A is for Ackee

One of the first things I noticed on the fruit stalls around Kingston was this odd-shaped fruit:


They are easy to spot from a distance with those distinctive black seeds busting out of what looks like an overripe casing.  What on earth were they?  I learnt quite quickly that they are the treasured Jamaican ackee fruit, which is used to make the national breakfast dish, Ackee and Saltfish.  More on that later.

Then I started to notice Ackee trees around town.  The unripe bell shaped fruits hang from trees everywhere.  They aren’t ready to be picked until they split open and the black seeds are on display, as they are poisonous before they’re ripe.  I understand that you can’t buy them fresh (or canned even) in the US as the FDA have classifed ackee as poisionous and even the canning process doesn’t destroy the toxins if the ackee being processed were picked underripe.  However, this is not a concern here as locals know very well how to pick and process them.


The trees aren’t native to Jamaica but come originally from West Africa, probably along with the slaves that were also imported from there.  Fruit grows abundantly and can produce a harvest all year long.  I’ve read that the wood is termite resistant, so perhaps that’s another reason that so many people have them in their yards.

Preparation of the national dish, Ackee and Saltfish, starts by removing the fleshy arils from the open husks (taking care to also remove the toxic red membrane) and boiling them until they’re soft.


Shucked  arils ready for the pot

The arils look a little scrambled eggs when they are cooked and have a similar mild flavour and texture.  They are mixed with flaked salt cod, onions, tomatoes and green peppers to make the famous dish.  I’ve tried it a couple of times and its pretty good!


Ackee and Saltfish – ready for your Jamaican breakfast

Road Blogger (I am not)

Hello from New York. Sometimes it hard to believe that such different cities (from the one I just called home) exist on the same planet. I went from a world that barely knew what a cookie was to NYC where they are available served warm and gooey for insomniacs until 3am. After five weeks of traveling, the difference is mind-bending for me, but something that you have to have experienced to necessarily appreciate…and maybe not really blogging material, at least at the level that I want to examine it.  What was once normal can rapidly become normal once again, but I’m still enjoying crosswalks, sidewalks,traffic rules, fresh air and no horns.  (No horn honking especially is still a pleasure!)  Blogging in the midst of all this rediscovery has not been a focus or realistically possible given all the competition from travel, seeing friends and family, and just the packing and unpacking of our voluminous stuff.  Last time my blog needed a little kickstart I reignited it with several short posts with the five days, five stories challenge, so I though I’d do that again starting tomorrow.  This time with a Greek focus…stay tuned!


Dhal Bhat Takhari

Dhal Bhat served on a popular stainless steel segmented tray.  This is more my kind of quantity, but typically a Nepali will have three or four times the rice.  I just can’t eat that much!

DBT or Dhal, Bhat, Takhari is the national Nepali staple combination. It means lentils, rice, and vegetables and is really a style of food rather than one specific dish.  I usually eat it a couple of times a week at the Embassy canteen on the Nepali staff side of the restaurant, and I have to say I really like it.  The same format of meal is served every day:  a thin lentil soup, a pulse or meat dish (although the meat part isn’t so standard elsewhere), a different curried vegetable, a pickle of some kind, poppadoms, raw vegetables and plain yoghurt.  But the mix of different pulses and seasonal vegetables/pickles are varied enough that I keep coming back for more.  However, my options are really the deluxe version.  Often Dhal Bhat is without the vegetables – just a simple thin lentil soup and a giant pile of rice. Thats as much cheap carbohydrate as possible to fill you up.

Maybe by the end of our tour here, I’ll run screaming from a Dhal Bhat menu, but right now its exactly what I want:  healthy, spicy,  lots of vegetables and a little pickly goodness alongside!

Making Christmas Pudding….

christmaspudding….Kathmandu style!

I’ve been making traditional Christmas pudding from scratch for years.  I can’t say I have never missed a year as holidays been pretty upside down at times, so there’s probably been a couple of occasions over the last 25 years when I haven’t.  But mostly, I’ve somehow managed to pull it off.

What’s interesting to me is what I can/can’t get in the different places that we’ve lived.  There are so many ingredients in a Christmas pudding recipe that its pretty certain wherever I am (except for the UK) you can’t get something…so you have to leave it out, find a substitute or make it yourself.

 Christmas Pudding Ingredients

Assembling the ingredients for the pudding. This is only about half of it. Amazingly I found sherry in one of the little stores around our house.  The liquor store guy probably couldn’t believe his luck that some crazy foreigner bought it!  Now…what else do I need to find……?

Here in Kathmandu, the issue was Guinness and lard. I’d put money on the fact that you can get Guinness somewhere around here but I didn’t have the time to go look, so I substituted Tuborg Gold that we had in the fridge and added a tablespoon of molasses for colour. Lard was another problem. I’ve made it myself before from scratch in the States (where you can’t get in over the counter) but that was by rendering beef fat. Here cows wander the streets, not the butcher shops, so the only feasible substitute was mutton fat. My Didi (helper) headed out to find my enough mutton fat to do the job and I showed her how to render it in the oven to make lard.  Its a bit icky and a whole other story, but if you’re interested you can read about it here.  She did a good job.  After a couple of hours we had more than enough fresh lard to make Christmas puddings for the next five years.


Vast quantities of lard ready to use!

Why lard you ask?  Lard gives a much lighter, less greasy pudding.  I’ve tried it with butter before, but butter is no substitute.  It gives a heavy, greasy pudding.  It has to be lard.

Most of the work is in gathering the ingredients.  Once you have them its just a matter of mixing them all together and then boiling the mixture in a pudding dish for eight hours.  If anyone is interested in the actual recipe, I’ll include it at the bottom.

Making Christmas pudding

Mixing the dry ingredients: breadcrumbs, grated lard, spices…



..then add carrots, apples, lemons, oranges and dried fruit. Last in: eggs, beer, and sherry.

The mixed ingredients go into a greased glass or china bowl.  An aluminum “hat” is tied on and the bowl is placed in about 3 inches of water on a trivet in a large saucepan.  Steam for eight hours.


Pudding ready to lowered into the trivet and bath


Before boiling, the pudding is light in colour. At the end it will be a deep dark brown like the traditional picture at the beginning.




After its cooled down, remove the aluminum hat and replace it with a new, clean one. Store in a cool place until Christmas Day. To serve, steam again for 3-4 hrs.

Christmas Pudding ( by Delia Smith)

4oz shredded suet
2oz self-raising flour, sifted
4oz fresh, white breadcrumbs,
1 teaspoon ground mixed spice
1/4 level teaspoon of freshly grated nutmeg
good pinch ground cinnamon
8oz soft, dark brown sugar
4oz sultanas
4oz raisins
10oz currants
1oz mixed candied peel (I substitute marmalade)
1oz almonds, skinned and chopped
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped
grated zest and juice of one orange
grated zest and juice of one lemon
2 tablespoons rum
2oz sherry
2 oz guinness or stout
2 large eggs

Village Rice Harvest


One of the things I really like about Kathmandu is how quickly you can get out of the city.  In about thirty minutes you are out of the maze of chaotic streets. After 40 minutes, you are in the countryside.  It makes a day trip easy, and you don’t have to worry about endless hours in traffic like we did in Manila.

I like the closeness to country life that is still evident here.  I like seeing how food comes to the table.  In Nepal most activities are still handled manually.  All around you can see the seasons and routines, and how everything harvested has a function to feed people, animals, or fuel fires.

Our recent trip to Sankhu was just a 45 minute drive and we stayed at a small cottage with views out across the rice paddies.


The bedroom/kitchen/living space of our little cottage


Looking out across the rice paddies at different stages of the harvest

From our ringside seat, the views across the valley were of farmers bringing in the rice crop. Its a family team affair with at least one person cutting down the tall rice stalks, another shaking the grain on to a hessian cloth, and another tying the stripped stalks into bundles.


The tied bundles of rice straw are then layed out across raised mounds of dirt to dry in the sun. The dirt mounds and furrows are actually planted potatoes that are already in the ground waiting for the rice crop to vacate. Unfortunately, the rain stayed a little late this year and this farmer’s work lies drenched in the flooding. A reminder that farming is risky business.

Once they bundles are dried out they are piled in haystacks, and eventually brought inside for storage.


Haystacks seemed to be a form of self expression. We saw quite a few different techniques!

Towards the end of the day, farmers gathered up the rice grains from the burlap sheets to put into sacks for transportation. But the final task beforehand was to toss piles of grain in the air to remove some of the husks, dust and dirt. Only then could he fill the sacks and carry them home for the day. We saw a mechanized version of the grain cleaning while we walked through the village:

cleaning rice grains

Same idea, but with a little help from electricity (when its working). Grains fall in front of a spinning fan, which blows away husk debris. The “aired” grains pile up on the plastic sheet, waiting to be bagged.


This farmer got a head start on his potatoes.  The  potato crop is already on its way.

Its a lot of very hard work and risky business. Watching the harvest come in gives you a whole new level of respect for a simple bowl of rice.

Kalimati Produce Market

Anyone who has asked me in person about my big challenges living in Manila knows how I felt about the lack of quality fresh produce.  Its not that the Philippines doesn’t produce quality fruits and vegetables, but it has the hardest time getting them into the city before they start to expire. Often we found produce flown in from Australia that was fresher — much more expensive — but fresher than anything grown just 6 hours north of Manila in cool, fertile Bagio.

So a important goal of the settling in process here in Kathmandu was to explore the produce available, learn what was seasonally available and figure out the best way to get some of it on our plates at home.  So I asked my Didi what kinds of vegetable markets were available and to take me to the best one in the city.

When I got in the car with our driver he seemed a bit confused.  He pointed at the plenitude of small fruit and vegetable shops, indicating to me that everything was available locally rather than driving what seemed to him a long way to the market.  But I really wanted to see for myself if there was some kind of central market that offered clues to the best variety and freshness with produce in Kathmandu.  It was a way to set expectations and to answer the question:   What does produce look like when it first arrives in Kathmandu before its sat on the roadside for hours on end?  Once I know about how things worked here, then I could set my expectations accordingly.

So off we went to the market.  I really wasn’t sure if I had managed to communicate things properly, but was pleasantly surprised when, less than half an hour later, our driver turned our car into what was clearly a big produce market, Kalimati Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market to be precise.

kalimati wholesale market

First glimpses of Kalimati market. At 10am it was busy but not crowded. Most stalls were under a large, central, covered area, although many spilled out on to the surrounding side streets.

kalimati wholesale market

I was heartened to see some variety in the different type of vegetables. In Manila you really could only get one type of potato, or carrot, or bean…. Here there was more choice on some of the produce, like potatoes for instance…

kalimati farmers market

The level of freshness was pretty good too. The market was pretty rough around the edges but the produce looked decent. I tried to snap the English “Farmers Market” sign but only managed part of it…


Using a head strap to carry heavy weight on your back is very common here. It much be really bad for your neck and shoulders!

So how does Kathmandu produce stack up against Manila’s? Considerably better, I’d say. Our local supermarket here is still inferior to the street market, but comes up with very fresh things occasionally. Also here the producers also come into the city and sell directly from their own blanket pitch on the pavement. I’ve seen some good looking produce around, not consistently, but its there.  And of course, for me, the fact that vegetables feature on menus and the food here is pretty good is a good thing.  Now I just have to find my chef’s hat once again and head back into the kitchen…. I’ll keep you posted on that one!

Yak Cheese. Its What’s for Dinner…..

Yak Cheese

Half a kilo of yak cheese please…

Here in Kathmandu, cheese is available but imported cheeses are very expensive and its a bit of a gamble whether your expensive imported cheese has had a good journey from its source to your table.  I can’t bring myself to shell out over seven dollars for a tub of philadelphia cream cheese.

We are lucky to have an excellent farmers market with cheese producers who sell locally made international cheese at more reasonable prices than the supermarket anyway. And they are very good.  However, I don’t always have a Saturday morning free to go to the farmers market to obtain them.

Locally made cheese such as paneer and mozzarella are very reasonably priced and readily available and we have had success buying those.  Also on our purchasing list is yak cheese, and I hesitated a little at first, but it has turned out to have a small but relevant role in our fridge.  Here’s an introduction:


Half a Kilo for about 520 rupees. Thats approximately $4.50/pound.

Yaks Cheese

Whats the texture like? Quite firm, but no hard. A little waxy but not rubbery. Interestingly enough, it has a very mild flavour. Not at all what I expected.

Grated Yaks Cheese

It grates pretty nicely too…

Grated Yaks Cheese on Homemade Soup

Grated on a little homemade minestrone. Which I sort of regretted actually, it melts with a bit too much stringy-ness. Might be better in a different kind of dish

The verdict? Yaks Cheese is ok. I don’t love it, nor do I hate it. The flavour is pretty bland and it melts with a stringy-ness that reminds me of mozzarella, but without the creaminess. I wouldn’t eat it on crackers because by itself it’s not worth the calories. But in a recipe that uses cheese to bind things together and relies on other flavours to make in shine…its just fine. There you go…Yak’s Cheese…not at all what you expected!

The Elusive Greek Tomato


Greek Tomatoes from Crete. Perfect, regular and probably tasteless


More perfection of appearance (only)

Mythological Fruit or Lost National Treasure?

When I first came to Greece in the early eighties it was a vastly different place.  Since then so many things have changed — for the better and worse — before we even get to its economic troubles today. It always easy to look back and see a kinder, simpler time and let sentiment cloud judgement.

Back then I was a twenty year old English girl who grew up on fresh fruits and vegetables from the local greengrocer (not a supermarket) including seasonal Canary Island tomatoes and home grown tomatoes from my dad’s greenhouse in August.  Canary tomatoes are small, uniform, and not particularly special, but they sliced up beautifully in perfect little segments on a salad.  When I first saw a Greek vegetable stand the lemons were piled high with leaves still attached and knobbly, misshapen bright red tomatoes were everywhere.  When you cut them open, they were red through and through, juicy, sweet, and full of seeds which seemed to randomly cluster throughout the flesh of these tomato monsters.  Quite frankly, they looked a bit weird.  Cut up on a Greek salad they were easy to eat because they tasted so good, but they shook my limited definition of what a tomato should be.

Flash forward twenty five years and I am beginning to doubt that those tomatoes ever existed in Greece.  Now they seem impossible to find, and have been replaced by large, uniform fruit that look impressive and much more perfect, but cut them open and — I’m sorry — they are just not Greek enough.  I’m told time and time again that “so and so” has fantastic tomatoes this season, and off I go to buy some.  Only to be disappointed in what I find. So much so, that I’m starting to question whether I have idealized them to the point that no mere tomato can ever live up to my expectations?

I’ll illustrate this with a story.  My husband loves the Greek dish, Macaroni me Kima.  Its a Greek version of Spaghetti Bolognese with the distinctive addition of cinnamon.  The basic recipe is not complicated and there’s not that much variation on how to make it.  I would make it for him and ask how he liked it and he would always say “its very good, but its not like Maria’s”.  He could never tell me what Maria did to make it so good and she wasn’t around to ask.  I tried numerous versions of the recipe, but as I say that’s not that much room for variation.  From time to time I would ask a Greek friend (or better still her grandmother) to show me how to make it.  Every time the preparation seemed pretty standard to me and Robert’s reply was the same:  “very good but not like Maria’s.”  It literally took me 15 years to realise that it was not Maria’s skill as a cook that my dish missed, but the long hike to her house and the hard work outside in the Greek sun that preceded the reward of her Macaroni me kima lunch.   It was the context and sentiment that my recipe lacked.  So, my question to myself was whether this was happening here with my elusive Greek tomato?


These are tomatoes?! You have to friggin’ be kidding me! I would be embarrassed to give these away.


Perfect, shiny and a beautiful red. Buy me it screams…but look at the cut away. That white ring is a good sign its tasteless and probably mealy too. No thank you! I’m not obsessed with this….really!

I went to buy tomatoes last week from a local grocer who has fresh produce three times a week.  She is a lovely woman and I don’t question her sincerity one bit. She told me the prices of two types of tomatoes she had and one was twice the price of the other as it was the better product.  The more expensive variety was mostly green and had the shiny, plastic appearance of wax, the hallmark of something raised in a greenhouse. I asked her if they were imported as that might account for the difference in price.  But no, the box showed they were Greek.  Really?!  Here we are in August, in Greece, and this is the best you have on offer?  Something is really wrong here.  Has everyone bought into this myth that perfect-looking tomatoes must be better?  Am I the only sane one left?!

I don’t think its me.  I don’t think that the Greek tomato of the 80s and 90s is a myth in my mind.  I think its demise is the work of the bastards at Monsanto and other giant seed companies who are messing with our food, messing with our culinary heritage and messing with our seed stocks.    Its heartbreaking to know that profit is driving them to purchase traditional seed stocks with the intention of discontinuing them permanently, so they disappear from our tables forever.  The replacement is proprietary, hardy seed stocks which produce perfect-looking produce that resist disease and transport better at the price of quality and taste.  People buy into the glossy perfection of perfect produce and forget about taste.  How else could I ever explain the grocer’s honest belief that she was selling me a better product?


Now this looks like a good tomato! I can’t taste the picture but my money is on this one. Do you know how many google images I had to scroll through to find this..? Which is kind of my point…

But I still live in hope that one day I’ll bump into an old farming family in the corner of a laiiki somewhere who will sell me tomatoes from his grandfather’s seeds that really taste like a Greek tomato.  If this ever happens, I don’t know that I’ll even eat them.  I may just scrape out the seeds and save them and start my own subversive tomato farm somewhere.  Someone has to save this national treasure if it hasn’t already gone forever!

How to Make Homemade Yoghurt

Yoghurt making equipment

Assembled ingredients to begin the job

Ingredients to make 2 kilos of yoghurt

  • 2 litres of water or UHT milk  (you can use fresh milk also, but using that here is prohibitively expensive and UHT is just fine.  Water is fine too.  It just makes a less creamy yoghurt)
  • 2 2/3 cups of full fat milk powder
  • 1 cup of yoghurt starter or 1 cup of homemade yoghurt from the last batch
  • 1 cup of sweet whey powder (optional.  It makes the yoghurt creamy and taste like it has a higher fat content, although it actually adds no fat to the mixture.)
Sweet Dairy Whey

Sweet Dairy Whey adds creaminess and a very slight sweetness to the yoghurt without adding significant calories. You can buy it online.

Yogurt Starter

We purchased yoghurt starter as part of our initial experiments to give us a standard to test our experiments. It turns out that you don’t really need it unless you can’t get plain fresh yoghurt easily.


  • 2 1-kilo/liter containers (tupperware or recycled yoghurt containers are fine.  We recycled a large Skippy jar.)
  • Large slow cooker (crockpot)
  • 2 large plastic jugs or bowls for mixing.
  • Wire whisk
  • Sieve
  • Small ziplock bag or tupperware container
  • 1/3 cup measure
  • Towel
  • Thermometer (optional, but recommended)


DSC00122 DSC00126 DSC00124

Pour milk(or water) into plastic jugs. Add 2/3 cup of milk powder to each jug and whisk.  Add half the yoghurt starter to each jug.  Mix well.  Finally add the sweet dairy whey to each container and whisk well.We like to use two jugs and pour the liquid back and forth to make sure both jugs have equally combined ingredients.

Pour the mixture through a sieve because at the bottom there are usually lumps of powder that did not mix in well enough.  You can pour the mixture directly into the yoghurt containers.  Because of all the powder you have added the volume will have increased to greater than 2 litres.  So pour the extra mixture into a small baggie or tupperware container.  This will be processed along with the main yoghurt containers but will become your yoghurt starter for your next batch.  Once its made, you can just leave it to cool down and put it in the freezer, ready for your next batch of yoghurt another time.

DSC00128 DSC00130

Put the yoghurt containers and baggie into the crockpot.  The crockpot should be no more than 1/3 full of warm water.


Note our containers are too tall to fit into the crockpot to close the lid properly.  This is not a problem if you use a thermometer to keep track of the temperate and a towel to cover the top of the crockpot and act as a blanket.  You should try to maintain a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit.  The minimum mark on our meat thermometer is 120 degrees, so once we see the temperature is getting near the 120 mark, we turn the crockpot off and let it sit for a couple of hours, keeping an eye on the thermometer and turning the crockpot back on again to bring the temperature up again.  This can be much easier if you have a hot area in the house that you know maintains a high temperature, or a crockpot that can maintain 100 degrees by itself.  Ours can’t and we are fighting erratic airconditioning in the kitchen.  With a little practice your get a feel for how long it takes and how many times you need to check the temperature.  Yoghurt making takes 4-8 hrs typically.  In the right temperature conditions, you can put it on before you go to bed and wake up to fresh yoghurt.

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Hints and Tips

1. Always wash up the mixing equipment immediately.  The milk and whey powder traces turn to concrete on the sides of the jugs.

2. If you don’t want to purchase yoghurt starter and have yet to make your own baggie, you can use commercial yoghurt.  Most of them will say “live yoghurt” on the side of the container which indicates that it has the live culture to make your own.  The exception would be highly processed yoghurts, especially those that don’t need refrigeration.

3. If the yoghurt didn’t set, the temperature was too low.  If the yoghurt curdles the temperature was too high.  Try again with adjusted temperature controls.

4. Don’t expect to get it right the first time, but its also not that difficult.  Once you figure out how to control the temperature, the battle is won.

Cost and Quality

The flavour, texture and quality is vastly superior to commercial yoghurt.  Its worth figuring this out just for the improved product.  However the cost is also significantly cheaper.  Made with only water and skimmed milk powder, the cost is about $1.50/kilo.  Using UHT milk and dairy whey, the cost goes up to $3.00/kilo.  Compared to the prices that we are paying here for imported yoghurt, that’s a steal.  Imported yoghurt costs from $11-20/kilo here.

Shopping in Bangkok: Like Manila But with Fabric

First impressions of Bangkok was not what I expected:  more smog and more humidity than Manila.  A lethal combination that the weather service was blaming on the continuing cool front over the city. Cool being a relative word, of course.  It certainly didn’t feel cool to me, and I live in a hot, humid city.

bangkok smog

First smoggy impression of Bangkok

The taxi driver experience was more coordinated than Manila, though I missed the lack of at least some English.  The ride there in traffic was pretty good and the modern highway delivered me without any fuss to the Plaza Athenee Hotel in the centre of Bangkok for a 4 day visit.  I was piggy backing off Robert’s stay there on a required training course and I would have 3.5 days to explore the city, but 2.5 days of that would be alone.

bangkok sign

Signage? Not.a.clue.

Suddenly I was in a different Asia, minus the English or even the Latin alphabet.  All around were pretty squiggly alphabet letters that gave me no clue – no clue – to what I was reading.  I hadn’t experienced that since China.   A little foretaste of life in Nepal, I think.

So, what’s a girl to do alone in the city for three days in a new city?  Shop of course.  Or at least start with the shopping and take it from there.  That was the plan.  However, I had arrived mid-afternoon without a minute to pre-research where to go and what to do.  So I settled into the room, made friends with the coffee machine and bath tub, got on the computer and waited for Robert to arrive on his later flight.  Its amazing what information you can gather on a city via the internet, but when you’re really starting from scratch and trying to cross reference maps, temples and metro stops, having a few books laid out in front of you makes life a lot easier.  Switching from browser tab to browser tab gets old. (Note to self:  next time bring a guide book too.)

Our hotel location was wonderfully close to a lot of the big shopping areas:  MBK Center, Siam Center, and Central Chitlom Department store.  The Metro ran from just around the corner to stops all over the city, but I decided that at least for now, I wanted to walk, and it was all walkable.  So I set out the next morning to find out what they had to offer and was struck by impression number two:  street food.

bangkok street food 2

Which fresh veggies would you like to top off your dish?

Most people have heard about street food in Bangkok.  Even the Embassy doctor told me it was safe to eat, but in Manila you sort of disregard street food as not yummy and walk on by.  Not so here.  Everything looked good:  fresh fish, fresh vegetables (yes, that’s fresh and vegetables in the same sentence), fresh fruit, fruit drinks, unidentified deep fried things on sticks… all of it looked good.  On the little plastic chairs and tables on the side of the road were bunches of fresh basil, grated vegetables, leaves of lettuce…because adding something fresh and crunchy to your food is a good thing here….! See…I knew I wasn’t making it up!

bangkok street food

I was kept visually entertained the whole walk to the MBK center just by eyeing the various food offerings.

The walk is made easier to by a pedestrian skyway which runs about a mile along the length, and pedestrian bridges are located at most major intersections in the central part of town.  You need to be able to go up and down stairs, of course but, if that’s not an issue, they beat fighting across the road at the lights.  It turns out that Thai’s don’t respect the STOP! hand signal that I’ve used to cross streets here in Manila where a mixture of confident commitment and that hand signal stops traffic that has otherwise rebelliously ignored street signs such as cross walks and stop signs.  In Bangkok, not so much.  You WILL get mowed down!

So on to the actual shopping bit.  My target was the MBK center as it had lots of small stalls and sold knicknacks, souveniers and perhaps what I was really looking for….fabric.  Asia’s known for it silks, batiks and cottons depending on where you are, but no so much in the Philippines.  There’s fabric here, of course, but not much distinctively ethnic or interesting to buy.  So I was on the hunt for some nice silk, preferably by the yard, not the most beautiful, expensive kind (sorry jim thompson) and not the really cheap Chinese stuff.  Just something good quality and a reasonable price that I could use to copy some of my favourite shirts.  It turned out to be pretty illusive in downtown Bangkok.  I’m sure it’s there somewhere but my first attempt failed in MBK and Chitholm Department Store which didn’t sell fabric.

MBK was fun, though.  Lots of the expected touristy stuff.  A lot of it reminded me of the basketware, raffia and wooden items for sale in the Philippines.  But it was fun looking around and I managed to find one or two things that I liked.  I skipped the other malls.  As a long weekend tourist, I really didn’t need any of the international retail chain stuff, although I understand department stores in Bangkok do sell western sized clothing.  For now, I was saving my tourist dollars for the promised treasures at Chatuchak Market.

bangkok mbk

Lost in the warren of MBK market stalls