My Kanchanaburi Experience

Over the weekend, I went on a trip with my Colleagues and friends to Kanchanaburi, a province in Central Thailand located 130 kms. away from Bangkok is about 3 hours drive from the Capital. Kanchanaburi has become very famous all over the world because of the World War II Movie, “Bridge on the River Kwai” which was built by prisoners of war wherein more than half of the workers died of disease, maltreatment and accidents.

Kanchanaburi is Thailand’s 3rd largest province after Nakhon Ratchasima and Chiang Mai. It is gifted with abundant natural resources characterized by mountains, rivers, valleys and water falls most notable of which is the Erawan Waterfalls –a 7-tiered natural beauty wherein each level has a distinct characteristic.

We stayed in Xen Hideaway resort, a lovely resort with lots of trees in a big expanse of lot. Prior to our stay, we passed by a local Sukiyaki Buffet restaurant wherein you can have all you can eat Suki for only 99 Baht (including drinks). Very cheap price isn’t it?..The catch is that you are only allowed to consume everything you cooked within 1.5 hours and any excess food will be charged 20 Baht per 100 gram which is not bad. Our group always have a trick with this kind of situation..We all agree we cannot talk much the moment we step into the restaurant..We will just eat, eat, eat then the talking comes later once we stepped out of the restaurant. That way even 1 hour time allotted, we can be as heavy as a hippo. Lol.

The room I stayed in the resort is nice and comfortable. Nothing fancy..but have all the basic amenities needed- Cable TV (however only 1 movie channel is available–HBO which is good enough), mini bar, air con, private shower and bath..The bed side lamp is quite unique so I took a picture..

My room is overlooking the resort’s swimming pool which is nicely landscaped and has several sun decks if anyone wants to bathe in the sun.

We had our dinner in the main restaurant. I ordered Beef with Vegetables in Oyster Sauce which I say is quite good and the price is not expensive for a resort (about 130 Baht if I remembered correctly).  After dinner, we had our Karaoke in the newly-built private Karaoke Room of the resort. What’s good with this resort is that they have a wide selection of English songs. Most of the Karaoke joints (even in the hotel) that I visited in Bangkok has very limited English song inventory. The audio of the Karaoke Room at Xen is also very good. Only thing is that the walls made of glass is not sound proof so if your voice is not good enough, prepare for the boo boos from the other guests. Good thing though it is quite far from the guest rooms so those sleeping will not have any nightmare. Lol.

Next day, after our buffet breakfast we surveyed the surrounding of the resort. The Kwai River actually passes by the property. On the banks of the river on the other side are lush green vegetation. A lot of trees and ferns grow which is very relaxing to the eyes..The river is flowing very calmly, good for bamboo rafting. There is a watch tower about 6 or 7 stories high which I climbed together with the husband of my colleague and 2 young boys. I am not a big fan of high places but I can tell you the view on top is really breath taking.

We checked out then proceeded to Srinakarin Dam which is about 30 minutes drive from the resort. It is a massive dam surrounded by lush vegetation. They say the Srinakarin lake has abundant marine life and surrounding areas even have tigers, deers and other form of wild life. Entrance is Free.

After the Dam tour, we went for a Som Tam lunch. Lunch includes various form of spicy Thai Salad including the famous Papaya “Pok Pok” salad as well as grilled pork and chicken.

We then headed to the Erawan Water Falls which is one of the most popular waterfalls in Thailand. It was a very hot Sunday and we had to trek a long trail before reaching the various levels of the waterfalls. Since it is dry season, many trees along the pathways are very dry and wilted. However, as you go deeper into the National Park, you can find a lot of bigger, older and healthier trees. Generally, the climb uphill to reach different “floors” of the waterfalls is safe and a lot of people (locals and foreigners alike) don’t mind the sweltering heat just to get a glimpse or perhaps take a dip in the cool waters of the falls.

Food and drinks are not allowed from the 2nd level up which is a given since bringing food and drinks up is prone to wastes across the waterfalls and the mountain. With a lot of tourist, if they will not control it, surely the surrounding will be very filthy in a short period of time. Many people can reach up to level 4 falls which has a slide-like surface. Many people actually try to slide down as seen in the picture.

Three of us- – Arm (the brother of my colleague), Nan (the young son of my boss) and myself decided to go further to level 5 which is about 450 meters away from the 4th level. The surface is really getting steeper as we climbed up though it is still practically not too risky. Only thing is that since we have a child with us, we decided not to go up to 7th level. Another thing is that the National Park closes at 4PM for the safety of the climbers so we decided to go down after level 5.

It was indeed a very tiring but such a great experience which we can definitely not find in the city and this activity cannot just be done as we please cos it takes a lot of travelling and efforts to go there.

Next and last stop and is a must to go otherwise, you will not feel you’ve been to Kanchanaburi is the Bridge on the River Kwai. This Bridge was built as part of the Burma Railway or commonly known as Death Railway. It is kinda scary to walk on the bridge because there are a lot of big open spaces. If you are not careful enough because of a lot of tourist walking back and forth, there might be a chance you will fall down the river.

There are many local foods being sold at the foot of the Bridge including a local Ice cream made of Pepsi products worth 5 Baht each. I just tried. The taste is plain though and Pepsi in can is definitely better but the Ice cream is worth a try.

On the way back to Bangkok, after all the activities of the weekend, everyone just sleep in the Van tired but ready to work on the next day.

Looking forward to my next Thailand expedition…

A Pan-filled day…

The other week, I bought a set of cooking pan for my colleague as Birthday present because we learned that he loves cooking. There was a big sale for these Teflon pans so I took the opportunity to buy a set for me as well. See the picture of my old and new pan below.

As I bid good bye to my old pan, I had to say it has been a great companion in my cooking for many months. A lot of wonderful dishes I cook and eat either alone or share to friends and colleagues were made because of that pan. All the recipes I had in mind became a reality because I was able to cook it perfectly well with my reliable kitchen companion…Now, though it is no longer non-stick due to wear and tear, I can say it already served its purpose.

As I try to use my new pan, I am anticipating new cooking experiences and more tasty and mouth-watering foods to come…

See, even a pan has its own story…

Love is how we define it…

Since it is still the month of Love, allow me to make another post about this topic..surely many of us want to be in love and to be is such a powerful feeling that we don’t want it to end. Sadly, for some people even a great story has an ending…not the typical “and they live happily ever after” ending but just a plain and simple ending.

Last Saturday, I was talking to an old friend in Yahoo Messenger and she was actually nervous (or should I say excited) about the sharing she is about to do in her church the next day. The topic is, you guess it right! – L-O-V-E-. She is a confessed single lady for quite sometime now (really now huh?) and she feels the topic is actually a blow to her because she feels she is not an authority on this matter and the fact that she has to talk in front of a crowd makes her extra anxious. She was actually trying to ask my opinion about her speech which was sent to me by e-mail. I was reading it halfway when my other friends here in Bangkok asked me to join their “drinking session” so I hurriedly take a shower and changed clothes and left the story hanging with some bit of excuses…hahaha..what I would give up for a bottle or two of alcohol. LOL. If she happens to see my blog post now, she will know why I am in such a hurry that night and for sure she’ll hate me…my bad..LOL. We’ll i’m sure she will understand that I need a couple of drinks for rest and relaxation to relieve from the stresses of life.

Anyway, going back to the story..only now that I was able to read in full her part I liked is about a story “Beautifully Imperfect”. It is about a wife’s delight at the sound of her husband’s very loud snore while sleeping. Weird isn’t it? But the snore is actually music to her is her signal that her husband is still alive even though he is fighting a disease. That little imperfection makes it seem perfect because of LOVE. God really has a way of putting uniqueness in our life experiences..

Some people love their job so much, it is their life. They push themselves to the limit just to be excellent in their careers..sacrificing quality time with their loved ones because of the demands of the job in the hope of giving them good life. As long as they know they are giving their loved ones what they need and want, it is already a fulfillment. That is their definition of love, being a good provider.

Then there are those who are already married, have a good job and generally have a good life. But, they are still lured by secret tryst and passionate moments. Why? Mostly they say it’s because in this relationship even if it is not right– they feel loved, feel special and the moment no matter how brief or risky is worth the try. Can we blame them?

The other day I was watching Grey’s Anatomy. One episode saw a guy waking up from 16 long years of being in a coma only to realize that his wife was not able to wait for him–married the year before and now expecting a baby. The son they had before he went into that state was already a grown up man without any experience or moment with him being “alive” thus the love is mainly superficial only because they are father and son by blood. The patient realized he has nothing left of him so he decided to undergo a risky procedure that may cost him his life. He took the risk because he felt he has nothing to lose anyway and that he love his life and has to move on…before the procedure, his son promised to be back to the hospital to visit him again. He hoped it was true. The doctors went ahead. Unfortunately, he died. The son actually did came back and was in the waiting room. Too bad they never get the chance to share the love they have missed for 16 long years.

Love is really how we define it. It’s scope is very broad. Everyone has a story to tell. It is not fair for the dictionary to define it in just a page because once you get to experience it, the pages of all dictionaries, even all websites combined cannot give it the proper definition. It is a whole spectrum of feelings that is hard to decipher. Only the person or persons feeling it can truly define what their love is…

Did you give your love on Valentine’s Day?

Yesterday, February 14 is Valentines Day/Heart’s Day/ Day of Love and all the whatnot…to the Chinese People, it is the Chinese New Year. Everyone seems so happy and full of love. Right? We’ll that should be the right attitude. I’m sure most of the restaurants and bars are full of couples and lovers (legal and otherwise) and the motels in Pasig, Sta. Mesa or Pasay City are fully booked to the max (traditionally speaking). I just can’t see the logic why those couples have to cram checking-in to motels on that day just to express their love (or should I say libido in most cases) which is always a cause of major traffic jam.

I received a text from my Mom around dinner time complaining a bit about me not texting them or greeting them HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! Whaaattt?!? And since when did it become a requirement for children to text their parents and greet them Happy Valentine’s Day? Ok bad. I should’ve remembered to greet them first and not doing so because they ONLY asked me to..Next year I will be more reasonable..hehehe..

So the question is, did you give love on Valentine’s Day?

I did….
Surely there were no flowers, teddy bears, chocolates or other stuff this year. But yes, I did give love on Valentine’s Day….
Besides the booh booh about my parents, I did give love on Valentine’s Day. I showed love for God by attending mass and praising Him and even being 15 minutes early for the mass (which is quite a rare occasion as I always end up just exactly on time or a bit late which is bad). I showed love for my friends by inviting them for Dinner of Chicken Curry in my place which I prepared before attending the Afternoon mass. I showed love for myself by going to the gym because I really needed one after several big eating sessions the past 2 weeks. It may sound a bit pathetic to some people but no one can question me about the love I’d shown from the above examples cos those are my definition of love at this time.

Today is already February the 15th and Valentine’s Day is over..but this doesn’t mean we can no longer express love.

Let us be generous in giving love to those who feel they’re never loved or are unwanted. Let us show affection to the unfortunate people. Any gesture of love we can show translates to a plethora of happiness for them be it a simple smile or hug, any food or token we can share as well as a silent prayer is already a blessing in the best form.

To those who I failed to greet yesterday, Happy Valentine’s Day! I love you all. 🙂

It’s my Birthday!

Yesterday, February 05 is my birthday. It was the 2nd time that I celebrated my birthday in Bangkok. I started my day thanking God for another year given to me. Surely, there were ups and downs but God has given me so much the past year and I really cannot ask for more.

I then headed to the office cos my birthday is a working day. I got Birthday greetings from a lot of colleagues. After our regular morning meeting, I was surprised with the birthday greetings from my boss and all the managers. On top of that, my boss passed me her gift (a Lacoste cap) and birthday card. While the day has passed there were many greetings from my e-mails and facebook account. At first, I did not expect there were many greetings since I’m not at home but I am just overwhelmed with the number of people who greeted me. I even got a couple more gifts and cards from other friends/colleagues through out the day.

I called home because I purposely told my mom not to call me and I’ll be the one to call them. They greeted me and wished me well for my birthday and beyond.

After office, few of my colleagues/friends treated me to a Sukiyaki buffet which is very delicious with a lot of choices. At the end, I ate a lot and enjoyed the dinner treat. I arrived home almost 10 pm and the greetings in Facebook are still coming.

I feel so blessed because of the gestures showed to me so I posted my shoutout “Thank you Lord for another year…I am so blessed. I feel like a king..just finished dinner with friends and colleagues. This day has been great! I received a lot of greetings and even gifts from well meaning friends, colleagues and loved ones. I am glad I touched their lives and now am receiving your blessings thru them. Amen.”

Tonight I am having a post Birthday celebration with my friends here in Bangkok. We’ll have dinner and may go to Khaosarn Road for few drinks and dance.

Cheers to life!

Singapore sojourn

Exactly 1 week ago, I went alone to Singapore for Holiday. It has been over 3 years that I not visited Singapore and many things has changed since I last visited though what remains constant is Singapore’s clean surroundings and lush greens all over. It is such a refreshing respite considering it is a very modern city and not a beach destination. I took the AirAsia flight. It is my first time to travel via AirAsia and I have to admit that it has been a generally pleasant and safe journey. Flight is on time, staff are friendly. No wonder it is such a big hit in Southeast Asia. I arrived in Changi Airport about 3PM Singapore Time. After the long queue at the Immigration counter, I started my “exploration” of the city as a Free and Easy Tourist. It was quite late and the first meal I took was just a bowl of Oatmeal for breakfast. At that point, my tummy is rumbling and I had a slight migraine. Since I want some adventure, I did not exit to the nearest Taxi stand for convenience. Instead, I asked where the MRT station is. The lady at the information counter gladly instructed me how to reach the other terminal where the MRT Changi Airport Station is located. MRT in Singapore is a bit more complicated than in Bangkok as there are several lines. I carefully screened the map to check where I need to drop off. My friend Gly informed me I had to drop at City Hall, transfer to the other line and drop at Dhoby Ghaut station. From there, I can walk to my hotel.

The MRT ride is a bit slower than taking the taxi cos there are many stops and since I need to transfer it took more time. However, the ride is good. I get to see more of Singapore and the normal people’s way of life as well as get a lot of savings. My fare from airport to Dhoby Ghaut is less than SGD 3.00. Had I taken the taxi, maybe it will cost me about SGD 15-20. I checked-in at Hotel Rendezvous, a nice 4-Star Hotel with a very convenient location. The reception staff was very professional and helpful. Only thing is there is no luggage porter to help you go up to your room. Fortunately, I only have a light luggage. I was given a Junior Suite which is 1 category higher than the one I booked so I’m quite impressed with the arrangement. However, my happiness is a bit short lived when I realized the hotel does not provide complimentary drinking water. I have traveled in many places and stayed in many hotels and it is a basic free amenity in all the hotels I stayed. Later, my friend informed me maybe because water is so expensive in Singapore the reason why they charge the bottle of water in the room. To think the only available bottled water in my room is Evian which is way too expensive!

Since it was already 5PM my tummy is really complaining like crazy. Fortunately, just across the hotel, there is a hawker called Kopitian. I bought the Chicken Rice Meal because many people say the best Chicken Rice is in Singapore. However, after tasting I feel the chicken rice I usually buy in the streets of Bangkok are better. Or maybe because I did not try the Chicken Rice of the restaurant specializing in this food. After my very late lunch..I met my former colleagues and friend in Orchard Road and we have few bottles of beer, Chicken and Pizza, we headed to eat some desserts after dinner courtesy of Roel and Gly. I am so lucky they even game me some cheesecakes for take-away to the hotel.

Next day, Me, Mel (my long time friend since University time) and Boni my other good friend residing and working in SG went to Singapore Zoo. We were supposed to go to Sentosa but since Mel has an afternoon class (she is studying in Singapore), it is not convenient to go to Sentosa and stay there for 1 hour only considering the traffic was quite bad that day. Singapore Zoo is pretty much similar to Night Safari (which I enjoyed the last time I was in Singapore) but since it is daytime, it tend to be really hot even if the zoo has a lot of trees.

My next stop was shopping in Orchard specifically Lucky Plaza. In here, you can buy perfumes at a cheaper price (cheaper than in Manila or Bangkok I think). I was able to buy 4 bottles of perfume and my friend gave me another bottle as Birthday gift. Later on, I got another bottle from my former colleagues. How lucky can I get ayt? After dinner in my friend Boni’s house (which btw I cooked the Beef Caldereta as special request), we went to Dempsey Hill, the new watering hole in Singapore gaining popularity. Then proceeded to Esplanade, Merlion along Marina Bay and Fullerton Hotel.

Next day, I went to Sentosa Island with Mel. Pity that Resorts World Sentosa is not fully operational. Universal Studio is still not open but only the hotels in the complex. We take pictures in Hard Rock Hotel Singapore and I bought a Souvenir Shirt. Personally, I think Hard Rock Hotel Pattaya is better and the staff livelier and friendlier. The whole time we were in Hard Rock Singapore, not even 1 staff greeted us which is totally opposite Hard Rock Pattaya where you can feel the warmth and hospitality of the staff.

Since I am meeting another friend in the afternoon, I had to cut short getting around Sentosa. And it is very hot anyway so to avoid the discomfort we decided to go back to the city centre. I had my Bak Kuh Teh for the 2nd time after our brief Sentosa Island trip. That night, we strolled along St. James Powerstation which is also a popular place with lots of bars and restaurants. This complex is near Vivo City, Singapore’s biggest shopping mall.

The next day, we had a short trip to Johor Bahru, the neighboring Malaysian city of Singapore. JB as it is popularly known is teeming with Singaporeans mostly going there to refuel their car or do some shopping. I tasted some Malaysian food and I can say it is good especially their local desserts. Then I was able to buy a pair of Sta. Barbara Polo and Racquet Club shoe which is half the price off. Around dinner time, I proceeded to the airport for my flight back to Bangkok which again was on time courtesy of Air Asia.

As I reached Bangkok, I felt I’m back to my 2nd home..same familiar roads, sights and sounds. However, I cannot deny that my last Singapore trip was great. Though I travel alone, I did not feel bored at all. I have many friends who took good care of me. They are very generous as they don’t mind paying for some of the bills and even sent me gifts or souvenirs. But most important of all, they really spend time (some even took leave from work) just to meet me. I guess when you have dome something good, there will definitely a payback later.