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Talad Rot Fai, Vintage Night Market, Bangkok

Here is one last post to share about my Bangkok trip before I disappear into a chaos of madness and appear after Chinese New year. Yes, sorry ladies and guys, don’t miss me!

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As most of you may probably know, I love vintage and when I first heard of Talad Rot Fai, Bangkok’s Vintage Weekend Night Market I was thrilled! It existed for the longest time and was previously right behind Chatuchak where it was so convenient! But now, it is relocated to Srinakharin which is crazy out of the way.

I was so determined to get there so I booked a driver, showed him the Thai map and address, and got ourselves there! But gosh, I forgot to figure the way back! It was at the outskirt of Bangkok city and there were no taxi drivers willing to send us back to Bangkok city! In the end, we took a cab to the nearest BTS station and took the train back. A major panic moment there.

So if you are some serious antique / vintage lovers, you should go there, but if you just want a look see, oh no, perhaps not. During our trip there, there were only one other Caucasian couple, the rest of the crowd there are mainly locals.

There are five main areas to look at, (1) Pretty antique shops which is at the front stretch leading towards the main market, (2) Night market selling random stuffs for the locals, stuffs are of lower quality, (3) Main building of the market selling vintage stuffs plus random stuffs not relating to vintage items, (4) Vintage flea market, selling some really old and cool stuffs, they are right at the very end, deep inside! and (5) Bars near to the Vintage flea market! We wished the Vintage flea market was bigger though!

So here are some pictures!

Area 1: A stretch of Pretty Antique Shops

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Area 2: Local Night Market

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The only thing I bought from the night market, pretty personalized bracelet.

Area 3: Main Building

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There are a few pretty coffee place like these here.

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These lamps are so pretty!

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Area 4: Vintage Flea Market

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In between the flea market and the bars.

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Almost wanted to grab a handful of these pretty knobs for my old wooden cupboard.

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Isn’t this place cool! We should have this in Singapore too! Nice.

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Area 5: Bars and Around

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Weekend Chatuchak Market, Bangkok

Back to posting about my Bangkok trip, there are actually a few more to go, but I was getting a little lazy.

So all Bangkok trip must include the Weekend Chatuchak Market!

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This is the little vintage dress shop in Chatuchak that I return without fail. My Fair Lady is along the main road near to Entrance 3.

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Spotted a Spanish Chef cooking Paella in Chatuchak! Haha. What in the world is he doing here? It was really popular among the Caucasian tourists and it is not exactly cheap! SGD 6 for a plate! It was good but just a tat oily and pricy by Bangkok standard.

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Another must eat is the coconut ice cream with different toppings. Yums.

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Oh, I missed these BBQ Pork Meat which I had a plenty in Phuket!

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Shopping is a must in Chatuchak but Chatuchak is like a labyrinth! This fashion street which is cooling does exist! At Area 4 also near Entrance 3! Have fun girls and helpful boys! Haha.

Royal Elephant Kraal and Elephantstay Sanctuary, Ayutthaya, Thailand

Our third destination is my favourite, the Elephant Kraal, which is a far ride out of the island! We just kept riding and when the journey seems endless, we stopped and asked the friendly residents who reassured us to keep going. When we finally spotted these statutes, we knew we were near!

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We also spotted an Elephant by a tree hiding under the shade and taking her lunch!

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We rode further and spotted these elephant against the wall. They were chained up and were enjoying their food as well. Talking about up close and personal with the elephants. We were really curious about what goes on behind those walls, so we rode around it to get inside.

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We went up the Pavilion and spotted another Elephant inside the enclosure. This is the Royal Kraal where the royalties in the past will gather to watch captured wild elephants train for warfare! This is the only Elephant Kraal in existence in Thailand! While we were there, there was a group of secondary school students out on excursion. They were talking to the elephant and the elephant actually waved back!

From the top of Pavilion, we spotted an elephant village from afar and am excited to get there to see more elephants!

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We were greeted by many elephants! Young and old and were overwhelmed by the fact that we were standing so close to such a majestic animal. At this sanctuary, Elephantstay, they buy old and retiring elephants to allow them to rest and enjoy their little years left instead of having them work till their death out there.

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They also focus on nurturing elephants and you can spot many young and baby elephants there too!

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Young elephant with her two front leg chained up as part of their conditioning training.

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Isn’t she adorable! Aww!

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Can you spot the little one between the two big elephants? Haha.

With so many baby and young elephants in Elephantstay, it looks like they are doing a great job nurturing them! Elephantstay is a part of a not for profit organisation and when you enter, you need to contribute a nominal fee of 50 Baht to take pictures of the elephants!

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Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya, Thailand

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The second stop after Wat Rachatburana is the one next door, Wat Mathathat! Wat Mahathat was a grand temple and their royal temple, it was the most sacred in Ayutthaya during its glorious time. There is an entrance fee at 50 Baht too at this Wat.

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Inside the Wat, there are many Buddha statues without its head and these two are the few spotted that are close to its original form.

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In Wat Mahathat, it is also where you can spot the famous tree that has grown around a Buddha head. When taking pictures of you and the Buddha head, we were told to stay low to show respect to the Buddha.

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Wat Ratcha Burana, Ayutthya, Thailand

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Our first stop was Wat Ratchaburana, a Buddhist temple which has got a tall prang that is accessible by tourist. At the top of the prang, you get a bird’s eye view of the surrounding. It is also next to Wat Mahathat which you can see from the top! If an iPhone can take such pictures, I cannot imagine what other professional camera can take! Weather was glorious with clear blue sky! Perfect for photo taking!

A nominal fee is also collected to enter this Wat!

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Part of the prang is under conservation but you can still climb to the top!
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“Wat Ratchaburana was founded in 1424 by King Borommarachathirat II of the Ayutthaya Kingdom and built on the cremation site of his two elder brothers. The two brothers had fought to their deaths in a duel for the royal succession to their father Intha Racha.

In 1957 the temple’s crypt was looted of a large number of Buddha images and gold artifacts. The thieves were later caught, but few of the treasures were recovered. Some that were recovered are now housed in the nearby Chao Sam Phraya Museum. Subsequent excavations of the crypt have uncovered many more rare Buddha images.”

Source: Wikipedia

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Reading the information on the history of this place up inside the Prang!

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I look tiny from the top!

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Nice red bricks wall!

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Many strays chilling out at the courtyard! I think my sister will faint if she even walks near them. Haha.

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An epic attempt of a Half Moon pose! Haha. I need to pull back my shoulder more! I’m officially crazy.

Day Trip to Ayutthaya

Here is the first post on our day trip to Ayutthaya from Bangkok! Many more to come!

“Founded around 1350, Ayutthaya became the second capital of Siam after Sukhothai. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands and France. All this came to a quick end when the Burmese invaded Ayutthaya in 1767 and almost completely burnt the city down to the ground.

Today, only a few remains might give a glimpse of the impressive city they must have seen. Its remains are characterized by the prang (reliquary towers) and big monasteries. Most of the remains are temples and palaces, as those were the only buildings made of stone at that time. The great cultural value of Ayutthaya’s ruins were officially recognized in 1991, when the Historic City became an UNESCO World Heritage Site. “

Source: Wiki Travel

With such rich history which became a UNESCO site and that it is a miniature version of Cambodia’s Ang Kor Wat, I wondered why I took so long to visit this site! Before we head off, we researched on four things, how to get there, when to go, what to do and what to see and below are some tips to share!

How to Get There
We were debating between taking a train there which is the cheapest way or taking a mini bus which is a fast and affordable way. In the end, we picked neither and chose the lazy way out. We hired a driver from the hotel at 2800 Baht for an entire day and we were glad we did. The ride took around 1 hr 20 mins depending on traffic.

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It was a sunny and tiring day and I cannot imagine ourselves going there in any other way. We appreciated the ride back especially after a sweaty day out riding for hours! The driver was amused to see us all sweaty and toasted and congratulated us for a great work out session! Haha.

It will be of great value to hire a driver if you are traveling in a group of four or a pampering one even if it’s just the two of you. So off we went in the comfort of a Toyota Camry, with wide leg space at 7.30am with breakfast in hand! Awww. The little luxury in life. Haha.

When to Go
I read about the crazy crowd and tour bus if you head over to Ayutthaya on a weekend, so we plan the itinerary around the trip to make sure it falls on a weekday. Additionally, we set to head out early to avoid the crowd. Leaving Bangkok at 7.30am, we reached Ayutthaya at slightly before 9am and got to enjoy the peace and tranquillity before throngs of tourist came at around 11am.

We toured around for a few hours, had lunch at a nearby shopping mall on Naresuan Road (there is KFC, Pizza, Cafe and some street vendors there) before heading to another location and call it a day at around 2pm when the sun gets too hot and scorching.

What to Do
Instead of going on a guided tour or get the driver to send us around from location to location, we rented a bicycle and cycle around the island! There are plenty of bike rental place at Soi 1 and Soi 2 on Naresuan Road among the Backpackers Inn.

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But make sure the bicycle is ok, we had to change the bicycle midway before lunch as my bicycle chain is getting weird and creaky. We rented a bicycle for 50 Baht for an entire day and the shop gave us a chain and lock.

I think the cycling made the day trip much more worth while than just plain visiting the sites. It was really fun!

ayutthaya map too

Source: Planetware

Do remember to ask for maps and brochure at the bicycle rental place! We printed this map off the web and thought it complements well with the maps from the rental shop. It has got greater details of the main island then the ones given to us from the rental shop.

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Some tips on cycling in Ayutthaya. You need great navigation skills as the buildings all look similar. Try to remember the landmark and read maps. Girls can read maps! You also need a great smile and friendly attitude to get help from the locals. The street names are all in Thai characters and we asked a security guard, random middle age man on the street and a housewife at her place. Lastly, you need a strong heart and a love for adventure! We went the wrong way a couple of times and had to cycle on a few busy streets! Generally, the drivers there are very friendly and patient with the tourist cyclist. Never once did we get honked for cycling on opposite direction, crossing the road slowly, trying hard but failing at times to keep to the side of the road and observing traffic rules while hogging the road. They simply slowed down and drove past us patiently! I’m impressed!

What to See
There are plenty temples and ruins to see in Ayutthaya and after a while they all look the same. All red bricks and crumbling, so we were really selective on the ones we wanted to see. We didn’t want to see the modern temples which is still active and have picked the top 5 sites to visit! They are Wat Mahathat, Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Lokayasutha, around Phra Ram Park and Elephant Krang/Viewing Pavilion. More of them in the next few posts!

Shopping Loots from Bangkok, 2013

For girls traveling to Bangkok, it is mostly for shopping. The clothes are cheap and fashionable and it is a shopping paradise. Unlike for guys, we are not that into cheap booze and food, we want our clothes. Haha. Ok, before I make myself sound like a helpless shopaholic ready for rehab, we did make a trip to Ayutthaya and cycled around the island! More on that later with lots of beautiful pictures.

First up, here is a summary of my purchases and it can be a great reference on what to expect if you intend to go shopping in Bangkok!

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Melissa shoes which I paid approximately SGD 74 for each pair! Decided to not buy cheap shoes that won’t last and invest in a few pair of good ones instead.

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My favourite buy other than my Melissa shoes! These beautiful printed shift dress are so well fitted and good in quality! With double layers and beautiful fit. They are the most pricey of the lot at 650 to 750 baht for each dresses. But they are considered cheap in Singapore! The sales girl even wrapped them up in plastic, gave a free hanger and put them in these reusable bags! Wow! They are found in Platinum Mall level 2, near an escalator and their store is called Trust. The prints varies from time to time.

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Second Hand Denim Shorts from Chatuchak at 100 Baht each! They were first introduced to me by my sister in our last trip and at SGD 4 a pair, it was a steal! Not for those picky but do remember to wash them thoroughly with antiseptics! Haha.

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From a Vintage dress shop in Chatuchak which is also recommended by my sister! At 300 Baht each! I love vintage dresses as they are often well made and has that swing that modern dresses don’t have.

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Dresses from Platinum Mall. All between 300 to 400 Baht.

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Pretty tops between 200 to 350 Baht.

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Cheap waist belts! Not so adventurous me got them in brown, black and gold. Leather accessories which I love! And two necklaces. Didn’t buy any chunky necklaces this time round.

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Pretty bracelet for my sister and I at 150 Baht each!

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Dog treats for my friend’s dogs from Chatuchak! They are only 3 for 100 Baht which is dirt cheap! In Singapore, they are retailing for around SGD 4 – 7 dollars! Heartguard for Steph’s dog at SGD 20 a box! In Singapore they are retailing at SGD 48! Thailand manufacturers a lot of the dog treats and medicines and so you can find them at really low prices!

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My sister’s favourite garlic bread from Chatuchak which was freshly baked daily. I lugged these and hand carry them just for her!

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Naraya Bags for our friends.

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Pretty little baby girl’s dress for Little Alph. So cute! Haha.

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Pretty printed laptop bag for a friend.

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For my little brother! Short sleeve shirt and t-shirts!

Melissa Shoes, Jelly Dreams Bangkok

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Melissa Shoe is all the craze right now and in Singapore it is selling at quite a high price at some stores and online shops.

I love rubber shoes, even before my Crocs days I already own a few random rubber shoes! I love that I can splash them in puddles and it is so light and comfortable! During this trip, I’ve decided to pop by Jelly Dreams, Central World – the official Melissa Shoes store in Thailand!

It is indeed comfortable and really light! They have many crazy designs and really stylish ones with spikes and all. But I am someone who likes my shoes in basic colours and design so that they are versatile and I can wear them everywhere with any outfits! Haha.

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Wanted to get this in nude, but the entire Bangkok ran out of my size despite it being part of the New Arrival

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Got this design in Nude and Black instead! Yes, I’m crazy. Getting two shoes of same design in different colour. Haha. Because it is simple and comfortable! Nude for going out and black for work! Price at 1990 Baht, tourist has got a 10 percent discount and so in the end, I only paid for SGD 74 for each pair! A saving of SGD 31 compared to the ones sold at MDreams Singapore and it is not even on sale! Can you imagine how much they will be when on sale?

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Got another pair of the black version for work at the same price. The cat is too cute! Meow.

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All their shoes come with a cotton shoe bag! Nice!

Glow Pratunum, Bangkok

I am back from Bangkok and I can’t wait to share all the photos that I’ve taken! It was a really great trip! Great fun, great shopping, superb weather and I couldn’t ask for more! We even got bumped up to Emergency Exit seats and First Row seats to and back from Bangkok on Tiger Air! How blessed and fortunate! First post, on our hotel!

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Glow Pratunum came recommended by Yvonne who went there earlier last month and it was really nice!

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Very comfortable, love the fluffy soft bed and pillow, very clean, and it is very new too!

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There isn’t a tub but I don’t mind at all! Bangkok tap water is not exactly clean for soaking. Haha.

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Their toilet is connected to the room via a wardrobe which is accessible by the toilet or the room!

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The room also comes with a couch! Perfect for breakfast and snacking.

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Spacious and corners to dump your luggage!

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Best part? Just a short walk to Platinum Mall and walking distance to Central World!

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Our glowy hotel! It actually looks like a Love Hotel from the outside, with those lights and all pinky like a club. Haha.

Here are the Yays and Nays of this hotel!

Yays!

  • Really affordable. I booked it at a promotional fare of SGD 285.79 for 4D3N stay without breakfast via Hotels.com! and also top up an additional SGD 60 – 70 for a half day extension till 5pm.
  • Great location for shopaholics! Just a short walk away to Platinum Mall and there are many facilities around the hotel. E.g Starbucks and 24 Hours Mac Donald right below the hotel!
  • Walking distance to the nearest BTS station.It took us approximately 15 minutes to walk over to the BTS station. Otherwise, there are plenty of Taxi and Tuk Tuk outside the hotel.
  • Clean and comfortable.
  • Cable TV (e.g Channel News Asia, Sony Entertainment, Universal, Syfy, MTV etc) are available
  • Free Wifi in the room! Extremely important!
  • Swimming pool, gym and steam room available. But we didn’t get to use them! Too busy shopping.
  • Provide 4 bottles of complimentary water!

Nays!

  • BTS station is not at the door step. Haha.
  • Basic amenities like safe, fridge, kettle are available, but I wished they provide better shampoos / shower foam (we used our own instead), disposable shaver and a box of tissue in the room instead of just in the toilet! Haha. Ok, as you can see, I am really nitpicking because there is really nothing to complain about!

So will I recommend this hotel to my friends? Absolutely yes! Will I stay there again? Very likely unless there is another hotel recommended by my friend to give it a try! Haha.

Bangkok!

I am going Bangkok in October!

It was initially an all girls shopping trip, but Alphania is now pregnant with a baby girl (CONGRATS!)! A few months back I told the girls I had to cancel the trip too because of my new responsibilities! Without risking not visiting Bangkok, Yvonne got her flight changed and flew off the night before with her university friend (*wink wink)!

But a few days back, my schedule is out and it seems like I can squeeze in a Bangkok trip before all hell break loose in November and since I got the go ahead from my boss, Bangkok is now back on track! It is really a bonus because I went Phuket thinking that I will miss out on Bangkok and now, I have rearranged it to be a shopping and sightseeing trip!

Chatuchak and Platinum Mall will top my list! But I will want to visit Rod Fat Night Market (which sells random vintage stuffs, wanted to visit this place but failed the last Bangkok trip as we were too tired) and go out on a day trip to Ayutthaya! A UNESCO side and I love ruins!

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Grabbed it off Jieying’s Facebook page! Haha.

Phuket Town Weekend Market

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Phuket weekend market, located along Chao Fa West Road just outside Phuket Town not far from Central Festival.

There is often a night/street market in many Asian countries, e.g Thailand, Malaysia, Taiwan, China etc, and after researching online, Phuket Town Weekend Market stood out from the rest as being the liveliest one in Phuket!

It is far from Bangkok’s Chatuchak but it is a good place to visit when you have enough booze and just want some light shopping for souvenirs and random clothes, and some pigging out with even more street food!

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The range of clothes are not as wide as Bangkok but it sure beats Patong’s random Chang Beer T-shirts! You can’t try them on though and they are mostly “free size” but actually, it is mainly Asian XS or S size.

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This is the only store which stood out from the rest with something original. I wanted to get the “Spot the Dog in 99 Cats” painting for Chengwei’s new place but wasn’t quite prepared to lug it back home with an already overweight luggage filled with snacks for my staffs!

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Really Cute!

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Just like Chatuchak, they have a little corner selling pets and accessories. Poor Lemurs.

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My favourite street food again, BBQ Pork on Stick.

Patong Beach, Phuket

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Who says Patong Beach is dirty and messy? We woke up to a glorious sunny morning and decided to head to the beach. It was peaceful and clean, the sand is fine, the water is clear and the waves are huge! Perhaps it’s because it’s a morning and the monsoon season! If we have more time, I would love to just laze around for a tan while people watching.

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Bangla Street, Patong

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Ready to visit Bangla Street!

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This is where crazy Thailand comes alive at night, with pole dancers (wrigglers), Ping Pong Shows and trannies come out to play. I’m only interested in clean fun but it is still an interesting sight and definitely a treat for all five senses.

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At Bangla Street, you can only find western food or bars except for a “Food Court” which serves local food!

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My favourite street food is the barbecue pork on stick!

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Monkey Cave Temple, Phang Nga

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After our ATV session at Phang Nga we were supposed to visit a waterfall, but the rain the day before and during the early morning made some trees collapsed and blocked out the entrance to the waterfall. Boo. But we did get to visit the Monkey Cave Temple in Phang Nga! There is a nominal fee of THB 20 to enter the temple and it is well worth the THB 20. I love caves and I find it really amazing to build a temple within a cave! If it is along the way to your ATV, Water rafting, or Elephant riding sessions in Phang Nga, it is worth a short visit!

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This guy snatched a bag full of bananas from a tourist! They just can’t wait for you to feed them!

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ATV adventure at Phang Nga, Thailand

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We travelled all the way to Phang Nga from Phuket for an exciting ATV session! It is about 2 hours drive up to Phang Nga and it is in between Krabi and Phuket. You can either enjoy ATV session in Phuket itself, where they travel mainly on roads and bring you around to see the Big Buddha. But we opted to go Phang Nga for a more adventurous session!

Phang Nga is where most tourist go for Elephant riding, white water rafting and ATV; but for us, we picked a 2 hours ATV session!

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The river for rafting!

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Ele Ele Elephants!

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Before we started, the operator got us to sign an agreement that if we break any parts of the vehicle, we have to pay!

The first hour was mainly getting use to the vehicle, travelling on smoother gravel paths, muds and occasional slopes.

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We travelled here for for a few spin and photos!

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The operator took this for us and wanted to charge us THB200 (SGD 8)! Nope, I didn’t buy it.

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The second hour was the real adventure. Rocky terrains, crossing rivers, riding up and down slopes at almost 45 degree angle, got stuck in mud up on a slope and riding over potholes. I almost died. I was a nerve wreak trying to manoeuvre the machine and it was a crazy ride!

This is where we got stuck at this rocky stream before heading up slope!

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One of the smaller slopes!

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The only souvenir we brought home! Mud and wonderful memories!

A disaster at the beach, Phuket

This post is about what not to wear or do at a beach to avoid looking like a disaster.

I will probably sound like a bitch in this post and I accept that, but it’s not surprising if you get photobomb by tourists in almost all your pictures.

Another couple commented that this is the worst place on earth, and even though that is a little of an exaggeration, it is definitely not some where I would want to be.

So here goes!

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Do not wear granny long dress to a beach. Unless it is a really sexy one with a resort vibe and preferably worn at a pool or beach villa, than it is fine. Otherwise you will not only end up looking like a disaster, it will also be an impractical and a messy business.

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An umbrella at a sunny beach? That’s a sin! If you can’t embrace the glorious sunny day blessed for a day at the beach, stay indoor! Otherwise you end up sticking out like a sore thumb.

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I know neon colours are trendy these days but clashing bright neon colours are not for the faint hearted.

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Floral top matched with floral bottom? I’m speechless.

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Big bright and large beach hat. That is so Fong Fei Fei.

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Huge flowers on your head? Checked. A huge bright scarf ? Checked. A beach? Checked. Waving a huge bright scarf on a beach with a huge flower on your head while getting your picture taken? Definitely something you see out of an MTV from the 1980s.

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Never ever attempt to take girly-acting sexy-unnatural looking photo right in front of a big wave. You look more like a drench chicken. Try something strong and sexy instead. Like a standing or walking towards the beach pose. Imagine the girls from Baywatch.

Phi Phi Island Hopping Tour, Phuket

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On the fourth day of our Phuket trip, we head out for island hopping! We were blessed with a glorious sunny day which gave me uneven tan and sunburn. Haha. All my hopes for a healthy glow ended up with peeling black patches on my shoulder. Boo.

Initially we wanted to visit Similan Island for some real snorkeling but it is close during the monsoon period, so we had little options and decided to visit Phi Phi Island instead. Bad choice, really bad decision here. Thankfully it was a beautiful day and we got some pretty pictures with a clear blue sky!

So back to the island hopping tour, we sat on a bumpy speed boat which died every 20 minutes and landed first at Maya Bay.

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Beautiful isn’t it!

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Clear clear water!

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I hate my tummy.

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The only “quiet” patch of beach on Maya Bay.

From afar, the place looks gorgeous but as we move nearer, we were greeted with hundreds of tourist on the beach and a whole sea of yachts. It was a frightening sight. We were flooded with hundreds tourists!

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Tell me this won’t ruin your beach holiday?

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Maya Bay where the movie “The Beach” was filmed, but where is the freaking beach!

After Maya Bay, we move on to Viking Cave (Bird’s Nest Cave), Monkey Bay (horrible place where they throw fruits to them, making them aggressive and dependent on human feeding), snorkeling in the open sea (where they throw breads to attract one type of fish to swim around us) before we stop by Phi Phi Island for lunch break. Lunch was average. You can’t expect much from it.

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Viking Cave. If only we can go in to see the cave wall painting left behind by the vikings. Boo.

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Monkey Bay. Painful to watch them feed the monkeys.

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Fake snorkeling.

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Lunch.

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Touring around Phi Phi Island and rewarding myself with a Magnum ice cream (really cheap in Thailand, smaller is size but half the price!) after suffering in the trip.

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Me giving up at Phi Phi Island.

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Phi Phi Island.

After lunch we headed to Khai Nai Island for some tanning and relaxing at the beach. The beach is beautiful, less crowded because it is much bigger, but not suited for swimming. The beach is filled with rocks and corals and there is no fresh clean water in this island. So you can imagine the condition of the washroom there. After walking around, we decided to rent a couple of beach chairs and an umbrella for THB 150.

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Love the colourful beach umbrella though!

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My thunder thigh and my bulging tummy are scary and I hate my uneven tan lines. I shall stop snacking and do more yoga. Yikes.

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Some tropical fruits for us as we relax in Khai Nai Island.

John Gray’s Sea Canoeing “Hong by Starlight”, Phuket – Part II

After our expedition shared in the previous post, we were cold and hungry. Even though we didn’t canoe on our own for most of the time, the excitement and sights did tire us down. We were not allowed to canoe on our own as navigating the caves requires experience and expertise to avoid damaging the canoe and hurting ourselves.

As the evening draws near, we were treated with a feast of barbecued chicken, thai style fish, delicious Tom yum soup and other lovingly prepared food in the tiny kitchen in our yacht.

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After dinner, we had a make-your-own Krathong session conducted by our instructor.

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Tadah! Our creation!

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Other styles of Krathong in the making.

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Definitely a family bonding activity.

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Can’t wait to get back into the water to launch it!

Another picture of my toe for Toemail submission! Canoeing in sea caves at night! Woooo. If you are afraid of the dark and are suffering from mild Claustrophobia, close your eyes and breathe through the ride of a few metres in total darkness.

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Some of the team launched their Krathong ahead of us!

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Eager to launch my Krathong too!

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Pure serenity and magic.

To the Thais, launching the Krathong during Loi Krathong festival allowed them to make wishes, send the negative thoughts away and thank the Goddess of River. This is especially relevant for the Thai communities who lived by rivers or water bodies. We appreciate the tour operators’ thoughtfulness in exposing us to their culture. It is a unique one which no other tour operator provides. Most of the sea canoeing activities ends in mid afternoon by other tour operators but John Gray Sea Canoe organised their activities to begin in the afternoon for the exact same reason. To get away from the crowd and connect with the nature.

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As the crew drew up the anchor from the last resting spot, it concludes the night as we enjoy the sea breeze back to mainland.

 

John Gray’s Sea Canoeing “Hong by Starlight”, Phuket – Part I

I’ve been an avid reader of Toemail and I love the blog! At Toemail, readers from all over the world contribute posts about their daily life or cool places they visited! I’ve always wanted to be featured in their blog but didn’t have a nice picture of my toes or a good story to share! But this time round, I’ve experienced a superb tour in Phuket and am trying my luck here flashing my toes and writing about canoeing in sea caves by day and by night! Yes, you heard me right, by night too! It was a magical experience in a peaceful nature environment, an experience which allowed me to connect myself with the nature in a way no other tour operators are able to offer.

Here is the first post where we canoe in the day exploring sea caves. In the second posts, we had a feast, made our own Kratong, explore sea caves at night and launch our Kratong while wishing for good luck.

Before I begin, I need to declare this day trip the best trip ever throughout our Phuket trip! One not to be missed! I had a mission to canoe among sea caves and while researching for the best tour operators, John Gray’s Sea Canoeing program “Hong by Starlight” repeatedly stood out from the rest. Their reviews were mostly positive with visitors all around the world raving about it. It was an award winning tour, not the cheapest but the one with the best value and experience. I had to go for it.

I also love that they truly care for the environment, whenever we canoe pass a trash, the instructors will surely pick it up. They also choose to start their tour in the afternoon to avoid the noisy tourists from other tours which we experienced in Phi Phi Island. If you are curious about this tour, you can also visit their website here.

Don’t book it online because you can negotiate with tour operators at various booking desks found all over Patong Beach, Phuket. We booked ours at the tour desk in our hotel lobby at a price lower than online price. Generally rule in Thailand, you can bargain for almost everything.

So here is the post proper.

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Ok. Perhaps I should not start the post with a picture of myself acting cute. Haha. Totally putting off my dear readers but I’m quite cute right. Haha.

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We were blessed with a drizzling day and when I said blessed, I mean it. On hindsight, after experiencing a scorching sunny day on the second last day with burnt skin, we were thankful that it was a cloudy drizzling day on the second! Even though we looked pathetic in most pictures because of the rain, it did not dampened out spirit!

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Hopped into a local bus like this to get to our yacht.

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Before we set off, we were treated with yummy noodles, spring rolls and tropical fruits to boost our energy!

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Thereafter, our chief instructor shared some safety guidelines and the area we are about to explore. Sea caves are like donuts in the sea. Imagine a donut in water and the main objective is to get into the centre circle of the donut. Inside the centre circle, it is filled with trees and mangroves. The only way into the centre circle is through sea caves. Sea caves are like bites of donut and it allow a way into the centre circle. But the sea caves are not always open to explorers like us! If the tide is too low, the caves will be dried up and with sharp rocks, it is too dangerous to get in. When the tide is too high, the entire cave will be filled with water and the canoe will not be able to venture in. If we are able to get in, we also have to make sure we can get out, and that is why the experience and expertise of the instructors are very important.

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With that information, we were all set to go! Enjoy the view! Some of them were a little blurry but with an iPhone tucked in a waterproof case, that’s the best we had. Haha.

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There were all sorts of caves. Big and small, tall and short, wide and narrow. At some point, we even had to lay flat on the canoes to avoid hitting our head!

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Me drenched in a pink poncho like a giant bubblegum. Yikes.

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Inside the donut, a mangrove tree!

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Canoe instructors from other tour operators taking a break by anchoring their canoe on the caves.

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There were barnacles and broken death oysters all above the edge of the caves and upon closer inspection, we spotted crabs! Many many many crabs! There were probably thousands or ten of thousands of mini green crabs, but my lousy camera can’t zoom in for a good picture.

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Can you spot the crab which camouflage really well?

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After canoeing, we were given some free time to canoe on our own and swim around!

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We were also given yummy banana muffins and hot tea / coffee. How thoughtful!

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This trip is fantastic and it is only part one! There are more in the next post.

Things to buy in Bangkok

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Pretty tops, fanciful necklaces and cheap sandals found at Platinum Mall and a roadside store near our hotel!

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At Chatuchak, I lugged home a lot of snacks for Barley! At a few dollars each, they are less than half the price found in Pets Safari! Stephanie’s Heartguard costs SGD40 for two packs, which usually sells at SGD48 each! Do look out for the expiry dates and buy from stores that specialize in dog food!

One of the interesting find in Chatuchak is my grey printed vintage dress! We bought it from a second hand store that sells second hand vintage dresses from the 60s – 80s. According to my sister, vintage dress has that twirl and swing which is hard to come across, and I couldn’t agree more! If you are heading there, do not miss their hippie and trendy lane which is near Exit 1 (if I am not wrong), it is right next to Toilet 4 and on the left hand side when you face the market. It is at the lane closet to the main street! There are nicer clothes there!

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On the third day, my parents made us visit Wat Pho and Grand Palace even though I have been there 3 times in my lifetime. All for family time and cultural experience! In the afternoon, we head over to Central World where we visited one Naraya! Most of their printed bags look like diaper bag but I thought their plain mini bags are really cute! Bought plenty of those and it is really affordable, a mini bag is selling at 170 baht! I bought a purple, pink and black one for the SSS girls. Haha. Their lunch bag for their wallet, phone and tissue paper! It’s easy to guess which colour belongs to which girl! We also head over to Boots for cheap toiletries! There are many Boots brand beauty products and other exclusive brands but I have no idea what is good and what is not! There after we head over to Platinum 2 for some quick shopping for bags and shoes!

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On the last day, we went for a last minute shopping at Platinum 2 again and got more ballet flats! I love ballet flats, as they are comfortable and easy to wear! They come in really handy when I’m travelling! Everything I bought is between 100 to 500 baht, with most of them between 250 – 390 baht. Nothing over SGD20 except for a cute sling bag and a pretty brass bracelet! I’m a happy girl! More shopping in NYC! J is giving me that dirty look. Hah.

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