Sunday, December 14, 2014

Day 3
Maeklong Railway Market
[GPS Coordinates: 13.407571, 99.998380]

I am an avid audience of travelogues. After see Maeklong Railway Market from TV, I was so anticipated to take a walk. Comon, Bangkok is not just about shopping. I am sure there are more things to do! So on Day 3, both bff & I went to the Maeklong railway market.

It is a very popular tourist attraction and it only take a 2hrs drive to reach there. One can simply get a minivan at 70THB just right outside this shopping mall at Victory Monument. There is only 1 store that sells ticket to Maeklong, so there is no need to ask around for cheaper options.

The ride is pretty smooth, all the way along the expressway. Upon arrival, it is just like any small town and it has a bit of Chinatown feel. What is interesting about this place is that, there is this particular wet market that cuts across the railway track.

This railway track is still active! Both bff and I walked across the market and purposely walked on the railway track. We also took photos at the train station non-stop and kept asking the locals what time will the train arrive. Unfortunately, because I went to check out for cheaper minivan tickets, we missed the earlier ride, which could probably have let us see the train on time! Oh well... so we waited for the next train, which is 3 hours later!!

To kill time, we went to this gold shop. Bff said that the last time she came Thailand, she bought really cheap gold earrings. So why not? The moment we stepped in, this female staff kept saying "Bu mai! Bu mai!" I didnt take into consideration.... thinking, "did she meant 'Welcome'?" But as I looked across the shop, everyone had this stare at us. Then the female staff said:" No Chinese". Bff responded almost immediately "Wo men bu shi zhong guo ren! (We are not China Chinese)" while I was still trying to recognise the language. The female staff meant "Not selling".

Oh geez...This is unbelievable. They hate China Chinese so much? So...seriously, this discrimination is really worldwide! We just walked out and walked along the street to another gold shop. This time, the staff is much friendlier. We chatted, bought some gold and played with their dog.

After lunch at this famous wanton mee stall, we went back to the railway market and waited. Damn! This time, the train is that meant more waiting time! I was in fact getting abit impatient and wanted to just leave and not waste anymore time as I wanted to go to another place. Luckily, the announcement bell came and the train is coming!!!

We witnessed how the locals kept the tents and stores within minutes and the train passed.

 The locals know just how much allowance is needed between the train and the gaps! The train is so close! Seriously, if you are caught unaware, you'd probably lose your nose.

So for that, we spent 6hours at Maeklong just for that 30 seconds experience. But I must say, this is really something awesome!

Amphawa Floating Market
[GPS Coordinate: 13.425588, 99.954283]

We then left for Amphawa floating market, which is only 10mins away from Maeklong. By the way, most tours will cover these 2 places of interest and generally cost alot. If you are adventurous enough, a DIY trip will just do it. We walked to the back of the market and took the local bus to Amphawa, which only cost 5THB. I swear this is the cheapest transport I have ever taken.

Fast enough, we reached Amphawa. One will definitely NOT miss this place because it is so crowded that you know you are in the right place! Fearing that we will miss the last bus back Bangkok, we bought the ticket prior to entering the floating market.

We passed by this grilled seafood store. The aroma of the shellfishes were so tempting that we were hesitating to have some. In the end, we couldnt resist and ordered some grilled scallopes. To our surprise, the store owner gave us 2 free dishes of grilled clams and mussels too! These all sum up to only 150THB!

Frankly speaking, Amphawa floating market sounded very attractive to visit. But while I was there, it feels like a combination of Tai O, Hong Kong and Malacca, Malaysia. We didnt walked much due to the lack of time, but at least, it is a 'Been there seen it' trip.

At around evening, we returned Bangkok. The return journey is slightly longer as there are lots of vans causing long queues at the petrol kiosks. Plus, it was raining.... safety first!

At around 830pm, we reached Bangkok.

Day 4

Bff isnt free on this day, so I wandered Bangkok alone!! Wow, I couldnt believe I was this brave, come to think about it.

In the morning, I went to Chatuchak market to take a look. Although not many shops are opened, the shops which sells items which I wanted to get were opened! Lucky me! I absolutely love tribal products and I bought 3 bags. Duhz. Abit pricey but I like! It wasnt crowded at all so it made shopping very easy. I also bought 3 vintage blouses - something I thought I will never buy but because it only cost 100THB each, so why not? I am a sucker for cheap yet good quality stuff.

Bff told me about this JJ Mall, which is situated next to Chatuchak Market & so I went to take a look. It is almost like any shopping mall but sells things like Chatuchak Market and it is air con!! The price is still affordable despite probably higher rental, but this is much more walkable without having to wipe your dripping perspiration.

After 2 hours, I have lots to lug in my arms and I decided to return to the hotel to put them, since the hotel is so near. I also packed my luggage for my departure the next day, rested a while and left for part 2 of the day.

After hearing so much from friends on FB about this place, I took the BTS to Saphan Taksin, took a free ferry at Sathom Pier to Asiatique [GPS Coordinate: 13.704290, 100.504147]. The trip is just funny. I could hear HKers everywhere as I travelled to Asiatique and at some point of time, I thought I was in Hong Kong. Hahaha.

It was approximately 4pm when I got there. The sun was already setting, making the scenery very enjoyable. There are alot of catfish in the river! All of them jumped out of the water as the ferry navigated by.

Asiatique disappointed me slightly. It is just another night market. There are restaurants around, which I believe is kinda pricey and I didnt eat there, though my usual travel habit is to splurge on my last night. I chose to have Pad Thai instead and it cost 50THB! I couldnt complain more because I was just sitting underneath the ferries wheel and it was amazing!

Night fell soon after. Everywhere was lit up.

I left Asiatique at 7pm, a time where huge crowds kept landing from the ferry. I then took the BTS to Siam station hoping to grab food. I couldnt remember how Siam Paragon was when I visited 4 years ago. I thought I could find food there... but sadly no. Too pricey! I then headed to Central World, which took me approximately 20mins to reach, crossing another night market and I almost drowned myself in the food aroma. My tummy was also rumbling as I walked past!

I finally reached Central World and I went to eat Macdonalds. DUHZ! But really, who could resist a McSpicy meal at 199THB?!?!?!?!?! I know I am a failure... come Thailand also must eat Macdonalds...sigh.

How can one forget to go to local supermarket to buy food back? My usual loot - Lays potato chips, Pretz, Pocky and some Thai milk tea.

So my days in Thailand were almost over. Day 5 was a nothing because we took the 8am flight back. Or maybe, if you consider watching sunrise along the way to the airport as something interesting?

I enjoyed this Thai trip very much. Trust me, I will be back.

Friday, December 05, 2014

It was a random Thursday
& suddenly, I felt like going to the farms
As it is school holidays too
I brought my niece and nephew along

Our first stop was to Hays dairy farm
The only local farm that supplies fresh goat's milk
The farm is open to public
There used to be feeding sessions but lately, AVA had ordered to stop human-animal interaction in fear of possible virus spread
But this didnt stop most visitors from enjoying their day there

The farm is open every day except Tuesday
& viewing of milking is available from 9am to 11am
We arrived Hays at 1040am
But we missed the last batch
They had kept all goats & were washing the equipments already

We had a walk around the pens
Imitated how the goats 'meeehhhh'
Which surprisingly, some 'mmmeeehhh'-ed back
Bought a small bottle of goat's milk to try - plain & chocolate flavour

I was very surprised it didnt have any goat's taste & i finished half of the bottle!
Niece & nephew enjoyed it too

Next, we went to Gardenasia for lunch
Our cousin is working there, so it made a great opportunity for us to visit

The places we visited were actually noy far from one another
Just a few metres down, we came to Aerogreen hydroponics where the kids got to see how vegetables are grown

Just next door, is the Sungei Buloh Wetland Reserve
It is one of my favourite places in Singapore that is closest to being overseas and filled with natural wonders
I taught the kids how mangrove trees adapt to seawater
And explain why Sungei Buloh is an important place for most birds
Amidst the 'lesson', we witnessed 2 monitor lizards fighting
Probably a male-male competition
The kids were extremely excited and kept saying they just watched a good movie

Last few stops - aquarium fishes
Firstly, we went to Coral farm to see marine fishes
Frankly speaking, we were almost in SEA Aquarium
They have almost all species of fishes colected there

& our last stop - Qian Hu fish farm
Freshwater fishes

They were having so much fun with this luo han which follows their fingers along the glass 

It was a fun day with our nephew & niece
I hope they enjoyed the trip too
Best of all, these places are free and educational
What beats learning more fun than doing it outdoor?

Oh Hi
I am back

From a really long hiatus since 2012

Other than having become fatter
My life had also been really challenging
Even more thrilling than riding on Battlestar Galactica blindfolded

I had a job in the ex-World's Largest Aquarium
Could simply say that it was my dream job to be working there
but I quit
No prizes for guessing the correct reason

I needed a goddamn break the very moment I left my job
I really needed a deep breath to release everything
Thank God for my bff
I tagged along to Bangkok with her

As she was going there for business
& I didnt mind doing solo travel
So I planned a complete 5D4N itinerary including places I was dying to visit

This trip to Bangkok was indeed different & special to me
Because I am not going with my family
& this is my first trip after 2 years with friend alone
& I didnt bring much money
& I just let my whole self go
I didnt want to pick the slightest impossibility to make it possible
I just want to spend my time well

Some basic logisitics to share:
Airline: Thai Airways
Hotel: G9 Bangkok Hotel [GPS Coordinates: 13.803548, 100.556819

G9 Bangkok Hotel is located in Chatuchak and is chucked at the back of the main road, just behind the Bangkok Mass Transit System (BTS) Public Company Limited. It is very convenient if you walk from either Chatuchak Park MRT or Mochit BTS; it is just 5 minutes away! But if you are to take cab, it is just damn hard to describe the location! Luckily, I was smart enough to identify a very famous landmark - G9 is also diagonally opposite BBTV. When it comes to walking back to the hotel from the MRT or BTS station at night, the path is quite dark & I felt it wasnt safe enough for ladies walking alone. Cab fare from Central World to G9 will cost approximately THB100 (after bargain).

 The hotel itself is simple - it has both private rooms and dormitory. Our private room, which cost SGD144 for 4N, has an attached toilet with hot shower, television with basic Thai channels, king size bed, wardrobe, dressing table, 2 side tables and complimentary tea/coffee. Drinking water is however supplied by dispenser placed at the lift lobby. Breakfast cost SGD2 per day, if booked with room. Simple toast, hotdog and sunny-side ups.

Day 1
Upon arrival at Suvarnabhumi Airport, we took the City Line to Praya Thai, where we transferred to BTS to Mochit. It was an approximate 1 hour journey. We checked in at G9 and then went out again to Chinatown. Took the MRT to Hualamphong and walked along the old town.

Amidst, it started to rain heavily! Bff wanted to go there to make some orders for her business and I just followed. I was then very surprised to know that, there is a wholesale area (somewhere near Yaowarat) selling jewellery, soft toys, home decor, shopping bags, caps, table ware, etc. As I am going to have a big event after I return from Bangkok and I needed to make gift bags, this place was almost heaven. I bought 44 pouches at only SGD0.60 each! If I am not wrong, similar pouches selling at Minitoons would cost SGD4!! What a steal!

Sorry, no photo of that place because it was crowded and raining. People were pushing to stay dry and mobile food bikes were seeping in gaps among the crowd. Not a place to visit if you are bringing kids.

Around evening, we took a cab back to Chatuchak. We had to pay THB50 toll fees to get onto the expressway - I handed the driver a THB100 note. The car was still rolling and the moment he opened his window, the note flew out!!! Bff and I looked in awe. Cab driver went back to pick up but couldnt find it. He had no choice but to pay THB50 to the officer and THB50 back to me. At the end of the trip, the total fare cost THB170. I bet the cab driver was swearing in his heart for picking us up, giving us a 'free' trip. Of course, both bff & I are nice ladies. We paid him THB200.

Chatuchak weekend market doesnt exactly open only on weekends. It, in fact, opens every Wednesday for plants sales, every Friday for home decor, every Saturday & Sunday for everything. I had been to Chatuchak weekend market once, 4 years ago and it was mad crowded and hot. Too much things to see but no time. This time, I had all the time to look at the plants and home decor because I dont get distracted by other stores!

Chatuchak market starts selling on a Tuesday evening. This place is filled with plants; it is like having 200 stores of Far East Flora selling all species under Kingdom Plantae, from the almost microscopic bryozoan to largest tracheophytes. 

I was so impressed! I am not a botanist but seeing specific plants like ferns, orchids, succulents already makes me excited! (I am somehow a abit-of-this-&-that plant person)

After having spent 3 hours there with bff & some of her plant fanatic friends, her local Thai friends were kind enough to bring us to this really cool place - V24 to have a late dinner. The place was decorated using race car theme and food was omg-yummy. We had this special soup (that bowl of red liquid there) made of fermented beancurd and jellyfish!!
 [GPS Coordinate: 13.811059, 100.559608]

Dead tired after dinner. Hung out for a while more before we returned to G9 & turned ourselves to sleeping beauties.

Day 2

Ayutthaya is the place we were going the next day. After hearing my friend talking about it as a UNESCO site (I must at least visit a UNESCO site or damn popular place when I travel) and how other travel bloggers were highlighting it, it was on my 'to-go' list. While in Singapore, thinking that I will be solo traveling since bbf would probably be unavailable, I did intensive research on 'How to get to Ayutthaya' from various blogs & guess what? Bff's local Thai friend accompanied us and brought us around the area! Woohoo! We only paid THB240 (less than SGD10) for a cab ride from Chatuchak to Rangsit, where we met him. It was a really scenic, seeing all those rice padi fields flocked with egrets feeding. But I read that taking a train ride up to Ayutthaya is more scenic - I might probably try it again when I have more time.

Thanks to Y, bff's local thai friend. He did a bit of tour guiding telling us what the places are about. Although I have pinned the temples I wanted to visit on my Google map, I cant figure out where I was as he drove. Nonetheless, some places that we went were:

The Support Arts and Crafts International Centre of Thailand 
[GPS Coordinates: 14.149604, 100.523739]

This place sells lots of local handicrafts at affordable and reasonable prices. I bought 4 pieces of handmade soap at THB100. The other day I saw similar selling at 3 for THB100. 

It also has a exhibition hall which shows how some of the Thai handicrafts are made and portraits of 'Masters' and 'Professors' of handicrafts were also displayed!

North of Chao Phraya River:

For a moment, I thought I was in Vietnam. This is so NOT Bangkok, if you know what I meant. I smell fresh air evaporating from the river. By the way, if one isnt afraid of being scorched, one can actually reach Ayutthaya from Bangkok on river cruises via this water channel.

We then had lunch at a floating restaurant nearby . No idea what is its name but Y said it is quite famous in that area. Its special dish is the river prawns and they are not cheap though! Approximately THB2400 for 6 prawns! As the restaurant is on the water, there are many catfishes, knifefishes and tilapia just underneath it. Everyone throws food down, no wonder why they are huge! I threw chilli padi down too and they gulped. Omnivorous to the max!

Bang Pa-In Royal Palace
[GPS Coordinates: 14.232728, 100.579350]

I dont know much about the Thai history to do a proper introduction of the place so you have do some reading yourself.  This place is massive. If you dont have much time to waste, rent a buggy at THB400 for 1.5hours.

If one is wearing shorts, you have to pay a THB200 deposit to wrap yourself in sarong, out of respect to the royalty.

It has many 'houses' for every single family member. The main attraction is the King's palace which is characterised by its ancient Chinese design. Even the interior were similar to those seen on TV featuring Qing dynasty. Unfortunately, no photography is allowed so the only thing I could show is these antique tiles which I feel in love with.... 

According to Y, somewhen, the King got influenced by the Western culture and so Rome-lookalike houses started to appear. This was indeed when West meets East or vice versa.

The palace is so clean and green that even monitor lizards come & stay!

Wat Yai Chai Mongkol
[GPS Coordinates: 14.345548, 100.592430]

There were several temples which I'd specifically wanted to go but we didnt have enough time to visit all since I was meeting my friend back in Bangkok for dinner. We headed to Wat Yai Chai Mongkol, which was famous for its sleeping buddha statue.

It has a really steep flight of stairs with highly eroded steps. I saw some ladies climbing up & down in high heels! I was speechless.

I was just half way up the steps!
Thai meow sleeping very peacefully

Wat Maha That
[GPS Coordinates: 14.357030, 100.567514]

Just within a 5 minutes drive, we reached Wat Maha That. The very first question I asked as I walked in was... where is the temple? It was only within a snap second that it occurred to me that, Wat Maha That is the remain of the temple ruin. It is totally different from what I had expected from Wat Yai Chai Mongkol. I was even more anticipated to walk around and find out more about the history of this place. But why was this temple one of my selected specific temple to visit?


Y told us the myth of this buddha. According to Y, this buddha was meditating under this tree and birds resting defecated around it. The roots of the tree then grew so well in response of the nutrients and eventually 'combine' to become one.

A brief walk around...

It was almost evening & I had to rush back to Bangkok. Abit sad that I didnt manage to complete my Ayutthaya itinerary but this gave me a chance to re-visit.

Baan PuengChom

This restaurant is located near Ari BTS and its ambience is sooooooo welcoming. If one had been to the old Villa Bali that used to be at Gillman in Singapore, it is almost similar & I LOVE this type of eating places, albeit the mosquito bites. The food is special and delicious. Do try this vermicelli salad with cha-om and omelette.

This is a really long post after a long hiatus! & probably too much to digest! Day 3 & 4 will be up next!