RELATED BLOG ENTRIES: HONG KONG 2010 , MANILA & JAKARTA 2010,
THAILAND 2010

 

BANGKOK, THAILAND
Oct 2 - First Stop: Bangkok

My perfect 1-day itinerary I recommend to my friends for Bangkok actually works--plus we added a visit to the Queen Saovabha snake farm where they extract venom to make anti-venom. Fun day in the city.

Best day trip: Take a skytrain to Saphan Tak right on the river. Change to the local long boat—just pay on the boat. Take the boat to Tha Chang. Do the big Buddha Temple. Then walk over to Wat Pho where they have the lying down Buddha. Try out the Thai massage at the place in this temple—it’s a bit more interactive than the massages I’m used to in Toronto. Take a tuk-tuk to Khao San Road which the is backpackers area, but it’s interesting and on the street they have vendors that make the best pad thai I had in Bangkok. TIP: Don’t get caught on the street in the touristy area during rush hour you won’t be able to move for hours, and if you do have to go on the road take a tuk-tuk…it might even be faster to take the boat back to the skytrain!

snake farm in bangkok
grand palace
art at the grand palace
emerald buddha
ganesh
pouring rain
deluge in bangkok
baan glom gig

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BOROBUDUR, INDONESIA
Oct 22 - Buddhist Temples

My Indonesian friend suggested I go to Borobudur as a side trip from Jakarta. Borobudur is an area about 1.5 hours from Jogjakarta, the 2nd largest city in Indonesia. I stayed at a fantastic oasis, called Rumah Boedi, just a couple of km from the temple. In the mornings and afternoons I would ride a simple bike through the streets of the village, with chickens running across my path, enjoying seeing the life of the nearby locals in their houses and along the rice paddys. The temples were only a few minutes away by bike. I started with a couple of the minor temples (Pawon and Mendut), and they were quite nice. I bought some masks at the surrounding shops, which were chock full of wooden masks, puppets, and stone Buddhas. Apparently a lot of the stone works come from the lava rock formed during the eruption of the nearby volcano.

Borobudur temple itself is definitely impressive with multiple levels of intricate carved stone and Buddha altars. Each stone carving uniquely describes some aspect of ancient Indonesian life. And although the stairs to the pinnacle are crowded with mostly Indonesian tourists (blonde foreign girls in the crowd would get asked for pictures from the Indonesians!) the path around the temple was relatively empty. I also went to a couple of smaller Buddhist temples (Pawon and Mendut)--I bought a couple of masks from the local hawkers.

borobudur temple
carvings in borobudur
borobudur buddha
stupas
and more stupas
and more buddhas
multi level temple
rice fields
copper batik stamp

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SINGAPORE
Oct 26 - Best Chicken Rice in the World?

Lining up for soya chicken rice @ Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle, 335 Smith Street Chinatown Complex Market #2-126 . At 8.30am on a Saturday morning. Never would I think I would line up for two hours to eat a plate of rice and chicken. Well, I'm lined up. Waiting. For chicken and rice. Somehow this hawker stall got a Michelin star earlier this year and now there is a crazy lineup every day. How tasty could it be? I just think it's impressive that a simple little chicken shack, one of the hundred hawker stalls in one of the many hawker centres in Chinatown, could receive global recognition and now 2+ hour queues.

I'm getting nervous. It has been 2 hours. After the first hour it became like a lost cause, and I resigned myself to waiting it out until the end. I'm finally near the front of the line, and there are only a few chickens hanging in front. I hope they have extra chickens stashed away somewhere in that little stall. People are taking selfies. That bitch in front of me just ordered 10 chickens. Noooooo!!!

hong kong soya sauce chicken rice & noodle
mr. chan hon meng
chicken rice and cha siew

Final update: Finally got my soya chicken after a bit more than 2 hours in line. Dammit, never again! The soya chicken was tasty but mostly bones so I couldn't really appreciate it so much. But I also got a plate of cha siew that was amazing--so much flavour, best ever! I told my clients afterwards to wait until this guy has franchised and opened up restaurants--I'm sure it will be more reasonable than lining up at a hawker stall for hours.

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LAOAG & VIGAN, PHILIPPINES
Nov 5 - Tiniest Cabs Ever

Did a side trip to another UNESCO World Heritage site: Vigan and Laoag. Pretty city, but a bit far away to visit just for a couple of streets that look a bit colonial. Probably the highlight of the town wasn't the colonial street, but the little tiny "trikes" everywhere and the free fountain show watching little kids get blasted by the spouts.

laoag
sinking tower
inside trike
vigan near bus station
vigan fountain show

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HONG KONG
Nov 12 - Expensive and Tranquil Hong Kong

Back in Hong Kong after 6 years. The thing I notice most is how expensive everything has become! But still a great city to visit--just maybe I wouldn't live here. I spent some time getting to know the other side of Hong Kong, hiking through the hilly part where there aren't a million people in your face all the time.

junk in hong kong
walking the boardwalk
twins hike to stanley
happy valley race course
betting on horses
and they're off!
hong kong view
sai kung
yim tin sai
kau sai chau golf course
hiking to kau sai chau
green hills
kau sai chau
michael taking a break
by the water
fish farm
end of a fun hike with Out in HK

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