Friday, June 25, 2010

Why Korea?

If you look at my side bar, you will see my Travel Wish List. On it, Korea is on the first list. Now, why Korea you ask?

In my earlier post, I have told you about my mom who is an avid traveler and that she had brought each of us, siblings, to travel. During my final year in Uni, mom went to US and Canada and came back with lots of pictures of her and her middle age lady friends, playing snowball like small kiddos. That was her first snow in 50 years of her life. I asked her, "Are you happy ma? You've been to quite a few places around the globe already" and she replied with a very much contented Yes. And then, I asked her where is the next destination she wanted to go and she answered Japan. Being the optimist person that I was, I told mom to put her Japan on hold so that I could bring her when I start working. She smiled.

Three years upon my graduation, I was nowhere able to finance myself to go Japan, what more to finance mom's expenses. Japan is freaky expensive with capital E! When her friend invited her to go for spring vacation in Japan, mom softly told me, "I couldn't wait for you. Bring me somewhere else later."

For years after that, I was squeezing my brain as to where shall I bring mom for vacation. I wanted to bring her to Land Down Under but I just couldn't put my finance up for it. I wanted to bring her to any of the South East Asia countries but she had been to half of the listed countries while the other half... she just isn't keen to go. With the budget I have set in mind, I couldn't come up with a better destination. Not until mom popped the solution herself. Korea.

She wants to go to Korea but hasn't have any of her friends wanting to head to that Winter Sonata Land.

But I wasn't into Korea. At least I have not thought of listing it in my travel wish list for the next 3 years. But hey, look at how it turned out to be... Korea is actually my next travel destination after our Perth vacation this coming September. This year alone, two of my friends went to Korea and some others are plotting Korea as their next travel destination. There must be something about Korea that make people want to go there... and that is for me to find out.

Mom and I, we are so gonna do Korea! God's willing.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sawadeeka Bangkok! - Final Day

Our last day in Bangkok was only spent with last minute shopping. We went back to Pratunam Whole Sale Market to see what we can get at the eleventh hour. This time, all of us trooped together.

The thrill part when entering this market is due to its small alleys and jam-packed small streets. Going in there is like going into clothe-maze. The prices are definitely cheap but of course, expect nothing luxury to the like of Prada, Gucci, etc. However, if you are able to walk through all the small shops, you might find a piece or two that is of good quality and one of its kind.

When we were at the Rose Garden on Day Two, SIL and I saw these range of bags with Kandee-like print on it. They were so beautiful but we were in-decisive about purchasing it since we were in a tourist attraction souvenir shop. We thought the price might have been jacked up. We decided not to buy and made it a point to hunt down for the bags at the whole sale market or other shopping malls. Unfortunately, we couldn't find any of that bag after that.

However, right after our shopping spree at the Pratunam Whole Sale Market, we crossed over to the other side of the road to go to Indra Square. The minute we walked in the building, we spotted THE bag on the first shop we saw. SIL was like, "What? All this while, the bags were actually a walking distance to our hotel!". And that was true. Indra Square is nearby Baiyoke Hotel but we hadn't have the time go around in the earlier days. Bliss was enough to describe our joy seeing those vogue bags. Both SIL and I bought three bags each! Glad we did the last minute shopping for if not, we would not have bumped on those bags ever.

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From smallest to biggest - RM12, RM15, RM18 (or was it 20).

Well, not exactly ever cos I have seen these bags selling when 1Borneo just opened. But then again, the price is more expensive that those we bought in Bangkok.

Went back to the hotel, contented with our last minute purchases, SIL and I decided to head to the reflexology shop which by the way are like mushrooms, scattering around the city. The one that we went offered a 30-45 minutes foot massage for about MYR18. Cheap right? And it was a good one too cos the foot therapist put emphasis on making our experience a pleasant one - not painful.

Before we left the hotel, took the time to ascended the hotel's tower and play around the displays shown around the floor.


Finally, it was time to wave good bye.

Laew phob gan mai (see you again) Bangkok!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Sawadeeka Bangkok! - Day Three

Only one destination on our Day Three, The Grand Palace.It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Although the current king doesn't stay here anymore, this palace is very much in use mostly for royal ceremonies purpose i.e. coronation, royal funeral, marriage and state banquet. The Palace ground also contain the offices and buildings of the Bureau of the Royal Household, the Office of the Private Secretary to the King and Royal Institute of Thailand.

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The golden stupa on the left is Phra Sri Rattana Chedi, one of the main pagodas that can clearly be seen from miles away. 
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This painting on the wall is more than 100m in length. Restoration on the painting is always on going to maintain its beauty. My SIL jokingly said that when that guy in the picture has finished with that area he was working on, the other area would already be faded and needs re-touching. That means, being the illustrator/painter specifically for that wall is no joke. Non-stop working. :)
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School goers doing their study trip at the Palace, learning their own history. That looked fun considering the magnificent structures and carving in and outside the palace that already tell stories.
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A model of Angkor Wat (the most sacred of all Cambodian shrines)  was also built on the Upper Terrace.
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Apsara, a female spirit of the clouds and waters.
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Wat Phra Kaew also known as Temple of the Emerald Buddha where it resides the Emerald Buddha, the palladium of the kingdom of Thailand. Except for the Thai King, no other person is allowed to touch the statue. The King changes the cloak around the statue three times a year, corresponding to the summer, winter, and rainy seasons, an important ritual performed to usher good fortune to the country during each season.

On the left is one of the Garudas that hold the Nagas and on the right, us in front of the entrance of the Temple of Buddha. Camera is not allowed inside so no picture of the Emerald Buddha here.
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Some amazing intricate details cladding the wall outside the Temple of Buddha.
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Enthralling statues.
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Office buildings for the government on the Palace ground.

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Chakri Mahaprasat Hall.
Its architecture was influenced by Italian Renaissance with a touch of Thais. Initially, the roof was built domed cathedral-like but subsequently replaced with an elaborate, pointy-style Thai roof. To this day, the Thais refer to it as “the westerner in a Thai hat.”
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On on our way back to the hotel, we saw this bunch of people camping outside the Ministry of Agriculture's building. Our tour guide told us, these were people from the rural areas that hold a silent protest to the government due to unfair economic distribution or something. I couldn't remember much. But with what have just happened in Bangkok (the Red and Yellow shirt war) recently, we were lucky to visit Bangkok when the country was in rather peaceful time.
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We didn't have other things to do after visit to The Grand Palace and were left to roam Bangkok city all by ourselves. SIL and I (left the hubby to tend the kids at the hotel room) did what we women good at - SHOPPING! We went to Pratunam Whole Sale Market. No picture while doing our shopping activities to which I regret much now. Below are pictures I shot when we had our Thai fried rice at one of the stalls alongside the street of Bangkok.

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Shopping experience in Bangkok was quite thrilling and definitely fun, especially when you have excellent bargaining skill. We didn't but we still enjoyed the bargaining experience we had with the local traders. There was this shopping complex that houses all the factory outlet products where one can buy in bulk and get huge discount. That made our heart jumping up and down. There's never a time before that we would think so much of others (Read: friends, friends of friends, friends of friends of friends).  We were like, " If I buy this, I can buy 9 more and sell them to dearest brother and his friend and his friend's friend and his friend's friend's friend, etc". You get me?

After shopping , we wanted to have our aching and tiring feet pampered but decided to put it on hold for the next day. So yeah, that's it for Day Three in Bangkok.

Stay tune for the final day in Bangkok!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sawadeeka Bangkok! - Day Two

Second day in Bangkok saw us waking up as early as 5am. We were told to get ready at the tour company's office located just below our hotel at 6am. Today's itinerary involved two hours of driving to the province of Ratchaburi, 109 kilometers south of Bangkok. Our main destination; Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

Going to Ratchaburi, we had to first endure the busy road of Bangkok. We spotted so many of this pink cab. My niece called it, her cab and insisted that we board that taxi at least once while we were there.
pink cabbie

Tuk Tuk, Thai's version of tri-cycle.
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Breaking the fast, Bangkok style.
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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, known to be one of the attractive traveling sites in Bangkok, we wouldn't want to miss the opportunity of a life time to witness buying and selling activity from the comfort of our small rowing boat!

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I must say that, what attracts tourists to flock this place is because of its rare sight; hundreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying or exchanging their goods. You can even experience traffic jam amongst the many rowing boats. And when that happened, all the vendor needs to do is take out his long fishing-rod like stick with a hook on its end, throw it to any boat that causing the jam and pulled it away. I find that very amusing!

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Once described as Venice of the East.

They live here...
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They sell crafts, fruits...
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Grilled bananas and red meat...
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And of course, fresh young coconut to quench your traveler's thirst :)
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After having our taste of shopping on a rowing boat, we were brought to watch snake show. I wasn't keen but at the same time badly wanted to fight my Ophidiophobia. And I did it. I finally know how snake skin feels like. Dry and scaly.
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cobra show

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Departing from Damnoen Saduak, we headed back to the city. 30 kilometers before we reached Bangkok city, we stopped at Rose Garden. The site comprises 75 acres of perfectly manicured grounds with a lake as a central feature. Certainly a place for gentle strolls and picnics, the resort also offers a number of excellent restaurants alongside cultural shows including handicraft skills, Thai boxing, and sword fighting. For the children’s entertainment there’s also an elephant show, and for adults, the site has its own golf course and a spa.

But of course, we didn't go there for golf or spa.

rose garden
We had the chance to witness Thai Cultural Dance show at the theater hall. The show comprises of Thai's prominent cultures such as Ordination Into The Monkhood, Fingernail Dance, Thai Boxing, Dance From The North East, That Wedding Ceremony, Kala Dance and Yoey Dance. Click HERE for more information of each performance. Unfortunately, we were seated kinda far from the stage and my tiny compact camera wasn't built for far distance shoot. But I had them captured. Just that, I don't remember where I stored the video recording. My bad.

Right after the performance, we rushed back to our hotel to get ready for tonight's show at Siam Niramit. The distance between Rose Garden at the city isn't far but considering Bangkok's traffic jam as one of the worst in the world, a 20 minutes drive could prolong to one or two hours!

We managed to arrive in time and had our dinner. The show package has the option of having with or without buffet dinner but I recommend you to take the dinner buffet package cos the food and of course the show worth the money. We paid MYR90 per pax but after watching the show, there's nothing to argue about the pricing.

siam niramit

As most stage theater's rules, no camera or video allowed inside. We must be inside the theater on time or else, we have to wait outside until the intermediate break takes off. So, no pictures inside.


I can tell you one thing... it was a spectacular stage performance. One that you must witness with your own eyes to agree with me. It was so enchanting, breath-taking and not forgetting beautifully colorful. It is a must-do while in Bangkok and you can actually purchase the ticket online. Just like we did. Read HERE to find more info of Siam Niramit.

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We all went back, satisfied. It isn't the best word to describe our feelings but yeah, that's to wrap our Bangkok Day Two.

Stay tune for Day Three!