Saturday, July 6, 2013

BANGKOK DAY 1: A Taste Of Bangkok

It was one of the uncommon mornings I have before. I woke up on a moving train, sitting on a bed of a moving train to be precise making its way to Hua Lamphong in Bangkok. I was hungry and it was 6 am, there was no sign the train staff will serve food anytime soon. So I went to the toilet and brushed my teeth, afraid of the long queue. I didn't shower, it's difficult in a shaky, moving train and even to urinate requires concentration to shoot the right spot which is the toilet bowl! After brushing my teeth I had the tuna and biscuits that I brought from home and my mineral water was less than a quarter of the bottle even a fish would die in it.

To the excitement of my growling stomach, train staff bellowed from the other end of the coach "Morning, breakfeest, breakfeest!" I sat up straight and she asked me to go to a table she set. The Japanese guy joined me, he was on the upper berth and I was sleeping on the lower berth. We both had our breakfast paid by the Germany guy who's being called Papa by the lady who served me breakfast. 

The last few bites, and Papa finally woke up. He had his rice porridge he ordered last night for his breakfast. We had some chats at the table which later joined by the Iranian guy, we called him Kun Pattaya or Mr Pattaya. The bed had now turned into seats again.

It was around half 8 in the morning and I started to feel sleepy again after the breakfast. And I didn't feel like talking. So I turned to the window and staring outside the moving train. Thinking and writing for my blog post and also a poem. It felt so good writing again in a different atmosphere. And this is why I love smartphone like Blackberry, mini-sized computer in your palm allowing me to do things on the go.

The Germany guy insisted about sharing drinks with me, so I agreed. I bought some fried stuff on the train and I didn't like it.

After what it seems a forever train journey to Bangkok we were finally approaching and more buildings can be seen alongside. I didn't give my email to the Germany guy but added the Japanese guy on my Facebook and of course we were going to the hotel together because he was clueless about Bangkok. Papa went, slipping away in the moving crowd. Iranian guy followed us till BTS Asok then we went on our own way. He was making his way to Pattaya and us to the hotel. 

The hotel was easily spotted, it was right across the station. We had to wait for an hour for the room to be ready. For lunch, I had a chicked fried rice at a nearby stall, and it was delicious. It tastes different from all the fried rice that I have eaten before.

The hotel room was nice enough for cheap price that I paid through Expedia. But I hate the fact that you need to pay for wifi in the hotel! 150 Baht per day. Can't complain, it's Bangkok after all!

Put all my stuff and then had a shower. Needed some rest, knackered after a long train journey. Headed out to a shop in front of the hotel to buy water and adapter. And I realized I was running out of Bath currency, I had MYR notes and Singapore dollars. 

Now, the first mission was to get a sim card from the nearest 7 Eleven just behind the hotel. I need it for internet because I can't live without Twitter. And need to use whatsapp too. I asked the reception where is the nearest money changer and they said The Mall. I decided to walk because in Dublin walking gets you everywhere. 15 minutes walking I finally arrived at The Mall, sweating like a pig. It was an unfortunate attempt, I didn't bring my passport and they couldn't do it for me. So had to go back to hotel, had food, changed tshirt and I took the train to Phaya Thai just for a money changer. Managed to find one and bought the sim card. Spent almost 2 hours to set it up but I failed to activate the sim. FML. Was meant to meet a local friend but couldn't reach him so went back to the hotel and it was time to call it the first day in Bangkok.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

BANGKOK DAY 0: The Train Called Adventure

Interesting. That's all I can say for now. I arrived at Penang Central at 5am in the morning of 3rd July. No REM sleep on the bus. 12 hours of bus journey from Mersing with multiple stops. It was raining and I was clueless. I made my way to the nearest warung (stall) for some hot drinks to freshen up. Ordered my favourite Milo (chocolate malt drink) and tea. 

An hour later, there I was sitting on one of the empty blue chairs staring into the darkness of a new dawn. It was calming and I was still clueless on what to do. The bus were about to start operating any time soon. Tried to google the bus route but I'm not familiar with the places so I wasn't sure which bus to take to cross the Penang Bridge.

Mustered my confidence, I made my way to the ferry terminal which is located next to the bus terminal. 1.20MYR for the ferry ride, one way. People flocked the terminal to go to Penang, most were workers. There's this unexplained feeling being a traveller in your own country. Big bags and being tall doesn't help too, you could be easily mistaken as a Thai guy or China Mainland guy travelling in Malaysia. Saw another fellow traveller wearing Malaysia football team jersey. I looked around, sleepy faces sitting at the middle part of the passengers space and cars lined up at both sides. An Indian guy in the car behind me was having a quick nap on the quick 15 minutes ferry ride. A Bangladeshi will always be a Bangladeshi, smelly armpits. And the sunrise and the sea, a perfect combo that exudes calmness. Could be a good therapy for these people who I supposed will have a busy day later in the evening.

Called my friend, Bib, to pick me up in Penang. Once I disembarked from the ferry, after 5 minutes of walking, there is a bus station and I had to wait for Bib because he was stuck in the traffic. Traffic was crazy in Penang especially during morning rush hour. Everyone is on their way to work, everyone has their time ticking. 

The first stop with Bib was to a restaurant that sells nasi kandar because I wanted to try it. He took me to Kayu Nasi Kandar. The food was absolutely delicious. I took chicken cooked with honey, fried cabbage, battered squid eggs, and a mix of different gravy. It was like heaven in your mouth. Very tasty very authentic nasi kandar. Oh and I ordered two, not one, tea with milk.

After that, Bib took me for what we called a 50% car trip around Penang and made a stop at one of the R&R for me to take a refreshing shower. And then hazelnut ice blended, chilling at one of the Coffee Bean & Leaf Tea shop. Bib's favourite spot to hang out with his friends and we of course had done some catching up while I was charging my phone battery. And then it was time for me to go to Butterworth KTM Station.

On the train, I met 3 guys.

A Japanese guy, 21 years old. From Osaka. Travelled quite extensively in Asia. Was in Philipines for 7 months. Been to KL and Penang. Now boarding the train to Bangkok and staying at the same hotel where I'm gonna stay. He is a student studying English and Mandarin. I asked him why he studied English in Asia and he said because it's cheap. Travelling on his own money that he saved up. And I'm travelling on my allowance. Shame on me. Or should I say lucky me?

An Iranian guy which the Japanese guy knew from Butterworth KTM Station. He lives in Pattaya. Constantly persuading the Japanese guy to go to Pattaya and get one of the infamous Thai massage from one of the Thai girls. He even taught the Japanese guy how to say "I like" in Thai. Middle aged.

Another middle age guy, from Germany but lives in Australia. White hair white beard. Wearing white shirt. Has wife who is working in Australia. Talked a lot. I wanna run away from him because I love my silent moment. Silence and the journey, there's so much I can think of inside my head. There's so much I felt and there's so much I wanna write about.

The 4 of us, we talked about a lot of things. From experience to life lessons and advice about how you treat Thai people. I ate tuna and baked beans that I bought for dinner. Didn't buy the food on the train but the Germany guy paid for my breakfast. Thank you!

The train staff came and made the bed for us. I tried to read Mitch's book but the light was being a bitch so I listened to some music and then I was fast asleep. Not being able to sleep on the bus made me feel so tired. 
And that was the start of I think would be an amazing trip. 

P/S I will add the pictures later!

The Train And The Tree

*Wrote this a few hours before the last stop*

I am the tree, and you are the train,
You pass me by, the same old tree,
You see trees, I see a train,
You're chasing the sun, the sun shines above me.

You are the tree, and I am the train,
I pass you by, the same old tree,
I see trees, you see a train,
I'm chasing the sun, the sun shines above you.

We are travellers, in our own way,
Seeing things differently, feeling things differently,
I could be you, you could be me,
And all it takes is the courage to travel.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

SINGAPORE DAY 1: PinkDot And The Nightlife

So last weekend I went to Singapore which marked my travelling period in Asia. I went there alone, for 2 days and one night. Stayed in a hostel called Travellers @ SG. 

My mom had to go to Sultan Ismail Hospital for her cataract appointment so I agreed to go along with her. The brother-in law drove the car and asked him to drop me at Malaysia Immigration Complex near City Square Shopping Complex in Johor Bahru. The shopping center is connected to the Immigration Center. It was easy to pass Malaysia Immigration Center, nothing to declare. But it was quite a distance walking from the the shopping mall to where you're gonna take the bus. Just pay 1.00MYR, take the CW1 (CausewayLink) bus, the bus will bring you to the Singapore Immigration Complex. Crossing the bridge will take around 3 to 5 minutes depending on the traffic. 

The adrenaline rush started really early while finding my way in the Malaysia Immigration Complex. First timer. So I just look around and see what people were doing. So now, once you crossed the bridge, the bus will drop you at Singapore Immigration Complex. Don't forget to bring your bags with you. All the time. Okay, the first thing you need to do is to look for a white card. The white card available just before the gates where you get your passport stamped. Fill that in. I made a mistake. I didn't know I need the white card so I queued and the officer asked me to fill that in. A very polite Malay woman officer. Once that done, go downstairs and go to the right of the escalators, that's where you will get the same bus that drops you at the Singapore Immigration Complex just before you get your passport stamped. Get on that bus, you don't need to pay. This bus will go to MRT Kranji, the last stop. Make sure you have your roaming data on! I didn't so my credit was 0.00MYR by the time I reached Clarke Quay.

I reached Kranji MRT, and it was almost 4pm. I was absolutely clueless about Singapore train system. I did not do any research. Had to ask a lady if I was at the right train station. So because I had no plan on what to do in Singapore , and I was texting Marques while I was in the bus, I decided to buy ticket to MRT Lavender which is near to the hostel that I stayed in. While on the train, Marques called me and he said what I heard as "Khatib" so because Khatib is on the same line, I had alighted at that station. And once I was out of the station, a text came in and it was actually Clarke Quay. So I got on the train again. The train system map is available at every train station so don't worry of getting yourself lost in Singapore. It's a small country after all. 

By the second time you're using the train, you will know how to get around easily, the interchange etc.

So I disembarked at Clark Quay, I had no credit on my phone and the place was so pink.

So my MEN group to the rescue. Texted my friends to text Marques to let him know that I was there at Hong Lim Park. After 10 minutes waiting, I met Marques. We were both in pink as a support to the program. The event is called PinkDot Singapore. Google it out. It's LGBT related. And this is us.

It was an amazing event, with jets, helicopters etc. Singapore is going somewhere. And the people there "look well maintained" as quoted from a friend of mine. I have to agree. Quite an international crowd. I don't mind working in Singapore if I don't get a job where I'm studying :P

So we stayed at PinkDot for like 2 hours till 8pm and then I went to my hostel and Marques had to go to have dinner with his family.

Just outside Lavender MRT, you can find a lot of place to eat. So I went to my hostel first to check in and went out again. Decided to be a bit adventurous on the food, so I had this Ipoh Prawns Noodle (I forgot the name). Taste awful and tried to put my chopsticks skill to a test, failed miserably. And then went to the hostel again, chilling for a while, charged my phone and tried to plan where to go that night. So I met Marques at Clarke Quay again. It was near the RiverCruise. Amazing place. Had some drinks and then we went to Tantric, a bar located at Neil Road. The place was packed, we were there for a while and then me and Marques decided to go to Play. Taboo is located just opposite Tantric. Here's some pictures of the night out. Singapore is a twink central, if you're into skinny to toned pretty boys, this place is a heaven. Doesn't work for moi! Should have gone to Taboo. 

It's a fuckin sweat box!

Arrived at the hostel around 5am with an uneasy stomach!

(To be continued)

Friday, June 21, 2013

Of Spicy Food And Trip Planning

I have been living in my house for a couple of days. By living I mean, not going out of my house at all. There's absolutely nothing to do here. Nada. I wake up around half 8 in the morning, go to the kitchen for something to eat or just...tea. Growling stomach can only be heard an hour later which is probably around 9.30 which requires me to eat a proper meal. Well since it is Malaysia, there is no better way to start your 1 of a countless meals per day with nasi lemak or roti canai. Both have been my favourite since I was a kid. And most of the time, minus the spicy sauce. The way it works for me with spicy food is, it's hot in the mouth, but double the hotness when it goes out. RING OF FIRE! Hence, I try to avoid the 30 minutes in the toilet moment by not eating them. 

Speaking of that, it reminds me my recent trip coming back to Malaysia. So we were served nasi lemak with spicy shrimps sauce, it was MAS Airlines in-flight food so yeah it was tasty, I was like, finally this is the real nasi lemak. Halfway stuffing my face with the food, sweats dripping at the back of my neck, so I looked around in that section which was occupied by 50% of foreigners, and I noticed something, RED FACES! And that of course including me. And let's not talk about me having diarrhoea after eating a really really really really spicy sambal the day before my flight home.

So, I have been trying to plan my trips to Singapore and Bangkok. At this stage, plan for Bangkok is alright,  Saturday will be a bit packed with activity. I might change that to Friday and go to Ayutthaya on Saturday instead. I'm the kind who likes to plan. It gives me a sense of direction and on what to do plus this is my first trip alone. But it annoys me sometimes that my planning get to every details possible and everything seems to be like a lot of work. I guess I need to leave some space for spontaneity to happen. Wait, you don't simply plan for spontaneity. See, I like everything to be well-planned. 

I haven't booked for my flight from Bangkok to Kuala Lumpur. Not sure yet, which transportation I wanna take this time. But definitely not train cause I wanna be in KL for a couple of days to meet my friends. 

And I hope it will rain next week because haze has reached a hazardous level. I might postpone my trip to Singapore if the haze is still bad. But I definitely can't do anything about my trip to Bangkok because I have booked hotel room and bought train ticket already.

So that's all for now. I will try to update this blog everyday. Hopefully, if I'm not lazy. Ciao!