Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Our Dummy Guide to Bangkok

My sis & i have been talking about traveling together for a looong time & it was a little surreal that the day actually came that we left our hubbies & children back home & attempted to do this together.





{3D, 3N @ BKK)
Day 1:
Arrived KLIA at 2:45pm, checked in & purchased a wifi plan at RM19/per day, the cheapest via TravelRecommends. With a RM200 deposit (which will later be refunded to you via your bank account 3 days after), you'll receive a router (which can be shared up to max 5 devices).

Reached Don Mueang airport at about local time 7pm.
We were in "explorer-mode" & decided to get on board a public bus outside the airport. Very much like our mini buses back in the 80s except that the bus was spanking clean & the female conductor was super courteous.

I realized one cannot predict the rain in bangkok. It pours very suddenly & stops quite the same way. Was wet upon reaching our accommodation.

We opted for a "luxurious" version of a backpackers' stay at Goodfellas Cafe & Hostel in Thong Lo via Booking.com.


It is situated a fair distance from where the places of action are in Bangkok eg Paragon & Chatuchak market. We spent about 30-45 baht each trip commuting from the Thong Lo BTS station to the places we wanted to go. Although it would have made better sense to stay nearer to the hub but I would not have traded the experience.

Why? 
Clean amenities eg shower heater, toilet, common area.
The room and bed were comfortable & spacious by hostel standard.
And best of all, the complimentary breakfast which i found myself looking forward to every morning at the cafe.



After checking into Goodfellas, we headed for a late dinner of tomyum & basil chicken rice, at the stalls nearby. Only to find out later that around the area, they had a roadside stall that served an abundance of fresh seafood, grilled on the spot.


Day 2:

The complimentary breakfast included choice of a savoury sandwich + pastry + coffee/tea.
I chose a delicious pesto chicken sandwich + warm blueberry danish + caramel machiatto the first morning. My sis remarked that it's the best caramel machiatto she has ever had! It was good.



After a hearty breakkie, we headed off to Chatuchak & began at zone 2 & 3 because that's where most of the more hipster stalls were located. Be prepared to sweat buckets. The heat & crowd can be overwhelming. But i did find a few stalls worth visiting.





Caramel Store - Section 3 Soi 43/Room 095
Cutest t-shirt prints for young & old, with all sort of doggy breeds; from beagle to terrier, schnauzer to chow chows. They've got it all.

Stumbled upon this fries & chicken sandwich bar for some much needed reprieve & their laab dressing that goes really well with fries/chicken sandwich was really yummy. Bought bottles of them to be given away.

Foot massages are aplenty. Sadly i didn't exactly enjoy the experience. My sole was bruised {ouch} from the intense rubbing.

I've never walked so much in a day. Next destination was Neon Market; where we were looking forward to interesting container of local crafts/ artisans/snacks/food but were sorely disappointed. That was an absolute letdown. We braved the distance & rain only to find a few miserable rows of stalls in a huge open space. Most destination guide for "10 best markets to go to in BKK" listed Neon Market but sadly, it wasn't updated.

Day 3:
Jim Thompson House Muzeum was worth the visit. At 150 baht, an English speaking guide will bring you on a tour of the charming Thai house, how this one man contributed to the thai silk industry, & his mysterious disappearance.




Sis treated us to an "expensive" lunch at Jamie Oliver's to celebrate our birthdays :)



Met up with a dear friend for the afternoon who brought us to theCommons - an industrial like architectural space with lots of green & open spaces for the neighborhood community to congregate. On weekends, people come here to listen to live jazz musicians, have coffee, meals & chill in the deck.






We headed then to Pattiserie Rosie, a quaint little shop which we were told had one of the best desserts in town. Because we were still stuffed from lunch, we ordered a chocolate dessert and a bacon quiche to be shared. Two thumbs up! And we didn't had to share with our kids. LOL!


It was our final day for any shopping to be done so off to JJ Mall in the evening. We were told it closes an hour earlier than usual. We rushed to our destination not knowing exactly where it was. Somewhere there... and we walked as fast as our feet could take us. Finally reached there 45 minutes before closing & zoomed in on just one store. I have dreamed of getting this colorful enamel tiffin carriers for a long, long time but it was costly in KL so to our delight, we spent our last hour running through racks of enamel ware & went away satisfied with our spoils.

Right outside JJ Mall was JJ Green Market which we spent the whole evening outdoors browsing through stalls after stalls & we found a few goodies. Found a stall that had simple wooden displays from as low as 100 baht. Bought one that resembled a dollhouse for Leah at a mere180 baht.
Stopped for dinner at a cramped stall which served pad thai with free flow of fresh beansprouts. Tasted divine at 50 baht.
At the end of the night, we lugged our treasures with contentment on our face. My pair of feet couldn't walk another 500 metres to the station to catch our ride back to the hostel. We were so desperate that we were willing to pay 50 baht for a 1-minute ride on the tuk tuk to the station!

We didn't manage to visit any Tesco Lotus to get our supplies of Mama porky instant noodle & Lays chips. We ended up at 7-11 and bought whatever instant noodle left on the shelves. 
Reached back to the hostel at almost 11pm. All i could think of was to take a warm shower & hit the sack until my sister began rummaging through her stash & exclaimed "we need to take a shot of our spoils. it's THE mandatory thing to do at BKK"... I was like what?! My eyes were shutting & every inch of my body was screaming for rest. I must not have been in the right frame of mind but i found myself sitting on the floor taking out my loot one by one from the bags & arranging & styling them on our bed! Thereafter, in that ungodly hour, we started the insane process of poking holes into every bag of chips we bought - to release the air & tape it back so that the air pressure in the plane won't bust open the bags of chips (which did happened before).



Day 4:

We were impressed by the folks from Goodfellas. They went above & beyond to prepare a bag of breakfast goodies with a hand-written note & freshly made coffee to takeaway with us since we had to leave by 630am (they only open at 8am) to beat the weekday traffic to get to Rama III. 




We wanted to do something out of the ordinary in Bangkok - to get to know a little more about the people & the culture & we found that in the Colors of Bangkok bike tour. We signed up for this 1/2 day bike tour at 1250 baht/per person.

The description on the tour over the website states: "...takes participants through a part of the Thai capital which they will never see on their own" & that instantly captured our attention. And i would think even local Thais would not have experienced it before.

It was one of the highlights of our trip.
With our friendly guide, Jay & a Dutch couple, we zipped in & out traffic, through the busy streets of bangkok by bicycle to get across to the "slum" area. Can be quite daunting at first but at the same time, exciting. 








The neighborhood began with posh houses and then through roads which led us to the slum area. Though lacking in material forms, the residents in these small community greeted us with warm smiles. We stopped by a kindergarten which is also partially supported by the bike tour company. Crossed the river with our bikes via a long boat & cycled through the community & entered Bang Krachao "the green lung of Bangkok". Fed fish in a lake. Made a pit stop for a quick, nice warm local meal. Continued zip zapping out of the narrow routes & back to the bike tour office. It was a nice finale to our trip. 

The package even includes a short video of our bike tour. 

Off to the airport we went. The 4 days went by so quickly (that i needed a couple of days to recuperate) :)



*this post is a birthday tribute to my little sis. super thankful for the company & memories made! not forgetting our hubbies & kids who've made this trip possible for us!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Sun, Sea & Surf

My little mermaid & i are both dreaming of some real fun basking in the sun, burying our feet under smooth powdery white sand, taking in the see breeze & sipping a tall glass of ice cool fresh watermelon juice! Ooh island life, how we miss you...





For a session of fun shots like these, head over to JeanLam Photography

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Esmeria Soothing Organics Gentle Anti-bac Handwash


Buds Organics, sister brand Esmeria is launching its Gentle Antibac Handwashes suitable for adults as well as kids, especially those with sensitive conditions. The Handwash are effective in cleansing, naturally anti bacterial & gentle to the skin.

With the outbreak of hand foot mouth diseases cases recently, i am even more vigilant especially with the kids, in keeping good hygiene.


Not to get overly paranoid but germs do travel easily and can be found on common places like doorknobs, escalator railing, tables & phones.

The easiest & fastest form of defense is something we already routinely do. Washing our hands!
Not just a quick rinse but a thorough one.

Cute infographics like the one below teaches kids on the importance of keeping good hand hygiene & the proper way to wash.

infographic by FastMed.com

Here's a special TREAT for you!
Enjoy a special promo price of RM12 only (normaly price RM26.90) by purchasing HERE by using coupon code "YVONNE" during check out.

And because the packaging is so pretty & each bottle oozes out a soothing, refreshing scent after, it makes a lovely, practical gift for friends!

BLOKKE @ Citta Mall, PJ

Newly opened, Blokke is a well though-out space.
Cafe + Playhouse + Shop all in one.
Built for everyone aged 4 - 99!



Bright colored happy space which house a cafe serving milkshake (build your own), waffles, coffee, tea, cakes.





Ample lounge area for parents in need of a time-out while the kids roam the playground (@ RM15/ per kid).



There's also a section with free bricks for all to play (duplo & lego).



A rack of neatly arranged Lego books, magazines & catalogs for browsing or reading.



Various Lego sets are available for rent by the hour.
And not forgetting sets & toys you can purchase when you're there as well.

Blokke also caters for parties.
Party room rental starts @ RM200 (fits 15-20 pax).
If you are thinking of a party of below 50, you can opt to rent half the cafe @ RM500.
If it's a larger party of 50 & above, the whole cafe can be rented @ RM1,000.

Venue booking entitles customer to discounted weekend rate of RM15/per child.
And if you book the whole cafe, guests are entitled to free playground entry.

Party menu @ RM20-RM30/per pax.
Option of Western, Asian, or Fusion.

Staff are friendly & approachable, so feel free to ask if you'd like to find out more on the party packages & menu.

There were also Lego Education classes running last weekend and we registered the kids for a trial class.









Thursday, June 30, 2016

TAMAN BOTANI NEGARA - SKYTREX, Shah Alam

I've come to realize spontaneous trips often turn out the most satisfying & enjoyable.
Those that aren't planned with an itinerary, but only an appetite for discovery.

On the last public holiday, all i wanted to do was to be outdoors with the family.
No specific place in mind. Just spending the day leisurely spending time together & being close to nature.
Heading to a picnic spot or waterfalls were too much of work in terms of the aftermath ie cleaning up etc so on the morning itself we decided on Taman Botani Negara Shah Alam (formerly known as Bukit Cahaya), not far from home. 

There were bicycles for rent, a stone's throw away from the entrance of the park. 
We arrived approx 10:30am. Bikes suitable for Luke's size were already taken but managed to find one that was just a little too big but still manageable for him.

Rental rates: 
RM10 per bike/per hour (adult/kids)
RM15 per bike/per hour (with child seat)
Additional hour @ RM1/per hour

Confession: I don't remember the last time i exercised aside from my daily ritual of having to walk up our 5 flight of staircase. So you seriously won't want to imagine a totally out of shape mom carrying a 17kg load behind pedaling frantically up a hill. Thank God daddy has better stamina. Oh, but she was still a load to be reckon with. 

The ride up was made worth it by the thrill of going downhill, with the swooping winds against your face. I tell ya, the thrill of seeing Luke's expression was priceless. A little rewind: we made sure we taught him to familiarize with the brakes first!

We really enjoyed being under the canopies of trees, pausing for a moment to take in the fresh air. The kids were fascinated with a porcupine road sign and their eyes were diligently scouting out hoping to see one. We didn't see any but we were excited to find Skytrex nestled in the "woods". 

I've read about Skytrex some time back. i had planned to go over the last Dec school holidays but it didn't materialized.
We parked our bikes and enquired about the tickets. It was priced at RM40/per person (beginner level) but was told if we purchased it online at least a day before, it would be at RM35. Since we were already there and it won't be very soon that we'd make a trip back again, and the fact that we were there just in time before a large group came in so there was still slots available for us, we decided to go for it. 

geared up in our harnesses looking like a family of martians from outer space

learning how to use their harnesses & independently hook them on before the real thing



flying fox




Our conclusion: It was worth every cent! To see the awe & wonderment in your child's eyes as they try out things that are new to them. To see how they started out apprehensive but within minutes, confidently maneuvering between the challenges. It was an activity the whole family were involved in & it was fun to cheer each other on.



I must say the instructors we were assigned to were really good with kids. Luke & Leah themselves said their friendly & encouraging personality made them felt at ease & gave them the confidence to want to attempt the challenges.

One of those days, on the ride home, super thankful for a day of rest, beautiful weather, for a family, and precious memories.

#meimeinextroundyoucyclesendiri

Oh, and did i mention they host parties?!:)

cool party space


Entrance rates:
Taman Botani Fee @ RM3/per adult, RM1/per child
Skytrex Fee @ RM35/per person (beginner level - fun & easy - 25 challenges)
*Group booking of 10 or more gets a 10% discount
(Opens daily except on Mondays)

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