Bangkok / 2nd - 5th September 2016
Day 1 (in chronological order)
Day 2 (in chronological order)
Conclusion: Reflections on trip to Bangkok
Haroon Mosque (Bangkok, Thailand)
I was searching for a halal Thai restaurant which I visited in 2012 and along the way, I decided to pay a visit to the Haroon Mosque. Fortunately, I found the mosque without much problems. Unfortunately, the halal Thai restaurant was closed. In the end, I simply had a banana back in the hotel.
I had arrived at Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers hungry. I haven’t had my lunch yet. So after checking in, I asked the concierge where I could get halal food and he said there is one Indian restaurant at Soi 32. I found the restaurant rather easily but left immediately because I didn’t feel like eating Indian food again.
Soi 32 wasn’t far from Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers
So I decided to walk around the area to see if there were other alternatives. I knew from 2012, when I was in Bangkok, that there was a small Muslim area only a couple of roads away from Mandarin Oriental hotel. Back then, I took a boat along the Chao Praya River, alighted at the ‘Oriental’ pier and as walked around the area, I serendipitously bumped into a mosque and a Thai restaurant owned by a Muslim. I remembered the food was amazing and the service flawless.
This was the halal restaurant the hotel’s concierge was refering to.
I didn’t know the exact location of the Thai halal restaurant. I only knew it was near Mandarin Oriental Hotel and near a mosque. So, based on that fact, I walked towards Mandarin Oriental, along Charoen Krung Road. Along the way I saw two halal restaurants but they were closed. In fact, the whole stretch of Charoen Krung Road, none of the shops were opened. It was a Sunday.
I walked towards Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Honestly, I was clueless as to which road I should enter. The road signs, in Thai, wasn’t intuitive at all. And it didn’t help that my GPS location went haywire too. Fortunately, I met a Thai uncle with a long beard and kopiah dressed in a long Islamic robe.
I am a naturally shy person, so typically I wouldn’t say hello to anyone, especially to strangers. So on our first eye contact, I didn’t smile and he didn’t smile too. I walked away deeper into the random road trying to figure out whether it was the correct way to the restaurant. I walked back and forth, back and forth and he was still there. Obviously, I knew he could help me with the directions.
Hunger pangs caused me to eventually say ‘Assalamulaikum’ to him (yes I am that shy…I need to be that hungry to be super-friendly to strangers) and he responded back in kind with a smile and offered me a handshake. I asked him where the mosque is. He said “ah Harroon?”
Yup! That’s the name of the mosque!
He gave the directions, I said thanks. Before I made my way there, I saw his wife, covered fully in black (with niqab and all), came out of her house trying to figure out why her husband was shouting left and right many times.
The State Tower was obvious as I walked along the road. There was one scene from the Hangover 2 movie filmed up at the Sky Bar Rooftop. And do you notice the shops were all closed?
Based on the directions he gave, I found myself walking down these “crowded-with-things” alleyways, eventually realising that I was actually walking past the frontages of the many houses found there. There were sounds of television blaring at me as I walked and cute Thai kids racing down on their bicycles past me while looking at me intently, wondering why is a cute Indian man walking along the alleyways of their community.
Despite being in a relative state of dilapidation, the whole place was surprisingly very “kempt.” No bad smells, not much rubbish strewn around. Very Muslim-like. 😊
A lady on a bicycle.
So where do I go now? I see “Masjid Haroon” though. To the right then!
Eventually I managed to find the mosque which I visited in 2012, the Haroon mosque. Years ago, I didn’t see that many people around that area. In fact, the place was rather empty. Then, I saw only one Indian man taking wudhu in the mosque.
But this time, there were many people in the mosque’s compound. I saw a big group in a conference room sitting in a circle, discussing and having a good time eating, leaving me in desperate need for food.
Entrance of the mosque.
Noticeboard and an office behind it.
Entrance to the office.
In the mosque.
I didn’t spend much time in the mosque because I wanted to desperately eat something. I knew I had to find that halal Thai restaurant that I was mentioning earlier. I began to regret not eating something in the Indian restaurant I found earlier. But it was too late for regrets.
At the end of an alley where a couple of stalls were selling street food.
After about 15 minutes of walking back and forth without a clear set of directions around the area, I found the restaurant I had been looking for. And … it was closed.
Closed. Not sure it was because it was Sunday or it wasn’t dinner time yet.
Heartbreaking but it was expected. I didn’t want to try my luck searching for another halal restaurant along that area because evidently, nothing seemed opened for business that day. So I walked back to the hotel and had a banana instead.