Archive for April, 2011

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

February 18, 2011

It was already late, past 1am, and we’re to go on a day trip to Kanchanaburi around 7am. Even though we knew that, we were still chatting nonstop. Then someone turned off the lights, we went to sleep. :)

Luckily for me and my cousin, that day was a holiday. Thailand being a Buddhist country observed Makha Bucha wherein they were celebrating Buddha’s first sermon to his disciples. For us, it meant that our hosts can join us for a day trip since they won’t be working. For other tourists, it meant that entrance to all temples are for free and that selling alcohol is prohibited (it was a full moon that night to boot!). hehe

The guys arranged the Kanchanaburi day trip for us. They booked at one of the many agencies you can find in Khao San. We’re paying 550 Thai Baht (1THB= 1.45PHP) each. It included van transportation to and from Khao San, trips to JEATH musuem, Sai Nok Noi water falls and bridge over River Kwai, an elephant and train ride as well as bamboo rafting, and a buffet Thai lunch. Sulit! :D

Khao San early in the day :)

Pad thai for breakfast

We got to Khao San at quarter to 7 and I had my first Thai dish there. Drinks and snacks were bought then we waited… and waited… and waited more! Our guide met us when it was already nearing 8! We could have slept more. Oh well. When we got in the van, there were 4 other tourists inside, all Filipinas. They were on the same flight as me coming here (and turns out, same flight back too).

Bundles of laughter with these trio around :D

First stop: Don-Rak War Cemetery a.k.a. Kanchanaburi War Cemetery

My first reaction, “why are we in a cemetery?”

All the while, I can hear the others talk excitedly to each other. “We’re here at the cemetery! It’s……” They definitely did their homework. hehe

The place was the burial ground for many prisoners of war who died building the Burma railway during the 2nd World War (WWII). Most of which were Australians, British and  Dutch.

First stop: War Cemetery

A marker for an Australian soldier

There are 6.892 graves in this cemetery

Second stop: “JEATH War Museum” and “Art Gallery & War Museum”

Entrance fee: 40THB each

“The JEATH War Museum is one of two war museums in Thailand about the Death Railway built from 1942 to 1943 by Allied POWs under the direction of the Japanese. The museum was founded in 1977 by the chief abbot of Wat Chaichumpol Venerable Phra Theppanyasuthee. It is located on the grounds of a temple at the junction of the Khwae Yai and Khwae Noi rivers in Kanchanaburi. The acronym JEATH stands for the primary nationalities involved in the construction of the railway: Japanese, English, Australian, American, Thai and Holland.” -wikipedia

Third Stop: The Bridge over the River Kwai a.k.a. Burma Railway a.k.a. Death Railway

Built by the Empire of Japan during WWII using forced labour to support its forces in Burma. More than 100,000 people died during the construction of the said railway earning for it the monicker Death Railway.

Fourth Stop: Train Ride from Tha Kilen to Nam Tok

150THB will get you a “first-class” seat that comes with some snacks (water, soda and bread) and a certification that you rode the Death Railway train ride. Otherwise, just shell out 50THB.

Thakilen Train Station

Passing beside a cliff

Handing out certificates

Pretty nice ride! :D

Fifth Stop: Lunch!

Our van was waiting for us at the end of our train ride. We were then brought to a floating restaurant where we had our lunch. Food was served buffet style. Though there wasn’t that much of choice, the foods served were good. Spicy too,  a common among Thai foods which is what I prefer. hehe About an hour later, we then rode a bamboo raft that brought us over to our sixth stop.

Heading towards our lunch ;)

Buffet

The river's current IS strong

Aboard the bamboo raft for a quick ride :)

Sixth Stop: Bamboo Camp

An elephant camp. :)

Also included in the fee we paid for was a trip to an elephant camp. We all got to ride (yes!) an elephant. However, should you want to feed them, 20THB will get you a small basket of fruits for feeding the elephants. They would also take a souvenir picture of you  that you can later buy for 100THB if you want.

Food for the elephants. 20THB.

Seventh Stop: Sai Yok Noi Falls

This was our last destination for this trip. When we got to the falls though, there was hardly any “falls” to look at. Maybe because it was dry season? Anyways, we didn’t spend much time there but we did walk around to look at some stuff and to get some snacks. I was hungry! ;)

We came upon this stall that was selling chips made of taro, potatoes, etc (in plain, salty, sweet flavors). When suddenly, the lady manning it was offering me and my companions fistful of their products to try. Of course, I ate some (I WAS hungry. haha). They were actually pretty good. We got 3 bags for 100THB. Then, she did her sales talk.

Vendor: “Khun suway. Khun suway mak mak!” (while pointing at me)

Me: “Ah… What? English? Please?” (looks toward hosts)

Hosts: “She’s saying that you’re very beautiful” (do they have to laugh while explaining this? Tsk! Tsk!)

Me: (turns to cousin since she’s got our money) “Ate, let’s buy more!” :D (I’m sooo easy to deal with! haha)

Too bad I wasn’t able to take a pic of her nor of her stall. :(

Having satiated my hunger from all that free taste, next on my list of concern was to look for something refreshing to drink. Kcia, a friend of mine, kept on telling me to try Thai iced tea once I’m in Thailand. With that in mind, I made a beeline to the first stall I saw selling it. A few minutes later, I was a very happy person! It was sweet (I have sweet tooth) and cool (it was a hot day), perfect! The rest of the other tourists were already inside the van, waiting for us. It was time to head back to Bangkok. :)

Crossing the highway

Thai English

Sai Yok Noi Falls

New job for our hosts :D

Making Thai iced tea

Love at first sip! :D

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

Arrival in Bangkok

February 17, 2011

I’m now getting used to traveling to a place on my own and then just meet the friends I have there. Same thing happened for me on this trip. I was going to travel with my cousin, Lea, but since she’ll be flying in from San Francisco and I’m from Manila, we agreed to just meet at Bangkok’s airport. We’ll spend a few days there then fly back to the Philippines together for more travels (and she has to meet up with the rest of the relatives)!

My seatmate, Richard's bilin ;)

In Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport

Waiting for my luggage

My cousin’s flight was supposed to arrive an hour ahead of mine. Due to some delay at HKIA, I got to Bangkok before her by just a few minutes. She said that it’s at the passport counter of Bangkok wherein she took ages. I was walking around the place trying to look for her but I ended up spotting our hosts, Jessie & Richard, first. I knew them beforehand from a few CS Manila events. It was because of another friend that they ended up offering to host and us agreeing to surf their place. Salamat Dawnie! hehe :D

Cousin and hosts

With Richard and Ate Lea :)

Getting in a cab to go out of the aiport

It was time to go home and try to get a few (4 tops?) hours sleep as soon as I found my cousin. We’re going to take a cab home. Thai taxis are very colorful! One color scheme equates to one taxi company which accounts for all these colorful cabs. Before we got on one, our hosts took us aside for some reminders. They said that since we look like locals (it’s not that easy to distinguish between South East Asians ^_^), we should try to be silent as some drivers have this habit of taking the longer route if they know you’re new to a locale. Uhmm… got it! We got in. JJ gave our address in Thai and then everyone was silent. I was trying hard not to laugh nor talk and so were the others. The tension inside was very palpable. Several minutes into the ride, when we got to the skyway, our driver turned to JJ, he was seated beside the driver, and asked him something. Well, it looked like he was asking as we weren’t exactly in a chatty mood.

JJ: cough “huh?” cough. (Hahaha)

Driver: “blah blah blah.” (Shoot. Our cover’s blown! haha)

JJ: “ah..” cough. then proceeds to speak in Thai (whew!)

We were all cracking up by the time we got off the cab! hehehe

My weirdest but definitely funniest cab ride ever! :D

Related Posts:

Kanchanaburi Day Tour

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

El Nido Escapade (day 4)

February 25, 2011

It’s decided, another day for island hopping! Happy and excited to be back at sea! Yay! haha :D

We took Tour C. Actually, I was supposed to organize our own trip. I have already talked to someone who’s friend with a boat owner. I’ve got people joining me. Places to go to had been chosen. We’re gonna wake up early to go to the market. The works. And then, other people had to complicate stuff. I was starting to get a headache (it’s so hard to please everyone, it’s just impossible!). My friends were telling me that it’s not worth the hassle it’s causing me and urged me to just scrap it. I did though with a heavy heart coz I enjoy DIYs so much! hehe

Island hopping, day 2! :D

First stop is a hidden beach. We have to swim to get there. I used a pair of fins since I’m certain I would lag way behind the others if I don’t. The spot where our boat was docked was a place good enough for snorkeling. Lots of corals and fishes. Charlie stayed behind and snorkeled around the area. While the others and I swam ahead. In the hidden beach, the fishes were kinda territorial. You can translate that to us being bit every now and then by a few of them. Ack! hehehe

Our guide, Kuya Leo was very funny. He loves to crack jokes while sharing some infos about the places where we’re at. Though his jokes works best if said in Filipino. That was why I was usually laughing out loud while the others just looked on. Hehe He offered to be my guide for my next trip and I would love to take him up on his offer. I told him that I wanted to organize my own island hopping trip but had to cancel because the person I was talking with would always up the price or bring up another concern after a prior price had been agreed upon or after a previous problem had been solved. He told me I should have talked directly to the owner/ boatman, things would have been so much easier. I know that but… what’s done is done. ;)

Kuya Leo, cool guide!

We went next to Matinloc Shrine,  an island owned by the Fernandez clan. The place where it was built is just naturally beautiful: jagged limestone cliffs, crystal clear waters, picturesque view. We had our lunch here. The place took my breath away and is by far, my fave island there! Some pictures of the island I fell in love with. :)

Matinloc Shrine

This time around, there were 8 of us (not counting our 3 guides) and almost all were CSers, except for Emilien that is. We met the others a day or so before.

We took our time here. But soon, it was time to move on to the next island. Make that a secret beach. ;) It’s called a secret beach since you’ll have to swim in between a crack beneath a limestone cliff. The water surrounding it was very clear and you can see all the way down, around 15-20feet down. Once you made it through the crack, you’ll find yourself on a secret beach indeed.

And then off to this rugged beauty of an isle. When we got here, only few got off the boat. The rest took a quick nap or took pictures of the area.

Last stop, Helicopter Island! So named coz the shape of the whole island supposedly resembles that of a helicopter. This was a nice place to just chill. Sit/ lie down on the sand; eat snacks while chatting with friends; take a dip if you feel like doing so; take a nap by the beach if you’re tired.

rugged beauty!

For dinner, Emilien recommended a bistro named Balay Tubay, a cozy hangout place for local artists that’s quite popular because they  have local bands playing there every night. Food is good here. They have free wi-fi too. :D

dinner at Balay Tubay

Mmmm! :D

The famed El Nido soup

Last night in El Nido. *sigh* Think happy thoughts: I will go back! :D

PS: Unfortunately, I lost my phone on my last trip. That is why I can’t post Kuya’s contact number. I’ll update this as soon as I have it again.

Related posts:

Getting to El Nido

1st day of island hopping

Lazy day in El Nido

El Nido Escapade (day 3)

February 24, 2011

So we did a day of island hopping the day before. One of my travel companion is now sunburnt. The idea of another day of it wasn’t that appealing to him. Another wanted a break from the sea (come on guys!). It was decided then. We’re gonna stay in town. Try and trek a mountain, chill by the beach, eat, get lazy. Doesn’t sound bad really. :)

The view that awaits us upon waking up :)

After getting ready and drinking our morning coffee (courtesy of Entalula), we went out and looked for a carinderia for cheap but good foods. We’re going to meet up with  the guys at their place. We walked by the beach to get there, passing by another friend’s place first. :)

My cousin. At Entalula. :)

With newly met Estonian friends

I miss El Nido!

When we saw Nick, he was really red! haha (sorry dear! ;)) It’s a good thing we brought along an after sun spray with us to help relieve him of some pain. After applying it on, we went out on the street to get to our goal: climb a mountain. I had no idea which mountain nor what peak and neither do they. Brenda, my trusted El Nido guide, told me before if I ever needed anything, I should not hesitate to go to her mom. Also, I’ve read from other bloggers that they had a guide with them. But it looks like we have more of the come-what-may attitude so off we went. Plan: just ask the people around for directions. Very organized huh? ;)

We're going up there! But where is "there"?! :D

We walked past the main part of town. Led us to a dead end. hehe We had to backtrack and ask for directions. One lady told us that to get to the top we have to follow the trail and to always make a right turn (or was it left?), our landmark was supposed to be this very big tree (they’re all huge for me). Needless to say, we lost our trail after around, maybe, 20minutes of going uphill. The trail was lost and it led to this fork in the road and we’re not certain on which one to choose. Really should have asked for a guide to go with us! Being the troopers that we were, it was no big deal. We were (or was it only me?) getting tired and it was hot!

Charlie led the way :)

Would have been awesome if we made it up there!

Lost? Uh oh!

We’re now on Plan B. Have lunch and just hang out. Good enough for me! (I’m so easy to please sometimes ^_^). We met Emilien (our French mate) on the way back and we all had lunch at the eatery beneath the place where the boys are staying at. Where to hang out? At Emilien’s place! He’s staying at this nice place just beside Entalula. He has a big room that he got for 1200php a night. It has a spacious balcony with some chairs where we can lounge at. And that’s what we did. Sit back. Admire the view before us. Drink refreshing fruit shakes. Hang out with friends. :)

Beautiful!

A couple of hours after, we walked around town again. It was nice to stretch our legs. We spotted a stand that was selling some halo-halo and the thought of eating one was so tempting, I gave in! They followed my lead. :D

School with a view :)

A glass of halo-halo to beat the afternoon heat!

We decided afterwards to catch the sunset since we have guys with us who just love to take pictures. To be able to photograph it though, we have to go to another beach since the mountains will block  our view. Corong-corong beach is several minutes walk from El Nido town. But we each went to our place to freshen up first so we didn’t have much time ’til the sun sets. We took the tricycle where we paid 50php for the 5 of us. The beach itself is nicer than the one in town but compared to the other, this is somewhat isolated. If you’re looking for a more laid back atmosphere, guess this is the one for you then. When we got there, my companions were almost half running to get to their spot for their shot. It was fun watching them while they were at it. Their enthusiasm was plain contagious! :D

My 3rd El Nido sunset :)

Mission accomplished, we went back to town for some good food. We’re back at Blue Azul Cafe and later met up with other friends by the beach. :)

It was a good day. :)

Related posts:

Getting to El Nido

1st Day of Island Hopping

2nd Day of Island Hopping

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