Tag Archives: shopping

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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We love Bangkok: Temples, Massages, Pad Thai and Nightlife

15 Mar

We decided that today was going to be our Temple Day. We had no fixed itinerary but we had a list of temples we wanted to visit. It was kind of exciting not having a fixed route but if we really wanted to maximize our time, we should at least have an idea which temples we should prioritize. We asked for directions and tips from some guys who were lounging by outside the place we were staying. They were kind enough to advise us which temples we should visit and they also wrote down the names in Thai so that it would be easier for the Tuk-tuk drivers to read.

After having our written directions, we set out to look for a Tuk-tuk that can take us to the temples in our list. It was a bit hard to communicate with the locals since majority of them didn’t really know how to speak English. Luckily, we were able to find one happy driver that gave us a price of Thb 250 for the whole trip (Thb 250 divided by 5 people = Thb 50 each).

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I’d like to highlight the Tuk-tuk transportation that they uniquely have in Thailand. It’s this jeep-like tricycle that drove around the city with absolutely no regard of any traffic rule whatsoever. They would race through between two cars or trucks or vans and take you to your destination the fastest. I never got the name of our driver, he only called us “my friend”, but he was really nice to us. He tried his best to communicate with us in English (plus a lot of hand gestures) and he would go with us inside the temples to take our pictures. He even had his choreographed poses that he would insist we follow. All in all, he made us appreciate the friendliness of some Thai people.

2014-03-06 16.44.02They all had the name “Thailand” at the back of their Tuk-tuks. It’s heartwarming to see them this patriotic, or maybe it’s a government-mandated, nonetheless, I found it very nationalistic.

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IMG_7113This ride though isn’t very ideal for a traveling group of more than 5 people. We were really crammed up at the back seat. There’s no front seat, so everybody had to sit at the back. But now that I think about it, (aside from the rollercoaster feel during the entire trip) this was one of the many reasons we enjoyed the short tour around Bangkok. 🙂

Our first stop was at the Golden Mount at Wat Saket or Phu Khao Thong.

“…the Golden Mount  is the most precious property of Wat Srakes and also of the Thai Nation as a whole.”

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The Buddhist temple has become one of the symbols of Bangkok. It was a unique temple for me. You had to climb a winding stair of about 300 steps going to this altar and then another set of tiny ladder going up to a huge bell-looking structure at the top. The over-looking view of the whole city gave us the chance to appreciate the view of Bangkok in a hot afternoon. They had an entrance fee of Thb 20 per person.

2014-03-04 19.05.58I really appreciated the panoramic view of the beautiful city of Bangkok even if it meant having to endure the scorching heat of the midday sun.

IMG_7018I don’t really know the significance of this structure. But as a tourist, I was in awe of how they were able to build something like this on top of a mountain, considering that the temple dated back as far as 1300 AD.

IMG_7004I read somewhere that this temple used to be the city’s first crematorium. There were about 300 dead bodies dumped somewhere here.

20140304_134729And of course, a temple wouldn’t be one without an altar. We weren’t allowed to step on the carpet at the foot of the altar since this was where the worshipers knelt and prayed.

After exploring the temple, I understood why a lot of tourists should definitely take the time to visit. Everything was beautiful and very married with nature plus you’d get a free and wonderful view of the whole city.

Second temple was Wat Suthatthepwararam.

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The temple is situated in the middle of the city. I was in awe at how big the image of the Buddha was inside their altar. I also loved the beautiful smaller versions of the Buddha lined up outside the walls of the temple.

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Third temple was Wat Pho or the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.

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This is the biggest and oldest temple in Bangkok. As the name implies, it is the home of a reclining image of Buddha. Aside from that, you’ll get to feast on the scenic paintings they have on their temple walls. A fee of Thb 100 per person was charged upon entrance.

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They had a strict dress code that you had to follow as well. For women, you are not allowed to wear sleeveless or short skirts & shorts. You would either be required to cover up using your own scarf or jackets, or you could also borrow a robe from the entrance. No footwear was allowed inside as well. You’ll have to explore the temple barefoot. They give you shoe bags for your sandals, slipper or shoes so that you can bring them with you when you go inside the temple and wear them right after you exit.

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This ended our tour of the temples in Bangkok. I know there are still several that we missed to visit, but we were really tired already, so we decided to go straight to Chinatown and do a little bit of shopping instead.

In Chinatown, they sell a lot of random things that you can buy and bring home as pasalubongs. This was the best place to buy accessories as well. They didn’t really sell them very cheap, but they had lots of options. Our bargain-hunting skills were truly achieved when we found a stall that sold beautiful earrings at Thb 10 each!

I love Thai fashion. It doesn’t shy away from places like Chinatown and the like. People who shop here are still fashionable and chic. I guess it’s a major perk living in one of the ultimate shopping destinations in Asia.

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They had lots of hand-painted decorations that showcased Thai talent and highlighted the culture of the Thai people.

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After going around Chinatown’s shopping area, we treated ourselves to a delicious cone of sidewalk coconut ice cream. It tasted heavenly and cost us only Thb 15 each.

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Since we still had little time left, we decided to drop by Siam Paragon. It was another mall that was impressively huge. High-end boutiques filled-up the gigantic shopping center. Their food market (or food court if it were in our country) was really amazing. It housed numerous restaurants and had hundreds of stalls that served all kinds of food. We decided to try the CocoIchibanya or the Curry House.

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They served all kinds of Curry dishes. I wasn’t in the mood to eat rice, so I ended up ordering their salad, which was really good as well.

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On our way back home, we decided to walk around and enjoy Bangkok at night. I couldn’t help but stop and capture the beauty of the busy street.

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And when we got to Pratunam, our eyes were treated to another long rows of  stuff to buy. This place  never runs out of shopping areas. You can take your pick: whether you like shopping with the sun out or you like shopping with the night breeze. Either way, you’d be treated to the same unbelievably cheap prices!

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This alley also had a food fair that featured numerous kinds of food: Thai, Persian, Chinese, etc. I tried tasting a few since they had free tasting pieces served. But my friends stopped me from trying too many kinds of dishes because I might end up upsetting my stomach. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it.

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Our favorite find was this little stall that made customized key chains and jewelries. For Thb 90, we were able to buy cute souvenirs for our loved-ones back home.

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We finally reached the hotel by around 9pm. It was a long and tiring day but we still wanted to explore the infamous Khaosan Road. This was the ultimate party destination suggested by a lot of people for us to visit. And they even say that you should never leave Bangkok without spending one night here. After resting for an hour, we showered and headed back out for an exciting night of exploring another side of the city.

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Khaosan road was a bit far from our hotel. They say that it’s a 20-minute Tuk-tuk drive. But it’s actually farther, only that the Tuk-tuk will be able to get you there at the shortest period of time. We paid Thb 90 to get there (Thb 90 divided by 3 = Thb 30 each person).

The minute we got to Khaosan Road, we were greeted again by another set of several rows of shopping stalls. The place was littered with bars that were situated side by side with each other, a number of massage parlors, stalls for hair weaves, and a lot of foreigners from all over the world enjoying the night.

2014-03-05 07.33.03We treated ourselves to a yummy plate of Pad Thai that cost only Thb 20! This city truly is one of my favorite travel destinations. 😀

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We found this stall that sold cooked insects of all kinds! This I could never try. I hate anything that crawls and for me to put it inside my mouth is just too disgusting. I was in awe of how exotic the dishes looked.

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But not disgusting enough for me not to take pictures. I paid Thb 10 to be able to take photos. I even had a photo with the vendor! 😀

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We decided to have mercy on our feet and since we also wanted to experience an authentic Thai massage, we booked ourselves a spot in one of their massage parlors. We paid Thb 120 for a 30-minute foot massage with a bottle of Thb 30 beer.

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And by far, that was the best foot massage I’ve ever had in my entire life! Never leave Bangkok without experiencing their prowess in massage. 🙂

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It was a long but definitely fulfilling day for us. We saw more of what Bangkok has to offer to its growing number of tourists from all over the world. Ultimately, they let you immerse so much into their culture that you can’t stop yourself from falling in love.

I only wish that they’d have more information about the history of their temples available to English speaking foreigners. It would’ve been an even greater experience if we got to immerse in the stories of the places we’ve been to as well. 🙂

Till another day in Thailand, loves. Toodles! ❤