Monday, December 31, 2012

Wonderful 2012 Travels

Every year, I compile the list of places that I've traveled to. And this year is no different.

Here they are, in order of my visits :)

1. Phuket!
Hotel Hopping, Good Seafood and... the Beach!

I started 2012 countdown at the island of Phuket!!

Ah, it was a good start to 2012, I must say! I did something I like to do - hotel hop!

Yes, I stayed in 3 different boutique hotels in Phuket!

All of the hotels are nice.. though my favourite is The Belle Resort, a boutique hotel close to Patong beach.

Owh and on this trip, I had good seafood too, particularly at this local restaurant at Kalim beach (called Kalim Rim Lay). Ah, the food is authentic, yummy... and affordable!! So much so that I ate there twice!

Owh, there's more to Phuket like enjoying the sunsets at the beaches (like the busy Patong beach and the quieter Kalim beach) and also walking at the mall too!

2. Broga Hill!
I went trekking.. oooooo!

Now, some won't call this a holiday. After all, Broga Hill is not that far from the city. But coming from the other side of it (and over an hour drive from 4am in the morning)... well, this adventure is worth the mention.

I enjoyed the hill climb in the dark - yes pitch dark. Probably cause I was with some close buddies - reminding me of my scouting days (my scoutmaster mentioned: once a Scout always a Scout!).

Btw, the sunrise was okay - not so much as I expected (I was hoping for the birth of rays.. oops), but still the whole trip was pretty enjoyable.

And it's also meaningful for me.. cos I hardly go trekking! So, it's like one big mission accomplished!!

3. Singapore! (April)
48 Hours Of Fun!

This year, I've been to the city island for a couple of times. One of them was in just 48 hours.

I zoomed in and out, but did some shopping and also watched a Korean musical in between.. ah, it was nice to visit the Esplanade (again)!

4. Bangkok! (April)
I Got So Wet!!

I visited this City Of Angels 3 times this year.. Yes 3 times indeed!

And the very first time, it was for the water festival of Songkran!!

I must say, I got so wet here.. and naively, I didn't expected so. I was splashed with water throughout.. and got a lil shock at first (and to the point of thinking it was a mistake to visit Bangkok at that time, at first). 

But after the 1st night and initial shock, I adjusted myself, and played along too. Owh, played hard I did!!

5. Singapore! (August)
Marina Bay Sands, I Meet You... And Mr Batman Too!

Another short trip into the island city.. just after shooting Summer Love: KL! So this was more of a release tension trip!

Ah, if the 1st trip I went with Ben, this trip I went with the other business partner Arico. 

The whole trip was pretty laidback.. but I did manage to find some time to visit the Marina Bay Sands for the very first time! 

And as usual, I visited the Bugis Junction Mall... and at that time, they were promoting The Dark Knight movie! Me of course.. couldn't resist taking a photo with Mr Batman!!

And at Bugis too, I tried for the 1st time a recommended French-Japanese restaurant - Ma Maison, trying its hamburger with yummy egg!

6. Bali!
Sightseeing and Eating The Best Food!!

Now, how do I start with Bali? I've seen so much here.. from the likes of seeing over the cliff at the famous Uluwatu temple (which btw is the one I am awed the most) to letting go of turtles at Kuta Beach, getting blessed at Tanah Lot and visiting the Ubud Palace and Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary.

Ah and then came all the good food starting off with Ibu Oka's babi guling (made famous by food critic Anthony Bourdain)!

The other so good food that I tried - the popular pork ribs fro Nuri's, the best-est ever roasted chicken (from Go Fast), the very spicy chicken from Ayam Bertutu Khas Gilimanuk

I also enjoyed dining by the sea.. having good and affordable seafood at Lia Cafe Jimbaran!

One of the other memories from Bali - is the motorbike ride I did... after more than a decade of not riding the bike, I rode for quite a journey here!

7. Singapore! (Sept)
More Tourist Stuff.. and the F1!!

What, Katy Perry is going to perform? And Jay Chou too? Owh, that got me buying the F1 tickets..! I actually bought this way in advance.. and was looking forward to my 1st F1 concert!

And that was 3 nights of concerts.. which I truly enjoyed myself (so much) for I got to see the singers I like lots!! Owh, and I must add.. I won the front area views! So, I was that close to Katy and Jay Chou!!

But surprise surprise, that's not the only thing I discover in the city. I mean, it's funny right.. I've lived there for 8 years, yet there are new things for me to experience. Like this dessert shop (Mei Heong Yuen) with its beautiful shaved iced desserts, in Chinatown. 

And such a tourist I was - that I also visited one of Singapore's newest attractions.. the Gardens By The Bay!  Chopped, signed and sealed - I'm a confirmed tourist to the city I onced lived!!

7. Cyberview Resort!
Chilling in the City!!

In between Bangkok and Singapore travels, I did spend a mini getaway at Cyberjaya's 5 star resort - the Cyberview Resort! Which btw, was a pleasant surprise.. of a nice chilling weekend. I love the swimming pool and their rooms!!

8. Bangkok! (Nov)
Back At The City.. As A Real Tourist!

Ah, the city I love most.. and the city that I've been to so many times, but yet to visit all the tourist places. Well, that changed during this trip!

For, I finally got to visit the likes of the Grand Palace and the sleeping Buddha at Wat Pho, amongst other things (like meeting Batman.. in Platunam Mall!).

9. Malacca And Singapore! (Dec)
Christmas Season Time!!

My friends from Thailand were down, and so being a gracious host (ehem, ehem.. :) ), we visited my hometown and then to Singapore. 

Well, it has been ages since I was back to Malacca anyway, so it was a good visit. More so, when being a 'tourist', for then the point of views are very different.

Apart from the historical area like The Stadhuys and Jonker's, we also visited the other part of town - the Portugese Settlement where houses decorate for the Christmas season. The last time I was here was probably during my university days...!! Wow!

After Malacca, we headed to Singapore.. where I spent more time with families and also friends. I guess, I've seen enough of Singapore over the year, and so had more time to spare and meet up with some old buddies and also new online friends!

One of the highlights in Singapore is having this really yummy lunch in Awfully Chocolate during Christmas. The main course were good, and so were its desserts!! I so wanna come back here!

10. Bangkok And Koh Samed! (Dec)
Countdown On The Island... Again!!

I kinda made a point to countdown overseas, but wasn't too sure on where to go.. Well, I actually have 3 options - Manila, Taipei or Bangkok. It was a tough choice as these are my 3 favourite cities. 

So why Bangkok? Well, partly cos we are going to shoot Summer Love: Bangkok next year! And so I thought I could do a lil more site visit this trip. 

Well, in a way yes (I did get to visit the newly opened Central Silom mall).. but most of the time was spent on Koh Samed!

Yes, I followed my friend, Fish and his group of friends to this island paradise of sea, sand, sun.... and ah, a lil bit more!

It was really a nice trip - making a whole bunch of new Thai friends, having some good food, walking on the fine white beach, swimming in the sea.. and partying the nights away!

Well, there it is - my complete wonderful travels of 2012. Looking back, I really didn't venture out of the region.. in fact, apart from Bali, it was mainly just Singapore and Thailand!

But that's okay. For I must say I did have a good time in those places that I visited.

And now what's in store for 2013? Japan is out of the question (same as per 2012) - for the radiation stuff (boo hoo!). So, I've set my sights a lil further. I really really want to go to the USA!! I hope I can make this happen!!

Owh, and of course there will obviously be Bangkok again - Songkran is too good to miss, and well, we will be shooting the 2nd season of Summer Love there!! 

I guess if I still have any more leaves left - I'd like to go back to Taipei. And also do some local traveling within Malaysia. An island getaway perhaps. 

Ahh..... happy traveling, my friends, and to a Happy 2013!! :)

*Read my past travels!!
Wonderful 2010 Travels
Wonderful 2009 Travels
Wonderful 2008 Travels

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Bangkok Hostel Review: Saphaipae Hostel Bangkok

What comes to mind when I mention hostel?

While I've stayed in some cool hostel before but I must say the image of a cram space, old fashion and unkept hostel do looms by.

But well, in my last trip to Bangkok.. hostel has a new meaning to it. All thanks to Saphaipae which I spent a good few nights.

Free internet for guests
One of the many different sofas at the lounge
The many different parts of the lounge and recreational area

This chic hostel welcomes guests with a large reception lounge cum recreational area with pool tables, sofas and computers with free wifi.

Me at the bar

Also at the ground floor is a mini bar that serves drinks.. and at the other corner is a Restaurant. Now, that's like more than what a hostel usually offers ya?

On the 1st night, I had my very first meal in Bangkok here!
The outdoor dining
Breakfasts served at the restaurant.. ain't that lovely!
I had my fair share of yummy food - breakfasts, lunches and dinners here! I must say I do like their food!!
Next to the rooms. This hostel offers mixed dormitories from 2 to 10 beds, exclusive female doms, private family rooms and also private rooms.

I got the private room with attached bathroom. Now, while I was awed with the facilities downstairs, but I wouldn't expect much space in the room.

Owh, how wrong was I! The private room that I stayed was decently huge, and came with windows.

At one of the corners of the hostel.. just outside my room. So colourful! And I matched it with my Thai pants! haha!

The deco in the rooms are simple but nice enough. It comes with the basic ammenities like safety box, air cond, bed lamps, TV and coffee and tea set. I must say this is pretty complete - and more than that I'd ask for. It also has a sofa!

My welcome snack! Very unexpected, but very happy indeed!
The bed in the bedroom with table lamps. 

The attached bathroom looks pretty elegant for a hostel heh?
Me taking some shots in the room XD
Btw I took an opportunity to visit the other rooms - the dorms, and like it too! The rooms all look so neat and clean.. plus chic enough to bunk in. Especially so if I'm here with a larger group of buddies - this will be a good choice!

4 to a room don't feel so cram, does it?

Good sized lockers are provided in the rooms.

And owh ya, the shared bathroom thing.. check their bathrooms out! They are huge and clean!

They also have laundry rooms - with washing machines and dryers. Wow, seriously? This hostel sure thinks for the guests! And will be something I would use when I stay longer here in Bangkok!

Truly, like Bangkok, Saphaipae opened my eyes to what's possible - and how far their tourism has come.

All these for still an affordable price!

35 Surasak Road Silom
BangrakBangkok 10500
Tel: +6622382322

The hostel is only about 5 mins walk from Surasak BTS.. Which is just 2-3 stops from the heart of Silom!