Cookie, Melbourne, Australia again

Another great meal at Cookie on Swanston Street this evening.

There were two of us for a quick meal this evening. It was early when we arrived, about 6:30pm and only half a dozen tables in the restaurant area were occupied when we arrived but the restaurant continued to steadily fill over the next hour.

We only tried two dishes this evening, and both were excellent.

We started off the the drunken prawns with garlic, coriander and Mekong whiskey. There were around six medium sized prawns in the dish. Terribly messy to eat, as you need to shell the prawns with your finger but the mess is worth it as you are left wanting more.

For the second dish we tried something that was new to both of us, the deep fried pork belly with red curry, kaffir lime and beans. You’d think that the pork would get soggy and limp due to the curry sauce, but each piece of pork was still crispy when you ate it. The curry sauce has red and green sliced chillies in it to add a bit of a bite. A totally awesome dish.

We were in and out in about an hour, and by the time we left the restaurant was busy and most, if not all, of the tables were occupied. You’d want to book if you want to get a table after 7pm.

Cookie can be found on the internet at www.cookie.net.au.

InterContinental Bangkok, Bangkok, Thailand

I’ve never stayed at a bad InterContinental hotel, and the InterContinental Bangkok is no exception.

As I walked out of immigration at the new Bangkok airport I felt like I was a welcomed guest and my BMW limo was waiting to drive me to the hotel.

I’d heard nightmares stories about Bangkok traffic but it wasn’t until we were a couple of blocks away from the hotel on Ploenchit Road that the traffic really became heavy, bumper to bumper traffic. But that said, it only took us another 10 minutes or so to get to the hotel.

Upon arrival I was greated by name and whisked into a waiting lift to my room on the 28th floor. I’d been told a couple of days beforehand by e-mail that I’d been upgraded to an Executive Deluxe room because I am an InterContinental Ambassador member.

During the week I found that the bed and pillows were great, certainly some of the most comfortable that I’ve had in a while that allowed me to sleep like I was almost at home. The shower was huge within a standard sized, but not cramped, bathroom. The bathroom also has a bath that I didn’t use.

I did find the walls a little bit thin a couple of times, with noises from the adjacent rooms becoming annoying, but thankfully the interruptions were brief and infrequent.

The location of the hotel was great, right next to Chit Lom Skytrain station, and it was only a short walk or Skytrain ride to a whole heap of local shopping malls. MBK was probably a 15 minute walk away. Work was just 10 minutes away on the Skytrain at Ari.

I did use room service a couple of times, and the food was exceptional, though expensive by local standards. But that is to be expected in any quality hotel.

A great hotel that I will stay at next time I travel to Bangkok.

Qantas Premium Economy

On my recent trip from Sydney to Bangkok I decided to upgrade myself from Economy to Premium Economy using frequent flyer points.

On the Qantas 747 premium economy is a 2-4-2 configuration and you have a couple of more inches of legroom over normal economy class. On my plane there were 32 seats in a curtained off cabin that is situated between business and economy just behind the main galley. The area would have been standard economy seats before premium economy was introduced.

When you board you are offered water, juice or champagne, just as you would in Business Class, but I’m sure that you’re getting cheaper champagne than at the pointy end. I had the champagne and it was OK… I even asked for, and received, a second glass.

After takeoff a bar service was offered before dinner was served. No plastic ‘glasses’ either, real glass!

Dinner was a vast improvement over standard economy, think domestic business class food. No tinfoil plates, you get a china plate and proper cutlery (but still plastic knives). It was just a better experience than a standard economy meal. Desert was the standard economy class icy-pole.

About an hour before we landed in Bangkok our steward came through the cabin asking is anyone would like a toasted sandwich and drink. I had a rather nice toasted chicken sandwich which certainly filled the spot.

The seats are slightly larger than economy, and I would compare them to an older business class seat or the current domestic business class seat. It was very comfortable and you get a couple of extra inches of width and of legroom so you don’t feel so crammed in.

Everyone gets a in-armrest video display that is larger that the economy screen but smaller than the business screen. It does have a touch screen, but mine wasn’t well calibrated so when I pressed a button the one next to it got selected. I just resorted to using the handset controls.

My only major gripe with things were that when the person in front reclined their seat they hit your screen and knock it out of position. I had a squirmer in the seat in from of me so it became very, very annoying. An extra inch between seats would have fixed the problem.

What was the same as economy?

  • Had to use the economy class toilets
  • Dessert was the icy-pole
  • No after dinner port or muscat etc
  • No menu

    What was the same as business?

    • The welcome aboard drink
    • Bar service before the meal
    • Better meal and ‘real’ wine
    • Wine service continued after the meal
    • Noise canceling headphones

    This was a day flight, there may be other differences on an overnight flight. I did try to upgrade myself for the return flight but both Business and Premium Economy were full… who said that airlines were doing it tough!

    Overall, a good investment in points or cash for longer flights if you can’t justify the price of a business class seat.

    You have to laugh

    You hear about how the taxi drivers in Bangkok will try to rip you off at every opportunity, so when I got in a cab on Sunday evening the first thing I did was make sure that the meter was started. Which it was.

    Fast forward 15 minutes as we pull up to the front door of my hotel.

    Taxi driver: 100

    Me: Ahh, the meter say 43!

    Taxi driver: No meter

    Well, I had to laugh as I gave this wanna be thief 50 Baht as full and final payment as I got out of his mobile attempted crime scene.

    But I must admit, the taxi I got later on in the week did not try to rip me off… but its the bad ones that ruin it for the rest.

    Don’t you just hate it when…

    you end up in a swish hotel in a new city. You don’t know your way around, so you play it safe for a couple of days by eating at your hotel.

    Towards the end of the week you have some spare time, as you’ve completed your work early, so you decided to do a little reconnaissance mission around the neighborhood you’ve been staying in, and during that trip you find several local food halls that offer the same quality and quantity of food that you’ve been eating at the hotel, with the major exception that the price is around 10% of what you were paying previously.

    Well… welcome to my week in Bangkok!