Starting Over Again..

start

Last night, I watched online the Filipino movie Starting Over Again with my roomies. My curiosity got in because of what I’ve been reading in FB from some friends who happened to watched the movie couple of months back. Most of them gave positive reviews of the movie and since we have time to watch last night over dinner, so we did. An added factor why we decided to watch it is because the lead actors, Piolo Pascual and Toni Gonzaga are both Christians (not discounting the fact that they are good actors too).

The storyline is simple and common to many Rom-com movies in the past. Girl meets Boy (or should I say “Man” because He was a former professor prior to being a couple), girl is deeply in love with him and did everything to win over the man of her dreams. Dream came true and they became a couple. On the night the man proposed marriage to her, she said NO for still unclear reason and she decided to leave the country leaving the poor guy puzzled and very heart broken. He wrote a letter to the girl for sending 4 years later expressing His strong feelings still and hoped that they would be together again.

However, as time passed by, guy met another lady who loved him despite his limitations and imperfections and made him whole again. But apparently, the original couple crossed paths once again when the guy planned to convert their old family house into a restaurant (which by the way was part of the plans of the then original couple). Girl tries to win him back despite the fact that he is already committed all because she realized that she still has feelings for him and that she was very sorry for her abrupt decision to leave him and has been regretting it since then.

One day, there was a confrontation between the two ladies and the ex-GF was begging the current GF to let the man go back to Him because she believes that He still loves her. Then a freak accident happened and both of them was rushed to the hospital. At that very moment, the guy had a realization that whilst he still love his ex-GF, He loves His current GF more and that the purpose of him crossing paths with his ex is to have a formal closure of their open-ended relationship so they could both be set free. They asked and released forgiveness to one another and the story ended with the guy proposing to his current love and the ex-GF finding a potential love of her life.

Many people including one of my room mate got a bit disappointed with the ending of the movie and complained that why they were not allowed to have a happy ending by being together again. It was not a typical ending to most love stories but I can personally relate to the movie’s the story line…

YES, not all Love stories have a happy ending (or so we thought). Sometimes, people can really not end up together even though they loved each other in the past..maybe because of certain unexpected circumstances or maybe because of their own decisions (but not necessarily mutual decision all the time, like what happened to the characters in the movie). But even though love stories ended unexpectedly, the most important thing when both parties realized that indeed they cannot be together again is to release forgiveness and receive forgiveness as well. Only then can they both move on.

It happened to me…It was really a struggle for few years not being sure of the future and still hoping that we could end up together again despite the fact that she is already committed by the time we were in speaking terms once again. But in our story, I was the Toni (meaning, I was the one who gave up) and had regretted it. I had fears and expectations..or maybe simply we are not in the same page anymore at that time so I decided to end the long-term relationship.

I also attempted to win her back but you know, God really has a way of telling what His plan is for us and His plan is always perfect and on time. When I realized that it was not God’s plan, only then that I tried to move on and asked for forgiveness and I also forgave myself. It was confirmed when she dreamt I had died. I believe it’s God’s way of telling us, that part of our life is a thing of the past and we must move on to what God has in-stored for us in the future.

I realized I had really moved on when last night while watching the movie and all the memories of the past flashed back, I no longer feel the pain but instead, I had that confident assurance that God is doing something great. Yes, I am still single for few years now but I know the future is so bright and wonderful.

Life is not like a timer in our phone wherein the moment we stopped time, automatically we can create a 2nd, 3rd lap and so on..We can never stop time nor turn it back but what we can be sure of is that God knows His plan for us. He already had the blue print of our lives even before we were born. All we need to do is completely trust and obey Him.

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

My Mini World (Miniature Photography)

My friend Juvy introduced me to this nice and cute concept of Miniature Photography. It is a style wherein the photographs look like a miniature model of a building, popular spot or just about any random object. Miniature photography can be made directly when you shoot or manipulate a normal photograph to make it look small by using Photoshop.

I haven’t explored how to do it using camera but I searched Mr. Google and was able to know the tricks when doing it via Photoshop.

I am sharing some of my shots converted into Miniature objects. Hope you enjoy it as I did.

Isn’t it nice to see real pictures look like scenery from a mini-world?

The Power of Writing

Last Sunday Night, I got the chance to watch Boy Abunda’s TV programme in ABS-CBN called “The Bottomline” via video streaming in Pinoy Channel.TV. It was my first time to watch this episode and actually am not aware of such program till that night. The Bottomline is interesting, trending if not fearless. Boy is his usual self, a good TV Host. It goes to prove that he is not only a veteran show business entertainment host but can also tackle various controversial topics.

The guest that night is investigative journalist cum author, Marites Vitug. When you see Marites, she doesn’t look intimidating or outspoken compared to other Journalists/broadcaster like Jessica Soho, Che Che Lazaro, Maria Ressa, etc. She seems dimunitive, timid and unassuming. I guess the saying “Don’t judge the book by it’s cover” fits her to a T since she is now one of the best selling authors in the country what with her latest book “Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court” becoming a critical and commercial success so to speak.

I have not read the controversial book yet so I can’t say much about it at this stage. However, what I like to point out in this blog post is the sheer power of writing.

History has proven that a writing can change the course of the future be it an individual, or even a nation. Dr. Jose Rizal, the Philippines’ National Hero used his various literary works to open the minds of the Filipinos and to fight for their rights during the Spanish era. These writings became the inspiration of the Katipuneros which eventually led to a full-blown revolution.

Anne Frank, the young girl originally from Frankfurt became a worldwide figure because of the publication of her diary (which was translated into many languages) detailing their life in hiding during World War II. Time Magazine eventually named her in 1999 as one of “The Most important People of the Century”.

And who would’ve think that J.K. Rowling who was literally an unknown figure before the year 1997 will gain international prominence and become a billionaire just by writing and publishing series of books about a young wizard named Harry Potter?

Nora Daza who has written and modified/ invented many Philippine recipes is considered an icon of Philippine cuisine and one of the respected cook book author.

I remembered working in a hotel group earlier- – part of their PR activity is inviting 2 or 3 well known blogger, house and dine them in the hotels for free and as an exchange, these bloggers have to write blog posts or articles about their travel experience and stay in the hotel. This goes to show how powerful their writings are in convincing would-be guests of these hotels.

Last year during the onslaught of Typhoon Ondoy, there was one shoutout in Facebook made by a Filipina based in Dubai. The exact words were  “Buti na lang am here in Dubai! Maybe so many sinners back there! So yeah deserving what happened!”. This remark is very strong and really got through the nerves of many Facebook users the fact that the calamity brought vast devastation in many parts of Luzon and it was very unexpected and the country has yet to recover from the tragedy when the remark was made. The post spread in the net like wildfire and the succeeding comments and invectives hurled at her are really so bad that you can’t take it as person though I can’t blame them for doing so because her remark is truly inconsiderate and uncalled for.

Truly, writing is a very powerful tool and good way to communicate.  Writing is a common task as we do it almost everyday. Yet no matter how common it is, there is always something new to write.

The people I mentioned above has definitely caught our attention if not touched our lives in some ways and many of them has made writing their source of income.  Some people who earn a living out of writing don’t mind destroying one’s reputation if they feel it’s worth millions of bucks without considering if the person they are writing about will be terribly affected.

At the end, can they call themselves prolific writers? I guess the key to effective writing is to do it wisely, morally and objectively and try to communicate with your target audience.

I believe by right, I am a writer too (though I literally type it in my computer and post online) which I share through my blogs. With my posts, I am giving my views and opinions on certain topics or issues as well as just conveying my random thoughts and wisdom about life in general.

I am a sentimental person. I would keep letters, cards and notes from family, friends and loved ones. Maybe because I don’t receive too many so I still have the mood and time to keep it.

On the second thought, I just love reading them over and over again. I feel good after reading the personal message they’ve specially written for me.

One of the simplest yet most powerful and touching letter I received in my lifetime comes from my niece during my recent trip back home. She handed me the letter with drawing she personally did upon learning my short vacation. I am sharing to all of you.

Keep on inspiring through your writings… so others will enjoy reading…

An intoxicating weekend…

This weekend has been great if not intoxicating so to speak. I used the word intoxicating but not meant on a negative way. Intoxicating in the sense that me and fellow Filipinos and some foreigner friends enjoyed good food, countless Karaoke songs, long and interesting stories and of course some hearty laugh.

It has been quite a long time that I joined some get-together in a friend’s house because many of us became quite busy and some of the people in our group either moved back home, went to other places or working in some provinces of Thailand.

We planned this party as a sort of house warming/despedida (Bon Voyage party) for one of our friends. Since they are a fan of my Kiko’s Kitchen food blog, they asked me to cook which I gladly obliged.

For the party, we decided to prepare favorite foods that we missed a lot. Later on, we realized all the foods that we selected are very complicated to prepare. We selected Pancit Palabok, Dinuguan and Lumpiang Shanghai. The easiest  dish in our menu is Kinilaw na Talaba (Oyster).

Me, the host and another friend troop to the local market to buy fresh ingredients. I am not a fan of the local markets here because I am worried that since I don’t speak really good Thai, I might find it hard to buy. But actually it’s not because you don’t need to talk much..just point at what you want to buy and ask how much is it (Tao rai krub?) Basically I already know the numbers in Thai so I can easily know the price of the item and also it helps that many of the products have their “price tags’ displayed.

We went to the market in the afternoon so naturally there was no pig’s blood available. We actually had our plan B menu just in case we are unable to buy the pig’s blood.

In the market, we saw fresh squids and since all of us love Adobong Pusit, we bought some extra (Squid is also part of the Pancit Palabok ingredients) for our dinner. We headed back home and eat dinner.

We started preparing the ingredients like cutting, marinading, boiling, etc around 9pm. There were only 2 stoves running and with lots of things to do, we finished our Mis en place at around 2:30 am and went to sleep.

The alarm clock rang around 7 am. We had to wake up early so we can buy the Pig’s blood in the market. Without having breakfast or coffee yet, we headed to our destination. Fortunately, we were able to find our “precious” ingredient– the pig’s blood.

As soon as we arrived home, the 3 of us busied ourselves in the preparation. I started cooking the Pancit Palabok sauce, while the other two are busy wrapping Lumpiang Shanghai. After cooking the Palabok sauce, I then prepared the Dinuguan.

I’ve never tried cooking this dish before though it is one of my favorite dish. I would see my mom cooking it and since I know how it tastes, I just copied her procedure and cooked it. Fortunately, it tastes like Dinuguan and not something else..  🙂

Since we advertised in Facebook that it was a lunch party, guests arrived on time. Luckily we had just finished cooking all the dishes and already starting to prepare the table when they arrived.

It was a small and intimate party among friends totaling to just 8 guests (including 3 foreigners). The foreigners were brave enough to try the Dinuguan even though many would find it quite disgusting from the color of the dish alone (looks like mud) and more so if they learned that it is made of Pig’s blood. Surprisingly however, they enjoyed Filipino foods.

It is very nice to hear your friends enjoying the food and giving praises on how delicious it is. Many of them had 2-3 servings which is actually a feast!

We plan to make our get-together cum pot luck  a regular habit (at least once a month). As early as now, we are looking forward to it and are already thinking what foods to prepare next time. Hope it is the easy ones. 😛

Classic Philippine Commercials

Over the years, TV commercials have made a mark in our viewing habits with funny, provocative or touching concepts. Many guys and gals have become popular and well loved because of a TV ad as well as many celebrities continue to rake big bucks because of numerous endorsements.

Here are some of the Philippine TV commercials which I can still remember up to this date because of it’s unique style and presentation not to mention some are really funny and catchy or simply because they are the ones that are always shown before my favorite program. Really classic.



I am still checking out a good quality of the Close-up commercial with Closer You and I theme by Gino Padilla as well as the 680 Home Appliances by Rod Navarro and RA Home Vision (this is the only commercial shown when we watch WWF before Hulk Hogan or Ultimate Warrior do their moves during that time).

Pumasyal sa Pilipinas kahit puno na ang Jeep…

Many Tourism promotions always highlight that the Philippines has 7,107 islands…Too many islands to explore right? But the million peso question is “Where are all the Tourist gone?”  According to a tourism report, tourist arrival grew to 5.2 million. This is actually a positive sign if compared to the past years but I believe this figure includes Balikbayans or Overseas Filipinos visiting Philippines for Holidays. So even with the positive figure, why does it sound like I am whining?

Thailand enjoys over 14 Million visitors a year, Singapore in March alone enjoyed a brisk arrival of 928,000 and projects tourist arrival to 12.5 million at the end of this year especially with the opening of new Integrated resorts like Resorts World Sentosa and Marina Bay Sands. Malaysia tops the list of SEA countries in terms of visitor’s arrival at about 21.5 Million in 2009.

Figures don’t  lie ayt?

Why am I highlighting these facts? Simply because the Philippines has all the factors to be the Tourism Haven in Southeast Asia (perhaps even whole Asia).

1.) We are the 2nd largest English-speaking nation in Asia (2nd to India). Everywhere you go even on the boondocks, locals can more or less communicate or understand English. Very Tourist friendly. In Thailand, some of those working in the hotels or restaurants cannot converse fluently in English. But Tourist still flock.

2.) We have the Sun, Sea, Sand and smiles. Activities and attractions are endless. Boracay still remains a big draw to tourist with its talcum powder-like sand and party atmosphere all day and night. Palawan is simply the best and so is Bohol, and Batanes, and Camiguin and Cebu and Davao..the list goes on and on.

3.) We are a melting pot of cultures. It’s true some countries have very strong and easily recognizable culture and heritage like that of China, India, Japan, Thailand. However our uniqueness lies on so many cultures and traditions to explore and experience at such a smaller place than the former mentioned places.

4.) We have several of the biggest shopping malls in the World. The newly renovated SM City North EDSA is the 3rd biggest mall in the world. SM Mall of Asia, SM Megamall and many others are also included in the biggest mall list.  Why simply can’t we be the Shopping Haven of Asia? Why are so many Pinoy businessmen into retail business buy clothes and accessories in Bangkok, Hong Kong or mainland China?

5.) Our country has the geographic advantage.  We are in the heart of Asia and the Pacific. Easily accessible to the rest of the world.

On the other hand, there are also critical reasons why we do not get the numbers that we want:

1.) Lack of infrastructure- our Airports and sea ports cannot compete with our neighbors. Singapore, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Incheon Airports are highly recognized for efficient service, cleanliness and all the awards you can think of. Not to mention the size of these airport are simply humongous. Our road network also needs face lift. Few years ago, I was on the way to the Underground River in Puerto Princesa. The scenery is simply breath taking if not out of this world. Imagine a river traversing under a mountain and tourist is underneath this mountain for about 45 minutes going in and another 45 minutes going out. Really awesome. But to reach that spot, you have to travel by land for about 2 hours from the city and an hour of which is on a very bumpy road. The tour guide would always joke it is a natural body massage cos you are literally shaken and twisted by the rough road. Even thousands of tourist flock the Underground River, the road badly needs cementing or even asphalt for many years now.

Our public transport like MRT, LRT and even Bus or Jeepney transport are not tourist friendly. Either it is too crowded, or needs to be pulled to the garage especially a lot of public Buses and taxis.

2.) Lack of Promotion. Some months ago, I was dining in a Seafood Restaurant in Bangkok with a friend and beside our table are a couple of Hong Kong citizens. We tried to be friendly and asked if it is their first time in Bangkok and what is the purpose of their trip. We were surprised on their answer. They said it was not their first time and the purpose of their trip is just to eat Seafoods! WTF! Eating seafoods but you have to spend on airfare, hotel and travel 3 hours? But it is understandable because seafood in Hong Kong is very expensive. They can enjoy seafood dinner ever day or night while they are in Bangkok but the price is nothing compared to having just one full seafood meal in their country. And Thailand is actually earning a lot on Culinary Tourism. Cooking schools in Chiang Mai are very popular. Thai cuisine has been one of the factors why tourist visit this country.

Malaysia is very good in their PR campaigns to promote their tourist spots. Every time I meet a foreigner and I told them I am from Philippines or Manila, they usually ask me, what can you do in Manila or Philippines? Is Manila in an Island or near the beach? Many other questions. It is due to the fact that our Tourism related campaign is either insufficient or lacking of magnets to lure the tourists.

3.) Traveling in the Philippines is expensive. It is good now that Cebu Pacific has started the trend of budget airfare across the country which paved the way for the healthy growth of Domestic Tourism. Hotel accommodations in tourist spots in the Philippines are very expensive and so are foods and souvenirs in these areas. Going back to my story earlier about the couple traveling to Bangkok just to eat, I believe many of our fresh sea foods are being exported to Hong Kong, Japan, China and nearby countries wherein the prices if served on the table are triple or quadruple than the local price before being sent overseas. If we can only find a way for these seafoods or even fruits to be enjoyed here in the Philippines and no need to be sent for export, not only will the prices be cheaper but everyone will be able to enjoy (tourist and locals alike). If tourist go to the Philippines, airlines will be full, hotels will be occupied, restaurants can cook. Many establishments will benefit.

There are many more advantage and disadvantages. Maybe my blog is not enough. However, I still believe our country is great and we can show it to the world. The Aquino administration is coming in and there was a recent controversy about a rumor that President-elect Noynoy Aquino is considering Talent Manager, Boy Abunda to become the next Department of Tourism Secretary which got some nods and some flak from supporters and critics alike. But come to think of it, why not put former DOT Secretary Richard Gordon in this post again? Not so familiar if the law would allow it, but if this is possible then he is the best man for this post since he is outgoing Senator anyway and I believe he performed well during his stint in the DOT or even at Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority. Btw, He was my Presidential bet. Unfortunately, he lost.

Tourism is very important. Tourism creates business. Tourism brings money to our coffers and contributes to our GDP. I just wish the time would come that tourist arrivals will full our sights to the rafters similar to the picture above..and so us OFW will not have to work abroad cos many jobs are waiting for us.

So bring in the millions (of tourists).  🙂

Can’t get enough of Chiang Mai….

I just came back from a very memorable trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand. Last week there was a long holiday due to the Makha Bucha Day which is an important day for Buddhist. It falls on a Sunday so the holiday was extended till Monday. Because of that, I took the opportunity to make quick arrangement for a trip to Chiang Mai. Few days earlier, I was still undecided because of some problems in my Visa which I would know the result Feb 25. I had a strong feeling that it will be fixed so even before Feb 25, I just took the risk and buy the train tickets to Chiang Mai. Anyway, if my Visa problem was not resolved in time and I cannot travel to Chiang Mai, the ticket cost is not that expensive if compared to air tickets so I just crossed my fingers. Fortunately and Thank God, I received a good news last Feb 25 so off I go to Chiang Mai. I quickly booked my hotel and made a tour arrangement. 

My train from Bangkok to Chiang Mai leaves about 1800H (Friday) so I had to work the whole day of Friday and clear a lot of jobs in preparation for the trip and I just took early leave 1 Hour so I can be at the train station on time. The Hua Lamphong Train station is actually very convenient cos I just have to take the MRT and the last station is actually the Hua Lamphong station already so from MRT, I just have to walk a few meters to reach the provincial trains.

It was my first long-haul train ride so I was very excited. In my life, I only ride the City trains which is not the train that Harry Potter and Gang usually take going to Hogwarts. So off I go… There were several platforms and my train platform is not too difficult to find. Only thing is that I booked the 2nd Class Air conditioned sleeper train and it is at the farthest end of the train (few coaches away from the driver). Normally, the better train classes are in front (near the driver) so you have to walk a bit farther than the rest. Luckily I only have light luggage so it is not a problem.

The train promptly left the station 1800H. However, along the way sometimes it stops in other train station longer than the supposed time. For the sleeper train you can choose either the upper or the lower deck. The lower deck is a bit more expensive and has wider bed if compared to the upper deck. Moreover, only the lower deck has a window so if you plan to travel by train, you need to purchase tickets in advance so you can select the lower deck. Since my trip was on a long holiday and I booked only few days before the trip, I can only have the upper deck (air con) going to Chiang Mai and upper deck (Fan) going back to Bangkok. The Fan coach is ok since the breeze is cool along the way and since travel is towards night time but when you are about to sleep and the bed were set up with individual curtains, it can get a bit hot especially during the summer nights. In addition, if you are not used to sleeping in a bumpy road, better not take the train as it is bumpier than taking the bus. It is like taking the flight that encounters a turbulence all throughout.

The porter prepares the bed as soon as the sun is out and dinner was consumed (for those who bought dinner in the train). After that, it’s a very long travel so better prepare all the things that would keep you occupied like your iPod or music player, a good book to read or board games.

We arrived in Chiang Mai in the morning. After the breakfast, I headed to my hotel. The hotel I stayed (Imm Hotel Thaphae) has a very good location, just across Thaphae Gate- the centre of the old walled city.

The vicinity of the Thaphae Gate is where most of the major activities like Songkran Festival (Thai New Year), Loy Krathong or other local events are usually held. Every weekend, a part of the area is converted into an instant Weekend Night market wherein they closed approx. 2 km. of road where all the streets are lined with goods, foods and almost all the whatnot you can think about. You will never get tired and hungry as the road is teeming with food stalls and foot massage chairs.

I also went to Doi Suthep, the most popular temple site in Chiang Mai, located 3,500 feet above sea level. There is a viewing deck in the Temple overlooking the city below. Really nice view.



The next day, I went into a Thai Cooking school called Baan Hong Nual. Since I am fascinated with Thai cooking and now that I have my own food blog, I made sure I enroll in a short Thai cooking class during the trip. They pick you up at your hotel, send you to a local market to buy some ingredients and give some introduction to some basic information about Thai cookery then you proceed to the school afterwards. Prior to deciding what to buy, the teacher will give you a selection of recipes you can cook. Once you selected, the ingredients had to be bought. On that day I was the only student (that day being a Sunday and a Buddhist Public Holiday). The previous day my teacher said they have over 20 students in the class so it was actually my advantage since my class is a one-on-one session or like a VIP class (which is definitely more expensive than normal joined class). For my course, I cooked 4 recipes namely: Pad Thai, Tom Yum Goong, Thai Green Curry and Som Tam. After cooking, I get to eat what I prepared. Tastes like real Thai cooking..Yumm…(Btw, I will not be posting my cooking in this blog..If you want to see the picture of the foods I prepared, visit: http://kikokitchen.wordpress.com)


After my cooking class, I transferred to another hotel, The Small Chiang Mai., It is a design hotel (Boutique Style) with stylish interiors in the room. The room assigned to me has 2 angels painted on the wall. The location of this hotel is also convenient (less than 10 minutes walk to the Night Bazaar and about 10 minutes walk to Thaphae Gate and Weekend Market). Around dinner time, I had the Traditional Chiang Mai Dinner called Kantoke Dinner. Kantoke Palace is the largest restaurant offering this kind of dinner in Chiang Mai. The restaurant has over 80% foreigners on that night enjoying the food and the cultural dance presentation on stage. At the end of the performance, they invite some guests to join the dancers to perform the traditional dance. I was one of the chosen few…hahaha.

The next morning, I went to the Maesa Elephant Camp. Again, it was a private tour with only me plus the driver and the tour guide so it is a better experience. The tour would let you see Elephant closely during feeding time and shower time. Seeing these big animals taking a bath in the pond is a very cute scene. They seem to enjoy being watched while taking a bath..LOL.  After the shower, we were entertained by the Elephant show wherein the elephants parade first followed by various acts like soccer playing, elephants playing the harmonica, hoola elephant, one elephant bursts balloons using darts in competition with someone from the audience, a log show wherein a group of elephants work to stack together heavy logs…I was told that the Elephants in Thailand during the olden days up to now are a big help to the farmers or locals since they help in agriculture and even helping to carry logs from the forest sent downhill. However, the highlight of the show is the Elephant painting. About 5 elephants showcase their art skills by painting using their trunk. One elephant created a colorful abstract design, 2 elephants draw bouquet of flowers, another one draw a landscape of mountains and a forest and the last one draw a portrait of an elephant face. They say the Elephants in Maesa Camp are the most talented in painting. There was even a museum displaying the very large painting made by several elephants and said to be the most expensive painting created by Elephants that was sold in public as awarded by the Guiness Book of Records. Not sure though how much it cost since it was not indicated in the museum. Moreover, no cameras were allowed inside the museum so I am unable to share to you the masterpieces. After that,we went to the nursery to see the youngest elephant in the camp (only 26 days old but weighs over 100 kg).  You cannot go close to the Baby elephant because the protective mom can get wild. I then took a picture with a cute but very large adult elephant who gamely posed cross legged while I sit on it’s legs then the trunk was wrapped around my body.

A short drive from the Elephant camp would take you to the Hill Tribe Village. The highlight of this tour is the visit to the Long necked women of the Padong tribe. This is very popular and I only get to see in National Geographic Channel before and now am able to see in flesh with close up picture even..such a great experience. Wearing brass ring around the neck are their long tradition and considered beautification process for the women. My guide said a set of brass ring can be as heavy as 5 kilo. I even see little girls wearing the ring around their necks.The village is actually home to other tribes like Karen, Lahu, Hmong, etc. Their livelihood is mostly weaving or agriculture. In the village you can find a Catholic Church. I was surprised that the Long Neck tribe are Catholic and can speak Thai (they are not native Thais but are minority group from Myanmar).

After the Hill tribe visit, we went to an Orchid Farm where varieties of Thai Orchids can be found. These exotic flowers are such good tropical ornaments to one’s garden and the flowers can last longer than other flowers and is not too difficult to maintain. The farm also make gold plated jewelry from Orchid bloom which is something unique. After the Orchid Farm visit, we enjoyed a sumptuous lunch of Khao Soi a traditional Chiang Mai noodle with curry. It is very delicious and not spicy at all.

We then went straight to the Train station for my trip back to Bangkok which unfortunately was delayed for 1.5 hours. Anyway, even with the delay and a bit uncomfortable sleep due to the fan-cooled coach, I am grateful cos I arrived in Bangkok safe and sound.

I really enjoy travelling cos it gives me a different perspective of things and I get to experience the culture, tradition and food of that place. Moreover, I believe travelling gives you a different kind of maturity and independence especially if you travel alone or free and easy and not following a very strict itinerary. I am now looking forward to my next travel!

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…

Another drinking night in Bangkok with exotic food on the side…

The other night I posted my trip to Route 66 in Ratchadapisek/Rama 9 area of Bangkok which is the happening place for teenagers and young professionals. Last night, I headed back to Khaosarn Road for another partying session..seems i’m in a party mood these days, ayt? Well actually I had no plans of drinking and partying for 3 consecutive nights but I had some friends visiting Bangkok so might as well take the opportunity. Besides, I already had my mind set to go out on Saturday Night because me and my friends were supposed to have dinner to celebrate the 7th Birthday of JM, the son of my friends here but last minutely it was decided they will go to Dreamworld, a local theme park at the outskirts of Bangkok. Since it is a kid’s birthday we’re talking about, all of us agreed it is best the party will just be held there. Unfortunately, I am not available in the morning so I am unable to join them in Dreamworld.

After dinner at home last night, I decided I don’t want to just kill time in my room while my other friends are mostly outside. I called one of my friend who is in Khaosarn area and unable to join Dreamworld as well. I asked where they were and what are their plans for the night. They said they are about to have dinner so I decided I will follow them there and we can have a couple of drinks. I dressed  up and went to Khaosarn immediately after.

I met them in a small Mexican Restaurant and they are almost about to finish dinner. After dinner, 3 of them are unable to join any further activities for the night so only 3 of us are left to roam around the area. We decided to go first in Rooftop bar. It is located in the 3rd floor of a guest house and the bar played acoustic music. The singer was quite good and we thought he is a Filipino because of his singing style and his accent cannot be that of a Thai. After one round of Leo Beer and hanging out few more minutes enjoying the music and the crowd, we decided to “start” our drinking session. We decided we can just sit at some bars along the street wherein their bar area is actually the sidewalk and you are just seated in some plastic chairs. Naturally, the drink here is cheap because they don’t have to rent a big space since their bar area/sidewalk is free anyway. Most of the western people love to hangout in these type of bar and enjoy lengthy chit-chat..We ordered a bucket of strong whiskey cocktail mixed with coke. As what they advertised, the drinks are really super strong and they did not check our ID cards too even if we looked minors..LOL.

I dared my friends to eat some insects being sold on the street like in a Fear Factor challenge. Since the 2 of them are ladies, I thought they will not be up to my challenge. Apparently, one of them is brave enough to take it up (personally I think she enjoyed eating those exotic insects. LOL). We bought 20 Baht worth of insects. You can see the picture above. It is actually a mix of cricket and another one i’m not too sure if locust or something else. Some other insects being sold are silkworm, ants and scorpion. I think I will not be valiant enough to eat the scorpion in any occasion in the future. Actually in some carts, there are even more insect selections like cockroach. Mostly these insects are crispy fried and the sauce is soy-based. I’ve tried eating worms in Palawan locally known as Tamilok. It tastes like oyster. I’ve also tried fried frog legs which is super tasty and similar to chicken, so eating exotic food is not new to me.

I took my first bite, eyes closed. I think the taste is not disgusting as it seems. It is crispy with no pungent smell or bitter taste whatsoever. It is like a plain crispy skin of pork or chicken. The best part is that it is not juicy. If there are some juice oozing or there are some bitter taste in it, I will definitely vomit.

Next, we moved to one of our fave hangout in Khaosarn- Shamrock Bar. Last night the band was good and played popular songs. We really enjoyed dancing and ordered another bucket of strong cocktail. While we were dancing, we met some group of Thais who are also enjoying the night. They were super cool and danced with us and even shared some drinks as well.

It was almost 3 AM and we were drunk and wasted. I had to call my other friend to help us get out of the bar. HA HA! So disgusting of me to use a helpline right?

We walked outside and bought some hot siopao which is very tasty especially after all those drinking and dancing.

Actually, only me had to travel far to get home because my friends just had to walk few meters and their guest house is there alread. Fortunately, I was able to go back home almost 4 AM.

It was such a great g-mik night day and hope soon my gang will be complete the next time we go bar hopping so it will be more fun.

Enroute to Route 66 Bangkok

It was a Friday night..almost 12 midnight and the night is still young in urban Bangkok. My friend Mike whom I last met more than 2 years ago was in Bangkok with his aunt and cousins for their retail business got nothing to do and would want to enjoy his last night in Bangkok. The other night we went to Khaosarn Road and stayed there until 2 am so I asked him if he want to go back there because few of my friends are there as well and we can all hangout together. He said he want to visit another place so I decided we go to Ratchadapisek area in a place called RCA or Royal City Avenue. This party place is very popular to Thai teenagers and I’ve never been there before so off we go.

The place was lined up with bars and pubs teeming with young party goers. I expected it will almost be a 90% Thai crowd but was surprised that there were actually a lot of foreigners- Westerns and Asians like Japanese, Korean. I’ve read about RCA in some blogs or even in Virtualtourist.com that Slim Bar or Route 66 is a cool place. We decided to go to Route 66. I read in most website that Entrance fee is free unless there are special events. Last night, there was an entrance fee of THB 200 so I guess it was a special night. The entrance fee is consumable anyway so its just ok.

Route 66 has 3 zones, the farthest one is the Techno/Trance area, the mid section is the Thai pop area and the 3rd and largest (and arguably the most popular section) is the American Hip Hop area. We decided to go to the American Hip Hop area. The bar is a bit dark and it is quite difficult to walk your first step upon entering especially for first time visitors like us. Drinks are actually not expensive and similar to most of the bars in Bangkok. A bottle of Heineken costs about THB 140 so we left with THB 60 credit from our entrance fee. They also have a promotion for Whiskey so I noticed most of the group just buy a bottle of Whiskey and share the cost which is more effective. Since the place is really filled up to the last square feet, we have to literally wiggle and slither to get to the happening place near the DJ stage.  Finally we conquered and was dancing just in front of the DJ’s with the large speakers pounding our hearts like drums.

I searched the Bar’s official website and check out the Photo Gallery. The Hip Hop area look like this without the crowds..Cozy isn’t it?

During weekends and special events, the venue can be as crowded as this:


The hard part is that if you need to heed the call of nature, the restrooms are actually at the other end which is near the Techno area. Again you have to wrestle with the crowds in order for you to finally reach the toilet. I like the crowd in RCA better than in Khaosarn Road because in Khaosarn some bars look like those girly bar in Pattaya and seems like the ladies are actually not there to party but prey their eyes on Farang customers. In RCA, the young crowd (mostly university students or young professionals) are really there to party and everyone don’t mind being pushed or squeezed just to find a so-called dance floor which you cannot have as big as 2 square foot for yourself due to the big crowd turnout.

The ratio of male-female is about 70% female vs. 30% male which is the same in most of the common pubs in Bangkok. Mike was joking it is quite risky to dance or even meet some girls in the bar because of the fact that gays in Bangkok really looked like real women and in a dark place combined with drunkenness it will really be difficult to spot check which one is real and which one is fake. Ha ha!

Almost 2 AM we noticed that many group hurried to pay the bill and go out. We thought they just don’t want their mum and dad to scold them for not coming home as per the curfew but later we realized at 2 AM, the party stopped and everyone headed home. Traffic is one problem as all the bars are closed and the party goers have to scramble to go out of the compound in their cars. However, for foreigners like us who don’t have a car in Bangkok, the most difficult part is finding a taxi. Surely there are a lot of taxis but the drivers tend to be selective or do not want the fare to be metered so you just have to be patient in finding your own taxi. Compared to the bars in Khaosarn wherein it is easily accessible to the major road, taxis are plenty even during festive events like New Year or Songkran and never a problem finding your own easily.

Anyway, overall our trip to Route 66 was a good one. Surely, I will be going back to that place with my friends soon.