Hua Hin and Santorini Park – Bangkok

Last post I mentioned that Hua Hin and Santorini Park were not worth a visit. Amidst all of the reviews which we realised were overrated, you could really do with a little bit of excitement though (no thrill rides, sorry to disappoint for adrenaline junkie!). Get away from the busy and over populated city of Bangkok!

Hua Hin is about 2 hours 30 minutes drive from Bangkok. There are a few travel options for you to choose – by bus, train or flight. We went by Grab Taxi. The convenience of Grab, I know!

To start with, breakfast by the street. We googled for halal food joints and found a few but located quite a distance from our hotel. We walked for about 15 minutes before reaching the place. A little exploration as we walked.

It was scorching hot in Hua Hin and we were not dressed for the beach cause we never intended to stay there long. There were pretty horses for ride at the entrance.

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We took a stroll along the beach. It was supposed to be calming but I spent more time meddling with my camera actually. My lense just had to fail on me, out of all time! 😓 So, I had to find the right setting and doing it under the hot sun really got me on my nerves. I really wished I had brought along a point to shoot camera instead. Pfft!

There were resorts and villas facing the beach but most of it were empty, not many patrons on the beach. I can count the number of people sun bathing with my hands.

Not long after we left, it started to drizzle and we took shelter at Hua Hin Market Village.

The road along Hua Hin reminded me of Bali and Mui Ne. Or maybe all of the roads to the beach were built to look like that? Freshened up and the rain finally stopped so we head out and asked the tuk tuk how much it would cost to drive us to Satorini Park. The first two drivers we asked charged us 120 baht to Santorini Park while the third offered to take us to Santorini Park and The Swiss Sheep Farm for 200 baht round trip for one person. So be smart to ask around before hopping on the tuk tuk.

To our dismay, it started to rain heavily when we reached Santorini Park. The theme park was not closed but the rides were. Only the indoor games were available. And it was kinda confusing how they charge for every entry. For example, you bought yourself a pass to enter the park. Then, to go on a ride, you’d need to pay with the pass you got and some rides may require additional tickets or you’d have to pay cash on top of it. We wouldn’t be keen if the rides were opened.

Since my camera failed on me, I couldn’t get a pretty picture of the Ferris Wheel at the entrance.

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We were given an hour by our driver but because it was so bored, we left early. Have you been to Santorini Park? Tell me your experience below.

The Swiss Sheep Farm didn’t have much to offer either but thank goodness the rain stopped so we had our chance to feed the sheeps. Since it was only November, they hadn’t remove their Halloween props. Kudos to their Halloween decorations.

Apparently, every visitors who interacted with the sheeps had their pictures taken.

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This was taken off the frame they sold at the exit.

If you don’t wish to buy the photo which comes with a frame, you are allowed to take a photo of it. Too bad they didn’t sell just the photo. I would have gotten it otherwise.

Another long journey back to Bangkok City by the minivan. Took us so much longer than expected. I don’t remember how much we paid for the van but I know it was cheap! Howver, it took us longer than expected. There was one stop for toilet break and multiple stops to pick and drop people off. I remembered reading somewhere on trip advisor that the van rides cost them somewhat 120 – 150 baht. And it was an express ride. Guess we should have checked on that before boarding. Lesson learnt.

Later, there was a small confusion about the drop off due to language barrier but was saved by a local who could speak basic english. She guided us to our next destination. Thank you for kind people!

The van dropped us off at an MRT station and then we had to make the switch to BTS and head over to Saphan Taksin. Take the exit to the Central Pier and take a boat to the Asiatique Mall. You could go the easier way by just flagging a cab there.

For easy navigations and references, you can refer to the BTS and MRT map which looks like this.

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Or you can just easily get it off the internet.

I found Asiatique Mall to be a food heaven. We were surrounded by food trucks, restaurants, bars and cafes. I would love to walk around for a bit more but my legs were screaming for help! It’d been two days straight we spent walking from dawn to dusk! That must have been my calling! Time to do more exercise. Ah, maybe I do have a resolution after all. 😂

We took our exit and bought ourselves dinner by the road side. There was a halal chicken rice food truck and the famous banana pancake with nutella! Or it was really just prata with banana and drizzles of nutella and condensed milk. I’m not a fan of nutella but if you’re in Bangkok, you can’t miss their banana pancake!

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Well, it’s been quite a lengthy post for just a day out, guess I’ll keep the rest of our story for another post.

Laters,
S

Bangkok Day Two

Day two started super early. First stop was to Amphawa Floating Market. Reviews said to be there early to beat the crowds. Also, because it will take almost an hour or more to drive there from Bangkok. We went there by Grab Taxi which costs us less than 40bahts not inclusive of the highway toll. Of course, the driver tried to bargain with us initially but there was nothing much he could do. The price was stated clearly by Grab.

After an hour journey, the ambience that greeted us wasn’t what we expected or not how it looked like on the internet. Amphawa Floating Market was closed to our dismay due to no crowd. Well the driver was kind enough to suggest Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and drove us there with an extra charge. Fair enough.  

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Damnoen Saduak is about 20 mins away from Aphawa. There was a mix of emotions seeing the condition of living there. Most of the peddlers were elderly who set out in the wee hours hoping to earn some honest living from tourists and locals. While my heart swell a bit for them, I am amazed at their detemination though.

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We didn’t go on the boat ride because it started to drizzle when we reached. We walked around, snapped some photos and bought some fruits before we made a move. There weren’t any Grab drivers available on our location and we were lucky that the earlier taxi driver was still around. Apparently, there weren’t many people getting out from there. Most of the tourists came in vans and minibuses. So, when he quoted us 60bahts to Chatuchak, we agreed.  

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I’ve been excited about Chatuchak. Heard so many reviews and I was psyched to shop! My cousins went to Bangkok to shop with only SGD200 and came home with amazing loots. I had more than SGD200 but I couldn’t find anything much that I like! I bought a pair of sandals, a bag that has an image of a cat on glasses, a cat-shaped wallet, a drawstring backpack, two sleeveless tops (which I had no idea why I even bought them since I’m in hijab but then I thought they’d go well with my jackets) and we had lunch there.  

I’m not sure about the weather in Bangkok but I was pretty sure it was the same like Singapore at that time. But I felt it was hotter! Hot and humid. During our stay, it barely rained in Bangkok except for two days and on a very small part of the City. But that was only for a while before the sun started to shine back on us. 

By 5pm, We made our exit from Chatuchak and booked a Grab Taxi to Talad Neon!

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This night market lives up to its name – even the hipster cafes were decorated with colourful fairy lights, dimmed deco lightings and neon lightings!

Our favourite night market because there was delicious halal food.   

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Crickets, larvae anyone?

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There was a cafe which had cats, rabbits and tortoises but we need to order a drink to enter. No regrets for not getting a drink because their glass table tops had a live python inside.

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This photo was taken from an overhead bridge.

We have walked around so much that my legs were screaming for help. I could barely feel them. I was secretly hoping that all the walking would have helped me shed some weights.

Next post will be on our trip up to Hua Hin and Santorini Park which we thought wasn’t worthy of visiting. I’ll tell you why in the next post.

Laters,
S.

Bang-Cock

As usual, I can never be on time to write on my travel experience. Which is why I am bent on not having a New Year resolution for myself. Anyway, if you’d read my earlier post, you’d have known I sold my 10 years old Louis Vuitton Neverfull GM Damier to go on this trip. That tote was bought with my first bonus pay-out as a working adult and has been with me to many occasions. I even carried that tote for my short trip to Batam. She has served me well and it is about time she serves others who wanted her badly but couldn’t afford the actual price (and don’t mind a preloved luxury). After putting so much thoughts into it, I put it up for sale. Goodbye sweetheart.

If you also noticed, 2017 was the year of letting go.

Before I digress any further, let’s get back on track.

To start off, I’m trying to keep this short and yet memorable (for myself) but full with information that anyone might need for their trip to Bangkok. I realised from previous travel posts, I get swayed with emotions.

Jo and I had been on two trips which we’ve experienced many of our firsts together. This time, it’s different for Jo. She had been to Bangkok twice and with me would be her third. Therefore, not much research needed to be done except to look for places of interest. Getting to places was pretty much a breeze. Bangkok reminded me so much of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. Swarmed with heavy traffic, street food, night markets, hipster cafes, shop houses and shopping centres.

We got to our hotel quite late since we touched down at Suvarnabhumi Airport late evening. Hence, we only have time for dinner, a walk to the night market and a visit to Big C to get some bites and drinks to stock up in our room.

This time, no hotel hopping and we stayed in the same city the whole week. Jo and I wanted to spend within the budget we planned for ourselves but of course, we underestimate our spending capabilities.

Places (of interests) to visit in Bangkok:

1. Night markets – there are aplenty! And depending on your stay, you can pick a few near your locations.
For Muslim travellers, not all markets sell Halal food as per reviews. We chanced upon a few but some were closed (due to the rain maybe).

2. Street food – Nothing beats cheap and yet delicious street food. Well, maybe not everyone will enjoy street food like we do but if you have a sensitive tummy, maybe you shouldn’t take the risk of trying.

3. Temples – there are over 400 of them in the Thai Capital but to name a few worth of visiting are The Royal Temple of the Emerald Buddha and The Grand Palace, Wat Pho (The Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn) and a few others which I will name them along with pictures.

4. Floating markets – Most floating markets start early and are mostly far from the city. So if you’re willing to sacrifice sleep time on a holiday, put this on your itinerary.

5. Shopping centres – You really don’t have to because honestly I would have skipped shopping centres, even for Platinum Fashion Mall because nothing suits me except for the shirts.

The night markets we went to were Talad Neon, Cheeze Pop Up, Rot Fai Train,  Srinakarin, Silom Night Market, Ratchada Rot Fai Train/The New Rot Fai Ratchada (we were confused of these two!) and Chatuchak Weekend Market! (except that Chatuchak starts from 7AM to 6PM)

The first night, we went to Central World for dinner at Manhattan Fish Market. The only decent meal we could have since it was already close to 9pm. It was certified Halal by the way! Then off to Cheeze Pop-up night market for supper. Cheeze Pop-up was located just outside Central World. You can see from my pictures there are stools and tables for visitors to dine in.

Seafood for supper. Lucky for me, Jo takes her seafood well.

Big C Supercentre is located across the road from Central World. To get there, you may walk over to the overhead bridge which will link you to the other side of the road.

Pretty much sums up the day of our arrival.
Let me just gather some recollections of where we went the next few days. Been too long, too old and too tired. 😜

Laters,
S.

 

Final Destination: Ho Chi Minh City

Welcome to the last instalment of my Vietnam trip.

Before we fly back to Ho Chi Minh City, we stayed one night in Adamas Hanoi Hotel. It took us another 4 hours bus ride from Halong City to Hanoi. Therefore we needed the rest!

Accommodation: Adamas Hanoi Hotel – 3 stars
Rating: ★★★★☆
Room Cost: USD32/night with breakfast

For once, we had a quiet meal on the roof garden overlooking Hanoi City. It was bright and windy with no scorching sun. Perfect morning to wake up to. We picked on our meal while we reminisced the days. There was nothing else to look forward to except for our flight back to Ho Chi Minh. There was a delay on our return trip. Unexpected but nothing unusual. Continue reading

Sail away to Halong Bay

H A N O I

Accommodation: Hanoi Central Park Hotel – 3 stars
Rating: ★★★☆☆ – not for the fussy. Clean room but not much choices for breakfast.
Room cost: USD 65/night with breakfast
Length of stay: 2 hours

The two hours hotel stay was probably the craziest. Our train reached Hanoi at 05:00 am and we have to rush to the hotel to wash up, have breakfast and wait for our transfer to Halong Bay. We were supposed to check-in the day before had we reached Hanoi in the afternoon. That is, if we had returned on the morning sleeper bus. You know shits happened and having no itinerary planned, we got into deep shit. 😆 Continue reading

Know the Beautiful Sapa

S A P A, LÀO CAI

Day 2 → Day 3

Accommodation: Cosiana Sapa Hotel3 stars (the ONLY hotel with Halal restaurant)
Rating: ★★☆☆ – for the cheap and delicious Halal food and, the view!
Room cost: USD 42/night with breakfast
Mode of transport: Good Morning Sapa bus from Hanoi and King Express Train back to Hanoi
Length of stay: 2D1N

For a Vietnamese cultural experience, it is recommended to visit Sapa. In Sapa, among the Hoàng Liên Sơn mountains, you’ll encounter many Hmong Hill tribes people. Sapa is a once in a lifetime experience because you get a true taste of the Hill tribes culture and lifestyle with them. Continue reading

+84 Vietnam

Vietnam – truly memorable, period. Vietnam may not be a fully developed country, but rich with historical places, unique culture and super friendly people.

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So welcome everyone, to the first instalment of my Vietnam adventure! This post is a maaaaajor throwback to last December.

This time we had not come up with a detailed itinerary. So read on to learn more about the places we traveled to, and to pick up some tips from us. Continue reading