Archive for the ‘ Thailand ’ Category

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

February 20, 2011

After touring museums and palaces for the better half of the day. Afternoon was spent in Chinatown. But we first had our lunch outside of the Grand Palace complex. I decided to let Richard choose my foods for me (I tend to have poor judgement in ordering foods). :D Rahel had to leave afterwards coz she’d meet up with her boyfriend at the airport.

Tom Kha Kai (Sliced chicken in coconut milk)

To get to Chinatown from the Grand Palace, we walked towards the nearest pier, Tha Chan (N9), took the Central Pier-bound river ferry (orange flag) and got off at the Ratchawongsee Pier (N5).

How do I describe Thailand’s Chinatown? Essentially, same-same but different. ;) Lots of tasty foods, temples, markets. I enjoy getting lost in them. We eventually had to part ways with Ali and Diana too. :(

Tuk tuk

Bangkok buddies (Rahel's not in the pic though)! :)

Chinese temple

Back at our hosts’ place, my cousin and I packed our stuff. Afterwards we went out with our hosts. We’re gonna have some Thai massage in the local neighborhood. Sooo cheap! A foot massage at KSR usually costs 150THB for 30minutes but ours was a foot massage (we could have gone with the full body massage too) for 1 (up to 2) hour for only 150THB! It was very popular with the locals that we had to be separated for them to be able to accommodate us. The others where on the 2nd floor while I was on the 1st floor. When the masseuse asked me in Thai and I answered that I can only understand English, they went into a mini panic! haha Good thing there was another customer who can speak some English. Turns out she was asking how long I want. We’d only get one hour coz we have a flight to catch. I told her to not to do  it hard. I loved it! My cousin ended up with some bruises coz of the massage though. Aww.

Afterwards, we had some “proper” ice cream before we had our dinner. Desserts before dinner? Perfect! A treat from our wonderful host!

Deserts before dinner! :D

Awesome guys!

They then accompanied me to a local market to buy some last minute “pasalubong” for friends and family back home. Next up is dinner in an eatery recommended by those two. Hands down, the best meal we’ve had in Thailand. The guys ordered lots (from chicken to shrimps to soups) and we managed to finish them all! Bloated! They even have the tummy pictures to prove it (but I won’t be posting those). ;)

Dish # 1: Kai Ka Tiam (stir-fried chicken in garlic sauce and pepper)

Dish # 2: Tom Yum Goong (hot and sour Thai soup with prawns)

Dish # 3: Gai Pad Med Mamuang Himapan pronounced as Kai Pat Met Mamuang (Thai chicken with cashew nuts)

When we got back to our room to pick up our stuff, JJ and Richard gave us final instructions on how to get to the airport. They then hailed a cab for us. My cousin and I were sad to have to say goodbye to them coz the last 3 days had been such a blast! The  hospitality, generosity and friendship they offered was overwhelming. Thanks you so much guys! Khob khun ka! *hugs* We’ll definitely visit again! :D

With our hosts, JJ & Richard, on their couch :)

Waiting for boarding

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Tour

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

February 20, 2011

It’s our last day in Bangkok and we were yet to visit any temples, palace etc. Our hosts don’t have to work on a Sunday so they’re sure to accompany us along with the other travelers we met in this city, our Bangkok buddies. We’re looking forward to our hosts joining us ‘coz we missed them so the day before. Aside from the fact that they know their way around the city (less hassle for us), we really just enjoy their company. :)

New adventures lie just ahead. :)

We got up early so we can cover more places. Proper attire, check! The guys told us that they don’t allow shorts and sleeveless tops for women at the Grand Palace. From experience, if you’re going to wear pants, don’t go with capri, it’s also not allowed. Better stick to the usual length. But knee length skirts were fine with them. Camera and fully charged batteries, check!  Sunblock, check! Do take care of your skin especially when you’re frequently under the sun to prevent skin cancer. ;) Wallet, check! Oh shoot! I forgot my shades back at the apartment and that day’s a sunny one! Ate Lea lent me hers since she had an extra in her bag, whew!

With locals aboard a barge

We haven’t had our breakfast yet, just some coffee. We’ll first meet up with Diana from across the Wat Arun before we eat. Coming from our flat in Klong San district, we took the bus to Din Daeng Pier (6.50THB). From here, we crossed the Chao Phraya river aboard a barge (3THB) towards Ratchawong Pier on the opposite side. We then  took the river ferry and got off at Tha Thien pier – N8 (14THB).Immediately outside the pier were food stalls were food weren’t just cheap but tasted very good as well! She found us quickly and we had our breakfast here. I got a plate of pad see ew (others spell it as phat si io) and a glass of cold Thai iced tea. My fave Thai dish combo!♥

Deliciously sated, we again crossed the river (3THB). We’re now at Wat Arun! :)

Fave meal in Bangkok :)

First stop: Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

Entrance fee – 30THB

Open from 8:30am ’til 5:30pm

Wat Arun is a Buddhist temple named after the Indian God of Dawn, Aruna. It is said that the central prang symbolizes Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. The temple’s construction was started by King Rama II (1800s) whose ashes were buried beneath the image of Buddha there.

Wat Arun's central prang topped by a seven-pronged trident called "Trident of Shiva"

In keeping with our wanting to cut on costs, we were told that since locals need not pay any entrance fee unlike foreigners (and because we look Thai) that we should just go straight in and they won’t call us out to pay for an entrance fee. I jokingly told Diana that I’ll distance myself from her when entering so they won’t mistook me for a tourist. She took it in stride good-naturedly. We tried it and true enough, we got in for free. Woot! haha ;) Ali met up with us here and Rahel will join us in a while.

Second Stop – Wat Po (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Entrance fee – 50THB

As the name implies, it’s the temple of the reclining Buddha.  It’s Bangkok’s largest and oldest temple and is known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage.♥

The reclining Buddha measures about 46meters long. Do notice the details on the Buddha’s feet. It was inlaid with mother-of-pearl to illustrate the 108 auspicious characteristics (laksanas) that distinguish a true Buddha.

Some temple etiquette: The head is considered sacred while the feet are unclean. With this in mind, upon entering buildings within a temple, shoes are removed and placed outside (they have shelves for the footwear). Pointing in general is considered impolite. Do not point to a Buddha image using your foot. Women can talk to monks but we shouldn’t touch them as to prevent from tempting them. Ask permission first before taking their picture as some don’t like having their pictures taken.

Third stop: The Grand Palace

Entrance Fee – 350THB

A short tuktuk ride (finally got to ride one!) away from the Wat Po is the Grand Palace. It really is grand! Better make it your last stop when visiting temples etc as the others would pale in comparison. ;)

Next destination: Grand Palace (via tuktuk) :D

Built in 1782, the complex consists of not only the royal residence and throne halls, but also a number of government offices as well as the renowned Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most sacred site. Aside from the fact that it’s huge, the attention given to the most minute details were very intricate and makes one think highly of Thai craftsmanship. And since it’s where the most sacred site is located, visitors should dress modestly. If they weren’t, they’d be made to wear sarong to cover themselves up.

Diana was made to wear a sarong :)

Admittedly, I wasn’t so sure if the fuss all around was worth it. The entrance was alright. When we got in, there was this huge stone statue, it was okay. But when I turned left, wow!  I was amazed! hehehe There stood huge golden chedis! Buildings ornately designed were all around. It definitely look like it took a lot of planning, skill and effort (everything) in building this complex. It really is grand!

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Tour

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

Bangkok and Shopping!

February 19, 2011

If you’re a shopaholic, weekends in Bangkok could only mean one thing, Chatuchak weekend market! Since we only had three days there, we had to prioritize. Shopping is definitely in the list of things to do in this city! :D

Our hosts, JJ & Richard were working that day. The girls (Diana, Rahel, Ate Lea and I) along with Ali agreed to meet up in the morning to check Chatuchak’s weekend market out as well as two other malls. We first had breakfast somewhere in KSR. The others ordered a yoghurt meal and it looked so tasty. I got a banana pancake and it’s the worst order I’ve made yet! They gave me a pancake with a banana on the side. Seriously??? huhuhu

Tasty breakfast! Mine was too lousy, I didn't even take a shot hehe

We headed to Chatuchak after. We had to meet Ali at the station there first. Many minutes of waiting later, he finally found our meeting place. hehe The things is, there are about 3 stops that will get you to the weekend market: MRT station’s Suan Chatuchak (Chatuchak Park), BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line’s Mo Chit Station and MRT Bangkok Metro Blue Line’ s Kamphaengphet Station. We didn’t know that so us, girls, were waiting at Kamphaengphet Station while Ali went to Chatuchak Park Station. He must have walked for 15minutes (or more) to get to us. :)

Chatuchak Park Station :)

Touted as one of the world’s biggest weekend market, it has around 15,000 stalls that sells anything (from local souvenirs to fake shirts to delicious foods to endangered animals, we didn’t check this out but we did see live animals, and everything in between) over an area of 35 acres. The market operates between 9am and 6pm. It was overwhelming to see so many stalls. Where do you start? Well, try the first thing that catches your attention then take it from there. My hosts recommended for us to try their local version of ice cream. We started with that. It was already getting hot even if it was only around 10 in the morning. It was sooo good. I wanted to buy another serving! hehe After that refreshing start, we walked around stopping now and then at stalls that catches our fancy or at foods that look and smell so good as well as at performers playing on the busy street. We have a map of the market with us but it’s just hard to follow. ;)

Pictures taken at Chatuchak’s weekend market:

Thai ice cream :)

Rahel, you're not getting any? Are you sure??? :D

So pink! hehe

I love chopsticks!

Perfect as souvenirs

Street performers, they're good ;)

Looking for a dress

We had our lunch here before heading over to other malls. There were as many eateries to choose from. My cousin and the others had noodles. They said it was plain delicious! I had phat kraphao moo (stir-fried ground pork with Thai holy basil, chillies and garlic). It was definitely the spiciest I’ve ever eaten! I’m sure that underneath all that spice, the food was good too. Maybe. My tongue was numb from the chilies and I can feel it’s spiciness all the way down to my stomach. Ack!!! Milk and soda had no effect at all! Haha

The spiciest food I've tasted! Ever!

I wasn’t able to shop for much, just enough souvenir items to give to friends and workmates back home. Then it was time to move on to the other shopping areas. ;) We wanted to ride a tuktuk to go there but the drivers wouldn’t agree to our price. They’re quoting large numbers to us that we won’t agree to also. With that, we got on and squeezed ourselves into a cab. Our cab driver informed us that he can’t drop us off in front of our destination, Platinum Mall, because the Red Shirts were holding a rally near the area. The others became concerned for our safety. While me and another were convincing them that it was safe since Thailand is earning lots from tourism, the last thing they’d want to do is to scare the visitors away (I hope). Anyways, those who were rallying seemed to be a friendly lot. They were singing songs and inviting the others to join them.

Walking towards Platinum Mall

Red Shirt supporters

Located in Pratunam, Platinum Mall is a popular wholesale market that sells clothes and accessories. It was nice being inside it after hours under the heat in Chatuchak. But the heat had already taken its toll on my companions, they weren’t in the mood to shop. :( We were there for an hour and I only got to buy 3 shirts, a pair of shoes and earmuffs. I have an entire luggage waiting to be filled and I bought so few! When my hosts saw me later that night, they were asking me as to why I only bought few when they knew that I was so eager to shop. hehe

2nd stop, Plantinum Mall

Seeing my companions drooping, I suggested that we just skip the last mall (a welcome news haha) and to just head back to Khao San. Downtown Bangkok was just too hot and chaotic that day for us. To boost our energy, we’ll have a foot massage! We got ours for 150THB for 30minutes. Not that cheap (almost the same price as the others) but I think it’s well worth it ‘coz we had a wonderful time. It was a promotional rate of one of the nicer looking spas in the area.

All smiles. :)

Having tea after a wonderful foot massage :D

Happy faces ;)

Fully charged, we walked more, mostly beside the Chao Phraya River. We came upon Santichaiprakarn Park where many people were just chilling and where Phra Sumen Fort is located. The fort was constructed to protect the people from foreign naval invasions. Now, it’s one of two remaining towers of the historic city wall. It was also here where we heard the national anthem being played when the clock struck the hour of 6 in the evening. Everyone stopped what they were doing to stand in attention to show respect for the nation.

Bangkok sunset

Ali setting up his cam...

...to have our pictures taken :)

At the park

Sketching

Showing respect by standing up

Hungry, we headed to the first place we saw that served good food. Jessie met us here. We were just hanging out well into the night then went home. We were so tired my cousin and I fell asleep in the cab. :)

Dinner time! :D

With JJ :)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

A Night in Khao San

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

A Night in Khao San

February 18, 2011

Coming back from Kanchanaburi, our original plan was to have dinner and check out the infamous backpackers’ haven, Khao San. It’s so different from when we left it that morning. The place is just bursting with activities. So very busy. Pulsing with life. :)

A popular rice market some twenty years back, Khao San literally translates to milled rice. It has since then became a hub for backpackers wherein guesthouse to travel agencies as well as restaurants and shops abound.

Sawasdee ka!

I thought it would be nice to meet up with locals and other travelers while in Bangkok so I sort of organized a dinner-meet up that night. Our hosts suggested May Kai Dee, a vegetarian restaurant located behind the only Burger King in the area. We figured, it’s easy to find and going vegan is a safe bet. hehe The thing was that we have to let them know where to meet us up by posting it on the thread. Problem was, we have no internet access. Solution? Look for wifi hotspots! :D There were tons in the area but it’s either too slow it’s almost non existent or I’d be needing a password. We found a cafe with free wifi so I was able to post the details.

Getting comfy

Six people joined us for dinner: A Filipino on a backpacking tour; an Indonesian lady with a Russian guy she traveled with; a Swiss lass who had been traveling for weeks; a Kiwi guy who had just arrived from India;  and an Iranian guy with an American accent who’s currently living in Kuala Lumpur. ;)  Overall, a laid back bunch of very nice people. :)

*Many pictures hereon are courtesy of Ali. Thanks!

Hmmm... What are we gonna eat? :)

Pinoys, Richard & Dominic

Cousins. Travel buds. ♥

Bangkok buddies! :)

We were there for more than a couple of hours but it was still too early to call it a night. That was why it was time we went out into the streets. Rahel wasn’t feeling well so she went back to her hostel to get some rest.  Others were wanting beers but it was a Buddhist holiday so shops weren’t selling alcohol. Out in the open that is. They’re still willing to sell though it’d be in a bucket.  We found a nice spot to hang out. But I was still a little bit hungry so Dominic accompanied me while I happily munched on “normal” Thai foods. We got some for the others too. ;)

Spring rolls

Preparing my order

Delicious banana pancake! 20THB

Just like how we make visitors in the Philippines eat balut, our hosts thought making us eat fried bugs would complete our Thailand experience. Ugh! hehehe The thought of eating insects was a (little bit…. okay, maybe not that little) upsetting but you don’t really get to taste it because it had been deep fried so you’re just chewing on something crispy yet juicy. Eew! haha Others took it in stride but the fun was in watching others squirm while sampling a local delicacy. ;)

Bugs!

There was a signage that said you should pay 10THB for taking pictures. No one did.

First bite! :D

It's fun looking at everyone's reaction :D

More? Bring it on!

It's a grasshopper! ;)

Ali, our photographer, turned white at the idea of eating an insect. ;)

Drinking beer to wash away the bug taste. ;)

Related Posts:

Arrival in Bangkok

Kanchanaburi Day Trip

Bangkok and Shopping

Bangkok City Tour (part 1)

Bangkok City Tour (part 2)

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)

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