Hello from Singapore!

Hey there, how’s it going? I think this is the nth time I’m telling you that I’m back – but not really because I got sent to Singapore for work for three weeks (!!!!!!). I’ve been meaning to update you but I’m busy participating.

I’ve been here since last week – and the city has nothing been short of amazing. I’ve already met a lot of people – both in and out of work. My liver is being tested with all of this participation but of course, it’s a hustle too because I’m still doing work that’s in Manila while training here. But I’m super psyched to learn about new stuff – while in a city, albeit I’ve been to three times already, that I’m still acquainting myself with.

Today is the start of Week 2. My friend and officemate who was with me last week flew back to Manila already – so I’m practically by myself now. Not that I haven’t traveled by my own before, but #sepanx. I guess it’s time to make new friends here.

I’m happy that I got to sneak in a lil time to update. Photos to follow – or follow me on Instagram for my finds!

 

Mindshare fam

BATANES DAY 1: Cute Basco Airport, Marfel Lodge, and North Batan Tour

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Airports will always be a place of comfort for me. I know, I know… Our airport here in Manila is not the one you’ll exactly call comfortable – but the impending sense of going away is always a welcome feeling, and I can disregard all others. Especially, after I get through the boarding gate.
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A year ago I bought not necessarily the cheapest flight, but relatively affordable ticket to Batanes – the northernmost island in the Philippines. I had to wait for a year before I can go… and I chose to go on my birthday week. It was the first time I am not spending my birthday with family and friends, not to mention alone, and I am kind of excited. I was breaking the quarter age, and I was getting a bit emotional when the trip was upcoming.IMG_6408

Just look at this amazing sea of cloudsIMG_6411IMG_6412

They say, the northernmost islands are only two hours away from Taiwan. But why isn’t there a flight from Batanes to Taiwan… Hmmmmm. I wonder. Batanes is where the Pacific meets the West Philippine Sea, and is also where most typhoons from the northeast come first. It is known to be beautiful and picturesque – and I was about to find if her secrets are true. IMG_6413IMG_6416

It was a nice plane ride from Manila. It was drizzling when the plane took off, myself a bit afraid that a typhoon might come. True enough on our third day, there was light rain – a typhoon passed by real quick. The place I was gonna stay at is just five minutes away from the airport. Marfel’s Lodge, one of the well-known homestays owned by a sweet lady affectionately called Ate Fe by locals, was my home for almost a week in this island. The place is simple, but it is enough. IMG_6418IMG_6420IMG_6423IMG_6424

The vernacular for thank you – Dios Mamajes always greets you when you go out of the house.IMG_6425IMG_6426

Tukon Stone Church (Mt. Carmel)IMG_6427

The nice guys at Marfel also assisted me to book a tour. I preferred to do the tour even though I just came from work. We went to the north of the island, aptly called North Batan, to sample ourselves with the wonders of both god- and man-made sights on the islands. At Day 1 we were spoiled by rolling hills, stone churches, and endless horizons. What an appropriate way to start a vacation!IMG_6429IMG_6430IMG_6432IMG_6434IMG_6435

PAG-ASA Weather Station – One of the places that I was particularly interested at (read: geeking at) was the weather station. There was a mainframe in their satellite office, and we can see that burgeoning typhoon from the northeast. Happy to know that PAG-ASA is not just guessing weather forecasts. IMG_6436
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Dipnaysupuan Japanese Tunnel – They said that the Japanese used these tunnels as their base back in World War 2, but the people (rather, men) of Batanes made it. The place was very very very very creepy.  IMG_6441IMG_6446IMG_6448IMG_6449

Valugan Beach – thousands and thousands and maybe even millions of boulders that are spat from the nearby volcano Mt. Iraya thousands of years ago can be found here. You can’t swim here, oh no you can’t. Unless you brought a suicide note and wanted your own concussion. But the view, ah let me tell you about what I saw. The weathered rocks on the beach was peaceful to look at. I could stay here for a day with a book or a drink and just watch the sun rise and set. This also happens to be one of my favorite places in Batanes. IMG_6454IMG_6457IMG_6461

Vayang Rolling Hills – the island is never lacking of spreads of greenery and grazing cattle. Your view is almost always assaulted by rolling hills, in tandem with the sea of salt and sea of clouds. This particular bit in North Batan is overlooking to the entropy of the West Philippine Sea and the Pacific. Yet again, peace is also not lacking in this part of the country. I could stay here for a month, I thought.
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Basco LighthouseIMG_6470IMG_6471

Old American base (WW2)IMG_6472

Basco Cathedral, Town proper
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It was indeed a tiring day. By sun down, we decided to cool down on the nearby beach and try to take in all what we’ve seen today. God, the Philippines is beautiful. Or can be beautiful. After dinner, I couldn’t possibly have wanted a bed to lie down ever before but I wanted to dream about the sights I’ve seen and the air that breezed through me. There is no greater feeling than this, I told myself.

Then I realized, I have five more days in the island. Hmmmm what to do? IMG_6482

Weekend + @MUNI_PH Meetup this Wednesday!!!

My weekends are better spent on coffee, meetings over coffee, and... you guessed right -- more coffee!

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If you’ve been playing SimCity BuildIt, you’ll get me on this. Who has Dr. Vu’s Lab already?IMG_6936

Luna Specialty Coffee is a lil hole smack right in NAC Tower along 32nd street in The Fort. I know you guys call it BGC nowadays but I’m really not feeling calling it that. So I’ll stick to Fort. There aren’t that much options in the menu, but it works. I love that the cold brew comes in a bottle (that might as well look like cough syrup. Cue: Young The Giant.) The Corned Beef Tapa was just alright too! I’d love it to be hash-y than tapa-y, but hey I just woke up at 2pm and I need nourishment. IMG_6934IMG_6935IMG_6937 IMG_6939I’ve been doing some freelance work with MUNI and we have a lot of great events coming up for ‘ya! I’ve pitched a few of my favorite things – and one is below – and another one is above! Sooooo excited to work with them and bring you meaningful events to connect with like-minded people. /plug —

QUICK PLUG! This Wednesday, we’re having three nomads tell their stories of travel and truth – Hannah Reyes of www.hannah.ph and Nat Geo Creatives, April Cuenca of  FlipTrip.ph, and Guido Sarreal of Kawil Tours. Hope you can drop by and hang with us as we talk about our favorite hobby, that is in this blog, T R A V E L I N G! Register here – I think there are still Eager Beaver tickets available (PhP 150), PhP 200 for walk-ins.

/endplug

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We have time to spare after our catch up, so the MUNI team headed towards the Satchmi Vinyl Day festivities at the BGC amphiteather – and boy was it fun! Got to hear Jensen and Tandem before heading on to our agenda for the night.

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But quick falafel run is always good, okIMG_6949

Our venue partner for the Travel and Truth meetup on Wednesday is Z Hostel at Don Pedro street in Makati! If you’ve been following my blog since I started traveling, you’d know I have a soft spot for hostels – and for cozy, good vibes-inducing ones at that. Right from the doorstep, Z will put an end to your hostility towards the common hostel, because it gives you good vibes. The roofdeck will be our rendezvous, and I am so ready to hear our nomad guests to tell their stories. Will I see you there?  IMG_6950IMG_6951Pun or not pun intended idk idk idkIMG_6956IMG_6957

Unwinding after a long day at Today x Future is always a good idea. It’s one of those places that I can call home and just go to and not feel alone. A lot has changed since I met Future but it still is that place where I go to randomly meet friends without ever texting or calling or vibering or tweeting anyone. Sucha good feels kinda place <3
IMG_6959It pains me to go home when I’ve gots lotsa things still to do but it’s all in a day’s work.

 

A little project with friends x impromptu drive to Intramuros x Muni Market Day on March 28!

A few weeks ago, I tagged along a couple of friends from Team Muni for a mini-project. Still getting permission if I can post the video here but It’s a short film to describe Manila as a creative hub. Between drinking coffee and taking safety shots, I also caught up with them and learned about their plans as well about Muni Market Day (after the jump!) Then a long-ish drive to Intramuros ensued. It’s been a while since I’ve been to this part of Manila. I actually forgot how to go to the walled city – though back in college I was always in this part of the capital *don’t ask hihi*. We also dropped by Manila Collectible – an all Filipino products curator in the corner of Cabildo and Beaterio streets, where we saw a both familiar and new local brands. #BuyLocal you guys 🙂

Gotta love spontaneous weekends!

Muni Creative Mornings 1 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 2 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 3 at Local EditionMuni Creative Mornings 4Muni Creative Mornings 5Muni Creative Mornings 6 at  IntramurosMuni Creative Mornings 7 at  Intramuros

 

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Horizons and Perspectives

Going back home to Manila is a bit of a difficult thing to do when I’ve just spent the last six days with these horizons and perspectives in Batanes. But life awaits in the city and I can only dreamy of another vacation to the enchanting islands of Batanes.

I heard the fiesta is on June… Hmmm I hope I can find another cheap ticket back to Basco!

Stop. And just stop. 

March 15, 2015 12:30PM

BATANES, PHILIPPINES — I’m now here at Phil’s Brew, Batanes’ first neighborhood cafe, and I’m finding it hard to finish any writing.

The birds are chirping, kids frolicking, the smell of home-brewed coffee, Ang Bandang Shirley appending the serenity; all beautifully distracting me from everything I’ve set myself to do today.

I came here to decompress anyway. The past few days in this island, albeit still not unplugged, has been nothing short of amazing. Even after seeing everything that has to be seen, this island — this little speck of land on the northernmost border of the Philippines still hasn’t ceased to astound every inch of my being.

Today, I tell myself, I am lucky to be here.

Being utterly present in the moment is something hard for me to do, but today, it seems that my hands are not willing to do anything. I am forced to bask in the quietness of my tiny space, this corner I holed up, along with the cacophony of the buzzing community on Sunday’s best. The wind is in my face, a typhoon is coming, and I’m halfway my cuppa. I could use this kind of peace in the city.

It’s more than the gifts of nature, or the cool breeze, or the honesty culture the island is known for. The invading peace that slowly creeps up to your system, forcing me to halt, that’s what is. Ah, when was the last time I stopped? To stay still, to appreciate, to feel the energy flow… and just flow in and out of my body like a steady stream of spring water. I in the middle of it all, just in a complete stop.

This place made me stop. Not to think, not to ruminate, not to analyze, but only to stop. I thought I came here to escape; I thought that’s what I need. But all I have done so far is to stop.

And it feels good.

My cup of exquisitely prepared local brew has just reached it’s bottom and I think a refill is in order. I’m gonna stay here for a while.

#Bangcock Day 4: Quick coffee at Ceresia… and going back home

I will never let myself not try Bangkok’s local coffee shops so on our last day — I went out a couple of stations away from Baiyoke for an early breakfast and set off to find at least one specialty coffee shop.

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A couple of blocks away from BTS Phrom Phong is a quiet neighborhood where Ceresia Coffee Roasters is nestled in, along 33/1 Sukhumvit Road. You would need to go to the alley to see it. If you go here before 10am, it will most probably be the only cafe open in the area.

IMG_6066They do the roasting in-house!

IMG_6067IMG_6068An exquisitely prepared flat white with latte art to boot!

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It’s almost Christmas when we went to Bangkok, so there were Christmas packages on display as well. Nevertheless, I liked the minimalist aesthetic the store has. It might feel a bit stiff, but the owners, who also prepares your coffee, are so friendly. I’m so bad with names but the store is owned by a Peruvian lady and a Thai guy. I enjoyed talking to them about how they’re sourcing their coffee — pretty awesome stuff! I also found a magazine (not in the photos) featuring Chiang Mai Design Week and how the emerging Thai city has a very laid back yet still very urban culture – and I am excited to go one day! Plus there are interesting cafes to try as well… Bangkok, I love you, but I hafta see Chiang Mai!

IMG_6074IMG_6075IMG_6076And I saw another quaint coffee shop around the corner

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Took the train and had to drop postcards at the post office… I think it was in Ratchathewi. Then I saw a hawker place – where I ate Pad Thai of course! One last hurrah. I’d miss this city of sumptuous street food and beautiful finds.

IMG_6079IMG_6081Then it’s off to the airport and it’s good bye once more. 

Ceresia Coffee Roasters
41 Praphai Phak Alley, Khlong Tan Nuea
Watthana, Bangkok (Near BTS Phrom Phong)
+66 86 843 8235
Open 8am – 6pm

#Bangcock Day 3: #Foodcoma at Baipai Thai Cooking School and Khao San Road

This post definitely made me hungry... and maybe it will make you hungry, too!

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One thing I really wanted to do in Bangkok when I got back was to take quick cooking classes. There was this class held by someone recommended by Jamie Oliver (oh god, I was fake dreaming he’d appear for a surprise visit) but it was fully booked even a month away from our trip. So I instead googled and compared a lot of classes around Bangkok – all ranging from as cheap as 900 baht to as expensive as 4,000 baht. Among those choices, I went to Baipai Thai Cooking School – and they did not disappoint *insert Jonver face of approval*
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At first glance, Baipai does not look like a cooking school. The whole place looks like a spa or some expensive villa. Now I really do wonder if they offer accommodations. Haha! Upon entering the school you’ll be welcomed by the staff while they serve lemongrass tea – the freshest I’ve ever tasted. IMG_6009IMG_6011IMG_6012

Fone welcomed us to the school and gave us a crash course on herbs and Thai seasonings. She even let us taste the herbs – some of them tasted quite a bit strong – which represented Thai food for me. I was so excited to learn more how Thai food is done correctly!IMG_6013IMG_6014IMG_6016That chili is naaaaasty but I like the green one

IMG_6017IMG_6018IMG_6019IMG_6021Insert dramatic quote while grating coconut

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Puu, one of the chefs who teach here, also taught us how to get fresh coconut milk. And man, it wasn’t easy.  We enjoyed trying it out but I don’t think I can do it for two more coconuts. However, fresh coconut milk tastes so much better than the canned ones available in the supermarket. If you have time to go to the wet market, it’ll be better to use those though.

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While we were touring the place, the staff prepared the kitchen for us. It was a lovely setup! I am not even joking – because I love kitchens and if I have a place of my own I’d have the kitchen bigger than any other room. Back in my hometown, I’d entertain guests while I cook and it still is the best part of my home for me to host. IMG_6028IMG_6029

First up, we learned how to cook Thai Satay – which involved a lot of herbs and spices. Puu made the peanut sauce for everyone which was so tasty I actually wanted to ask her to cook some more to bring back home (perishing was an issue, though). Making the peanut sauce involved so much smoke I don’t think I can make it at home – unless I go back to my parent’s place and cook outside.IMG_6313_1400x1050Jonver (2)_1400x1050Skewering so hard especially the meat was so thinly sliced

IMG_6031That peanut sauce tho

 

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Then we made a quick salad – Spicy Prawn and greens – which Asian vinaigrette was really refreshing and citrusy. It’s one of the those quick fixes you can whip up in five minutes. Perfect for the lazy bachelor that I am – or that homemade quick date that can help bring you the home run!Jay, Susan & Jonver_1400x1050Jonver (6)_1400x1050IMG_6040

We had two dishes which we cooked on fire. Asian dishes spells stir fry for many people – so we made stir fried beef and beans. We didn’t do Pad Thai though (I’ll be back to learn authentic Pad Thai because it is bae) but we did Thai noodles which is kinda Pad Thai, too, with different ingredients.Jonver_1400x1050IMG_6043IMG_6044IMG_6045Perfect way to cap this experience? Thai Milk Tea!

IMG_6046IMG_6048Group Dinner (1)_1400x1050Meet the whole class!

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The class went for half a day but spending it here was all worth it! DSC02253DSC02255DSC02268

The next day will be our last day so we drank our last drop of our alcohol in the famed streets of Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri. DSC02278IMG_6055IMG_6057

Paid 10 baht to take a photo of these but we weren’t brave enough to try. My body isn’t ready for that. IMG_6058IMG_6059Internal joke. Nvm lol.

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Our last night in Bangkok was hella fun!

Baipai Thai Cooking School
8/91 Ngam Wongwan Road
Soi 54 Ladyao, Chatuchak
(They pick you up from your hotel)
+66 2 561 1404
http://www.baipai.com

Other places in this post:
Khao San Road
Soi Rambuttri

#Bangcock Day 2.5: HANGOVER TOUR!!! (Plus pictures I prolly shouldn’t have taken yet still safe for work)

And the sleaze starts right here right now

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For some people, Bangkok is the capital of sleaze in Southeast Asia. Known for its pretty ladyboys for and not for hire (not to mention affordable sex-change surgeries), exotic and bizarre sex shows, and hangovers from shit you prolly shouldn’t have taken. We have Hollywood and a thousand and one guides to the central hub of the banana pancake trail to thank for having, albeit small, a picture of what Bangkok’s dark side is.

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IMG_5974Officially my favorite azn beer

IMG_5976Cool company of ladies reppin’ South Africa

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This time though I wouldn’t pass the opportunity up to see it for my own eyes. Nothing screams like #Bangcock than taking The Hangover Tour! The guys from this tour company gave us the lowdown on what can be seen in the sleazy sois of Patpong and Nana entertainment complexes. They also will bring you to key locations of the Hangover II movie – from where the ladyboys are to where the real action is! Depends to you what action you want though – we chose to be dirty all the way – from a bar where ladies with no underwear dance to GAY GUYS SUCKING EACH OTHER’S COCKS. ON. STAGE. Yepp, you heard it right – on stage! Feast on your carnal desires with your eyes. You can give in to it, though make sure you brought enough baht since they don’t swipe cards using their asses!

photophoto(2)photo(3)photo(4)photo(5)These fine ladies bought Patron for everyone. I like them that instant. 

photo(6)They were playing good bitchy music, who are we to resist

photo(7)And that’s Con’s first time to see a punani

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How much sleaze goes around Bangkok, you ask? From the moment the sun goes down… IT’S EVERYWHERE, but especially in Nana (Sukhumvit) and Patpong (Silom). The whole soi is teeming with men, women, and transwomen.

photo(11)This ladyboy is too pretty for words…

photo(12)photo(13)photo(14)Please don’t ask what I’m doing here :/

IMG_5983Yepp, they don’t allow people to take photos, but this was literally shot from the hip. I might be in trouble for posting this, but what the hell.

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There were also a lot of handsome afam, some pretty drunk enough to not realize you’re hitting on them. Hehehehe. I really wouldn’t find a hook up here, but the sight was very welcome. I MEAN THE FIRST FEW BARS WE WENT TO ARE FILLED WITH GIRLS. Nothing against, but this gay guy is pretty sure he’s playing for the other team, if you know what I mean 😛

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When we got to Spanky’s in Nana Plaza though I was hella buzzed already. Mama got one too many Changs to know what she’s doin’ yo! Spanky’s is where they spank you real hard for the love your sunburn. So yeah, don’t go if you have any burns because it’ll hurt. But this drunk boy just had to go on stage and… TWERK. Yes, I twerked like no one’s watching. I twerked like I was in my bedroom. I twerked… and Miley would approve. That’s while being spanked mind you — and I didn’t know — while a real girl (uhhhhhhhh yeah if I knew I would’ve freaked, so I did afterwards) was HUMPING me. Mama got one too many Changs to know what she’s doin’ mhmm alright.

IMG_5988Patpong knows it best

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The stories of the famous ping pong shows were no hoax! This is probably where I was amazed and grossed out all at the same time. No spoilers, but I just have to mention that they shoot darts using their vajayjay. LIKE WHOSE JAW WON’T DROP WIDE OPEN ON THAT. The last performance though was the climax though – like real climax. Yes, if you’re too young to read this, stop reading, or just don’t tell your parents what you read *wink, wink*

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But of course, I wouldn’t pass up on the gay show even if it costed us almost another thousand baht. Don’t care, wouldn’t care, even it actually threw my budget off. Kebs na mga baklaaaa! I wouldn’t have done this anywhere else but here. What I liked about The Hangover Tour is that they swear to get you good seats without getting scammed; with drinks to boot! And I must tell you this, from gay guy to another gay guy – the sightseeing was well worth it. With and without underwear, those Asian boys are indeed ripe for the picking (photo below). I haven’t seen that much showboys in my life. AND I MUST ABSOLUTELY MENTION AGAIN THAT THERE WERE BLOWJOB SHOWS THAT TOOK PLACE. There. To the tune of, was that Rihanna or Lady Gaga? I really wasn’t paying attention anymore.

IMG_5995IMG_5997IMG_5998The Hangover Team gave Val a shirt for her birthday! Yay!

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*With photos from Con and the Hangover Tour team
*I have videos but yeah not posting ’em hehehe

Book your own Hangover Tour here!

#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

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