05 October 2008

Chamchuri Square on a Saturday

I spent my whole Saturday afternoon at Chamchuri Square, a.k.a. Edutainment Gateway, in Bangkok. My dear hubby had a meeting there so I tagged along as I have never been to this place. Both of us have never been there although we have passed this building a few times along Rama IV Rd. while it was still under construction. This commercial/residential project is owned by Chulalongkorn University. The complex itself has changed the whole landscape of the area, which used to have old shophouses selling noodles and other stuff. From the outside you can see the contrast between the old city feeling on the one hand, and the new, cosmopolitan, chic atmosphere on the other.

As we entered the complex, we were directed to the parking building. The meeting venue was on the 3rd floor so we went to park on that floor. Good that we were able to find a parking space. We had about 30 minutes to spare before the meeting. We stopped at a coffee bar nearby and we had the typical thai toasted bread with pandan cream. I ordered hot Japanese green tea while Key ordered espresso. Then he was off to his meeting and I was all by myself, with the whole mall to be explored.

As this Square is an "edutainment" complex, you can quickly notice that there is something different here from the other malls. For one, most of the people roaming or hanging around are young, mainly students from Chulalongkorn University. And the older ones are probably faculty members. Also there are a number of kids probably enrolled in special classes in learning centers located at the Square. There are also a number of bookstores such as Asia Books, Se-ed, Naiin, Nanmee, etc. Unfortunately, B2S bookstore has no branch there. I wanted to buy some books there using the B2S gift certificate which I won from The Bangkok Post.

My first target was to visit a bookstore. So I went to Asia Books as I am a member there and I was sure to find English books. I browsed through the many books they have. In the fiction section, they had a shelf of booksellers and others by popular authors. I had most of the chick lit they have which I could buy from a second hand bookshop (Dasa Books in Sukhumvit) so I decided to buy something else. Finally I settled on a book entitled, "The Memory Keeper's Daughter" by Kim Edwards. The book is about a man who abandons his Down syndrome baby. It was in the NY Times Paperback bestsellers' list in 2006 and a film has been done on it. I am waiting for the DVD so I can watch it. With bookstores left and right, who could resist not buying a book? Thus I was happy to buy this book and I got a 10% discount as a member. Now I have something to read while waiting for Key.

Then next I moved around until I got to the basement. As I was on the escalator on the way down, I saw tables full of students with papers, notebooks, books and laptops, studying, reading, discussing. At first I thought maybe I was in a library of sorts. But the direction board says "Raintree Food Center" that's why I decided to go there so I can sit and read my book. It just seemed strange and I remember that since this is near the university of course there will be students here. Studying. That's why this place looks different from other malls. When I reached the basement I went to buy a fruit smoothie (apple and cantaloupe, no ice, no milk, no yoghurt, no syrup). The seller asked me how she could blend them together without the syrup? I told her to just use some water. It cost me 50 baht.

So there with my fruit smoothie I chose a table with a comfortable seat and started reading my book. I sat there for more than an hour. The book has some sad moments and I had some tears but since I was in a public place I tried to control myself. Anyway I felt that I was not in Thailand then. I could be in any other place like in the Manila or Singapore. I decided to go up to the 3rd floor again and see if Key has finished their meeting. Not yet. So I went back to the 2nd floor to go to Coffee World where I ordered Mocha Coffee without the whipped cream. I am happy to know that they have a branch here and this is one of my favorite coffee shops. I just wanted to drink something hot as I was really feeling cold. I was thinking that they could save a lot of energy by adjusting the AC but this is Thailand. Hope they will realize it soon and adjust the temperature to an acceptable level.

I sent a text message to Key where I was. After another hour or so he came to the coffee shop. Then we had dinner there at the basement before finally going home. At 8 pm, we arrived at our condo where our laundry was waiting!

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