Bangkok Not Banning Street Food So You Can Stop Freaking Out

Your future Instagram shots of you eating questionable meat on a street in Bangkok are safe.

News got out last week that the Thai government was cracking down on street food vendors. As usual, one article was published that got their information wrong. Young writers needing to publish five articles a day to fulfill the clickbait quota picked up on the news without actually doing research.

As it turns out, it was a misunderstanding, lost in translation situation.

“The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is not banning street food in Khao San and Yaowarat roads—it’s the opposite,” BMA advisor Wanlop Suwandee told CNN. “It is supporting street food by implementing hygienic measures and organizing traffic around the areas.”

Doesn’t that make sense? As CNN points out, a few stalls were asked to move and the spokesperson was misquoted.

In reality, there are an estimated 15,000 food stalls in Bnagkok. If a few are misplaced, there are only 14,990 left to choose from. The food scene is safe. You’re safe. Enjoy your spicy food.

 

Beer Voyage: Funky Buddha — Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Florida is in the mid-tier of beer state destinations in the U.S. It’s not in the beer mecca states of Oregon, Washington, Colorado, California or Vermont, nor a wasteland like Alabama, Utah, the Dakotas or Mississippi.

The big draw in the state is Cigar City in Tampa Bay. Funky Buddha has a cult-status for it’s unusual concoctions and off-kilter flavors. This isn’t a place for people who like beer to taste like transitional beer.

With popular seasonal brews like Blueberry Cobbler, Sweet Potato Casserole and French Toast Brown Ale, you know this is a place for the adventurous beer fan.

Located among the vacation destinations of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach and Hollywood in the Oakland Park suburb, Funky Buddah is housed in a large shopping area. Don’t be distracted by the Pimanti Bros. sandwich shop of Pittsburgh you might pass getting there.

On the Saturday night I was at Funky Buddah, the parking lot was so crowded I ended parking in the opposite strip mall in front of a Staples. You can’t miss the outside of the place because glows like a theme park attraction.

Inside, it does have a theme park cleanliness like a Chuck E. Cheese. Hovering over the whole tap room is a huge billboard of the beers sort of like the Family Feud board.

Your flight of four beers is served on a wooden paddle in the shape of a buddha and with a side of oyster crackers. Don’t ask me why. It might have been that they were out of pretzels.

There was so much to choose from, so I had to go with the flavors I like:

  • No Crusts Brown Ale (brewed with peanuts, raspberries and strawberries)
  • Fire in the Hole (Raspberry Habanero Red Ale)
  • Chocolate Covered Cherry Porter
  • Fuhgeddaboudit Red Ale
  • Blueberry Cobbler

I was hooked, and I’ve been seeking them out every since when they send the rare kegs up north. Thus, stock up on some bottled to go in the gift shop. Their maple bacon coffee porter is insanity in a glass. Then there’s the peanut butter cup beer and guava, pineapple, apple and lychee fruit beer. All friggin awesome.

Want to Visit North Korea? Just Walk Around a Table in the DMZ

You read stories in travel media where people visit every country in one or two years, before they turn 21 or spending only $1,000. This is not something I strive to do. It’s quality over quantity.

Case in point, I have no desire to spend 3 days and 4 nights in Pyongyang just for bragging rights. I doubt they have a lively culinary scene or vibrant nightlife. On the other hand, one minute in, and one minute out — just long enough to take a selfie and check-in on Swarm — will do just fine.

Guess what? You can, and rather easily.

U.S. Vice-President Mike “Whitey McWhiterson” Pence visited South Korea recently and the DMZ where he observed North Korea from a safe distance. For the rest of us, we can do this and actually step across the border.

First you need to book a tour of a U.S. base in the DMZ while in Seoul. It’s the only way can do it.

You’ll arrive to the Joint Security Area where you’ll enter one of the blue buildings pictured above. In the building is a table. On the near side is South Korea. On the opposite end of the table is officially North Korea. Your tour guide will allow you to walk around the table to the North Korea side, take photos and walk back into South Korea. Thus, you’ve visited North Korea.

Crazy right? What’s also crazy is that you’ll probably find North Korean soldiers looking at your every move on their side.

Want to see it in action. The best travel host of all time, Michael Palin, visited the DMZ on his Full Circle series. Watch it below at 2:30:

The World’s 50 Best Restaurants of 2017 That You Can’t Afford or Get A Reservation

A new No. 1 restaurant in the world has been crowned, and I hope they sell a decent hamburger.

Eleven Madison Park in New York shocked the culinary world to take the top spot over last year’s winner, Osteria Francescana in Modena, Italy. This is the first time since 2004 that an American restaurant took the top spot. We suck at a lot of things lately but we’re winners in high-end cuisine.

One thousand chefs and food writers from 26 regions decide on the accolade. I’m sure these people go to every restaurant on the list and have the exact similar opinion of what makes a great restaurant. NY Times pointed out the controversy over voting. In all, it’s great publicity for the restaurants and for hardcore, rich foodies, it gives them bragging rights if they’ve eaten at them all.

I’ve been too none of these.

The Top 50 (no word if they accept Groupon)

  1. Eleven Madison Park, New York
  2. Osteria Francescana, Modena, Italy
  3. El Celler de Can Roca, Girona, Spain
  4. Mirazur, Menton, France
  5. Central, Lima
  6. Asador Etxebarri, Axpe, Spain
  7. Gaggan, Bangkok
  8. Maido, Lima
  9. Mugaritz, San Sebastian, Spain
  10. Steirereck, Vienna
  11. Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
  12. Arpège, Paris
  13. Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée, Paris
  14. Restaurant André, Singapore
  15. Piazza Duomo, Alba, Italy
  16. D.O.M., São Paulo, Brazil
  17. Le Bernardin, New York
  18. Narisawa, Tokyo
  19. Geranium, Copenhagen
  20. Pujol, Mexico City
  21. Alinea, Chicago
  22. Quintonil, Mexico City
  23. White Rabbit, Moscow
  24. Amber, Hong Kong
  25. Tickets, Barcelona
  26. The Clove Club, London
  27. The Ledbury, London
  28. Nahm, Bangkok
  29. Le Calandre, Rubano, Italy
  30. Arzak, San Sebastian, Spain
  31. Pavillon Ledoyen, Paris
  32. Attica, Melbourne
  33. Astrid y Gastón, Lima
  34. De Librije, Zwolle, Netherlands
  35. Septime, Paris
  36. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, London
  37. Saison, San Francisco
  38. Azurmendi, Larrabetzu, Spain
  39. Relae, Copenhagen
  40. Cosme, New York
  41. Ultraviolet by Paul Pairet, Shanghai
  42. Boragó, Santiago
  43. Reale, Castel di Sangro, Italy
  44. Brae, Birregurra, Australia
  45. Den, Tokyo
  46. L’Astrance, Paris
  47. Vendôme, Bergisch Gladbach, Germany
  48. Restaurant Tim Raue, Berlin
  49. Tegui, Buenos Aires
  50. Hof van Cleve, Kruishoutem, Belgium

 

What United Needs To Do To Restore Consumer Confidence

There’s a simple explanation why the United Airlines controversy has creeped into news headlines and gained worldwide discussion — everyone can relate. Seasoned travelers like us and those who travel once in a while have experienced some sort of incident that has clouded our view of air travel. Hopefully not to the extent of being dragged off a plain forcefully, but we know what it’s like when your travel plans go bonkers.

There’s a lot of should of, would of, could of’s — but what next? Boycott United? Knock yourself out and see how long that lasts. Eliminate overbooking? Not in the realm of possibility when airlines are making money from it and it’s unregulated. You and I know that the system is rigged against infrequent flyers, but the season travelers like us know the situation and how to avoid being bumped or how to profit from it.

The big question is what United does next. Here’s what I think.

— CEO Oscar Munoz needs to meet with Dr. David Dao in person. No PR people or lawyers with him. Just him and Dao. I can imagine Dao has already lawyered up and his ready for his seven-figure settlement, but Munoz should meet with him one on one. Express that what happened is his responsibility and the processes that he oversees didn’t work. Tell him that him and his wife can fly first class on United for a lifetime. More importantly, listen to Dr. Dao and see how he feels.

— Munoz needs to refund everybody on that flight and offer up a first class, round trip flight to them and their families for what they witnesses. Also, write up a letter that expresses his regret and sign it.

— Talk to everyone of his staff involved that day confidentially. Tell them that they won’t be fired, listen to the situation and assure them that the necessary steps will be taken. Happy employees equals happy passengers.

— Meet with airport security and Chicago police and calmly ask, “What the fuck were you thinking?”

— Create a detailed, no-BS statement on what happened, what should have been done, why it went wrong and the steps that will be taken for it to not happen again. Transparency is key.

— Understand why United is rated low in customer service compared to Alaska, JetBlue, Virgin, Etihad and Delta. Corporate culture comes from the top, just ask Richard Branson how he’s done with Virgin. Richard H. Anderson, the former CEO of Delta, reinvented the brand and can be credited for creating a sustainable culture of customer service.

— Here’s the big wish, give the public a discount on any flight to show that United cares about its customers. Either 10% or 20% off, anything to get people to book a flight and restore faith. There’s plenty evidence to show that people rather have a cheap flight with a shitty experience over paying a bit more for a great experience. Show that United has learned , can offer a great experience and that it has changed and is willing to take a hit financial to prove it. Chipolte gave out free burritos to restore customer confidence. I think United should do the same without cheap Mexican food.

The All Sorts of Wrong About Being Dragged from an Airplane

“So Doctor, how was your flight home?”

Just when you thought you’ve seen it all when it comes to inexplicable incidents, in comes United again to top their leggings fiasco from two weeks ago. Those PR people might want to update their resume after pulling double duty.

You know the deal: United flight (via Republic Airways) from Chicago to Louisville, KY was overbooked, which is common practice because they anticipate dumbasses not showing up. Crew members needed to get Louisville for their route, thus they needed to bump passengers. After they couldn’t get four to take the bait, their computer system picked a doctor to bump. Doctor didn’t budge, so airport security dragged him away while passengers filmed it. Internet, late night talk shows and media goes wild.

Where to begin? Let’s look at the big picture — the flight is only 80 minutes and costs around $210. It’s 4 hours and 40 minutes to drive. Yet, United couldn’t bribe anybody with $1,000 cash,? A Forbes writer made a small fortune ($11K) for her family for choosing not to fly to Florida. Passengers, do you really need to be in Louisville on a Sunday night? BTW, Sundays are a horrible day to fly.

Then, I found several articles advising not to take what the airlines give because you can get more if you’re are randomly bumped. True, but every airline has different policies and situations are different. I got bumped once from Newark to London because the airplane had to be switched and seats were lost. For 40,000 miles, all I had to do was leave out of JFK New York that night and I still kept my Upper Class privileges. Plus, they reimbursed my transport to the airport. So, cash, miles or free flight is whatever you fancy. There’s no right answer.

With all that said, WTF were airport security thinking? The poor doctor isn’t an ISIS operative or a danger to passenger safety. I wondering what United staff and especially the pilot were doing while this was going on. Nobody stepped in to stop this. “Sure, go ahead and drag a paying customer out of our plane.”

Then if things couldn’t get worse for United, CEO Oscar Munoz made a tone-deaf statement:

The problem is that this sounds like it was written by PR from a corporation. In reality, you’re dealing with people who went through a disturbing ordeal that was handled poorly. On top of that, future customers will rethink booking a United flight. I don’t fly United, so eff them.

The lesson for everyone, drive from Chicago to Louisville.

Five Los Angeles Chain Restaurants That Are Not In-n-Out Burger

The land of traffic craves convenience. That new, must-visit artisan cafe might only be seven miles away, but that’s 40 minutes in L.A. time. On top of that, you have to find parking and the line will probably 50 deep. But hey! That Instagram photo will get, like, 15 likes and a smiley emoji.

Thus, having multiple locations is advantageous. We all know In-n-Out is all over the damn place, but if you want to go semi-local, here are other well-known institutions loved by locals.

Roscoe Chicken n Waffles — The legendary soul food institution is loved by rappers, Los Angelinos and people who look at a waffle and think, “This would be better with fried chicken.” With eight locations, the easiest one being in West Hollywood, you can order the Obama special and cry afterwards.

Zankou Chicken — Name checked by Beck in his masterpiece song, “Debra” … “Like a fruit that’s ripe for a pickin’ / I wouldn’t do you like that Zankou Chicken.” It also inspired a Curb Your Enthusiasm episode about Palestinian chicken. The Armenian-style rotisserie chicken chain has been around California since 1962. You can load up on platters, sides, wraps and salads and feel full and so very un-L.A.

Winchell’s Donuts — For such a health conscience city, they do have a lot of artisan donut places. Since Dunkin’ Donuts finally returned to the west coast, Winchell had to take back seat. The iconic donut shop is old school retro with it’s yellow and red interiors and simple cake donuts. Some of the shops kept its neon signage to call back to it’s 1940s roots.

Caffe Luxxe — On the opposite end of Winchell’s is the new school coffee of Caffe Luxxe. That’s two f’s and two x’s. The three locations provide a serious coffee city with some expertly poured espresso drinks and pour overs. The latte art are Instagram-worthy creations.

Barney’s Beanery — Known to locals as the place to go for hangover breakfasts and to create a hangover, their extensive menu has something for everybody. It’s the chili that is the calling card since 1920, when the classic Hollywood stars would frequent. Legend has it that Jim Morrison was thrown out in the 60s. Each location is packed with crap that would make a TGIFriday’s jealous.