Sunday, March 16, 2008

Clowning Around

Today we had brunch at the Next 2 Cafe Terrace in the Shangri-La hotel in Bangkok. Everyone had a very enjoyable time.

The Shangri-La hotel is an upscale hotel in the heart of Bangkok. It sits on the Chao Praya river. As we made our way through the hotel to the restaurant, it became very clear that this was not the refuge of backpackers and those on a tight budget. The walls were decorated with expensive art and expensive chandeliers hung from the high ceilings. We had to ask the concierge for some directions on our way out, and the service was just what one would expect from a very high end hotel. The person giving Tim directions saw Nalin, and commented on how the half Thai children are always so cute. When she responded that they were also often little trouble makers, he was quick to respond with "yes, but the intelligent ones always are." Telling someone that their children are beautiful and smart with out sounding phony is a good way to make someone feel good. Kudos for the staff.

The restaurant hosts a Sunday brunch from 11:30 to 2:30 every Sunday. The restaurant is divided into three sections, an outdoor terrace next to the river, and indoor dining room, and a children's dining room. We arrived at 11:25 and chose to sit in the children's dining room, and were lucky to get a seat, as it is usually full from reservations.

The children's room had about 10 tables, a small stage for a show, a small stage, a food area, and a small play area with a tv and a plastic playset. The food in this room was the typical food loved by Western (and other) kids; pizza, hamburgers, french fries, hot dogs, fish sticks and more. They showed Shrek 3 and Alvin and the Chipmunks movies on the TV in the room, and there was a clown entertaining the children. Eckie the clown performed a show at 1:00 p.m., and before that went around blowing up balloons and entertaining the kids.

Eckie's show was pretty entertaining, particularly to the kids. One thing that struck me as funny, but that you would never see in the U.S. Eckie said he had a baby, and brought out a baby doll. The then said he was going to give the baby something to drink, asking the kids what you give babies. Of course, they all yelled "milk!" Eckie proceeds to pull out a bottle of beer with a nipple on it and acts like he is going to give it to the baby.

Of course, Jacob managed to end up on stage during the show. The boy is amazing in his ability to get on stage, he's even better than me. I mean, I have been to the Disney MGM Indiana Jones show twice, and both times have managed to be picked out of 100's of people to go on stage(my secret is when they ask for a pose is to do a "sexy" pose with one hand on my head and the other on my hip like an old pinup girl, it sure as hell ain't sexy, but it gets attention which is what you want). Jacob is probably 75% overall in shows. Its amazing, if he is sitting in a place where there is a chance for him to be picked, he is almost an automatic. His role this time was to help blow up a balloon.

So from the kids perspective, the experience was great. They had the kind of food they liked, movies to watch, balloons to grab, a place to run around, and a clown show to entertain them. What was it like for us adult types? It was great.

Needless to say, Tim and I did not get much food from the children's buffet (although I admit to grabbing a few french fries), we ventured out into the indoor restaurant and terrace. There was an incredible selection of entrees, starches, vegetables and deserts. I mostly feasted on smoked salmon, grilled rock crab, grilled shrimp, lamb, grilled veg tables, and even some sushi. I even got to enjoy some nann (Indian flat bread for the uninitiated). I can't recall everything that passed Tim's lips, but she also really enjoyed the food. By the end, we were stuffed.

We ended up staying for the full buffet which closed at 2:30. They didn't charge us for the kids, but the entire bill was a little over $100. That is a bit pricey for brunch (especially here), but it really was more than just a brunch. The kids were thoroughly entertained for almost three hours. Tim and I were able to enjoy brunch because the restaurant entertained the kids.

The only thing that I regret was that I forgot to bring my camera. The view from the terrace was definitely worth a few dozen pictures. It was right on the water, and boats on the water and buildings on the opposite shore would have made for some great shots. Oh well, I guess I'll just have to go back.

The overall experience was great. This is a place that I would definitely take friends visiting.

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