#Bangcock Day 2: Museum of Contemporary Art and Soi Ekkamai

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It was our second day in Bangkok and we decided to try the breakfast buffet at Baiyoke… Hmmm nothing special. I was at least happy they poach their eggs. I was sooooo tired the night before that I think I ate three of those plus cereals and bucket loads of tea.

IMG_5881IMG_5882Sunrise view from the Baiyoke buffet floor

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We decided to split ways that day because not everyone of us wanted to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art in the Chatuchak area. Baiyoke is near Ratchaprarop Airport Link City Line so we boarded a train there and transferred to Sukhumvit BTS to Mo Chit. We planned to ride the bus but, meh, it was difficult to figure out where to board. Plus all the signs were in Thai. So we just took a cab to MOCA, because the sun was harsh that day, too.

IMG_5887This cafe greets you by the entrance. They serve a decent Iced Americano, and a couple of pastries as well. 

IMG_5888IMG_5889IMG_5890The MOCA hosts a big collection of paintings, sculpture, and mixed media art pieces from local art influencers in the country. 

IMG_5891IMG_5892Vachara Prayulkan

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The Thai museum was built in honor of King Rama IX and of Italian sculptor and Father of Thai Contemporary Art Corrado Feroci, also commonly known in Thailand as Professor Silpa Bhirasri. It was in 1923 when Feroci came to Thailand by invitation of the king to teach Western Art to Thai students. It was those days, too, when Thailand was beginning to open up and welcome western influences to modernize Thailand and shield themselves from foreign invasion.

IMG_5894Sriwan Janehuttakarnkit – my favorite piece from all the paintings in the museum. 

DSC02107IMG_5897IMG_5900Thavorn Ko-Udomvit

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Even in Modern Thailand, religious art central to Buddhism, the predominant religion in the country, is highly influential. Several art pieces tell the story of Samsara and Nirvana and how different supernatural entities influence these two.

IMG_5905IMG_5906Preecha Thaothong

IMG_5907House of Phimphilalai

IMG_5908IMG_5910Sudjai Chaiyapan

IMG_5911Keittisak Chanonnart

IMG_5912Sompong Adsurabhan

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IMG_5918Tetsuya Noda

IMG_5919Uttaporn Nimmalaikaew

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It was lunchtime when we left the museum. After getting some postcards from the museum shop and resting in the cafe, I decided to go to Soi Ekkamai and see what I can find there. Just off Sukhumvit, it also has its own BTS station, Ekkamai hosts a number of interesting shops in Bangkok. Mostly dubbed by locals as a hipster soi (wtf hahahaha) a number of holes in the wall call this part of Bangkok their home. As per research as well, it hosts a number of independent cafes. Sounds like my kind of area to get lost in!

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I don’t think I’ll be able to get over the fact that authentic Pad Thai is really yummy! Before starting my walking tour of the soi, I found this vintage-themed restaurant called Cafe Classique which offers all the Thai food you can think of. I was still half-full from the buffet earlier but I couldn’t pass up for Pad Thai either. The prices were a bit higher than what you would normally pay on a Southeast Asian trip but I didn’t care that much.

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I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for authentic Thai massage as well! Along Soi Ekkamai is Health Land, one of the more popular chain of spas in the city. I was almost sold to have my massage on the cheaper ones but having myself pampered in this albeit expensive spa was one of the highlights of my trip. It was well-spent baht on an hour and a half worth of massage. Next time I’m in Bangkok, I’ll really make it a point to stay in Ekkamai instead!

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I also found this quirky book cafe which sells postcards. As you know, I’ve been postcrossing and I make it a point to buy and send postcards wherever I am. Too sad though, the books available were all in Thai so I couldn’t buy any.

IMG_5947IMG_5948IMG_5949IMG_5950IMG_5951More quirky specialty stores like If I were a carpenter.

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I was having too much fun that next time I knew I needed to be back at the hotel because we were going to have the Hangover Tour for the night! I was sad to have only so much little time in Ekkamai! 🙁

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Up next — what happens in Patpong stays in Patpong… or not?!

*With photos from Con and Val

Is prepaid shopping the way to go in 2015?

Let’s be honest… the holidays might be over and you might have sworn to stop damaging your budget even more but the yearend sales, then come February it’s Valentines, and Summer sales, and it’s never ending. Personally, I’ve just been out of the red (oh good lord why is that shiny plastic looking straight at me) and it has been. one. expensive. year.

Good thing, there are optionz in life! Especially when that shiny little thing that you want costs way less when it’s coming from the halfway across the world. Using your credit card might not be the best friend you might think it is when you think of currency conversion and shit, on top of being in the red.

I thought, for the coming year, I really need to curb my spending habits. Raking up credit is not helping and I will no longer endure a year in debt. Being an adult sucks bigtime because you’re given all these opportunities but you really need to be responsible about ’em. It’s not like you can just save and save and not enjoy though. Like what my mom always tells me, spending within one’s means is a good skill to have.

When I discovered prepaid shopping, it was rather unappealing to me. First, you’re limited to your current funds, and second, transferring funds was a rather inconvenient chore. But with the goal of controlling this bad habit I am hurting to admit, it seems like a feasible plan! With a lot of prepaid credit cards in the market now (with minimal annual fee to boot), it sounded like a plan. But also these optionz are getting too many to bother yourself…

I particularly like Globe Blue and Gcash Amex because…

  1. Both are connected to my Gcash account, and subsequently my Globe postpaid line.
  2. Transferring is easy via the Gcash app, especially if with BPI.
  3. Globe Blue also serves like a preferred clientele card and has dedicated lanes at selected Globe stores.
  4. It’s easy shopping with US-based institutions like Amazon, Netflix, and the Playstation store because Gcash Amex also gives you an address in the US – meaning your card is eligible for use in geo-restricted e-commerce sites.
  5. You can also debit purchases (capped at PhP 500) from iTunes and the App Store (and Google Play!) directly to your postpaid bill.

2015 is fast approaching and you might be wondr’n why this is what I have to blog about. I was doing a lil bit of financial planning, and I thought I’d share what I have in mind. To be fair, I also use other prepaid cards. I have a couple hehe but I haven’t thought about them until now that I’m pretty serious about saving up.

#Bangcock Day 1: NAIA and Suvarnabhumi, Baiyoke, and shopping (also, money matters when traveling)

But first, let me take a selfie

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And -fies of random afams in the airport. Hello, Northern European-looking guy!

20141118_085223IMG_5832IMG_5833I want this pop art-inspired luggage cover!

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NAIA Terminal 2 was still a bit gloomy, yet buzzing with travelers, when we got to the airport. A lot were boarding for different flights so we easily found a spot to lounge. We arrived an hour early and we were enjoying the silence… when the President arrived for a flight… (What were we thinking, it’s the national carrier PAL’s terminal after all.) Lol, no pictures because I was so tired, coming from work and shit.

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The flight to Bangkok was usual – though I can bet a finger that PAL’s food could improve. And I hope there were no crying kids, because god knows I needed sleep that day. Seeing Suvarnabhumi airport again was refreshing though! The space-inspired international hub was in its usual hustle and it was energizing to be back!

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First order of business though when we landed was to get some baht. I used to lug around dollar notes when I’m traveling but due to recommendations from Val and the internet, I had to try withdrawing from the local ATM. I was curious if I can save a few hundred pesos… but turns out it’s just the same. The exchange rate in the Philippines for buying baht was at 1.6, and I think I saved only a couple of ten pesos, since essentially the Bank in Thailand will convert your pesos to dollars then to baht… plus fees from both banks. Basically, I approximately got an exchange rate of 1.45. If you have some tricks up your sleeve with these currency exchange, please hit me up huhuhu.

IMG_5842Hello, photobomber!

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This time around, we opted to stay at Baiyoke Sky Hotel, only Bangkok’s tallest skyscraper at 89 floors. Thanks to Val who treated us the hotel room, being it her birthday treat! The hotel is kinda old though… you can literally smell it. The actual lobby is at the 18th floor and if you go down on lunch time be prepared to the swarm of tourist groups as the tower is also a tourist attraction. So. Many. PEOPLE. FML (for my life, that is.)

IMG_5849IMG_5850Well I have to give it to them for having a fruit stand — INSIDE THE HOTEL LOBBY!

IMG_5851IMG_5852The bar near the smoking area on the 18th floor also has a driving range. If you got golf skills, time to show off!

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The view of the Pratunam skyline from the room pays for what seems to be things that need attention. For one, I think Baiyoke needs to be more conscious about attendant’s behavior — especially those who are in the front desk… Everything’s bearable if their people are smiling.

/endrant

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There’s nothing much to do at the hotel, so off to the nearest mall/market we went! Right outside the hotel is the Pratunam Market and it’s a hella big market – food, clothes, accessories, and all sort of Asian Market fare can be found there. If you walk a little further, it’ll bring you to Platinum Fashion Mall – where you’d find one the best deals on clothes, all the more if you buy in bulk. I guess, businesses here in Manila who source in Bangkok get their stuff here! Plenty of good stuff… and I love their foodcourt – where you need to exchange your money for a card you swipe to buy food. Snazzy!

IMG_5863IMG_5864The first of many Tom Yum Goongs for this trip!

IMG_5866IMG_5867IMG_5869IMG_5870IMG_5871IMG_5872IMG_5874Almost bought this!!!!

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It was just the first day, but coming from work I just felt very tired and I crashed the minute I saw my bed after walking in the humongous Platinum mall. We even rode the tuktuk, who totally scammed us with a 100 baht charge, but kebs we’re too tired to argue.

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The next day we’ve had the party of our lives so stay tuned for more stories!

*With photos from Con and Val

 

Hong Kong Hustle: Day 2; Lazy Pandas, Touristy Things, and Quirky Finds Shopping

Day 2 is about touristy things and lots of walking... jeez it was gloriously tiring, but I'll do it all over again

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The first agenda of the day was to see pandas at the Ocean Park. We had coffee and croissant at a local Starbucks and got to Admiralty station for the bus. Unfortunately, there had been a reroute, so we got back to the MTR to Tin Hau. I just have to spend a moment though to say that the signs were put up the night before and it was so efficient and traveler-friendly of that move right there!

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I haven’t seen theme parks abroad plainly because I’m boring like that almost always alone traveling so it was kind of refreshing to see the humongous park. But I’ll be honest that, I wasn’t so thrilled – haha! Signs of ageing, indeed.

IMG_5550The cable car leads to the Penguin shows. The lines were incessantly long, so no we didn’t go.

IMG_5552IMG_5554IMG_5555IMG_5556This may start to seem like a bad review, please bear with me haha we just went here for the PANDAS! 

IMG_5557IMG_5559Cue: “Who is that girl I see / Staring straight back at me…”

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The Ocean Park houses a lot of zoo animals including this sad-looking but adorably cute fish that Nica and I couldn’t stop staring at! He’s like that chubby-faced kid from Up!

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AND FINALLY! PANDAS!!!! But lazy pandas, at that! I think s/he fully know that he’s being watched and that s/he’s being a troll for not moving. Huhuhuhu, that all our HK$ 320 (US$ 42) went to because spending half a day there with the hot sun above and the throngs of Hongkongers slash tourist crowd was too much to bear. I think half of the island’s population were concentrated there on a Sunday. So yeah, we watched this lazy panda, which I’d correct myself was just making kuyakoy (moving its feet sublimely as it slept) on us, and the playful red panda enjoying the tourists’ attention.

IMG_5573IMG_5574IMG_5578Another lazy panda. Much lazier panda.

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We were a bit disappointed with the pandas, so we went back to Sheung Wan to grab lunch. We ate at this nondescript diner with no English menu and a TV with horseracing on all day. Pretty legit. I felt like a kung fu scene from one of those movies we used to watch when we were kids would happen anytime. Flip all the tables, flying kicks, and flailing people. The works. But nah, it was just a peaceful meal with bouts of arguments in Cantonese, I think, whether who won the race and if their bets earned money. Beats me.

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We continued walking from Sheung Wan to Soho and the Aberdeen area (yes, walked) and saw these quirky wastelands (!!!!!!!) There were a lot of home stuff, but mostly were artisanal or curated so I guess that’s why it was a bit expensive. But, I got a few things like a wooden postcard (another !!!!!!!!) and we just passed through. We were looking for PMQ which was at the end of Soho bisecting Aberdeen.

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PMQ or Police Married Quarters is formerly what you think it is. It was transformed into blocks of creative shops selling artistic items from toys, postcards, books to clothes, furniture, and food. In Manila, we have these kind of stores, but not on steroids like these ones! We were just in time, I think there was an event there and there were a loooooot of people – both locals and foreigners – checking out the good stuff. I had an amaziiiing time looking at the stores. The stuff they sell there were on the pricier side though, so unless you came with a big budget, don’t expect to bring home a lot of stuff. I brought home a couple of postcards, a biographical photo-poetry book, and a really good shopping experience.

IMG_5611IMG_5612IMG_5613IMG_5614IMG_5615IMG_5616Five floors times two plus basements! There’s a connecting bridge somewhere in the fourth floor.

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The walking didn’t stop there. Oh god, can you imagine our aching feet?! But the city is too charming to resist. Literally, the place is a living and self-manifesting art in itself. Walk a bit and you’ll see great street art and the next would be a slew of local market finds like meat, vegetables, and oh dim sum ingredients (I think that was Graham Street Market, one of the oldest in Hong Kong!) We rode the train back to Austin and lucky for us, there are a lot of dim sum places in the area so, hello dinner!

IMG_5626In a funny-sounding yet renown place called Dimdimsum (to the tune of the minions song)

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We wouldn’t mind egg tarts for dessert really (from another store with no English menu again.)

Weekend Diary: HL x Uniqlo, Jessica Zafra x Ayala Museum, and Meeting Friends!

I think I’ve pretty much said everytime that I live for the weekends. Basically, it’s when I have time to do things for myself and meet friends and sleep more than I should. I also kind of splurge *gulp* because hey I endure 5 days working in the office and I think everyone deserves a rewarding weekend *wink*

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So I went around the mall last weekend to find myself a new belt. Now if you need to know something about me… sometimes I really don’t believe in the saying the more, the merrier. I tend to buy stuff one at a time. This means that I can’t justify to myself to buy two things that are essentially alike unless the other is worn out (this applies mainly for clothes, not food haha!) like this pair of Vans sneakers that I really need to replace – which leads me to that I am thrilled that Zalora carries a couple of cool Vans stuff! Time to shop, then eh?

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I know these are not photos of the belt (wait for me to justify ok, hahaha) but because it is hoodie weather in Manila, and practically all my hoodies are gone (idk really where they’ve been) so I fitted out some stuff over at my favorite brand Uniqlo. And oh god, they really do use the best fabrics. I can literally live inside them… and I might just break that rule of not buying the same shit because I want them all hoodies… in all colors!!!

IMG_5261.JPGWay back in college I used to always wear one

PLUS, I am so excited about their new collaboration with Austrian fashion house, Helmut Lang. Below are some of my favorites from the sneak peek:

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Then I went to see Jessica Zafra again with friends! This time, her talk was about Game of Thrones, Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Geek Civilization. I really had tons of fun listening to her (well duh I can’t imagine what geek wouldn’t) and we were literally in the middle of legit geeks. I really tend to think that I am not geek enough so I call them legit. Plus, got to tour around Ayala Museum again. We need more museums here in Manila (with free entrance, that is!)

IMG_5262.JPGThe tita that I never had. 

She has one more talk on October 4 where she will talk about another thing she likes the most: world domination! If you’re not familiar with Jessica Zafra, this is one topic she just won’t quit on. And there are a lot more interesting lectures happening in Ayala Museum so be sure to check them out!

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IMG_5264.JPGCollege trio: Jonver, Hanna, Ella

As always, I really love spending weekends with friends. If only I can push myself to be awake for more than 24 hours just to hang out with every one of them. I really miss them a lot! One day, I’ll be able to do that maybe. But until I have a stronger body, I’ll just try to meet them one weekend at a time.

IMG_5266.JPGNica just came back from Paris.

SIDE NOTE: I just joined this Instagram contest by Yardstrick and I really want to win (mainly because they’re giving away cool coffee stuff and coffee workshops so yes I want to win) You may click on the photo to like my post (idk if this counts but I guess it helps?)

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And I will shamelessly ask you too to follow me on Instagram!!

Three more days til the weekend and I just can’t wait anymore!

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

If there is one singular entity that made Bangkok a shopping paradise and had put itself on the radar of shoppers worldwide, it’s not even the malls – though they are beautiful and grandiose – it’s the hectares and hectares wide of a shopping space called Chatuchak Weekend Market. The guidebooks weren’t joking when they said this will be a test of endurance. The largest weekend shopping market also boasts of all buys – from your fancy shoes to exotic pets!

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Since it is open only on weekends, a lot of locals were also on the train to go there. What we did was to take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit and this brought us a stone’s throw away from the main thoroughfare. You can never miss it – because the shopping begins right after you go down the train!

 

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The maze starts here — just right after going down the train station. It is wild, I tell you! Hats, toys, clothes, food, and little trinkets are sold on the streets. Filipinos know how Divisoria looks like — girl, Chatuchak is like on steroids!

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IMG_3792When in Chatuchak: remember that authenticity is not its biggest game…

IMG_3794But, fancy may be its middle name (that rhymes, hehe!)

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IMG_3797God, just thinking how to ship this back home – if it gets past through the airport X-ray!

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May I just say that when in Chatuchak, learn to follow your senses. Or at least trust where your feet leads you. It would help if you and your mates are in roaming because it is easy to get lost here. Find a common meetup point, because it might just get ugly. Follow the locals – they know their way around.

IMG_3799This big wok of paella, jeez

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I brought home a lot of these decals because I couldn’t resist. But I had to buy an extra bag because I kinda overestimated the baggage I brought with me. I think I got each for 300 baht each! Such a steal! As I type, my Darth Vader decal by Keetat Sitthiket is forcing me to the dark side.

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After half a day (not enough though) at Chatuchak, and a dozen cans of Thai milk tea, our feet were tired and our shoulders are aching. It was time to go back to the hotel for some well-deserved pool time (*hint, hint*)

Photos taken using an iPhone 5

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