Well, it is official - we are going to Beijing. On Friday, in fact. And although it is not a surprise trip, until this morning it seemed like a bit of a dream. The challenges of getting a tourist visa for China when you are already in a country where you do not speak the language turned out to be more daunting than I originally imagined.
And if I'm being truthful, the challenges were likely enhanced by the fact that I may or may not have waited until the week before Songkran to join the masses of Thais (who had also waited until the last minute to firm up their travel plans) in the giant line at the Chinese embassy in Bangkok.
When I pulled a ticket to receive my number in line (i.e. my penance for having waited) it took a few minutes to process that I was 768. The number they were currently assisting? 135. Did I mention that the Chinese embassy in Bangkok is crowded and lacks air-conditioning or ample seating?
But no matter, because all is now well in China-visa-land and we are packing our bags and reading our Lonely Planet! The pending trip got me immediately thinking of Chinese food. (Does it surprise you one bit?) So Frank and I set out to find a little spot tucked away down an alley that we were told had
the most authentic Chinese food in Bangkok. We figured we could do a direct comparison from this week to next and, if possible, Tong Lai Shun got me even more excited about the China adventure.
Tong Lai Shun is tucked away off Sukhumvit Soi 41 in downtown Bangkok. It is not particularly noteworthy inside or out, but as soon as we placed our order, the smells drifting out of the kitchen let us know we were in the right spot. There were fantastically fresh noodles with black bean and pork sauce, scallion pancakes (my personal favorite), pork dumplings that were moist with a touch of broth inside, and pork rolls with an egg-enriched dough.
Although it was empty when we arrived, Tong Lai Shun was packed by the time we left. It wasn't difficult to see why - this hidden spot was one that we will certainly visit again.
Tong Lai Shun
Sukhumvit Soi 41 (BTS: Phrom Pong)
(take the first right past the shopping center on the corner of Sukhumvit and Soi 41; Tong Lai Shun is on the left - look for the red lanterns outside)