Category: Thailand

Club Med Phuket

The first time I stepped into a Club Med was Phuket in 2006.

Back then, I was a young 24-year-old – poor and travelling solo. Due to budgetary constraints, I remembered staying at one of Karon Beach’s many cheap guesthouses surrounded by monstrous high-end luxury resorts.

The largest of these resorts sits right smack on the Karon beach front. I remembered sneaking in past security – just to see how other holidaymakers spent their time. One peek, and immediately knew that it was something different.

It was unlike anything I have ever seen before.

I saw resort staff not only just serving guests – but dancing, playing, drinking together with them. I saw hotel guests wear identical wristbands, as if they all belong to the same tribe, from the same village.

Most significantly, I saw everyone looked so, so happy.

Happiness. Genuine, unadulterated, pure happiness. Such an elusive concept really. But isn’t that what we all seek when we’re on holidays?

There I stood, wide-eyed and stunned by the realization that I was in some kind of a tropical utopia… before a big burly security guard tapped me on my shoulder and chased me away.

Since that incident, I vowed that one day, I would return to Phuket to experience for myself what it’s like to stay in Club Med Phuket.

Fast forward to February 2012, I received an e-mail from Club Med’s office Malaysia. Club Med Phuket had undergone a revamp and was set to unveil its new looks. For the inauguration, they’re inviting media from all over the world to experience it for themselves.

Nothing, except the birth of my first born, would make me miss that opportunity.

I arrived at Club Med Phuket early. The rest of the Malaysian team was delayed ‘cos their flight can’t land due to heavy rain, so I took the opportunity to explore the extensive resort ground – legally this time!

I was pleasantly surprised. Since I last came to Phuket, Club Med has undergone extensive aesthetic improvements in many areas.

From the moment I stepped into the lobby, I was welcomed by antiquated Zen statues, bright Jim Thompson silk cushions and other contemporary Thai elements in their comfortable lobby area.

In an instant, I was transported from the busy Phuket streets into a place of relaxation and indulgence.

Good job to Club Med for ditching those ubiquitous sleepy dark wooden panels in favour of a more airy and colourful vibe.

I love the juxtaposition between darkness and light, raw and sophistication, eastern and western. I later learnt that this design concepts is repeated many times throughout the 61-acre resort.

Adjacent to the lobby is the main lounge, completely re-designed from ground-up. Gone are the crampy little bar on the side against the wall.

In its place is a HUGE island bar, fashioned into a purple mythical swan-like bird in Thai folklore called the Hong. At night, the clever lighting effect makes it look as if the Hong bird is floating in the air.

The lounge is the centrepiece of the resort, overlooking the pool on one side, and the circus trapeze on the other.

Food at Club Med is always an international gourmet experience. Over 90 new Asian-inspired dishes are introduced along with a new dinner buffet, many of them cooked and plated expertly in front of my eyes.

Now, not only are we spoilt for choice when it comes to food, we too have a choice as to which pavilions to enjoy our meals.

Club Med did well by partitioning the main dining area into five distinct pavilions – each evoking one of five human senses – Tastes, Fragrances, Music, Colors and Material. These themes are developed into order to follow the Thai art of living.

The Fragrances pavilion, would feature deco inspired by droplets of essential oil on sticks, for example – while the Music pavilion would feature lamps and tables fashioned after traditional Thai bells and cymbals respectively.

Parents with small children would be happy to chuck their kids at Club Med Phuket’s dedicated Kid’s Palace. This is where children as young as 4 months to 17 years can have access to facilities and activities specially arranged for.

Extra big kids NOT ALLOWED!

The Kid’s Palace is humungous! Bigger than any other kids club in any other resorts I can remember. They even have super shallow swimming pools for them little babies.

Kids would love it here. I can’t say for sure, ‘cos I don’t have kids!

I’m more of a holiday spa person. When I go on holidays, I make an extra effort to check out their resort spa.

The Club Med Spa in Phuket is operated by luxury French brand Payot. Set in a Zen garden, the revamped Club Med Spa features 12 treatment rooms, 2 Turkish baths and a relaxing Jacuzzi. 

It’s all very nice, and very romantic. They even have private yoga lessons for those who want an extra level of wellness.

Unlike the rest of the resort though, spa treatments are not included in the all-inclusive formula of Club Med. I mean, if massages are free, I’m gonna tie myself to them massage beds 24 freakin’ hours a day!

By now, I have waited a good 6 hours already and the Malaysian team still have yet to arrive!

Good thing my bedroom was ready.

Admittedly, Club Med don’t usually pay much attention to their bedrooms below the Honeymoon Suite level, but I was pleasantly surprised at how comfortable and spacious my Deluxe Room is.

Plush pillows, soft linens, full minibar and a TV. Why would anyone watch TV in Club Med anyway when there’s so much to do outside?

I had the opportunity to glimpse at their Honeymoon Suite.

It’s obviously a lot bigger. Comes with its own bathtub, four-poster bed, coffee machine, fruit basket and a bottle of Moet. So while the standard rooms are sufficient, those who opt for an extra level of indulgence have a choice too.

The Malaysian team finally made their grand arrival at 8:30pm – a four hour delay!

By then I had already explored almost every corner of the newly renovated Club Med Phuket resort on my own.

This is Ji-San, our assigned Gentle Officer (G.O.) from Club Med Malaysia. I kept teasing her that she’s not a real G.O. because all Club Med G.O.s I know are sunshine and happy and can sing and dance, and Ji-San… can do all those, but not very often!

Anyway, Ji-San assured me that if what I had seen so far was impressive, the next 3 days of my stay at Club Med Phuket is gonna blow my socks off.

Well, I can say for sure that I was not disappointed. My socks were blown eight ways to China.

I will write about those 3 amazing days in Club Med Phuket, next!

Baba Nest, Phuket

Could this be the most romantic spot in the whole of Phuket?

The Thai island of Phuket boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets and sunrises in South-East Asia, but only a handful of places can claim to have the perfect vantage point for BOTH sunsets and sunrises on the island.

Baba Nest is a tapas bar located at the very top of Sri Panwa estate, which in turn is located at Cape Panwa, on the south-eastern tip of Phuket island. This perfectly square bar, surrounded by an infinity-edge swimming pool, has no chairs, only bean bags, and can accommodate at most only 20 persons at a time.

Baba Nest’s location on the hilltop means it have a 270-degree panoramic view of the Andaman Ocean.

And what a view it is.

Nothing beats watching sunsets in Phuket like having funky chill-out music playing in the background while being served a glass of icy-cold cocktail and the choicest sashimi cuts from their Japanese chefs. For those who enjoy their cocktails with a difference, the sake mojito here is definitely worth trying out.

Originally part of the residence of the owner of Sri Panwa, Baba Nest was opened up to public simply because a view like this is too good to be enjoyed alone. It’s a hidden treasure, but Baba Nest is so popular during sunsets that it gets booked out almost every single night.

For those travelling to Phuket looking for something romantic to do, my advice is stop crowding the over-rated tittie bars in Patong Beach and take our loved ones to Baba Nest to watch the sunset together.

It’s too good to miss out on.

My girlfriend and I loved it so much, even our feet (attempted to) form a heart-shape.

The Best Thai Food And Seafood In Patong

Phuket has been unexpectedly fantastic so far.
One of the best things about Phuket is the food, and seafood in this little Thai island is said to be legendary. On the first night of our arrival, we set out to fill our stomach with the best Thai food and seafood in town.
The problem is, we don’t know which restaurant serves the best Thai food and seafood in town.
Luckily the Thais are nice. They point out to you which restaurant serves the best Thai food and seafood in town.. And they do so by proudly proclaiming it on their signboard.
Like Cocoa-NutThe Best Thai Food Seafood In Patong Beach.
If you wanna know where this is, it’s located just right next to DangThe Best Of Thai Food and Seafood.
It is also located on the same road with SakronThe Best of Thai Food and Seafood In Patong.
And they are all not far from YoyoThe Best Food In Town.
In Phuket, every restaurant is also the best Thai food and Seafood in town.

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Mister Potato Winners Go Bangkok

Two months ago, reader Joshua submitted this photo for the ‘Eat A Chip Like Kenny Sia’ contest.

And just like that, Joshua won himself an all-expense-paid trip to Bangkok.
Isn’t it awesome being a reader?

Contest winner Joshua with friend Boo Leong, wearing their very ‘salah’ T-shirts that say “I SCORED LAST NIGHT”

As part of his prize package, Joshua got to bring his friend Boo Leong along for the trip. To top it off, each of them received a tidy sum of baht for their shopping at in Bangkok.
All of these are fully sponsored by the good guys at Mister Potato.

We had just returned from Bangkok and what blast we had at the Land of Smiles.
It was an interesting experience not just for them, but for me as well because it’s the first time I acted as a tour guide to two people I have never met before.
Before this, the only experience I had in travel-planning was as the designated driver among my friends whenever we go overseas. It’s a miracle how I always managed to get them back in one piece.

Mister Potato was being awfully nice as our sponsor.
Before I departed for Thailand, they couriered to my house one whole stack of Mister Potato T-shirts, FIFTEEN tote bags and TWO huge cartons of Mister Potato chips.
We had, what can only be described as “Mister Potato Palooza” in Bangkok. There were so much potato chips in our possession that we felt the need to share the love and spread them around like diseases in Patpong’s naughty bars.

Our adventure in Thailand begins at the Bangkok Suvarnabhumi (pronounced “Sue-Wanna-POOM!”) International Airport.
After picking Joshua and his friend Boo Leong up from the airport, we proceeded to check into our guesthouse in Silom – the fabulous but horribly-named Lub d Bangkok.

Don’t be fooled by its name. Lub d Bangkok is not the brand of some dodgy lubricant.
It is actually one of the best cheap guesthouses I have ever stayed at anywhere in the world. Not only is it located right smack in the middle of Bangkok downtown, it is also comfortably air-conditioned, tastefully decorated and spotlessly clean.
Lub d Bangkok is also close to the dodgy go-go bars of Patpong, but that is not the point. The only thing dirty about Lub d is the price. At RM50 per person, it is dirt cheap!
Joshua and Boo Leong has never been to Bangkok before, so we wasted no time to take the boys to their first tourist attraction here.

The Calypso Cabaret Ah Gua Show!

As soon as we were shown our seats, we were treated to 2 hours of non-stop dancing and lip-syncing so good that it puts to shame Lin Miaoke’s performance at the Beijing Olympics 2008 Opening Ceremony.
For two boys who have never seen a tranny show before, Joshua and Boo Leong were terribly confused how the guys performing on stage can look so much like girls.

I told them that it’s the result of a lot of breast implants, heavy make-up and plastic surgery.
Granted, some have their hormone injection worn off a long time ago.

But a lot of them look hot enough to make us question even our own sexuality.

Tickets to Calypso Cabaret aren’t cheap at 1,000 baht (RM100) per person, but it is worth it because it’s still one of the best shows in town.
Some of the dances incorporated cultural elements from Japan, Korea, Spain and they are all very tastefully done.

Another thing I like about Calypso Cabaret is that after the shows, the ladies ladyboys were nice enough to all line up at the side of the theatre, so that guests can take photos with them. Unlike at other places, they do not charge extra for photography.
Knowing the controversy that I managed cooked up last year, the boys were initially a bit careful about taking photos with them.

But with the help of potato chips, I think they broke the ice and warmed up to each other pretty quickly.
Surprisingly, the ladyboy did not suggest to us “you bring me to hotel, I show you good time.” Instead, all she asked was our can of Mister Potato, which we’re more than happy to oblige.

It was pretty late when the show finished, so after randomly browsing the night markets, we retired back to our hostel to rest.

Next morning, the boys woke up early and I took them for a tour down to the cultural and historical centre of Bangkok. Keen to avoid the notorious Bangkok jam, we took the sky train and a ferry ride down the Chao Phraya River.
A moment later, we arrived at the Grand Palace – the former residence of the Thai monarch.

Tickets to the Grand Palace cost 300 baht (RM30) each.
For that price, we also got to enter the amazing Wat Phra Kaew temple.

Inside that monolithic and intricately decorated structure, is the disappointingly miniscule Emerald Buddha. No pictures because cameras are not allowed.
We ogled at the tiny Buddha image for a while, until Boo Leong suddenly felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned around and saw a security guard pointed towards his feet.
Apparently Boo Leong sat on the floor with his legs pointing forward towards the Buddha, and in Thailand, pointing your feet towards anyone is akin to giving them a finger. He apologised and meekly tucked his legs away.

At the Palace Gardens, the boys admired some amazing ancient Siamese architecture.

Came face to face with giant statues scary enough to scare my undies off.

Even fed the royal guard dogs some Mister Potato chips.
How considerate.

A short walk away from The Grand Palace is Wat Pho, one of the oldest Thai temple.
Wat Pho is home of the largest Reclining Buddha in Bangkok. Unlike the tiny Emerald Buddha we saw earlier, the Reclining Buddha here is bigger than King Kong.

It’s difficult not to be in awe by the grandeur and majesty of the golden reclining Holy Buddha. There’s so much gold in here that our eyes are instantly blinded.
As we walked out of the building, a funny incident happened.

Outside Wat Pho temple, we met this old uncle whose job I think was to give instructions at tourists in their home tongue. All day long, all he did was asking them to queue up and take off their shoes before entering the temple.
The uncle was clearly very impatient, flaring his temper a few times at a few hopeless British tourists who took longer than usual to remove their shoes, thus holding up the queue.
As we watched in amusement, suddenly I had this idea of offering a can of Mister Potato to the uncle.

Turned out that the old uncle has a very good sense of humour.
When we offered him some Mister Potato, he took the whole can, waved goodbye to us and pretended to walk away.

We didn’t even had the chance to tell him that we actually wanted to offer him the whole can!

But we did, and it warmed our hearts to know that we made his day. All it needed to cheer him up was a can of potato chips.
The old fella was clearly very appreciative of our gesture. Before we left the temple, they asked if we’re looking for massage. I thought why not? I read that traditional Thai massage is born in Wat Pho. After a whole day of walking under the hot sun, it’s about time to let someone else stretch our legs.
The uncle then directed his 9-year-old daughter to direct us to the cheapest Thai massage place outside the tourist traps. We thanked him and followed his daughter’s lead into a quiet massage shop tucked inside the Amulet Market.

After making sure the massage shop we’re visiting is not the kind that includes “happy endings”, I approached the owner and ordered the boys a one-hour traditional Thai massage.
The boys were shown into a curtained cubicle, where they changed into what seemed like oversized hospital grubs.

Joshua has never been to a Thai massage before, and he clearly had no idea what he was in for.
As the petite Thai masseuse instructed him to lie on the mattress, Joshua casually munched on a can of Mister Potato thinking that he’s in for a relaxing soothing massage.

How wrong was he.
Over the course of the next 60 minutes, the little Thai lady used all her might to punch, whack, twist, snap and pulverise the living shit outta Joshua Chng.

For a moment there, the boys were worried if they were gonna be bent into human pretzels.
By the end of their session, Joshua and Boo Leong were speaking Thai words they never knew they could, most of which includes excruciating yells of “Arggghh!!!” and “Owww!!!” and “HELP MEEEE!!!”

It’s a miracle they managed to walk out of the shop alive.
It was late afternoon when we’re finished and by then, the sweltering heat has died down considerably.

We wanna make the most out of Old Bangkok before we leave, so we took the ferry (3.5 baht or 3 5sen) cross-river to the old Thai capital of Thonburi where the Temple of Dawn Wat Arun is located.
Wat Arun is unlike any of the other wats we had visited. For one, this temple is not covered in gold.

It is also not overcrowded by tourists and hence we get to enjoy it as a more leisurely pace.
The central spire is tall and built like a pyramid. There are steep staircases running up the central spire, which you can climb and be rewarded with a bird’s eye view of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples.

The temple grounds of Wat Arun are just as interesting.

Littered alongside the walkways are plenty of fascinating statues.
And they all seem to enjoy a certain brand of potato chips very much.

Anyway, we were all wat-ed out by the time we’re through with Old Bangkok.

After sunset, I brought the boys to MBK, where we had dinner and some light shopping under the comfort of some much-needed airconditioning.
But before we called it a day, there’s only one more place on our itinerary that we needed to go.

The world’s tallest rooftop bar is located just 5 minutes down the road from Lub d Bangkok. After hearing so many good things about it, we just HAD to visit the elusive Sky Bar.
Drinks here are expensive at 200 baht (RM20) a pop.

But with views THIS spectacular, you simply cannot put a price tag on it.
It is so spectacular here that when you overlooking the city lights of Bangkok, you can’t help but think of yourself as Batman.

After we left the Sky Bar, our sightseeing part of Bangkok has finally came to an end.
We checked out of Lub d Bangkok on the morning of Day 3, but not before rewarding the helpful receptionist with a bag of Mister Potato.

And while we’re at it, we spreaded the Mister Potato love to some ang moh tourists as well.

You can see that she’s impressed with the size of Joshua’s can.
Even the tuk tuk driver who drove us around wasn’t spared from the love of Mister Potato.

Well, after two days in hostel accommodation, I decided to upgrade the boys to grand luxury and put them up at the spacious President Solitaire Serviced Apartment on Sukhumvit Soi 11.

From there, we took the Sky Train to visit the monolithic Chatuchak Weekend Market, where we had yummy mango sticky rice for breakfast.

I gave the boys 8,000 baht (RM800) shopping money on behalf of Mister Potato, and then I gave them a mission.
To conquer Chatuchak Market!

As the boys go off shopping in amongst the 15,000 stalls there, I finally found some time to my own.
It was then that I discovered the most fantastic beef soup noodle at this stall called Boat Noodles inside JJ Plaza.
You can tell a food stall is good when the seats inside are all filled to the brim with locals.

The seating arrangement is cramped to say the least, but that does not deter the patrons from coming in, order a bowl, and helping themselves with spices and freshly-plucked mint leaves on the table.
Boat Noodles certainly did not disappoint.

It may not look like much, but this stall sells the freshest, most delicious noodle soup I have ever tasted in Bangkok.
It was so good, my mouth still salivates thinking about it right now.
After one whole day of non-stop shopping, the boys finally returned with their loot from Chatuchak Market. They had spent all the 8,000 baht I gave them, and then some.

Four days in Bangkok whizzed by pretty quickly when you’re having fun.
Just when we’re just getting used to good food, cheap massages, bargain shopping and the hospitality of friendly locals, it is time for us to big farewell to fabulous Bangkok.

But not before we attempted something so adventerous, it could only be done in Thailand.
One late night, with our empty stomachs protesting, we took it to the streets to hunt for some late night supper.
I thought we’re just gonna go for mamak stalls or 24-hour McDs, but what we encountered literally shocked the Tom Yum out of my guts.

Parked innocently on the side of Sukhumvit Road, is a push cart vendor that selling of all things, INSECTS for supper!
No kidding.

In other countries, restaurants could shut down and the owners hauled to jail if these bugs were found inside restaurants.
In Bangkok however, these insects are considered a DELICACY.
For just 20 baht (RM2), we got ourselves a bagful of very crispy deep fried grasshoppers.

Our late night snack

Although initially apprehensive, the boys seemed to have no problems gobbling down fried insects. They literally just broke the limbs off and popped it into their mouths as if they were eating potato chips. Except potato chips don’t come with legs.
Myself, on the other hand, took a little bit of courage. Yes, I ate snake heart before. But swallowing grasshopper is a whole new different ball game.

But I took a deep breath, popped it in my mouth, and swallowed the damn thing anyhow.
So how did it taste like?
I must admit, it didn’t taste as foul as I thought it would be.
With the heavy masking of lard and soy sauce, fried grasshoppers actually tasted quite alright. The texture may take a bit of getting used to, but I say it’s very similar to munching on IKAN BILIS. Just don’t expect to see it on your nasi lemak anytime soon though.

Well, given a choice between fried grasshoppers and Mister Potato, I think I still prefered BBQ flavoured potato chips ANYTIME.

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Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market

You could always give the go-go bars a miss if the sight of trannies baring their man boobs offends you.

But one place not to be missed in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market.
I went there during the last day of my trip, which fell on a Saturday luckily. In most places that I’ve travelled to, the markets are always the best place to see a wide range of merchandise and score some great bargains. The only exception is Petaling Street in KL, which is a crap hole filled with scams and rude vendors trying to rip you off.

Chatuchak Market is one of those places that is so legendary, I’ve heard about it long before I visited Bangkok.
My friends often come back home from Thailand sporting some funny but stylish looking T-shirts. When I asked them where they got their T-shirts from, they said ‘Chatuchak’ and that’s how I knew such a wonderful place exists.

Chatuchak Market is HUMONGOUS. The market is pretty much only about the size of a single storey of Midvalley Megamall. But with 8000 stalls packed so densely together, there’s never a risk running out of things to explore.
The prices here aren’t always the cheapest. What I like about Chatuchak though is that the vendors are always nice enough quote a very low price to begin with. Since the prices were already so low, my bargaining skills were practically worthless. Even the “pretend to walk away” tactic doesn’t seem to work.
Another reason I like Chatuchak is because…

They have COCONUTS!

Heaps and HEAPS of COCONUTS!

Coconuts so cool, they can deshell the coconut with one scoop, and hand you a ball of meat with all the coconut juice inside still intact.

Mango sticky rice, a perennial dessert favourite at Thai restaurants worldwide.
I never used to like it because I thought they tasted pretty bland, but then that’s because I’ve been eating cheap imitations at Thai restaurants outside of Thailand.
The real thing is heavenly.

A drink menu in the market.
You don’t pay them in baht. You pay them in baths.
A Pepsi can costs 15 baths. You gotta shower 15 times to buy a Pepsi can.

Lethal weapons: knives, swords, clubs, brass knucks, throwing stars, BB guns. You name it, they’ve got it.
The vendor looks like someone who could ong-bak the living poop out of me.

If you’re an art lover, you’re in for a treat. The alleys of Chatuchak market are filled with paintings, statues and trinkets to brighten up your place. And they’re priced quite reasonably too.
There’s an art gallery inside the market showcasing some pretty cool contemporary abstract drawings. These ones go for around 3,000 bahts (RM300).

Buddha art.
Technically, it’s illegal to sell anything depicting the images of Buddha in Thailand. But no one cares about it anyway. Prostitution is illegal in Thailand but look at how far it went.

Hey, why the long face?

Now that’s a happy Buddha.
Contemporary zen or religious mockery? You decide.

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.

Oh look! Naked tits!
Tee Hee!
Quick! Someone faster go post a comment condemning and force him to take down the photo! Otherwise the minds of many young children reading this will be corrupted, y’know?

There are a lot of things in here not usually found back home, like this “Blob Thing” shown in the video.

Street performers are everywhere in Chatuchak market.

This guy is a cross-dresser trying to raise funds for his surgery, I think.

School kids raising funds for their education by playing music.

Looks like they REALLY need it their education.

For me, the most fun I had was at the pets section of Chatuchak Market.
The pet section here is incomprehensibly large, selling everything from conventional domesticated pets like cats and dogs to the more exotic types, like giant turtles.

I’d love to have a giant turtle, but too bad my baggage might be overweight.
The variety of dogs here are incredible though.

This dog is tulan.
Do not disturb.

This is what happens when you crossbreed a dog and a sheep. You get a dog that looks like a sheep.
Instead of baa baa, it goes woof woof.

When the dogs here are not busy imitating sheeps, they sleep.

Bunnies. Hundreds upon hundreds of them!

Tulan bunny hates wearing dresses.

Sexy hot chicks for your viewing pleasure.

They even sell miniature hedgehogs here. These ones go for 500 bahts (RM50).

Roborovski hamsters. They have literally thousands of them crawling around and they go for only 100 baht (RM10) each.
Not knowing I could actually get Roborovski hamsters in Kuching, I eventually ended up purchasing a pair of them.

The trouble was bringing these creatures from Bangkok back to Kuching.
I was actually stopped by airport security at the Bangkok International Airport when they found out I was carrying hamsters on my hand carry luggage. They wanted to confiscate my hamsters, but obviously I was not ready to let them go. So I lied to them and tell them that I’ll pass the hamsters over to “my friend waiting outside the airport”.

But of course, I didn’t know anyone in Bangkok. In reality, I snooped off to the nearest toilet and did the stupidest thing I could ever do for a pair of hamsters.
I stuffed them inside my pockets.
Yes, I thought about stuffing them inside my underpants initially, but I was afraid they might bite my testicles thinking that it’s food. So anyway, I stuff them inside my pockets of my shorts but those two buggers kept crawling out.

That didn’t work, so I thought to myself “bugger it” and stuff them inside my backpack. I figured if they confiscate it, then well, bad luck. At least I tried.
Lucky I didn’t put the hamsters in my pockets because when I went through airport security the second time, they actually patted me down and emptied my pockets.
My hamsters, on the other hand, went through the X-ray machine together with my laptop.
I wonder if they saw two tiny little hamster skeletons on their screen, because they let me through successfully.

And so, the two little hamsters went home with me back to Kuching (until one became Spiderham and jumped out the window from the second floor).
That concludes my short adventure in Bangkok. I also bought some gifts for friends, a new backpack and a few of those funny T-shirts that I always wanted.

150 baht

There was this one brilliant T-shirt that I really liked though, but I didn’t buy it ‘cos I was not sure what my mom would say if I actually wore it out.
Why, you ask?

Well, I think that’s self-explanatory.

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Banging The Kok

Welcome to my super late travel log entry on my recent Bangkok trip.

After the Black Eyed Peas concert (of which I went backstage and met them OMG), I had a little bit of spare time to explore the historical Siam city.
Truth to be told, I didn’t quite enjoy the trip as much I hoped for. At the time, I had a lot of work at the back of my mind and I couldn’t put myself at ease eventhough I’m in an exciting new foreign city. The smog and bustling traffic of the thriving metropolis did nothing to soothe my headache.

This is my single private room at the guesthouse that costs me only 300 baht (RM30) a night. I did mention before that I don’t have the habit of paying for more expensive hotel rooms if I’m travelling solo, so this one suits my budget well.
The place is spotless clean, but the pillows are so damn hard I swear they’re made of bricks. You get what you paid for I guess.

I stayed at the Cozy Bangkok Place which is located reasonably near to the subway station and close to the city centre. Outside the guesthouse are rows of cheap residential houses.

When I walked past them in the morning or at night, the locals would greet me cheerfully though they don’t speak a word of English. I always appreciate that kind of heartfelt hospitality when I travel. 🙂

Nothing beats the value, the atmopshere and the taste of streetside hawker food. I tell ya, the Thais serve up some of the best-tasting fried rice in the world.
Wash it down with some Fanta straight from the bottle, and the bill comes up to less than 50 baht (RM5). Bliss!

The fattest, juiciest oysters are found in Thailand. These ones are 60 baht a pop (RM6), but I’m sure you could find it cheaper if you search around.

Some street art I spotted outside my guesthouse. It’s meaningless, but it’s cool. Hey, at least it’s a lot better than the ones we have back home.
In Malaysia, our “street art” are either swear words like “F**K YOU C*BAI” or “For gay sex, call John 012-xxxxxxx”.

Satay vendor outside Hua Lamphong station.

Anyway, it’s a good idea to stay at a place close to the subways because the road traffic in Bangkok is a friggin’ nightmare. The traffic in Bangkok is so bad it made KL look like Disneyland.

Here, taxis are perpectually stuck in a jam and tuk tuks rip you off big time. You can’t win.

The subway and sky trains of Bangkok on the other hand are surprisingly clean, fast and comfy. For some weird reason, very few locals use them so the trains are empty 99% of the time.
The only hassle is that there’s a security guard checking your bags everytime you enter the subway. In case you carry a bomb, y’know?

Dear Sue, someone in Thailand wants to bang you.

One thing I noticed about Bangkok is that there are so many places advertising for massages and other kinds of “health” crap. Some more their posters are always this picture of a half-naked lady lying down, eyes closed, receiving a massage.

Look, I love watching half-naked ladies as much as the next guy.
But when you’re SURROUNDED by these posters all around, it can be kinda annoying. I walked two blocks also sien already and started yawning.

Shopping in central Bangkok wasn’t as happening as I thought it was either. Sure, the international brands like Zara and Guess are all there in the glitzy malls, but the prices are more expensive than KL or even Singapore.
I had a really hard time stretching my baht.

Somethings are worth buying though.
I had this suit tailor made at one of those ubiquitous Indian-run shops near my hotel. One full business suit, including jacket, a shirt, two silk shirts, two matching pants and two silk ties for just 6,500 baht (RM650)! Throw in a briefcase, and I’ll look ready to close my next multi-million dollar deal. 😉
All these cut to fit and made in the exact way as an Armani suit. Try to get the same deal back home and it’d cost at least RM1,500.
Dressed to kill, I set out to explore Bangkok’s famous nightlife.

The trend now in many big cities is to have a bar on top a high-rise building. The idea is so that people can get a bird’s eye view overlooking the beautiful city night lights.

I’ve been to many similar bars in other countries before and none of them ever fail to impress me. The views here at Sirocco Sky Bar are just as equally stunning.

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It made Bangkok look like some futuristic city straight out of Star Wars.
Go ahead and click on the pics to download the wallpaper-sized version of them.

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The clubs in Bangkok are no less impressive. When the Black Eyed Peas were here, they said they enjoyed hanging out at the clubs everytime they’re in Bangkok.
And I can see why.

I thought nightlife in Singapore are great. I thought the bars in Jakarta are amazing. But the clubs in Bangkok completely blew me away.

The main clubbing district in Sukhumvit boasts the type of crowd that would put Zouk on a Saturday night to shame. We’re talking about a 5km-stretch Ekamai Road all filled with some of the trendiest clubs and hippest DJs along the road.
No cover charge, and you get to mingle in debauchery with some of the best-dressed crowd and hottest chicks in South-East Asia.

Check out this “bat mobile” parked outside Santika.

Look! There’s even a club called Blog 9! Ha ha.
Anyway, there’s a lot more Bangkok stories to tell, but I’m running out of time.

Up next, Kenny Sia explores the seedy underside of Bangkok’s sleazy go-go bars.

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Muay Thai Hey Ya

The Thais love their kickboxing alright. No doubt about that.

Muay Thai is one the most vicious and unforgiving martial arts discipline in the world. The sport has made international action heroes out of their fighters, like Ong-Bak. No other martial arts from Southeast Asia enjoys the same popularity outside the region as Muay Thai.
Thailand has Ong-Bak: Muay Thai Warrior. Kuching only has Gu-Bak: Pork Chop Eater.

Devoted Muay Thai fighters go through a very punishing conditioning regime that hardens their arms and legs into steel pipe-like toughness. Their bodies so fit there’s not even an ounce of fat left in them.

I had the opportunity to watch live Muay Thai action during my trip there. There’s this stadium on Soi Bangla that promotes itself as “Best of the Best Muay Thai”, so I thought don’t play play – must be good.
This same stadium also claimed to have “real fights”, as opposed to err… fake fights?

Beer. The essential ingredient to every sport.

I paid 700 baht (bargained down from 1000 baht) for a ticket. I won’t say it’s the best RM70 I’ve ever spent but it is something I gotta experience at least once in my life.

One thing that struck me immediately was how very young these fighters start. The first match I witnessed was between at 12-year-old and a 13-year-old. Later in the night there’s even an 8-year-old and a 9-year-old fighting.
Perhaps next time they might have two Thai babies slugging out each other when they’re not sucking on their mommy’s breasts.

The action in the ring was great. There’s one match where we even witnessed a KO in Round One (see video later). However, the production value of the show is crap at best.
Every match is accompanied by a live band that plays some irritating music that sounds like a god-awful cross between Chinese opera music, and Kenny Sia singing karaoke.

As the night went on, it looks like the action OUTSIDE the ring is just as entertaining as the action inside the ring. These girls were just whooping and gyrating wildly throughout the night.

And I can’t help but to do this. Just check out the video. 😉

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If Thais Speak Hokkien

Everyone’s probably sick of reading the Adventures of Kenny Sia in Phuket already so this will be one final entry about my trip.

Oh and you probably won’t get the meaning of this entry if you don’t speak Hokkien, so please bear with me just this once.
You know, with all that notoriety Thailand has as Asia’s sex capital, I gotta wonder what are odds of Phuket sounding like “Fuck It” and the nation’s capital sounding like “Bang Cock”.

What are the odds of me stepping off the plane at Phuket International Airport, and the first thing that I saw was this poster of a baby looking at me with his gaping mouth, eyes wide open, and these Thai words in front it that reads like “DIU”.

I sometimes wonder if all these dubious names would come up if Thais speak Hokkien.

Take an example. The most popular red-light district in Patong Beach is Soi Bangla. In Thai “Soi” means “Street” and “Bangla” means “Festival”“Soi Bangla” simply means “Festival Street”.
In Hokkien however, “Soi Bangla” is a foreign worker from the Bangladesh who is very unlucky.

Elephant porn stars. How is he able to perform with so many people watching?

It’s ridiculous. Sexual connotations are everywhere in Thailand. I was brainwashed after just one day walking around Soi Bangla, so much so that when I saw this shopsign,

And when I saw this shop,

Sometimes, you’ll see shop signs that sound ridiculous, but you can’t pin point what exactly is wrong with it.

I was a little overwhelmed by all these. However, nothing could suppress my laughter when I walked into a dive shop in Phuket, and adorned on the walls are posters promoting dive trips to…

What kinda name for an island is THAT?!
Man, I can so imagine seeing a yellow-haired Paikia Ah Beng squatting on a wooden bench, floral shirt unbuttoned halfway, dragon tattoo, cigarette in one hand, yelling “OI! LU KUA SIMI KUA?! KUA SIMI LAN?!”

If the island is called Similan Island, does that mean the birds on the island are called “Similan Jiao”?

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