Explore Bangkok With Me

Traveling to Bangkok was such an adventure! We took a bus from Chiangrai back to Chiangmai. Our bus was delayed and we almost missed our overnight train to Bangkok! Luckily, we reached the station 10 minutes before the train departed.

Upon arriving, we visited the two famous temples in Bangkok, Wat Pho and Wat Arun.

 

Wat Pho

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Known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, it is first on the list of six temples in Thailand classed as the highest grade of the first-class royal temples. It is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple complex on an earlier temple site, and became his main temple where some of his ashes are enshrined. The temple was later expanded and extensively renovated by Rama III. The temple complex houses the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand, including a 46 m long reclining Buddha. The temple is considered the earliest centre for public education in Thailand, and the marble illustrations and inscriptions placed in the temple for public instructions has been recognised by UNESCO in its Memory of the World Programme.

 

Wat Arun

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Known as “Temple of Dawn”, Wat Arun is a Buddhist Temple in Bangkok Yai district, on the Thon buri west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derived its name from the Hindu God Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun.

Among the best known of Thailand’s landmarks, the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence.

Although the temple has existed since at least the 17th century, its distinctive spires were built in the early 19th century, during the reign of King Rama II.

 

Chatuchuk

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When you’re in Bangkok, you definitely can’t miss the famous weekend market! Its sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise will bring any seasoned shoppers to their knees – this is where you can literally shop ‘till you drop’, which I’m proud to say I did of course!

With over more than 8000 stalls, you’ll be spoilt for choices; clothes, shoes, bags, food, souvenirs, etc.

Although it’s impossible to name all, the selection of goods being offered at Chatuchak can be roughly divided into 11 categories:

  • Clothing & Accessories (sections 2-6, 10-26)
  • Handicrafts (sections 8-11) Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
  • Furniture and Home Decoration (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
  • Food and Beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
  • Plants and Gardening tools (sections 3, 4)
  • Art and Gallery (section 7)
  • Pets and Pet Accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
  • Books (sections 1, 27)
  • Antiques and Collectibles (sections 1, 26)
  • Miscellaneous and Used Clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)

When you’re there, don’t forget to try the famous duck noodles, which sadly I forgot to take a pic of! Just be prepared to queue awhile!

 

Unicorn Cafe

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This is one cafe that keeps popping up on my Instagram feed and I thought to why not give it a visit.

However, I have to say I was underwhelm by the decor and more so, the food! I’ve been to quite a few ‘cutesie’ cafe and I’ve noticed that most of the time, the food is mediocre. Unicorn cafe sadly has one of the worse tasting food of all these cafes I’ve visited.

Let’s just say I went for the pictures and it’s worth only visiting once. I definitely recommend going to the husky cafe (which I visited a couple years back) than this one, where they’re basically sucking the money out of your wallet.

 

Lebua Skybar

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If you wanna spend an evening relaxing and having some drinks, Lebua Skybar is a place to be seen! Although be prepared to spend major ka-ching!

Let me tell you a hilarious story that happened. My mother ordered half a dozen oysters thinking it only cost her SGD10. When I calculated again just to double check, turns out she missed a “0” at the back! Yes, it cost us SGD100! And another SGD60++ for a lobster roll the size of my palm. I have really small hands by the way!

But hey, at least we had an awesome time there!

 

Erawan Museum

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This museum is a hidden gem within Bangkok!

A huge, three-headed elephant statue standing upon an equally gargantuan pedestal is the first, and last, thing you see when visiting Samut Prakan’s Erawan Museum. It’s a splendid, towering beast: 250 tons in weight, 29 metres high, 39 metres long, and cast in a pure green-hued copper. From conception to completion it took almost ten years to construct. With a proud, war-like demeanor and trunks the size of ancient Banyan Trees, this is an epic image of Hindu mythology’s Airavata.

Maeklong Market

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Maeklong Railway Market is a traditional Thai market selling fresh vegetables, food and fruit. What makes it special is that the market is located on a train line where, a few times a day, the train runs directly through the market. When the train comes, vendors lower their umbrellas and move some of their produce further back off the train tracks. Some of the vegetables are laying on the ground and the train goes right over them. Amazingly, nothing is damaged or broken, and as soon as the train passes, vendors continue as normal.

You’ll be greeted by the odour of raw seafood while walking along the market, but hey, that’s the beauty of experiencing something you don’t get to see in your own country.

 

Grand Palace

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One of the city’s famous landmark, the Grand Palace is known as one of the must-see places in Bangkok. It was built in 1782 and was the home of the Thai King for 150 years!Thai Kings stopped living in the palace around the turn of the twentieth century, but the palace complex is still used to mark all kinds of other ceremonial and auspicious happenings.
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I hope you enjoyed reading my 3-part Thailand series!

Stay tuned for my travel posts….

 

Xx,

Nic

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Chiangrai

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I’ve been wanting to visit The White Temple for the longest time, and I can finally tick it off my bucket list!

Known as Wat Rong Khun, it is a contemporary, unconventional, privately-owned art exhibit in the style of a Buddhist temple. It a unique temple that stands out through the white color and the use of pieces of glass in the plaster, sparkling in the sun. The white color signifies the purity of the Buddha, while the glass symbolizes the Buddha’s wisdom and the Dhamma, the Buddhist teachings.

We decided to head there an hour before opening to avoid the crowds, but to no avail. There were already people queuing when we arrived!

 

Blue Temple, Wat Rong Seua Ten

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The main hall was recently completed but there are still some ongoing constructions and paintings taking place in the compound. It is known as Wat Rong Seua Ten, where “Seua Ten” means dancing tigers, referring to tigers that used to jump over the river.

 

Doi Tung Royal Villa & Mae Fah Luang Garden

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Doi Tung Royal Villa and Mae Fah Luang Garden are among the most famous tourist attractions of Chiang Rai province. These two places are located on the slopes of Doi Tung Mountain. With an elevation of 1,630 metres above sea level, the mountain is located in Mae Fa Luang District, about 60 km. from Chiang Rai town.

I was so car sick along the way. The driver was going really fast at every bend!

Doi Tung Royal Villa, built in the Lanna and Swiss architectural styles, was the residence of Her late Royal Highness Princess Srinakarindra, the Princess Mother.

The Mae Fah Luang Garden is the most beautiful landscaped garden in Thailand filled with hundreds of different kinds of plants and flowers. The garden is located in front of the Doi Tung Royal Villa, on an expanse of hillside that was originally the Akha village of Pa Kluay. This village used to be an important route for opium caravans and those involved in heroin and firearm trafficking. Situated in a deep gorge where the Akha lived in a dense settlement without the possibility of expansion, there was little space for hygiene, trash or wastewater management. At the request of the Doi Tung Development Project, the villagers agreed to be relocated to a new site 500 meters away. This site sits on a hill with expansive land. It has running water, electricity, and a paved road into the village.

A garden of mostly temperate flowers was built over 10 acres of land in accordance with the Princess Mother’s wishes to give Thai people who have never travelled overseas an opportunity to enjoy a temperate flower garden.

 

Xx,

Nic

5 Days in Chiangmai

Hey guys! It’s been a while since I posted something here. So here goes my five-day itinerary in Chiangmai, Thailand.

Every time I travel, the first day upon arriving, it’s always good not to have so many activities packed. Why? Jet lag, or for the simple fact that you’re exhausted from sitting in a plane for a period. That’s what we did (or didn’t do) on our first day. We kept activities to a minimal.

 

Temples

The first place we visited was the famous temple known as Wat Chedi Luang. It is one of the regions most important temple. It was built about 600 years ago and is supposedly to be the most impressive temple in Chiangmai.

Before calling it a day, we visited another temple. The famous Silver Temple, known as Wat Sri Suphan. With its impressive hand crafted silver decoration and the temple and statues being completely covered in silver, it’s a no-brainer how it got its English name.IMG_0305 (4).JPGIMG_0288 (3).JPGIMG_0320 (5)

 

Elephant Nature Park

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Visiting an elephant sanctuary has been on my bucket list for like FOREVER!! And I’ve always wanted to visit one of them in Chiangmai. The only problem? There are so many sanctuaries here in Chiangmai, it’s tough to decide.

What I noticed however is that even though there are many, not all are legit sanctuaries. Many of them encourage riding, which is against my believes.

At elephant nature park, the elephants are able to roam freely and no one is allowed to sit on the them. I noticed that no one working at the park actually carries a hook to control the animals.

So far, the park has rescued about 82 elephants. They were either once abused or used in the logging industry.

One story that touched my heart was a blind elephant named Jokia. She was pregnant when she was put to work in the logging industry. When Jokia gave birth, her baby rolled down the hill, still in his sac. Sadly, it did not survive. Sad about the death, Jokia was not willing to work. Her owner used a slingshot to hit her eye to force her to work. Jokia retaliated by using her trunk to push the man. He then took a knife to stab her other eye.

Jokia was eventually rescued by the owner of the park and placed at the park.

I’m just thankful these elephants have a safe haven in the park and do not have to face the cruel hands of men any longer, but it made me realise that there are still many animals out there being abused and used for money.

 

Wachirathan Waterfall

Because it was monsoon period when we visited, it rained everyday. I was literally praying each day for some sunlight.

The only waterfall we managed to go to was Wachirathan Waterfall. I wanted to visit Wat Sri suphan, also known as sticky waterfalls, but due to the constant raining, it was impossible to swim.

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Weekend Night Markets

One of the things you can’t miss in Chiangmai is the night market. It’s basically walking down roads of makeshift stalls where you can shop till you drop. We spent 4 hours walking at the Saturday night market and it was still not enough. I even got to do a tarot card reading there, which was interesting. If shoppers are exhausted from the never-ending shopping, there are many food and drink stalls along the way. The night market is the perfect place to buy homemade souvenirs for family and friends back home.

 

Akrya Manor RISE Rooftop Bar

We didn’t stay at Akrya Manor but the manager was nice enough to let us have our lunch there as well as a swim in the pool. It’s a relatively new hotel, but I can see why it has gained a name for itself in such a short time. The staff are so friendly and constantly coming to the rooftop bar to check on us and ask if we needed anything else. Yes, we were the only guests at the rooftop bar for the three hours we were there. How awesome!

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Hope you guys enjoyed reading this post! Stay tune for my Chiangrai post!

 

 

Xx,

Nic

 

Solo in Cambodia

I’ve always wanted to take a solo trip. I was kinda worried about the cons of being a female solo traveler. However, if you as a solo traveler take extra precaution and did your research of the destination, I think you’ll be fine.

Here are some places you definitely need to visit when in Siem Reap, Cambodia.

Ang Kor Thom

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Angkor Thom is an ancient city in Siem Reap. There are many temples situated within Angkor Thom, such as Bayon, Ta ProhmBaphuon temple and Banteay Kdai. The word “Angkor” means “city” while the word “Thom” means “big”.

In the past, there were at least one million officials staying within Angkor Thom in wooden houses to protect the city. It was built by King Javavarman VII during the year 1180-1220. He was a Buddhist King and known to the Khmers as the Great King.

Did you know the Great King built Ta Prohm in honour of his mother?

Entering through the South gate, you will be able to see 54 statues on each side. On the right are statues representing demons and on the left are the ones representing Gods. Sand stones were used to make the statues as it is easier to carve, while volcanic stones were used to build the walls.

Happy Ranch Horse Farm & Quad Adventure

If you love horse riding like I do, and being able to explore the villages and countryside,  you have to visit Happy Ranch Horse Farm! I did a 2-hour sunset ride with my trustworthy sidekick named Silver. He’s the gentlest of all horse I’ve ever met. He eats a lot and is easily spooked by anything and everything. How can I not fall in love with him?

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If you’re not a fan of horse riding but is an adrenaline junkie, go for a quad bike adventure. We rode through a village and the countryside. On the way, we stopped at a temple and monastery. According to my guide, during the genocide, 100-200 monks were killed in this monastery, by being burnt alive.

Pre Rup Temple

Located within the grand circuit, Pre Rup is one of my fave temples to visit. The name “Pre Rup” means chain from the body. Built in the year 961, the towers were made out of bricks while the decorations were made out of stucco.

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East Mebon

Located in the middle of a reservoir named East Beray, East Mebon is a Hindu temple. In the past, the only mode of transportation to the temple was by boat. However, the reservoir has since dried up and a wooden walkway was built for people to walk across.

Ta Som

Another one of my fave temples! Ta Som is a Buddhist temple built by King Javavarman VII, the Great King, who also built Angkor Thom as well as temples like Ta Prohm. It was built towards the end of the 12th century.

As mentioned earlier, Ta Prohm was built by the King to honour his mother. Ta Som was dedicated to his father Dharanindravarman II.

Neak Pean

Neak Pean was originally designed for medical purposes (the ancients believed that going into these pools would balance the elements in the bather, thus curing disease); it is one of the many hospitals that Jayavarman VII built. It is based on the ancient Hindu belief of balance. Four connected pools represent Water, Earth, Fire and Wind. Each is connected to the central water source, the main tank, by a stone conduit presided over by one of Four Great Animals: Elephant, Bull, Horse, and Lion, corresponding to the north, east, south, and west quarters.

Banteay Srei

 A 10th-century Cambodian temple dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva. Banteay Srei is built largely of red sandstone, a medium that lends itself to the elaborate decorative wall carvings which are still observable today.

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Angkor Wat

The largest religious monument in the world. It was originally constructed as a Hindu temple dedicated to the god Vishnu for the Khmer Empire, gradually transforming into a Buddhist temple towards the end of the 12th century. It was built by the Khmer King Survavarman II in the early 12th century.

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Xx,

Nic

 

Adventures in Budapest (Part 1)

Are you like me? Is Budapest on your bucket list? Then you have to read this post to find out more about the places that should be visited in Budapest!

 

We were quite adventurous on our first day in Budapest, visiting countless places and walking to the point of exhaustion!

But these are some places I recommend visiting in Budapest.

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So here goes……

Matthias Church

Matthias Church is a Roman Catholic church located in Budapest, Hungary in front of the Fisherman’s Bastion at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. According to church tradition, it was originally built in Romanesque style in 1015, although no archaeological remains exist. The current building was constructed in the florid late Gothic style in the second half of the 14th century and was extensively restored in the late 19th century. It was the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of the medieval Hungarian Kingdom.

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Fisherman’s Bastion

The Halászbástya or Fisherman’s Bastion is a terrace in neo-Gothic and neo-Romanesque style situated on the Buda bank of the Danube, on the Castle hill in Budapest, around Matthias Church.

The Buda side castle wall was protected by the fishermen’s guild and this is the reason why it was called fishermen’s Bastion. Other people say, it got the name from the part of the city, which lies beneath the tower. The guild of fishermen was responsible for defending this stretch of the city walls in the Middle Ages. It is a viewing terrace, with many stairs and walking paths.

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Széchenyi Chain Bridge

The Széchenyi Chain Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans the River Danube between Buda and Pest, the western and eastern sides of Budapest, the capital of Hungary.

It is anchored on the Pest side of the river to Széchenyi (formerly Roosevelt) Square, adjacent to the Gresham Palace and the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, and on the Buda side to Adam Clark Square, near the Zero Kilometre Stone and the lower end of the Castle Hill Funicular, leading to Buda Castle.

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House of Parliament

It is the seat of the National Assembly of Hungary. A notable landmark and a popular tourist destination in Budapest. It lies in Lajos Kossuth Square on the bank of the Danube. It is currently the largest building in Hungary and it is still the tallest building in Budapest.

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St Stephen’s Basilica

St. Stephen’s Basilica is a Roman Catholic basilica in Budapest, Hungary. It is named in honour of Stephen, the first King of Hungary.

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Széchenyi thermal bath

The Széchenyi Medicinal Bath in Budapest is the largest medicinal bath in Europe. Its water is supplied by two thermal springs, their temperature is 74 °C and 77 °C, respectively.

Throughout its century old history, about a 100 millions of bathers have enjoyed the warm medicinal waters and the fun pools.

The 18 pools in Szechenyi Bath is open every single day throughout the year, including national holidays, when its an especially  popular place to visit. Besides the outdoor and indoor geothermal pools, you can get massage treatments (which I did), enjoy the saunas, the gym, or just relax by the pools with some beer or wine.

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Stay tuned for part 2!

 

Xx,

Nic

 

Adventures in Budapest (Part 2)

As promised, here’s part 2 of my Budapest post….

I really really wanted to visit the floating village at bokodi hűtőtó. I did some research on it and it was just stunning!

It was a one-day trip to the lake, but it was met with so many difficulties that I regretted suggesting to go.

We got lost TWICE heading to bokodi itself, and when we reached, I was quite disappointed. It was nothing like how people described it to be or anything like the photos I saw. Really an utter disappointment. We then missed the bus back to Budapest and the next bus was in 2 hours. There were no restaurants for us to sit and wait and it became too cold to wait at the bus stop. I felt like I was in a nightmare, the temperature had dropped and I was shivering like mad. We were all in a foul mood.

Luckily, the owner of a gas station was nice enough to let us hitch a ride to the train station. So very thankful for him and his girlfriend. Plus, they were so very friendly to us.

So yes, this day trip was a complete failure!

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On a better note, our last evening in Budapest was spent at Aria High Note Skybar, where we got to enjoy some drinks and tapas and watched a beautiful sunset. It was a great way to not only end our trip in Budapest, but our 3-week stay in Europe as well.

I highly recommend going to this skybar. It’s really worth it. Plus you get such a beautiful view of St Stephan’s Basilica. You won’t regret it!

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Xx,

Nic

Explore Vienna

Vienna has been on my bucket list for awhile as I’ve always wanted to visit my mother’s alma mater, which is located in Semmering.

Upon arrival, we went to explore Kurpark Oberlaa. If you’re a nature lover, you have to visit Kurpark. The view from above was so breathtaking. Don’t believe me, just look at the photo below. It’s like a canvas painting!

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On the day we visited Semmering, I got to see the school my mother studied in. After that, we headed to have some fun, sledding in the snow!

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Prater Servus, an amusement park in Vienna, is a must visit! I admit I was a scaredy-cat and didn’t dare to sit the bigger rides, but the crowd and screams filled the place with so much excitement!

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The places I’ve been wanting to see in Vienna are Schönbrunn Palace and Prunksaal.

Schönbrunn Palace is a former imperial summer residence located in Vienna, Austria. The name “Schönbrunn” means “beautiful spring”. The 1,441-room Baroque palace is one of the most important architectural, cultural, and historical monuments in the country.

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Prunksaal is the state hall and part of the Schatzkammer des wissens, the treasury building in Vienna. Prunksaal houses the 650-year-old Austrian National Library. It felt like I walked into the library from the Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast”.

Don’t you agree?

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Xx,

Nic