Chickee Duck's Musing


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Indonesia – Bali – 18th ~ 20th March 2015

I am honoured to be invited to Bali by my friends, Phili and 5cups. It has been quite a while since we last met and they invited me over because they are leaving Bali soon after 5 years.

It was a last minute trip so the airfare is pretty high in my opinion. I flew Jetstar to Bali and Air Asia Indonesia out.

However 7 hours before my flight, Jetstar rescheduled my flight twice within 3 hours and finally cancelled it. So I am stuck and I called Jetstar to rebook me into the remaining flight to Bali. I am glad that I called early and the flight to Bali is almost full.

18th March 

I took a taxi to the airport.

Upon reaching the check-in counter, it is a scene of chaos. Passengers are lost about where to check-in. There are at least 6 flights from Jetstar that is almost departing at the same time. The Jetstar staff are rude too to passengers. I always view Jetstar as one of the best budget airline here but today’s incident proof otherwise.

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I am fortunate that I do not have any bags to check-in. So I do a self-check-in and quickly get my boarding pass.

The flight leaves on time and it reaches Bali without any incident.

My last visit to Bali is 2007. I remembered the airport then is an old building that is like situated just by the roadside. The old airport is also messy and it looks like a building during the Vietnam War era.

When I first step into the airport, I was like “Wow!”.

The floor is carpeted, the ceilings are high and everything is new.

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I remembered the Indonesian Government has built a new airport in Bali for some diplomatic event but I never expect it to be this nice.

It is about a 7 mins slow walk to the immigration counter. The immigration area is really wide and spacious.

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Immigration clearance is fast and I am out of the terminal in 20 mins.

Now this is the strange part.

The airport will require you to walk pass the duty free shop before you can exit the terminal.

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There is also no clear signage to direct visitors on where is the exit. I am actually lost and have to ask for directions.

Before you enter the duty free shop, there is a SIM card booth by Telekom Indonesia on your right. The cost of getting a SIM card is IDR200,000 for voice only. IDR250,000 for 3GB of data and IDR350,000 for 8GB of data.

To me this is very expensive. I was told later that getting outside the airport will be much cheaper even in touristy places like Kuta. Places in Ubud will be even cheaper.

Once you exit the duty free shop, there will be many drivers (or “touts”) that will offer you their service. They are not aggressive but friendly. If you do not need their service, just a simple “no” will do.

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Phili and 5cups came and we quickly left the airport and we head to Beachwalk in Kuta.

We have lunch Nanny’s Pavilion. We ordered some chickens, pastas and some bake rice. It is delicious and the price is reasonable.

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In 2007, I remembered the beach is pretty nice place to take a stroll. The beach is wide and clean.

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It is dirty and unsightly. I can’t imagine the beach has decayed to this state. It is sad. I wonder why the local government is not doing anything to improve it.

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I went back to Beachwalk for some window shopping.

Beachwalk is a non-air-conditioned mall however the place is still very cooling. It is a typical mall which you have all the major labels there.

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After some time, we left and proceed to our next destination; Uluwatu.

One thing I noticed about Bali is sights is that they are usually far from each other.  It usually will take at least an hour drive from one place to another.

The entrance to Uluwatu is IDR20,000 for each adult. In all temples in Bali, you will need to be appropriately dress. So the counter will provide you with a sarong to wrap yourself up if you are exposing too much.

Uluwatu usually has many monkeys but today, there are very few. This may be due to the hot and humid weather. The temple is located by the cliff and you can have a good view of the ocean.

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If you are game enough, you can walk all the way up to the cliff. However do be careful. If you fall down the cliff, I guess your survival rate is as close as zero.

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After enjoying a cool coconut juice, we go to our next destination, Dreamland Beach.

On our way there, we witness a procession. I have forgotten the name. As it is approaching Nyepi which means Day of Silence, Balinese from all walks of life come to celebrate it.

According to Wiki,

Nyepi is a Balinese “Day of Silence” that is commemorated every Isakawarsa (Saka new year) according to the Balinese calendar (in 2015, it falls on March 21). It is a Hindu celebration mainly celebrated in Bali, Indonesia. Nyepi, a public holiday in Indonesia, is a day of silence, fasting and meditation for the Balinese. The day following Nyepi is also celebrated as New Year’s Day.[1][2] On this day, the youth of Bali practice the ceremony of Omed-omedan or ‘The Kissing Ritual’ to celebrate the new year. The same day celebrated in India as ugadi.

Observed from 6 a.m. until 6 a.m. the next morning, Nyepi is a day reserved for self-reflection, and as such, anything that might interfere with that purpose is restricted. The main restrictions are no lighting fires (and lights must be kept low); no working; no entertainment or pleasure; no traveling; and, for some, no talking or eating at all. The effect of these prohibitions is that Bali’s usually bustling streets and roads are empty, there is little or no noise from TVs and radios, and few signs of activity are seen even inside homes. The only people to be seen outdoors are the Pecalang, traditional security men who patrol the streets to ensure the prohibitions are being followed.

Although Nyepi is primarily a Hindu holiday, non-Hindu residents of Bali observe the day of silence as well, out of respect for their fellow citizens[citation needed]. Even tourists are not exempt; although free to do as they wish inside their hotels, no one is allowed onto the beaches or streets, and the only airport in Bali remains closed for the entire day. The only exceptions granted are for emergency vehicles carrying those with life-threatening conditions and women about to give birth.

On the day after Nyepi, known as Ngembak Geni, social activity picks up again quickly, as families and friends gather to ask forgiveness from one another, and to perform certain religious rituals together.

Balinese carry their offerings and also the things needed for the ritual or celebration and march their way to the temple. I am quite impressed that they can walk such journey in such hot and humid day.

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After the procession passed us, we proceed to Dreamland Beach.

To access to Dreamland beach, we have to park our car in a parking lot and take a complimentary shuttle to the entrance of the beach.

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After walking pass the row of shops, we finally reach the beach.

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The beach is not impressive but it is much better than Kuta. At the least there isn’t too much trash. The beach is not wide but deep enough. Beach umbrella and sun deck is readily available.

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After staying for 10 mins, we left the beach using the same complimentary shuttle. The ride is about 3 mins only.

We decided to go to another beach; Pandawa beach.

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It is like another 30 min drive before we reach.

Pandawa beach also do not impress me but it is long and wide which is good. However there are just too many beach umbrellas and sun decks. It make the whole beach look very cramp and crowded.

The sun decks are put shoulder to shoulder and there is no way that the people walking behind the sun deck to have access to the beach easily.

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After taking a few snaps, we left.

Phili and 5cups put me up in a place called Villa Vinayaga in Ubud. It is a different from the website. It is not as classy as shown in the website and I suspect they are both different villas!

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The villa looks alright. The kitchen is in the open. I mean there is no lock for it but all the rooms can be lock.

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There is a guard during night time and there is a rice field just in front of the villa.

There are 3 other villas around it and only one has a pool.

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The room is spacious but there are ants and insects in the room. I wonder is this normal for a villa. The shower place is in the open where you literally shower (or do your business) under the stars.

The sunset looks pretty nice too!

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Phili and 5cups brought me to Warung Bintang for dinner. I was recommended to try the pork ribs. I also ordered satay.

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The pork ribs is indeed good but as for the satay, the peanut sauce is a little bland. I am expecting the sauce to be spicy but overall, it is still nice. I would say the satay meat is well grilled.

There is also a live band singing.

The staff are friendly and they try to communicate with you using their limited English.

After dinner, we head our way to a supermarket. I just bought some local stuff and went back to get some sleep.

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19th March

A beautiful morning.

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I thought it would rain as it is the raining season.

I saw farmers tending to their rice fields and I decided to walk up the road to see what is around.

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There are many rice fields but I heard due to development of more properties, the number of rice fields available is dwindling. This is sad.

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There are also some villas along the way. I noticed about something Bali transportation. In Bali, you either hire a driver and a car, a taxi is available in your area or you rent a motorcycle to go around.

The walk up the road is very refreshing; rice fields, farmers and the cool weather.

After 15 mins of walk, I return to the villa.

5cups have work to do and Phili has her fitness regime.

So Phili rode her scooter and drop me off at Monkey forest.

There are several entrances to Monkey forest actually. I paid IDR30,000 for the entrance fee.

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As the name implies, it is a forest with lots of monkeys.

The monkeys roam freely in the forest and you can buy bananas to feed them.

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Some visitors tempt the monkeys and allow them to crawl up to their body (like up to the shoulder) to take the food.

I personally find this dangerous as the monkeys are not vaccinated. So if you got scratch by the monkeys, you have a very real chance of getting disease like rabies.

Some monkeys can get aggressive so do not be too close to them or provoke them.

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You can often see monkeys fighting and chasing each other which is pretty amusing.

There is a temple in the compound but it is off limits to visitors.

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I find the Monkey forest is worth visiting and I can easily spend a few hours there. It is a good place to escape the heat too.

Soon it is time to leave and meet up with Phili.

Phili brought me to a place called Bisma.

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We have lunch at a place called Umah Pizza.

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We ordered two Nasi Georeng, 2 fruit juice, a bottle of water and banana caramel.

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I would say the food is delicious and priced reasonably. The spiciness of the Nasi Georeng is just nice. It is simply yummy.

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After lunch, we took a stroll along the road. The street is filled with restaurants and hotels. I felt this street is a little hippie; very cozy and intimate.

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5cups comes to join us and we visited Goa Garjah.

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Go Garjah is an elephant temple and it received very few visitors.

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At the top of the hill, a priest offer to bless us and after the blessing, he lift up the mat that is laid on the altar and showed some cash. He wants us to give him money for the blessing but we just ignore him and walk away.

We wanted to watch sunset so we went to Indus Restaurant. We ordered some beverage and have a chat.

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Indonesia - Bali - 18th ~ 20th March 2015 324However after some time, we still did not see the sunset. Then we ask the waitress and she told us we are at the wrong direction! Bugger!

By then it is just too late. So we went to Toro Sushi for dinner.

This place seems to be popular and though their menu is quite limited but the food is decent. I heard that the main chef is has worked Florida.

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After dinner, we went back to rest.

20th March

My last day in Bali. How time flies.

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5cups is kind enough to drive me up to Kintamani to see Mount Batur.

We leave our place at 0620hrs and since it is still early, there is very little traffic. The weather is cool and we just wind down our window to enjoy the breeze.

After passing by rice fields after rice fields, we reach Tegallalang Rice Terrace. It is not the biggest rice terrace in Bali but it will give you an idea how it looks like.

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After an hour and a half, we finally reach the crater rim of Mount Batur.

The sight is awesome.

This is truly a highlight of this trip.

We went to several viewpoints but unfortunately my camera sensor is tainted so the pictures appear to have many dirt on it. What a let down.

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After staying for about 30 mins, we make our way back to Ubud.

Along the way, we saw several Ogoh-ogoh where the Balinese use it as part of the procession. You can see that they are pretty good at it. They can paint the sculpture very life like and the design they have is astonishing.

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After taking a break, Phili and 5cups brought me to see a villa in another side of Ubud.

It is a very lovely villa.

It has two rooms and a pool. There is even a cabana. Again, you shower under the stars.

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We then travel to Sanur to have lunch and it is nearer to the airport.

We have lunch at Luthu’s Coffee Shop. I again ordered Nasi Georeng but it is not as good as the one I have in Umah Pizza.

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The restaurant is just by the beach but strange is that it has dogs in it and sometimes the dogs fight!

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Overall the food is still good and value for money.

Phili and 5cups brought me to view a guest house. They recommended this guest house if I will to bring my family to Bali.

There are about 9 rooms in this guest house and the rooms I have visited is very nicely decorated. It has a common kitchen where you can cook your meals if you want to.

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I was told that breakfast is provided.

The whole place looks very intimate and cozy. As it is Nyepi, the guest house is closed but I am fortunate and honoured to be able to visit it.

It is a place worth considering.

After the visit, we called for a cab to bring me to the airport. It is a blue bird taxi and I am surprised that the driver agree to go by the meter.

There isn’t any traffic jam so I reach the airport within 30 mins and the fare comes up to IDR94,000.

Again I am impressed by the airport and the departure hall is very spacious and offer good variety of food.

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One strange thing is that there are no trolleys at the alighting point but they are inside the departure hall!

Check-in is fast with Air Asia Indonesia and the boarding gate is very spacious too. It feel relaxing and not confined.

After Thoughts

Bali is a nice place to visit. However I must say that beaches that I saw are not impressive and I have not visited many places in Bali. I was told that there is one beach that is very nice but you will need to pay an entrance fee to get in.

In terms of nature, Bali has a lot to offer. You can trek, view mountains or volcanoes or go river rafting.

However you must prepare to shell a lot of money if you will to take part in any of the activities. I personally do not understand why it cost so much. It is just like milking every single tourist dollar they can find.

Almost every part of Bali seems to have tourist or at the least the place I have been to.

Therefore you will never feel alone in Bali but whether does it suit you will depends on your preference.

I will not come to Bali for the beaches but for nature and relaxation. I will just book a room in a resort, do some day trips and spend my time in the resort to chill out.

So maybe next time, Bali!


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Thailand – Bangkok – 11th ~ 14th March 2015

This is Part 1 of my original botched trip.

My original destination is not Bangkok (BKK) at all but well, there goes a saying “shit happens”.

Again, this is a shopping trip. This means that I have a shopping list that I need to accomplished in order to score some brownies points.

It is also a last minute trip so I bought a Thai Airways ticket at SGD$257 and zoom to BKK. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 001 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 004 I will not write like in the past in chronological order as BKK has been visited many times by me.

So I will write based on some notable places where have I been to.

Airport Rail Link (ARL)

Despite visiting BKK so many times, I have not use this mode of transport.

The reason is I usually travel with friends or family to BKK.

Once you reach Suvarnabhumi Airport, go all the way down to the basement.

Just look for the sign to direct you there. It is real easy to find.

The entrance of the train station in the airport is very wide and look up for the signs. You can’t miss it. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 005 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 007 You will need to purchase a ticket.

At the time of my arrival in BKK, the Express Line is not operational and only the City Line is running. I heard that they have some spare parts issue on the Express Line.

The fare to Makassan is THB35. Just queue up at the vending machine so remember to have some Thai Baht with you by then. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 008 There is also a staff that will help some “lost sheep” to navigate the vending machine.

You will get a yellow token to use to enter the station. The ARL is actually quite heavily utilised. It is good that the government is willing to build this rail line to ease the public transport congestion in the airport. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 010 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 011 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 013 The ride is smooth and I think I only took 20mins to reach Makassan station. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 016 Once you reach Makassan station, many passengers will walk to Petchaburi MRT station. When the ARL is just built, passengers will need to drag their luggage across the road to reach the MRT station. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 017 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 019 With the linkway bridge built, this got a little easier and safer. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 020 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 023 I then took the MRT to Asok station and walk to my hotel in Sukhumvit Soi 9.

ARL will be good if your hotel is near to MRT/BTS station, you do not have many luggage and you have 3 person or more.

A taxi ride from the airport to BKK central usually cost about THB400 or less and it is a door to door service but you will need to walk with your luggage using the ARL.

City Lodge Soi 9

This is my second time staying here.

I like and hate this place location.

I like it because it is just below Nana BTS.

I hate it when the market comes alive in the night as the human traffic will grow significantly.

I was assigned the room 691. It is a corner room and usually you have to pay more for it. It is also nearest to the lift.

However I guess they run out of room and I paid for a standard room but I got a corner room instead.

Check-in is fast and I hope the staff will smile a little more.

Once I enter the room, it feels like a sauna. Though the air-conditioning is working but it still feels hotel.

Water pressure is good and room is spacious.

I feedback to the staff and they will get the maintenance team to have a look.

When I return about 2 hours later, they did fix it but leave a unprofessional sight for me. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 029 Thankfully the chambermaid fix it back the next day.

Basic toiletries like shampoo, soap and bath gel are provided but I in the end bought my own because the shampoo the hotel provided just could not make it. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 024 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 025 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 026 On my second night, the aircon starts to perform badly again.

I told the staff at the front desk and they say “your aircon again sir?”. They make it sounds like it is my fault.

Also on the second night, there is a very strong sewer smell in the toilet. It comes in from the ventilator fan. I thought the van is suppose to draw out the smell from the toilet but instead it is bringing the sewer smell in!

My room is almost on the same level as the BTS platform. I do hear the train rumbling sound but that did not really bother me. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 027 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 028 The staff also did not took the initiative to give me the WiFi password. Since I have a 1.5GB data plan, I guess it will be sufficient for me to last me for 4 days.

Like I said previously, I like the hotel’s location but I prefer Inn Saladaeng environment and Inn Saladaeng prices are creeping up.

I have mentioned this before. The entrance of the hotel is on a side Soi. So taxis usually do not have access right to the door step of the hotel. You will need to walk maybe 5 steps to get a taxi.

Usually this is not a big issue but it will be if you have lots of luggage and if it is raining.

There will be one or two very “entrepreneur” taxi drivers that park just outside the road. In usual circumstances, I will not use them as they charge a flat rate. However when going back to the airport, I just use their service to save the hassle as I have a considerable amount of luggage. The driver offered THB500 but I haggle down to THB400. This is the usual price I am willing to pay for a fixed rate to the airport.

Overall I am satisfied with the hotel but just some imperfections.

I would also like to thank the staff that help me order food from a street vendor just outside the hotel at my last night. The food is delicious. I did not manage to get her name though.

Huai Khwang Market

I have never heard of this market until a few days before I leave for BKK.

Huai Khwang is usually associated with massages but it does have its residential part.

To get to this market, take the MRT to Huai Khwang MRT Station. Exit from Exit 3 and once you are outside the station, make a 180 degrees turn and walk to the nearest road intersection. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 030 At the intersection, turn left and start walking. It is already the start of the night market. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 032 In the first part of the market, stalls sell general merchandise and there are several road side food stalls. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 037 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 038 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 039 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 040 The most famous food stall along the stretch should be Noi Seafood. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 041 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 042 Huai Khwang night market is a food heaven. There are so many food stalls selling all kinds of food. From the food we have here in the 80s until it was ban and to pizza! It is a pity that most stall owners do not know to speak English as I would really try to the food. However you still can order them by pointing! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 043 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 045 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 046 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 047 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 050 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 063 Walking further down will bring you to their wet market where they sell their fresh produce. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 051 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 052 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 053 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 054 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 055 From seafood, poultry, fruits, vegetables and internal organs of an animal. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 056 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 058 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 059 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 057 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 060 It reminds me of my country in the 80s. Walking further down will bring you to some general merchandise again. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 062 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 064 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 065 I really can’t see the end of the market.

After 30 mins, I turn back and walk my way back to the MRT station.

The market is worth visiting if you are interested in a local market. There are not many tourist and during my initial stay there, it seems like I am the only foreigner.

However as I leave the market, I can see other tourist coming. Also as this is a local market, do not expect English sign to be posted everywhere.

Yaowarat

I would say this is my favourite market in Bangkok. It is just so interesting.

Every year I come, there will be new things from the vendors.

To get to Yaowarat, you have two ways.

One is to go by the Chao Phraya river. Go to Saphan Taksin BTS and walk down towards the river. You will see a pier and you just wait for the boat there. There are several type of boats. They are catagorize with the flag on the boat. If you want a local boat, take any boat except the blue flag boat. The rest of the boat will stop at selected piers only with the exception of the “No Flag” boat. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 076 Travelling using this method will let you have a chance to enjoy the river ride. Alight at Pier No. 5 Rajchawongse. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 068 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 072 Just walk straight and you will find the market. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 077 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 078 Another way to reach the market is using the MRT.

Take the train to Hua Lomphong MRT. After exiting the station (ask which exit to use), you will need to walk about 10 to 15 mins to reach the market.

In this market, you can find almost anything form shoes, toys, clothes, kitchenware, stationery etc. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 080 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 084 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 085 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 087 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 088 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 089 Yaowarat is actually a wholesale market so you may need to buy multiple of the same item to get a discount. The quantity can be minimally two, three or more depending on the product.

It is actually a good place to have breakfast too! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 090 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 092 Ekkamai Gateway

This shopping mall is connected to Ekkamai BTS station.

It is geared towards the Japanese market. At the first level, there are many Japanese restaurants. You will be spoil for choice. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 095 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 099 There is even a maid café! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 098 The basement is also have a good selection of restaurants. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 101 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 104Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 102Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 103 However on the upper floors, the place look deserted. There is a food court and most shop lots are vacant. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 109 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 110 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 113 The big banner says they are renovating but I really doubt so. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 106 However if you want to have Japanese food, this is a good place to go.

Central World

There used to have 2 beer gardens just outside the building.

To me those are noise pollution where two live bands are singing at the top of their lungs.

Now that they are gone, peace has returned. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 116 By the side of the building, there is a small bazaar.

They sell general merchandise and also some very nice vehicles as the store front. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 117 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 121 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 122 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 125 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 127 River Canal Boat

Again, this is my first time.

I walk along Sukhumvit Soi 3 all the up to the river.

Please do not attempt to cross this road. It is suicidal to me. There is a pedestrian crossing in the middle of this road. However do not expect you have the right of way even the green man light is on. When the green man light is on, motorist will still try to push their luck to continue their travel. So cross with care.Once there are no more pedestrians, the motorist will just ignore the green man and continue!

You will need to find you way down to the pier. A single pier serves both directions. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 138To take the boat, you will need to be preferably agile.

The boat will stop at the pier for just a short while. During this “short while”, people in the boat will be disembarking and people at the outside boarding the board.

All will be over in 5 seconds! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 143 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 145 Passengers who are near the pulley for the curtain to pull the curtain up once the water from the river start to splash into the boat.

The ride from Nana Nua to Bobae is only THB13 and I reach my destination in 10 mins. This is a record for me!

Do note that regardless of which direction you are travelling, there is a mandatory boat transfer in Pratunam Pier. This means that you have to disembark from the boat and board another boat. Look out where other passengers are going and you should be good.

A good but unofficial website to use is the Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat website.

Bobae Tower

This is actually the wholesale place for mainly clothes.

Many people will know Pratunam but not many people know about this place.

You will need to purchase in multiple quantities to get a discount.

For example for t-shirts, you may need to buy at least 6 of the same design but can be of different colour. I bought 6 t-shirts at THB75 each and four shorts at THB120 each.

So do not have the conception of you will need to buy in 100s. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 150 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 154 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 156 There are shops willing to do retail sales though they do have their wholesale business. The only difference is that you have to pay more for the item. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 157 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 158 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 161 There is a decent food court at the top floor which serve nice food. You should try them when you are there. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 151 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 152 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 153 It is advisable to go there early and two tips; one is to bring your own toilet paper and the other is to bring heat rub for your leg’s muscles.

Talad Rod Fai

Talad Rod Fai is actually a market for vintage stuff but there is also a section selling modern goods.

I took the BTS to On Nut and then a taxi to the market. Unfortunately the taxi driver made a wrong turn and drive the opposite direction. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 167 He smile apologetically and I still tip him THB30 despite that. The reason is that he is just a very friendly driver.

It is advisable to actually alight at Udom Suk BTS and take a cab from there.

At Udom Suk BTS, exit from Exit 3 and hail a cab from there as it is along the way.

When you see Seacon Square, tell the driver to drop you off opposite the Mall and walk the overhead bridge. It will save you precious time. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 170 Once you at the side of the Mall, do not enter the mall. Instead walk towards Ha Ha Mall (what a name!). Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 172 When you see the bow of a ship, you have reach the entrance of the market. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 175 Turn left into the market. You will be greeted by a long corridor. Walk down the corridor towards the center of the market. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 176 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 180 As mentioned, it is market for vintage and it has the retro look and I love retro! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 182 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 187 There are many restaurants and shops along the corridor. There is even a shop that sells replicas of guns! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 194 This market is also a food heaven. It sells all kinds of food including mutabak and insects! Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 205 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 209 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 213 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 221 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 222 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 257 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 288 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 289 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 291 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 293 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 301 As I am still early, the number of visitors is till low. I can roam around freely. I enjoyed all the retro stuff they have on display. It brings me back to my childhood. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 199 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 211 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 226 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 229 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 230 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 232 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 237 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 239 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 248 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 250 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 255 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 262 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 264 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 270 However around 1915hrs, the crowds suddenly start to swell and there is a significant number of foreign tourist.

I quickly make my exit and took a taxi to Udom Suk BTS.

Food

Thai food so far have not fail me. I just love Thai food.

The best Thai food I have is usually from the roadside stalls.

For this trip, the best food I have is just outside Central World. The basil leaves with pork is heavenly. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 136 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 137 The breakfast I have along the street is cheap and tasty. Imagine THB20 for 10 small pieces of “Chin Tui”. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 307 When night falls, there is a food stall that is just outside City Lodge Soi 9. I got the hotel to order some food for me. I just said “Anything”. When I try my food, it was delicious though I do not know the name. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 306 The food in the food court did not disappoint me either. I need to mention this food outlet along Sukhumvit. It is Yong Lee Restaurant. Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 162 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 163 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 164 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 165 Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 166 For a small late of fried noodle, they charge THB140! Even for my country’s standard, it is considered expensive considering the quantity.

Maybe they are in Sukumvit so they have to charge Sukhumvir price. I will just go to Tops supermarket food court in the future.

After Thoughts

A nice trip though some company will be nice (sorry, no instant spouse or ladyboys).

The traffic in Bangkok is still as bad and despite all the bad press and events that are happening in Bangkok, tourist still continue to flock to the Kingdom.

I will be back for sure.

Oh, I came to Bangkok with one bag. Seriously, only one bag.

Guess what I return with? Bangkok - 11th ~ 14th March 2015 - 310


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大失所望

现在这个时候,要是我的计划实现的话,有应该已经在尼泊尔了。

计划了一年。但很不幸因为尼泊尔机场关闭,计划终于泡汤了。

但也没办法。土耳其航空在三月四日在尼泊尔机场降陆时因浓雾滑出跑道。

825992

幸好无人伤亡。也算是一件好事。

我也很同情我的导游。因为这件事儿失去我的生意。

也没办法。也只能等下一次了。但不知道下一次是几时了。


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Thailand – Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok – 17th Dec ~ 23rd Dec 2014

This is a wonderful trip though very tiring. Despite visited Thailand for more than 7 years, this is the first time I venture out of Bangkok. It open me up to the life in the province of Thailand though not of those rural type.

Day 1

The flight to Bangkok on an AirAsia flight leaves on time and even arrives on time. Baggage system in Don Muang is also pretty fast.

We exit the terminal in 30 mins.

We have booked a transfer from Oriental Escape using family van to Hua Hin.

Upon exiting the immigration, we are greeted by the staff of Oriental Escape. However our friends who took an earlier flight is not in sight and we spend about 30 mins looking for them. The staff of Oriental Escape is very patient and even offered to talk to the Information Counter to page for our friends.

For a moment, we even thought that the plane has disappeared like MH370 or they are intercepted by another transfer company. We even check online did the plane land at the airport.

After 30 mins, we manage to locate our friends and we immediately set off for Hua Hin.

The van can fit in the 12 of us nicely with some space for luggage.

As we need to pass by Bangkok, we are caught in a very bad traffic jam. Bangkok traffic jam is really getting worse. We are stuck about an hour but once we get out of Bangkok, traffic is smooth.

We made a short stop at Petchaburi for toilet break.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 008 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 012 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 009 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 010We reach Hua Hin 3 hours later.

We have book Hua Hin Smile Hotel which is considered outside the city.

Hua Hin Smile hotel is not big. I really like the hotel because it is decorated with a lot of vintage stuff.

The room is big and spacious and even have a small balcony. The bed is huge and comfortable. Water pressure is good in the bathroom. There is even a safe in the room.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 013 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 015 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 017Check-in is fast and breakfast is provided. You will need to get the breakfast coupon from them daily.

There is a pool but as Hua Hin is a cool area, the water is always cold. So you hardly see anyone swimming in the pool.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 025 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 026 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 027 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 032 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 033 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 034 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 036 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 041 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 045WiFi is good if you are staying near the Access Point. If you are too far then the signal become spotty.

This hotel is not that near to the hotel center. So you will need to have a transport to bring you to the city.

By the time we settle down, it is almost 1700hrs.

There is a laundry shop just outside the hotel and the charges are by per piece.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 452We asked the hotel staff for recommendation on a good local seafood restaurant. They recommended a seafood restaurant by the beach called Sang Thai.

We get the hotel to book a Song Thaew for us at THB150. It can accommodate the 12 of us nicely. The restaurant is about 15 mins ride and it is located by the beach.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 066 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 067 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 068 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 073Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 077We ordered fish, tom yum, mussels, squid etc. In my opinion, the food is average. Even the Tom Yum taste weird and I guess they put in too much lemongrass.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 078 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 079After the meal, we slowly walk our way to Hua Hin Night Market.

Just like any other night market in Bangkok, it sell both knock off, bags, art and crafts and food.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 085 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 089 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 090 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 092 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 095Maybe it is after a long journey, I really do not have the mood to walk.

After just walking one round, we decide to take a rest at Swensen and ordered some ice cream.

The Swensen ice cream in Thailand is at least 20% cheaper than what we have here.

After we have our fill, we took a tuk tuk that will bring us back for THB150. We need two tuk tuk of course.

I found that in Hua Hin, there is no taxi service like Bangkok. I also noticed that there are Taxi stand along the road where there may be Song Thaew or tuk tuk that park by the side. I doubt that these are official taxi stand but it has become a part of Hua Hin landscape.

Day 2

Woke up for breakfast and it is a simple affair.

The breakfast area is just located beside the swimming pool and again the dining hall is filled up small figurine. Breakfast is simple like eggs, glass noodle etc. What I like is that the dining area is open air without any aircon.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 425Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 040 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 047We have booked a Song Thaew for THB1700 to bring us to several places in Hua Hin. The places include Hua Hin beach, Hua Hin Railway, Vine yard and Khao Takiab (Monkey Hill).

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 136 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 139We start off with Hua Hin beach. The beach is like a 7 mins ride from the hotel. It is located deep inside a Soi that may need a 10 mins walk.

There is no entrance fee to the beach and there are shops along the road leading to the beach.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 142 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 145 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 146I think the most popular activity on the beach is horse riding. The ride cost THB300 for a single person and THB500 for 2 person on the same horse.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 147 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 229I thought it will be a 20 min ride but in actual fact, the ride took less than 10 mins! It is pretty expensive but according to my friends, it is still considered cheap compared to the places they have been to. It is mainly an experience for the kids.

According to reviews, the beach is average but to me, I find it decent enough. However the waves are strong and I doubt anyone without a strong body will be in a right mind to swim in the water.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 171 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 166 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 163We stayed there for about 20 mins and we leave for our next destination. By the way, there are toilets at the mouth of the road leading to the beach. You can use it for THB5.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 237The next stop will be the Railway Station. It is about a 5 min ride from the beach.

Hua Hin Train Station is said to be the most beautiful train station in Thailand.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 253Though I would say it is the most spectacular I have seen but in terms of its heritage and cultural presentation of a station, I would say the train station has done well.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 254Even the lamp post around the train station has a mythical animal on it.

Almost the whole station is made of wood and brightly painted.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 256 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 257 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 258 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 280 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 283 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 284 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 295We stayed for about 30 mins and leave for our next destination; vineyard.

The vineyard is located at the West of Hua Hin. I think it took us an hour to reach the vineyard. Along the way, the road is quite dusty at times but thankfully the weather is cool.

As we approach the vineyard, we noticed there is a slight drop in temperature.

The vineyard has a restaurant but it is quite expensive. They even sell ice cream and of course wine.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 317 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 326 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 327The restaurant overlook the whole vineyard. There are even elephant ride in the vineyard and I thought the picture of an elephant ride in the brochure is photoshop!

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 311 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 318You can actually walk around the vineyard but the owner has a built a small vineyard just below the restaurant and you can actually can walk in it.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 322 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 324We stayed there for 30 mins and we are hesitating going to Khao Takiab. We are wondering we need an hour to reach the vineyard from Hua Hin and another hour back and another hour to Khao Takiab from Hua Hin. Furthermore we still do not have lunch and the kids are hungry.

We decide to abandon Khao Takiab and just head back to Hua Hin and have lunch. The return to Hua Hin is very fast; maybe only 30 mins compared to 1 hour going to the vineyard.

We request the driver to bring us somewhere to have Thai food. He actually brought us to a restaurant that is very near to our hotel. The restaurant is called Ruawsebyokkhok. I wonder is there even such a Thai word!

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 328 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 329 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 330 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 331We ordered the usual stuff like Tom Yum; vegetables, mussels etc. This is a great improvement from the food we have last night.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 337 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 346 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 347 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 348 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 349After a sumptuous lunch, we decide to head back to the hotel and rest.

At about 1800hrs, feeling fresh and better, we decide to head to Grand Hua Hin market initialy. However we discover that the market is a small one and decide to head back to Hua Hin Market instead.

We again hired a Song Thaew from the hotel at THB150. However the driver brought us to Grand Hua Hin market. He called back to the hotel and confirm it should be Hua Hin market instead.

Though we are early this time, the market is already crowded with people.

We took a better look at the various stuff the stall sell.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 377 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 378 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 380 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 381 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 382 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 385We bought fried chickens, bags, t-shirts and some souvenirs.

We headed to one of the road side stall to have our dinner. We ordered the usual stuff and it cost us no more than THB1700 for 12 people! We can never get this price here in my country.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 386 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 387 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 388 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 389After that we decide to continue to explore the market and also into Chatsila market.

The moment you enter Chatsila market, you seems to be in another world. It is a 180 degrees different from the main market.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 393 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 395 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 396 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 398 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 400 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 402 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 403 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 407 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 409 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 410It sells non-food items more and it has a more artistic feel. I actually like this market.

After enough of shopping, we decide to call it a day.

We again took a tuk tuk for THB150 back to the hotel.

Day 3

Our final day in Hua Hin.

We went to visit Hua Hin Market Village which is just 10 mins walk from our hotel.

Though Thailand is a Buddhist majority country but it seems that the celebrating of Christmas is seeping into deeper and deeper into the Thai culture.

You can see many malls putting up Christmas decorations and Hua Hin Village Mall is no exception.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 508 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 509 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 510 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 511 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 514The mall is pretty big and most of the shops are still close when we are there. However the supermarket Tesco Lotus is open since 0900hrs.

Starbucks, Buger King and Mcdonalds which is located outside the main building are also open.

We just spend some time in the supermarket and have a quick lunch in Mcdonalds. We went back to our hotel by 1145hrs and prepare for the transport from Oriental Escape at 1215hrs.

The ride back to Bangkok is smooth except for the traffic jam we encounter in Thanon Ratchadaphisek.

We finally reach Bangkok after 2.5 hours ride and we check in into our hotel; Somerset Lake Point.

Somerset Lake Point has went through a massive overhaul.

They have totally redecorated and redesign the reception area. The reception area is smaller but brighter.

There is even a café at the ground floor and now they have a full fledged convenience store Lawson.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 776

The gym seems to have new equipment too.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 924

The breakfast area has been moved to Tower B.

Check-in is slow on that day because of the number of people trying to check-in at the same time.

Furthermore there are walk-in guest that the staff needs to attend to.

We are assign a room in Tower A.

I remembered Tower A is where the more expensive rooms are located.

The room has also been renovated though some of the electrical appliances have been reused.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 751 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 754 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 758 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 759The furniture are mostly new and for sure the flooring is new. Now they use those easy to install laminated floor.

The layout of the kitchen has also changed but I felt that there are lacking in some utensils like table cloth and also the number of bowls available.

However the room is pretty sufficient and the feel is good.

When we check-in into the hotel, the staff gave us a note to warn us about snatch thief. Not a very assuring sign but fortunately we did not meet with any incident during out stay.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 928Somerset Lake Point has also reduce their tuk tuk service.

In the past, they will bring us to several places like Emporium, Big C in Klong Toei etc. However now they will only ply between the hotel and Asoke BTS.

I did see them bringing guest to somewhere else other than Asoke. Maybe there is something that we do not know?

(UPDATE: Somerset Lake Point has reverted to my queries that TukTuk also go to Emporium every hour during 10.00 am to 8.00 pm.)

Even my friend who travelled to Bangkok also felt that this is one of the best or the best hotel room he has ever stayed for his leisure travel in Bangkok.

Today we need to go back to V. Siam Optical shop in Sukhumvit Soi 23 to make our glasses.

We have been returning to this shop for the past few years to make our glasses. This time we even brought a friend along.

According to my friend, the 1000 degree glasses with frame that he would pay about SGD500+ at home now cost SGD300+.

Another reason we go back is the service. There may not be a significant savings for me but I find the service here is more personal and friendly.

After we get our glasses done, we went to Yoshinoya in Terminal 21 for our dinner.

After days of Thai food, we need to rest out throat.

Day 4

This will be a long day for us.

We have a very early breakfast and we must set off by 0700hrs.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 765 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 766 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 767 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 768 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 769 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 770 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 771 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 772 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 773 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 774 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 775We have book a day tour with Thailand Secret Tour. Our guides are Nan and Kelvin. Since there are 12 of us, Nan suggested using two 9 seater van so we will be comfortable.

We should set off at 0600hrs but with the kids around, we want them to have a full breakfast before setting off. Therefore we delay the set off time to 0700hrs.

Nan is on time and she greeted us at the lobby.

We quickly get ourselves settle down and start our tour.

The first stop is the Sunflower field.

Before I chose Nan as our tour guide, I have written to several guides to enquire about this tour. When I ask about the Sunflower fields, many of them does not seems to know where they are. Some will answer “we will find it on that day”. That is not very assuring to me.

Only Nan can tell me where the Sunflower concentration is and I further research and I found a picture of the Sunflower field with their guest in their Facebook page. This gives me some confidence in her. However the actual test will be on today.

The ride to the Sunflower field is long; about 3 hours.

Nan has called up the local office in the province to ask about where the Sunflower will bloom. The local agriculture office told her the location in one of the fields in Saraburi. Saraburi is chosen instead of Lopburi us also the places we wanted to visit and Saraburi is nearer.

As it turns out, Nan do also need a map to navigate to the Sunflower Field.

As we enter Saraburi, we saw many small fields of Sunflower.

After another 20mins of travel, we found a big Sunflower field. The field is called Muak Lek and it is indeed very beautiful.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 545 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 566 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 596 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 615We walk in the midst of thousands of sunflowers. It is a truly a very enjoyable experience.

We stayed for about 30 mins and move on to the next field. The next field is the one recommended by the local agriculture office. However when we pass by it, the sunflowers are all very small and doesn’t seems to be in full bloom.

So we gave up and move on to the next stop, an Elephant Sanctuary’ The Elephants Conservation Centre Khao Yai.

The Elephant Sanctuary we went to is a small one. They just display two elephants for visitors and the rest of the elephants was kept deeper within the sanctuary compound.

One of the elephants is even pregnant so they keep her under the shed.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 625 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 632 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 638 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 663 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 666 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 673 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 674My main aim of visiting an Elephant Sanctuary is for the kids to feed and interact with the elephants.

The staff then brought the baby elephant out and perform some tricks. I request the staff to stop it but it seems like they do not understand.

The kids are entertained by the tricks but not for me.

We bought bananas for THB20 per bucket for the kids to feed the baby elephant and the kids enjoyed it thoroughly.

Another star attraction of the center is actually a Golden Retriever.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 652 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 669According to the staff, this Golden Retriever has saved several kids from drowning. The Golden Retriever seems to be tamed and is not afraid of human touch.

Again the kids are all surrounding the dog and it seems the god is also enjoying all the attention he got.

Our next stop is lunch.

Nan told us that the restaurant (Krua Loong Choop) actually serve exotic food like wild boar and deer which we decline.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 675 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 676We ordered some simple dishes and have a good meal.

During travelling, we also noticed that the buildings in Khao Yai is very European oriented. Nan told us that Khao Yai is like a Switzerland in Thailand. Most buildings have a European feel and that’s the impression they wanted to project.

Our next stop is Khao Yai National Park. The park’s entrance is just 5 mins ride from the restaurant.

We first went to a view point to see the mountains of the National Park. There are many monkeys in the parking area. Do note that some of them can be quite aggressive so you need to be careful.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 679 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 683We stayed at the view point for about 10 mins and move on.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 694We next visit the Visitor Center to do a short trek.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 698 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 700 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 702 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 703We are to trek to Kong Khaew waterfall. The whole trek should take no more than an hour.

The trek started with crossing a short bridge and almost the whole trek is cemented. However there are tree fallen and elephant dropping can be found along the trek. Nan explained that the elephant bash through the forest and made the trees fall.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 706 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 707 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 708 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 712 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 713After 30 mins of trek, we reach the waterfall.

The fall is actually very very small. I wonder it is actually worth trekking this long for this falls where we later found out that you can walk about 10 mins to reach the falls using another route.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 715 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 716However the water is very refreshing and we just soak our tired feet in the flowing water.

After the falls, we make our way to Haew Suwat waterfall.

You do not need to trek to reach this fall. We took a 10 min ride to the entrance of the fall and we just walk like 5 mins to have a view of it.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 738 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 741After viewing the fall, we proceed back to our transport and make our way back to Bangkok.

Along the way, we stop at some stalls for shopping and our toilet break.

This place sell many local delicacies but they all sell the same thing.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 744 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 745 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 746In this place, you will need to buy their grapes.

Nan told me that there is a vineyard nearby so the grapes is actually from there. My wife tried it and it is indeed delicious.

After that we make our final dash back to Bangkok. We reach Bangkok in another 2 hours and our tour end.

Nan is very friendly and quite knowledgeable. From her website, her company specialize in those off the beaten track tour. Nan has an impressive working experience and her English is very good. I am very surprise that for a Thai, she can speak such good English.

She is also very thoughtful and helpful and took great care of the kids.

I would definitely recommend her to anyone who wishes to engage her service.

Day 5 to Day 7

For the next 3 days, we spend our time freely in Bangkok. A we have visited Bangkok many times for the past 8 years, there are some mundane and routine things that we do everytime we visit Bangkok.

Chinatown

Yaowarat is still my favourite market. The merchandise here change according to season and what is trending.

Yaowarat sell everything from dry food, toys, bags to fabric. However as this is a wholesale place, not every shop will sell you in single pieces. Sometimes you will need to purchase a minimum quantity to justify for discount.

If they are willing to sell you one item, prepare to pay more for it.

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I would suggest taking the Chao Phraya river boat or taking the MRT to Hua Lamphong MRT and walk to Yaowarat. It is difficult to get a taxi to drive you there no matter what the traffic conditions there are.

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Food

We are not a foodie but we always like Thai food.

Dinner at Yaowarat is a must for us. We usually visit the Green Shirt seafood restaurant but they are full house despite we reach there at 1800hrs. So we dine at the Red Shirt instead.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 826 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 827 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 828 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 830I have tried both stalls before and found them to be comparable but this time, the Red Shirt standard seems to have drop. Staff is still friendly and food is serve fast.

So if you want to have a good seat, I suggest you reach the restaurant at 1700hrs like what we used to do.

I like Yoshinoya rice bowl and I always have my fill when I am in Japan. However Japan is a far and expensive place for us.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 825When Yoshoniya reopen in Terminal 21, I am happy because I last heard the one and only branch in Silom close down a few years back.

I really like their pork bowl and it really reminds me of my time in Japan. The service here is generally better than what we have here.

We also usually go to a Pad Thai stall in Suk Soi 55 in Thong Lo area. Though the way they cook seems to have change over the years but I still find it tasty. The Oyster Omelets is something that we will also not miss it. Just got to have both of them.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 917 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 918After our Pad Thai fill, we will usually proceed to Soi 38 for our glutinous rice with mango. There are two stall now and the one you should go to is the one hidden from the main road.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 922Kid’s fun

Funarium is a place we would go for some kid’s fun.

It is actually a big playground for them to climb and run.

It cost THB320 per child on a weekday for 3 hours of play and THB450 on a weekend. Visit their website for a more detailed pricing detail.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 837 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 838 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 839 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 840 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 841 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 846 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 848 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 852 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 854 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 855 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 856You are allowed to transfer your adult entry once only.

For example, if the mother is the one inside the playground and only purchase one adult ticket. The mother wanted the father to enter the playground and the mother exit, you are only allowed to do it once only.

Cinema

We caught a movie Big Hero 6 in Terminal 21 and it cost us THB160 on a weekday afternoon.

The seat is comfortable and do remember to stand up when the King’s Anthem is played.

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 912One thing I do not understand is why the cinema uses such a poor quality video for the King’s Anthem. It is such a pity.

Taxi

Our taxi experience in Bangkok so far has been pleasant. However I do notice a trend that more taxis now refuse to use the meter. This is very evident when we try to leave Yaowarat especially in the night.

When we have 7 person into a taxi where the taxi can indeed accommodate 7 people, the driver will ask for extra or a flat rate.

I just hope Bangkok taxi drivers will not become like Kuala Lumpur taxis.

There are pleasant surprise for us too.

When we are going to the airport and the driver found out that we only left with one hour from check-in, he scolded us why we allocate so little time for the transfer. He is actually yelling at us! He is asking “First time in Bangkok?”, “You know how bad is Bangkok traffic?”, “You know our Government no care about the traffic? They no care whether there 5 or 20 cars. They only want money!”, “You must give 2 hours for transfer!”.

In a usual situation, I will get agitated. However from another perspective, I am amazed and amused that how concern he is that we will miss our flight.

Fortunately we reach the airport on time and we even shake hands!

Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 929 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 931 Thailand - Hua Hin, Khao Yai and Bangkok - 2014 934Overall, we do enjoy our stay in Thailand.

I wonder did Thailand exist just to torture us. The food, shopping, sights and people are just so captivating.

We just can’t help to go back almost every year.

We will definitely be back next year.

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