Thursday, October 18, 2012

The unicycle, the helmet, and the flying chicken ...




One of the best things about staying in a city with people who actually live there, is that you get to experience things that are off the beaten tourist track.
So when my highschool buddy Carolyn and I stayed with our mutual former classmate Ian in Bangkok earlier this year, we got to some fantastic places that don't feature on the usual tourism brochures.
Not for us the one-size-fit-all Thai show theme nights, complete with dancing shows. Not that there is anything wrong with that!
Instead we experienced the best and most basic of Bangkok's drinking establishments (more on that later).
We ate at basic food courts and the most exclusive restaurants, enjoyed real Thai massages and beauty therapies, and perhaps most memorably of all, dined at a local institution: Suan Aharn Kraton, or The Flying Chicken.
Where else but Bangkok, can you dine at a restaurant where a waiter impails a pre-roasted chook onto a spring-loaded catapault? Once there, he douses the unfortunate bird with alcohol, sets it alight, then sends it flying into the air and across the restaurant, over the heads of diners towards a waiter on a unicycle.
(Stay with me readers, because the best is yet to come.)
As the chicken sails through the air - bringing new meaning to the words 'fast food' - the unicycle-riding waiter cycles towards the chicken and ceremoniously catches it on a spike carried in his teeth. Or in his hands. Or on a spiky helmet worn on his head. Or on a plate. Or even all of the above. Occasionally, he'll piggyback a child on his shoulders as well.
And then the chicken is delivered to your table, with a flower adorning where the head should be, all the better to be devoured.
Yes it's cheesy and just a little bit weird, but can you honestly say you've ever eaten at a restaurant like this before?
Outside and inside the restaurant, glittering (pretend) chickens sit wisely, as if casting judgement or granting blessings on diners.
Bored, beautifully-dressed waitresses swat at mosquitos and other insects with tennis-racquet-like bug-killers, while you eat.
Waiters and waitresses take it in turns to sing, or you can book private karaoke rooms for your own singing sessions, and enjoy a pre or post-dinner massage if the mood should take you.
Then there's the audience-participation part of the evening, where diners are invited to take part.
Presumably bearing in mind the possibility of dropping and spoilage, diners are offered foil-wrapped potatoes to catch instead of chickens.
Perhaps wisely, Carolyn and I weren't offered the chance to ride the unicycle. (Though I'm told those fit and silly enough to take the challenge would be welcome to).
Carolyn is brave enough to go first, and is fitted into a shiny helmet, complete with spike. All the better to catch a potato with.
The potato is catapaulted across the room and she skilfully catches it on the spike - and is rewarded with her very own plastic chicken for her troubles.
I can't help it. I'm jealous.
I want one of those chickens.
My friends chant.
"Bronnie, Bronnie, Bronnie..."
Peer-pressure mounts and I give in, hoping the thought of footage will never appear on YouTube at some stage in the future.
It's too late to worry about looking silly. I'm already in the helmet and my friends are videoing and photographing to their great delight!
When the time comes, I get a helping hand from Unicycle Man. Read: He pushes my head towards the potato so it unceremoniously lands on the spike on my helmet.
The restaurant erupts into cheers. I feel like I've just won Miss Australia. Or perhaps Miss Flying Chicken.
My prize? A rather scary looking fake chicken which emits a horrible farting noise and which the kids fight over endlessly when I eventually get it home.
And what does the chicken, listed on the menu as Fly Chicken, taste like? It's just like a roast chook, except a little dryer.
I suspect it's been a boiled first, all the better to not fall apart as it is impaled on a spike, shot across a crowded room and impaled on another spike.
But I digress.
The rest of the food on the menu at the Flying Chicken is typically Thai, but not as good as we've had at other restaurants, where a weird-arse show doesn't come with the meal.
And let's face it, you don't really come to a restaurant like this for the food.
It's yummy though, and like most Thai food, cheap.
We wash it down with some Chang beer and water, and share a table of assorted delights including seafood, vegetables, and one of our favourites, stir-fried morning glory. (It sounds rude, but it's actually water spinach fried with garlic and chilli).
Just another night in Bangkok really.


The place to go for 'flied food'



The Flying Chicken Restaurant


Our unfortunate chicken


Some of the other yummy food we enjoyed with the fly chicken



Yes, I just caught a potato on my head ...


My prize!


Readers, do you enjoy trying different restaurants when you're on holiday?










Friday, October 5, 2012

Let's talk about the other 's' word ...


I am a woman with needs.

You know the needs I'm talking about.

They are the needs that make a woman sway unsteadily when she lays eyes on the subject of her lust. A lust so greedy that it makes her breathe deeply with desire.

They are the wants that make a woman's eyes turn green with jealousy when they see that other women have what should be rightfully theirs.

You know what I'm talking about ladies, right?

That thing that makes every woman go weak at the knees.

Storage.

Oh how I need storage, with its hidden places of depth and cunning. How it fulfil mes with its ability to mask my secrets, to hide from prying eyes the little indulgences I like to keep at my disposal, but don't necessarily want everyone to see.

Yes, storage is the one thing I want and yet lately, it remains tantalisingly beyond my grasp.

When the kids and I moved into our new, old home recently, we were really happy with it.

It's got character with ornate plaster ceilings and solid walls; history - it was once a local doctor's surgery; and a backyard full of fruit trees to climb and rose bushes to raid. But the house itself is tiny. And was clearly designed by a man.

For apart from the kitchen and bathroom, where a few cupboards have been added, there is no storage to be seen. No built-in wardrobes. No cupboards. No wardrobes. Nothing.

Each room has just one powerpoint, except the kitchen, which has two. Side by side.

Which means the obvious place to put the kettle, toaster and microwave would have involved feeding extension cords across the kitchen or across the kitchen and into the bathroom.

Not a good look. Or a safe one.

So when I received an invitation to a morning tea to celebrate the launch of the new Howard's Storage Solutions catalogue, I was immediately interested.

Not only would I get morning tea and a catch-up with some of my blogging buddies, but I might learn how to keep  my house tidy too. (And anyone who knows me, knows I need all the help I can get!)

The catalogue was launched at Brisbane's fabulous Franklin Villa, a lovingly-restored five-level mansion at Highgate Hill.

There we were served high tea (or coffee) on the sprawling verandah. Oh it was divine.


Tea in good China cups, with tasty treats and dainty sandwiches


It was the yummiest morning tea ever, with the most delightful company.

And then Howard's Jillian O'Keeffe, took us through the catalogue and gave us a few handy hints on how storage could help us keep our homes and lives organised. (Don't we all need more of that? Or maybe that's just me... sigh.)

We were each given a goodie bag of products to try at home, which I'll probably take you through at a later stage, because, to be honest, I'm still trying them!

Morning tea over, and tummies full, we then visited the nearest Howards Storage World at Mt Gravatt to get a feel for some of the products.

We'd each been given a gift card in our goodie bag, and although there was no pressure to make a purchase, when I spotted this groovy kitchen trolley, I knew my microwave/kettle,toaster problem in the kitchen was sorted. 


It could go next to my fridge, right where the powerpoint - and no cupboard/bench space - was. Awesome. 

The Howards lady patiently explained how to put it together, and a trolley was fetched and I was on my way home.

Before I got a chance to put it together myself, Mr 11 had it out of the box and ship-shape in about 15 minutes. It was that easy! 

And here it is in action at home:


Viola!


Next to the fridge, where it fits in perfectly


The Man-Child who put it together for me, with his able assistant Lucy.