Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Phuket Revisited 2010: Take Me To My Beach

And we were reminded of All Saint's 'Pure Shores'. One of our favourite songs, even though we've never watched 'The Beach'.

Our first trip to Phuket could be considered as an introduction to the things to do on Patong, and this time around we decided to add on something else so that we didn't just do the same old, same old. And since we were staying in Phuket for a longer period this time, we slotted a day in for island hopping around the Phi Phi Islands.

Details of the island hopping package wasn't clear, and at a cost of 1000 baht we weren't too sure if we were getting much out of it when we started checking out websites on touring Phi Phi Islands. Still, pricewise we actually thought 1000 baht to be fair, and when we arrived at the hotel we asked for more details (since we got the hotel to book the package for us).

In the end, we vaguely knew that we were going to go around the island, we'd to bring a towel, sunglasses, swimwear, probably a spare change of clothes, sunblock. And that, we did. Along with our iPhone as our camera (sadly we did not pack our iXus battery charger for this trip) and some cash as well.

This, you got to take note: the tour has been paid for, which includes the transfers to and from Rassada Harbour, the boat ride, our lunch, which technically means if we're not interested in buying souvenirs we don't need to bring any money. Somehow we thought it better to bring a bit of cash along, just in case. The Chief brought some too in case there were souvenirs worth buying on Phi Phi Island. In the end, we only paid for an entry fee of 20 baht to Phi Phi Island (we weren't told of this at all), which is used for upkeep.

Imagine if we didn't bring any cash along with us. What to do then?

So anyways our day started rather early, where we'd to be up around 6am, have our buffet breakfast, then wait for our transport which was scheduled to leave at 7am. Our transport arrives, we've gotten towels from the concierge, hop onto the van along with a Singaporean Malay family and two Malaysian Chinese couples, and...

...had to wait for some more passangers who were late. 20 minutes late. By the time four Indian guys climbed up the van, they were soundly scolded by the Malay mother: "Look at the time! We were suppose to leave at 7! What happens if we're late? If the boat leaves without us and my children cannot go, what are you going to do?" The Indians muttered their apologies only to be told, "Sorry no cure!" Garangnya mak ni... The Chinese guys also voiced loudly in Cantonese that even the latecomers knew the gist of displeasure everyone had against them (in our case we sent out a strong silent wave of displeasure).

Not halfway through the ride to the harbour, one of the latecomers opened a window, letting in a drought that brought in dust and smoke. These latecomers were getting less and less popular. One of the Chinese guys asked them to close the window, and that's where we all learned that one of the latecomers was feeling nauseous, not that we could see it.

Being very late in the first place, plus the fact that it wasn't apparent why they wound down the window in the first place, it was hard to be sympathetic to the nauseous fellow. If he'd actually thrown up we think everyone would have kicked out the four and head on our way.

Interestingly, the four Indians came dressed quite proper in shirts and jeans. Without any bags, without any towels, without any change of clothes. And throughout the entire trip they never changed out of those clothes either.

Luckily we arrived on time to board the cruise boat (our package was with the Sea Angel Tours), were given our tour stickers, and we were on our way! On our way there we somehow found ourself on the top deck as the inner decks (with proper seats and air-conditioning) were full with a large tour group. The top deck was still empty so we managed to set up chairs at the front of the deck, prime spots for the trip.

Here then poses another choice: start suntanning on our way to Phi Phi Island, or not? The angmohs were already in their swimwear and/or shorts and slapping on the sunblock. In the end we decided to suntan too, since we were on the top deck and it was bright and sunny and we weren't too keen on sweating our tanktop into a wet rag. And a good idea it was to begin tanning, too! It was bright and windy so we didn't feel hot and sweaty after all, and it took about an hour before we reached the Island.

Our first stop, Tonsai Pier, where another tour group got off. Here we went down to the inside decks to enjoy the air-conditioning (when the boat isn't moving, the upper deck heats up fast!) and soon we were on our way sightseeing around the Phi Phi Lay islands. Admittedly once sitting inside we couldn't pay much attention to what the guide was saying over the loudspeakers.

After the sightseeing bits we were stopped at Monkey Beach, given lifejackets and snorkels and allowed to go swim! We were worried that the lifejackets might have some smell, but thankfully not. The snorkels, however, we decided best not to think so much about who has used them before. Then it was time to dive!

Last time we did this was end of 2001, if we're not wrong, during our Redang trip with university coursemates. We snorkled then and even did a bout of scuba diving, where we donned on the snorkel, had a gas tank, and was dragged by a professional diver while we took snapshots of the sea bed and fishes with a disposable underwater camera that gave us...proof that we did go scuba diving, at least.

Anyways it was good to get to snorkel again, and we even swam all the way from the deepwater where the boat was anchored to the beach area, where there were loads of monkeys on the trees.

We just wonder how safe our belongings are when we go snorkelling, since not everyone will want to swim. But since everything was still in place when we got back, so we dropped the issue.

Arrival at the Phi Phi Pier...

...and we're informed that we need to pay a fee. Somebody did complain that this should have been informed early on the brochure, or that it should already have been inclusive with the package.

Directions were given by signboard...

...and where to go for lunch!

The PP Princess.

They've got these nice big pavilions set up but we're surprised at the lack of fans. Surely, some form of ventilation could have been fixed up?

After lunch, it was time to roam the island! The Thais show their sense of humour not only via their advertisements, but also their signages...

So reminded of Portal in a way looking at this photo.

Unlike Patong beach where the waves are consistent (but very relaxing as white noise), here the waters were calm. And if you want a deckchair it'll cost you 100 baht. We decided to walk about the shops instead.

Soon it was time to board the boat once more, and we didn't find anything to buy so we decided to head back to snag some good seats. Climbing up the boat we were initially shocked to see this.

Not wearing our glasses and whatwith the sedate nature of this trip, instead of immediately identifying them for what they were we thought they were memorial photographs of victims.

Another incident on our trip back to Rassada Harbour. Seats were getting full as the boat picked up more passangers for the return trip, and soon enough there was this Indian chap who came up to us, tapped our shoulder and asked if anyone was sitting on the seat next to us (where we had our towel draping to dry after wiping down from snorkelling).

Now to be fair, we do think that this Indian chap was self-consciously polite. When he flagged over a staff with a rubbish bag to take his trash, the chap wanted to take away our disposable cup that we've left in the netting on the back of the chair in front of us. When he wanted to go somewhere for a while and come back, he'll tap our shoulder and tell us in broken English his intentions.

Only...we left that cup there on purpose should we have any rubbish to throw, so we weren't happy and stopped him. And when he sat beside us, he had totally no concept of personal space, and so both of us had our elbows and arms pressed against each other as we fought for armrest space and his knee tried to make friends with our hip (oh chappy was slightly chubby). Plus he tapped our shoulder rather hard, which we considered as not polite. Not to mention, we already had a bad encounter with the latecomers this morning.

And he's really pressing onto us as if we were Siamese twins. We tried sleeping. Not too much luck.

Nearing Rassada Harbour we couldn't take it anymore and abruptly sat up straight, knocking his left arm out of our personal territory (also way way past the armrest and separating line that divides our seat from his).

Back at Rassada Harbour we were greeted by more souvenir photographs! But we've decided that, if we were to have people take photos of us, we'd like the background to show more of where we've been (ie Phi Phi Island) rather than of the harbour.

Plus the Chief had already bought us the souvenir aka memorial photographs earlier on, heh.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Phuket Revisited 2010: When We Shop, The World Gets Better

...At least, for us.

And what's there to shop in Phuket? The souvenir t-shirts? The beer branded tank tops?

One reason to shop overseas is to get stuff we can't find back here in Bolehland. And off-hand, two things comes to mind when it's Thailand: foodstuff, and Boots (it's amazing, there isn't a Boots in Sporeland too!).

During this trip we'd two malls to cover: Jungceylon at Patong and Central Festival in town.

It's a bit odd to see this on the chairs around Central Festival. Makes us wonder if kids go missing...

Jungceylon being the nearest, it was our first stop after lunch on the day we arrived. The main reason? To stock up on drinks and snacks that you don't find back here. This included a brand of mixed fruit yoghurt drinks, packets of soya milk mixed with honey and bottled water (the two bottles the hotel provide daily sometimes just isn't enough). Oddly enough this time we weren't interested in buying junk food to snack on when in the hotel, though...normally we'd jump at the sight of those little packets of Twisties or some other flavours you can't find back here.

Guess we were rather focused more on the eateries, then.

And Boots (and Watsons), also for stuff you can't find here. Both have their range of products, like Boots with their Body Wash with a watermelon and mango scent, or Watsons with their Classic Pooh creams and lotions, packaged very nicely (only recently has Guardian's packaging taken a turn for the better with their own stuff). Also not to mention we get Decolgen there cheap, and we still tend to get shocked to find contraceptives available off the shelf, along with other stuff that's considered Pharmacy Only or Prescription Only back here.

Anyways seeing how we've not used the stuff we've gotten from Boots since last year we refrained from buying more, even if they were on offer.

However, we did get this from Carrefour in Jungceylon.

Assorted pork-flavoured instant noodles and crispy pork slices snacks. Because you don't find pork flavoured instant noodles here, and the crispy pork slices go oh-so-well with the instant noodles! Supper takes a whole new turn of satisfaction.

And in Central Festival, we'd not find much in Tops but we did come across this.

Hersheys in a tin box. The Hersheys were good, and it wasn't long before we'd finished one box. Now, if only we have any idea what to do with the box...

Our best buy considered from Central Festival and for this trip, was this iPhone cover.

The Q-Pot Loves iPhone chocolate case.

We'll blame a YKLS member for our looking around at iPhone cases. While we may not be singing with them this year, we still drop by once in a while to say hello. And one day when we were visiting, we'd recently bought the SwitchEasy Capsule Rebel case (aka 'The Watermelon' as it was in two tones of green) and we were dressed in a green t-shirt and in green shorts.

So this fellow, he asks us, did we buy the case to match what we wore? No, we answered, we just like the colour green. But that got us thinking along the lines of getting more iPhone covers, although probably not the ones you can get from Machines or Mac City as those can easily cost over RM100. But even those sold outside tend to be somewhere RM35 or more, and we've not come across any other casing we'd fancy.

Until the Q-Pot. Left upside down and in the box that comes with it, it could really pass off as a box of chocolates. And while this casing is much more bulkier, we can actually stand it upright without needing a stand! Makes it easy watching Sailormoon sometimes!

And as far as we know, there's no such cover here in Bolehland yet! We've a totally unique cover! We're chuffed up over that, haha. To our shame, otousan has also asked if we could get him a Q-Pot cover too, but we're declining to do so for now (well not to mention that we aren't going back to Thailand anytime soon).

As for the Chief's best buy, it would be when we walked into McThai. With football fever going on at the moment and McDonald's having this Coke Footbal Glass collection going on, the Chief has so far three of the glasses. And when we walked into McThai, we saw this.

All the glasses, in a special collector's box, at a rather attractive price of 199 baht. It's at times like these that we feel justified in bringing a rather large and sturdy luggage even for a trip that doesn't require much in terms of clothes or shopping. So naturally we bought the entire thing!

Oh, and since the Chief's already halfway through collecting a set of glasses, the Chief's still going to finish that set. Which means we've got at least three days of large McValue meals with sundaes as we've to help complete that set. We'll get the glasses when we have a craving for fried chicken, then.

Next up, island hopping!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Phuket Revisited 2010: MEALWHAT(tm) Phuket Picks

MEALWHAT(tm) interrupts the Bangkok Photolog series to present you this special edition!

We begin with LUNCHWHAT(tm) on the first day at Phuket! After checking in and resting at the hotel, we head to a favourite spot for lunch: Restaurant No 6!

This place serves decent meals that doesn't cost a bomb and most of their drinks are either served in tall glasses with lots of ice, or in bottles with a foam cosy to keep the beer icy-cold.

After some mulling for where to go next, we decided to splurge a bit for DINNERWHAT(tm)!

Two people.

Four dishes.

All of them, mouthwateringly delicious.

Although we must admit, the butter and garlic sauce may be just a little bit too much for two people...

Every morning, for BREAKFASTWHAT(tm) we would indulge in a heavy buffet breakfast consisting of porridge, pastry buns, toast, pancakes, pork sausages, ham, scrambled eggs, juice, and tea or coffee.

On our second day in Phuket, whatwith a heavy dinner the night before and a heavy breakfast in the morning, LUNCHWHAT(tm) saw us taking it easy and sharing just one dish once we arrived at Central Festival!

After some shopping what better way to rest than to indulge in some ice cream?

And after even more shopping later, it was time for DINNERWHAT(tm)!

We decided to walk into Yayoi after seeing a poster of the yakisoba with omelet.

And while we're able, most of our dishes will feature pork!

Day three in Phuket had us going island hopping to Phi Phi Island for most of the day! LUNCHWHAT(tm) was a simple buffet lunch setup that filled the stomach after our snorkeling session.

For DINNERWHAT(tm) we were introduced to MK Gold by the Chief! However, the branch at Jungceylon was a steamboat setup and not the barbeque setup that the Chief intended to introduce to us. Nevertheless the food was still good!

Everything was poured into the bowl and it all came to a boil quickly.

What we're really reminded of with the sauce is the sweet sauce you get when eating dim sum. What else is in that sauce, we've no idea. But it's tasty!

Day four saw us having our meals at Restaurant No 6 again! A very convenient place for food indeed.

Day five was our last day in Phuket! Yes, somehow we either have been having Thai food or Japanese food when dining in Phuket.

Fuji's food was still good, although must make note for Chief to not order the Fuji Green Tea Fit in the future.

The pork rolls were a delight, mixing pork and cheese!

In future trips to Phuket, we will explore Deutsche Kneipe if they still have their All-You-Can-Eat offer, and Hard Rock Cafe (to get the Phuket Hurricane glass!), and perhaps one of the other recommended seafood restaurants!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Phuket Revisited 2010: We Love It When A Plan Comes Together

It was only last year when we first visited Phuket, and now we've gone for a second trip! Better yet, this time we had a longer stay of 5 days and made the most of it!

Interestingly, by "making the most of it", we actually mean "spending time sleeping at the beach".

Our plans were kept simple. Within the 5 days we were there, we would do 2 facials, 2 massages, tan at the beach, swim at the hotel pool, walk about at Jungceylon when Thailand's Sale starts, go island hopping to Phi Phi Island, stock up on food and drinks found only in Thailand, gorge ourselves out on the food at Patong and catch a movie at the SFX Cinema in Jungceylon on our final day.

And by the end of our trip we managed all that (save watching a movie - we would have watched Sex And The City 2 for only 800 baht instead of 1200 baht but timing was rather tight), and more! There was shopping at Jungceylon and at Central Festival, there were aloe vera massages as well, we bought things we never expected, and we slept off all our sleep debt!

This trip was also planned to fully maximize our time in Phuket, hence our departure flights were 7.25am to Phuket and 9.05pm back to KL. Which meant that we'd to leave to KL Sentral at 4am, take the AirAsia Skybus shuttle by 5am so that we could reach LCCT by 6am. Slept throughout the journey on the bus, checked in and then headed on to the Plaza Premium Lounge for some breakfast. Once aboard the plane we didn't get to sleep as we had our pre-booked meals to dig into, although we must admit the quality has diminished from what we hand previously (yes we also had the Asian Fried Rice that williamnyk had!)...

Upon arrival at Phuket International Airport we soon got a cab and slept the entire journey to the Royal Paradise Hotel.

After checking into the hotel at about 9am, we unpacked our stuff and slept.

Even on the following day, while tanning at the beach, we slept soundly for a couple of hours.

The drawback about leaving so early to head to Phuket, especially with only a couple of hour's sleep the night before. But no matter, as it all falls into the plan! This trip was meant to be a relaxing getaway!

Next up, MEALWHAT(tm): Phuket Picks!

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Alpha Mike Foxtrot!

So let's see. This year there's been a fair number of shows that we had expectations from, but so far we've been let down now and again. On the upside the Chief has been winning lots of free tickets so we've both been enjoying a fair number of movies too! Let's do a recap on some of the shows...

Book Of Eli. Didn't expect much although from the trailer the first impression we had was, "Fallout!" No expectations, so no disappointments but not really that interesting for us. Miss.

Edge Of Darkness. Mel Gibson still puts on a good show, and the show makes sense in the end, but also not really memorable. OK.

From Paris With Love. We'd no idea what this show was about when we went in to watch it! John Travolta shocked us with a different look and Jonathan Rhys Meyers is still King Henry to us but this comedy was ok.

Percy Jackson And The Lightning Thief. We suppose since we never read the books it wasn't as good as the Harry Potter series. But we were fine with them taking liberties with Greek mythology as it was a modern setting, and Uma Thurman really, really make an awesome Medusa. Watchable.

Valentine's Day. Somewhere at the start of the show we thought, "Love Actually!" We need to watch that show again. What really impressed us about the show wasn't how everyone was connected in some way in the show but the house that Ashton Kutcher stayed in, and Anne Hathaway as a phone sex worker! Watchable.

Shutter Island. We actually saw the ending while browsing at the DVD store. Then went to watch the movie to appreciate the beginning. Not a horror show as we thought it was in the trailers, but nevertheless a good movie. Good movie.

Alice In Wonderland. Most people told us that they were rather disappointed with this movie. We could not see why. It's a slight deviation from the story book (oh our goodness we tried reading the book and wanted to kill Alice) but Helena Bonham Carter made the Queen of Hearts the star of the show! Oh and Anne Hathaway amazes us by showing she can act slightly weird (unfortunately we've locked her as the sweet Andrea of Devil Wears Prada)! Watchable.

Clash Of The Titans 2010. Can we cry? The trailer, especially with the minus one of The Used's 'The Bird And The Worm' giving the action an edgy but great feel, gave us quite high hopes for this show. Major letdown as the 3D version had nothing but 3D Chinese subtitles, while the show, dark to begin with, was darker when wearing the 3D glasses. A visual feast but somehow that was all.

Ip Man 2. Great martial arts show that does as well as the first, although the storyline seems similar. Of course the scene to watch for is Donny Yen fighting Sammo Hung. Must watch.

Iron Man 2. No expectations except a reminder to stay till after the credits. Overall the show was good, Robert Downey Jr entertained, and thankfully there was no need to be a Marvel fanboy to enjoy the show (we wonder how many found the Captain America's shield bit funny). Good movie.

Prince Of Persia: The Sands Of Time. Another show that we hoped would do well. It did...formulaic. Those who didn't know what Prince Of Persia was all about would be wondering what was with all the athletic jumping and swinging. The conversations between the Prince Dastan and Princess Tamina was entertaining, but somewhere in the show it suddenly felt like Pirates Of The Carribean.

Honestly we had even more memorable shows coming from Lady Gaga's music videos. Speaking of which Alejandro is out!

So we had to pick up our jaws at the bed scenes. But our gripe is, "Why can't BodyJam have choreography like that any more?!"

And tonight we got to watch A-Team!

Also another show with no expectations since we've never seen any trailers, only the poster. Only, this movie is so far in our opinion, the best show we've watched so far for this year. There's a lot of budget for the action scenes like Iron Man 2 has but the humour in A-Team outshines Iron Man 2. This is one show not to miss! Even from the second front row in Cathay we had no difficulty enjoying the movie (thumbs up to Cathay for having seats near the front that doesn't need one to crane up and look left and right just to watch the show)!

Oh and honestly Bradley Cooper in the movie. We want his genes. That wavy hair. That five o'clock shadow. Those eyes. That smile. And disturbingly, as we're not a fan off this, the chest fuzz. We want them genes!

Sigh we guess we'll have to resolve to boiled chicken breast meat for two weeks, more cardio and longer workouts. And make do without the hair.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Glasgow (7 Years After)

So an ex-coursemate names his photo album of pictures taken around Glasgow over the weekend, 7 years after we've all left the place. And everyone who'd probably only write a wall post to each other when it's their birthdays or the occasional comment here and there, who you've not heard via email or text nor seen in ages, gets drawn to the photos (us included). It's not as if we've all forgotten each other entirely, there're coursemates already married and living overseas and working all hours and the likes...

Sometimes all it takes is for someone to put up photos, probably tag a few people, and next thing you know it becomes a sort of university fun project.

Like when we posted up our batch graduation photo from Strathclyde with most of everyone in it. Since ours was a developed photo from film, we'd to scan it in before uploading, and the resolution once uploaded was iffy at best when it came to detecting faces. Since we had the actual photo we tagged those we could, then it was up to everyone else to try and make out who's who. That photo had a fair number of ex-coursemates tagging people!

We liked how our friend captioned this photo, 'Hate/miss the staircase'.

And now our ex-coursemates, us included, are going through Kepong Bicep's photos as he's currently there, taking photos of landmarks as they now are and everyone's reliving memories - from prices of meals at China Express to the temperature of the swimming pool at the U of Strathclyde's Centre for Sport and Recreation and all other landmarks...

Nothing like nudging the ol' personal nostalgia to bring people together a short while.

Friday, June 04, 2010

Like A Drug, Like A Drug

This probably started with everyone on Facebook raving about Kylie's upcoming song 'All The Lovers', and the YouTube links posted along with it. Only we'd not the opportunity to check it out earlier so it was only this week in the midst of all the hectic goings-on that we somehow decided to destress by looking for the music video.

And we must say that it grows on us, once we got over our initial shock at how the music video started and started listening to the song.

Funny, Madonna's music videos never shocked us. Pet Shop Boys' videos never shocked us. Lady Gaga...well, even Telephone wasn't shocking because Kylie shocked us nine years ago with the music video for 'Can't Get You Out Of My Head'. After that video what's some tape over the nipples? Although admittedly if we never watched 'Bad Romance' first and jumped straight to 'Telephone' perhaps we might have been shocked at the near-nudity scenes.

So anyways we'll wait for Kylie's new song, hopefully we'll appreciate most of the songs in her new album (unfortunately since we enjoyed the dancefloor album that was Fever, Body Language and X didn't have too many songs that caught our fancy as they were more pop than dancefloor...). And while we wait, we'll busy ourselves by watching back her old music videos, especially those from Fever. Those were great music videos!

We've got to thank Parlophone for putting up her videos in HD.

Only...why isn't there a music video for 'Like A Drug'? That's our favourite from X!

And for a while now we've had Lady Gaga thematically on our iPhone, with the startup screen from Tapulous' Lady Gaga Revenge as our wallpaper and all ringtones from her songs. We're thinking of making a Kylie theme, but we'll wait a while as Lady Gaga's 'Alejandro' music video will be out soon...