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

Planning a trip to the Philippines began with the most unlikeliest of inspirations — an e-mail forward from my father. Not even a good official one, but one of those e-mails that had numerous ‘fwd: FW: Fwd:’ before the actual subject line of ‘can you believe Philippines has such beauty?!’ followed by numerous exclamation marks.

I usually disregard the images I find in such e-mails as they’re usually not from the country they claim to be but upon checking up some of the names of the places they showcased, I was quite surprised about how little I knew of their existence!

It dawned to me I knew very little about Philippines, this despite having grown up in the Middle East where (just like Indians) millions of them come to work. As a kid, all I knew about Filipinos is that a lot of them work in fast food joints or play in a band — and they don’t have the letter ‘F’ in their vocabulary. So I would often hear “500 pils” instead of “500 fils” when asked for change.

I learnt of Banaue and its famous rice terraces, the beautiful beaches of Boracay and Palawan, but the place that made me wish I was there was the remote island of Batanes. It was then, early 2010, I decided to consider making a trip to Philippines.

It was quite challenge really, because trying to study the geography of Philippines wasn’t easy.

Philippines country regions provinces map
(Image source: Wikipedia)

Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands. Sure, many of those thousands are really tiny to even identify on a map but still, getting around the country isn’t easy. It requires some learning beforehand. Since it’s not a landlocked country like most of Thailand, you have to commute via road, ferry, and airlines just to get to certain places within the country.

I initially thought of clubbing Philippines & Thailand last year but it was proving to be quite expensive. So I decided to give Philippines it’s own time.

That time was early this year, when things weren’t looking too good at my workplace. We all knew what was coming our way with the fate of the office and so, instead of prepping up my resume and looking for another job, I researched more on Philippines instead 🙂 When things became official in March and we all knew we were going to be laid off, I booked my tickets!

I tried Air Asia first but at around INR19k, it wasn’t as cheap as I thought it would be. Plus the timings were inconvenient. I land late at night and my connecting flight would have been at 7am the next morning. No way I was going to spend that long at KL LCCT! So I checked all the usual Indian travel websites and got the best deal from Travelocity for a Malaysia Airlines flight at Rs. 26,153 ($584/€411) return. Yes, it was more than Air Asia, but it was going to be convenient, so I didn’t mind paying a bit extra for that. Also, I would get proper meals, land at KLIA and not the present warehousebudget terminal. More importantly, the time I had to wait for my connecting flight was lesser.

Philippines Airlines had just launched their direct flight service to New Delhi (only), but it was quite expensive, so flying the Philippines national carrier was not a possibility.

Next came the visa. When I researched on the tourist visa, I was happy to find out Philippines offer a 21-day visa-on-arrival for a 147 nations! Great, I thought… until I scanned down the list and couldn’t find India one among those 147 countries -_-

So I ended up at the website of the Philippines embassy in New Delhi and found out I have to pay Rs. 2320 for a tourist visa (and for just 21 days). Since I couldn’t fly to Delhi just to get a visa, I had to get it done through an agent. Some agents wouldn’t even do it, and one moron even asked for Rs. 10,000 as service charges! But I walked into the nearby Thomas cook office in Koramangala (inside Raheja Arcade) and got my visa processed by paying their Rs. 1000 service charge. At Rs. 3320, this was the most I had spent on a South East Asian visa so far, and that too for a single entry visa. My multiple entry Singapore visa for 2 years cost just Rs. 1800 and my 1 year Malaysia visa cost just Rs. 1500. Thailand was free visa-on-arrival the two times I went.

My travel period was from 16th April to 4th May and I chose the dates keeping in mind the main focus of my trip was to photograph the Easter crucifixions in San Fernando. The rest of my itinerary would see me visit the largest American war cemetery outside of the United States, traverse throughout the Ifugao province for my fix of rice terrace farms, see coffins hung on hill sides, Cebu, see odd-shaped hills in Bohol and finally enjoy the natural beauty of Palawan island. I was looking for ‘interesting’ with this trip, so I ruled out Boracay — the nation’s most popular island destination, and the most touristy. Unfortunately, Batanes was out of this trip plan as well, simply because it was too expensive to even get there. No budget carrier (and Philippines has enough of them) flies to Batanes and even those that do only fly if they get enough passengers. Batanes is that remote an island.

As days passed by, I felt a bit nervous and kept having second thoughts about spending a lot of money during uncertain times. Sure, the Philippines currency value was the same as the Indian rupee, so that really helped! But still, here I was, going on vacation when all my colleagues were busy job hunting. Plus, I was going to be visiting a new country, one that like Thailand (to the eyes of the ignorant) has a sketchy reputation. I knew what I was going to see, and I was looking forward to see if they live up to the hype, but still…

One ray of hope that eased me up a bit came my way two weeks before my departure date when one of my readers left me a comment telling me how much she appreciated my website and that I “should visit the Philippines sometime!”

🙂

That blessing of a reader couldn’t have come at a better time and after we got in touch, she would be of great help to me, even helping me out with some bookings. I felt much better knowing I had a local contact, which always helps!

Leaving Bangalore airport Malaysia Airlines flight to Kuala Lumpur
Now I was ready to fly!
Malaysia Airlines seafood meal Bangalore flight
I had pre-booked a seafood meal for a change and while the tuna and veggies were good, I couldn't help but envy my co-passengers with their 'regular' meals enjoying their creamy desserts and chocolates when all I got was cold fruits. It's as though Malaysia gimped on the rest of the meal given how much fish costs. Sucks
Kuala Lumpur international airport tower Malaysia
Selamat pagi* Malaysia! (*Good morning)
Kuala Lumpur International Airport KLIA gates
I landed on time and took this around 7:45am
Kuala Lumpur International airport duty free liqour Malaysia
This was my first time in Kuala Lumpur International airport as last year I flew Air Asia
Kuala Lumpur airport KLIA Harrods store Malaysia
There's a mini-Harrods (Impressed with how sharp this photo came out)
Kuala Lumpur International Airport Cadbury store Malaysia
They have an exclusive Cadbury store here too
Kuala Lumpur International airport duty free Malaysia
I loitered around the Duty Free for a while

Post loitering, I found my gate and sat in front of it. I tried to catch some sleep but ended up going online to kill time for the next 4 hours.

KLIA grey skies Malaysia morning
It was grey skies even until noon in Sepang

I boarded my second Malaysia Airlines flight for this trip in the afternoon and I was now en route to Philippines.

Sepang city Malaysia flight aerial view takeoff
Selamat tinggal Malaysia!

Sepang city Malaysia flight aerial view from skyMalaysia flight aerial view farm fields

Leaving Malaysian shores aerial view flight
Leaving Malaysian shores...
South China sea spotted clouds blue water
... and flew over the South China Sea for the first time
South China sea cloud over islands
Which was a welcome pleasant change of scene for me

I took a break from staring outside my window to eat some peanuts.

Malaysia Airlines salted peanuts allergy information
Well... duh 🙂
South China sea small hilly island aerial
Back to staring out into the blue
South China sea islands aerial photograph
Beautiful
South China sea huge cloud over islands aerial photography
Awesome
Malaysia Airlines meal packaging Manila flight
Okay, break time. Lunch had arrived!
Malaysia Airlines seafood meal Manila flight
Seafood meal again. Tuna steak and veggies again. 'Regular' meals came with Cadbury chocolates besides pudding for dessert. I got dried raisins. Seriously -_-
South China sea line clouds aerial view island
Meal done, back to blue

South China sea spotted clouds from plane

South China sea oval island aerial photograph
Submerged?

South China sea ring island submerged aerial photograph

South China Sea boomerang island submerged aerial photograph
Needless to say, I really enjoyed this flight

South China sea small island submerged aerial photograph

South China sea moon afternoon aerial photograph
Hello moon...

It got cloudy after this, so I lowered the shades and caught up on some sleep.

South China sea mountains above clouds aerial photograph
Woke up an hour later to the announcement we were approaching Manila
Entering mainland Philippines shores aerial photograph
Hello Philippines

Philippines Central Luzon hills aerial photography Philippines Manila shores aerial photography

Philippines Manila aerial photography
Manila city
Manila port Philippines aerial photography
Manila port
Manila city evening aerial photograph
Metro Manila is the 8th most populous metro in Asia

Manila city from plane aerial photograph

Manila sunset from plane Philippines
It was nearing 5pm in Philippines
Manila Taguig city building construction Philippines
The flight was a bit early... which is never a bad thing (as long as the traffic control clears it)
About to land manila international airport
About to land

Landing Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines

Landed Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines
Ninoy Aquino International Airport

So after nearly a total of 8 hours of flying, I was finally in Philippines. Phew, long journey!

Arrival Ninoy Aquino International Airport Manila Philippines
How's the airport? Quite old and in much need for an upgrade. Well, at least Terminal I was in.

I got my passport stamped, got my bags rather quickly, converted some dollars and I was out in around 15 minutes. The first thing I wanted to do was get a local SIM and fortunately Globe was handing out free SIMs (though they were mostly for OFWs*).

I hired a pre-paid yellow taxi (which would later turn out to be a mistake) and asked him to take me to Kabayan Hotel in Pasay, which was close to the airport. I chose Kabayan as it was a popular recommendation online. Plus, I didn’t want to spend too much time in traffic just to get to touristy Makati.

But despite how close the hotel looked on the map from the airport, getting there still took nearly 45 minutes in evening traffic. It cost 250 pesos ($5/€4) which is far more than what I thought it would cost. Anyway, I went to the hotel reception, booked a single room for myself and checked in.

Kabayan Hotel single room Manila Philippines
My A/C single room, PHP950 per night ($22/€15)

Kabayan is pretty cool. They have rooms ranging from dorms all the way up to deluxe rooms and from prices starting as low PHP610, they are very popular. And get this, you get complimentary breakfast and lunch! They also have free wi-fi among other great amenities.

Kabayan hotel rooms Manila Philippines
The toilets and shower rooms are down the hall and in between (clean and well kept)

Oh by the way, they don’t use the word toilets much in Philippines, instead it’s ‘Comfort Rooms’ or ‘CR’ 🙂

I stepped out again because I needed to buy some credit for the Globe SIM so that I could inform my family of my safe arrival. Since I was out, I decided to grab dinner early. It soon struck me just how much fast food Filipinos eat. Mc Donalds and homegrown Jollibee was everywhere — and they both had multiple branches within meters of each other — and all of them were doing brisk buisness! As the fast food chains are too chicken to sell beef burgers here in India (due to religious politics), a good ol’ cheeseburger was what I was craving. I picked up a burger from Jollibee, a doughnut from 7-11 and some water.

The area I was in was quite a busy part of town as it was a major hub for transportation, so you get everything you need as far as convenience stores, supermarkets and eateries go. It’s also a very noisy area, mostly because of the jeepneys.

But Kabayan does a good job of cutting out the noise once you’re inside the hotel. I took a nice warm bath and then had my dinner. I called my aforementioned reader (whose name is Aimee) and we spoke for a while. She told me the pre-paid yellow taxi at the airport are priced way more than the usual taxis I could have gotten had I just walked a bit further out. Also, there were frequent airport buses that drop people to Pasay and back. Oh well, rookie mistake.

Kabayan hotel single pad LCD tv Manila Philippines
Unlike many hotels in this price range, Kabayan has a good selection of channels which even included Zee TV (the only Indian channel though)

Given that I hadn’t slept properly in nearly 24 hours, I called it an early night.

I couldn’t wait for tomorrow to begin!

——–

Please note: In this series of posts, I won’t be mentioning conversion rates for Indian rupees as both Philippines Peso (PHP/₱) and the Indian Rupee are more or less on a 1:1 value ratio. So Rs. 100 is like PHP98. Therefore only US dollar and Euro conversion rates will be mentioned.

*OFW = Overseas Filipino Workers; similar to NRI (Non-Resident Indian)

Other posts in this series:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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  (Final post)

Singapore & Malaysia 2010: Planning and preparing for the trip

I know I haven’t posted anything new in over a week, but that’s because I was travelling.  This time, it was a 10 day trip to Singapore and Malaysia – both first time visits for me.

While the next few posts are going to document what I saw and feature some of the 3,900+ photos I took, I thought I’d make a post first on how much planning and research went into this trip, which itself was a process I enjoyed.

When I got back from my Thailand trip last year, the friends I travelled with in India in the past said we should do an international trip. Ramesh, the gearhead of the group said he would like to go for the Malaysian Formula 1, but this was in March. As it was too soon – and I still had my credit card dues to clear – I said I couldn’t do it.

So I suggested we plan for the Singapore F1 instead, to be held in September. This would give us a good 6 months to prepare. We soon figured there wouldn’t be much to see in Singapore and since we were going all the way there, we might as well see another destination as well. Hong Kong was in consideration but given how expensive the city was, we chose Malaysia instead.

First up was booking our flights. We set the dates for Formula 1 weekend, and since we figured it was going to a busy period, we decided to book early.

We were going to do this trip on a budget and since it was only going to be a one way journey to Singapore, flying Singapore Airlines was out of the question as the one-way fares were too high. We instead opted for the budget carrier Tiger Airways. I got my one way ticket for around Rs. 4,500 (US$101/€73) when booked late March and this was for direct flight which leaves Bangalore at 11:30pm and arrives at Singapore at 6:30am. Seemed convenient to us.

We initially wanted to fly straight from Singapore to Langkawi but unfortunately, tickets were sold out. So we decided to fly to Penang instead and then take a ferry from Penang to Langkawi.

From Langkawi we would then fly to Kuala Lumpur. After spending a few days in Malaysia’s capital city, we would fly back to Bangalore via Air Asia. The return ticket cost me around Rs. 3,625 (US$82/€59) including a pre-booked meal, up-sized baggage limit (20kgs) and a selected seat.

Since we were going to be three people, we made our hotel reservations well in advance. Most of our rooms were booked using Hostels.com, hostelsworld.com and only the Langkawi booking was made using agoda.com. Just about every flight and stay booking was made months before our journey, saving us a lot of money and giving us enough time to plan our itinerary.


When calculating how much cash we needed to carry, we considered the entry fees, daily food expenses and the balance amount we’d have to pay at all the hotels we booked via hostels.com and hostelsworld.com (both only accept 10% of the amount at the time of booking and the remaining 90% have to be paid in cash on at the time of check in). I also decided that all large purchases would be made on the credit card, so in the end, all three of us converted around Rs. 20,000 in Singapore dollars, Malaysian Ringits and the rest in US dollars.

We also needed to plan our luggage and what all we were going to carry. The thing with budget carriers (at least in the case of both Tiger and Air Asia), you have to pay for check-in luggage. We paid for the minimum of 15kgs for our onward journey but opted for 20kgs for our return. We also planned it in such a way that we wouldn’t carry 3 different deodorants or shaving creams, thereby minimizing space used as much as possible. In fact, Loiyumba, the third friend on this journey had the least luggage (one backpack) while going since he said he wouldn’t be shopping much. Of course, I told him all that would change while coming back. 🙂

We knew this being our first trip – and due to time and money restrictions – we wouldn’t have been able to do everything. As for our planned itinerary, it went something like this:

Day 1 (Singapore)

Arrive at hostel 8am approx. – rest for some time – go to Sim Lim Square by 10am for camera equipment shopping – head to Little India – from Little India to Arab Street/Kampong Glam – then head to Geylang Serai – from Geylang, by sunset, head to city for River Cruise – watch the F1 pre-race show, head to Clark Quay for dinner

Day 2 (Singapore)

First head to Singapore Zoo – then check out Orchard Road, have lunch from the hawker centers – photo session at Merlion Park – check out Marina Bay/Raffles Hotel & Marina Bay Sands hotel – Chinatown, from where we’d have dinner

Day 3 (Singapore)

Pack up and keep things ready – head to Vivo City Mall, take monorail (SGD$3) to Sentosa – Sentosa cable car and other attractions – Jurong Bird Park – be at Changi airport by 6pm for flight to Penang

Day 3 (Penang)

Check in to hotel at 10pm and then head to Gurney Drive for dinner – buy ferry ticket to Langkawi (if still open)

Day 4 (Penang)

Buy ferry ticket to Langkawi – visit Kek Lok Si (largest Buddhist temple in South-East Asia) – Bukit Bendera,  the tram ride up to hill-top – drive on Penang Bridge and then come back – head to Batu Ferrenghi till sunset – drive back to Gurney drive at night for dinner

Day 5 (Langkawi)

Go to Eagle Square as it is in Kuah, where the ferry docks – head to hotel and check in – post lunch, try and rent bikes to go to Gunung Raya, the Langkawi Sky Bridge

Day 6 (Langkawi)

Island-hopping tour – drive around post lunch – hit the beach and relax

Day 7 (Kuala Lumpur)

Catch morning flight to Kuala Lampur – check in by noon – check out Bukit Bintang area – head to KL tower in the evening to get a view of Petronas and the city lit up – China Town for dinner

Day 8 (Kuala Lumpur)

Wait in line for Petronas Towers tickets at 7am – depending on when our time slot is, plan the rest of the day – visit Batu Caves – if there is time, check out National Mosque, Masjid Negara

Day 9 (Kuala Lumpur)

Shopping

Day 10 (Kuala Lumpur)

Shopping – depart for airport by noon

Well, that was what we thought of doing. But did we accomplish all the above? For that, tune in to my blog the next few weeks 🙂


Read the series here:

Singapore 2010: Day 1 – Little India, CBD, Clarke Quay, China Town… and a lot of walking

Singapore 2010: Day 2 – Orchard Road, mall-hopping… and already shopping

Singapore 2010: Day 3 – Singapore Zoo, Marina Bay Sands; leaving Singapore for Penang

Malaysia 2010: Day 4 — One day in Penang (Around Georgetown, Gurney Drive, Penang Hill)

Malaysia 2010: Day 5 — Langkawi (Ferry ride from Penang, Cable car & Sky Bridge)

Malaysia 2010: Day 6 — Langkawi (Island hopping tour, Pantai Tengah beach, Night market)

Malaysia 2010: Day 7 — Kuala Lumpur (Low Yat Plaza, Petronas Towers, Jalan Alor)

Malaysia 2010: Day 8 — Kuala Lumpur (Batu Caves, Petaling Street/China Town)

Malaysia 2010: Day 9 — Kuala Lumpur (KLCC Aquaria, Merdeka Square, KL Tower observation deck)

Malaysia 2010: Leaving Kuala Lumpur… and about going back

 

Getting ready for my first Thailand trip

The travel bug bit me when I first went to Rajasthan in 2005. Since then, I’ve been to Rajasthan once more, Goa twice, Pondicherry twice, New Delhi, Agra, Mysore (I lost count), Kerala (a bunch), Coorg twice and few other places from where Bangalore isn’t too far.

All there is left for me to explore in India is the North-Eastern stretch — from Kashmir all the way through Nepal or Darjeeling.  But I need to plan a heck lot for that given the logistics and the weather conditions. So when it came to thinking about traveling abroad, South-East Asia seemed like a logical first choice. After all, budget flights were aplenty and it wasn’t too far. The places I was initially planning on going were Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and Singapore.

After much research, I scratched Singapore of my list. I realized how well marketed that place was. If you have never seen a world-class city before, I can see the appeal to some Indians but to me, it really didn’t offer me anything compelling. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure its an awesome place to live, but as a tourist destination, I wasn’t impressed.

Now, Hong Kong is yet another ‘city’ destination (like Singapore) but what a city it is!

I would go just for that view at night.

Then, there is Malaysia. Interesting mix of races, a nice city in Kuala Lampur and coastal destinations like Langkawi.  Then there is Thailand, which was a ‘must-go’ after watching ‘The Beach‘ (mediocre movie, awesome soundtrack!).  Of course, if I had the money, there isn’t a place on earth I wouldn’t want to visit (okay, maybe not Saudi Arabia and some countries in sub-Saharan Africa).

Back in the South-East of Asia, the other destinations I’d love to visit are Vietnam (all thanks to the Top Gear special from 2008), Bali and Cambodia. But the problem with destinations such as those are the cost of flights to get there.  Because there are so many Indians visiting Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand, flights are aplenty and the competition keeps prices reasonable.  But no so for the other countries.

Anyway, back to my trip. My initial plan was to go on holiday for 2 weeks since I had 11 days of leave I had to use up before year end. I decided not to go to Hong Kong right now as it isn’t a cheap destination (read: getting there and hotel room rates) so I just thought I’d do Malaysia and Thailand first.

Then, something came up in Goa. I wasn’t really keen on Sunburn 2009 … until they announced Armin Van Buuren was going to be there! I LOVE AVB’s music. So I thought I’d keep a few leaves for that because I knew some friends who were interested in going for that as well.

I then cut my trip down to 10 days and started budgeting the cost of flights to Malaysia and Thailand. I started off with Tiger Airways as Air Asia had no direct flights from Bangalore. There was a flight from Bangalore to Kuala Lampur via Singapore (6 hour stop over) available for Rs. 13k (return, incl. taxes). I thought it was a good deal since I felt I could use the stop over time to use the Singapore Airport bus tour to see Singapore city instead of simply wasting time at Changi. But I later learnt that, even though that tour is free, regular Indian passport holders need to have a transit visa just to enter Singapore airport.  So when I factored in the cost of Singapore visa, Malaysian Visa, the flight to KL and then from there to Thailand, it was coming to a bit much for just 10 days (the Thai Visa-on-arrival is free).

So instead, I decided I’d just focus on Thailand for now.

I went to all the popular online ticketing sites but ended up with a good deal from Yatra.com. A return ticket from Thai Airways for the dates I picked cost me around Rs. 17k. But at the time of booking, I saw a field for ‘Yatra Promotion Code’. So, I googled for ‘Yatra coupon codes’ and found a few sites that listed them. Some worked, most didn’t — but I eventually got one that saved me a good 5-10% off the ticket price. The final cost was Rs. 15,740 (incl. taxes).  There was a cheaper flight from Sri Lankan Airlines but that included a very long stop over at Colombo airport which made the total duration of the flight 9 hours. The Thai Airways flight is a direct flight from Bangalore to Bangkok and back (3 hr 45 mins journey time).

The places I wanted to visit in Thailand were Krabi, Phuket, Chiang Mai, Kanchaburi and then Bangkok. I decided not to got to Koh Samui because the Full Moon party for December had already gotten over on Dec 2nd and I really didn’t want to stay for the one on Dec 25th & the New Year party. Plus, it can be dangerous if one is alone, which I was going to be. So I decided to keep Koh Phangan and Koh Tao for next time.

I paid for my Canon 7D on Nov 25th and booked my flight for Dec 13th, thinking 2 and 1/2 weeks was a long enough time for it come and for me to get the hang of it. I wanted to spend a few days in Krabi province — mostly Railay and Ao Nang.  In Krabi I wanted see the Tiger Cave Temple, which 1200 stairs up on a hill is where, they say one can see the Andaman sea.  Railay was pretty much a backpacker’s haven, also popular for rock climbing. Ao Nang is the sea side tourist town of Krabi and a base from where I would take the tours to Phi Phi island and the many other islands (like ‘James Bond’ island) . After spending at least 3 to 4 days in Krabi, I would head to Phuket, which was 2 hrs by road. After spending a day there, I would head to Chiang Mai (for the temples, the ‘Long Neck’ tribe) and then Kanchanaburi (for the Tiger Temple) and then finally back to Bangkok (for the Weekend market, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and then shopping).

Well, that was the plan. But as you’ll see in the next few posts, things didn’t really go according to plan. And that sucked.


Other Thailand posts in this series:

The day I left for Thailand

Day 1 – Suvarnabhumi, Pantip Plaza, Fotofile & MBK

Day 2 – Bridge over the River Kwai and Tiger Temple (Wat Pa Luangta Bua) in Kanchanaburi

Taking the bus to Chiang Mai from Bangkok

Day 3 – Maesa elephant camp, ‘long-neck’ tribe village near Chiang Mai

Day 3 (Part 2) – Chiang Mai Night Market

Day 4 – Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai… and back in town

Day 5 – Leaving Chiang Mai for Phuket

Day 5 (Part 2) – One night in Phuket

Day 6 – Leaving Phuket for Ao Nang by bus (via Phang Nga)

Day 7 – Touring Koh Phi Phi (Maya Bay, Monkey Island & Bamboo Island)

Day 7 (Part 2) – Exploring Railay, Krabi

Day 8 – Flying from Phuket to Bangkok

Day 8 (Part 2) – Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Day 9 – MBK, Siam Paragon… and ‘little Arabia’?

Day 10 – Grand Palace and the Emerald Buddha

Day 10 – Wat Pho (the Temple of the Reclining Buddha) and finally leaving Thailand

Figures, lessons learned, and things I couldn’t do

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