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Saturday, July 19, 2014

Sojourn Snapshots: Chiang Mai, Thailand

I'm heading to Chiang Rai today, and in the next couple of days, I'll be taking the slow boat to Luang Prabang, Laos. 

So, before I officially exit Thai soil, let me give you a quick rundown of what I did in Chiang Mai.


Clockwise: foggy day at Doi Suthep, Wat Chedi Luang, and Buddha inside the viharn of Wat Lok Molee

Of course, no trip to Chiang Mai would be complete without visiting its many temples. In the Old City alone, there are already about a dozen - some of which were actually very close to where I first stayed at. 

The temples are different from the ones in Bangkok mainly because of its Lanna architecture. But after visiting a handful, they all started to look the same to me.

Night Market & Food Tripping

The Sunday Night Market starts from 5:00 pm until 11:00 pm. The whole Ratchadamnoen Road is closed to traffic and lined with stalls selling everything imaginable. You can buy trinkets for as low as THB10.00; clothes are usually from THB120.00 to THB250.00; and street food, usually from THB20.00 to THB60.00.

It was just a bummer that it started raining about 8:00 pm so I had to go back to the guesthouse. Good thing it was literally just a few steps away from the night market.   

Don't worry if your trip doesn't fall on a weekend. You can just go to Warorot Market. All the merchandise are from there anyway. Also check out the food court. This is where the locals eat.

Elephant Mahout Training

Definitely the highlight of my Chiang Mai trip!
Please excuse my non-existent video editing skills. I probably messed up the resolution.
Recorded using the AEE Magicam

I signed up for a 1-day 'mahout training' course at Chang Siam. Sure, the price was hefty but definitely worth it. It's an amazing experience.

Upon arrival, we were provided with our mahout uniforms; briefed about the elephants (eating and sleeping habits etc); taught how to feed them; basic commands on how to mount, move forwards, backwards, sideways, and how to stop.

We then had lunch prepared by our trainer, Nong, and shortly began our trek in the jungle. At first it was really scary riding the elephant bareback, but you have to trust yourself and the elephant, and everything will be fine. 

After our trek, we bathed them in the river and had so much fun!

It's definitely something you have to try at least once in your life. 

Rest & Relaxation

After my jam-packed first few days, I wanted some downtime and got just that at Siripanna Villas Resort & Spa. I was welcomed by the lovely staff and management, and treated to a sumptuous dinner buffet at their Slee Banyan Restaurant.  

The room and facilities were superb! They even have a working rice field where guests can try rice planting. I tried it too!  

Detailed blog review of the resort and rice planting pictures, to follow. ;)


For real time travel updates and more photos, please 'Like' my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram. Happy travels!

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

The Monasteries of Mandalay Part 1

Our first day in Mandalay began with a brief visit to Mahamuni Paya followed by a trip to Sagaing Hill.

Seven-tiered Pyatthat-style roof housing the Mahamuni Buddha (the most revered Buddha statue in the country)

On our way to Sagaing Hill, the driver pulled over before reaching the bridge so we can take pictures of the numerous white and gold pagodas dotting the hill.  

Monday, May 5, 2014

5 Reasons Why You Should Consider a Vacation Rental

While planning for our week-long Hong Kong trip earlier this year, I was once again faced with the challenge of looking for lodging options that can accommodate our small group, and more importantly, will fit our budget. 

I've searched high and low for family rooms, but guesthouses were either already fully booked, rooms were not available for consecutive nights on our travel dates, hotel rates were waaay beyond our budget or the rooms available were not in accessible locations. 

I decided to check on vacation rentals instead and that's how I discovered travelmob - an online marketplace where you can find and rent unique homes from local hosts across Asia Pacific.

After hours of going through their listings, here's 5 reasons why I think you should consider booking vacation rentals on your next trip:

1.  Perfect for families or groups of friends 

Over a year ago, I went to Singapore with 6 other people, 3 senior citizens included. The country is already expensive to begin with so we ended up bunking in a backpackers' hostel. 

It would've been okay, but because we were 7 in a 6-bedroom dorm, my mom and I had to share a single bed. While we saved on lodging cost, the setup wasn't very comfortable. We had to use a communal bathroom, too.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Of Makeup, Monkeys and Mt. Popa

Two words: wet wipes.

I'll come back to that later.

On our second day in Bagan, our guide brought us to Taung Kalat (yeah, yeah, I know. It sounds funny to a Filipino) - a monastery perched atop the volcanic plug caused by the extinct volcano, Mt. Popa. One needs to climb 777 steps to get to the summit which is home to nats or spirits represented by statues. 

Taung Kalat Monastery - often confused to be the actual Mt. Popa