Thursday, August 28, 2008

My recent Hainan trip.

Hainan island, in chinese (Hainan Dao), located at the southest part of China. It's is my dearest mom's and grand-aunt birth place. This trip is organised by my uncle. We have 8 adults and 5 kids going on board to Hainan. My first time travel with such a big group of relatives and friends. It was a good experience.

We board with Air Asia plane to Haikou airport, suprised to find that the airport is quite small. Took a airport bus to Haikou Hotel to check-in. This is a 3 star business hotel, which locate inside the shopping centre at the heart of the city. Their lobby is locate on 2nd floor, check out the ceiling, decorate with bamboo sheets. Our hotel room beds is very comfy, with good mattress!! Clean toilet with no bath tubs but shower room. I'm pleased.

This is the view from our hotel balcony. Notice there's a garden lake on the opposite side.

There are many shops and malls along the hotel. Very convenient way to shop around, but the weather was horribly hot and walking under the sun makes you sweat like a pig. I saw everyone carrying an umbrella under the hot sun, hence i bought one too. End up each of us has one, the umbrellas here are very colorful with floral print.

First 3 days, we stayed and tour Haikou, which is the capital of Hainan. Haikou city and buildings and roads are like bangkok. No big, widen roads can be seen here on city centre and no bumpy roads. :) You only see bumpy roads when you visit the outskirt or village area. Their highways are wide. Siting in a taxi here would be quite "exciting", as the drivers drive from one lane to the opposite lane. It's madness, but here is better than Hanoi taxi drivers.

Along the hotel, it has many shop lots selling apparels. Most of shops has sales, probably Olympic season. I bought a skirt for 20rmb, and a blouse for 10rmb. Very cheap indeed after discounts. We went to this small complex call 第一 场 (Di Yi Guang Chang) to buy some cloth. This complex has 2 floors. first floor sells mostly curtains, and second floor - cloths. After we bought the cloth, we took it to tailor made. There's a row of tailors and fabric shop next to the complex. Along the shops, it looks like 新街 (San Kai) or some old streets in Penang. I did a Cheongsam dress for myself, the cost of the cloth and tailor made only cost not more than 100rm!! Is very cheap!! :)) I would recommend anyone who visit China, should get your clothes tailor made.

If you stroll along the street before reaching Di Yi Guang Chang, you will see alot of shops selling kitchenwares, stationaries, chinese festive accessories, herbs and tea, chinese musical instruments and even pets!! Over here, you can bargain the price if you by more.

There are too many malls along the main road!! We don't have time to walk this street call Jie Fang Xi Lu. When we took a taxi, we past one of the lane where a stretch of shoe shops!! Which makes our eyes pop! We're just too tired to shop anymore. I guess Haikou is a shopping city too!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Food in Bangkok!

I love Emporium shopping mall, they have 4 sections of food halls here, all on the 5th floor. If you are not familiar with finding the food halls, you will end up like me here. First of all, we were looking for decent food hall. Walking and finding we found Park Food Hall, it features some exclusive restaurants like Crystal Jade, Nippon Kai, Olive, Thai Gourtmet...etc, pretty pricey here, one dish around 200baht above. All the food halls were at the same floor, but its' kinda huge you can get lost here if you are not familiar. We ended up eating not-so-nice food from Food Hall Take Home. Oh my goodness, we were siting near the food counter eating pre-heat food, cause we can't find a decent, reasonable priced food hall. The place we sat were surrounded with desserts counter, bakery counter. On the opposite site, there's are a few nicely decorated english style garden chairs and table-like restaurant which serves colorful cupcakes, and varieties of cakessss makes me thought of Harrods in London. *droolsss*

I ordered this Thai dessert called Thong Yod. This is made from heavily beaten egg yolk blended with wheat or rice flour. It contains sweet syrup inside. Too sweet for my liking though. Strangely enough, these desserts are not of pure Thai origin but are derived from Portuguese sweets.

Thong yod

You should also try some of the most common Thai desserts include the egg-yolk desserts; Thong Yip (Pinched Gold), and Foi Thong (Golden Threads). Thong simply means Gold. The color of these three desserts is a yellow-like golden color from the egg yolk, and is used to signify prosperity and auspiciousness. Often used in wedding ceremonies or commemoration of a new house as well.

We strolled along the stalls and look for something new to suprise us. Well, guess what we were outside another food hall. Look inside of the food hall, see lots of food stalls selling stuff which we all wanted to try- beef noodle soup, braise ducks. All are resonably priced. ARghhhhhhh!!! We just ate and were still full, and not able to feed ourselves anymore by ordering the food here. So disappointed that we didn't found this place earliar. A big sigh.... Anyway love this food hall to bits, the interior is Ikea- like, clean and quiet.

At evening, we decided to try Siam House Restaurant, recommended by a friend. Located on the left side of the small lane next to Asia Hotel, bangkok. There is no difficulties in ordering the food, as the menu comes with pictures. This restaurant cooks authentic thai food, everything is delicious and nicely cook.

Tomyum Gong

Tom Kha - This soup is made with coconut milk, galangal, lemongrass and chicen.

Fried fish.

Fish cake.

Cabbage with fried pork inside.

Overall the food quality and standard is good and cheap too. I've got to say that bangkok is a shopping city, you can shop till drop here for ladies! There's so many malls here. I've went to Platinum mall, walking and shop at one floor is already energy-sapping. The rest of the floors in the mall I'm just too tired to see anymore but just walk through.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Bangkok-day 2

Day 2, we took a cab to The Grand Palace, the most sacred place in bangkok. It's located at the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. Nowadays the Palace is being used only for occasional ceremonial purposes and is no longer the royal residence (18th century to mid 20th century). The present King Bhumibol (Rama IX) lives in Chitralada Palace, which is located not too far away in Bangkok's Dusit district.
Chakri Mahaprasad Hall

If you plan to visit the Grand Palace, do observe their dress code. For guys, no shorts allowed; for gals, no sleevelesss, spaghetti top, short skirts that reveals skin. There is an officer at the gate to stop you from the entrance is you did not dress properly. He or she will refer you to the office right next for you to borrow sarong or long pants to dress. There's a deposit fee around 100 baht, if my memory still serves me right.

There's lots of monuments or buildings around the palace, one of the prominent one is Chakri Mahaprasad Hall. This is the reception and throne hall commisioned by the King Rama V in 1882. Originally the design of the roof is dome shape, but his advisor insisted on a traditional thai roof. The building has the influence of European style.

Next The Chapel Royale of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phraw Kaew). This is Thailand's most important and sacred temple. Also, the only temple no residence monks in it. It houses the tiny (between 60 and 75 cm) Emerald Buddha, which is located high above the heads of the worshippers and tourists. It quite difficult to have a good look, and photography is forbidden in here.

Inside the chapel royale ground has a gallery. The murals depicted the story of the Ramakien of the first reign version. From time to time, the murals will be repainted to maintain its historic past.

There are 4 major - interesting monuments/buildings surrounds the Chapel. The Impressive gold Phra Sri Ratana Chedi. The Chedi was built by King Rama IV in the mid 19th century with the Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn (Royal Pantheon). It claims house the ashes of buddha.

Phra Sri Ratana Chedi

The Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn (Royal Pantheon), it kept the exact life size of seven kings of Chakri Dynasty from King Rama I - VII. I wish to see these, but it was closed. I read somewhere in the internet that they only open to the public once a yr, on Chakri day which is on April 6th.

Prasat Phra Thep Bidorn

Next, a miniature model of the famous Cambodian temple Angkor Wat, made during the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV) when the Thai empire extended over Cambodia.

The Phra Mondop library, consist of 2 libraries which house to protect important Buddhist Canon and literatures. The walls of the library are covered in green mirrored tiles inlaid with gold medallions depicting Buddha. The base of the walls are lined with two rows of small gilded guardian angels, each one slightly different. At the four corners of the Phra Mondop are stone Buddhas carved in the nineth century Javanese style. Sixteen twelve-cornered columns support the intricate multi-tier roof. It is not always open to the public.

Surrounding this area, there's a number of mythological creatures from Hindu and buddhist mythology, such as the mythological guardian (Yak) - a nature spirit, who are a caretaker of the nature treasures hidden in the earth or tree roots. The Kinnari - half bird, half man/woman creature. If is a female counterpart, she is renowned for her dance, song and poetry, and is a traditional symbol of feminine beauty, grace and accomplishment.
At the Royal Pantheon, at the base of the hall. You will see Garudas holding Nagas. It believes that a Garuda is the King of birds and mount of Vishnu, one of the greatest Hindu gods. Naga is the King of serpents and enemy of Garuda. The motif of Garuda holding a Naga is believed to have the power to chase away evil spirits.

After visiting Grand Palace, we proceed to the Wat Pho (Sleeping buddha), jst next to it.

At night, we shopped at Suan Lum Market. I love this market the most, it has lots of uniquely designed stuff can be found here. But I don't fancy the food court near Suan Lum Market. Maybe we chose the wrong food stalls. My favourite cafe is this - Doitung Cafe. :) Nice place to chill out with a cup of coffee.

Monday, August 11, 2008


These days, feeling a little lazy to update my blogs, the reason probably would be I am a slow writer. Well, now I'm gona update you abt my trip to Bangkok. When arriving at bangkok Suvarnabhumi airport, it was an awesome view. The airport design structure is much more better than Malaysia. I love how they plant trees outside the glass windows, inside the airport. During my stay, I've came across another place which has similar concept - The Emporium, top floor.

When we arrived at their custom area, que at the foreigner's passport line. I notice the big boards behind each officer's cubicle written "Welcome to Land of Smiles". won't see smiles from the officers who stamped your passport though.

Outside the airport, we took a pink colour cab to our hotel- First House Hotel. First House Hotel, locate at this small lane not far from the main road. If you walk across the main road, there's platinum mall (the new one). If you walk towards the left side, at the junction is the old platinum mall. Near the hotel, there are many individual shops selling clothes and full of food stalls along the road side. It's quite a noisy and happening lane during the day time, but quiet at night time. Very big difference.

Once we dropped our luggages in our room, we head on to Chatucak Market. Mind you, it was a Sunday, this market only opens on weekends. So it's a must to visit this market!! You can bargain for cheaper price when you buy more! How fun!! The market is huge and consists of more than hundreds of stalls and crowded too. Sometimes we got lost since the place is huge.

The sky looks like going to rain, so we decided to head off to Siam Paragon! Wow I love this place. It's like Starhill in KL, but this looks better and has varieties of shops!

The food court in Siam Paragon is fantastic! Reasonable priced and taste good! Worth your penny!! The downside is the noise from the crowds, no piece of mind to enjoy my food.

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