Chickee Duck's Musing


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Thailand, Bangkok – 21st ~ 23rd August 2015

17th August 2005. There is a bomb explosion happened just outside Ratchaprasong intersection and the Erawan Shrine killing many people.

It is also 4 days before our departure. We are deliberating whether should we proceed with our trip to Bangkok.

In the end, we decided to go ahead after assuring our families that we will take all necessary precautions.

We also wanted to show some support to the Thai people that such acts will not deter tourist from visiting this vibrant city.

Since we have been to Bangkok so many times, I will not write this report in a chronological order. I also apologise for the picture quality due to my lousy camera and shaky hands.

The flight to Bangkok

We took Air Asia flight to Don Muang and the flight is only about 40% filled. This gives us a lot of space. I believe this is the result of some flight cancellation in the wake of the tragedy.

As usual, I pre-order Nasi Lemak for SGD$5 and was given a complimentary drink free. Not the cheapest in the flight but it is the best among the bad ones.

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Air Asia do sell SIM card for your phone. However as there is a new regulation that require all SIM cards to be registered unlike before. So after you purchase it, you still have to activate the SIM card by bringing it down to the TrueMove Center near to Gate 6 after you clear the customs.

Therefore I suggest you buy the SIM card directly with the TrueMove Center and activate it on the spot. The price of the SIM card is the same; THB299 for 7 days with a 1.5GB data plan at 3G speed.

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The flight is uneventful and we reach Bangkok on time. Immigration clearance is fast as there aren’t many passengers.

I do not see any increase in security in the arrival hall.

Since there are 5 of us, we decide to get a coupon transport. It cost THB1000 excluding toll of THB120. So the total fare will be THB1120.

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A van came to bring us to our hotel. Since there are only 5 is us, it is very spacious. Despite being a Friday afternoon, the traffic is considered light and we reach the hotel in about 40mins.

The hotel – Somerset Lake Point

We book a 3 bedroom apartment.

A few days before arrival, Somerset sent us an email to do a web check-in and advice them of any special request that we may have and they will try to fulfill it.

So we ask for a key card for everyone and also late check out. I also wonder will they really take it seriously.

I have personally stayed in Somerset Lake Point several times. So far they have not disappoint me.

When we arrived, we felt welcome and the staff quickly unload our luggage.

Check-in is still fast but could be better. The check-in staff is often interrupted by other issues therefore slowing the process down.

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True to what I have advice in the web check-in, they issue us a key card each and gave us a late checkout at 1330hrs.

Our luggage is brought up by the staff but the key card is not working. The staff then brought down to change the card but it still does not work. It is only the 2nd try that the card finally work. Small issue though. They key point is they resolved it fast.

Though I have stayed in Somerset Lake Point several times but I have never stayed in a 3 bedroom Premier Suite before and I am really impressed by it.

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The living room is huge! It can easily accommodate 10 sleeping bags. There is a separate dining hall. The kitchen is small but sufficient. The washer and dryer is hidden in a small room. This is also to reduce the noise from it.

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Each room has their own en suite toilet with shower. There is still a common toilet without shower.

The safe box is located in the master bedroom and so is the bathtub.

The water pressure is good also and the warm water is quite consistent. Just felt that they should use a better quality shower head.

We are very impressed by the size of the apartment.

They have also alter the breakfast area layout. The food is placed inside a room now instead of in the open. More seating place have also been created.

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Somerset still provide Tuk tuk service to Asok BTS. However when I ask the staff do they go to Emporium and they replied no. I remembered that the manager did reply to my review in Tripadvisor that the tuk tuk service do go to Emporium. I once saw the Somerset tuk tuk travel from Soi Setthi Thawi Sep direction to Soi 16.

I am a little disappointed. Is this some form of discrimination?

Shopping

We actually just shop at a few places only.

We walked from Chit Lom towards the Erawan Shrine using the sky bridge but we did not go to the street level. We just pray from the sky bridge though I would very much like to go down. However I understand my friend’s concern.

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We then walk to Central World and just go to Naraya to buy some stuff for our missus. Happy wife, happy life.

We then walk to Platinum Mall to look for some stuff but unfortunately they are no where to be found.

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Platinum Mall seems to be getting bigger every year. It is a woman’s heaven but a man’s nightmare.

We also visited Big C at Rama IV. This Big C is much better than Ratchaprasong due to the crowd. It is also more local.

There are also many food choices in Big C Rama IV, There are MK, Swensen, Mcdonalds, KFC, Oishi Japanese Restaurant etc. There are also many restaurants in surrounding area. If Big C is still not enough for you, there is a Lotus Tesco across the road.

We also shop at Chinatown which is my personal favourite. This is a wholesale market where you can get almost anything like T-shirts, ornaments, beads, stationery, toys etc.

To travel to Chinatown, I suggest you take public transport. One way during daylight is by ferry.

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Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and walk down to Sathorn Pier. Then take the ferry to Pier 5; Ratchawong.

After exiting from the pier, just walk straight and you will see the market on the right along a small alley.

Food

I wonder what type of friends have I made. They are all foodie and they eat anywhere and everywhere.

We went to Chinatown twice. The first time is during daylight.

We found a hole in the wall wanton noodle stall. Thailand wanton noodle is quite bland when serve. I think you need to add in seasoning by yourself. However the taste is still nice and it is a good change after some heavy eating.

You should also see them how fast they can prepare one bowl of noodle. It is in astonishing speed!

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We also tried Somboon Seafood in Ratchada. Honestly, it is really over hype.

The taste is really not up to par.

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The chili crab is tasteless and the grilled squid is cold.

The chrysanthemum drink is actually sugar water. It is undrinkable. I will get diabetes if I will to drink this for a few days.

It is not cheap either. It cost us THB737 per person (I am comparing with other usual seafood restaurants in Bangkok).

We also tried the food court in Terminal 21. The food is nice and affordable.

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We even tried the pig blood and internal organs in Huay Khwang. Pig blood is already outlawed in our country due to hygiene issues. So we can only have it outside of our country.

I do not eat those internal organs (I call it spare parts) but my friends thoroughly enjoyed it.

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I think some of the best food we ate is in Chinatown. We went to the usual T&K Seafood. We usually refer it to the green shirt seafood because the uniform of the staff are green.

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We ordered an array of food and generally the food is good though I feel that the standard has drop a bit. Still it is delicious compared to Somboon. The bill comes up to THB450 per person.

We also discovered another Chinese dessert that is authentic. We called it Cheng Teng here in our country.

The hot version is cooked with ginger. It has lotus, water chestnut, longan, and other ingredients that is usually used in Chinese soup or desserts.

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The ginger version is very spicy and the role of the ginger is to expel wind from your body. So drink it with caution!

If you cannot take the hot version, there is a cold version that they put ice on it. It is equally nice and easy with your throat.

We also eaten Zui Gue. This food is also available in our country but different version. This reminds me of a phrase “Same same but different“.

In Bangkok, the serving size is smaller and the cai po is harder. Still delicious though.

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If you want to visit Chinatown in the evening, I suggest you take the MRT to Hua Lomphong station and walk there. Not many taxi drivers want to go there due to the traffic. Getting out can be difficult as many wanted fixed rate.

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On our last day, we also lunch at MK. My impression MK is bad as I have tried their food many years ago. After so many years, I decided to give it another try.

I would say it taste quite good especially the roast duck and char siew.

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Massage

We have tried two massage shops across the hotel.

One of them is Just Jenny and the other is Yen Sbai where the staff wear pink colour polo shirt.

Both are equally good but I prefer Just Jenny. The foot massage price is pretty standard across the three; THB300 for 1 hour foot massage. I must say the massage is good. They (both shops) even reduced my Plantar Fasciitis  pain that I have suffered for months!

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There is also a newly open massage shop within Somerset compound and the cost seems to be the same.

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Donating coffin

Sounds weird and maybe creepy isn’t it?

There is this donation programme going on in some of the temples in Bangkok. I only know of two. One is in Sam Yan and the other is in Chinatown.

The aim of this donation is to donate a coffin for those who died but too poor to buy a coffin or those bodies that are not claim by anybody. Despite the economic progress that Thailand has made throughout the decades, there are still poor people who cannot afford 3 meals a day let alone a coffin when they die.

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The donation will cost you THB650 which includes a coffin and a white sheet of cloth. You will be issued a receipt and you must burn the receipt within the temple before you leave. You can even give the donation using credit card!

While walking to the temple, we also saw some traditional trade that has vanished in our country.

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Summary

Overall we enjoyed out short stay in Bangkok. Though the security has increased in tourist spots but it did not dampen our mood.

We also did not see any increased in security in the departure hall of Don Muang Airport.

Despite the tragedy, Thailand seems to be resilient to it and life is back to normalcy.

We’ll be back for sure.

 

 


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Nepal Earthquake 2015

A few days ago, I am still planning my Nepal trip for 2016. I have even discussed with my wife and have decided on the date.

Never expect an earthquake will to rock the country on the 25th April.

As I write now, more than 2000 people has been killed.

Nepal Earthquake 2015_1Source

I am disappointed that I am not able to visit Nepal due to the air incident in March 2015.

However my disappointment cannot be compared to the lives lost and the hundreds if not thousands of trekkers and tourist stranded in Nepal now.

Some of the historical sites that attract visitors are now gone for good. It really break my heart to see all the pictures of all the destroyed heritage building.

Nepal Earthquake 2015_2Source

Roads and treks are damaged. These may take months or even years to repair due to the remoteness of some places.

This couldn’t happen at a worst time where one year ago that Nepal suffered one of the worst avalanche in Everest.

Langtang Village which is my original plan to visit this year has been destroyed as I read from the internet.

I hope Nepal will rise again and I will try to visit next year if the situation permits.

It is my little tiny bit effort to contribute to the tourism in Nepal and indirectly contribute to the daily livelihood of a Nepali.

Nepal, I wish you well and I really hope we will have a chance to meet.


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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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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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