Sunday, November 11, 2007

Best Buds in Bangkok

Been planning to go to Bangkok for the longest time and finally, an opportunity opened up… a free trip to Bangkok worth 40k+! wootwoot!

Booked the flights and accommodations months in advance as we wanted to plot down the trip during our schools’ October breaks… flight to leave Manila was set for October 26 and return by November 3.

The week-long vacation we had been looking forward to finally came and went… it was a great experience – a first out of the country trip without other friends and the longest trip together for chie and i! no major mishaps for this trip so everything went pretty much according to plan… chie was glad that we had time on our hands and that we weren’t trying to do so many things all at once… it’s a change from our usually hectic vacation schedules so we really felt that we were off from all stresses.

October 26, 2007 :: Friday
After work, we headed off to the Magallanes Complex for a quick bite at Shakeys… dropped by my bro’s in laws’ place as their driver was scheduled to drive us to the airport… left around 730pm in order to be early for our 10:05pm flight… we expected a delay in the departure but to our surprise, Cebu Pacific was able to board us and fly out of Manila quite on time… they even overbooked our flight and had to buy off one of the passengers to accommodate one that urgently needs to be in Bangkok by early morning of Saturday!

October 27, 2007 :: Saturday
Arrived at Bangkok Center 25 (Soi 25 Sukhumvit), our home for the week by 2:00am (Bangkok time) and we were sound asleep in no time…
Lizeth woke us up at 6:00am::Manila Time which was 5:00am::Bangkok Time… hehehe…snoozed for a few more hours and we were at the breakfast table by 8:00am… we had our first doze of the Italian Resto breakfast that we were going to have for the next few days:
Choice of Coffee or Tea
Toasts with butter, jam, and marmalade
2 Eggs :: Sunnyside Up or Scrambled
Choice of Sausages, Ham or Bacon
Left for Chatuchak via BTS (Asok~Mo Chit) and we were definitely surprised by the size of that Market! The stalls were endless, the choices were so varied… we took our time checking the shops and at one point we were at the wet market and we had to turn back… and another time, we sniffed our way to the pet shops and again had to turn back!
Lunch was cheap and yum and very Bangkok-ish! Noodles with meatballs and some street barbecue… watermelon shakes are the best too after shopping non-stop in this market!
ALERT::Best banks for Thai Baht Forex are: SCB (Siam Commercial Bank) and TMB Bank
We finished with our shopping at around 4pm and decided that we were done for the day…
Went home and rested our tired legs and feet and got ready for dinner at the famous: Cabbages and Condoms (Soi 12 Sukhumvit). We just walked going to the resto as it was just around our area… The place was uber interesting…with mannequins dressed with condoms, lamps with condoms as its shade and amusing posters!

Food was great too!

Kra Thong tong

Fried Spring Rolls

Bagoong Rice

October 28, 2007 :: Sunday
Went to Banyan Tree via MRT (Sukhumvit~Lumphini) to book our spa reservations for Friday, our last day…
Headed off to Chatuchak again via MRT (Lumphini~Chatuchak Park) to make sure we covered all the shops and got all we needed including all the bilins that is available at JJ.
ALERT::if you find something that you like, buy it. Chances of finding your way back to that shop is quite slim

At around 2:00pm, we left Chatuchak for MBK via BTS (Mo Chit~Siam~National Stadium), another shopping place worth visiting. If you’re into faux brand names, this is the place to be… shirts branded as Quicksilver, Roxy, RL, Diesel, etc…, bags branded as Gucci, Prada, Le Sportsac, etc… abound in this shopping complex.

The food court in the 6th floor is great too! You buy coupons and use that to purchase the food – very school fair-ish type…
Noodle soup with chicken and meatballs
Roasted duck with coconut infused rice
Iced Tea

For a more ‘sosyal’ dining experience, you could head down to the fifth level and they have a nice foodcourt, fine dining style.

MBK is also the place to buy underwear which Bangkok is so known for! Wacoal undergarments are at 50% off from your usual stores… and the local brands are not bad either! Try them on because the sizes may be different from what you often use.
Went to the ‘pasalubong’ store as well and bought yumyum pasalubongs there!
Durian chips >> i love durian chips!
Taro chips
Rice crispies with pork floss
Prawn chips with pork floss

Our bags were bulging and we were hoping that the train home won’t be so full or we’ll crush all the good stuff we bought!

I wouldn’t miss a chance to go to McDonald’s in all of the countries I visit so a McDonald’s dinner was set! Just some McWings, Fries, and a large drink was enough to fill us both up!

October 29, 2007 :: Monday
Monday really has a different aura about it… even in lazy mode, we still felt the tension of work as we woke up that morning… the roads were bustling with commuters, people were walking in such a fast pace, wearing their yellow ‘long live the king’ shirts, and shops were open much earlier.

Monday was our scheduled day to visit the temples so we decided to have an early breakfast and head off to the river pier as early as we can to catch the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat.

Arrived at the Central Pier via BTS (Asok~Saphan Taksin) and we were welcomed by a little white sign that said the Tourist Boat will not run for just one day :: MONDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2007. lucky, lucky us… I was lost at that point, trying to figure out our options:
  1. turn back and just go on another day (but what to do today???)
  2. go with the public ferry with the other tourists!
Of course we opted for the 2nd option as we wanted to finish with the temples especially since we had great weather that day!

ALERT::if you’re ready to immerse, and you don’t plan to stop at the other ports, riding the public ferry is the way to go! For just 13THB, you’ll save a lot! The 1-day pass for the tourist ferry is around 100THB
Got good seats in the ferry and we enjoyed the ride to our stop: Tha Chang (Stop number 9), where we can visit the Grand Palace and Wat Prakaew (temple of the Emerald Buddha).
ALERT::wear sleeved shirts and long pants. Otherwise, you will have to borrow a shirt and a sarong (that might not look so pretty on you :P)
ALERT::you might be advised to stop at Tha Tien (Stop number 8) which is nearer the Grand Palace. That will just cost you either an extra boat ride or a tiring back and forth walk.

The grounds are quite immense and you can definitely get lost inside! We felt like we were in Disneyland!
First stop is Wat Prakaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) where you may enter and pray. You are not allowed to wear shoes inside nor can you take photos. We were at awe with the ‘altar’ (sorry, I don’t know the proper term for Buddhists)… The gold glittered ever so brightly with the slightest movement of the sun’s rays… and the Buddha was tiny but it had a sense of greatness from it…*sigh
After blessing ourselves with the lotus flower, we headed off to the Grand Palace
Nothing much to see… and it was heavily guarded >> no entry allowed…
So we walked to Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) where you will find the biggest (46meter-long) golden, reclining Buddha. From all that we’ve seen, this is probably the most amazing. It is huge! And beautiful… it’s as I imagined it!
For harmony and happiness, we got a bowl of coins and placed one on each black pot along the perimeter of the temple…a small donation of 20THB is appreciated.
Just outside the temple is the pier that would allow you to cross the river to go to Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) for just 6THB roundtrip.
The structures are designed with colorful Chinese Porcelain… we also saw the crypts around the temple.
Monks were visiting the temple that day… it looked like they were on a field trip!
The ferry back to the city was full to the brim! Ergo, we weren’t charged for the ride! Wahoo! 32THB total for both chie and myself! :D
For lunch, we went to Siam Paragon via BTS (Saphan Taksin~Siam). They have a nice food center where we had some:
Phad Thai
Crispy Chicken Wings
Strawberry smoothies
Checked out the famous Ocean World... entrance for adults is a whopping 700THB!
Passed by the Gourmet Market at the Paragon to check out their goodies… thank goodness we bought the food pasalubongs in MBK already as the prices here were at least 50% more! But the grocery was really pretty and we enjoyed going around… it was just freezing cold that we had to leave ASAP!

After resting for a few minutes at home, we thought we’d give the Patpong area a visit… and as expected, we were disappointed:
ALERT::don’t talk to every stranger you meet. We talked to a seemingly nice security officer when he became TOO nice and started freaking us out. Thanks to the MRT station, we were able to get away fast.
ALERT::locals from every corner will invite you to ‘live shows’ and it could get really creepy.
ALERT::the market is right in the middle of where these sleazy bars are so it’s very awkward walking down the aisles of the stores as the doors of these nightspots open from time to time.
ALERT::prices of the goods in these markets are ridiculously high! a little girl’s dress that costs 200THB the most will go for 850THB here!

Dinner that night was a chicken teriyaki dinner plate from 7-11! We were quite tired and unsure we were going to have space in our tummy for more food! But that chicken teriyaki was really tasty!

October 30, 2007 :: Tuesday
As scheduled with the tour coordinator of the Hostel for 1000THB/pax, Tuesday was set for our Ayutthaya Adventure. Ayutthaya, apparently, was the old capital of Thailand.

Our first stop was the Bang Pa In, the summer palace of the kings
The climate here was much cooler… felt very similar to a Baguio afternoon stroll in Burnham Park… The grounds are large as seen in the map so you can rent a golf cart to go around for 800THB.

ALERT::it’s much better to walk because the view is pretty and the breeze is refreshing
We went to differently styled palaces and structures including European, Colonial, Cambodian/Khmer, Thai, and Chinese. It’s a very unique place…

Then we were off to Ayutthaya per se...

and saw the ruins…

and the buddhas...

most of the Buddhas have lost their heads and the result is quite interesting too… we went to an area where there was only one Buddha with the head still attached and a tree where the face of the Buddha was carved…
ALERT::check out the signs for what’s allowed and what’s not. Respect for images of the Buddhas are imperative.

Next stop was one of the activities we’ve been looking forward to: riding the elephant! We opted to take the 10minute ride only as we really just wanted to try it… it was really amazing and it was definitely a different experience!

Our elly was quite calm and gentle… I think it pooped though when we stopped at midpoint! We felt a funny movement from him! Haha!

The 10minute ride was just enough… I probably would’ve felt nauseous if it were any longer! It isn’t a very comfortable ride… as you sway from side to side as he walks… hehe!
Lunch was at this simple resto by the river where the breeze was very inviting.
Steamed Rice
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Chicken with Cashew Nuts
Fried Spring Rolls
Mixed Sauteed Vegetables
Light Soda

After the 2-hour drive back to the city, we requested to be dropped off at the Platinum Shopping Complex. It’s a 5-storey edifice of nothing but shops and food stalls! Platinum is the best place to shop especially if your buying wholesale! 3 pieces of garments is already considered wholesale! And prices will go down significantly low if you get more! Best to shop here with your girlfriends!

Dinner at the food court:
Skewered squid balls
Fried Flat Noodles
Iced Tea

Home via BTS (Ratchatewi~Asok)

here's a view of a thai ceremony from the footpath under the BTS:
ALERT::walk from Platinum to the Ratchatewi station is a bit lengthy… better option to walk to Central World then to Chitlom Station

October 31, 2007 :: Wednesday
Wednesday was probably our laziest day and the weather agreed with us – gloomy, cloudy, and drizzly.
We had a late breakfast and headed off to the Jim Thompson Factory Outlet in Soi 93 Sukhumvit via BTS (Asok~On Nut). Although we could’ve ridden a bus to Soi 93 since the BTS stopped at around Soi 75 area, we still decided that it probably is walkable. Following a couple of Japanese ladies, we realized that we were heading to the same place and felt more sure of ourselves.

The factory was nice and big, divided into 4 levels – loose cloth, accessories, home décor, and a café. We bought nice stuff here! Definitely worth the trip! Items were discounted from 40%-60%! Wootwoot!

After waiting for the rain to stop, I put my bandana on and we left for Central World Mall. This mall was huge! And they claim to be the biggest Lifestyle mall! The shops were definitely high-end and the place very sosyal :P reminded me much of Riverside Mall in NJ.

Lunch was at the food court… yum!
Hainanese and Fried Chicken Rice
Iced Tea

here's our view from the lunch room:

Since we weren’t really looking to buy expensive designer stuff, we decided to walk the way to Platinum mall and continue with the 2 floors that we haven’t covered the day before.
Dinner here was a light one:
KFC Chicken Popcorn
KFC Cheezy Cheese Balls
Yumyum banana and chocolate crepe
Walked back to Central World to catch the BTS (Chitlom~Asok)

November 1, 2007 :: Thursday
Thursday was a major walking day… After a late breakfast once again, we headed off first to Pratunam market where we were very disappointed. It’s as market as can be… so we decided to check on what Pratunam Center had to offer and we became even more disappointed… so again, we went to Platinum Mall… teehee…

after covering most of it, we decided to walk back to Central World, go around a little bit, walk to Siam Paragon, go around a little bit, walk to Siam Center, go around a little bit, walk to Siam Discovery, walk around a little bit, walk to MBK, go around a lot… whew!
Lunch was at the 6th level food center again:
Hainanese & Fried Chicken Rice
Roast Duck with rice infused in coconut
Iced Tea
After getting lost inside MBK… :P we decided to go to Jim Thompson’s House… got a little lost as we missed the sign to turn right at a street corner but found our way soon enough… it’s such a pretty house, set by the river… and once again, we looked at the products that they sell in the store… I would have bought more! They are just so lovely!

We headed back to Chitlom Station by foot and went around Central Chitlom. Central Chitlom is just one big department store. It’s like a stand-alone Rustan’s department store that sold various branded items. I found the Nordic Bag that I’ve been looking for here… but decided against buying it since I got my trusty Ferrari belt bag already… next time I’ll know where to go buy it!

A little past 7:00pm, Alf (Cabusora) came to meet us here and we headed off to Somboon (@ Surawong)… an authentic Thai restaurant that is frequented by the locals…
Curry Crab
Water Spinach (Kangkong) with Garlic
Fried Fish with Sweet and Sour and Spicy Sauce
ALERT::Grrrreeeeaaat food! Definitely worth the calories!

November 2, 2007 :: Friday
Our last day in Bangkok was probably the best! After our last breakfast at the Italian Place, we checked out of our week-long home… left our bags there though as we still had some last minute purchases to do at Platinum Mall… bought the last of the bilins and then headed back to BKK Center 25…

had our first lunch at the Italian Place:
Salami Pizza
Fried Noodles with Pork

Then hailed a cab that will bring us to the Banyan Tree for our scheduled 3:00pm spa appointment.

Both Chie and I had the Rejuvenation Treatment:
Body Conditioning with Aloevera and Lavender
Asian Blend/Thai Massage
And the Banyan Essential Foot Spa with Pedicure
Refreshments of Chilled Carrot Sticks, Pineapple, and Cantaloupe
Hot Tea

The treatments were definitely $$$ but it was worth it! Our feet deserved that pampering after all the walking we did in those 7 days…

The taxi ride to the airport was quite long as it was a Friday and a Payday, the traffic was extra heavy… it’s a good thing we left early…
Had lunch in the (food) sky loft of the airport:
Noodle Soup
French Fries

We didn’t have to wait long after finishing our dinner and we were already allowed to check our bags in and wait at the gate for our flight.

November 3, 2007 :: Saturday
Left Bangkok at 1:05am and we were out of NAIA by 6:00am… off to Magallanes then off to school for testing…

Headed home to Wedgewood… friends followed at around 5:00pm and our couch-potato-ing was on! As well as our food trip!
Mac and Cheese
Pork Chops
Fried Tilapia
Ice cream
Bonding of great buds til the wee hours…
Breakfast at 11:00am
Fried Eggs
…and on til 5-ish…

Wuz a good day!

Wuz a good week! Can’t wait to plan the next gimmick, the next trip…
I’m lost now… coz I don’t have anything to look forward to… have to make plans!

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