Friday, August 30, 2013

Bangkok Shopping: In Search For Your Not So Typical Souvenirs

So during my trip to Bangkok this month, I kind of found some different souvenirs that people do not usually buy when they travel. Well for me, I found these two new things really classy but cheap. Just right across the Siam BTS Skytrain station, you will find a lot of cheap stuff to buy especially at night. As you walk under the train station, you will find lots of clothes, cellphone cases, fake watches and shoes. Then I stumbled upon a stall that sells leather goods, not shoes, but some kind of organizers stuff that I am certain teachers like me will definitely like. I bought two items. One is a sort of laptop case/portfolio or file holder and another one is a smaller version of it that I can use for passport or some other small stuff.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Bali: Island of Gods

Balangan Beach, Bali, Indonesia,
They say, travel makes a man wiser. We travel to new places to see, learn and experience new things or something different. I read that it is called the Island of Gods while some says it is a Surfer’s Paradise. When we arrived at Denpasar, the main entry to Bali Island, we went straight to Balangan beach, one of the surfing beaches in the island. Indeed, the waves were strong and surfers from different parts of the world were all gathered there.

We went around to a lot of different beaches and all we saw were surfers crashing the waves like there is no tomorrow. We even saw an 8 year old looking Caucasian who was really good. Well I actually don’t know the level of goodness that a surfer does since I myself has never done surfing. Except for one time when I tried a surfing game in an amusement park where I didn’t even get wet. Not even a single sweat. But from where we were seated, while eating my big bowl of Chap Cai, Chicken Satay and a cup of white rice, I can tell that the boy was really good.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Quotes from The Little Prince

So here are some of the quotes I personally liked from The Little Prince book.

1. "One sees clearly only with the heart. What is essential is invisible to the eye."
2. "The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or touched, they are felt with the heart."
3. "All grown-ups were once children...but only few of them remember it."
4. "I am looking for friends. What does that mean -- tame?"
"It is an act too often neglected," said the fox. "It means to establish ties."
5. "To me, you are still nothing more than a little boy who is just like a hundred thousand other little boys. And I have no need of you. And you, on your part, have no need of me. To you I am nothing more than a fox like a hundred thousand other foxes. But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world...."
6."People have forgotten this truth," the fox said. "But you must not forget it. You become responsible forever for what you've tamed. You're responsible for your rose."
7. "Grown-ups never understand anything by themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them"
8. "It is much more difficult to judge oneself than to judge others. If you succeed in judging yourself rightly, then you are indeed a man of true wisdom."
9. "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed."
10. "You - you alone will have the stars as no one else has them...In one of the stars I shall be living. In one of them I shall be laughing. And so it will be as if all the stars were laughing, when you look at the sky at night...You - only you - will have stars that can laugh."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Review: Time Hotel, Hanoi Vietnam

The facade of Time Hotel
The Time Hotel is located in the Old Quarter area of Hanoi City. It's distance from the airport is about 40 - 50 minutes and we used the hotel airport service. We availed this groupon promo to stay in this hotel. we paid $52 (SGD) for a stay of 3D/2N. The price for the airport transfer is about $18 (USD). Hiring a taxi in Hanoi can be tricky so you better arrange it with your hotel as locals may take advantage of you. Hanoi does not have a proper shuttle buses or transportation to the city and the easiest and safest way to get in to the city is by taxi or hotel transport.

The location of the time hotel gave us an easy access to the night market. there was a minimart and Lotteria restaurant just outside the hotel. Hoan Kiem Lake is just 10-15 minutes walk. You just have to walk straight in the same road where the hotel is towards the inner part of the city. At night, that same road you will be walking will closed for a night market which was pretty convenient for us when we walked from Hoan Kiem Lake back to the hotel.

The hotel was quite decent. Wifi is free and accessible anywhere. The elevator was bit scary and the room was also a bit old style which made it creepy for me because I was alone in the room.

Notes on Ha Long Bay and Hanoi, Vietnam

Old cities that have withstood time always draw my attention. Especially if the city hides behind the shadow of a bigger and more famous one, Hanoi is the capital city of Vietnam. Yet Ho Chi Minh City seems to be the destination favoured by many tourists. Although I have never been to HCMC, I was told that it is more developed than the city capital. But then I still chose to go to Hanoi with two of my friends because of Ha Long Bay. The bay is famous for its limestone islands and rock cliffs scattered along that north eastern coast of Vietnam and almost close to the border of China. Everything you need to know about getting there and going around can be found in several internet sites but I would like to share is how enigmatic Ha Long Bay is which is quite the same thing I felt with Hanoi City. If you are the type who enjoys laid back atmosphere and to be in a city that still possess the magic of olden days. Head to Hanoi and visit the Old Quarter and the French Quarter. Although luxury shops and boutique hotels are scattered in the French Quarter area, many of these establishments are housed in French-inspired buildings in the olden days. The tallest buildings probably reaches only up to 5th and 6th storeys in these area (you can correct me if I am wrong and I am only referring to that area in the French and Old Quarters). The absence of western capitalism is very evident considering this is the capital city of the country. In the Old Quarter you can visit shop houses anywhere in the streets. At night, they also have night markets which sells cheaper than the shop houses that are open anytime of the day.

Hanoi Opera House, one of the best preserved French-Colonial Building in Hanoi

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Little Prince Book Collection

My collection of The Little Prince book in different language is not that big yet but I am very proud of what I have collected ever since I started collecting in 2012.

My very first book is of course in English edition that I got at the Powerbooks Bookstore in the Philippines last 2005. Working abroad and traveling overseas got me the chance to collect more books. Meeting fellow collectors who follow the Little Prince Official Facebook page got me more friends from other parts of the world to do book exchanges.

So here are the The Little Prince books in different languages I have so far.

English Edition - My very first Copy

Review: iHouse Hotel, Vientiane, Laos

So from today I am going to make reviews of the hotels I have stayed in during my trips and some other things related like coffee shops, restaurants, programs attended, transportations and so on. But I am only gonna make review if I feel like it will contribute to the readers especially those who travel on a budget yet seeking a good result from researching online with regards to their travel needs. My first review will be on iHouse hotel, a budget hotel located in Vientiane City, Laos.

Let us talk about the "goods" first.

1. It is located at Pangkham Road which is in the city centre and most establishments and tourist spots are just within walking distance. The Lao National Museum, Wat Sisaket, Ho Pra Keo and Mekong River are within quite a walking distance. Even the Talat Sao Mall and the bus station about less than a kilometer walk.
2. The hotel rents out bike for guests for 20000 kip for a full day use. But the receptionists actually recommends to walk towards Mekong River front and find some bike rental shops there where you can rent a bike for 10000 kip for 24 hours. If you borrow today, you can return it on the 24th hour the following day. They both provide locks for the bikes for your own safety.
3. Rooms are clean and decent. It is actually good enough for what you paid for either online or as a walk in guest.
4. Free flow of coffee and tea. Their coffee is really good.
5. Unlimited wifi connection in your room and in the hotel lobby and cafe.

And then here comes the "bads". We all know travelling on a budget has its own repercussions. You get what you paid for and complaining about the services won't get you anywhere.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Small Tips For Backpacking In Vientiane

Just some small tips for backpacking in the city of Vientiane, Laos
Mekong Riverfront

1. Vientiane is an old city and has everything in it cheap. From food to transportation to beer and to almost everything but the laid back atmosphere of this city is what makes it charming. The absence of commercialized establishments like McDonalds and Starbucks made me feel that the city is still untouched and should stay the way it is. There is only one mall and it is filled with local jewellery shops, banks, bargain stores and local coffee shops.
Lao National Museum. One of the oldest buildings in Vientiane.

Monday, August 19, 2013

From Bangkok to Vientiane via Sleeper Train

 I always liked flags since when I was a kid. I remember browsing through our Collier’s Encyclopaedias series and going through all the flags in the world. And with that interest, I have known many names of different countries even though I have no idea where they are. Countries like Nepal, Qatar, Mongolia, Pakistan, Uruguay, Paraguay and the list goes on. Laos is one of those countries I only know by name and have no knowledge of its culture and it is my luck to get the chance to visit this country even for only 2 days. Laos’ flag is made of three stripes, red on top and bottom and blue in the middle with a white circle in the centre of the flag. Well I’m not going to discuss what does the flag stands for as it may bore you about history. So when I went to Bangkok a week long break I decided to make a research on the neighbouring country. I thought of Siem Reap, Cambodia and Vientiane, Laos but decided to go the latter instead because of the challenge to take a sleeper train from Bangkok to Vientiane. I have never been on a long train ride.