Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Phi Phi, Thailand

On our 2nd day at phuket, we took the boat tour to Phi Phi Islands. If only I knew it would take us 6 hours to get to and fro Phi Phi, I would have not taken the tour at all. I could have just used the cost of 1600 Baht for my food blog or shopping.

Seriously, it was too tiring. 1 hour land trip and 5 hours boat trip. To make matters worse, the waves were so strong I really thought the boat would capsize any minute. It was actually a cruise liner that had at least 500 people on it but it looked like only half were the legal limit on that kind of boat.

Passengers were throwing up, feeling nauseaous and sick. It was really terrible. To think Phi Phi wasn't worth all that fear and effort.

Anyway, please continue to read on..

I think an hour or so into the boat ride, we reached Maya Bay.

We literally just passed by Maya Bay so people could take pics. No one got to get down the boat.

Snorkelling at Phi Phi Don. We were such cheapskates we refused to rent the fins, only to endup with a big wound on my big toe due to the sharp corals. Bummer.

We had to share this food with the other tour group passengers. Not bad. But after most of the people throwing up on the boat, this was great food. We met this family from Algeria and another very nice & hospitable family from Bangkok who offered us bananas and rambotan.

Curry Puff, Phi Phi style. Quite Good.

Phi Phi's beach was actually way better than Patong Beach but still incomparable to Boracay or Cebu or even Patar Beach in Pangasinan. I think because the tide was quite strong, the sand got eroded so much that you couldn't go far into the water because it got too deep after a few steps.

I'm sure you all know this is where they shot the movie "The Beach". It does look nice with the cliffs in the backdrop but the water was not that clear plus the granules of the sand weren't fine. My problem is I already have Boracay as my benchmark that's why anything that pales in comparison is not good enough for me. Hehe.

Hundreds of people waiting to get on the boat. I wasn't too excited to endure another 2.5 hours of fear and vomit.

All in all, hate me as much as you want, but I don't think I will ever go back to Phi Phi again if I have to travel 6 hours. It was just too much. Imagine we were only able to snorkel for 1 hour, eat lunch for 30 mins, and swim for another hour. Thats 2.5 hours of leisure compared to 6 hours of torture.

With all the buzz from the movie, the media, the press and the internet, I was really expecting a whole lot from Phuket and Phi Phi, most especially. So I don't think I can blame myself if I feel like i was shortchanged.

Maybe they should shoot the sequel to "The Beach" in Boracay or Cebu or Palawan then I should be happy. :-P

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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Phuket, Thailand

So 6.30 in the morning we already checked-in at the airport so we could get good seats - meaning exit seats hehe. Plus, like I said, I really love Changi Airport. There are so many things you could do. Free Internet, Free Gaming (PS, etc), Shopping, Sleeping, Eating, Gym etc etc.

So let me just blog about the pics rather than every single detail about our trip. I don't think you'd be interested to know the nitty gritty of every minute :-)

I took this shot from the lavatory.

I LOVE airplane food! Though Silkair's food was a little disappointing. PAL would usually serve both bread and dessert but with Silkair, you can only get either of the two but not both. Or is it because of the airline industry crisis around the world?

YES!! you read it right! Those are real worms. Worms that I actually ate! hehehe.

Mmmm, tastes like chicken. Rotten Chicken. hehe. No but seriously, they weren't bad at all. Just tastes like normal fried finger food. We got so excited buying all sorts of Thai snacks in this store only to find out later they sold 2-3 times more than the retail price.

Now this is a very interesting pic. I took this pic during the mandatory "city tour" en route to our hotel from the airport. Another tourist trap - we were taken to a supposedly "famous" honey manufacturer and as soon as we got there we where whisked and LOCKED in this room. Can you imagine that? If she was selling good-find food or souvenirs then it would have been interesting. But she was selling freakin' honey that she claims can cure almost all forms of sickness AND burn your fat. BULLSHIT. Plus the honey was so damn expensive.

It was so funny how it got awkward when everyone was just sitting there with no interest to buy at all, but couldn't go out of the damn room. Sometimes I think Asians are really nice people because in such cases we just keep quiet, act interested and remain courteous. I can just imagine if caucasians or white people were put in the same situation. I bet they would storm out of the room and humiliate the damn lady.

And the reason why the girl looks blurred in the pic is because she quickly moved away when I took this shot and told me "Sorry no pics allowed". I should have said "Then let me out of the f$&!ing room!!"

And yet another tourist trap. Inside a jewelry factory. We were swarmed by the sales ladies as soon as we got inside the jewelry floor. Reminds me of the tour we had in Hongkong years ago. Well, at least they served free flowing juice and softdrinks.

Morale of the story - Never ever take a package tour. If you could buy a "free and easy" tour to avoid all these unnecessary city tours then do it. The only reason why we took this package is to avoid the hassle for the hotel-airport transfers because it was my first time in phuket.

Finally. Welcome drinks at Holiday Inn Resort, Patong Beach.

The hotel room was probably one of the most spacious hotel rooms I have ever seen. That couch beside the bed was as big as a single bed, no kidding.

All that room space and you still get a balcony. Hallelujah! hehe. Too bad our view was the 7-11 downstairs hehe.

I love this snack! Fried whole crablets.

Main Wing Pool

May they rest in peace.

Busakorn Wing Pool

I really hate to sound so bitter but the beach was the biggest disappointment of our phuket trip. I mean all that hype and media about Phuket and this is what I saw. Seriously, it looked like any other regular non-touristy beach in the Philippines. The sand was dark, the water was murky and unclear, and the waves were so damn big it was hard to frolic on the beach. Phuket was just incomparable to Boracay. I don't want to sound unfair and bias, just because I'm from the Philippines, but being as objective as I can, that is the honest truth.

Maybe more than the disappointment, I really felt bad for the beaches in the Philippines. Cebu, Boracay and Palawan would give Phuket or even Phi-Phi a run for their money. But the tourists in Phuket, especially the caucasians, were probably 10 times more than the tourists in Boracay. Seriously, I've never seen so many white people in my life in an asian destination. Even the white people in Raffles City can't compare to the ones I saw in Phuket.

So if anyone knows anyone from the Department of Tourism in the Philippines, I think this is a wake-up call.

Bangla Road. Famous for their notorious go-go shows where ladies play pingpong and pick up bottles with their vajayjay (if you know what I mean).

Have a break, Have Haagen-Dazs. Hehe

I couldn't resist not taking a shot of this. Very Funny hehe.

About to take a dip at the Busakorn Wing Pool.

This water and sounds show was at the Jungceylon Mall near Bangla Road. Like a mini-version of the Bellagio Water show. I'm not sure if I was hearing things but I think they were playing "Don't leave me this way" during the water show - quite a weird choice of song.

I was really impressed with the Phuket International Airport. It's way nicer and more spacious than the Manila International Airport Terminal 1. What a shame. Another wake-up call.

Is Burger King also this expensive in Manila? Thailand Baht has higher value than Philippine Peso, which means if you convert this to pesos it's almost like eating in a restaurant right? 200 Baht is around 8 SGD. I'm surprised people in Thailand can afford this.

My Last Supper. On the plane that is..

If not for the highest of highest of my expectations, I think Phuket would have been a wonderful trip. Nevertheless, shopping and food was amazing. Fresh seafood was cheap and delicious. Shopping was even cheaper. More so, they had sizes up to 4XL. So they fit both my budget and my tummy. haha. But haggling is a skill in Thailand. It is true that you bargain for half the price of what they offer. Especially in touristy areas where some people take advantage. There was even one time the tuktuk was charging us 150 baht for a short trip. Tsk Tsk.

The hotels and resorts were also amazing. It was a blessing that we stayed at the Holiday Inn or else I would have been so pissed. At least we were able to enjoy the pool and amenities of the hotel.

Till the next travel blog..

Sucks to go back to work..

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Thursday, July 24, 2008

"Excellent Customer Service"

Someone forwarded this to me and I can't help but share it with you guys...

Last week, we took some friends out to a new restaurant, and noticed that the waiter who took our order carried a spoon in his shirt pocket. It seemed a little strange. When the waiter brought our water and cutlery, I noticed he also had a spoon in his shirt pocket. Then I looked around and saw that all the staff had spoons in their pockets. When the waiter came back to serve our soup I asked, "Why the spoon?" "Well, "he explained, "the restaurant's owners hired a Consulting firm to revamp all our processes. After several months of analysis, they concluded that the spoon was the most frequently dropped piece of cutlery. It represents a drop frequency of approximately 3 spoons per table per hour. If our staff are better prepared, we can reduce the number of trips back to the kitchen and save 15 man-hours per shift."

As luck would have it, I dropped my spoon and he was able to replace it with his spare. "I'll get another spoon next time I go to the kitchen instead of making an extra trip to get it right now." I was impressed.

I also noticed that there was a string hanging out of the waiter's zip on his trousers. Looking around, I noticed that all the waiters had the same string hanging from their flies. So before he walked off, I asked the waiter, "Excuse me, but can you tell me why you have that string right there?" "Oh, certainly!" Then he lowered his voice. "Not everyone is so observant. That consulting firm I mentioned also found out that we can save time in the rest-room. By tying this string to the tip of you know what, we can pull it out without touching it and eliminate the need to wash our hands, shortening the time spent in the rest-room by 76.39 per cent."I asked "After you get it out, how do you put it back?"

"Well," he whispered, "I don't know about the others, but I use the spoon."

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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

2 nights to go till Phuket! :-)

I haven't been to Thailand so I'm really excited about going to Phuket this Friday. YIPEEE!!! :-)
One thing I like about living here in Singapore is the convenience & affordability of travel. Several times a year, they stage huge travel fairs at the expo or convention centres. With several budget airlines like Jetstar, Air Asia & Cebu Pacific, traveling has become really affordable - especially to Asian countries.

So this Friday we will be flying SilkAir - Singapore's Regional Airline. We get to eat food on the plane and hang around at Changi Airport. I love Changi terminal, it's almost like a real shopping mall inside. Actually, thanks to Zach's travel voucher we were able to afford SilkAir hehe.

We will be staying at the Holiday Inn Phuket. I saw on their website that they recently underwent renovations and theres a new wing - Busakorn Wing. The pics look reallyyyyy nice. So I have yet to see if the pictures are what they claim to be in real life. You know how pics can deceive you most of the time, especially online hotel pics. By the way, thanks again to Zach's travel voucher hehe.

2 more nights and I can't hardly wait!! Finally, I can add a blog entry to the last F for flight haha so shallow.
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Sunday, July 20, 2008

J.CO Donuts & Coffee, Bugis Junction

When I was new here in Singapore, I was really surprised at how much the locals love donuts. And I say this because I didn't think they were fond of donuts because most of them are so thin (so unfair!). They would really fall in line for hours just to get their box of donuts. And everytime a new donut shop would open, people would make such a big deal about it.

So here comes another donut shop - J.Co. The first time I saw J.Co was in Pavilion in Kuala Lumpur late last year. So I thought it was a malaysian brand, but the website says their first store was in Indonesia. They now have more than 40 outlets across Asia. Watch out Manila! They are opening soon in the Philippines.

So being a big fan of Krispy Kreme and Go Nuts donuts in Manila, I wanted to give my verdict on these intriguing donuts.

We ordered a piece each of "Don Mochino" ($1.30), "Alcapone" ($1.30), & "Glazzy" ($1.20), plus "Green Tea Freeze" ($6). Then to our delight, we got a complimentary Glazzy donut. Yey! hehe.

Now my verdict -
I actually find their donuts a bit bland. Yes they were light and fluffy, but too light to be honest. Donuts are supposed to make you feel guilty. Compared to the donuts in Manila, the ones I've tasted in the US are even more oily and sweet. In my honest opinion, there are some foods best left fattening. Donuts are supposed to be a "treat", a comfort food. But these donuts were like the healthy version. True enough, their website says they value healthy ingredients and products that have health value. I mean if you wanted health food then eat fruits or vegetables right? I'm not making a big fuss about it, it's just that I feel donuts should remain donuts. That's just my opinion. :-)

Also, whenever I eat donuts I really am after the taste of the dough. Toppings should just compliment the bread not overpower it. Haha I can't believe I'm so emotionally affected by these "healthy" donuts hehehe.

Overall, J.Co was good. I was really impressed with the interior of the cafe. Even better than most fine dining restos. The seats were mostly couches and lounge chairs and the decor was eye-candy. But if I were to pick my favorite donut, I would still choose the artery-clogging Krispy Kreme :-P

Here is my rating for J.Co:

Ambiance - 5
Service - NA
Food - 3
Presentation - NA
Value for Money - 4.5
OVERALL - 4.17
B1, 200 Victoria Street, Bugis Junction
Singapore 188021

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