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Friday, April 29, 2011

Nong Nooch Garden

The beauty of Nong Nooch garden in Pattaya, Thailand

Elephant Show in Nong Nooch Garden - Pattaya

video

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Overnight transit in Bangkok: Silom is the place

Last month, a friend was on a transit in Bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport on his way to Dhaka, Bangladesh for 12 hours. He arrived in Bangkok at 10PM and his flight to Dhaka was at 10AM the following day. It was his first time in Thailand so I was very keen to show him around Bangkok. However, the challenge was to find a place for us to chill out knowing that not many shops and places are open overnight. After much thought, voila! We chose to take him to Silom.

A place for shopping
Indeed, Silom was the perfect choice. As late as 3AM, there are still vendors selling various items along the sidewalk. You can grab some really chic clothes, jewelry, souvenirs, bags, shoes, silk, and much more at very affordable prices. Of course, vendors usually give a higher price if you are a foreigner. You just have to know how to bargain. If they insist on the same price, try buying two or more items and ask for a discount. I once liked a silk scarf so much but the cost was ridiculously 800 Baht. I tried to bargain and pretended I am not so interested with the item. In the end, she gave me the scarf for only 200 Baht :)

vendor down Sala Daeng BTS station in Silom
A place for delicious food and drinks
Silom has a lot of restaurants that serves delicious Thai food and other cuisines. We ate at one of the open restaurants there for only 500 Baht for the three of us. With that amount, we already had som tam, tum yum, rice, chicken barbecue, singha beer, coke and fried noodles. 

Delicious som tam
A place for a memorable night life 
There are a lot of clubs and bars open in the area where you can enjoy and have a good drink. The famous strip dancing show in Patpong is also just around the area. There is also this so-called gay soi (gay street) with  several gay lounges and clubs.

If you'll arrive in Bangkok before 12 midnight, you can take the airport link train to Phyathai station for 40 Baht. From there, you take the train (BTS) to Sala Deang then you can start roaming around Silom just after you get down from Sala Deang station.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Koh Kret Island: Haven of Mon Tribe Artists

Most people in Bangkok headed to the provinces to celebrate New Year. Because of that, me and my friend Neil decided to cancel our plan of unwinding in Kanchanaburi, a province in Central Thailand. We were desperate to escape from the fast-paced, city life in Bangkok and be one with nature but couldn’t think of any place as the crowd go to the countryside.


Our officemate Ying recommended Koh Kret Island where her Aunt lived. The word “island” stimulated my senses for adventure, relaxation and longing for the rustling sound of water as it reached the shore. Without much thought, we braved the glaring heat of the sun and made our way to the little land of the Mon Tribe, Koh Kret Island.

Getting there wasn’t very hard. Since Neil haven’t really got around Bangkok by bus out of our laziness to get caught in a heavy traffic – and the irresistible convenience of taking the train- we decided to take the bus that day to Sapan Thaksin Pier which only cost us 8 Baht. A ride on Chao Phraya boat for 14 Baht took us to the last pier 30, Nonthaburi.

Pots sold in Koh Kret Island

Handmade pots in Koh Kret Island


The adventure started after we got off the boat. According to the blog I read on how to get to Koh Kret, we have to walk about 50 yards – which brought that flying stars on my head, how far is 50 yards?- tsk tsk, I should have paid more attention to my primary lessons. Aside from the 50 yards, we don’t know what bus number goes to Pak Kret Market.

We asked a few vendors and no one seemed to understand us or could speak English well enough to give us the right information. I almost freak out and press the SOS button to call Ying. Finally, a woman told us to take bus 32 and by luck the bus stopped right in front of us, so off we go. Unfortunately, the bus wouldn’t go for reasons we don’t know as we can’t understand Thai that much, so we have to get off at the next bus stop and wait for another bus to come.

We were lucky to find a seat in the bus and the next thing we realized was we don’t know where to get off. I know it’s Prak Kret Market but I don’t have the slightest idea how to know it’s already Pak Kret.  Thanks to this guy who sat beside me, he got off at the same place and talked to the motorbike driver which took us to Wat Sanam Neua pier. From there we took the boat for only 2 Baht (I wish we have this price in the Philippines for a boat ride). It took us less than 10 minutes to get to the island.

Contrary to my imagination of an island – a parcel of land in the middle of the vast ocean with lots of trees, few inhabitants, no infrastructures and far from civilization just like those islands I’ve been to before- Koh Kret has almost everything there is in a town. They even have 7 Eleven, only that it is now abandoned, but knowing that it existed before is already something.

The first things that caught my attention were fried Santan and Bougainvillea flowers which I never dared to eat. We trekked towards the right side of the island where we found a mini park. We walked through the long array of shops selling various things creatively made by the Mon tribes. Since their expertise is on pottery, we marvelled at the creative pots most shops sell.

Lanterns made of plastic bottles

Sketched photos by Mon Tribes

A Mon tribe molding figurine

We were extremely fascinated by the creativity of the Mon tribes – from food to home decorations – it’s amazing how they came up with such beautiful styles. We stumbled upon an artist selling photo frames. He specifically chose photos of nature and put water and sand on the frame. Once you flip the frame upside down, the sand gradually drops to the bottom of the frame forming natural designs that looked like mountain ranges against the photo. I was in total awe of his creation.

Our last stop before heading home was a coffee place beside a narrow canal. It was very relaxing with its wooden motif. They served a really good iced-coffee that quenched our thirst and delicious fried bread with minced pork crumbs and fries. The jazz music in the air was an added treat!

A place to eat and relax in Koh Kret Island

Coffee shop in Koh Kret Island


Though Koh Kret was not as I expected from a typical island, the place, the warmth of the Mon tribe and their creativity that stimulated the lazy artist in me were more than enough to consider that trip worth remembering.

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Friday, April 22, 2011

Thailand's Songkran Water Festival

Songkran festival is celebrated in Thailand to mark the beginning of another year of the Thai calendar. Locals usually go to their home provinces to celebrate the New Year with their family. Hence, Bangkok will be a bit deserted during this time. However, a lot of enjoyable activities are still in store for both Farangs (Thai word for foreigners) and locals. Fun activities are at Khaosan and Silom road throughout the 3-day festival.

Out of laziness and lack of interest to play with water, I just stayed at home last year during Songkran. This year, I decided to join the craze and experience myself the fun of splashing water. On April 13, we head off to Khaosan road and had a super blast there.

The best dress to wear is something comfortable and most of all, it shouldn't be one of your favorites as it will surely get so dirty. The picture below will show how dirty one can go :-)


For tourist who are arriving in Thailand during Songkran, make sure to wrap your bag and secure valuable things such as mobile phones and cameras. Although taking a taxi will save you from getting wet, sometimes you might have to walk if the street you are going in is crowded with people splashing water. In Khaosan in particular, we saw tourists trying to squeeze in on the crowd. Another one is riding a tuktuk and was splashed with water when the traffic light turned red.






Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Welcome!

I can't believe it took me more than a year after I created this blog account to finally post something.

I am living and working in Bangkok for 2 years now. At first, I thought of working here for just a year and move to another country. However, 2 years made me realize there's so much in Thailand that I cannot really have enough of this amazing country had I stayed for just a year.

There's just so much things to do, see and experience here!

With this blog, join me as we explore Bangkok and the beautiful provinces of this amazing country, Thailand!