Charming Cha-Am

Last weekend, I went to Cha Am Beach, Thailand with few of my colleagues and some of their family members. This trip was actually planned over 5 months ago but due to our very busy work schedule and since I also asked to delay the trip as I intend to bring along someone but it never happened so we finally planned 3rd week of September. Fortunately the weekend we went to the beach, the sun is very bright which actually lately we have been missing  the sun especially with torrential rains and thunderstorms especially in the afternoon.

We went first to Don Wai Market, a popular riverside market in the suburban town of Nakhon Pathom. Hundreds of tasty desserts and foods can be bought in this market gaining huge popularity to Bangkokians due to its proximity to the capital. We went there very early in the morning. Fortunately, the weather is not too warm and the crowd is not as much. They say in the afternoon or Sundays, the corridors of the market is so full you can barely walk. Many stalls sell the very sumptuous boiled duck. Really, while writing this piece, I am salivating just imagining back the palatable ducks we saw in the shops!
After buying some foods, we headed to a Sukiyaki Restaurant in Ban Pong near Nakhon Pathom. The Eat-all-you-can Sukiyaki (similar to what you see in MK Restaurants) costs only 99 Baht per person including refillable drinks. Of course there is not as many selection as that of MK Restaurant but for 99 Baht, how can you complain. You need to finish within the allotted time of 90 minutes otherwise, all the foods left will be charged at 20 Baht per 100 grams. It is actually an ample time to finish the lunch. My group consumed all the food in our table including dessert for only 1 hour sharp!
Then we headed off to Cha-Am Beach.
We stayed at the Grand Pacific Sovereign Resort and Spa, a 5 Star Resort offering a stunning view of the sea and has 3 level swimming pool. With the promotional rate they are offering right now, it is indeed value for money. The Coffee shop has a wide range of Breakfast item including crispy bacon (my favorite!) and a big salad bar.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

The Hotel room is spacious with full amenities like own private balcony, a day bed, separate shower area and bath tub.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign

We had our dinner in the Hotel’s Italian Restaurant– Celestino and the food is visually appealing as well as appetizing. A perfect match over a glass or two of their Italian Red wine.

Grand Pacific Sovereign

Grand Pacific Sovereign
Grand Pacific Sovereign

After dinner, we headed to the famous Hua Hin Market which is less than 20 minutes away by car. Wide range of Thai desserts and various delicacies are available and not to mention seafood restaurants. Since we are still full right after dinner, I only bought a cup of ice cream worth 25 Baht for 3 scoops with many toppings to choose from. This ice cream kiosk is really so popular that you have to go through a long queue before reaching the counter.

Equally mouth-watering are the dried barbecued squid with spicy dipping, boiled sweet corn, roasted duck or chicken. Also popular is the rotee bread with either banana, egg or banana and egg filling. The best part is the foods being sold are very cheap!

Hua Hin Market

Hua Hin Market

After we checked out of the hotel, we had our lunch in “Dang Seafood Restaurant” located in Samut Songkran on the way back to Bangkok. This restaurant started with just few tables in its dining area and has expanded many times since then.

You can view the kitchen from the dining area which is quite big. My colleague said one cook will only prepare 1 or 2 kinds of dishes so they can prepare it very fast. True enough, less than 10 minutes after we ordered, all the foods were served in our tables. The best dish for me is the deep fried fish which is very crispy and tasty and the steamed prawns.

My spice level is not same as Thai but the dipping sauce full of chilli is really very nice and not to mention sweat-provoking. LOL. I was joking them my tissue consumption is more than the shells or fish bones in my plate as I had to wipe my sweat a lot after eating the spicy food.
This was my 2nd time in Hua Hin/Cha-Am. Last year was with some of my Filipino friends. I would love to go back to this place soon which is much more quiet and family-friendly than Pattaya.

My Koh Samed, Thailand Trip

Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed

 

As an Expat, I am always fascinated with how different our culture is with Thailand even though this country is still within Southeast Asia and only 3.5 hours away from Manila. To make my working life here in the City of Angels easier, I try to adapt some of their way of living but of course this doesn’t mean I am already forgetting my Filipino roots. I guess we Filipinos adapt easily to any environment or culture for that matter. I am always trying their local food, courtesies, simple living like riding an ordinary bus, tuk tuk (their own version of tricycle) and even a motosay (a public motorcycle you hire to roam around the city faster) whenever I can.

Another thing that I would want to maximize while I am staying in a foreign land is to visit as many places as I can during my stint here. Thailand as we all know is known for very scenic spots such as beaches and mountains. So far, I have been to some places mostly within short driving distance from Bangkok like Pattaya, Hua Hin, Nakhon Nayok, Ayutthaya and the farthest would be  Koh Samui, an Island destination south of Thailand- which is an hour flight from the capital.

Last weekend though, I was fortunate to be able to visit another “up and coming” popular spot especially for Bangkokians— Koh Samed (Koh Samet).

Koh Samed, approximately 3 hours travel by land from the capital and another half an hour boat ride is the closest perfect island destination from the hustle and bustle of city living, so to speak. Koh Samed is lined with white sand beaches in most of its part. Unlike the more popular Phuket or Pattaya, Koh Samed is not as crowded but is equally charming as the 2 former spots mentioned.

The most popular beach is Sai Kaew Beach located in the eastern part of the island. It has a long stretch of white sand beach dotted with a good mix of resorts and other lodgings. The most popular bar and restaurant is Plowbar. What attracts many tourist to this joint is the nightly “Fire Dance” being performed in the beachfront to the amazement of people enjoying food and drink on tables set-up in the sand. Sad thing is that this performance is quite dangerous especially since they are literally playing with fire and what’s even worse is that most of the performers are minors (the night we watched, the youngest performer was a 12 year old boy who does this job during weekends or every school break to help the family earn income).  

The weather was perfect during our so-called holiday. Although this month until October is still considered the monsoon season, the sun is very warm. Only thing is that the sea is a bit rough even though there is no storm whatsoever. However, the boat was big enough (capacity of 70 persons) so it is more comfortable since the boat just go with the waves compared to taking the speed boat which is like taking a car passing by a very bumpy road.

We stayed in Sai Kaew Beach Resort which is the biggest resort in the island at the moment. The room is spacious and has full amenities. The resort is only a few steps away from the beach and offers complete guest amenities such as a modern swimming pool, fitness centre, souvenir shop, seaside restaurant, massage service, pastry shop called The Mango (which serves one of the best tasting dark chocolate cake and blueberry cheesecake I tasted in the many hotels or restaurants I’ve visited). If you happen to be in this island, please don’t miss these delectable desserts.

We’ve visited several other resorts and my favorite is Paradee which is located in a more secluded southern part of the island. The pool villas offer not only your own private pool but also a magnificent view of the sea. The beach is literally few steps away.

Too bad our stay in this island is limited since the next day is already a working day. Fortunately, Koh Samed is very accessible from Bangkok and you need not save too much since there are many comfortable but low cost accommodation and transfers available.

Surely, I will go back to this place very soon. Hope next time it will be longer. I’m posting snapshots if this trip. Hope you enjoy.

Koh Samed, Thailand
Koh Samed, Thailand
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed
Koh Samed

 

Koh Samed

Koh Samed
Koh Samed

leaving home soon…

today i started packing some of my things as I may not have time to properly pack the things I need to bring out after my very short holiday back home..seems time is moving so fast. surely there are some friends whom i may not have visited or set appointments to meet up because of the very tight schedule wherein I had to juggle some personal appointments with official business affairs. Talk about working during a supposed holiday. No regret though cos it really is part of the job. You need to stay connected to know what’s going on otherwise, it will be like being on your first day of work again once the holiday is over…

Anyway, to all my friends and relatives whom I am unable to see and catch up during my trip back home, I am really sorry. I hope to make it up with all of you next time or if you have the opportunity to fly and visit me, I will be very pleased to be your guide. Just don’t forget to bring all those Pinoy stuffs when you visit huh?

Talking about the Pinoy stuffs, I need to be loaded with a year’s supply of these items as they tend to either be unavailable overseas or the cost is double if not triple than the cost here in Manila. I made a run down of all the items I will be bringing–here it goes…

1.) Barrio Fiesta Bagoong/Alamang
2.) Sinigang Mix
3.) Kare-Kare Mix
4.) Pancit Palabok Mix
5.) Ginisa Mix
6.) Pancit Canton
7.) Liver Spread
8.) Purefoods Corned Beef
9.) Boy Bawang
10.) Corn Bits
11.) Daing na Bangus
12.) Silver Swan Soy Sauce
13.) various spices and Herbs
14.) Sky Flakes
15.) Chippy
16.) Mr. Chips
17.) Biogesic and other medicines

and many many more items. I am actually worried cos the customs might think I will be selling all these items abroad. hahaha! Just kidding. Well, actually not a bad idea considering the demnd is high for these products overseas. However, the things I will be bringing is not for public consumption but just for me and my friends to share. 🙂

In a few day’s time I will be leaving home soon for another journey to a foreign land I tagged as my 2nd home…surely I will miss my family, loved ones and friends but I know I will be fine..besides I will be back a year from now or maybe shorter if God permits..

To Manila and Back…

08 May 2009- My flight back to Manila from Bangkok was supposedly around 12 noon. I went to the airport with 2 of my friends who generously gave their time to send me off to the airport..not sure if it is because they’ll miss me or it’s because they are soo happy to see me leaving so they can have all their ice monsters, kare-kare, mango float and the like (without me of course)..hahaha. I arrived in the airport  before 10 am. We were wondering why when we checked the flight information board, my flight indicated 2145H as the flight time. I just thought it was not updated. Anyway, we proceeded to the check-in counter of Kuwait Airways. At the check-in counter, again surprises of all surprises–there is no single staff to serve checking-in passengers. There was a short queue and all the same, they are wondering what’s happening.

Finally at around 1030H, several employees of the airline arrived in the counter and informed us that the flight was delayed. Our flight indeed will resume at 2145H since it has not reached Kuwait from Manila and again it had to go back to Manila that night.

Under these circumstances, I would have complained a lot how come no one tried to contact us prior. Apparently, they tried to contact us but at the last minute. Fortunately, they provided a room in a hotel near the airport (Miracle Hometel) with Lunch and Dinner included. Surprisingly, I never thought the hotel have very nice room. Considering it is only a Standard Room, my room is quite spacious and have a jacuzzi even! Food was good as well..I liked the Tom Yum Gung a lot even if it’s a  bit spicy for me.

We were sent back to the airport around 7:30. Upon reaching the check-in counter, we were informed the flight will be delayed–AGAIN! This time, our flight time would be 2330H. I was thinking what I would do if they announce before 2330H that the flight will be delayed again. I’ve wasted 1 full day from my very short vacation because of their flight delay! Well at least we arrived home safe.

One thing I was so worried about is my cough and cold which is getting worse. While waiting for my flight, I can feel I will be having flu because of my cough and cold (attributed to the change of weather and maybe lack of sleep due to excitement). I tried to consume as many pineapple juice, water and vitamin c tablets as I can. I was afraid that when I arrived at the airport and I passed by the thermal scanner and they found out I had fever, they might associate it with the H1N1 virus and I’ll be quarantined! I want to be popular someday but I don’t wanna be popular that way…

Luckily, I didn’t have fever and I passed by the thermal scanner successfully without any hindrances! Ha ha ha!

Finally, my family was there to fetch me. I am truly happy to see them after almost 1 year of being away. I know they missed me a lot. First meal I had in Manila was of course my favorite longanisa and daing na bangus with hot brewed coffee before we head back home. The next days up until today, I was quite busy as I had to attend to several personal engagements and 1 week training.

My holiday is short so I have to maximize my time.

At any rate, it is truly great to be back home. Nothing much has changed since a year ago which made me feel as if I did not leave home at all…

Where is the Best Holy Week (or Summer) Hideaway?

Holy Week is almost 2 weeks away. I heard there are many resort destinations that still have vacant rooms for Holy Week. This is really strange considering that traditionally, Lenten Season is a super super super PEAK season even before our generation was born. The Global Economic Recession is really pinching its way to all sectors of the society and Tourism is the most volatile of them all.

Anyway, for the Sun, Sand and Sea lovers- Holy Week is the best time to relax and do some rest and recreation. Going to the Beach and stuff doesn’t mean we forget the essence of the Lenten Season which is commemorating our Savior Jesus Christ’s ultimate sacrifice to die on the cross to redeem us from all our sins.  I would like to think that this season (being a Long Holiday) is the best time to reflect, spend precious time with loved ones and repair or take back some broken or lost relationships.

Now the question is, Where is the Best Holy Week (or Summer) Hideaway? I’ve made some random choices for you to select. Once you select the best destination, share to us why you consider it on top of the list.

Hope you will have a memorable Holy Week this year!