Tag Archives: sights

Indochina 2012: Bangkok and Ayutthaya, Thailand

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From Phnom Penh, we flew to Bangkok on March 1. Immigrations at Suvarnabhumi Airport is just crazy–hundreds upon hundreds (thousands?) of people lined up and it took us about an hour and a half to two hours to get off the plane, go through Immigrations, get our luggage and meet up our driver.

I didn’t expect the airport was that far from where we were staying and we were just about to die of hunger because other than the hotel breakfast at Phnom Penh, we forgot to eat lunch because we spent half the day at the Russian Market and half the day in two airports and didn’t realize that until we were in our car going to Bangkok City Hotel in Pratunam. We planned to vist Madame Tussauds, however, we got in so late that we just didn’t have the energy to do so. I loved the fact that our hotel was right beside a 7-11 store. They sold this Meiji drink that is pretty much like Yakult but in bigger bottles. I love Yakult so much and I loved the fact that I still have some drink left after one gulp, LOL. πŸ™‚ This one’s an iPhone photo.

March 2 was spent going around the outskirts, in Bang Pa-in to visit the King’s Summer Palace, and in Ayutthaya to visit the historical monuments. I booked the tour online through Thailand Great Tours (only two days before the tour) because we couldn’t be bothered to book it upon arriving in Bangkok, just so we can save time. They accept PayPal (thank goodness for the PayPal app) and the Join Tour is at a reasonable price of THB 1,200 for the whole day tour including lunch. TGT responds quite fast and I plan to book some tours through them again when I go back to Thailand next year. But get this, there were only three of us in the tour so it pretty much ended like a private tour–not a lot of waiting and lingering! πŸ™‚

Here are some shots from the King’s Summer Palace.

And here are some shots from Ayutthaya–I keep repeating this all over–did you know that the first part of the 1995 Mortal Kombat movie was filmed here? I only found out about that when our tour guide shared that to us. Also, I wanted to ride an elephant as that is on my bucket list but when I finally saw them, I couldn’t take the smell 😦 so I just took photos and videos instead because they looked amazing. I will ride an elephant someday, I promise myself that. πŸ™‚

On March 3, we did what girls would normally for fun–SHOPPING! We took the BTS SkyTrain to Chatuchak Market and found ourselves in Nirvana. No, not really. But I did manage to buy a lot of stuff that I had to buy a backpack (knockoff, naturally) because I know it wasn’t gonna fit in my hardcase luggage (which survived, hallelujah)! As always, haggle! We also went shopping at the Platinum Fashion Mall which is just… heaven! *_* It’s the biggest retail/wholesale fashion market in all of Thailand (or Southeast Asia? I’m not sure).

On March 4, I turned a year older. We were at the airport waiting for our red-eye flight when the clock struck midnight. Who says it’s bad luck to travel on your birthday? Not me.

This pretty much wraps up my 2012 Indochina trip. I’m gonna do this trip again next year, this time starting out in Hanoi, Vietnam. Who wants to join me? πŸ™‚

Indochina 2012: Saigon, Vietnam

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As mentioned 3 blogs ago, I was going to go on a trip to Vietnam-Cambodia-Thailand this year. It wasn’t a backpacking trip at all; more like flashpacking. I brought along a hard case luggage that I feared it would crack or break after all the plane rides and bus transfers. Thankfully, it didn’t. I don’t know if the Pacsafe luggage strap helped at all, but I bought it to keep my luggage secure in case my suitcase fell apart.

The first part of my trip was spent with a couple of friends, one from work and one from college. The first stop coming from a red-eye flight from the Philippines was Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, or as the locals call it, Saigon. We stayed at the Hoang Hai Long 2 which was a minute away from Ben Thanh Market on foot. This was the second time I’ve been in the city, and since my officemate and I have been there before, we decided to take my college friend on a walking tour on our own.

First things first, we went to my favorite sidewalk vendor for a glass of Vietnamese iced coffee beside Pho 2000, across Ben Thanh Market for 20,000 VND (1 USD). In case you didn’t now, Pho 2000 is the restaurant that former US President Bill Clinton once visited, and I don’t know if that matters, but I just felt like sharing that. I had gone there before and they have good food, just that pho isn’t for me (blame it on the coriander), so we didn’t go eat there this time.

Next was to get bus tickets to Cambodia, so we walked all the way from Ben Thanh Market, through Pham Ngu Lao St., down to De Tham St. (a backpacker’s district), and walked into The Sinh Tourist (http://www.thesinhtourist.vn) office and booked for the next day’s trip to Cambodia. From Saigon to Siem Reap, it costs $17 (and since our flight to Bangkok was from Phnom Penh, we also had to get Siem Reap to Phnom Penh bus tickets at $7). Not bad.

We took a cab to Vo Van Tan St. to get to the War Remnants Museum which cost about 100,000 VND (5 USD). I had been there before although I didn’t get the chance to visit the inside of the building. This time around, I did. Remnants from the war are displayed all over the museum: guns, missiles, soldiers’ uniforms, grenades. Photographs and extensive documentation of the massacre and torture hang on the walls, bringing us back to Vietnam’s tragic past. In my opinion, the most horrible of them all was the massive effect of the orange agent which left the succeeding generations mutated.

Then we took a walk along the length of Vo Van Tan St. to 103 so we can have some yummy ice cream at Snowee Creamery for 60,000 VND (3 USD).

After which, we went on a walking tour of city sights such as the Reunification Palace, the Notre Dame Cathedral and the uptown Dong Khoi. We had late lunch of pizza and cake at the New York Dessert Cafe (NYDC) which was an artsy fartsy place that (get this!) had Philippe Starck Ghost Chairs (or imitations of it).

The rest of the afternoon was spent haggling at the Ben Thanh Market, and we had dinner at Wrap & Roll where you could order a set of fillings and leafy veggies to make your own fresh spring rolls.

Tip: If you wish to remain connected with your Facebook friends, you cannot access Facebook from Vietnam without rigging the Internet settings or going through a proxy which is super slow. A waitress at NYDC tipped us that we can do so using the Opera Mini app, and we were able to! Just download it for free from the AppStore! πŸ˜‰