7 Reasons You Should Take a Culinary Experience When Visiting Bangkok

With the global fame of Thai food and a growing trend for food tourism, it is no surprise that many visitors increasingly want to dig deeper into understanding Thai Food when they visit Thailand, and we enable this through food tours and Thai cooking classes in Bangkok.

We believe that culinary experiences provide a fantastic way to explore Bangkok and here are our reasons why.


Thai Food and Thai Culture go hand in hand



It is impossible to truly experience Bangkok and the local culture without experiencing the local food.

Our goal is to enable visitors to experience the local culture and we have always considered Thai food as one of the key ingredients in showing guests this. In fact, our original and award winning Bangkok Night Lights Tour we consider a cultural tour with food rather than a pure food tour.

However, by taking a culinary experience in Bangkok, whether it be a food tour or cooking class, you will start to dig even deeper into understanding the local culture through the medium of food.

Get a deeper understanding into the local food

Whilst many people regularly eat Thai food in their home countries, the menu choices are often quite limited compared to what you will discover in Bangkok. Flavours can vary and often in Western countries the average dishes are sweeter compared to the equivalent in Thailand. However, in Bangkok and Thailand you will find a whole range of dishes where salty, sour, spicy and fishy flavors challenge your taste buds.

The local food options in Bangkok are so diverse. Different foods from different regions, Thai foods influenced by other nations, over 20 types of noodles, multiple ways to use green curry paste, Tom Yum but not how you expect, dessert and snacks that will surprise you……..  It takes years to discover even 90% of all Thai food, but hopefully through a culinary experience you will get a head start along that journey.

Spend time getting to know a local

Whether it is a food tour or cooking class you get to spend time with a local who loves food and we hope they will share that love!!! During that time they will share stories and knowledge which hopefully will give insight into local life as well as Thai food.

What’s for breakfast and local eating habits

While there are specific foods that are known for breakfast the reality is you will find locals eating almost anything for breakfast. Through a culinary experience you will get to understand how locals eat and insight into habits and rituals surrounding food. By taking a cooking class you may discover how to make curry paste and then discover locals rarely make it themselves!

Get adventurous and try something new

Adventurous means completely different things to different people and by “getting adventurous” we are not suggesting you should eat all the weirdest things. What we do hope you will get from a food tour is the opportunity to try things you have not tried before and would not have tried if you were exploring by yourself. If you don’t like a food you tried this is not necessarily a bad thing as it means you tried something new! We hope you will like the majority of what you sample with us. For those who really want to get adventurous we could of course arrange a custom tour to try pig brain soup, caterpillar, duck beaks……

Debate the local food scene

Where is the best fish & chips in the UK. Where is the best pizza in Italy? Where is the best steak in Argentina?

Can you see where we are going here?

Yes we often get asked to show people the best Pad Thai in Bangkok, or the best authentic restaurant. However, the reality is these are hotly debated topics and what some people think is good, others would disagree with. We aim to take people places that have a reputation of being up there with the best but we can not guarantee you will agree.

Everyone has a different perception of what is good and often if you are used to Thai restaurants at home or the high-end Thai restaurants in Bangkok, then the local food scene may not match what you expected as the tastes can vary. We aim to show you what we consider authentic Thai food but we can not guarantee you will prefer it!

If you do decide to take a cooking class you can potential add your own creations to the debate!

Impress your friends with your Thai food knowledge

What we do hope is you will end up with a deeper knowledge and love of Thai food and if you take a cooking class you will also end up with a new skill. We hope you will share this knowledge of Thai food and educate the world that Thai food goes much deeper that Pad Thai, Green Curry and American Fried Rice 😉


Culinary Experiences in Bangkok for People with Dietary Restrictions

We love Thai food and we want to share our passion with everyone. Whilst dietary restrictions can provide challenges, it is still possible for people with specific requirements to discover the local food. In this article we will address a range of dietary restrictions and help you understand how you can still enjoy a culinary experience with us.

Vegetarian Festival In Bangkok

Did you know that for 10 days every year (in Sept or Oct) Thailand has a vegan festival (often referred to as Vegetarian Festival)? The reality is Thais are quite familiar with the concept of vegan (with some additional restrictions such as no garlic) and during this festival you will find meatless versions of practically every dish!

Our ability to cater for specific requirements often will depend on how strict and flexible restrictions are. Specifically with Halal and Kosher requirements it is difficult to cater for the strictest requirements if you only eat at strictly supervised restaurants, but where we can at least visit unsupervised restaurants or if meats do not need to be certified then it does give us more flexibility to host.

Below you will find more information on what to be aware of and how we can host you.

Core ingredients to be aware of depending on dietary requirements

For people with dietary restrictions the most common things to be aware of are:

  • Shrimp paste is used in a lots of dishes
  • Fish sauce is commonly used – it is often added to dishes instead of salt
  • Soy Sauce may be used but can include gluten – for vegetarians are gluten intolerant this can make things challenging as soy sauce is usually used instead of fish sauce
  • Stocks are used regularly and most likely to be chicken or pork
  • MSG is very common in street food and can be very hard to avoid (if you want to get a real local experience)
  • Nuts are not widely used except for in a few dishes.

Traditionally vegetarian dishes would have either have mushrooms or tofu as substitute for meat and seafood. Also, many vegetarian appetisers and snacks would be deep fried. These days a lot of higher-end or vegetarian focused restaurants will get a lot more creative in their vegetarian menus, but these are not the restaurants we normally visit on our standard food tours.

Food Tours for people with dietary restrictions

Exploring Street Food

The concept of many food tours is that very specific dishes are selected at each location and if your dietary restrictions mean you can not eat that specific dish then you may not enjoy the same experience,  as dishes often have no direct substitute. For example a small vendor who specializes in pork satay generally would not have an alternative. Or a shop uses shrimp paste as a core ingredient, so no options for people who can’t eat shrimps.

This means that for people with specific dietary requirements who join a small-group tour we can not guarantee the same experience if they can not eat certain dishes. We will do our best within reason to find an option at some stops but we can not promise alternatives at every stop. If you do have specific requirements you can let us know and we will advise what percentage of the stops have suitable options.

For people with specific dietary requirements we do usually recommend the following options

  • A Private Tour where we can customise stops to meet your requirements.
  • Our Bangkok Night Lights Tour. We do not consider this a full food tour (but we do include appetisers, main course and dessert), but each stop does have options. This is available as both a join-in group and private tour.
  • Our Snacks, Markets and More Tour. While this is more of a snack tour that a full food tour, we have enough snacks to chose from along the way that makes it possible to adapt. This is available as both a join-in group and private tour.

For those interested in our Evening Food and Tuk Tuk Adventure, we need to be clear that there are several stops that include a pork dish and another that has a chicken dish that is not easy to find good alternatives for. Some stops have fish sauce / shrimp paste in the food which is not easy to substitute. Stops do vary but vegetarians may only have decent options at 2 of the 5 stops.

Cooking classes for people with dietary restrictions

Cooking Class at The Market Experience

The great thing about a cooking class is you can see exactly what goes into the dish and in most cases it is easy to adapt for very specific dietary requirements. We can easily cater for most dietary requirements but we can not provide cooking classes with Kosher or Halal certified meat.

If you do have specific dietary requirements please do tell us in advance so we can prepare accordingly.

Don’t let your dietary restrictions stop you enjoying Thai food in Bangkok!

We hope that through this article we have demonstrated that dietary requirements don’t need to limit you and we hope you will consider the appropriate culinary experience with us.

There are also lot’s of great restaurants in Bangkok that have good vegetarian selections and you can read our recommendations here.


5 Years of Expique

Where did the last 5 years go? On Feb 6, 2014 we officially launched Expique and our website. This had been the result of 5 months of planning, setting up the business as a Licensed Tour Operator, and developing our 2 initial tours. 5 years ago Bangkok was in the middle of political protests and a coup followed a few months after we launched! Some may say not a great time to start – but by investing at this time perhaps we came out better than existing companies who cut back.

I still remember James – our first real client –  i.e. someone who paid us! Strangely he was not after any of the tours we listed on our website which left us a little bit unsure of what to offer but in the end he had a fantastic day in Ayutthaya with Esso. The next day he booked our Diversity & Harmony Tour. Yes! He even recommended us to people a few months later. Bingo!

The first year was great! We did not have many customers, but I got to meet and remember most of them.  Meeting guests is what I like most about running Expique – hence it was great! People booked us because we appeared unique – if only more people wanted unique! Fortunately for survivals sake we started to get more customers (but at a cost of going a little more mainstream), and I only wish I could meet and remember all our customers now.

Our Bangkok Night Lights Tuk Tuk Tour started to take off. It was only after about 6 months when we kept bumping into them, that we realized that another company had launch an overlapping tuk tuk tour about 1 month before us and unintentionally Bangkok Food Tours, a company that I had always admired, had become our main competitor. The reality is that together we have grown the “Tuk Tuk Tour” category in Bangkok and by competing I believe we have actually grown together, and managed to create a sustainable business around tuk tuk tours. Unfortunately, many more companies have now started offering similar evening tuk tuk tours as a result, but we still think we are the best!

We have always tried to innovate to stay true to our goals to be unique and innovative, sometimes successfully and sometimes less so:

  • We were the first to put transparent roofs on our tuk tuks to make a better sightseeing experience and for 3 years remained the only ones.
  • We introduced uniforms for our drivers to make them look more professional.
  • We had fun through special tuk tuk tours like our Santa Tuk Tuk Tours at Xmas and each year we get more creative with our decorations – December 24/25 last year were our busiest days ever.
  • We organised a completely new type of regular cultural events under our Random Thainess initiative which sadly is indefinitely on hold.
  • We launched The Market Experience, which slowly evolved into the most unique cooking school in Bangkok. More exciting things to come in the market.

Expique's Santa tuk tuk drivers in 2018

We never intended to become a food experience company but by slowly adapting to customer interests  and opportunities, we have actually become a true food experience company by offering both food tours and cooking classes.

The last year the hard work paid off and we won several awards including being named in the TripAdvisor’s Travelers Choice Awards as the Number 1 experience in Thailand.

Expique Awards in 2018

However, what remains our proudest achievement is to see how the team has grown and that now we provide regular income for about 60 people: 9 full time staff, 18 freelance guides, 30 regular tuk tuk drivers, several vendors in the Flower Market, and 1 Zoom.

Expique Team 2017

Thanks to everyone who has been part of the team over the last 5 years. A special thanks to the following who have got us to where we are:

  • Sunisa and Namo who provided the stability and support during our first 2 years.
  • Natt, Esso and Jib who were our earliest guides.
  • Thida and Fern who were the stability in year 3 (when we really started to grow).
  • Alyssa – my partner in The Market Experience.
  • Thanks to Dha and all the current staff and guides who are now helping us prove that we can move from a small company to a bigger one.

Expique Team 2018

Finally, a big thanks to all our customers and who have trusted us to show them Bangkok, as well as our partners who have trusted us with their clients.

Over the next year and next 5 years there is a lot more to come. One big launch coming in March. Watch this space!

For now, Happy 2019 and Happy Year of the Pig.

Simon and Perasa.

(Owners of Expique)

Bangkok Night Lights Tour – The Best Tour in Bangkok (and Thailand)!

Many companies will happily claim that they have the “Best tour in Bangkok”. Until now we have held back on making such claims as there are so many great tour companies in Bangkok and across Thailand and opinion is very subjective (or often biased). However, in the last year we won several awards which supports the claim that our evening tuk tuk tour is the best tour in Bangkok and even the best tour in Thailand!

We are really proud of the reputation that our Bangkok Night Lights Tuk Tuk Tour has gained over the 5 years we have been running it and in 2018 it won the following awards

Expique Awards in 2018

Search on Viator, TripAdvisor, GetYourGuide, Expedia for the top experiences (by customer rating) and this tour will come in the top 5 (if not the top) in all of them. These are all based on feedback from customers.

Therefore we do feel that we have a case to claim that not only is our Bangkok Night Lights Tour, the Best Tuk Tuk in Bangkok but it is also the best Experience in the country!

There are several reason why we believe this tour has managed to gain such a reputation and why anyone who is thinking about it should have a great time:

  1. The tour itself represents a crossover between mainstream and unique: Combining temples, markets, food, tuk tuks and local life, meaning there is something for everyone
  2. Expique’s focus on customer satisfaction: Over the years we have regularly adapted the tour based on feedback and we go out of our way to ensure guest love the experience.
  3. Our awesome team of drivers and guides speaks for themselves. Simply read our reviews!
  4. We have innovated: We have lots of competitors but we can proudly say we were the first to introduce transparent roofs on our tuktuks, first to ensure our drivers wear a uniform. We added a unique dessert stop at our exclusive base in the Flower Market. There’s more to come!

This is not to say everyone will enjoy it. When you have hosted over 20,000 people there are always going to be a few people who are disappointed and this is usually because it simply was not the best suited tour for them, and as a result we have ended up developing a range of tours to cater for the different needs. Your can find all our tuk tuk tours here.

The strange thing is that as a company who loves to innovate we can’t decide among ourselves which of our tours we think is the best and this very much depends on what you are after. In our office the foodies among us prefer our Evening Food and Tuk Tuk Adventure and many people prefer our Snacks, Markets and More Walking Tour.

If you are interested in this tour and want to know more then get in touch.

On-Demand Services for Comfortable Living in Bangkok

Thailand is well-known for its wide and growing range of convenient online services. Providing a great deal of flexibility, on-demand businesses win more and more loyal clients every day.

Do you wish you could dedicate more time to something more important and meaningful, but you have too many boring daily chores? Or you are looking for good deals on on-demand services but there are no reasonable options in your neighborhood? Or you are visiting an need to order something easily. If you live in or are visiting Bangkok or another major city of Thailand, we have good news for you.

With countless affordable on-demand services available in Thailand, you can make your life easier and more exciting in just a couple of clicks. Expique decided to help you out and prepared the list of the most popular companies everyone should try out at least once during their stay in Bangkok.

On demand services in Bangkok

 

Eatigo

Are you a big fan of eating out? While food in Thailand is generally very affordable, fine dining can still be quite pricey. To get the best deals, we recommend keeping an eye on Eatigo. With discounts fluctuating between 15 and 50%, you are likely to save a lot of money using this platform.

The company promises to connect empty tables with empty stomachs by providing discounts on certain menus. With hundreds of options available every day, even the pickiest foodie will find something exciting to try out.

 

Gogoprint

Do you need a new batch of business cards to network in Bangkok? Or you want to send your friends and family customized postcards? In this case you could use the most affordable and fastest printing services in Thailand offered by Gogoprint.

With a diverse portfolio of products, you will be able to print anything you want in the shortest period of time. Place the order online and get free delivery to your door in just a week. Don’t forget to monitor their website to get discounts and hot deals.

 

GuavaPass

Many of us fell victim to cheap Thai street food and limitless food choices available in Bangkok. Gaining five kilograms in a couple of weeks is quite an easy task if you are not careful about the way you eat.

To fall back into a healthy regime and become more physically active, you might want to check out trendy sports classes popping up across the city. Bangkok has a lot to offer: HIIT, Yoga, CrossFit, Martial Arts, Indoor Cycling, Pilatess… The list is truly endless.

If you want to find the best sports activity but don’t want to commit to a monthly subscription Guavapass is a perfect option for you. With a wide range of classes, you can try out many different things without ever getting bored of repetitive training.

 

Grab

With Grab you won’t have a problem of a taxi driver who doesn’t want to take you too far or use meter. Convenient, cheap and fast, Grab is one of the best transportation services in the SEA region.

To avoid scary Bangkokian traffic jams, use the Bike Service. You’ll get to your destination in no time.

 

FoodPanda

Probably you’ve already heard about FoodPanda. But if you are new here, FoodPanda is a must-have app on your phone. Their website and mobile app offer delivery from hundreds of restaurants and eateries. Korean, Japanese, Middle-Eastern, Western and even Vegan cuisines are available for ordering.

While FoodPanda operates 24/7 keep in mind that most of the restaurants present on the platform close around 9-10P.M.

 

Lalamove

In need of fast delivery? Lalamove will deliver anything you need locally. It doesn’t matter how big the item you want to deliver is, Lalamove will take care of it. Used mostly by SMEs, Lalamove can be used for moving out of your old apartment. But mind that the prices start from 50 USD.

 

Do4You

No one likes doing laundry. Sorting clothes by color, loading the machine, ironing… All of that sounds like a torture or at least a total waste of time. If you can relate, use Do4You services. They won’t only help you with your laundry and dry cleaning but with house cleaning as well.

Trusted and trained staff will make sure your apartment is squeaky-clean. More expensive than a cleaning lady in your condo but a more reliable option for those who don’t want to deal with the language barrier.

 

HonestBee

Unlike FoodPanda, HonestBee also delivers groceries. If 7/11 specialties are not enough for you and the nearest Tesco Lotus is still relatively far, we encourage you to use HonestBee. Probably ordering from them will be easier and more affordable than taking a taxi to the supermarket.

VillaMarket, Big C, Sunshine Market: all the major grocery stores are present on the website for you to make your order.

 

Line Man

Brought to you by Line, Thailands favourite messaging app, Line Man is an on-demand assistant app with professional services to serve all your needs at any time. Request someone to do your chores for you, whether it be collecting groceries, delivering something, food delivery….


Anything We’ve Missed?

If you know a cool on-demand service available in Bangkok that wasn’t not mentioned on the list, do not hesitate to comment. We will update the post to let other readers know about the best deals.

The Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok (Tesagan Gin Je)

Eating vegetarian is becoming more and more popular each year as people are focus on healthy eating or reducing the number of animal that will be killed to be our food. ” However, every year for 9 days in September / October people across Thailand take this to a whole different level!

Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok

The 2018 “Tesagan Gin Je” (pronounced “Jay”) festival is happening this week from October 8 to October 17. Sometimes known as the Vegetarian festival it is technically more of a vegan festival (see below for definition of “Je”).

There are a few variations of the origins but the most commonly accepted is from the 19th century when a Chinese opera company travelled to Phuket to entertain the community of Chinese miners working in the area. As the story is told, the whole opera company grew sick from an unknown illness. To combat the illness they followed strict vegetarian diet and prayed to the Nine Emperor Gods. To everyone’s amazement they all eventually recovered. This interested the local people and as a result the festival began, during which time people keep a strict “je” diet with the aim to bring good luck to individual as well as to the community. From then on this festival was observed starting the first evening of the ninth lunar month and continuing until the ninth evening. The festival is also a celebration of the Nine Emperor (Taoist) Gods.

While the Phuket Vegetarian Festival may be the largest activity in the country, many people across Thailand and especially those of Chinese ancestry stick strictly to “Je” food for the purposes of spiritual cleansing and merit-making. Sacred rituals are performed at various Chinese shrines and temples and predominantly in Phuket aesthetic displays such as walking barefooted over hot coals, tongue slashing and other ritualized mutilations are performed by entranced devotees known as “Ma Song”.

During this period you will see many yellow flags all around Thailand and that means the vendors are selling “Je” food. In Bangkok you can get “Je” food in most areas and even 7-11 have special selection for the festival!

Vegetarian Festival in Bangkok

One of the most famous places to go is Chinatown where they have a special street food festival in Yaowarat for the occasion. There are also a lot of activities going on around the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. However, the real heart of the festvities in Bangkok are on the edge of China Town where the Talat Noi community comes alive during Je Festival with vegetarian food galore, nightly Chinese Opera and several other activities. Special activities from the Talat Noi community include. The following is the usual schedule but is to be confirmed:

  • Day 1: At the Chow Sue Kong shrine in Talad Noi there will be a ceromony to invite the god (Hook Jow) from the river to come and stay at the shrine for the festival.
  • Day 2: This is Chew Ik day which is technically the first day of the festival when traditionally people will go to the shrine to worship the god.
  • Day 7: This overlaps with a Thai buddhist day so double the reason for activities. Specifically people will release fish, turtles, birds and other such animals into the river and sky. This is in Chow Sue Kong shrine at 2pm
  • Day 8:  This is Chew Chik day: There will be a Loy Kratong style boat procession along the river from Chow Sue Kong shrine to other shrines near Krungthep Bridge and then back to Wat Kalayanamit. This starts approx midday..
  • Day 9: There will be merit making ceremonies during the day and then a dragon march procession in the evening (from approx 6pm).
  • Day 10: This is the offical last day and will be a lot of offerings for the dead spirits and donating of sacred rice.
  • Day 11: On this day they have a ceremony to send the god back to the river.

Most of these are religious celebrations so if you do go please respect the local culture. Timings may vary.

Vegetarian Festival in Talad Noi

Apart from the official celebrations it’s fun to walk around to see the “Je” dishes made from ingredients that look like squid, shrimp, meat ball with pig intestine or even sea cucumber. These imitation meats are actually are made from proteins and nutrients from soy beans, tofu, soy products, other beans and vegetables. The main source of calcium is roasted black sesame seeds. Fish sauce that is a popular seasoning in Thai dishes is replaced with soy sauce and mushroom sauce.

Vegetarian Festival - this is not meat

It is very easy to find restaurants that are participating. Another popular place where a lot of vegetarian places pop up is on Silom Soi 20 opposite the Hindu temple. One of our favourite places to go and eat is 40 Year Rad Na restaurant on Thanon Tanao where they switch from their speciality Rad Na to become a vegan (Je) Khao Gaeng place that is open 24 hours a day.

The festival is celebrated all over Thailand and within a short ride from Bangkok official festivities are going on in places such as Samut Sakorn, Nakorn Sawan and Pattaya.

 

Rules for following properly

“Je” festival is not just about what you eat. For those who want to observe the festival there are 10 rules to follow:
1. Cleanliness of bodies during the festival
2. Clean kitchen utensils and to use them separately from other who do not join the festival
3. Wear white during the festival
4. Behave physically and mentally
5. No meat eating (see exact food rules below)
6. No sex
7. No alcoholic drinks
8. People at mourning period should not attend the festival
9. Pregnant ladies should not watch any ritual
10. Ladies with period should not attend the ritual

So are you going to stick to these 10 rules?

 

Other Interesting Events this year

Two of Bangkok’s leading Vegan Vanguards; Broccoli Revolution and Bangkok Vegan NutCheese by BarefoodBangkok, are teaming up with Haoma “table in farm” Bangkok restaurant for a 2-night vegan culinary feast to celebrate the “J” Festival. 

 

Difference between Je, Vegan and Vegetarian

What often confuses people is the exact definition of “Je” food. Here is a quick definition and comparisons between Je, Vegetarian and Vegan.

Je: Je actually comes from “Jain”. They don’t consume meat, poultry, seafood, or any animal products (eggs, milk…). Furthermore, jay food excludes 4 kinds of pungent vegetables; including garlic, onion, Chinese single-bulbed garlic and Chinese chive.
Vegetarians: Refuse to eat meat but often may consume other animal products such as milk, eggs and cheese. In Thai people often call this “Mung sa-wi-rat”
Vegan: impose stricter rules onto themselves and refrain from eating animal produces like milk, butter and eggs and they will avoid any other use of animal products.

 

Finally, for those who want to eat vegetarian food all year around check out our post on our favorite vegetarian restaurants in Bangkok – there are plenty to chose from and more popping up all the time.

Visakha Bucha Day

Visakha Bucha Day is one of the most important Buddhist holidays in the Thai calendar and this year it takes place on May 29, 2018.

It is important as it was the day of three important incidents that occurred during the life of Lord Buddha. They all happened on full moon of the sixth lunar month.

The three significant separate events were

  •   The Buddha was born on this day, when he was born into a royal family in what is now Nepal.
  •   The Buddha achieved “The Enlightenment” (NIRVANA) on the same day
  •   He passed away on this day at age 80 in India

Candel_Visakhabucha     Visakhabucha_child

What to do on Visakha Bucha Day’s

Going to temple giving food to the Monks in the morning and in the evening taking part in the procession where each person carries flowers, three glowing incense sticks and a lighted candle circumambulates the main chapel three times,  and listening to Dhamma teaching, and Keeping the Five or Eight precepts.

One final note: In 1999 the United Nations unanimously resolved to declare Visakha Bucha day an international day

Famous place in Bangkok to visit on Visakha Bucha Day

  • Pop down to Sanum Luang
  • Visit the Golden Mount
  • Take a trip out of town to Phutthamonton

GoldenmountianTemple_Night
Golden Mount

Phutthamonton_VisakhaBucha
Phutthamonton

 

 

 

 

 

Visakha Bucha Day around the world

Sky_lantern
Lighting sky lanterns

 

 

 

 

 

 

There are also some other countries where they celebrate on Visakha Bucha Day such as Singapore, Mongolia and India but there is something different. Thai people walk around the main chapel three times but majority Singaporean, Mongolian, Indian fly sky lanterns. 

However Celebrating Visakha Bucha day also means making special efforts to bring happiness to the unfortunate like the aged, the handicapped and the sick. To this day, Buddhists will distribute gifts in cash and kind to various charitable homes throughout the country.

 

 

 

Exploring with the Amazing Kids from Zy Movement

As a tour operator in Bangkok, our goal is to enable people to experience the city, it’s beauty and it’s culture, and ultimately where there is a will to explore we will find a way.

Last Sunday was a special day as we partnered with the Zy Movement Foundation to explore Bangkok with the children and families that they support.

There are millions of disabled people in Thailand and Southeast Asia who have to face physical and social barriers everyday, preventing them from making the most of their lives. The goal of Zy Movement Foundation is to heighten awareness and understanding on issues of children with disabilities to society is to improve the quality of lives for children with congenital limb deficiency and cerebral palsy, a disability currently found in 450,000 children in Thailand as well as around 10 million in ASEAN.

On this special edition of our Family Canal and Tuk Tuk Adventure, we explored Bangkok and it’s culture in a fun an memorable way and with a few challenges to overcome. Despite the fact that all the families live in or around Bangkok, for many of the kids it was the first time riding in a long-tail boat or a tuk tuk. Of the kids who joined ….

Exploring Bangkoks Canals by Longtail with Zy

The tour started by taking a long-tail boat to “Baan Silapin – The Artists House”, a place that most families did not know existed. There they have a daily Thai puppet show at 2pm, but we worked with the Sippatham Kumnai – Traditional Thai Puppet Show to arrange a special show at 3pm to ensure the kids can get up close as on a Sunday it can be very busy. Kids and adults alike loved it.

Traditional Thai Puppet Show at Baan Silapin - The Artists House

Next we took the boat back to the Flower Market where we visited our base at the Market Experience for lotus folding, ice cream and snacks.

After that it was time to jump aboard our tuk tuks and zoom to the Golden Mount (Wat Saket).

Riding tuk tuks around Bangkok With Expique

Climbing to the top of the Golden Mount may have been a challenge for some, but most of these kids have had to overcome much larger challenges in life. In fact, one of the main annual activities for Zy Movement is their “Climb to Change a Life”, so climbing up The Golden Mount was just a small challenge in the whole scale of things, but one which was rewarded by great views of Bangkok.

Zy Movement at the Top of Golden Mount - Wat Saket

The final stop of the day was for dinner and if there is one dish that is fitting for both kids and adults then Pad Thai would be the choice. We would like to extend a big thanks to the team at Thip Samai (the most famous Pad Thai in Bangkok) for supporting the dinner and helping us deliver a memorable day for the kids, families, volunteers and Expique staff who supported.

Thank you Pad Thai Thip Sami

As a company we have supported the Zy Movement before through our Random Thainess initiative, but as new parents this event had a special meaning to us.

Over the last 4 years we have built Expique to be stable and ensure we are in a position to create regular incomes for our staff and teams of guides and drivers. Now our commitment shifts to also ensure that we give more back to society and help make the world a better place.

We are therefore delighted to announce that from now on 3% of all revenue from our Family Canal and Tuk Tuk Adventure will be given straight to the Zy Movement and we will also give our guests the opportunity to match that. We will also look at similar initiatives related to other tours.

Finally a big thank you to

A Big Thanks to the Expique Team

And of course the amazing kids and families from Zy Movement Foundation (http://en.zmf-asia.org / https://www.facebook.com/Zymovement/)

We look forward to future activities and continuing to positively impact the lives of others through tourism.

Perasa, Simon and Baby Vanessa
(Owners of Expique)

Zy Movement at Baan Silaipin

The Funeral of King Bhumibol in October

This month will see the funeral for the late King Bhumibol (Rama 9) of Thailand who died on Oct 13, 2016.

If you are in Bangkok over this period you should remain respectful to the events and also appreciate that this is a very special time for the nation. Whilst it may have impacts on your visit, it is also a historic time to be here.

October 13, 23 and 26 are officially public holidays and the royal funeral is scheduled to take place at Sanam Luang from October 25-29, 2017 with the actual royal cremation on 26th October 2017.

October 7, 15 and 21 there are funeral rehearsals – some roads will be blocked.

Funeral Schedule:

  • 25th October: A royal merit-making rite will be held to mark the start of the royal cremation ceremonies in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall at the Grand Palace.
  • 26th October: In the morning the body of the late King Bhumibol will be moved from the throne hall to the royal crematorium at Sanam Luang where the royal cremation will be held. The actual cremation will take place at 10pm.
  • 27th October: Following the cremation, a royal ceremony will be held to collect the royal relics of the late King at the royal crematorium.
  • 28th October: A royal merit-making rite for the royal relics will be held in the Dusit Maha Prasat Throne Hall,
  • 29th October: In the morning a ceremony will be held to enshrine the royal relics at the Chakri Maha Prasat Throne Hall. The ashes of the late King will be enshrined at Wat Rajabopit and Wat Bowon Niwet in the late afternoon.

Key Thing to Note:

  • Hundreds of Thousands of people will be trying to get close to witness the funeral activities so it is likely to be very busy. There will be street closures around the area and congestion. Exact street closures may vary.
  • Other plans and street closures may be announced last minute
  • The Grand Palace (The Temple of the Emerald Buddha Temple) will be temporary closed from October 1-29, 2017 to prepare The Royal Cremation Ceremony.
  • Nearby temples such as Wat Arun a likely to remain open.
  • While tourists do not have to dress in black please if not visiting the area of the funeral you should remain respectful – especially if visiting the Rattanakosin area.
  • It is likely there will be a ban on alcohol on October 26.

Our tours during this period:

We have officially closed all our tours from October 25-27 and our cooking school at The Market Experience will be closed from Oct 26-Oct 30. We believe we should be able to run our tours on all other days but there is possibility that tours on surrounding days (Oct 23-29 and also days of rehearsals) may be affected by increased traffic and road closures. However, we will do our best to adapt when appropriate to ensure a great experience. Note, that there is a tendency for last minute unannounced plans and road closures that we can not always predict but we will monitor closely.

 

For the latest updates and more detailed information

We suggest you check out these excellent blogs or follow them on Facebook or Twitter for latest updates

For the official site for the funeral activities and the crematorium please check here http://www.kingrama9.net/

I am SahaDHA

Dha @ Expique

I am Rattana and I am the Head of Operations at Expique.   But who am I?

You can call me Dha <Da> as my nickname. Even some Thai people cannot pronounce it correctly at the first time. Many people have to repeat my name two or three times to make it right. Most of them ended up with calling me ‘Duck’ which is quite similar but totally different. The reason why my name is hard to pronounce because it comes from Islamic word. Yeah, I was born in Islamic family.

There is a side story about why I have an Islamic nickname that relates to my parents. It is, in my view, such a romantic story so I would like to share.

In fact, I am half Muslim half Buddhist.  My dad was born in Buddhist family in Nakhon Panom, province in the north-eastern of Thailand. His family has practiced Buddhism from generation to generation. He once told me from where he came, no one is Muslim. During that time, the population in Nakhorn Panom are Buddhist in majority, and a few Christian who immigrated from Vietnam during Vietnam war. So, he had no concept what Muslim is.

One day, he came to Bangkok where he believed he could build up his fortune, then he found his destiny, my mom. After dating, my mom became pregnant, so he decided to marry her and be responsible, but it wasn’t that easy.

My mom’s family is Muslim. Her ancestors were originally Muslim people settling in Bangkok for over a century. There had never been any inter-faith marriages in her family, so their marriage was against the wishes of both families.

At that time, my Grandpa asked my dad to do something to proof his true love by changing his religion to Islam which means he would have no chance to do any Buddhist activities with his family. He could not be ordained to be a monk. Moreover, he had to do “Abraham’s method” (circumcised) which was a very big deal for grown-up man!

My dad said he didn’t need much time to think about it. He then condition, and turned into practicing Islam. He thought that every religion teaches people to do good deeds, no matter what religion it is, Buddhism or Islam. The important thing was he would like to be a good husband and father. He was happy to change if it could bring him a perfect family.

Also, my mother had to overcome many things to prove her tolerance. She was opposed by both family. She said it was hard from the beginning but it finally was satisfied and acceptable at the end when I was born. A healthy baby girl made everything better. The two families then realized that it was somehow nonsense to make life tough for anyone and even an innocent baby.

After changing his religion, my dad practiced Islam well enough to be accepted and he finally won everyone’s heart. This story is so incredibly romantic, isn’t it?

 

My lovely home town and favorite place

I lived with my mum and her family in Bangkok, Minburi.

Minburi is located in the outskirt of Bangkok. The land around Minburi area was granted to Muslim community by King Rama V according to the history. There reside many Muslim people and it is considered as the biggest Muslim community in Bangkok.

Minburi is a green area. In the past, people here were mostly farmer. My ancestors once did rice farming and grass planting for a living. Unfortunately, when I was so young, they decided to sell some part of land to big investor for their real estate business. Now we are no longer farmers but some parts of Minburi still has rice fields.

Minburi Fresh Market

Minburi fresh market is food paradise, especially Halal food. In the past, there weren’t any shopping malls around Minburi, not even convenience stores like 7-11. I still remember the day the very first 7-11 in Minburi was opened. It was my 7th year on earth. Children in this area were very excited and if anyone had a Big Gulp glass, it was very awesome. Minburi Fresh Market is the center of everything not only food but also general products and fashion trends.

I have great memory of the bakeries here. I am big fan of bakery shop, Sasaki, very cheap and quality products.

sasaki bakery minburi

Some foods made originally only with pork were changed to other meat options which Muslim can eat here such as sweet sausage and sour rice sausage, very tasty.

There are also plenty of restaurants and a-la-carte food stalls. I can really say that they are all tasty especially curry-style ones by Muslim chefs. The noodle restaurant that serves tasty, clear soup with beef and Hainanese chicken rice is recommended. This restaurant is almost 50 years old now.

Minburi is also home of Safari World and Siam Park, Bangkok’s largest amusement and water park. Bangkok is charming not only in city center. Let’s check the outskirt out where traditional and local walks of life is waiting for you to experience.


Do you want to meet the rest of the Expique Team? If so – read more here

Meet Hamad, But Is He Thai?

Hamad from Expique

I am Hamad and I am a Guest Experience Engineer at Expique.

But who am I, and am I thai?

My first name might not sound Thai, and I can not read and write Thai very well, but I speak like a local and I have a Thai passport. Here is my story.

I was born as Somboon Thiangtham in Bangkok, Thailand. Yes Somboon, a very old classical Thai name which nowadays you will not hear often. If a Thai is reading my name, the person might have laughed and started rolling over by now. Somboon means “Complete”. My surname is actually quite a famous surname in Thailand as a distant relative was a well know politician.

However, I am actually half Thai and half Pakistani.  My father moved from Pakistan about 35 years ago. Bangkok has a small Pakistani community but like over 3% of the Thai Population, I am Muslim.

My mother sent me to live in Pakistan with my relatives, from 4 years old till 18 years of age. I went to Pakistan as Somboon but came back to Thailand as Hamadkhan (Hamad). Yes, I changed my name because not only Thai people laugh at Somboon but Pakistani people also laugh (it sounds a bit like Soap in Pakistani!).

I spent all my school education in Pakistan and also did a diploma in engineering, before I decided to move back to Thailand. However, after 14 years, everything I know is Pakistan!

So, when I came back to Thailand I knew nothing but Tom Yum and Som Tam. Now it has been 8 years already since I move back to Thailand and I am still discovering Thailand’s culture and Thai food.

Here is a bit more about my Thai Life

My favorite food:

My favorite food in Thailand is Kao Krapao Nueu (I won’t tell what it is, I will let you pronounce it and figure it out by yourself – answer is at the bottom) which can be found everywhere from streets to 5 stars restaurant. I mentioned 5 stars restaurant, but have I ever eaten it in one? No, never. Why pay 500THB when you can get the perfect dish on the street for 40THB.

My favorite side dish is Yum Mamuang (keep trying to work this out – answer is at the bottom) and yes be careful while eating it or you may end up spending your night in the toilet like I did. Nothing serious just too spicy.

My favorite Thai dessert is Chau Kuay (be careful while pronouncing this word – answer is at the bottom), a black jelly like thing that is nothing but a lemon grass jelly dipped in syrup.

Do I like Thailand?

Ummmm, I love Thailand. This is home to me. The thing that I love about Thailand is the people here in Thailand, the culture in Thailand, and the amount of respect they pay to each other.

Specifically, I love being around the Bangrak area in Bangkok. This is the area I lived when I first returned to Thailand. It is one of the oldest roads in Thailand. The area is home to many traditional food and traditional culture in Thailand. for example the midnight porridge shop is still crowded with high profile families that has been eating here for the decades.

Often I would end up buying OKFC (ok fried chicken), a very easy meal that cost 10 THB for one boneless piece of chicken and 20 THB for drumstick. I know it is not Thai food but I am getting KFC taste with OKFC price. So, yes the food around the area is healthy and cheap … very cheap. You can buy one plate rice and two other dishes for 40-50 THB.

Every evening the area is full of people who passes by and buy different kind of food from street vendors on the way home from work. The reason for this area being crowded is because it is home to the oldest bus station for the first bus route in Bangkok. Yes, first bus number is Bus No.1, so people interchange buses at this station.

The area has businesses and restaurants that are more than 70 years old. You can say that Bangrak area has a very rich and diverse history being able to withstand the modernization. It is a diverse area with Thai, Chinese, Christian and Muslim communities.

In my opinion, history like this should be preserved for new generation to reflect where we have come from.

One reason I like working for Expique is not only do we help other people explore Bangkok and discover the local culture, but it also gives me the opportunity to continue learning more about the city I was born in!

I hope you like my blog post and share my post. See you in Bangrak!!! BTW you can discover Bangrak on our East Meets West Walking Tour.

Do you want to meet the rest of the Expique Team? If so – read more here

Growing up in Bangkok by Thida

ThidaThe following is writen by Thida who manages Exique’s Tuk Tuk Tours in Bangkok.

Bangkok is known as Thailand’s capital city. Some people might have ideas of Bangkok as a touristy, crowded and a congested city. However, for me I look passed all the negative points because I am used to it and have accepted it. I have been living in Bangkok for nearly twenty years even though my looks definitely tell people that I am from South of Thailand. I call Bangkok “home”. A home that is full of convenience and opportunities.

I would like to present the area called Taling Chan, which is the area I have been living in Bangkok. Taling Chan is located on the outskirts of Bangkok where people still live a traditional life; a lot of them do vegetable and orchid farming. The area is surrounded by small canals, which makes the land good for planting. Nowadays tourist often know of Taling Chan because of the weekend Floating Market which is only half-hour from Sanam Luang.

Taling Chan Floating Market in Bangkok

Taling Chan market is great place for lunch! One menu I recommend my friends do not to miss from the market is Mixed Crispy Rice Noodle. This menu is one of top sellers in the market. The special recipe has existed since ancient times. One of the main ingredients is sour orange which to some people it tastes like Kaffir lime.

Crispy Rice Noodles at Taling Chan

Let’s move on to an area near Taling Chan called Bang Khunnon, where my secondary study (from aged 7-12) is located. My school names Wat Sri Sudaram. Many Thais might have no idea where it is but if I say it was the school that Suntorn Phu studied, then people will realize where it is.

Statue of Suntorn Phu - famous Thai Poet

Suntorn Phu was the best poem maker in the period of King Rama I –IV. UNESCO awarded him the honor of world Poet. Suthorn Phu’s work was full of magic and mythical creatures and sentimental love. One example is showing below

 

“We may be drunk,

But we are also intoxicated by love.

I cannot resist my heart.

And though we are drunk,

Tomorrow the sun will shine,

And that drunkenness will have passed.

But when night falls, the intoxication of love will return.”

 

Many people might think learning in temple school will not provide the top quality education. In my opinion it is the opposite. Every school provides a similar quality, but the most important thing will be how student pay attention to the lessons.

I found my life in temple school provided a lot of chances to join fields trips nearly once every three months such as wonderland school trips, national zoo trips, different cities… All the trips were paid by the government. One thing that will be always in my memory will be free lunch from school. It was served on a tray with fours big holes filled with healthy (but not always yummy) food. The school has to manage student lunch to be filled full with all nutrition.

High School in Bangkok

My high school (from aged 12-18) was only two bus stops from my secondary school. My high school was part of temple school as well. In the past almost every temple has their own school nearby, because men would get taught by the monks. After many years all schools also allow girl to study. This school provided me all the basic skills need for life and during the final three years of high school students have the chance to study the area they are interested in order to  prepare themselves for University.

In my opinion is being schooled in Bangkok is very convenient for transportation because many buses means it is easy to get to school. Also in Bangkok is hard to find a big difference in quality of schools. So, being schooled in Bangkok you get many chances of education supports.  Also, because Bangkok is a tourist city, students will have more opportunities to use English.