Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Dora's explorers in Asia

hey!!!!! finally!!! the long wait is over, and done!!!

12 days has passed and many things have we learned! I  can't contain the happiness and joy I feel when I'm thinking  of the ride we have been for that 12 days! It was (atleast) 6  months in the making for this trip and I couldn't believe  that it has gone in only a snap! Awwww, it gives me chills  and that feeling that you wanna do it all over again and  never mind the hassles of crossing borders and meeting  strangers as they will have a role in your story. Okay,  enough of the intro and let me now begin with sense. =) Pardon for my photos as some were taken with my iPod since my Olympus was moody. Hehehe.

my ticket and passport. first time traveller
My good friend Oli (as he wanted to be called and nothing  else), is fond of travelling. He used to tell his stories and  how he handled locals from the countries he has been to.  Then one day, he offered us (me and Hazel) if we can go  with him so it would be more fun! Like we gonna do some  'asian educational trip'. Hehehehe. He was doing all the  research, hotel bookings and all the works! It's like we will  just be his clients and he will play as the tourist guide! 

Hazel, on the other hand, was like me. We don't have any  experience of travelling and wanna explore as well and be  like Dora! OLA! =) 

Much of the stars (naks!). What's the gameplan?! Hit the 5  countries in 12 days, no plane ride between borders and  enjoy this one hell of an experience!!!

My travel buddies, Hazey and Oli

The countries: Singapore - Malaysia - Thailand - Cambodia  - Vietnam. These 5 countries do not need to do a plane  ride. With a little bit of effort and some 'adventure hunt',  you can just purchase a train and bus ticket to go from one  country to another! But of course, you have to take a plane  from Manila to SG before you explore buses and trains to  cross the borders of the said places.

Okay. Let's begin with Singapura. 

We took a plane via Jetstar and landed SG around  afternoon. Our friend Ruby was with us in the plane and  she was fetched by her friend and became our friend as  well, Jackie. Jackie has treated us lunch and accompanied  us half of the day. MAN!!! SG was so clean!!! Their  transportation system wowed me many times! I suddenly told  myself, I wish for this in the Philippines too! You don't  need to go from one area to another because the train  (MRT/LRT)is properly designated at one place only. Their  ticketing is high tech! Push the button and voila! You  already have the tix/pass! I also admire their discipline  from riding the fast escalator and how they enter the MRT. 

Later afternoon, I met my cousin Joanne, who works there  too with her hubby Zee. We have been toured for the rest of  the day and we stayed in their pad before leaving for  Malaysia. We have gone to Marina Bay and saw Merly (the  Merlion), watched the lights show in Marina and did some  picture taking. Then, she brought us to Lucky Plaza to buy  some goodies and saw Orchard which is only across the  place we went to. Unfortunately, we have not explored  much of SG since we need to go to Malaysia at 11pm. Next  time Imma see Universal Studios and the rest of the places  to go to in SG. 

Well, exploring SG somehow maybe costly. Foods and  drinks were somewhat pricey but the experience for this  'clean city' was all worth it. So for me, very very check for  Singapore!

Me, Jackie, Ruby, Oli, Hazey. Thanks jackie for the treat!

The Marina Bay! Beautiful!

Me and my sissy/cuz Anne

Can you see me? hehe.

Meet Merly, the Merlion.

Merly, I'm thirsty! Gimme some water!

The skinny us! Ahhaha

At the very amazing Changi Airport

The backpacker me.

The backpacker us!

Heading to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia was a blast! Full of experience and  laughter! We took almost 10 hours of train ride so to make  it colorful, we just laughed at experiences within the the  ride. We slept by sitting only in our seats and looking for ways to rest ourselves and our almost swollen feet. After all, what we sought for is a full exposure of how a traveller is. But I must admit that I have complaints, hehehhe. Peace!

We arrived at our hotel which is Hotel Petaling. It is located at the heart of their night market. It was not hard to look for something to munch on since they have alot of street food! The people from our hotel were kind. They gave us a homey room. It was an aircon room, has 2 spacious bed, bathroom, and TV! We got more than what we paid for! Sulit na sulit

This is made of rice grains, galing!

Recommended hotel in KL! Homy experience.

Yup. There's Chatime here!

We have gone to their central market and took time to see their products from wooden pieces to their fabric products! Since the place is also visited by alot of foreigners, the business there undoubtedly boom. Next stop is Merdaka Museum, near some almost kinda vintage classic buildings. It was a free entrance museum so we got the chance to know the progress of their city. It amazed me when we entered their miniature city! WOW! We saw the people who made the miniature and it was so detailed! We got some stuff there since its irresistable! Hehehe. Then, it was the famous and beautiful Petronas Towers! When I saw them, I felt I don't want leave until the lights' out. You don't want to care about having stiffed neck since the height and lights of it somewhat hypnotizing! Many mall goers (inside is Suria Mall) and tourists looking for their spot to take photos with the towers! Of course, we did not miss that as well! The last day in KL was spent in Batu Caves. Here you can see their more than 150 steps to go up and see one of their temple. You can also see some monkeys who would join you going up or will be in your photos as they will sneak out. There are also temples you can visit within the area, but you have to take off your shoes as it is sacred for them. I was not able to go up since fear ate me up! Hahahaha! So I just waited my friends to finish it at the feet of the stairs. Before we finish it, we met a lady who makes Henna tattoo for 5RM. Hazel and I tried it for fun! The Henna lasted for atleast 5 days so we enjoyed looking on it. The food? We have tried their chicken rice. It tasted like tinola! We have tried their bread with meat floss as their filling. I'm a fan of bread so I loved it! Well, our lunch and dinner was still from fast food chains so I can't really share much of their delicacies. KL is surely a place I wanna come back again. Next time, I'll make sure I'll see places I haven't seen yet. 

The Petronas Towers

HHWS. Holding hans while standing.

Merrybrown for dinner. 

The LRT station, very spacious. Heading to Batu Caves.

They have a statue for monkeys.

Fooling myself that I completed the 150 steps.

Did Henna tattoo for 5RM


She works so fast with our hands.

Their bus station

Central Market. Sorry if you tilt you head

Busy street of Merdaka

we <3 it.

Inside the gallery

Amazing mini city of KL

The mommy monkey and her baby

Thailand was next on the trip. Before we got there, it took 10 hours via Bus to Hat Tiay, a city in Thailand, and another 13 hour train trip to Bangkok. Hat Tiay(I hope I spelled it correctly), is a city in Thailand that welcomed us after we crossed the border from KL. Here we spent almost our whole day before we hit our schedule to get to Bangkok via train. When the bus dropped us in their headquarter, we took a ride via tuk-tuk, their own version of our tricycle. We booked our train and left our baggages to walk around the place. We bought some souvenirs and of course, learn the art of bargaining! Hahaha... The merchants were kind enough to give us discounts. We headed back to the train station and spent the rest of the hours goofing around and share stories about the places and people we have met. Then, came the train and enjoyed the 13 hour ride! It was not a boring ride at all since we see via our windows the sceneries of Thailand. After the long ride, finally we arrived at our destination, Bangkok. We took a cab to get to our hotel, Bed by BTS. The hotel was kind of new and our 'suite' was cool! We got a bigger room plus more! It was conducive for sleeping since we got cozy bed! 
At the tuktuk ride!

Our sossy train to Bangkok. =)

Our goodies!

lalalove the floss!

Our van to the floating market

It's not hard to comprehend right?

Their version of sorbetes in coconut shell. yum!

Bangkok park. lovely.

Drinking fountain for kids and adults. 

The view from the outside of The Grand Palace.

The reclining Buddha

Ready for our dinner!

This was a tutktuk challenge! Haha.

Hat Tyai train station

Hat Tyai streets.

Dora's tired of waiting, ahahaha

Our blanket in plastic.

The food was early served in our train!

Reminds me of old school train station in Europe.

2ne1 fans? ahahaha

My new fave milk tea!!!!

Pad thai!!!! <3

This really caught me attention , hahahah!!!

Very dramatic peg for some korean movie.

Wat Pho

Nice shot by moi!

Starting our Bangkok trip with Khousan road was heaven! Why? Hazel and I have enjoyed shopping! Ahahaha!!! Well, it's not that we shopped til we dropped but everything was eye candy! Many stuffs to bring home! Prices were really affordable and as a girl, who would not love to buy more!? The food? Yummey!!!! Though they are rich in spices, we truly enjoyed Thai dishes! Not to mention their milk tea! It was an authentic milk tea! They will brew and prepare it in front of you! Their Pad Thai is love! It's a noodle dish that has nuts, chili and veggies! As I am writing it now, I am craving for them again! HAhahaha! Next day was The Day! We have booked for floating market tour. I am afraid of boat and living water. I have no choice but to ride with my buddies since the destination of the boat is different. I was a crybaby! LOL! But much of my drama! I will bury that moment! Ahahaha! But truly a memory I will just laugh about. After the floating market, we headed to The Grand Palace and Wat Pho. These are also temples where tourists go and explore to. We did not go inside The Grand Palace since you have to pay 450 Baht so we just enjoyed the other views of the place and took some photos as well. A few blocks away you can find Wat Pho, where the reclining Buddha is located and other mini temple as well. Monks can also be seen here. To go into Wat Pho costs 100 Baht. There's also a set of pot inside the big temple wherein you have to complete putting in coins until the end and your wish will be granted. That's how the story goes but we're not able to do it since we did not have coins in our pockets. But it's fine if you will not put coins in those pots according to my friend. Well, I still believe that my wishes will still come true. Just fill it with faith. =) The Thailand experience was awesome! Good food, good finds, great pleasure! 

And now, we have Cambodia! Crossing the border may be tiring but getting to Siem Reap was truly an experience also. We have been in the train - tuk tuk - taxi - tuk tuk ride! Whoa!!! Isn't that fun? We have Tropical Breeze Guest House as our home in Cambodia. The Cambodians are awesome! They are kind, helpful, hospitable and not to mention, good in English! We did not have hard time to communicate with them. We were near the busy area of Siem Reap, full of lights and bars! Their currency is Khmer Riel but to pay them you have to use US Dollar. We wondered why but we just went with the flow. We have explored the tourist spot of Cambodia which is Angkor Wat. According to locals, you must see the sunrise in Angkor Wat and the sunset in Phnom Bakeng. We purchased the ticket for 20 USD. It may be alot but hold on! They have personalized passes! We went there at around 4:30 am, purchased the ticket, did photobadges for the ticket and voila! after atleast a minute or two, we have received our priceless personalized ticket with the faces on it! Maybe the reason behind this is for the tickets not be tampered or repeated! Come on, it's business so they have to be sure of their earnings. Anyway, whatever we pay is for the restoration of the temples we will see when we go inside. We were there still dark and we have used the flashlight of Oli's phone to see where we're heading to. We have seen alot of people from all over the world trying to catch as well the sunrise in Angkor Wat. They have their DSLR cameras for picture perfect of the scene. Well, sadly, since it was foggy that day, we fail to see the sunrise.  The next we did is to roam around the temple and discover the relics of the place. Beautiful embedded scenes that you can see on the walls also on some pillars of the temple. You may notice some stones are already lying on the floor and those were from parts of the tower. We went to Phnom Bakeng though it was not sunset yet to hike the mountains and see the top view of the city. When you go to the highest spot of the mountain, you will see another temple. Within Angkor Wat, there maybe approximately 5 temples that you can visit to. It's an indication that in the ancient time, many are rulers of the place and fighting for their own territory. 

Coffee in the morning

Enjoying the tuk tuk!

Locals on their wheels!

Our hotel.

A view in Angkor Wat

waiting for the sunshine

But it was Epic Fail1

Kinda cloudy so we can see the silhouette Angkor Wat

Love the cloud formation here uh

Some relics trying to preserve

Phnom Bakeng

Our passes. ID mode!

Chill here at Tropical Breeze

Night time at Siem Reap

And there's the sun, saying hi

We tried the delicacy of Cambodia, Lokluck. It's a cube beef cooked with some flavors which I forgot already. It's somewhat tangy for me, I wondered if they put some sour flavor there. We did some bonding over a cocktail drink and there's alot of kick in there! All in all, I would really love to drink more there. LOL.

Our brekky, calories overload

Too much light on my face! Hahaha

Cambodia's Lokluck

Dinner spaaghetti!

Too hot!

Our pica pica for the night! Pizza!

This was called 'Around da world', aka Weng Weng!

Brekky inside Angkor Wat, Fried Rice with Pineapple

Last leg - Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam. I fail to be like Kim of Miss Saigon since I lack of props, haha! We reached our place located at Bui Vien, one of the busy streets in Ho Chi Minh every night. Our hotel, Hotel Phoenix is next to bars where you can see tourists enjoying their nights out, drinking and mingling with some locals as well. We're not able to visit a single bar since we're not physically ready. Hehehe. We have walked around Ho Chi Minh, got to see the Saigon Opera House but since it was Sunday then, it was closed - darn! So we just explore the sidelights of the area and we thought we're on like Beverly Hills because across the street, we saw the lane of expensive brands - Hermes, LV, Aldo, Versace, Dior and the likes. I was daydreaming that I could bring a bag of goodies from those stores! I was relieved somehow when I finally saw a church to visit to. Notre Dame Cathedral is located at one of the junction in HCM. It was surreal. We conquered our trip and thanked God for the guidance until the very end. We felt it was so timely that we saw the church at the end of the 12 day trip. Man from up there must be giving us the most beautiful place we could visit to and that is His home. We went in and many church goers were already prepping up for the mass. We stayed atleast 30 minutes and praised God for all his kindness and love for us. 
Sitting and waiting for our dinner.

Look at Oli, mowdel peg!

Nearing Opera House =)

The Saigon Opera House

Notre Dame Cathedral Saigon

More peaceful inside

Sidelights of Saigon National Museum

The street at night 

View from our 'suite'

I wonder if Hazey is sad here.

They have more bikes than cars here

blurred. sorry =)

Crazy Buffalo, crazy nights!

Christmas in Saigon

Gallery outside Opera House

Their night market (Ben Tanh) has loads of stuff to buy. They close the street every night and put up their stalls and stuff it with their items to sell. We met some merchant who knows Tagalog! They gave us very friendly prices so that we could purchase But surely, it was close to Thailand when it comes to bargain prices. 

Food? We just celebrated each day by sitting on stool chairs and made oursleves comfy while eating their stir fried noodles. The flavors did not fail me since it was similar to Filipino flavor. But wait! You must really try their coffee! It's heaven! We went to Trung Nguyen Coffee and I ordered their 'san dua' iced and with condensed milk. MmmmmmmmMmmmmmm!!!! That's what my first reaction when I had my first sip. I couldn't really explain and I can't stop myself saying 'awwwww!' I love every bit at Trung Nguyen Coffee. It will be served on a set of plate, glass of ice and straw, and cup with condensed milk and their own version of brewer on top of it. You gotta wait for atleast 5 minutes and stir the mixture, pour in the glass and there you go! Iced Coffee ready to rock your world! I promised myself that I'll go back to Vietnam for Trung Nguyen Coffee. Hehehe. No wonder why tourists go here and have a cup of their no. 1 coffee.

fell in love with the place<3

This was not sweet as you see it.

This was how it served. Pretty petite

They got the ice cream

After 5 minutes, Im spulrging it now with ice! <3

Very personalized brewer

Cheers for the night at the terrace

Enjoying the meal in the street.

Travelling gives you fulfillment. Gives you lessons to learn and live. Tiredness is nothing since all the swollen feet are worth it. Saving and budgeting maybe hard but the outcome of it is truly immeasurable  If there's a chance, go grab it! Enjoy every people you will know and every places you will explore! The experience of riding to all forms of transportation like train, bus and tuktuk is incomparable than on a plane ride since there's more to see on land.

Finishing this entry takes alot of words but I know there are still memories left uninked. I'd love to share every bit of this with you guys and I might go into detail for the next entries! But a few reminders for those who plan to travel and it's gonna be their first time, bring extra money and never have exact amount in you pocket. In case that you wanna buy something or you wanna eat at some restos or worst, got lost, you have something to pull out from your pocket! 
At Ho Chi Minh Airport. Bidding Goodbye.


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