Tag Archives: asia

A Glimpse of Korea

27 Sep

Living in the Philippines where a lot of people have fallen in love with the Korean culture, finally being able to go to this beautiful country was very magical for me. And getting to visit the place in November was especially amazing since I got to experience snow for the first time.

Day 1:

Beforehand, I checked the weather, and was expecting Autumn. Never did I thought that since we were arriving at the last week of November, it was already the beginning of their Winter season. Thus, I was somewhat unprepared for the biting cold that met us when we got out of the Incheon International Airport.

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At the arrival area, dressed lightly in boots and sweater. This definitely wasn’t the right set of clothes for the weather outside.

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From the Arrival Area, we needed to ride a train to get to the stop that was nearest to our hostel.

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Quick snapshot of the group before we head out of the terminal.

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All of us were first timers. It was a bit hard to navigate around the place. There weren’t a lot of English-speaking locals, though they were very willing to help. They usually ended up pointing us to the wrong direction. It was fine though, getting lost in a new city was part of the adventure.

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We finally found the right exit.

It was a short walk to our hostel. And even if we wanted to enjoy the sights around us, it was difficult because it was freezing. It was hard to step out from the warmth of the terminal. 

After settling in our hostel, a few of us decided to walk around a bit to make the most out of our first night in Seoul. 

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Out and about with this crazy bunch.

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Had to practically wear every piece of clothing I could find in my duffel bag.

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Enjoying the remnants of Autumn.

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And we didn’t miss the chance to have some authentic Korean food. We didn’t know the proper sequence of eating the dish we ordered, so the locals sitting beside us gave us some tips, without us having to ask them. I told you. Koreans are very helpful, despite the language barrier.

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Capped the night off with these babies. New-found coffee bottles that we bought from a nearby convenience store. And though this was filled with caffeine, it didn’t stop from falling right off to sleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow.

 

Day 2:

We started our second day by taking advantage of the scenic spots outside the place we were staying in.

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This was the pathway going to our hostel. The whole gang up and ready for a day of exploring the city.

Today was to be dedicated to going around the tourist spots in Seoul. Armed with our map and documented research, we went our merry way and conquered the streets.

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We started early, so the roads were still a bit empty. A beautiful meld of cold and sunny as we were in our coats and sunglasses on.

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When you live in a tropical country, getting the chance to wear winter clothes is a welcomed rarity that we took advantage of during this trip.

 

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We were supposed to visit Nami Island, however, we got lost on our way there. We ended up going to the other side of the right road to that destination. Nonetheless, we still enjoyed going around the train stations and getting to interact with the locals. I ended up buying a pair of gloves because the cold was simply unbearable, and my hands were frozen to a crisp.

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I stole my boyfriend’s jacket, because mine was still not enough to fight off the cold.

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We decided to visit the palace for our last day-stop. Even if we weren’t able to explore the inside, since we arrived during closing time already, we still got a glimpse of the majestic architecture from the outside.

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And since it was already nearing the closing time when we got there, there were only a few people left roaming around. Because of this, we were able to get a few decent shots of the place without the other tourists behind us.

After a long day of walking around train stations and terminals, we were not ready to end our adventure yet. We checked for directions, and checked out the Seoul Tower.

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We had to ride this gigantic glass cable car up to the Seoul Tower. When we got off, we were rewarded with this majestic view of the city lights.

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Artistic graffiti walls lined the road up to the tower. We couldn’t stop ourselves from taking pictures on our way up.

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The celebrated love locks were a must-see section at the foot of the Seoul Tower.

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And since, we didn’t bring our own locks to write onto, we just took pictures of the gazillions of love locks around the place.

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It was a really great night spent with these amazing couples, inspirations to the younger generation.

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To save up, we decided not to go to the tip of the tower anymore and enjoyed the scenic view from the love lock area below.

After braving the cold winds of the upper side of Seoul, my companions were excited to shop! And since I’m not a really big fan of shopping, I went around the streets to check out the food stands littered outside the stores.

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The busy streets of the shopping district. I was giddy with excitement upon seeing the numerous food stalls. I couldn’t wait to get a taste of Korea.

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Everyone had to refuel after all the walking. We filled our bellies with good food in one of the local restaurants..

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Can you see what’s behind me?

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Spiced squid was my favorite.

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They had grilled shells as well. Talk about a unique set of street food that you’ll only find in Korea.

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And since it was November, Christmas lights were starting to decorate the streets.

Our second day was defined by different places, good food, and the best company. 

Day 3:

A trip to a different country is never complete without visiting at least one amusement park. And in Korea, we had several to choose from. But we decided to visit Samsung’s noted Everland Resort.

We kicked off our day by having a hearty breakfast at a nearby cafe.

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The place had really good food and very accommodating waitresses – plus FREE WIFI!

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Magnificent to the very last piece!

It was when we went out of the cafe to catch the bus to our destination, when I finally encountered my first snow fall! 

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And of course, let’s take a moment to appreciate the eye-catching art behind me.

It was another day conquering the numerous train rides.

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Gangnam style! Typical for Korean songs to become popular in the Philippines. I just had to take a photo of the signage.

And finally, Everland Resort 🙂

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Happy to find out that they actually had discounted entrance rates for tourists!

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There literally was snow everywhere! It was a fun sight during the first 5 or 10 minutes. It wasn’t much fun anymore when I couldn’t bring my hands out from the warmth of my jacket pockets.

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Celebrating Christmas in fantasy.

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You have to give credit to the amazing decorations around the park.

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This was easily my favorite tree.

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How the tree looks at night.

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Cable car ride to the other side of the park.

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It got even colder in the cable car, but all smiles for our emprise.

The other side of the park was filled with different kinds of animals. And these were animals that I don’t normally see in other zoos. Animals that usually thrive in cold weather. This was definitely one of my favorite parts of the park.

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My fascination piqued when the cute little penguins put a show of jumping out and into the water.

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The white tigers were a sight to behold. They were majestic and beautiful.

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My favorite part of the show. I was amazed by the amphibious ride that allowed us a firsthand experience with the animals that were around the vicinity.

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The lions surely weren’t shy when they decided to do this.

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The giraffes were pretty friendly and went near our ride. It was amazing to see them up close and personal.

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Lunch was delicious and surprisingly affordable.There were numerous food places to eat from, and I’m glad that we chose this one.

After that, we went around the whole park to see the rest of what it could offer.

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Interesting show of lights.

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Pretty photo op sections everywhere.

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Taking a short break from all the walking.

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We didn’t have to get on the rides to enjoy the place.

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And the trees were immaculately maintained.

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The miniature cities were a few of my favorites as well.

After walking around, we decided to stop by and warm ourselves with a few cups of coffee in a cute cafe.

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Coffee break!

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Polaroid shots 🙂

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Look at that profile ❤

Before heading out, we watched the park parade, which was impressive and fun.

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Everland Parade

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Ended the trip with some cinnamon churos.

This day fed the kid in us. We enjoyed running around the huge Everland Resort. The animals were entertaining, the food was sumptuous yet affordable, and though it was very cold, we had fun exploring everything that they could offer.

Day 4:

On our last day, we took our chances and decided to go to Nami Island. The place is a tourist destination because of the Filipino favorite koreanovela, Winter Sonata. This time, we had our directions right. And we set off to check out the place. It was a bit far from Seoul, but the white scenery made us even more giddy.

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It took us several train stops, a boat ride, and braving the cold.

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We finally got to Gapyeong Station.

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Port to Nami Island.

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Cute snowmen at the pier.

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Off to ride the boat!

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Winter chills on the icy sea in going to the island.

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And boom, we’re here!

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Getting my first literal taste of snow. 

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Snow everywhere!

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Trail of trees were mind-blowing.

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I couldn’t resist taking more than a few shots.

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Enjoying the Winter Sonata feels.

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Dramatic trees.

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Some parts still had remnants of Autumn.

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Nami Island crew.

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Tried the grilled lamb skewers that were all over.

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Enjoyed our snack by the heat of bonfires scattered all around. A welcomed break from the freezing cold.

Here’s a video to summarize our trip:

We made it back to Seoul by lunch time. And we were so hungry that we each had a fill of these succulent Korean food.

After some last-minute shopping, we checked out this last scenic view before heading to the Incheon International Airport.

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And to conclude the whole trip, another authentic Bibimbop meal on the airport.

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Korea was jaw-dropping. I wish we could’ve stayed longer and seen the other spectacular places that it could offer to their tourists. Definitely one of the places I would love to go back to, but maybe in a different season, like Summer or Autumn. It was a delight to finally experience snow, and a whole new culture.

With tons of cheap fares to just about everywhere in Asia, it won’t be too hard for you to live your Korean dreams as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Singapore According to my Eyes

28 Nov

Perhaps, one of the best highlights of the people in Singapore is that their value for education has made them very well equipped in speaking English. Unlike a lot of other Asian destinations, it’s easier to ask for directions and converse with the locals. I wasn’t really able to explore the city since this was my first time to visit. I should warn you that most of the places I’ve been to that you’ll see in this blog are very “tourist-y”, nothing really unique or secret about them. These are most likely the same places you’ll go to when you’re a Singapore-virgin as well. Aside from that, my exploration was limited since my budget was a bit tight. Nonetheless, I tried to make the most out of the experience.

Let me start off with saying that this trip was set to be one of my most memorable ones already because this is my second international trip with my boyfriend. There’s nothing more exciting than exploring a new place with someone you love:

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My favorite parts of the trip:

  1. Universal Stuidos 

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I’ve always been a big fan of amusement parks. Since my boyfriend and his family traveled to shop and not too much for exploring, I practically begged them to go with me here. It was a bit expensive but definitely worth it.

The rides are of course one of the highlights, after all, it is an amusement park. My favorites were the Transformers and The Mummy. If it were up to me, I would’ve preferred to try more of the rides. However, we went there on a weekend so the lines were really long and the weather wasn’t really encouraging. At least, I have a good reason to go back! 🙂

Transformers

 

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The Mummy

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The shows were a definite must-see as well. We weren’t able to catch all of the shows but the few that we saw were my highlights as well.

The Villain Rock Show Musical

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Waterworld

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Parade of Stars

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And of course, I couldn’t pass up the chance to take pictures with my favorite characters from Universal movies.

M & M’s from the Chocolate Store

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Betty Boop

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Minion

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The Madagascar Gang

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Pinnochio

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Jurrasic Park

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Sesame Street

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Ironically, the only place I wasn’t able to try out the rides was the section I found most impressive: The Jurassic Park. They had really cool-looking rides. This would be the first place I’d visit when I get the chance to get back.

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All in all, the place was exactly what I hoped it would be. I couldn’t say that I fully saw the whole magic of the place because there were a lot of factors that influenced our visit. Nonetheless, the place looked absolutely amazing.

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2. Marina Bay Sands & Marina Bay Garden

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I found the architecture really unique and different from the usual hotel structures that you get to see in different parts of the country. I’ve included it in my bucket list to spend at least a night here in the future. I was amazed by the beauty of their garden as well. My mind couldn’t wrap around how they were able to build such a beautiful place.

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3. The Orchard

We spent a lot of time here because my boyfriend and his family were huge fans of shopping. Since I wasn’t really into shopping and I found most of their stuff expensive, I let myself get lost in the urban wonder of the place.

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4. Nightlife in Singapore

Clark Quay

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Altitude

Singapore’s highest point – this place gives you a full 360 degree view of the city.

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5. The Merlion

You haven’t been to Singapore if you don’t have at least one picture with Singapore’s symbolic icon. I have yet to find out the history of this symbol. Nonetheless, I was captivated by how people revered this statue despite the really humid weather.

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 I was lucky to have a few of my closest friends there with me to help me appreciate the city even more.

Karen & the Lims

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The classic Singaporean coffee & snack


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Ended the trip with having dinner at one of this really good restaurant in their amazingly big airport.

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That pretty sums up my highlights during my Singapore visit. The hustle and the bustle of the city is what I fell in love with. The sophistication and advancement of the place as a whole explains why a lot of people like living here.

Another new place explored! And I’m looking forward to more new places in the future.

Toodles! 🙂

Day 4 in Bangkok: Ayutthaya & Pingpong Show

27 Mar

Our fourth day in Bangkok was dedicated to exploring the Northern part of the city. We were excited to see the beautiful temples of Ayutthaya.

To get there, we took a Tuk-tuk to the Bangkok Railway Station or the Hua LumpongWe immediately went to the ticket counter to buy our tickets. It cost Thb 20 per person, which was the price for the economy class in the train. We wanted to save money as much as we could, so we didn’t pick the more expensive rides to our destination.

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The ride was long. It took about 13 stops before we finally got to Ayutthaya. I think the trip wasn’t really bad considering the price that we paid for our tickets. The seats were comfortable, a bit cramped though, but all in all, it was highly-tolerable.

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There were a lot of other tourists that also went down on the same station as us. For this reason, it wasn’t very difficult for us to identify the right stop. Unlike other tourist-frequent destinations like Hongkong and Singapore, the train we were riding in didn’t have a voice-over that would guide the passengers where to go down. You really have to pay attention to the names of the train stations to know where you are.

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When you go out of the train station, you’ll find a shop where you can rent bicycles and motor bikes that you can use to tour around the different temples in Ayutthaya. We decided to rent bicycles to heighten our experience. We paid Thb 40 each (bike rental rate for the whole day). I think their motor bikes were at Thb 120 and you have to make sure that the gas tank is full when you return it to the shop. All rentals had to be returned by 6pm.

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The shop owners were really friendly and helpful. They gave us a map of the temples and sold us hats as well to protect us from the scorching heat. They were also fluent in English, which really helped a lot.

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Let me just share with you my biking experience that day. The whole time, I thought Ayutthaya was a complete country scene. I found out how wrong I was. They had these huge highways that you’d have to cross to get to the temples. It was very hard for me since I never experienced biking on a highway before. I was scared of the rushing traffic and I really had trouble crossing from one side to other. I almost even got ran over by a car when I tried crossing a small road. Luckily, my boyfriend was patient enough to help me and assist me as I braved through my fear in finishing our exploration. Nonetheless, it made my Ayutthaya-experience even more memorable.

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Our first stop was at Wat Maha That.

..located to the east of the grand palace. It is the royal temple and most sacred in Ayutthaya during the glorious time. Buddha relics were enshrined in the Mahathat Chedi (the principal pagoda). This monastery was once the residence of the Supreme Patriarch.”

“This monastery was destroyed and had been burnt in the last war between Ayutthaya and Burma in AD 1767. It was left in ruins”

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For me, it was the most beautiful among all the temples I’ve ever visited during my visit in Bangkok. The ruins had a melancholy beauty that made you appreciate how grand and majestic the temple really is even at it’s ruined state.

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There was only little information that I was able to gather during our visit. There were guided audio stories that you had to pay for inside, but we didn’t pay for it anymore. We just explored the place on our own and imagined the story that the cobblestones represent. The place was huge and you had to pay Thb 50 for the entrance fee. It reminded us a lot of the Temple Run game.

 

Our 2nd stop, which was really brief, was at Wat Thammikarat.

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We were supposed to visit two other temples but the group decided that two were enough for the day. The other two temples were another 2kms away and we felt like we didn’t have enough energy to bike that far. We all went back, washed our faces to refresh ourselves, and had a few drinks of cold coffee shakes before we got on the next train back to Bangkok city.

Before we retired for the night, we got ourselves ready for another exciting adventure and “only-in-Bangkok” experience — The Ping-pong Show. If in case this is the first time you’ve ever heard of this show, then you should understand that this is an amazing performance of women who have unique talents in controlling their reproductive muscles, which allows them to let their vagina write, shoot balls, and etc. We contacted our favorite tuk-tuk driver to take us to his favorite Ping-pong Show club in Patpong. Luckily, our driver was tasteful and he brought us to an exclusive club that was a bit far from the ordinary clubs littered all around the sidewalks of Patpong.

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The club we went to didn’t have a name. I was a bit nervous at first because this was the only place in the street that wasn’t congested by a lot of people. There were just a few uniformed drivers lounging by outside the entrance. As soon as we went inside the door, we were ushered to the front desk and were asked to pay Thb 700 per person. We were were warned that photography and mobile phones were absolutely prohibited inside the show room.

I could not begin to describe to you what I saw in that little dark room that night. The women who demonstrated their talents were really amazing. There were a total of 14 different acts. After all the acts finish, they would do it all over again from the top. You could actually watch the whole thing over and over again. However, we chose to leave after we made sure that we’ve seen all the acts. The women were undoubtedly talented and professionals. They were clean and tidy about their performances as well. The crowd were respectful and never did I hear anyone make fun of the girls performing. I could never fully describe how it felt watching them do their acts. It was haunting, scary but really impressive.

What a perfect day to fill our last one here in Thailand! After all, you’ve never truly been to Bangkok if you haven’t relived at least one scene from Hangover. 😀