2014.

A late night entry to whoever is still patronising this blog. Thanks for the love and care! *whispering to myself* *hahahaha*

That was taken at last year’s NDP rehearsal? No? Definitely some important event held at the not so popular floating platform. Forgive me.. I can’t remember what event that was though…

 

I know I am really slow at this.. but I am never the kind who will express my thoughts well at each and every point of time or milestone in my life. It takes lots of energy, willingness and time for me to finally accept and be able to say

Thanks for everything that had happened in 2014 and may 2015 be much exciting than ever!

Lame ikr! Am not a very expressive person indeed! Although I may seem outwardly expressive and talkative on superficial things, but that is because it is superficial things! Can’t you see that? 

LOL~~!

Alrighty, I will be ending this random entry for now, as I do bore people a lot with words.. Yes? No?

BTW, I am feeling pretty refreshed now after a late mini workout in the air conditioned room. Although, I am not very sure if I can ever get that lean toned ass… but I will work towards it and do my best!

Goodnight.

Kyushu 2014.

Oct/Nov 2014

Although backdated for some time, I really need to start writing about Kyushu and stop procrastinating already.

We took a package tour and went on a red eye flight from SG to Fukuoka and so spent our first night on the plane. Flight was pretty comfortable because it is Singapore Airlines and i managed to catch a few movies on the flight. Hehehe!

We started off from Yanagawa where we took the traditional wooden boat from one end to the other admiring the spring-autumn foliage by the riverside. And then, we had a really awesome eel meat rice bento for lunch for the very first time as I will never try eel meat in Singapore because I never trust that the fishy smell of it will be masked off completely. yanagawariver

#0 Yanagawa river

Then we were off to Nagasaki’s Atomic Bomb Museum and the nearby Peace Park for sight seeing. Some of the atomic bomb survivors lived to pen down testimonials and it did indeed send chills down my spine when they describe how the impact of the atomic bomb affected them both mentally and physically. Some of the stories were really heart-wrenching!

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#1 Peace Park Statue

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#2 Nagasaki Peace Park

Very soon it was time for dinner and we were chaffeured off to somewhere for some good ‘mochi’ rice cake set meal. IKR, japanese meals can be that interesting! And yes, i did not remember to take a photo with the lid opened so had to googled for it. This is exactly the set meal we had at the same restaurant as I’d recognised the restaurant name imprinted on the disposable chopsticks holder. After the dinner, we were directed by the tour guide to take a city tram in the city of Nagasaki to our first check in at the Crowne Plaza GloverHill Nagasaki Hotel.

Guzouni (Picture courtesy of Google Images)

Day 2 started off with us getting on board a cruise boat for some dolphin watch! Excited excited excited.. although I am never happy with humans disturbing marine animals like the harmless dolphins and whales. I was so much more well informed after catching the documentary “The Cove” and if you guys are interested, go google about it. Next off, we were send to take a car ferry across Ariake Sea to Kumamoto pier. What’s a car ferry?? It’s a damn huge ferry that takes vehicles across the big ocean! Again, this is my first time… and i could not believe my eyes when i saw how our whole tour bus went into the ferry. I was dumbfounded and in awe of it… hahaha

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#3 Wild dolphins

SO.. we landed on Kumamoto soil. We were headed off to Kumamoto Castle. As you know, castles are almost everywhere in Japan because of their rich castle history in the past. It was almost dark and so we postpone the last activity on the itinerary to the next morning because it is very near to the Kirishima Royal Hotel that we stayed in on the 2nd night. It was also the first night where we started our onsen addiction going on…

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#4 Kirishima castle?

Day 3 morning as planned, we went to Kirishima Shrine and yes.. it is just a temple where all the devotees will walk up the slope of steps to reach the shrine. Camho a bit there as we had nothing much to do besides waiting…

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#5 that’s me lah.. posing with one of the shrine’s lamp post. SG where got such design leh..

Credit: Courtesy of Google Images

#6 Kirishima Shrine

After the shrine visit, we reached this observation platform that requires us to walk a bit distance uphill to the deck itself and then it was overlooking the Nagasaki city scape and the magnificent Sakurajima Volcano.

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#7 Shiroyama Observation Platform overlooking the Nagasaki cityscape

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#8 Volcano Sakurajima captured in the background which is still very active and can be seen from the observation deck.

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#9 Sekino-o waterfall, this is further into the forest where the streams lead to the waterfall

Quickly after the shopping & lunch at Tenmonkan area in the city of Kagoshima and the sightseeing, we were headed off to Miyazaki before the sun sets. It was a pretty long bus journey and I just keep dozing off and waking up to check the time. Our third night was spent at Miyazaki Kanko Hotel which overlooks a very nice lake view.

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#10 Teruha Suspension Bridge

Day 4 was to this Teruha Suspension Bridge at a height of 142m above a valley where this Aya Minami river flows.

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#11 Pretty enjoyed taking shots like that.. hehe

After all the walking, another 2 hours of bus journey to Mt. Aso which is also an even more active volcano. Unfortunately when we were there, the volcano was already erupting and we weren’t allowed up to the observation deck. Sad…

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#12 Mt aso erupting and the emergency alert was everywhere nearby..

That pretty much ends for the day and we were sent to our next 1 night stay hotel at Aso Farm Village. This resort style hotel was much interesting because of the dome shaped rooms we stayed in. And the weather that got much cooler at night became even cooler that night because we were at a pretty higher land in that area hence the temperatures can get lower as you ascend higher.

Day 5 –  After the buffet breakfast at Aso Farm Village, we headed to this old town village in Yufuin. If i’m not wrong, it’s usually called Yufuin Town or Yufuin Floral Village. I just simply adore countries like Japan because of the vast landscapes and natural places like that. Look at the lush aww-mazing landscape that I have captured!

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#13 Yufuin

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#14 Reflection of the morning sun at Yufuin’s lake 😀

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#15 The other side of Yufuin

We left the old town with perfect memories captured of the lake and the amazing landscape, and were told that we will also be going to this safari zoo park. It did not sound as interesting as it should be when the tour guide explained to us. But it was a pretty good experience since we can have such a close encounter with this animals!

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# Feeding the animal KING his food

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# this beast blocking our roads is the …!

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# Giraffe walked towards our safari vehicle and started licking the side mirrors!

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# Never had I seen so many cheetahs this near, even SG Mandai Zoo only had 1 or 2 at one single time and they were not as wild as these four musketeers!

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#16 After the zoo visit, I was almost quite tired already probably due to the sun shining brightly less the cold. We then headed off to the Beppu Death Valley which I remembered is the area where the highest concentration of the onsen spring is found!

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#17 Crystal blue waters at boiling temperatures. I guessed thats why its called a death valley. So before the skies turn dark, we quickly hopped on the tour bus and left for our dinner and the next 1 night stay at Beppu Wan Royal Hotel. After all the unpacking and packing of luggages every night, I must say that joining tours are indeed quite tiring so to speak and I am really not the kind who loves doing that. This is also why this blog is still existent because documenting these journeys down will helped me to recall the times we had and the places we had visited.

So the last day has finally arrived and we were heading back to the city. I can’t wait to try hakata ramen!! The only regret of this trip was not having a taste of the original Ippudo ramen that originated from hakata a.k.a fukuoka. 😥

We were so in a rush back to the last check in at Canal City Washington Hotel probably due to the long road distances. Kudos, new-found respect for the bus driver who kept us safe and sound throughout this journey. Not forgetting also, thank God for the blessings and protection we have received during this trip.

Hotels that we have stayed during the trip:

crowne plaza gloverhill nagasaki

kirishima royal hotel

miyazaki kanko hotel

aso farm village

beppu wan royal hotel

canal city washington hotel

cheers,

thedarktraveler

Phuket 2014.

And so I managed to attempt another short 4d3n getaway amidst a stressful Singapore.. off we go to #Phuket #Thailand on Singapore’s National Day!

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#1 Junceylon shopping mall – lucky to be very near to this shopping mall.. the hotel we booked happened to be situated in a very good place between the noisiest bangla road, patong beach and the shopping mall.

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#2 First dinner and meal after we landed was Thai cuisine.. this was really superb! Love the phad thai and the beef soup especially.

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#3 after exploring Patong beach on the 2nd day, it started to rain and we take shelter at the nearby bar.. had some beer in the afternoon and then decided to check out one of the massage salons nearby. Almost slept through the session.. was a sleepy afternoon after the drinks. #duffybear

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#4 this is KARON beach!! so much prettier and cleaner than Patong beach.

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#5 I’m happy to be here !!!

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#6 the friend who was busy folding his shorts up as the tide was pretty high that day! I got a slight tan after that as well, heard that it is even more easy to get tanned when your skin are in contact with the sea water.

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#7 2nd session of massage which was also on the last day at the last hour before the shopping mall closes.. 😀

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#8 we had this for lunch at one of the restaurant bar outside of Karon beach. Food and ambience was great except for a few flying insects!

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#9 the burger king at the airport’s departure terminal. Crazy exorbitant prices. #haveityourway

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#10 like a mandatory shot every time on the plane. 😛

We also visited the Phuket Trickeye Museum, didn’t know they had one till we were browsing through the tourist map.. it was 500 baht from hotel to the museum by tuktuk. #travellingaroundthetuksareprettyexpensiveinPhuket

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 #11

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#12

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#13

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#14

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#15

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#16

The entire album can be viewed from this link: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152596794186061.1073741828.743766060&type=1&l=dda99df3d5 

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#17 Last picture of the amazing view at Karon beach.. sweeping me off the ground already!!!

Cheers, see ya around the next post!

Exploring Taiwan 2014.

So this is as promised.. continuation to my earlier entry on my Taiwan trip. This entry will have pictures (!) since they speak a thousand more words than anything 🙂

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#1 I love taking aerial shots from the plane especially when i see beautiful places or geographical areas that are so different from SG.

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#2 the bus 1962 that we took from Airport to where our rented apartment is at Banqiao. But we had to walk quite a distance from the Bus station to the train station.

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#3 the first meal we had in Taiwan was Din Tai Fung and it was really awesome! Especially the veggies which are so much juicer than the ones we had in SG. The veggies are so GREEN and FRESH.. i am drooling now.

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#4 the 1 BR apartment we rented through AirBnB.

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#5 the not so good thing about this apartment is this narrow staircase that we all had to be really careful about climbing up to our bed every night haha

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#6 And then we took the HSR (bullet) train to Taichung.

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#7 ‘Looking excited’ selfie but was actually quite tired as we had to wake up early to catch the earliest train possible so as to maximise whatever time for Taichung.

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#8 Train selfie while on the way since we had nothing to do

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#9 Old England taken from afar.. Did not visit this as i thought it would be pretty lame to visit “England” when we are actually in Taiwan

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#10 CingQing Farm where we’ve finally reached.

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#11 Immediately upon entering the farm, we were greet by this enthusiastic + hungry fella.. she was really pestering us to throw out more of the sheep feed in our hands.

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#12 more and more

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#13 I attempted to walk on their ‘land’ of shit just to get real close with them.. haha

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#14 sudden reaction was because this fella tried to make a move on me and i got scared initially LOLIMG_5510

#15 my friends haha..

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#16 friend.. you need a hair cut soon!! 😛

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#17 more fully grown sheep

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#18 this is the underground railway station.. we took this to the north east side of Taiwan towards Ping Xi.

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#19 first stop – Jing Tong. People said this is a very nice little town.. i beg to differ.

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#20 and then we discovered the lovers bridge.

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#21 Graffiti designed train that only moves along the PingXi line. You gotta take this to be able to visit all the small towns.

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#22 pingxi town is getting quite commercialised with all these…

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#23 Guanyin Waterfall – i am not very sure whether this is a man made waterfall or natural one.. my brother said it is a man made one!

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#24 a pretty calming sight just facing opposite to the waterfall

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#25 we were pretty tired after much walking but still decided to take a look at the 18 bronze monks along the way.. duh.

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#26 Experienced taking their public bus when the gondola up to the Maokong was down for their annual maintenance – bOO!

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#27 the view that we got to see at Mao Kong, they called it the tea paradise in Taipei where only the locals know.

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#28 Really love fresh mangos and its something you can’t get in SG since we only import from other countries.

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#29 the famous Ah Zhong Mian Xian at Ximending.

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#30 Went shopping abit around Ximending. Was packed with crowds but lucky Taiwan is bigger than SG.. nothing of a sandwiched place as yet. 😀

 

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#31 Ximending Red House in the background and the art flea markets in the foreground.

-the end of the album-

i’m glad we got our hands dirty with whatever we could on this trip since we are pretty much on our own. We figured much, planned much and got back a whole deal of experience that one can never get it on a guided tour. Big thanks to the people who have shared with me and a lot of time was put into my research, even the taxi driver was amazed that we know quite a lot about their country. Hehehe… it’s good to be prepared! Hope you guys enjoyed looking through.. i will be back with more pictures of another trip LOL..

Cheers, the dark traveler

Taiwan 2014; transporting around town..

in May when the cool breezy spring had slowly faded into the hot summer.. a very confusing time between the 2 seasons.

So I am going to share a pretty comprehensive guide on the transport modes in Taiwan as I had planned to use them all in this upcoming F&E trip! I must say it was quite hectic for me to first cope with reading chinese words on the Internet during my initial research and planning and then understanding the different transport modes available around Taiwan.

As this trip was originally planned to be a 6d5n trip, daym jetstar promo cancelled the flight to taiwan on 13 May which was Vesak PH! To accommodate my travel buddies’ schedule as well, we had to postponed it to the next day’s flight but keep the return flight as per initial plan. 😦

HSR experience:

A pretty informative entry on the Taiwan High Speed Rail (HSR) which I am sharing it here:
The Mad Traveler Online

Well as far as I’m concerned, I’d read enough blogs that is saying the same thing about booking the train tickets in advance on their website which promises promo rates after a 35% discount -> 20% -> 10% depending on how fast their tickets get sold off each day and yes, I am talking about the RESERVED SEATS. I mean well, you can always squeeze with the crowd and get a non-reserved seat at a cheaper rate but if I don’t read wrong, you will only be able to do so when you are physically at the station. So indeed from here onwards, are what I am going to describe about my experience there in Taiwan. Realistically, here I am suggesting that you should book the HSR tickets beforehand becoz the price you get there on the spot would really be a wet blanket after knowing that you could have booked the tickets 2 weeks or 1 month earlier prior to your trip there.

TRA experience:

The other thing is if you would like a railway train experience as well, you can easily get the train tickets there at the counter at the station which serves Railway transportation. E.g. if I want to travel from Banqiao to Ruifang to PingXi, I can just let the train administrator know that and she would guide me as to where I can purchase the 1 day ticket to/fro PingXi right after she’d helped me with the tickets to Ruifang. Just a thing to note, the TRA covers the entire Taiwan (Taipei, Keelung, Hualien, Taroko Gorge, etc) whereas for the HSR, it is currently only operating on the north coast line of Taiwan (Taoyuan, Banqiao, Hsinchu, Taichung, Kaoshiung, etc). I remember there are a few different train companies and they are classified as ordinary or express trains, inclusive of the selection of reserved or non-reserved seats, so you can reference it to their official website the type of train you prefer to take or you can ask over the counter and then make your payment and collection of the tickets.

Subway experience:

Notice how I had classified the sections here based on the mode of transport as Singapore do not have that much of an extensive transport network. As a Singaporean myself, I was originally very confused trying to understand the transport around Taiwan but nevertheless, Taiwan would still be the best country if you want to have a real hands on experience planning a trip on your own. As a matter of fact, I took the Shinkansen when I was in Japan before but was in a total blur becoz we acted upon everything that the tour guide says! So, just hop on to the Taiwan subway website or do a search for the latest Taiwan subway map and you will be on to a wonderful trip out and about Taipei. It’s really easy and once you get the hang of it.

Taipei city bus experience:

If you are staying outside Taoyuan, this is a good time to give their bus service a try. It is really cheap and affordable and lesser than you will have to pay if you are coming from Taoyuan Intl Airport to your hotel in e.g. Taipei. We took this on 2 occasions 1) from airport to our rented apartment 2) from Taipei zoo station up to Maokong because the gondola service was suspended during the period for their annual maintenance. From what I know, you could get an EasyCard which is like the EzLink card in Singapore or there is a service counter there where you can purchase for a full price or half price ticket depending on your destination along the bus route.

Taxi experience:

Not much to elaborate as we took it down from Maokong and initially, though the taxi driver wanted to quote NT$200, we did not quite believe so we suggested that he turn on the meter but he was not very pleased until he realised that we are from Singapore rather than from HK. Don’t ask me why he became much friendlier after we said that, but the driver did mention that he visited Singapore a few times and really enjoyed himself here. He was then so kind enough to on the meter and we realised that on the way down that we would have shortchanged him becoz the meter was reaching NT$250 when we arrived safely at the Taipei Zoo MRT station. A kind and friendly taxi driver becoz after that, he insisted that we just paid him NT$200 instead of NT$250.

Private driver experience:

We hired a private driver based in Taichung as we aimed to complete the major hotspots that are in Taichung in just 1 day and be back on the same day to Taipei by taking the HSR back. It was a pretty good experience even though, you had to be careful at the same time about hiring the right driver, otherwise you might end up somewhere else that nobody knows. 😛 On a side note, you might have to bear with the driver in case they might want to bring you to other places that are not pre-confirmed on your itinerary just becoz they said that its on the way and usually its to shops that are meant for the tourists.

So that pretty much sums up on how to use the different modes of transport available in Taiwan. I cannot believe we literally covered the major public transport modes in this Taiwan trip. Enlighten me if you think there are other transport modes that I can try on my next trip there as there are still so many other parts of Taiwan that I have yet ventured to and do let me know by posting your comments below if you have anything else you want to know. I might share my pictures in another entry to make it neater this way 🙂

Cheers.

Bangkok 2014.

I am so excited blogging about this post because it is 2014, a new year, a new start and I have already embarked on the first trip of this year this early!

So Bangkok is another place in Thailand that i can now strike off my bucket list of countries that I have visited!

Amidst the protests still happening right now in Bangkok, i was fortunate to be there and back safely during the period of our Chinese New Year.

And thank God with the power of social media nowadays, we relied quite a bit on the updates by @RichardBarrow whilst out and about in Bangkok and managed to avoid a few protest sites in the day.

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#1 Famous wonton mee at Soi Petchburi 19 street.

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#2 Business as usual although a protest is ahead of them. We skipped these streets for safety and took the BTS skywalk.

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#3 peppery bistro for lunch inside one of the big shopping malls

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#4 thai massage just a block away from the hotel to relieve our sore tired feets after a day’s shopping.

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#5 check in at indra regent hotel.

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#6 camho shot in our hotel suite.

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#7 quickly snapped a shot of the congested victory monument area whilst on the BTS.

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#8 Chatuchak!! On a sunny sunday afternoon 🙂 experienced guide aka my bro took us to the more popular alleys and we found nice things along the way!

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#9 bkk’s own version of grass jelly @ chatuchak.

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#10 so as reported in the news, they really have live concerts to entertain the protesters

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#11 it is this jammed under most bridges :O

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#12 ready to fly back to SG.. so sad that the trip is this short but happy to be back home.

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#13 i’d always choose the seats that overlook the wings #idunnowhy

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#14 neighbouring countries I think, can’t recognise if we are on SG land already heee.

I would really love to visit Bangkok again and hopefully the protests would have ended by then. Thank God that the Thailand government have recently lifted the “state of emergency” as hopes are placed highly on reviving the tourism industry.
http://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/19/travel/thailand-tourism-state-of-emergency/ 

Hope you enjoyed this short entry as there wasn’t much to write about since I was only there for 3d2n during the CNY holiday period. One thing to note about visiting Bangkok is, the public train transport is really easy to understand and most people even their locals rely heavily on the BTS sky trains and sky walks going from one place to another. There are public buses and tuk tuk as well but when the road traffic gets heavy, it is usually not as convenient as the trains would be.

cheers, lejasmineeee