7-11: Convenience at its Finest

Convenience

“The state of being able to proceed with something with little effort or difficulty”. The word’s Latin origins come from the word ‘convenire’, meaning “to assemble” or “agree” (Google.com).

It is difficult to truly understand the meaning of the word “convenience” until you have lived in Thailand and frequented the 7-11’s that are located on just about every other street corner (Just for a rough estimate, there are over 8,000 of these convenience stores, well…conveniently located all around Thailand!).

 

 

7-11, or “7”, as it is popularly called around here, provides its customers with top-notch service at a great price. In terms of its audience, 7-11 does not discriminate. It is accessible to people from all walks of life, cultures, and socioeconomic status. This is a selling point in itself.

Whether it is a release from the Bangkok heat, or automatic greeting and smile from its employees, 7-11 provides you not only with your daily needs, but it provides you with both good service, products, and a life that is a little bit easier.

 

Aisles of goodies

7 is where you can find an assortment of refreshments and colorful drinks, snacks ranging from 7 baht to around 100. Whether you are looking for toilet paper refills, medicine, CDs, a frozen lunch, or a yummy Thai snack to fulfill a craving, you can find just about everything here. In extreme emergencies, you can even buy underwear! Not only that, but 7 provides many other services and promotions…

If you are out of cash, they are usually housing grounds for ATMs as well. You can pay your electricity and phone bills, or save up little stickers to earn points to buy cute tables of umbrellas adorned with Sanrio or LINE characters. Alternatively, you can use these stickers as a currency for the duration of the promotional period. Other deals exist and your local 7-11 employees will almost always ask you if you are interested in getting two extra green tea juice boxes, or an extra pineapple pie for a cheaper deal than you intended to buy. Sometimes, they even wear paper hats to advertise these promotions!

My favorite comic act witnessed at 7-11 is when the door automatically opens without anyone walking in and the Pavlovian reaction of its employees, as they instantaneously give their sing-song greeting to the invisible customer.

The more you familiarize yourself with 7, the more treasures you will find hidden in its shelves. It can easily become a daily trip, or even a slight addiction… There must be something about those blindingly bright lights on at night, that attract us like moths to light…

Recommendations: Classic 7-11 treats

  • Ham and cheese croissant (toasted, buttery and cheesy goodness)
  • Sticky rice burger
  • Chicken teriyaki
  • CP shrimp wonton soup
  • 7-11 hotdogs
  • Steamed buns
  • Japanese gyoza (dumplings)
  • The ice cream selection (Enough said 🙂
  • The chocolate selection (Approximately 1 aisle long)
  • Sushi rolls (Salmon teriyaki is a fave!)

……….

Healthy Alternatives

You can pretty much hit all of your basic food group needs at 7-11…For those of us who are more health-conscious, here is the list of healthy “non-junk” eating you can do at “7”:

  • Packaged sliced Dole Apples
  • Pickled mangos
  • Bananas
  • Soy milk
  • Granola bars
  • Yogurt
  • Dried mango sheets
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, broad beans, etc.)
  • Whole wheat bread

 The Future of 7-11

7-Elevens around Thailand are evolving and becoming more progressive, with even more healthy alternatives to quick-fix junk food. Some of them are incorporating printing services, while others offer bike-renting services. The future of 7-11s will see self-service checkouts and microwaves to heat up your meals.

This new 7-Eleven claims to be the most modern Bangkok’s ever seen

…………

Just for Fun

Taste-Testing Those Weird Little Health Drinks in Thai 7-11s

And don’t forget about 7-Elevens world-famous slurpees!

Sugar & Spice meets Sour & Salt

The food in Thailand is good not just because the food itself has flavor already. Yes, that is true. But what is the key to many of the Thai dishes is the sauce.

This is part I of a series of posts that will help you know the secrets to eating Thai food. Of course, you can come to Thailand and never know about these details – you’ll get along fine. However, if you want to know the details, the nuances, and get into the real way of eating Thai food like a Thai – put down your knives, pick up your fork and spoon, and get ready to dig in.


Essential Thai Condiments

Condiments are not just the same ones we know – like ketchup and relish, sauerkraut or kimche. Not any one sauce is alike, and they should be carefully paired with the proper dish.

A table may have five sauces, but one must use discretion when adding – and the key is:

always taste first before you flavor.

Take for example the dish “Kao kaa muu” (rice leg pork). It is a plate of rice, served with stewed pork leg in a dark soy sauce broth. In order to get the best bite possible, you must make sure it is complete with the appropriate pieces. In addition to the rice and pork leg, you will need a little
1. Pickled cabbage.
2. Fresh garlic clove (preferably the smaller cloves).
3. Chili – yes, one whole chili (these are larger birds eye chilies, less smooth and more like a witch’s crooked nose).
4. Chili vinegar- this is a vinegar based sauce, with red chilies mashed up and added in.

Here we will share with you a few of the most popular dishes.

Popular Dishes and Method to Flavor Them

1. Kao man gai – boiled chicken and oiled rice. Key ingredients for the condiments include: finely diced ginger, diced chilies, and bean curd paste sauce with vinegar and chilies. If you get a portion of fried chicken, then the sweet chili sauce matches best.


2. Kao muu deng muu groop – the base of this dish is rice and generally it is dry with the red pork and pork belly if you don’t ad ether sauce. Therefore, be sure to drizzle the gravy sauce (light brown) and add dark sweet soy sauce with chilis. Each of the grains of rice should not be white anymore, and it will get slightly darker with the soy sauce. The table should have a cup with green onion stems – chill them in ice water first for a crispier experience.


3. Bami muu gieow – this dish either comes with soup or without. With soup it is important to taste the soup itself to see how salty it is. We’d recommend the dry, then add more soup as you like. This dish calls for vinegar with sliced green chilies (the chilies are not necessary but vinegar is), dried chili flakes, sugar and fish sauce. Add dashes of each and taste, after mixing thoroughly. Adding some of the black soy sauce is suitable as well.

 

For more how to – see our YouTube video showing the techniques of mixing noddles with sauces.

Bangkok Market Madness

Silom Village Trade Center

Silom Village Trade Center is a fantastic place to get a style of ancient Thai design and traditions without the feel of being too touristy or crowded. There is a lot of history here going back to the establishment of Bangkok. A great landmark to visit as a tourist of if you’re an expat and have visitors come. They have a nice selection of Thai handicrafts, clothing, and stores with knick knacks that have been open for 30+ years. The food is also authentic. They have a variety of foods, including fried rice, noodles, chicken, etc. Try the kanom jiin (white noodles) with naam prik (red sweet sauce) or naam yaa (yellow, spicy sauce with luk chin, or meatballs) if you can handle spicy. Don’t forget to try the Thai traditional sweets. All are delicious and their ancient taste is difficult to recreate, including the banana (kanom gluay) and coconut colored jelly (woon gati). In terms of shopping for traditional Thai souvenirs, this is a great and easy alternative to Chatuchak or Asiatique or any other bustling market, especially if you’re not into big crowds or feeling claustrophobic! Note that they use a coupon system instead of money so buy your coupons first before purchasing any food.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market is a great way to spend a Saturday or Sunday (since it’s only open on the weekends). This market, the most complex and intricate marketplace, is the place where you can find everything and anything, from Thai souvenirs and fashionable clothing to furniture and pets! However, please be mindful of the locations of the shops you like because it can be a difficult maze to navigate. However, there is now an app to help guide the way of this shopping maze. If you get tired, stop for a massage, a Thai meal or refreshing coconut ice cream!

Asiatique

Asiatique is another great shopping stop along the river. You can read more details about this hip tourist joint in our blog post.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

If you are looking for an authentic floating market, you’ll have to make a two-hour trek outside of Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. Here, you can hop on a boat that will take you along the colorful waterside market stalls and boats.

Bangkok Old City Sights Tour

As its name implies, this part of the city keeps its oldest secrets and rich history. Also known as Rattanakosin, there are a few notable and picture-worthy sights to see here. It is recommended to appreciate the sights on foot and stop to see, note-take, picture-take, or taste-test along the way…

Sights to See

Phra Sumen Fort: At the center of Old City, this historical fort is a famous landmark built by King Rama I, whose surrounding park is a relaxing green escape with great views of the river and makes for a great  people-watching spot.

Wat Pho: Also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha and located south of the Royal Grand Palace, this temple is one of the first-class royal temples, home to the enormous reclining golden Buddha statue.

Wat Phra Kaew: Its English nickname, ‘The Temple of the Emerald Buddha’ clearly identifies that this location is where to find the majestic emerald Buddha statue, a symbol of prosperity. The intricate design of this temple is truly awe-inspiring, with many vivid colors and what seems like the result of very technical craftsmanship.

 

 

Sights to Eat

Once your body signals that you need a break from sightseeing in the Old City, go enjoy a famous pad thai dish at Bangkok’s famous Thip Samai restaurant (Pratu Phee location), followed by a thirst quench from their fresh-squeezed orange juice.

For dessert, find MONT, a famous milk shop, always busy and bustling with customers getting their milk fill. Enjoy a warm cup of milk, or coffee, with toast topped with green ‘sankaya’ (pandan custard) topping.

 

Choose your own adventure. 

Continue to explore, discover, and absorb the treasures of Thailand’s roots… 

Nong Khai

NONG KHAI

Knowledge Notes

  • Nong Khai is located near the Udon & Laos border. It takes approximately one hour from Udon airport to drive to Nong Khai. (Cost of van to Nong Khai from Udon airport: Approximately 700 baht)
  • It is not a typical tourist target compared to other Thailand destinations, which contributes to its unique and authentic Thai charm. However, it has become quite popular with the expats in more recent years.
  • In 2016, Nong Khai was declared the 7th best retirement destination in the world, according to America’s Modern Maturity magazine, for its low-cost and livable conditions, and relaxing nature.
  • It’s quite lovely to stay here during the Christmas/New Year season if you miss the wintry, chillier feel of this season back home.
  • Recommended accommodation: Nong Khai Park & Pool Resort, a lovely family-owned resort surrounded by trees and tropical flowers. Its welcoming and quiet environment will make you feel warm and in a state of relaxation. To increase that, you can relax by the pool or get in-room Thai massages in your own personal villa. The staff are also very helpful and accommodating.

Itinerary

DAY 1

1. Fill up with a Thai or Western-style food at Park and Pool’s breakfast buffet.

2. Arrange for a tuk tuk tour (Tuk tuks are usually available within 5-10 minutes) to take you to two of Nong Khai’s unique attractions:

  • Wat Kaek/Sala Kaew Ku: A Buddhist sculpture park with massive sculptures depicting various Buddhist figures or themes. This park is very unique and you will find yourself in awe of the attention to detail and greatness of these sculptures!

  • Wat Pho Chai: This temple is known for its legendary Buddha image and colorful wall murals. To read more about the legend and history, click here.

3. Visit Tha Sadet Market, also known as the Indochina market, an extensive market selling imported Chinese and Laotian goods. Try some Thai traditional coffee in a paper bag to take with you as you explore.

4. Enjoy Vietnamese food and some Vietnam-style tea at Café Viet along the Mekong (Has A/C, too!).

5. On your way back to the resort, ask to be dropped off at (or simply point to) the Nong Khai railway station. Across the street, on your way back to Park and Pool Resort, you will find an old train car that has been transformed into Nong Khai’s railway public library.

6. Weather permitting, take a dip in the pool before going to enjoy some homestyle Thai cooking at Kruua Kru Nong (The Kitchen of Teacher Nong), a homestyle Thai restaurant along the Mekong. Digest your food with an evening stroll, savoring the sights along the Mekong River.

DAY 2

1. Relax at the pool or pamper yourself with a massage for a day. Walk around the neighborhood and explore, stopping at some fruit stalls to buy some fruit or take pictures of the beautiful flowers that are native to this area.

2. In the afternoon, take a tuk tuk ride from Park &  Pool, to Nagarina restaurant across from Mut Mee guesthouse, which is the meeting point for a sunset cruise to the Thai-Laos Friendship bridge. You can order drinks and snacks on the boat, and chat with other tourists and locals as you listen to local Isaan music and observe the sparkling hues of the sunset reflected on the water.

3. For dinner, walk to a nearby popular Vietnamese restaurant, Daeng Namnueng. This place is almost always crowded and it is suggested to order dessert first (buua loy dessert or durian with sticky rice) because they run out fast! For dinner, order the Vietnames namnuang plate, consisting of DIY spring roll/lettuce wraps which you can fill with Vietnamese sausage, veggies and herbs, vermicelli noodles, along with peanut and chili sauces

DAY 3

1. Arrange for a driver prior to this day, as they will pick you up early (7:30 AM), costing around 3,300 baht to go to two very special destinations:

2. 1st stop: Wat A-hong Siliwas, a small Buddhist temple located in a serene setting with a Mekong River view of the Laos border (known as the “navel, or deepest point, of the Mekong”) and a giant rock garden. This point is also famous for the Naga Fireball festival.

3. Phu Tok (also known as Wat Jetiyakiri): 150 kilometers from Nong Khai, his is one of the most unique destinations in Thailand. It is a completely wooden monastery built on a mountain by Buddhist monks in the mid 20th century, and has been preserved for tourists to climb to the top for breathtaking sights of the countryside of Nong Khai. It may also make your heart race if you are afraid of heights, as the wooden boards creak as you make your way to the top. The location is known as the “stairway to heaven”, and the fearful trek is believed as a way to train mindfulness and overcome fear on the path to spiritual enlightenment. Read more about the history here, and you can find the directions to get you from Nong Khai to Phu Tok.

 

DAY 4

Take a day trip to Vientiane, Laos. It is easy to hop over the Thai-Laos friendship bridge for a day to go explore Laos.

A visa on arrival is 35 US dollars, and an extra 220 baht for the Thai/Laos immigration and customs fee. Once you cross over, there will be many drivers waiting to bargain a deal with you for a day tour. If you’re not as adventurous, then you can arrange from the Thai side for a driver to actually bring you through the visa process on the Thai side and then connect with a Laos driver once into Laos. You can rent a tuk tuk for a day and tell them the stops you wish to take, or have them design the trip for you!

The only other money you’ll be spending is minor admissions fees for the sightseeing sites, and for a taste of Laos food. Get your camera ready! – Here are the typical destinations on a day-trip to Laos:

  • Xiang Kwuuan Buddha Park
  • Prathat Luang (Golden Pagoda)
  • Wat Simuang (Temple of city pillar)
  • Pratuxai (Victory Monument)
  • Hor Prakaew (The Emerald Buddha Museum)

 

If you have more time to spend in Nong Khai:

1. Volunteer and give back to the community with one of these opportunities:

  • The Vocational School for People with Disabilities, a short walk from Park & Pool resort.

2. Be adventurous with your taste-testing skills and try some rare foods at the bustling Sunday walking market beside the Nong Khai railway tracks.

3. Depending on what month you end up in Nong Khai, you might be fortunate to experience one of their unique festivals, such as the Phaya Naga Fireball festival or the rocket festival.