Sunday, October 2, 2016

Day 3 : Hua Hin - Bangkok

We did not have to get up too early that morning. Breakfast would only be ready at 7.30 a.m.; actually breakfast was supposed to commence at 8.00 a.m., but the hotel accommodated us because we wanted to leave by 8.00 a.m.

Nevertheless, we were all early birds and well ready before time. We then explored the surroundings of this small hotel. Facilities here were limited, but there was a pool in the grounds, and the water did look rather tempting. I wished I had time to relax and swim.

The pool area 

The hotel actually looked rather empty, making me think that we were the only guests that day ...

Breakfast was at the cafe at the front of the hotel .... we chose to sit at the deck, just next to a pretty landscaped garden. Breakfast was not served buffet style. Instead we had to choose from an ala carte menu and place our order with the staff. We could have an American breakfast, or a ham and egg toast sandwich, or a salad ....

Loved the greens at the deck in front of the cafe ... 

Pretty landscaped deck

And so my friend and I were making coffee at the counter top. Behind the counter was a female staff, still taking orders from my friends. She was in fact very unfriendly, and I noted her displeasure when I changed my breakfast order earlier ...

So anyway, I got annoyed at her and actually snapped back at her when she interrupted my conversation with my friend. In her shrill voice, she had pointed to the bin and kept repeating, "Bin down! Bin down!" She had wanted us to throw our empty coffee and creamer sachets into the dustbin and not leave them lying on the counter.

Ok, we got it. We had no intention of littering the place. We would do it after we had finished making our drinks. Couldn't she see that we were still stirring our drinks?

"Wait first!" I answered back! I was annoyed but I wasn't going to let her ruin my day. My friend and I quickly finished making our drinks and threw all she wanted us to throw into the dustbin and went back to sit down to eat.

Salad, coffee and pineapple juice  

Toasted sandwich with ham and cheese  

Omelette with toast, 1 slice of bacon and a tiny sausage ....

We checked out at about 8.15 a.m. Our first stop that morning was Hua Hin Beach. It was still early, and the beach seemed deserted still ...

Hua Hin Beach

We took off our shoes and stepped onto the sandy beach to take a few photographs and then left ...

Next was the Railway Station, purportedly one of the oldest in Thailand, featuring The Royal Waiting  Room - a room that used to welcome the King and his court when they were visiting the town. There was also an old steam train exhibited here. We took some photographs along the train tracks, lingered a bit and then left.

The old steam train on display .... 

The railway station itself was painted bright red and beige, and was very clean

Then, we visited Wat Huay Mongkol. The temple grounds were well-kept and looked much like a park. We saw a large statue of a rooster, which was flanked by many small rooster statues. It also has a large statue of a monk - whom I found out to be Luang Phor Thuad who was noted for his ability to perform miracles.

The huge statue of the monk

Then we went to Santorini Park. Again, we did not want to go inside because again, we did not fancy visiting an antificial attraction. We merely took a some photographs outside.

Next to Santorini Park was Cha Am Premium Outlet, where we spent quite a bit of time browsing the shops. Plenty of labels there were - Nike, Adidas, Reebok, Clarks, North Face, Esprit, Timberland and many more. We hanged out but not buy anything at all.

Nearby was the 1000 Sook's Farm and Food. Again, many artificial structures in a farm-like setting. A building reminded me of the Farmville barn ... lol. Nice decor here ... looked like a happy place.
The driver intended for us to eat our lunch here .... only that we weren't interested in eating in a fancy place like this.

So he brought us to another place further down the road - according to the driver, this place was operated by Thai Chinese entrepreneurs. There was an eatery and also a shop selling souvenirs and local Thai tidbits; and I think they were catered to the local tourists.

This is a dish my friends ordered to eat with their rice; it's kangkong - the Thais call it morning glory or water spinach; what's interesting to me was the way it was cooked. Normally, we have this stir-fried. But here, it's stewed in a Thai-style curry - the gravy was sweet and sour, very spicy but very delicious.

There was rice, soup and dishes - much like the economical rice stalls we have back home. I did not feel like eating rice and opted for noodles instead.

The noodles were enjoyable; the broth sweet and hearty and the meatballs bouncy and full of flavour. I loved the basil in my soup

I browsed in the shop as well, so tempted to buy the many snacks sold here - the cuttlefish snacks, crispy pork, dried mango and so on. However, I did not buy anything then ....

Then it was a long drive back to Bangkok ... and we wanted to go to Wat Arun. The driver dropped us off at Wat Pho, but we did not have time to visit Wat Pho. We quickly proceeded to the jetty and caught a ferry which would help us cross the choppy Chao Phraya River. The fare per person was THB3 per trip.

Crossing the river took about a minute at most 

Wat Arun from the temple grounds ... 

Around the temple grounds

By the time we got across the river, the sky turned dangerously dark. So we quickly walked around the temple grounds and took some photographs. Some of us could not enter the temple complex anyway because we were underdressed - no shorts for ladies. Wat Arun was under renovation, so we could not fully appreciate the full beauty of its structure.

Finally, we went to Asiatique The Riverfront - it's a huge covered malls with a maze of stall selling many things. I did find some of the vendors rude, however. We walked past a shop named MangoTango (check out the website; they claim to serve the best mangoes in Thailand) and saw many people tucking into platters of mango dessert ... and we decided to try it on impromptu.

We merely ordered 3 different platters of mango dessert ... but were told that we COULD NOT sit down to enjoy our dessert because they were too many of us.

FOr all 7 of us to dine in, we needed to order at least 5 platters. Huh? Then, to record the experience, I wanted to take a photo of the menu. I was prohibited from doing so. Darn. So much for Thai hospitality.

This platter consisted of fresh mango, mango ice-cream and mango pudding, topped with whipped cream; the mango was firm and fresh, and both the ice-cream and pudding were not too sweet and delicious

Same as the above, except this platter had sticky rice which was topped with a bit of coconut cream - I loved the saltiness of the rice which complemented the sweet mangoes .... yum

3 bowls of mango served with coconut cream, the two bowls on top were the same, except that one had a dollop of ice-cream in it; the one at the bottom was served in a coconut cream broth - very rich and not too sweet and we all loved this one more than the other 2 smaller bowls ...

I lingered at one of the stalls selling bags and pouches made from a colourful material - not fabric but some kind of synthetic leather. You coud actually customise the bags by adding some brass ornaments to them.

I got stuck at this stall for a while, enticed to buy a imple long wallet - sold for THB150. I did not want any decor on my bag, so I was given a discount of THB20. So I bought it.

I showed it to my friend, and she expressed her interest to buy as well. So we stopped at another stall selling the same thing ... Here we tried to bargain as well, but the vendor did not allow it. So my friend and I decided to go back to the first stall where I bought my wallet from. "Just go! Just go!" the vendor said. How rude.

Next, we headed to the foodcourt and had our dinner there. The name of the stall was Wild Orchid ... some selection of things we ordered ....

Pineapple Fried Rice

Tom Yum Fried Rice

Seafood Pad Phrik 

Tom Yum With Noodles

Stir-fried Noodles

Everything was delicious, and the price was also reasonable. We enjoyed the food very much! 

After dinner, my friends got stuck at one of the foyers, because there were racks and racks of clothing on sale - a Forever 21 cardigan sold for about THB200, and some H&M men's t-shirts and shorts were only about THB60 per piece! My friends indulged themselves in a buying spree.

We browsed further ... and I bought an ethnic print cotton blouse in bright orange at THB200 ...

New blouse and wallet 

Then, finally, we went to a stall selling Thai products like Pocky, Taokenoi, dried mango, cooking pastes. The name of the shop was MeiJengSieng.

The small shop was packed with so many people - many fellow Malaysians - that I could hardly move about. The cashiers spoke Mandarin as their hands deftly punched in the prices of the things in your basket .... in the end, I bought Siangpure roll ons, dried mangoes, Tom Yum and Green Curry cooking pastes. My friends too bought a lot - dried durian, Pocky, and so on.

The ferris wheel at Asiatique The River Front

Then we went back to White Palace Hotel, checked in and dumped our stuff in the room before going out to the streets again. We walked past a stall selling noodles and were tempted to try them. We ordered 2 bowls .....

The stall owner looked pretty angry throughout the time we were there ... not sure how we have offended her. Was she not happy that 4 of us only ordered 2 bowls? But anyway, she was rude when she shouted at my friend to refrain him from eating a packet of durians that he had bought from the next stall .....

 The warning ... 

Because of her, we lost our appetite and our enjoyment of her food .... we left as quickly as we had sat down .... 

So anyway, after the encounter with the unfriendly noodle stall owner, we went back to the hotel and retired for the night. 

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Day 2 : Bangkok - Hua Hin

We woke up and got ready quickly, and went out to the alley to walkabout at 6.30 a.m., and we were so surprised to see a morning market! Again, stalls were aplenty and they were selling lots of food and fruits, clothes and undergarments, and shoes and accessories. We browsed and surveyed the prices. 

 Walking towards the morning market 

Really, fashionable clothing for women were in abundance, and at an average price of THB150 per piece. Of course, the downside was that we could not try on the clothes, and had to buy them based on our judgement. That morning, I saw a floral cotton blouse which I liked ... but did not buy it yet. 

Though much tempted to eat at the streets, we returned to the hotel for breakfast. There was a buffet - a sufficient but limited spread. There were fried rice, fried noodles, sunny side ups and scrambled eggs, poached mini chicken sausages. Vegetables consisted of sliced cucumbers, tomatoes, onions and peppers, and 2 types of dressings. Then, there was a choice of white and wholemeal bread, tubs of cheap butter and fruit spreads, yoghurt and fruits - usually watermelon. There was also a tray of pork sausages and ham. Of course there was juice, coffee and tea.

 The usual fare every morning .. 

Some fresh veges .... 


 Our favourite pork sausages and ham

We eventually found out that the breakfast menu was the same every morning - with different variations of the fried rice and noodles. I did find the food to be palatable though - the fried rice and noodles were tasty, and we especially enjoyed the pork sausages and ham.

Every morning, I would make myself a ham sandwich. Yums. 

After breakfast, we checked out. That morning, we would travel to Hua Hin and stay there for the night. On the way to Hua Hin, of course, we would visit some attractions ...

Our first stop was the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market - the most well-known floating market in Bangkok. Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is at the Ratchaburi province, about 100km from Bangkok.

We were brought to a private tour site, where we were welcomed with a coconut drink each. After the drink, we were brought to the small jetty, where we were told that we needed 2 boats to accommodate all 7 of us. We were charged THB3000 per boat. It was a definite rip-off.

The private tour site from where we boarded our boat

There were houses like this along the canal ..

I totally enjoyed the boat ride. It was a cool and cloudy morning with the occasional drizzle ... such a perfect morning for sightseeing. I climbed into the front longboat, and as it sped along the waterways, I enjoyed the cool breeze on my face.

Speeding steadily down the canal ... 

The boat navigated the long canal and soon, we could see stalls on our left and right, selling food and drinks, clothing, souvenir items, handicrafts and so on. We could indicate our interest to buy and the boat would stop in front of the stall. Besides the stalls, there were people selling from their boats as well ....

 A stall that we passed by, selling souvenirs of all kinds 

How about a photoshoot with a Burmese python?

At the Coconut Sugar Farm, it seemed compulsory for us to get off the boat. I was reluctant to climb in and out but had to anyway. I suppose I would be manhandled if I refused to get out.

The compulsory stop 

This was coconut sugar, used to make drinks
We sampled the drinks, served to us iced cold. It did have that fragrance of coconut, but I found it too sweet. I didn't buy anything here.

Soon, we got back into the boat and continued our ride down the canal .... 

A boat vendor  

The boat brought us to the market proper. Here, the engine had to be turned off because traffic was just too congested .... our boat glided slowly through the waterway slowly, bumping gently into each other once in a while ....

 Oooh ..... boat jam .... 

I totally enjoyed myself here, soaking in the bustling atmosphere of this very colourful market on water ... :))

The next compulsory stop was Wat Phrok Charoen - which had a unique statue of Buddha called the Luang Poh Daeng. None of us went inside the temple to see it ....

 Wat Phrok Charoen

From here on, we went back to our little jetty. After Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, we had lunch at a restaurant nearby - I'm not sure of the name because it was written in Thai.

The name of the restaurant

Because of the hefty sum we paid for the boat ride, we had to tighten our purse strings and control our spending. We had to scrimp for lunch .... unfortunately. Thankfully, we weren't too hungry after our heavy breakfast that morning.

The menu here was totally hilarious! We had a hearty laugh if nothing else.


Taken from the farm? 

Anyway, we ordered only medium servings of these to share among the 7 of us ....

 Seafood fried rice

Thai-style fried noodles 

 Seafood tom yum .... 

My platter

Beautiful grounds .... we actually choose to sit in one of the kiosks for lunch 

The food was good! I especially loved the Tom yum and the noodles! The noodles had this refreshing taste to it - probably because it was spicy, sweet and sour, and with the added crunch from beansprouts, chives and shredded cucumbers, tofu and chopped roasted peanuts. Yummy.

The next stop was Maeklong Railway Market. It's one of the biggest fresh seafood markets in Thailand centred along the railway track. So, I navigated the uneven tracks (quite a challenge in my slippers! Felt like I could trip and fall flat on my face anytime!) and browsed at the various stalls along the track ....

Stalls selling fresh produce

Here, we bought some fruits to eat .... langsat and mangosteen were in season it seemed. I also bought a 500g packet of crispy rice puffs for THB80.

Crispy rice puffs with roasted peanuts and candied coconut strips
Crispy, not too sweet and very pleasant to snack on ... 

Then we heard that the train would be arriving .... so we stood at the side to watch the vendors pull down the canvas flaps in preparation for the train's arrival ..... 

The man in brown checking that the access is clear

Train approaching slowly! Note that the fresh produce and the crockery just beside the railway tracks need not be kept! 

What an interesting market! First in my life I'd shopped along a railway track and first in my life that I'd watch a train go past me from such a proximity!  

After Maeklong Train Market, we climbed back on board our SUV, all hot and sweaty and sleepy ... and dozed off along the 1 hour journey to Cha-Am, near Hua Hin. We visited the Swiss Sheep Farm. Entrance free was THB120 each.

Hmn ... I do not know what to say about this place. It's not an amusement park, not really a theme park ....

Hmn .... is it Halloween yet? 

Well, there's sheep .. 

What's a Beetle doing here? 

There were a couple of horses too 

 Eh, a windmill? 

So I think there's fascination with Jack o'Lantern or something .... 

There's a a couple of 3D photo opportunites in there .... 

Funky strawberry structure

So what's the Swiss Sheep Farm? 

Hmn .... I came out pretty confused. I wasn't quite interested in random European curios in Thailand .... I wanted an authentic Thai experience. 

And so I began to realise that there were plenty of fun parks in Hua Hin.

 The Venezia
This was supposed to recreate the Venetian experience in Thailand. 

We were supposed to visit The Venezia too ... but we decided not to save up on the entrance fee and forego this attraction. Some of us have been to Venice already! So why visit a fake Venice. 

Our driver took us to Plearnwan Eco Vintage Village at downtown Hua Hin. Admission was free ... but there was a guard at the entrance who checked my bag. He confiscated my water bottle. I did not know whether it was because of the recent bomb attacks in Hua Hin or whether he wanted us to buy water in here. 


 Basically consisted of stalls selling food and souvenirs .... 
My friends bought bottles of lemongrass balm here .... 

Oooh ... saw a bridal shoot at the entrance as we claimed back our water bottles and exited the place .... 

We left for our hotel, the Amara Resort Hua Hin and checked into our rooms ....

 Spacious room .... 

Check in was easy as we had prepaid via Agoda, but our rooms were on the first floor and we had to lug our own bags up the stairs. Room was big, with en suite bathroom, air-conditioned; there was a fridge and tv; we got a hairdryer upon request. Wi-fi was available in the room. 

We were supposed to have dinner at the Cicada Night Market. However, Cicada Night Market did not operate on weeknights. As an alternative, we went to Chatsila Night Market in downtown Hua Hin.

We browsed the stalls slowly, deciding on what to eat.

I had a corn - the one with black and pale yellow kernels; The kernels were densier, waxier, but sweet and juicy and I loved the rich flavour; Each cob was THB20.

 We shared a coconut ice-cream; the ice-cream had a faint floral essence ... jasmine? Hmn .... 

 I also ate these pork and chicken skewers; the meat marinade was rather ordinary, but I thought it was cheap at THB20 each ....

We ordered pork satay at a stall and sat down at tiny tables and chairs behind it to eat .... 

Condiments with our satay included a wedge of lime, chives, cucumber pickles and satay sauce

Pork satay, THB4 each .... 
The meat was soft as the satay wasn't overgrilled, the taste was on the savoury side

Pad Thai
I think there was sugar in there, making the noodles a little sweet 

You could pick the ingredients you wanted to go with either coconut milk or longan syrup; I chose barley, Thai chestnut rubies, and Nata de coco in longan syrup. I did not quite like this dessert which I found to devoid of any taste, except cloying sweetness

The last thing I ate here was a flat sheet of bbq cuttlefish; only THB10 each. 

Opposite the night market was a large shop selling leatherware .... we hanged out here for sometime while waiting to be picked up ... we found the shoes and bags to be of reasonable price and did try on a few pairs of shoes. Only that there weren't in the right sizes .... and in the end we did not buy anything. 

Soon, the driver picked up us and sent us back to our hotel. :)) 


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