Panchkula, Haryana~4 years
2002-2007Nagpur, Maharashtra~5 years
2007-2008Kolkata, West Bengal~1 year
2008-2021Gurgaon, Haryana~13 years
2021-CurrentBangkok, Thailand
Nomadic Lifestyle
Not my hometown
Sucks, indeed

This list just covers the cities I have lived in. Even within these cities, I have sometimes lived in up to 3 different places. What is my Hometown, then?

Bhubaneshwar, because I was born there, but lived only a few months?

Kolkata, because that’s where my parents are from, but lived only a year?

Gurgaon, where I lived the longest and have my own place but don’t ever plan to return to?

Thankfully, I am off Facebook, so don’t have to answer this question anymore.

Road trip

I sold my last motorcycle back in 2015 & since then have not experienced a motorcycle road trip. A few weeks ago, I bought a new(ish) motorcycle from a departing Expat. Its the Stallions Centaur CT400 with a 400cc single cylinder 4 valve engine. I have ridden it many times since then, but only local short commutes. It goes without saying, the feeling of wanderlust has been building up inside me since.

Today morning, I went about my usual schedule and even started my office work. After taking stock of my work, I realized I had nothing too urgent to finish today. I decided to take the day off and head out to the highway on the motorcycle.

I settled on Ko Lan, an island around 160km away. To get there, you need to ride till Bali Hai Pier at Pattaya and then take a ferry to the island. I hastily collected a few things, put on Pink Floyd’s Pulse and headed out on the highway. Unfortunately, I soon discovered that the fastest highway to Pattaya doesn’t allow motorcycles on it. Fortunately, the other highway which does allow Motorcycles was also more suitable for Motorcycle rides. Highway 3 is a winding 4-6 lane road which hugs the coast and passes near many beaches.

Motorcycle Road Trip
Highway 3

After escaping the mad traffic of Bangkok, I was finally able to open up the throttle on the highway. The motorcycle performs very well on the highway, cruising easily between 100-120kmph without too many vibrations (For a single cylinder engine). There’s ample reserve power for going faster for overtaking, too. I was able to reach Pattaya in 2.5 hours.

Deserted Bali Hai Pier

I was quickly disappointed to find the pier deserted and learnt that boats to Ko Lan were stopped because of the pandemic. Dejected, I decided to explore Pattaya instead and headed to Pattaya Beach. Thankfully, Chonburi province allows dine-in and I was able to have lunch at the beach.

After getting my feet wet in the water and relaxing for sometime, I headed back to Bangkok. I wanted to stay and watch the sunset but the constant attempts by she-pimps to persuade me to get a “massage” got on my nerves. My phone ran out of battery on the way back, and I lost my way twice on the outskirts of Bangkok but eventually reached home.

After going on a motorcycle road trip after so many years, I feel exhilarated. Needless to say, there will be many more road trips in the months to come.

Bye Bye Credit Cards

For as long as I have had a career, I have lived off of credit cards. I handled my expenses using these cards and paid it back at the end of the month. Using these cards, I also purchased things that I couldn’t afford and paid the money back over many months. At one point of time, I had up to 4 credit cards in my wallet, all maxed out.

Credit Cards
Credit Cards, PC: Business Insider

With my recent move and a long overdue financial reset, I decided to get rid of credit cards from my life once and for all. I was anyways going to get rid of my Indian cards, but I also decided not to get any in Thailand.

At first it was scary and I almost ended up applying for one during a weak moment but eventually pulled through. Now it has been more than a month without a credit card and I couldn’t be happier. For the first time in my life, I am actually sticking to my budget goals.

I hope I am able to stave off the temptation and maintain this going forward.

The Inscrutable Thais

I have been living in Thailand for around a month now. I have visited here many times before, but this is the first time I am actually living here. As such, my interaction with Thais has been quite different from other times and for most part, I have found them to be inscrutable. However some aspects of their (unique) character has struck me, which I would describe below:

Thai People, PC: mythaland.blog
  1. Most Thais have their main social circle at work. Unlike people who come to office just to work and then go home, most Thais are actually pretty good friends with their colleagues. They even spend extended hours at work (even if it is not needed) just to be close to their colleagues/friends. I found this very weird for the first few days; people at work well past dinner, but then I realized it is more of a “social” thing rather than an “overwork” thing.
  2. Thais love ice in everything. All their drinks are 70% ice. Even some of their desserts are full of ice. Whatever ice is left after enjoying the drink/dessert, they happily eat.
  3. Thais are extremely polite. Most Thais (especially in the service industry) will go out of their way to be courteous. On top of that, they are also very non-confrontational which means you will hardly see fights or arguments on the streets.
  4. For some reason, most of Bangkok malls are full of banks. Most malls have branches of all the major banks and they are open for extended hours and over the weekend. Strangely, the main branches elsewhere have short hours on weekdays and are closed on weekends.
  5. Thais don’t seem to be very fond of wearing jewelry. Also, jewelry stores are not very common in markets or malls (Unlike India) and can only be found in some specific areas.
  6. Thais love the colour pink. Unlike other countries, where the colour Pink would be considered overtly feminine, in Thailand, pink is common everywhere. You will find things like pink clothes (common among both genders), pink cars, pink branding, pink bikes, pink buildings everywhere.
  7. Thais love air conditioning. Be it offices, restaurants, malls, taxis, air conditioning is typically dialed down to an insanely low temperature. Most people from other countries would find indoors too chilly.
  8. Out of all the countries I have been to, Thailand easily has the highest ratio of women in the workforce. Almost everyone in the service industry is a woman, in the tech industry, the ratio is much higher than other countries & women are present at all levels. In fact 15-20% of taxi drivers I get here are also women, which, frankly, I have never seen anywhere else.

Looking forward to getting to know them even better over the next few years.

Weird Birthday-2

This year, I had another weird birthday. My last birthday was spent in Bangkok, alone at a hotel. After that, I thought I might never travel to Bangkok again, but coincidentally, not only am I back in Bangkok, I even spent my birthday in the exact same hotel.

The difference was, this time I wasn’t alone, but with family.

Spent the day at IconSiam & bought the Apple Watch braided solo loop as a birthday gift. Overall, a nice upgrade from my last birthday.

Weirdest Birthday Ever

This year, I had the weirdest birthday ever. Normally, my birthday is spent with a close family lunch and a wider family dinner. This year, however, I had to travel to Bangkok for work & since this was my last week in this particular company, I didn’t say no.

I went on the company trip and planned my family to visit me on the weekend before my birthday and stay till the day after my birthday, but because of the Covid-19 situation, their trip had to be cancelled. On top of that, my birthday was a Thai holiday, so I was staring at spending my birthday alone.

I started the day waking up late and having a leisurely breakfast at the hotel.

I saw a couple of movies, and then was surprised by the Hotel staff with a birthday cake. The cake was delicious and heavy, so I skipped lunch.

Weirdest Birthday
Cake!

In the evening, I took a long walk to Benjakiti Park, took the Skytrain From Asok to Phrom Phong station and spent some time at the Emquartier mall. After roaming round the Glass Quartier, the Waterfall Quartier, I headed for dinner at the Helix Quartier.

The Helix Quartier is a beautifully designed section of the mall. As the name says, it has a gently sloping walkway in the shape of a Helix without a clear distinction between different floors, with restaurants lining both sides of the walkway. I found a nice Korean Organic Chicken and Rice place and had a hearty meal.

Organic Korean Chicken and Rice

After dinner, I went back to the hotel, alone, watched some TV and fell asleep, thus bringing to end, the weirdest birthday ever.