Eating in Bangkok can be as expensive or cheap or exciting (read: street food) as that in Manila.
As much as possible I try to eat in different places to maximize my visit here (leaving tomorrow!). It’s not always Thai that I go for. One time I found a really cheap steak house and ordered dory steak with hotdog (that tastes like Ikea hotdog) and fries and vegetable salad and slice of bread–all below 100 baht (120 pesos/3 USD). On my last night, I saw a foodcourt stall that serves Vietnamese pho (heaven’s gift to Vietnam I’d like to think). Then of course there was one time when my friends and I couldn’t resist the temptation of McDonald’s (tsk).Read More
Past the racks of bohemian dresses and layered skirts, vials of colored contact lenses, boxes of synthetic pumps and oxfords, golden buddha keychains and silver elephant bottle openers, Pepsi cans in an icebox, digital clocks that glow on the surface of wood, vintage quarter-sleeve tops for ninety-nine baht, signage of “Thai silk” and “Thai scarf,” smoked pork, smoked squid balls, smoked chicken wings–he stopped walking straight when he saw the sign to his left.Read More
If you’re planning to go on a budget trip to Bangkok, my friends and I would highly recommend staying at Lub D Siam.
It’s cheap, clean, and chic. The building’s design, in and out, could only come from persons who have taste in art. And on top of all these, it’s right in the heart of Bangkok; with easy access (about ten steps) to the Skytrain, which will get you straight to the hip and luxury shopping malls (one station away, if you don’t like the 5-minute walk), to Saphan Taksin where you can take a cruise of the Chao Phraya river, to Chatuchak weekend bargain market, to the steamy red light districts (Patpong and Soi Cowboy), to the hotels and restaurants of Sukhumvit, to the bus terminal that will lead you to the beach islands nearby, and so much more.
Lub in Thai means good sleep. I’m not sure how the hostel does it, but my sleep is indeed always so deep, except when my friend was snoring in volumes that could put a rock band to shame (thank god he has left–kidding, O.!). Perhaps it’s because of the fresh linens and blanket in the airconditioned and warmly lit rooms? Or the ambience of the place?
Or perhaps it’s just because I have a thing for hotels (or anything hotel-like) because our house is so third world, man.
Security may not be an issue (but it pays to be very careful). The ladies dorm, where I transferred after my friends left, has its own area and locked door. Before I could get into our room, I have to swipe the card thrice: 1. entrance to the residents’ area; 2. entrance to the ladies’ rooms on the ground floor; 3. our room.
The washing area is at the ground floor, right below the stairs, which lead to the mixed dorms, econo rooms, and theater room.
Back to the lobby, they offer breakfast, snacks, and drinks.Read More
Today starts my second week in Bangkok, Thailand. Here, I feel like I’m just in Manila (cleaner version) so homesickness has no place in my mind, not even in my dreams. The Thais look like Filipinos, and I was always mistaken as a Thai. I’ve met solo backpackers from Korea and the Netherlands–young ladies who weren’t restrained by differences in language and ways of doing things. The Korean student is one to be admired for she speaks very little English (I was weaving her one or two words into sentences, then she’d laugh and say yes! yes!)–and yet she’s brave enough to travel alone to Thailand then to Hanoi, Vietnam. She reminds me of the anecdote that my relatives would always tell me during reunions:
I was three. My aunts, having nothing else to do I suppose, taunted me, telling me they don’t want me anymore in Mindoro where I was on vacation, and that I should go away. They said they took out my bags from their house and brought me near the road, the national highway. The funny part of their story is, according to them, I didn’t cry nor protest; I just took my bags and waited for vehicles by the road and hailed them (in response to their, pumara ka na ng bus! [go hail a bus]). I couldn’t remember this anymore, but, I found my 3-year old self weird.
Then there was the first real time I went on a long solo trip to a far place. I was in college, a teenager, and didn’t want to go home for the Christmas break because my father hadn’t allowed me to attend a national youth conference sponsored by the leading newspaper in Manila. The only way for you to get into that event is by writing a short essay, and I got in. At the University, I packed my bags, charged my cellphone, secured my ATM card (got money from an aunt) and rode a bus in Cubao going to the northern province of Isabela, where my roommate in the dormitory lives. Before the bus left, my cellphone ran out of battery, but it was a good thing that I texted my roommate to pick me up at the bus terminal early in the morning. Everybody seemed to be in Cubao that time, and almost everyone was carrying tons of bags to be brought home to their provinces for the long break. I seemed to be the only one carrying a school bag.Read More
To dress up is to communicate. One doesn’t need an expensive wardrobe collection to flaunt one’s style. Imagination should be good enough.
Coming to Bangkok in April, however, is a bit of a challenge to one’s creativity in mixing up dresses and accessories because this month is the hottest ever. (Try to focus a blow dryer on your face and you get the idea.) All you’d want to wear is nothing, but with holy temples on your places-to-visit, that’d be impossible. Even a sleeveless dress is probihited.
The tip here is to wear cotton. And it better be white not to attract more heat, since as we all know, dark colored clothes absorb more heat than light colored ones do. When going to the temples, wearing sleeveless and shorts on your way there is a good idea as long as you have a spare sarong or change of clothes with you. It is best to bring your own sarong rather than rent one in the temples to avoid long ques of people renting them.Read More
Fascinating how the floating market operates. Also called the Venice of Asia, this market easily lands in travelogues and blogs about Thailand. You ride a boat and buy all sorts of products from the side of the waterways or from peddlers on boats.
These photos were taken last week when C. and O. were still here in Thailand with me. Funny thing to happen during our trip to the floating market was, we all forgot our money at the hostel. After paying the 1,000 baht boat rent, we were penniless, so we just sat back, relaxed, and became perhaps the most stingy tourists ever who went to this market.
But it was a good decision nonetheless because later last week, we went to the famous bargain market in Chatuchak, where we bought bags of knickknacks and pasalubong for very good deals (that’ll be another post).
So many fruit vendors float in the market. Later on, we had a taste of the Thai mango. So sweet (but I think nothing beats the sweet, tender, juicy Philippine mangoes in Cebu and Bohol).
And since we weren’t buying anything, I just took photos of the vendors who I imagine as water warriors.Read More
Doors of the train slid open. Drum beats slipped in, people poured out. Below Bangkok’s Skytrain station are vendors calling out, everybody walking, people dancing and water-splashing. I stared at the long stretch of Sala Daeng full of partying teenagers and twentysomethings, not sure if foreigners are welcome in their New Year, in their celebration of the passage of time.
I tightened my grip on my things and wished Mike were there to hold my hand. It’s been a year since I saw him. Why is Time ever the slowest when you are waiting for something grand?
The three of us looked at the crowd–squirting guns; bodies touching bodies; fingers dipped in bowls of wet talc powder to be wiped on the faces.Read More
It’s midnight and I’m writing this from a youth hostel in Bangkok, Thailand. Today, I could say that my work for the magazine is over (it’s running in the press already!) after this week’s sleepless nights of proof editing. The excruciating part of this editing job is having to read the same articles 10 times. Literally. Until the words lose meaning, and my eyes sear.
For all the nights of sleeping past midnight just to approximate perfection in the magazine our staff is working on, I reward myself with a trip to Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, and Penang, after my work and meeting with the boss (who introduced his friend, an Aussi publisher, at Clarke Quay) in Singapore. With this SG-BKK-KL trip, I shall unwind a bit, and get to know more our neighboring Southeast Asian countries–this would be fulfilling since I write and edit stories about them, too.
This week, Thailand is celebrating its New Year–the Songkran festival, water splashing celebration, which could get crazy.
I’d like to believe I had a fruitful start to this Thai New Year since the magazine was delivered to the printing press against so many odds.
As for the bad spirits, I shall send them away to the darkest pit of nothingness and void that no imagination could reach.
Good karma to those with compassionate heart; bad karma to those who know nothing but greed and power tripping (yes, SM and North Korea, we’re looking at you).
Anyway, from this post onwards, just to show that I’m still alive–since I’ll be alone here in Thailand next week)–I shall be sharing my thoughts on one of the most liberal places in Southeast Asia–Bangkok.
Happy New Year to our Thai friends!Read More
One time, my Singaporean boss asked me if it would be all right if my work takes me to the Philippines couple of times instead of staying all year round in Singapore. That wasn’t the first time he asked me (and I would always answer, I’m fine with it, and I’m not sure if he believes me when I say that because he’d ask again). Actually, the question is understandable because many Filipinos like to leave the Philippines for good (thanks to goddamn traffic, life threatening pollution, and mtherfcking indolence and corruption everywhere), but many of us would love to return and stay here, too. Some friends and relatives in the U.S., for instance, would fly back to Manila every now and then despite expensive airfares. The explanation for this can be found in the Department of Tourism’s latest 6-word slogan.
This Sunday gave me another reason why it’s more fun in the Philippines. My college friends and I went to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in Clark Field, Pampanga (two provinces north of Manila).
All six of us met at Manila’s economic capital, Makati. It was me who arrived first because I thought of seeing a film while waiting for all. Jay had thought of watching The Girl With The Butterfly Tattoo in Glorietta since Oscar season is near. Unfortunately, available seats: zero. Jay arrived and I suggested we go to Powerbooks because I want to scout for biographies of the Beatles. I saw one, Paul McCartney’s, and mentally put it in my To Buy List (I try not to buy another book unless I’m done reading the one I just bought–White Tiger, this time). Why I’m interested in their biography is another story.
Jay and I had our dinner at some place that smells of sizzling plate and barbecued goodness. Four times did their staff approach us for beer, coupons, promos and beer, until we realized, it’s Valentine’s next week, hence, all these Valentine’s promos offered to the most unromantic persons in Makati that very time (but we tenderly loved our tuna sisig and inihaw na tuna belly). We’re just so glad Kate, the girl with a fabulous scarf and knee length cardigan, and Connet, the girl in leggings and boots, came.
Raymond, our official driver, later arrived. We waited for our last travel buddy, CJ, at the coffee shop that serves the best chai tea latte.Read More
Million thanks to the people who took some of their precious time reading, sharing, blogging, re-blogging, tweeting, google plus-ing (whut?), and commenting on my article published in Philippine Daily Inquirer‘s Young Blood last week.
Many personal messages surprised and touched me. Friends told me that it was trending in FB, it’s the top most read article in Inquirer.net last week, and (the boyfriend said) my blogsite reached 2.7 million hits. I appreciate them all. Thank you.
One of my initial reactions was: Wow, many people still read. Cool! Some wanted to meet us in person, and some were inspired to write, to travel, to smile, and to blog. Some even joked about riding buses more often.
But, since I’m a shy person, let me divert your attention to more interesting people than me. My Comm Arts friends.
Communication Arts is usually the butt end of jokes in the university because according to others,
1. we don’t have higher Math/Science subjects
2. we’re “just” doing theater, our curriculum has nothing in it but general education courses
3. and we are “maaarte” (help me with the English term for this… finicky? girly? flirty?).
I just shrug these off and the hundred associations to “Comm Arts” because while others make a fuss about us, we rock and roll.
Let me introduce you to two awesome Comm Arts graduates whom I’ve worked with since college days: Kei and Jay. The three of us belong to the same batch, 2001, and from neighboring towns in Laguna. Later on, we did Lakwatcha.
Jay is a game designer at Makati based Anino Games. He works with a team who conceptualizes, designs, and tests games for PC, mobile phones, and other devices. Since his is a job that needs a non-stop source of creativity, I am hands down to Jay’s storytelling powers and designs. To top it all, he and his teammates recently won Manila Game Jam 2012!
Now, Prof Kei.
She graduated magna cum laude. (LOL she doesn’t like being introduced this way). She finished MA Media Studies (Film) in UP Diliman and acclaimed film critic Roland Tolentino is her thesis adviser.
This month, she heads a film festival called “Pelikultura.” Last year’s festival appeared to be successful and I’m sure this year’s will be, too.
Last December the three of us met in Santa Rosa, Laguna to have our first unplanned Laguna-Quezon-Batangas road trip with Jay driving a van. You can check out the long adventure story at his website (thesalmonellawars.blogspot.com), but if it were a story, the premise could’ve been:Read More