08
Jan 12

Singapore 2011: Day 3 – Bukit Timah and Singapore Botanic Gardens

Date: 21st September, 2011

After a depressing yesterday, I got up knowing there was little I could do today. With my right hand slightly injured, enjoying the rides at Universal Studios Sentosa was ruled out. I couldn’t go to Marina Bay Sands either because I needed my 70-200mm lens, which I had to give for repair.

After freshening up, I sat at the dining table to have a cup of coffee. I picked up a newspaper and decided to actually read about what goes on in this tiny city state. I couldn’t help but notice the real estate property ads, not because of how good the properties looked, but mainly because just about every condominium advertised cost over a million dollars! And I thought to myself: “How on earth do the locals even afford to buy property here?”

Surely not everybody lives in the posh condos being advertised. That’s when I decided on what to do today – take the bus and see inner Singapore. Now, I didn’t know where exactly to go, but today I didn’t have anything else planned until I got the call from John 3:16 to come pick up my lens from their store.

I laid open my map of Singapore and just pointed to the centre of the island. My finger landed on some area called Bukit Timah. So Bukit Timah it was. Off to the nearest bus stop I went (the MRT doesn’t cover every nook and cranny of Singapore, thus the decision to ride the bus)

Singapore canal mrt train condo

I hopped on a bus at around 12:30pm after an early lunch

Singapore bus to Bukit Timah

Didn't seem like many were on their way to Buikt Timah

Singapore condominiums apartments

I know wages in Singapore are obviously higher than say, India, but the cost of living here is extremely high too. Extremely high is also how you can describe most residential buildings. They have to be, developmental land is scarce in Singapore.

Singapore apartments canal

I honestly had no clue if I was even on the right way or where to get down

Global Indian International school Singapore

Luxury condominiums Singapore

These all looked like privately built apartment buildings

Vista condominium construction Singapore

And they're building more

HDB building road Singapore

The Housing Development Board apartment buildings often look like that red and white building in the photo

Singapore greenery view from bus

That said, I did notice that there is still a lot of open land space still available. It's just that government ensures there's enough greenery in every district -- which is nice.

Inside sbs bus to Bukit Timah

Looked like we were on an expressway to Bukit Timah

I didn’t really know where to get down, so when I saw a sign pointing to Bukit Timah Shopping Center, I got down at the next stop.

Bukit Timah MRT station road Singapore

The area didn't look that exciting. To the left was the construction of a new MRT station.

Bukit Timah Plaza shops

I presumed malls in inner Singapore weren't going to be as flashy as the ones in the CBD, but this was Bukit Timah Plaza

Bukit Timah shopping centre Singapore

Went all the way up to the food court/open area where the hawkers were

Bukit Timah shopping centre maids

I don't quite remember if this section was another part of the Bukit Timah Shopping Centre, but every floor had nothing but maid service businesses -- most maids being from Indonesia and Philippines

Bukit Timah restaurants Singapore

I was honestly quite bored here

Yuk Tong Ave Bukit Timah Singapore

I just walked around the area to soak up what life in these parts must be like. Not quite the residential area I hoped I would see, but it was okay.

Bukit Timah temple road Singapore

Bukit Timah Chinese temple Singapore

Unlike the Geylang area, which has a sizable Malay population, I'm guessing inner Singapore has a lot more of citizens of Chinese descent

Just then my friend Aimee called, saying she might be coming to Orchard Road and that we could meet in the evening. But since I still had a few more hours to kill, I wondered how to spend it.

Inside SBS bus

I hopped on a bus going towards the Orchard Road side

Nanyang Girls High school Singapore

Nanyang Girls High school

Shelford road Singapore

Drove past what looked like a rather posh area. Very few people in Singapore live in villas.

Adam road Singapore Singapore water canal from busThe bus drove around and as it neared Orchard road, it passed by the Singapore Botanical Gardens. In a split second, I decided to get down at the very next bus stop.

Singapore Botanic Gardens entrance gates

Singapore's Botanic Gardens wasn't on my list-of-things-to-see actually... but I had to see something!

Singapore Botanic Gardens history

Singapore Botanic Gardens direction sign

There is no entrance fee, it's like a public park

Singapore Botanic Gardens restrictions no signs

It's a public park, but there are quite a few no-no's

Singapore Botanic Gardens leaf sun

I hadn't even shot enough photographs today, so I needed to justify carrying my camera around

Singapore Botanic Gardens walkwaySingapore Botanic Gardens trees Singapore Botanic Gardens stone tilesSingapore Botanic Gardens pond plantsSingapore Botanic Gardens pondSingapore Botanic Garden stone pathBanyan tree Singapore Botanic GardenLake Singapore Botanic garden

Swan lake no feeding Singapore botanic gardens

No feeding allowed

Swan lake Botanic Garden Singapore

This is called the Swan Lake

Swan lake statue island Singapore botanic garden

Shot on my Canon 450D

Singapore Botanical Garden swan lake historySwan lake statue Singapore Botanic Garden

Turtles swan lake Botanic Gardens Singapore

Turtles

Lake turtle Singapore botanic garden

Fish turtle lake Singapore Botanic GardenSwan lake pigeons Singapore Botanic Garden

Swan lake island Singapore botanic garden

Sadly, because my telephoto lens was undergoing repair, I couldn't zoom in much

Wild flower Singapore botanical gardenSingapore botanic garden visitorsWild flower Singapore botanic garden

Swan lake water leaf Singapore botanic gardens

Oh look Pacmen... :P

Swan Singapore botanic garden lake

Tembusu tree leaves Singapore Botanic garden

The Tembusu tree

Plants Singapore botanic gardenStone steps Singapore botanic gardenGinger garden Singapore Botanic GardenGinger garden waterfall Singapore botanic parkDragon lizard Singapore botanic garden

Ginger farm waterfall Singapore botanic gardens

I saw a way in

Inside waterfall cave Singapore Botanic gardenBehind the waterfall Singapore Botanic gardenSmall purple flower Singapore botanic garden

Restaurants Singapore Botanic garden

You have a few restaurants here

Entrance to National orchid garden Singapore

Went in here

National orchid garden ticket counter Singapore

There's a SG$5 (Rs.200/$3.8/€3) entry ticket

National orchid park Singapore botanic garden

Didn't really know what to expect as I know as much about flowers as I do about neurology

Orchid park fountain Singapore

National orchid garden inauguration plaque Singapore Yellow flowers Orchid park SingaporeGold orchid flower Singapore botanic parkPink orchid Singapore botanic parkYellow flowers plants path orchid park SingaporeCattelya hybrid plant orchid park Singapore

Singapore Orchid garden huge cage

Went inside this huge cage

Purple orchid Singapore botanic gardenWhite orchid flowers Singapore botanic gardenPink orchids Singapore botanic gardenPink orchid closeup macro shot Singapore botanic gardenViolet orchid closeup macro shot Singapore botanic gardenPink white orchid flower Singapore botanic parkBig pink orchid flower Singapore gardenWork in progess Singapore orchid parkPurple orchid park Singapore botanic gardenSingapore botanical gardens plants

Purple orchid stones Singapore botanic garden

Orchid flower Singapore botanic gardenWhite orchid flower Singapore botanic parkWild white orchid flower Singapore parkBee insect on flower Singapore botanic garden

Way to vip orchid Singapore botanical gardens panorama

Walked up towards that bungalow, named Burkill Hall

Arch door vip orchid house Singapore gardenVip orchid house interiors SingaporeVip orchids Singapore botanic gardens

Vip orchard garden information Singapore

Orchids here are in honour of special guests

Dendrobium Jean Chretien flower Singapore Botanical garden

This orchid was named in honour of Jean Chretien, former Prime Minister of Canada

Dendrobium concham Margaret Thatcher flower Singapore garden

Ghastly looking flower...

Margaret Thatcher orchid visit Singapore botanical garden

Oh that's why

Dendrobium orchid Princess Masako Japan Singapore garden

This one is honour of Princess Masako of Japan

Lime green orchid flower Singapore Botanic park

Qatar orchid Singapore Botanical gardens

This one is in honour of some royals from Qatar

India orchid Singapore botanical gardens

These flowers were in honour of former Indian president K.R. Narayanan's visit

Orchid flowers vip garden SingaporePink orchid Singapore botanical gardenWhite orchids Singapore botanic gardens

Weird looking orchid flower Singapore

The designs by Mother Nature I tell you

Orchid park Singapore botanic garden

Violet orchid Singapore botanic gardensMonument orchid gardens SingaporeLady statue orchid garden Singapore

Nelson Mandela plant vip orchid garden Singapore

The plant was named in honour of the great Nelson Mandela

Lao president orchid plant Singapore Yellow orchid Singapore botanical gardenRed flower plant Singapore orchid garden

Vip orchid house panorama

I left the VIP Orchid house

Botanical gardens tree panorama

Vandalized tree Singapore botanical gardens panorama

Sigh, even in Singapore there are idiots who do this

Singapore orchid garden protect environmentNational orchid garden path ways SingaporeWhite orchid flowers Singapore Cyathea Latebrosa Singapore orchid gardenBenches dustbin Singapore orchid gardenNational orchid garden Singapore panoramaNational orchid park Singapore panoramaSingapore botanic garden stepsOrchid plant white flower SingaporeNational orchid garden wheelchair path panorama

Tan Hoon mist house Singapore botanic garden

Went in here next

The Mist House Singapore botanic parkStatue misthouse Singapore botanic gardenNational orchid park mist house Singapore Purple orchid cultivar Singapore botanic gardenYellow orchid cultivars flower Singapore botanic parkOrchid flowers Singapore botanic gardensOrchid cultivars Singapore botanic gardenOrchid flowers Singapore botanic parkPink orchid flowers Singapore botanic gardenNational orchid plants park mist room panoramaNational orchid garden mist room panoramaPink purple Singapore botanic parkWild orchid flower pink Singapore botanic parkYellow orchid flower Singapore botanic parkWild orchid flower Singapore botanic parkRed orchid flower Singapore botanic gardenThorny plant Singapore orchid parkRare orchid flowers Singapore botanic parkOrchid park section panoramaOrchid park panoramaOrchid park plants section Singapore botanic gardenYuen Peng McNeice bromeliad collection Singapore botanic parkYuen peng McNeice bromeliad Singapore botanic parkLittle girl pond sculpture Singapore botanic gardenBromeliads information Singapore botanic parkYuen peng mcneice bromeliad section Singapore botanic park

Way to coolhouse Singapore botanic garden

Coolhouse? Sounds promising!

Bridge to coolhouse Singapore botanical gardenEntry to coolhouse Singapore botanic parkSingapore botanical garden coolhouse information

Coolhouse Singapore botanic gardens

Oh my god it was SO relaxing in here!

Coolhouse vents Singapore botanic garden

It was so cool in here... Singapore's humidity was killing me!

Coolhouse mist Singapore botanic garden

But just then I get an SMS from Aimee informing me she's on her way to Orchard Road. Damn, I had to leave this place.

Singapore botanic garden wooden shed

I quickened my pace

Mithun Divakaran Singapore botanic garden

But I just had to stop to take a snap of myself :)

Singapore botanic garden archYellow flower plants Singapore botanic gardenPalm trees Singapore botanic garden panoramaYellow flower arch Singapore botanic gardenStone cubes Singapore botanic parkFountain Singapore botanic park

Dog walking Singapore botanic park

This is a park for everybody

Picnic spot Singapore botanic park

There's even a huge picnic area

Students Singapore botanic parkJoggers Singapore botanic park

Cat Singapore botanic park

Dogs walk, humans jog... cats... sit and do nothing. Typical!

Palm valley lawns Singapore botanic park

Shaw foundation symphony stage lake Singapore botanic garden

They have concerts here every week

Singapore botanic garden echo lakeSingapore botanic garden couple

Photographers Singapore botanic garden

I wasn't the only photographer there

Singapore botanic park Symphony lakeWay to Symphony lake Singapore botanic garden

Walking path Singapore botanic park

I was trying to figure out how to get out of the park

Singapore botanical gardens officesSingapore national parks headquarters

Directions board Singapore botanic park

I was trying to get out as quickly as possible, Aimee had already reached Ion Orchard

Way out Singapore botanic garden

Singapore botanic garden Nassim gate

I was finally out!

But this exit didn’t have a bus stop anywhere nearby, so I hailed a taxi and made it to ION Orchard mall.

Aimee Marie checking her phone

Aimee, a reader turned dear friend, who was of great help to me in Philippines

Daiso Ion Orchard mall Singapore

Aimee introduced me to Daiso, and I quite liked the offerings. Picked up a mini-vaccum.

After checking out a few stores, we stepped out on to Orchard Road. I promised Aimee I would make her look good this time, as neither of us were happy with the photos I took of her in Manila.

Aimee Marie Orchard road Singapore

So here's Aimee at Orchard Road

Nike Singapore sign orchard road

Ticketcube booth Orchard Road Singapore

Went in here to collect my ticket for the Chemical Brothers show after the Sunday race

Mithun Divakaran Ticketcube Singapore

Aimee took this

Ngee Ann city shopping hall Singapore

Went to Ngee Ann City next

Ngee Ann shopping mall floors SingaporeNgee Ann city fountain Singapore

Aimee Marie lucky plaza Singapore

Here's Aimee at Lucky Plaza, where I went to exchange some currency

Orchard road underpass Singapore

Aimee Marie Singapore escalator

Here's Aimee going down an escalator

Suntec city towers at night Singapore

We walked to Suntec City towers where Aimee's fiance was waiting to meet us

Aimee Marie Suntec Singapore

Here's Aimee.. oh, the camera focused on the background. Oops.

Conrad hotel Singapore cbd at night

View from Suntec city building

The view from one of the floors at Suntec

Given how the day began, I quite liked how it eventually ended. I’m glad I visited the Singapore Botanic Gardens, it was actually quite nice! I hadn’t done much macro photography since my visit to the 2010 Lal Bagh Botanical Garden Flower Show and I liked how most of my photographs turned out today. It would have been nice if I had my 70-200mm lens but I wasn’t going to get it until tomorrow.

Prata beef curry Malay food Singapore

Once back in my area, I had dinner at the Malay Indian restaurant in my block. Had a few pratas and beef curry, cost SG$6.20 (Rs. 250/$4.7/€3.7)

I felt better knowing, despite my injury, I wasn’t going to leave Singapore without some great photos. I wasn’t going to give up. Tomorrow, I visit the Marina Bay Sands Casino – my first time gambling!

Next posts in this series:

Singapore 2011: Day 4 – Marina Bay Sands Casino and views from the SkyPark observation deck

Singapore 2011: Day 5 – Chinatown, F1 Friday (Charice, Seungri and GD&TOP concerts)

Singapore 2011: Day 6 – F1 Saturday (Rick Astley, Shakira and Shaggy concerts)

Singapore 2011: Day 7 – Little India, F1 Sunday race, Linkin Park concert and Avalon Club

Leaving Singapore, and discovering certain truths about this famous city state

Previous posts in this series:

Singapore 2011: Day 2 – Jurong Bird Park and… *ouch!*

Singapore 2011: Day 1 – Landing a second time; walking around CBD


23
Nov 11

Philippines 2011: Day 13 – Puerto Princesa to El Nido by bus

Date: April 29th 2011

Woke up really early today morning — like, 5am early! I left Banwa Arthouse and managed to catch a passing tricycle taxi to take me to the Puerto Princesa bus stop. It was a bit of a drive away, but I managed to get there in time. Anyway, I had called up the bus company (called Eulen Joy) the previous day and secured a seat for myself.

Now, despite reserving a seat, the bus is nothing fancy. Anything but! In fact, to get my seat right in the front, I had to walk over luggage belong to the other passengers. When I was instructed to do so, I kept looking at the other passengers with a mental “Im sorry but I have no other choice” look — but all they did was smile back.

Puerto Princesa bus stop road early morning Palawan

The bus left the station at 6am

Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway Palawan

It was going to be a 6 hour long journey to El Nido

The one-way bus ride to El Nido cost ₱380 ($8/€6) and I opted to take the local bus instead of a private van (which cost more) not simply to save a few hundred pesos, but for the very same reason I chose to take tricycle taxi in Bohol — to take clear photos along the way.

Puerto Princesa early morning misty clouds Palawan

I'm glad I made that decision again

Palawan highway road bend PhilippinesPuerto Princesa early morning cow PalawanPuerto Princesa farm land early morning Palawan PhilippinesPuerto Princesa dawn mist Palawan PhilippinesPuerto Princesa bus to El Nido behind window

Honda bay early morning Palawan islands Philippines

Passed by Honda Bay

Morning mist forest Palawan Philippines

Sabang Roxas Taytay junction Palawan Philippines

This is the junction from where you break off the main highway if you wish to go to Sabang

Dog stretching morning Palawan Philippines

We stopped by this house for a passenger

Puerto Princesa village highway Palawan morningPuerto Princesa village highway Palawan morning
Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway Palawan morning
Farm by highway Palawan morningRiver Palawan backwaters PhilippinesFence Palawan morning Philippines

Palawan calm beach Philippines

The seas were calm

South China Sea calm beach morning Palawan Philippines Puerto Princesa to El Nido highway PalawanSmoke on road Palawan PhilippinesRiver stream Palawan Philippines

Palawan highway checking for plants Philippines

The bus stopped along the way for a check for plants and seeds, which apparently isn't allowed beyond this point. Guessing it's because of fears of alien viruses contaminating plants.

Palawan Highway to El Nido Philippines

Palawan island highway picking up passengers Philippines

Passengers were picked up all along the way, stuffing the bus inside and out -- quite literally

Nearly 2 hours into the journey, with the sun hitting my eyes, I felt sleepy again and dozed off after keeping my camera back in.

I was woken up an hour later by the bus driver, who using the universal hand gesture, asked me if I wanted anything to eat. I politely said “no thanks”. The bus had stopped and the passengers got out for a break. I wasn’t hungry but an ice cream vendor on a bicycle asked me if I would like some ice cream. Now, I wasn’t very keen on having ice cream from a bicycle vendor in a remote village for health risks, but he had cones and buns.

Ice cream bun street food Palawan Philippines

I just had to order one! Cost just ₱15 and it was yum!

Palawan highway to El Nido Philippines

From here on, I shot using my Nokia E72 phone camera

Palawan village house PhilippinesPalawan rice fields PhilippinesBy 11am, the smooth concreted roads eventually gave way to unpaved ones.

Dirt road to El Nido Palawan PhilippinesDirt road to El Nido Palawan Philippines

Sea Palawan Philippines

After nearly 5 hours on the road, I finally got a glimpse of the sea again

Concrete roads Palawan Philippines

Fortunately, the dust gave way and we were back on concrete roads

Palawan burned trees PhilippinesHighway to El Nido Palawan island Philippines

Remote village home near El Nido Palawan Philippines

The bus would stop at independent houses along the way to drop passengers who had gone to the city to stock up on goods. Moments like this made me wonder how far away from home I was!

Even though the bus journey is longer, and less comfortable, I still enjoyed the experience of what life is to these locals on this remote island.

El Nido sea karst hills Palawan Philippines

By 12:30pm, my first hint I was nearing my destination. I smiled with glee seeing this :)

I finally reached the El Nido bus station as it neared 1pm. I didn’t have a reservation anywhere but I did make a list of accommodation by the beach that suited my budget.

After stopping by one or two hotels I didn’t end up liking (and some that were full), I walked to Spider Pension House — a place I had called the day before and asked for a room to be kept available in case I were to stop by. Fortunately, one private fan room (but common toilet) was still available, so I checked in. I got the room for ₱700, for two nights.

Spider Pension house Pukka restobar El Nido beach Palawan

Most of the accommodation in El Nido is small and basic at best

El Nido beach view from Spider guesthouse Palawan

The view from the Spider Pension House wasn't bad either ;)

El Nido beach afternoon Palawan Philippines

Spider Pension House's location is in the middle of the beach

After dumping my bags, I didn’t waste any time and made my way to Art Cafe — the most popular and one of the earliest businesses to promote El Nido tourism.

Submariner diving center El Nido beach Palawan Philippines

A few diving centers are available in El Nido

Rovic's pension house El Nido beach Palawan Philippines

I decided to take photos of other beach front accommodation in case you (my reader) are looking for where to stay in El Nido

El Nido beach shore sand PalawanMarina Garden beach resorts El Nido Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido beach anchored boat Palawan Philippines

El Nido Buena vista hotel Palawan Philippines

Walked up through here

El Nido road to Art Cafe Palawan The Alternative massage El Nido Palawan PhilippinesLa Salanqane hotel El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido boutique Art Cafe Palawan Philippines

I planned to have lunch here, even though there are cheaper restaurants on El Nido beach

Besides lunch, I was also here to book a tour for tomorrow. Though there are primarily three tours on offer, I opted for Tour A as it would give me a good enough experience of what all El Nido has to offer. Paid some money as advance and sat down for lunch.

Art Cafe tourists El Nido Palawan Philippines

I sat by the balcony

View from Art Cafe balcony El Nido beach Palawan

The view was... alright

Seafood pizza El Nido Art Cafe Palawan Philippines

I ordered a seafood pizza and beer (cost ₱320 totally). Needless to say, I had a good lunch :)

El Nido Art Cafe restaurant interiors Palawan Philippines

The Art Cafe has a relaxing environment -- and free wi-fi

Shore Pass lodge El Nido Palawan Philippines

Shore Pass lodge, this was right across Art Cafe

Nidobay Inn lodging El Nido Palawan Philippines

Another one that's on the same lane as Art Cafe

Anang Balay Turista El Nido Palawan Philippines

Anang Balay Turista

El Nido beachfront lodging hotels Palawan Philippines

There are plenty of beachfront accommodation available, but a lot of them cost ₱500 and above

Monkey tied to tree El Nido Palawan Philippines

Hmm, is this legal?

El Nido hotels massage lane trike Palawan Philippines

I chose to walk around the village a bit

El Nido shops house lane Palawan Philippines El Nido Maligaya market shops Palawan island El Nido new look barbershop Palawan Philippines

El Nido general store Palawan Philippines

Don't expect to do much shopping here. Other than the basics, there is little else to buy.

Philippines Ports Authority El Nido Palawan

The port

El Nido village life locals Palawan islandEl Nido village homes Palawan PhilippinesMidtown bakery El Nido Palawan PhilippinesHay roof house El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido Eulen Joy buses Palawan Philippines

These were the type of buses I took from Puerto Princesa today morning

Blessed Inn El Nido Palawan Philippines

There are hotels a few lanes away from the beach as well

New building construction El Nido Palawan Philippines

Looks like more hotels are on the way as El Nido grows more and more popular

El Nido coconut tree blowing in wind Palawan island Philippines El Nido village welcome sign Palawan

Barangay Maligaya family day El Nido Palawan

I gatecrashed, out of curiosity

El Nido local gathering Palawan Philippines

Even though it said 'family,' it was mostly men drinking beer while the women served food

El Nido cock fight ring Palawan village Philippines

But it seems the 'main event' on Family Day was cock fighting

Cock fight El Nido village men Palawan Philippines

These cocks (no, the birds)

Cock fight dead chicken El Nido Palawan Philippines

The aftermath of a concluded match

Chicken El Nido Palawan Philippines

Enjoy your freedom while it lasts dude

El Nido men gathered for cock fight Palawan Cock fight ring blood on ground El NidoRocks children of El Nido Palawan

El Nido children Palawan Philippines

The "Hey mister, take photo!" shot

Dog sitting wooden planks El Nido Palawan

I left the venue

El Nido coconut tree tricycle bike parked Palawan El Nido village water road PalawanEl Nido village houses Palawan PhilippinesElderly couple El Nido Palawan Philippines

El Nido village elderly couple Panorama

Panorama comprised of 6 shots

Concrete road El Nido barangay Palawan Philippines

First Consolidated bank atm El Nido branch Palawan Philippines

This is the only ATM machine I saw here -- and it was new!

El Nido field Palawan Panorama

Panorama comprised of 6 shots

El Nido road to bus station children playing Palawan Philippines

I got back on the road which leads to the bus station

El Nido bus station Palawan Philippines

This is where you catch the van or bus back to Puerto Princesa

Road in front of El Nido bus station panorama

El Nido airport road Palawan Philippines

The El Nido airport is 7kms from here. But here's the thing, the 'airport' is apparently not a big one and only few charter flights land there, making it very expensive to fly straight from Manila.

Inngo tourist inn lane El Nido Palawan

I had gone all around and come back to the beach near my guesthouse

Lally & Abet beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines

I walked back to the beach

El Nido beach Palawan afternoon sunlight

El Nido beach bike platform Philippines

You can ride a bike on this platform

Filipino boat water reflection El Nido Palawan El Nido outrigger boats Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido bike beach Palawan Philippines

El Nido corner hotel Palawan Philippines

El Nido Corner and Bacuit Grill Bar

Filipino tour boat El Nido Palawan Philippines El Nido beach afternoon path PalawanEl Nido beach boat afternoon Palawan PhilippinesEl Nido path along beach Palawan PhilippinesRocks El Nido beach Palawan

El Nido beach cabin Palawan

I kept walking down the path to see how far it would take me

El Nido rock beach bicycle Palawan Philippines

The beach extends to this side where there a few cottages here as well

Makulay Lodge El Nido beach Palawan Philippines

Makulay Lodge was one of the places I had shortlisted; now I know where it is

El Nido clear water shells Palawan Philippines

Believe me when I say this is under water! The water is that clear! :)

El Nido clear water pebble stones Palawan

El Nido water ripples sunlight Palawan Philippines

The time was 5pm

El Nido beach sea boats Palawan

El Nido beach sun flare Palawan Philippines

I decided to head back to Spider Pension House

El Nido rocky beach Palawan Philippines

El Nido elevated boat family Palawan waters

Kind of makes it look like the boat is where those locals live

Man coming out of water El Nido sunlight Palawan

Rosanna's beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines

Rosanna's Beach cottages

Tandikan beach cottages El Nido Palawan Philippines

Tandikan Beach Cottages

El Nido beach shadow light Palawan Philippines

The shadow really hit the beach like this

El Nido beach children Palawan Philippines El Nido hills in sea Palawan Philippines

El Nido Beach evening sun Palawan Philippines

Darkness was slowly taking over the entire beach

Once I got back to Spider Pension House, I sat on the porch and simply stared out into the sunset, listening to the ever relaxing sound of waves crashing. I ordered a coconut milkshake (or ‘boku juice’ as per the menu) and Joy, whose mother owns the place, sat beside me for a chat.

Joy Spider Pension house lady El Nido Palawan Philippines

She was curious as to where I was from as 'my kind' are not often seen in El Nido, let alone Palawan

El Nido beach sunset Palawan Philippines

Joy told me because of these hills, one can't see the sun set from here. For that, you need to go to Las Cabanas beach, which I planned to do tomorrow.

El Nido boats in water Palawan Philippines

El Nido bottle flame light Palawan

As it got dark, they lit up these bottles

Sunset at El Nido beach Maligaya Palawan Philippines

Time was 6:30pm

El Nido beach sunset evening Palawan Philippines

By 7pm, the sun had set

Even though the sun had set, I still sat there, feeling very relaxed and drinking my second coconut juice (didn’t feel like drinking beer at all). Unfortunately, when I ordered my third glass of boku juice, the electricity went.

I was joined by another guest staying at Spider Pension House (Aldo was his name I believe). A Spaniard based in London, a regular to El Nido and one who liked staying at Spider Pension House so much that he decided to help the owners by creating a Facebook page to help them with promotion.

Aldo young girl drinking coconut juice El Nido Spider Pension

Eventually, everybody had coconut milkshake -- including Joy's adorable daughter!

Since there was no electricity, it was pointless to go to my dark room upstairs, so I continued chatting away to the sound of waves crashing. When it came time to make plans for dinner, Aldo told me there was so much pork leftover from yesterday, that he asked Joy to make something for tonight as well. He had bought an entire pig from the market to be roasted a la lechon style – which they did (he showed me his photos). But needless to say, there was quite a lot of meat left over.

El Nido Spider Pension House dinner pork rice Palawan

Dinner was curried pork and white rice. And for the first time in nearly two weeks, I finally enjoyed Filipino food! The pork was simply delish!

Just as I took out my wallet and asked “How much?,” Aldo gestured “no” with his hand. It was on him, so “thanks” was all I could say.

I finally went up to my room after the electricity did come back, as I had to copy over today’s photos to my back-up hard drive and prepare for tomorrow’s island tour. I had to make the most of the electricity available, because if there’s one thing you need to know about El Nido, it’s this: electricity goes off everyday from 6am to 2pm.

Sigh, I guess I knew what time I was going to wake up tomorrow — that too with the humidity!

Previous posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 12 – Puerto Princesa Underground River tour, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 11 – Arriving in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Day 10 – Bohol tour: Chocolate Hills, Loboc river cruise, Tarsiers, churches

Philippines 2011: Day 9 – Cebu: Fort San Pedro, Basilica of Santo Niño, Taoist Temple

Philippines 2011: Day 8 – Manila tour: Rizal Park, Intramuros, Manila Cathedral, China Town

Philippines 2011: Day 7 – Leaving Angeles City for Manila, Mall of Asia

Philippines 2011: Day 6 – Good Friday in San Fernando, San Pedro Cutud Lenten Rites

Philippines 2011: Leaving Sagada for Baguio, and arriving in Angeles city (Days 4 & 5)

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Sagada’s Lumiang burial cave, Sumaguing cave, Hanging Coffins of Echo valley

Philippines 2011: Day 3 – Banaue town; heading to Sagada via Bontoc

Philippines 2011: Day 2 – Banaue rice terraces; trekking to Batad village

Philippines 2011: Day 1 — Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, Fort Bonifacio

Philippines 2011: Flying over South China Sea for the first time

Other posts in this series:

Philippines 2011: Day 14 – El Nido island hopping tour A and sunset at Las Cabanas beach, Palawan

Philippines 2011: Back to Manila, shopping, and my final thoughts about the country  (Last post)


25
Jun 11

Thailand 2010: Heading to Chiang Rai by bus, Wat Jedyod and Golden Clock Tower

Date:  23rd November 2010

After 4 splendid days in Chiang Mai (amid some disappointments), today I left the city to go further up north. I went to the main bus station and only managed to get a ticket for 12 noon as all others were sold out. (Don’t remember exactly how much I paid for the ticket, but it was around ฿100)

Golden dragon bus Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

After the instructional video on bus safety, they played 'Predators' (in Thai)

Leaving Chiang Mai for Chiang Rai highway

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai road north Thailand

I got a seat right in front

Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai highway road sightsHighway to Chiang Rai from Chiang Mai

Bus ride from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai city is around 200kms from Chiang Mai

Highway to Chiang Rai north Thailand landscape

The journey is quite scenic

Highway to Chiang Rai ThailandEn route to Chiang Rai buddha statueHighway to Chiang Rai Thai templeThai temple wat Chiang Rai highwayEn route Chiang Rai highway north Thailand landscapeEn route to Chiang Rai passing townChiang Mai to Chiang Rai highway ThailandHighway leading to Chiang RaiFarm field outside Chiang Rai city

Welcome to Chiang Rai board highway sign

After nearly 2 1/2hours, I arrived in Chiang Rai

The bus first stopped at what looked like a new bus station. I didn’t get down here because a lot of the Thais stayed in their seats. So I assumed this was not the final stop. Unfortunately some western tourists did get down and started hailing for taxis towards their hotels.

For which there was no need for, because the very same bus started again and drove straight into the city in 5 minutes time. This bus station was according my prior research, very close to the night market.

I hired a tuk-tuk and checked into my hotel.

Hotel Raungnakorn road Chiang Rai

Raungnakorn Hotel is located on the road of the same name

The room cost ฿350 for the night and I was only going to be staying one night. My flight from Chiang Rai to Bangkok was the next day evening. I know one day isn’t much in Chiang Rai, but this was my first time here and as always with first visits, this would be more a surveillance visit than any other.

Wat Phra kaew temple Chiang Rai Thailand

It was near this temple

Evening market Chiang Rai clock tower

The hotel is close to the fresh market

Chiang Rai fresh market vendorsChiang Rai market Thailand

Road leading Chiang Rai Golden clock tower

Spotted it already haven't you?

Golden clock tower junction Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai's Golden Clock Tower

Golden clock tower roundabout Chiang Rai

Designed by a renowned Thai architect named Ajarn Chalermchai Khositphiphat

Chiang Rai golden clock tower

It was built in 2008 in honour of the King (as is usually the case in Thailand)

Chiang Rai Golden clock tower road golden divider

Chiang Rai bar restaurant Jedyod street

Jedyod road, you find a lot of restaurants here

Chiang Rai alley near wat jetyodChiang Rai house local Thai

Wat Jedyod temple Chiang Rai Thailand

I decided to check out this temple

Black cat in front of Buddha statue

Oh the irony of seeing a black cat at a place where people come to pray for good luck

Wat Jedyod golden buddha statue Chiang Rai Thailand

The temple is named Wat Jedyod

Gautum buddha staring eyes Wat Jedyod statue

The eyes...

Wat Jedyod Indian god paintings Chiang Rai

The hall had paintings depicting Hindu gods and some connection with India mythology

Indian gods Thai ancient wall paintings Wat Jedyod

I was very curious to know the connection, but unfortunately there weren't any descriptions in English or a local guide in sight

Wat Jedyod Indian wall painting Wat Jedyod golden buddha statue man praying Chiang RaiWat Jedyod door painting Chiang Rai temple ThailandWat Jedyod inside black cat

Wat Jedyod temple hall Chiang Rai Thailand

I left the temple

I dropped by a few travel agents and tour operators along the way and asked them about day trips to the Golden Triangle. But because it was already late in the evening, nobody could assure me a spot as they needed few more tourists to fill up a group as tomorrow’s first group were already full.

A British guy who was behind, overheard me and told me he was in the same situation as I. So we chatted for a bit and exchanged numbers in case either of us managed to get into a group tour that was going tomorrow morning.

Korea house Chiang Rai restaurant

Sanpanard road Chiang Rai Thailand

I like their sign posts

Road to Wat Jedyod Chiang Rai Thailand

Chiang Rai night bazaar entrance

A few steps from there and I was at the entrance of Chiang Rai's Night Bazaar

Chiang Rai night market shops

But since it wasn't night time yet, nothing was open

Chiang Rai night market food court golden chairs

Chiang Rai night market food court evening

I would be coming back here for dinner

Phaholyotin road shops Chiang Rai Thailand

I decided to go the main bus station to find out when the first bus to Mae Sai would be

Chiang Rai bus stand Thailand

I was told that there are buses every 30 minutes starting 6am

Phaholyotin road Wangcome hotel Chiang Rai Thailand

I headed back as I still wasn't feeling too well, and it gets pretty chilly in Chiang Rai at night

Sukgatis road golden lamp posts Chiang Rai

I rested for some time after applying some Vicks. I just didn’t want to fall sick. It’s the worst thing that can happen on one’s vacation. Well, one of the worst things.

I got up at around 8pm and craved to have some hot Thai soup for dinner.

Chiang Rai evening market fresh vegetables

I walked to the night bazaar

Golden clock tower at night Chiang Rai Thailand

The Golden clock tower really shines at night

Sukgatis road night golden lamp posts clock tower Chiang Rai

It also changes colour

Chiang Rai night bazaar street vendors

You have the usual wares being sold at the Night bazaar, no different from any other night market in Thailand

Chiang Rai night bazaar street stalls musician

But you do see locals and a few students trying to make some dime with their talents

Chiang Rai night bazaar food court

Quite a change of scene from earlier

Chiang Rai fried insects Thailand

This place sells you french fries...and fried insects. How nice of them!

Chiang Rai night bazaar seafood bbq

Despite being very far the sea, you still get good enough seafood in Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai night bazaar stage music

Poor guitarist on stage was hardly getting any applause from the diners

Chiang Rai night bazaar dining crowd

I scanned the vendors for appetizing soup to warm my body up

Spicy Thai seafood soup Chiang Rai night bazaar

I ended up picking up this big bowl of tangy seafood soup loaded with veggies (cost ฿100)

Chiang Rai night market live stage entertainment

They had cultural dances later

Post dinner, I scanned the shops a bit. Unlike last year, when I bought 10 t-shirts from Thailand, I figured I wouldn’t need to buy much this time.

Alas, I ended buying two from a small vendor at the night bazaar after bargaining it down to ฿300 for both. Oh well, we’ll see how many t-shirts I end up buying this year.

Chiang Rai night restaurants tourists

This was right in front of the vendor I bought the t-shirts from

As I needed more rest for an early start tomorrow, I headed back. Plus, there was little else to do in Chiang Rai. There is barely any nightlife in Chiang Rai. It’s a lot quieter (and smaller) than Chiang Mai.

Chiang Rai golden clock tower at night

I took one last look at the Golden clock tower

As I was clicking this photo, I bumped into the same British guy I had met earlier at the travel office. He told me he met up with a group of people who were planning on going on a trek (Chiang Rai is famous for trekking and cycling) and asked me if I wanted to join them. I told him I was unfortunately not in the best of health and that I had to be back in  town early enough for my evening flight to Bangkok.

We wished each other well and parted ways.

I reached my room, freshened up, dabbed some more Vicks and snuggled up for a good night’s sleep.

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