Sunday, August 23, 2009

Feeling Blue

I am looking at the series of buildings in Kuningan thru my flat window and questioning if this life is what I want. The city is beautiful. Lightings are great. Life is comfortable. Jakarta is what I wanted 2 years back when I was still in Sumatra. And thru the nights of getting drunk, party, writing and working, I feel something in my heart keeps telling me that lots of thing I want in life still stay there.

Last two weeks I've met some great people during my travel. Smiles from faces are great. Genuine enthusiasm are the engine of keeping myself wide awake whilst driving in the middle of the nights. Though I felt tired, I felt great to have met them. "We are the world" is the simplest way to show how we are all one. And truly we are one, part of Mother earth trying to make this world better place to live.

Feeling so blue. But I know this is one of the best times in my life. Been in the feeling like this before and I could feel the value of it years after the day. It is like doing praying and let universe conspire to do what I want.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Stars Above Batu Karas Sky

Today I witnessed constellations above Batu Karas sky and it was so breathtaking! I went out from my hostel and looked for open space to get limitless view of awesomeness. It felt so good to have been always able to enjoy such great view THAT has given to us, for free. And seeing shooting star was just as awesome as being able to stand on surfing board. It was quick view, as quick as falling my body onto the water whilst doing surfing. I'm beginner anyway. I hope I will be lucky tomorrow.

Whilst looking at the constellations, I was reminded how big the universe is. Limitless. There are billions of galaxies outta there from the smallest one, a hundred thousand light year in diameter, to the biggest one, five millions light year in diameter. Having said that universe has billions galaxies, so there is that much galaxy in the space with size in between. So, universe is actually limitless.

And it's expanding every time.

And have you ever imagined how starlight traveled so you have chance to see them? If you're able to see star, meaning the light reaches you on earth, and the star distance is say, 1 million light year from the earth, then the star has started sending its light 1 millions light year ago. So, the starlight has traveled that long so you can see it on earth.

Recall that 1 light year is much more longer than 1 year in our definition. It's actually the distance reached by an object to travel for 1 year with light speed - 3 millions kmh, 10 thousands time faster than airplane speed.

What I'm trying to say is universe is limitless, big and full of awesomeness. It IS the perfect example of being abundance. And so is our life if we choose to live in abundance. One of the way to live in abundance is actually by living attitude of gratitude. We CLAIM the abundance by living gratefully.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Universe is the Mirror of Our Limited Thinking

“Whatever is happening out there is only the mirror of my own limited thinking. I trust the intelligence within me.”

Last week I was so lucky to have a chat with co-worker whose roles are mom and career woman at the same time. She has been working quite hard lately. And every night she came home when her son has slept. And it has been happening for some days or so.

One night, ther son woke up and found her coming back home quite late. Rather than giving sweet smile or warm hug, he cried whilst she hold him tight. He has missed her a lot and in the need of love that strong, he said, “I miss you, mom.”

Many women would have cried when facing that condition. And the reaction of that situation, one step further, may be being negative because of the workload they have. Whatever the reasons; bosses suck, everything is unclear, co-workers are not as friendly they used to be. And we blamed everything. We blamed our company, our job because it ruins family lie. We blamed the company who generously paid us every month. And it actually affects our own mood.

If we get out from our shoes and think again for awhile, is that fair for the company we work for, who pays us every month? It’s our choice to work there anyway. And it’s our choice to not working there as well.

From the short conversation with my co-workers, I felt blessed that day. Rather than being negative, she said that being positive means that we need to be proactive rather than reactive. Why I finish my work late? How can I come home at 5 PM everyday, so I can see my son and being an angel or storyteller before he falls asleep? Being positive means that we will face problems rather than quit from it.

I used to be super-negative person and sometimes I am still one. From the tiring days of being negative, I can identify some reactions in facing problems that affect our destinies:

  1. We quit. For my co-worker case, quitting can be going home without really solving problems in the office. So, she will have time with family, but problems in office stay there. And that is the time she’s being unfair to company that pays her. And the other option is the other way around that may leads to her son’s cry more often. She becomes alien for her own son.

  2. We stay, but do nothing. Sometimes ‘go easy’ becomes our strong reason to think that we have no promblem. And we do nothing. We think we’re positive person, but we’re negative person with mask. And at the end of the day, we go nowhere.

  3. We stay, and solve. Needless to say, this is the hardest part but worth it. It’s a journey rather than instant change. In my co-worker case, she pushes herself hard to finish work at 5 PM, remove unimportant things at work and being mindful to work on biggest priorities.

I feel so lucky to have understood how a great mom can still become positive in super-busy life. She’s the example of trusting the intelligence within her and she has expanded her limited thinking to invite universe to work for what she wants.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Southeast Asia - Thousands Miles Trip on Small Budget - Vietnam Edition

The Dragon-Shaped Country in Southeast Asia

Arrive at Hanoi at 21.00. I met Aris, my co-worker in P&G, and his family. They are a really cool family, since all family members joined the trip; his wife, his 10 years old daughter and his 2 years old son. The cool thing was they did the trip with backpacking style. I and the girls were picked up by the hotel mini bus with capacity of 7 people ( each paid USD 2). Hanoi airport is surrounded by rural area and our first impression to the city was small city, much different than Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur or Jakarta which is crowded and congested. After 45 minutes in a left-wheeled-car of Vietnam, we arrived at Hanoi Backpacker hostel ( 48 Ngo Huyen Street, Hanoi, Phone 844 828 5372,

The hotel is owned by Sweden man, who was married with Vietnamese woman. It is a clean and neat hotel, located in Old Quarter, where most of backpacker hotels are in. There are some kinds of room; the first is private room for two people and the second is dormitory for 10 people. All rooms are equipped with air conditioner and bathroom inside. The room is clean and comfortable. They provide the cabinet to save your belonging at the bottom of the bed. We were in the same room with many foreigners.

Hanoi, the City in a Bend of a River
May 20, 2007. Hanoi is the capitol of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam ( SRV ), located at the north of Vietnam. The city is sophisticated, romantic, mix of French and Vietnam style houses, given with Hoan Kiem Lake at the center and still keeps its old-fashioned city ambience. The city is passed by Red River and called as city in the bend of a river. Old Quarter at the north side of Hoan Kiem Lake, characterized by narrow streets, is the place for world’s backpackers. Hanoi is the next destination in SE Asia.

After a good sleep, we started the day with walking around the city. We did not make the detail plan yet like what we did for Bangkok. So, I just tried to read my Lonely Planet books and thought of idea to visit some places. 5 minutes walking from the hotel, we reached at St. Joseph Cathedral, an old and unique church in Old Quarter district. Then we went straight to Hoan Kiem Lake, where most of Vietnamese in Hanoi enjoy their days. It is a calm lake, surrounded my French styled café, business buildings and narrow streets alongside it. We spent time there for a while to enjoy the beauty of this lake. In the middle of the lake at the south, there is a small tower called Thap Rua ( Tortoise Tower ). While waiting for Santi who were taking some money in ATM, I looked at the lake. Peacefulness I felt. Tranquility in the heart of mine. I love it so much.

Walking around the lake, we stopped at Ngoc Son temple ( Dong 3000, 8.00 am – 19.00 pm ) at the northern side of the lake, which was founded in the 18th century. Called also as Jade Mountain temple, this small island is separated from the land and connected by a red bridge. Finishing the temple tour, we decided to visit must-see places in Hanoi; Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex, Temple of Literature and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology. We took cyclo, a local tricycle in Hanoi, to go there. Using cyclo is fun and cheap as long as we can bargain the price, because they will put the price high for foreigner. The trip using cyclo is only 10 minutes from Hoan Kiem Lake to Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex.

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex and One Pillar Pagoda
When we reached Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex ( 8.00 – 11.00 am, Saturday-Thursday, no camera/ video recorder, no short/tank top, bags left at reception hall ), it had been closed. A little bit disappointed as it is one of must visit sights in Hanoi. Exiting the complex, we went straight to One Pillar Pagoda ( free entrance ), 5 minutes walk from HCM complex. Here I bought Laos edition of Lonely Planet book with only USD 4.

Temple of Literature – A Gift for Confucius

Another must visit place in Hanoi is Temple of Literature ( Dong 5000 ). The temple was a gift for Confucius from Emperor Ly Thanh Tong and later on it became a university of Mandarin language. From HCM Mausoleum complex, we rent motorcycle taxi ( Dong 6000 per person ) and reached the temple in 10 minutes.

The temple is so old with gray material stone used to build the tower, fortress and the floor. So exotic. Inside the temple, there are some statues. I and Santi took the pictures of us. From the temple, we went to Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, where sorrow and sadness found its place in my heart.

Vietnam Museum of Ethnology – Sorrow and Sadness in the Vietnamese History
Visiting Vietnam Museum of Ethnology ( Dong 20.000, 8.30 am – 5.30 pm, Tuesday – Sunday ) is my best time in Hanoi. Before reaching this place, I thought that this museum would be just the same with many other historical museum; traditional houses, country history from time to time and kinds of ethnic groups in Vietnam. But this museum is really different! The historical things and emotional connection created by the story had amazed me. This is the complete package of knowledge and emotional museum; guaranteed and should not be missed!

This museum tells a story about Vietnam culture. At certain part of museum, story of Vietnamese in Bao Cap period, Hanoi life under subsidy
economy, is told. Before 1975, Vietnam was divided into two parts. First is North Vietnam lead by National Liberation Front ( NLF ), a Communist guerrilla known better as Viet Chong ( VC ). The capitol is Hanoi. The economy of the northern part of Vietnam is not good as in southern part. The second is South Vietnam lead by Ngo Dinh Diem, the anti communist, Catholic leader who refused to accept the election of 1956. The capitol is Saigon, later known as Ho Chi Minh ( HCM City ), changed after South Vietnam surrendered to the North Vietnam. Ben Hai river became the line between North and South Vietnam, created in Geneva Accords in the mid of 1954.

The period between 1956 and 1975 was a tough moment for Vietnamese. In 1964, Hanoi ordered North Vietnamese Army ( NVA ) units to infiltrate the south. Supported by USA, South Korea, Australia, Thailand and New Zealand, the South Vietnam guarded its territory against North Vietnam.

In 1968, the VC launched a deadly surprise offensive, called as Ten Offensive, marking a crucial turning point in the war. Many Americans, who believed their government insistence that USA was winning, started demanding an end of the war. Paris Agreement, signed in 1973, provided for a cease of fire, the total withdrawal of US combat forces and the release of American prisoners of war.

April 30, 1975 Saigon surrendered to North Vietnamese Army ( NVA ), marking a unification of Vietnam or days of Bao Cap – subsidy economy period for North Vietnam. The years after were not an easy period for Vietnamese.

“The face is as sad as though the rice coupon was lost”
“Living in such a cramped space, people had to be really considerate and sympathetic with each other’s situation”
“In those days, our biggest dreams were just spoons of rice and pieces of clothes”
“A meal with an egg was a small proud”

“Dreams just lie out of our reach and tell us something about the condition in which we live. After unification and the days of Bao Cap, people’s dreams often consisted of such simple things as to eat a bowl of fresh, non moldy rice, town a small fan, to ride a Chinese bicycle, or to be able to wash oneself with a sweet-smelling bar of soap! Even these most basic of pleasures were beyond the means of most people! Once the door of Doi Moi was opened, the dreams could bloom out as well! As the world was flooded with all types of new goods, ideas and services, people’s dreams and hopes changed as well. Nowadays, new motorcycle, computer and mobile phone sparkle in shop window. Young students dream of going abroad to study. But – whatever the period they are living in – parents always pray and dream their children will be healthy and happy. Some dreams never change.”

Recommended to visit this museum!

Hanoi City Tour and Water Puppet Show
After visiting Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, we decided to walk around Old Quarter, ate some Vietnam food, bought souvenirs and booked the tour to Halong Bay a day after. Old Quarter is a small area at the north of Hoan Kiem Lake. The area is characterized by narrow streets, small houses, many motorcycles, café and its density. Eating at the small eating place alongside the streets, characterized the very small the seats and tables of kindergarten school students, is worthy to be tried. Eating at the restaurants – traditional foods or western foods, French or Vietnam styled restaurant – is another option.

At 8 pm, we watched Water Puppet Show ( USD 3, open daily with some showing times ) at the north of Hoan Kiem Lake, near Ngoc Son Temple. This performing art originated in northern Vietnam at around 10th century. The puppets are carved from light-weight, durable woods and painted with appropriate colors. Standing in the water, the puppeteers manipulate the puppets using either an ensemble of support or a system of string o control a group of character attached to a common support. You can see this show at night as it is prime time and in the daylight, it prefer visiting museums in the city.

It was Saturday night. So many Vietnamese were in Old Quarter in some performing stages alongside the Hoan Kiem Lake. “Maybe it is the only entertainment they have. That’s why so many people are here.” I thought. At 9.30 pm, when all shows finished, the streets there became so crowded with motorcycles. Hanoi is the city where not many cars that you can see. You will see many motorcycles. No tax for motorcycle and the expensive price of gasoline pushed Vietnamese to buy motorcycle than car. And be careful if you are trying to cross the streets, motorcycle riders there will not reduce their speed. Some accidents caused by motorcycle were reported.

Nightlife in Old Quarter
Expecting the bars in Hanoi would be as fun as bars in Bangkok, we did not get what we wanted! Hanoi is a quiet city, where activities of people will stop at around 10-11 pm. The streets will be so quiet and dark. We continued to visit the GC Pub on Bao Khanh Street, the street where many bars are on; had a drink and a talk. Then at 1 am when the bar was closed, we came back to hotel.

UNESCO World Heritage Site

May 21-22, 2007. It was third the day in Vietnam. We took Halong Bay tour ( USD 25, stay 1 night on the boat ) that day. From the travel website we read, it is the most recommended tour in Vietnam for the one who loves the sea. The tour picked us up in the hotel at 8.30 am and we went directly to Halong Bay. I prepared all my belongings and checked out from the hotel, as I would depart from Hanoi a day after at 8 pm.

Halong Bay is UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam’s natural marvels. The torpedo-shaped limestone rises from the water is awesome, more than 3000 islands in total. When you are on the boat, you will see a breathtaking package of sea, limestone, countless caves and the boat. Recommended!

Ha long means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’. The legend says that the islands were created by the great dragon that lives on the mountains. When it ran towards the coast, its flailing tail gouged out valleys and crevasses; as it plunged into the sea, the areas dug up by its tail became filled with water, leaving only bits of high torpedo-shaped land visible.

The Most Beautiful Sunset in Life

We were in the minibus with other tourists; English, Japanese and Australian. A Japanese girl and her Caucasian friend were talking at the first row. Luc, an English man, with his girlfriend was looked so happy in this trip. I was at the same row with Santi and Eltje. An Australian man was enjoying his loneliness. Yana and Nunik were at the last row. The trip from Hanoi to Halong City, from where we would depart to Halong Bay, took 2 hours. In the beginning we were still excited talking each other, but then all of us slept!

After two hours in the minibus, we continued to use the boat that would bring us to the destination. The boat is quite big, equipped with restaurant, room with mini fan and roof at the top to enjoy the blue sky. While we were on the boat to the destination, the guide served lunch. Unique thing was they only served food during our two days trip. For the water ( any kinds of water; beer, juice, mineral water ), we will need to pay more. So it’s better we can bring the big bottle of mineral water before arriving at Halong City. After lunch, we visited some caves at the certain islands.

Arriving at the destination, I and Santi changed the clothes quickly. It was 5 pm and about to sunset time. We took a kayak and drove it! It was the first time for me using it, so a bit hard to synchronize my swinging and Santi’s. We drove the kayak a bit far from the boat, crossing the torpedo shaped limestone at the left and right side. We stopped at the point where we could see the beautiful sun disappearing from the back of the limestone, while we were on the kayak. Simply amazing experience!

We stopped for a while.
Just let our soul enjoying this amazing gift from God.

The sky turned into dark and we drove kayak fast to reach the boat. We were the latest kayak coming to the boat. Then we went to the roof of the boat to enjoy the sun really disappeared from our eyesight. I love sunset and always find my peacefulness every time I saw it.

A Sleep and the Stars Above
After taking shower and having dinner, the groups went to the roof of the boat. Lying supine, we enjoyed so much the moment there. The sky was so clear, we could see the countless stars above. We were talking and joking, forgot the job and tasks we needed to do after finishing this trip. I fall asleep there and was awake consciously after I felt so cold. The wind was so cold, even though I loved the idea to sleep there, I decided to sleep in my room.


An End of the Happy Moments
I woke up at 8 am in the morning. I saw Luc and Australian man jumped into the water. I and Santi followed after. The flow of water was a bit strong. It is advisable to ask permission from the boat officer first before doing that.

After that, on the way back to Halong City, most of tourist were in the restaurant sleeping, while I and English guys were on the roof enjoying the view and sunbathing! I put sun block cream onto my body and lay supine, letting the sun rays change my body color into darker.

At 4 pm, we reached Hanoi and quickly I took my belongings. I was so sad because I had to leave the girls there in Hanoi. The 5 days trip with them was really intoxicating! We met without knowing each other and finished the trip as best friends. I really wanted to travel with them again.

Arriving at the Noi Bai airport, I checked in the flight. Before boarding into the aircraft, I went out from the airport and saw the sunset. The sunset in Hanoi town. Just wondering, why happy moments should have an end?

AK 763 Hanoi-Kuala Lumpur 20.00-00.25, Airfare USD 138, Airport tax USD 14.

Stay Overnight in LCCT

McDonalds and the Backpack
May 23, 2007. Arriving at LCCT at 00.25, I had planned that I would stay overnight in this airport. I asked some friends in Indonesia about the idea to sleep there and they said that it would not be comfortable, not like if we stayed in Kuala Lumpur International Airport ( KLIA ). There are some places to sleep there; McDonalds, Coffee Bean Café, Traditional food restaurant and series of seats near check in counter. The last one is usually full. The second last point is not comfortable to sleep. So the option for me is either Coffee Bean café or McDonalds. I chose McDonalds because there were more people there and it would me safer if I slept.

I put my big backpack as pillow, enjoyed music from my mp3, stretched forward my legs to the seat and slept! I wake up at 5 am to get ready for next flight to Jakarta ( AK 952 Kuala Lumpur-Jakarta 07.00-08.00, Airfare MYR 205, No airport tax ).

In the Middle of Vacation and Work Mood
May 23, 2007 on Wednesday was my first working day after having vacation leave. So, after catching the flight from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta in the morning, arrived at Jakarta at 8 am, I had to start working at 10 am in the morning, ready with my laptop, all reports I needed to share, all plans I needed to do a week after, already equipped with shirt, trousers and shoes. And here I am, ready with all of those stuffs at office.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Southeast Asia - Thousands Miles Trip on Small Budget - Contemplation

I May Not the Best Gold in the World, but I Appreciate My Life

I was in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, on the way to Hanoi. This sophisticated airport, might be one of the best airports in the world as it is comparable with KLIA airport, has brought me in a comfortable space of time. Everytime I travel, my mind might stop at a certain of time, the moment when I was thinking about my life and what I would do in my life, personal and career life as well. That is my best time to refresh my vision and goals. Everytime I was feeling it, I wanted the time stopped for a while and I enjoyed that feeling longer. I was easily distracted by simple things and sometimes all those things dispersed what I was feeling. So I enjoyed that time.

For a moment, I was separated from the girls, just sitting in a seat and start to think.

I might not the best gold in the world, many people are better than me. I am not the best manager in the world – many times I did silly mistakes and faults; I am not the best son in the world – many times my mother was angry and feeling so bad because what I have done; I ever had best friend but now I’m feeling I don’t have them now – many times I felt difficulties and sadness alone without anyone knew; I don’t have girlfriend now though I was about to get her a month ago – I’m too busy with 3-days-a-week-traveling around Indonesia because of my job; I’m not the richest person in the world – I always think twice by the time I want to spend much money to buy something or to eat; I’m not a man with the best personality – I’m too selfish to be the perfect one; I’m not the holiest man in the world – maybe a thief has better heart than mine; I’m not the best Christian in the world – I’m sure Jesus in Heaven are feeling so sad because what I have done in my life.

Appreciation for what I have now; my life, my job, my parents, my brother and sister, my clothes I use, the food I eat everyday, the worries I feel everytime I meet my boss; are important so that I could still see the good things in all bad times. I hope I could be a better man everyday.

Just a simple thought.

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Saturday, August 08, 2009

Southeast Asia - Thousands Miles Trip on Small Budget - Thailand Edition

Thailand - The Destination in Southeast Asia

Suvarnabhumi Airport
Arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport at Bangkok, I was struck with amazement and admiration. It is a sophisticated and beautiful airport, officially opened on September 28, 2006, changed formerly airport of Don Muang in the north. The airport covers an approximate area of 8,000 acres. Be aware for confusion made as some books still recorded Don Muang as the main airport in Bangkok. The Suvarnabhumi airport consists of 7 floors. First floor is for bus and taxi lobby, second floor is for arrival, third floor is for meeting & greeting gallery, fourth floor is for departure, balance floors are for restaurants and offices. From and to the airport, you can use BTMA Public Bus ( Baht 35 ) or Airport Bus Express ( Baht 150 ) or Intercity Bus ( depends on destination ). If you travel alone, the simplest, cheapest and securest one instead of using Taxi is Airport Bus Express. There are 4 route, AE1 route to Silom, AE2 route to Banglumpoo / Khaosan Road ( use this one if you stay at world’s backpacker area of Khaosan Road ), AE3 route to Sukhumvit ( you should use this route if you want to visit Siam Paragon or stay at hotel around that road ), and AE4 to Hua Lumpong Railway Station. If you travel in a group of 4 people, it will be cheaper if you use Taxi ( Baht 100 maximum each ). You can get more information about all those transportation service at Public Transportation Center at the 1st floor.

The Exploration of Krung Thep - City of Angels
09.30 pm in the morning now, I was in Suvarnabhumi Airport after two hours flight of Air Asia. In Lonely Planet book, they still said that Don Muang was the airport of Bangkok. All transportation information I had was from and to Don Muang International airport. So I had to find how to get into the city myself. Asking several Thai people there, I stopped at Public Transportation Center at the 1st floor and asked a Thai woman how to reach the city. The Davis hotel on Sukhumvit Road 24 was my destination. I would not stay at any hotel in Khaosan Road but at Davis Hotel. Irawan, co-worker and an account manager too in my company, was in a business trip in Bangkok. I thought it would be great if I could stay there and save some Baht for the next coming days.

The woman told me clearly how to reach Davis Hotel. The I bought the AE3 route ticket of Airport Bus Express to Sukhumvit Road ( Baht 150, 45 minutes ). Stopped at main road of Sukhumvit, I walked with all of my backpacks to Davis Hotel and met Irawan and some other co-workers from Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore.

Davis Hotel is a nice traditional-from-Thai look like hotel with a very comfortable room and bed. The bed is King-sized one, well-decorated as if it was provided for the King and its Consort. On the wall above the bed, they placed a painting described some traditional things from Thailand. I was not sure what they were. Next to the bed, they placed a shiny sofa and the table to work. It should be for Irawan, for sure. He was in the working mood in a city where many travelers are in!

After putting the big backpack into the room, I explored Bangkok map and the transportation system within the city. It is complicated as there are many we can use ( Skytrain, MRT, Public Train, Bus, Tuk Tuk and Boat along the Chao Phraya River ), but they are easily to learn.

BTS System
The simplest transportation system to use is Skytrain system – or they usually call it with BTS ( Bangkok Mass Transport System Skytrain ). From the On Nut BTS station in the east, the train will go through 15 stations and finish at Mo Chit BTS station in the north. It is Sukhumvit Line and mostly it will pass Sukhumvit Road. Skytrain will stop at every station, with special stoppage at Asok and Siam. Asok BTS station is interchange between BTS system and MRT system. Siam BTS station is interchange between BTS Silom line and BTS Sukhumvit lime. Another line of BTS system is Silom line, starts from Saphan Taksin BTS station in the south and ends at National Stadium BTS station. Between both station, there is interchange with MRT system at Sala Daeng BTS station.

The cost of BTS system varies from Baht 15 to 40, depends on the distance. There are 6 distances type ( 1 to 6 ) and you will need to select one of them, depends on what station is your destination. They have the list of destination and the code. For example, if you start from On Nut BTS station to Mo Chit BTS station, the distance code will be a maximum number of 6 and you will need to pay Baht 40. Anyway, the buying process of the ticket and the process you enter the skytrain are exactly the same with the processes in MRT system of Singapore. You will need to put into the machine your coins and the electronic ticket will exit from the machine. You will need to scan it when entering the skytrain line, you enter the skytrain and then you will need to scan it again before exiting the skytrain line. Remember that payment will be done in coins and you can change your money to coins at the locket near the entrance of skytrain line.

If BTS system is your favorite, then you can visit many interesting places by stopping at particular BTS station. Chatuchak Mother Market at Mo Chit station, Siam Paragon and its surrounding plazas at Siam station, Vimanmek Mansion at Victory Monument station ( you will need to continue using bus to stop at it ), Khaosan Road at National Stadium station ( you will need to continue using bus number 15 or 47 to stop exactly at Khaosan Road ), Suan Lum Night Bazaar at Silom station, Patpong ( where you can see Thai Girl Show ) at Sala Daeng or at Chong Nonsi station and Main Port of Chao Phraya River Tour departure at Saphan Taksin. You will need only 1 day to really understand the BTS system.

Siam Complex and Fun Time on Bathtub
The noon time at the first day in Bangkok, Indo backpackers team were not in there. The first team ( Santi, Nunik, Yana, Eltje and Patricia ) would start in the city at evening and the second team ( Andri, Riri, Anand, Jerry, Najha, Raja ) will arrive a day after. So I just tried to explore some places. The first destination after leaving Davis hotel was Siam complex – Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery Center. It is a great and modern shopping center in Bangkok, stand on Sukhumvit Road together with other tall buildings on the road. For me it was not too special for it was just the same shopping center with what I saw in Jakarta or Singapore. The interesting point in that complex is place for visitor to stop and sit in the point between both plazas. People, Thais or tourists, spent their time sitting, standing and having a talk or just smoking on that point. In the afternoon, there will be more people killing their time there. Japanese, Caucasian, Taiwanese, Malayan, Thais, and so on were there as if it was the city hall of Bangkok. I went back to hotel at 6 to the hotel.

After a bit tiring city tour by walking, I spent an hour laying supine on the bathtub, covered by the warmth of foam which was created by spray of water from the tap. It was fun and I could hardly make my body stay awake! I showered and then visit girls on Khaosan Road. I used skytrain from Phrom Pong station and stopped at National Stadium station. From there, I asked the people how to get to that backpacker streets. It is bus number 15 or 47. Waiting for about 15 minutes while offered by Tuk Tuk driver to reach Khaosan with pay of Baht 300 and talking to Austria men who wanted to go to that road also, the bus was coming. It was just the same with public bus in Indonesia. I paid only Baht 7 for a 15 minutes drive from National Stadium to Khaosan Road, with bonus of fast and furious experience of A BUS, not a cool racing car ( believe me they drove like crazy – fastly and zig-zag-ly! ).

Spontaneous Idea to Dance in Q-Bar
Arriving at Khaosan Road, I felt like I was not in Thailand, but in Caucasian home with Asia ambience. It was just like the atmosphere in Patong Beach of Phuket and Legian street of Bali. Small street with many shops alongside it, small restaurants presence with the Caucasian drinking beers, some bars with the music dancing on the thirst-of-party soul and few backpackers hotels among them. It was just the atmosphere I like so much. After looking around, I found Rambutri House, in where Santi and the girls were staying in. They were desperate having conversation with Thai – taxi driver, receptionist of the hotel, anyone else on the road -; They could not speak English well. Although they could do, the pronunciation was a bit hard to understand. One more thing, in case you understand what they are trying to say to you, when you response, they can conclude extremely different message that you are trying to deliver. So be prepared and careful. For me, it was the beauty of traveling to countries which have different culture. I was in a vacation and did not want those small things ruined my mood. Just see them as challenges and in a positive way.

After talking to them for a while, I and Santi decided to go to some clubs in the city. Q-Bar was our option. The other girls did not join because of tiring trip from Jakarta-Batam-Singapore-Bangkok. We used the taxi to Q-Bar and the cost was only Baht 100 for a 30 minutes drive, something that we could not find in other countries in SE Asia. While we were in the taxi, Santi saw young couples sat on the rudder seat and kisses each other, in their car on the road of Sukhumvit, while surrounded by many cars! Cool!

Q-Bar is a minimalist club with major presence of Caucasian ( Baht 500, closed at 2 am, Sukhumvit Soi 11 ). Bit high class clubbers were in, enjoying the crowded two levels of the club. I did not enjoy the club much, I was tired, mate! Could not dance freely, particularly because it was too crowded. James Franco of Harry Osborn in ‘Spiderman 3 ‘ was in the club. I usually remember nor new actor neither new actress, but because I watched that movie a day before with Ken in Kuala Lumpur, I still remember how he looks like. The other club that you may want to see are Bed Superclub ( white everywhere inside the club, the room shape is like oval as if you’re in a clean belly of a lizard, Sukhumvit Soi 11, next to Q-Bar ), Narcissus ( Sukhumvit Soi 23 ), Lucifer ( Silom, Patpong Soi 1 ).

At 01.30, I and Santi decided to be back to the hotel so that we could start new day with full of energy.

Charm of Ancient Temples
May 17, 2007. It was the second day in Bangkok and we planned to visit some temples. I woke up in the morning and showered fastly. I had breakfast in Davis hotel and the food were really good; Thai fried rice, spicy pork soup, fresh fruits, and many more. That day I used a blue jeans and black long-armed shirt. The ambience in the restaurant was like it was a busy day; everybody got ready to work. Then lately I realized I was in vacation, they were not.

I met the girls in National Monument, then walking to Tha Phra Arthit Pier ( Pier means port ) to take Chao Phraya River tour and Temples tour as well. Tha Phra Arthit is the nearest pier from Khao San Road. If you stay there, instead of taking the boat from Sathorn Pier at Saphan Taksin BTS station, it will be better depart from that pier. It is just 15 minutes walk from Khaosan.

The First Tour on Chao Phraya River
Alongside the Chao Phraya river, there are many piers; the boat will stop at those piers. You can choose to stop everywhere. The cost of single trip from one pier to another pier is Baht 15. They also offer efficient Chao Phraya tour with price Baht 100 and you can stop everywhere, continue your tour using other boats, stop everywhere, and then back again to initial pier. Take that package if you think you will spend most of the time on the boat. They will give you sticker so that boat officer will let you stop everywhere. Be careful for some piers which is not in the route, you will need to pay again ( Baht 3 ) when departing from that particular pier. For example, small pier when you visit Wat Arun, returning back from that small pier will need to pay again.

Once, Chao Phraya river made Bangkok called as Venice of the East. Main transportation system was the boat passing through the river. Many restaurants, buildings, people activities and hotels were established alongside it, making it interesting place to kill the time at night. In the daylight, you can see that the color of the river is brown, just like major rivers in Indonesia. The company providing boat services on the river is Chao Phraya River Express.

“Grand Palace’s Closed Now and Opened Again at 1 pm”
Unluckily when I and Santi stopped at Maharat pier, other girls who was sitting at the front of the boat did not hear our yelling to stop at that pier. So I and Santi continued the trip to without them. We walked around 15 minutes to reach Grand Palace. When we were about to reach Grand Palace, it was 1 pm noontime and there was a man directing us to that place. Then at the gate of Grand Palace, which was not crowded, as if it is not a superb place to visit, an officer came to us and said that Grand Palace was closed. “Every Thursday from 1 pm to 2.30 pm, the Monks were praying and could not be visited. So it is better for you to walk around the city and come back again at 2.30”, He said. Lately he recommended us to take city tour to some other interesting places ( first place is Standing Buddha, second place is Gem shops which they called with Thai center and the last place is Sitting Buddha ). While I validated whether this was a deception or not, Tuk Tuk driver came to us and offered service to visit those 3 places with cost only Baht 60! “It was so cheap for two traveler to visit those interesting places while the Grand Palace was still closed!” We thought.

Then we agreed to use Tuk Tuk driver service. He took us to Standing Buddha at the center of Banglamphu area. “Not a special one.” I thought. I and Santi took picture each other. When we were about to leave the temple, one Thai man approached us and had a talk with us with fluent English. He actively asked some questions to us and it was a bit of interesting talk. “After this, where do you plan to go?” He asked. “Thai center, where we could shop there while waiting for Grand Palace to open” Santi said. “Ah yes, Thai center is a good place to visit, you can buy famous gem from Thailand. And this week, government is making the promotion of no tax and 30% discount for all gem products. It is the program for couples who are in honeymoon moment.” The way he explained about Thai center was convincing.

Leaving from Standing Buddha, we continued our trip to Thai center. What I imagined before was it was a big market where I could find unique goods from Thailand. The fact was it was only a gem or jewelry shop or whatever they called it! The manager of that gem shop spoke English very well and the sales approach was good. He said that he has managing Gem business for long, that was why he had been expert relating to gem. “Nice gems and jewelries.” I thought. “But I don’t think I will buy it. It’s better for me to save the money for my trip.”

Leaving gem shop without buying anything, Tuk Tuk driver brought us to alternate gem shop, which was cheaper than previous one. I and Santi decided not to visit that shop and told him that we wanted to visit Sitting Buddha directly. But he said that second gem shop was at the same direction to that place. He asked us to help him to buy gem in that store as if we bought something, then the shop will give him free fuel. Finally we visited second gem shop and did not buy anything.

Then we went to Sitting Buddha. Tuk Tuk driver said that we should come back in 5 minutes. “So rude!” I thought. Soonest we left the temple and went directly to Grand Palace. We walked directly to Grand Palace and found ‘second entrance gate of that place’. I asked to Grand Palace officer, different person vs. previous officer saying that the place was closed, whether it was closed at 1 to 2.30 pm.

She said, “No, we never closed, though the Monks are praying.”

From the beginning, I have thought that it was deception. It was a well-planned drama and they must have created the scenario in a special meeting to trick tourists. I ever read about this from Lonely Planet and writings on the wall in Phra Arthit pier to be careful about Thai who offered Tuk Tuk service to somewhere else to visit. We got punk’d! The ‘kind-hearted’ man directing us to ‘Grand Palace’, ‘The officer’, Tuk Tuk driver, a man with fluent English in Standing Buddha, gem manager in ‘Thai Center’, gem manager in ‘cheap gem shops’ were the good actors and actresses near sacred temples in Bangkok. May God know what to do with them. Lately when I and Santi met other girls, they were also punk’d by those ‘actors’ and ‘actresses’. What a damn day!

Be careful, mate! They has made us jeopardized our time. The tips for you is never believe a kind-hearted Thais who approach you offering help, take you to other interesting places while popular attraction you want is till closed. Keep that in mind.

Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kew - The Temple of Emerald Buddha
Finally I and Santi arrived at Wat Phra Kew and Grand Palace, in a complex named as Ko Ratanakosin area ( Baht 250, 8.30 am-3.30 pm, one time payment only, including the same-day-visit to Vimanmek Mansion in the north ). Before entering the complex, I was amazed of a big stupa which could be seen from outside, layered by gold color. It was standing high on the ground. As I entered the entrance gate and saw Wat Phra Kew, I observed series of superb temples and my admiration to them were greater. They were all simply beautiful and full of glory. One of the temples are made from colorful marbles and beads. Needless to say, all those temples are the most beautiful temple I ever saw. Simple awesome!

Wat Phra Kew is a shrine for Emerald Buddha. The main chapel is a holy place for Thailand Buddhism. No camera, and no video recorder are allowed to use inside it. The ambience of the chapel is so holy, so silent. The Emerald Buddha has passed through an epic moving from Northern Thailand where it was hidden to its current home. Once it was seized by Lao forces and carried to Vientiane until it was recaptured again by Thais. One simple comment for the temple and Emerald Buddha; AMAZING! Grand Palace, the place for former royal residence, is another beautiful building in Ko Ratanakosin area. Nowadays, it is used only by the king for certain ceremonial occasions. The building was installed with many windows and pretty sharp-shaped roof at the top, with the gold color at the edges of it. Some kingdom guards were walking rhythmically to save the building.

Finishing Ko Ratanakosin area trip, I and Santi continued the trip to other temples. We stopped for a while at café at Maharaj pier and had a Thai ice tea. Basically it is a mix of tea and milk and they add ice to that drink. I ordered Kolak Durian, mainly made from Durian and added with sticky rice. It was good! Recommended to try it! It was 3.30 pm and after asking some people when temples would be closed, immediately we were speed up our steps so that we still had chance to visit other temples, Wat Pho ( closed at 5.00 pm ) and Wat Arun ( closed at 4.30 pm ).

Wat Pho - The Oldest and the Largest Temple in Bangkok
Visiting Wat Pho ( Baht 50, 8 am–5 pm ) is something that we should not miss! This is the temple where largest stunning reclining Buddha is in, 46 meters long and 15 meters high. It is made from brick, layered by gold leaf. Reclining Buddha was placed in the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok, from 16th century. There are series of high temples with sharp-shaped at the top of the temples, making them dramatic while looking at them from the bottom. The temples were made from thousands of millions of ceramics. It was simply awesome!

Thai massage school in Wat Pho is popular ( ). They offer two 30-hours courses, one is general Thai massage, another one is therapy massage, that you need to attend 3 hours/day for 10 days courses. In Thailand, people who work in Thai massage will need to learn Thai massage, mostly after 1-3 years in massage school. Maybe this explains why Thai massage is much different with any other massage services in the world. Experiencing some massage services in Indonesia, I would recommend you to try Thai massage. It’s the best!

Wat Arun - Temple of Dawn
Another must-visit temple is Wat Arun ( Baht 20, 9 am-4.30 pm ), Temple of Dawn. Name of the temple was taken from Indian god of dawn, Aruna. When I and Santi arrived at this temple, it was 4.45 pm and the entrance gate has been closed. Desperately begging the officer to be allowed to just see and take the picture, he finally permitted us to enjoy the beauty of this last temple. When the sun was about to hide at the other side of the world, I and Santi took some stylish pictures. By using backlight techniques, the pictures looked good.

Injection Energy of Thai Massage
While returning back to hotel, we were feeling like we did not have energy anymore, exhausted. Lately we decided to visit Thai massage service ( Baht 180, 0.5 hour foot massage & 0.5 hour Thai massage, free drink & fresh fruit ) on Khaosan Road, next to Rambutri House. The first half an hour, I immediately slept as it was an extremely good massage. The next half an hour, I was awake and always surprised anytime massager changed massage position, as I couldn’t predict what he would do to me! The massage position was extremely beyond my expectation. I could hardly believe that I was still OK after he folded my body like I was a piece of paper. Well, it is Thai massage. They know how to make you fresh after that.

Suan Lum Night Bazaar
After feeling so exhausted and refreshed by Thai massage, I and Santi were feeling so good now. The energy to continue our trip has been back to normal now. Our plan for that night was visiting Suan Lum Night Bazaar, one of unique markets in Bangkok which was only opened at night. From Khaosan Road, I, Santi and Nunik, one of the girls, used taxi instead of BTS system, since it would be cheaper. Having dinner at the entrance of SLNB, we continued to see goods sold in that market. The goods sold there were unique ones like house decoration, shoes, sandals, handbag, Thailand souvenir, woman and man accessories and t-shirt. I was interested in t-shirts sold there, as writings were inviting to the people who look at them. Some of writings are Oral-Me and Anal-Me ( instead of Oral-B ), FBI – Female Body Inspector ( instead of FBI in USA ), Cock ( instead of Coke ), Hard Cock ( instead of Hard Rock ), so on. I spent most of my time in there looking for t-shirts and bargaining. From Baht Baht 200, I could buy them with only Baht 120. I was not sure it had been cheap or not, but I needed to bargain for about half an hour.

And it, my cash in Baht was not enough to buy many t-shirts. I had only 150 Baht! Stupid. When I offered USD to the seller, he gave me unreasonable exchange rate, made my bargaining effort meaningless. So, at the end of the conversation, I bought only 1 t-shirt with Female Body Inspector writing. I thought it was a good t-shirt, white one with black writings on it and of course it was fit to my body. I used it then a day after, when we were on the trip to Pattaya.

Back to Khaosan Road, we met the second group, Andri and the gang! Story telling, excitement sharing, hahahah-ing. Interesting night! Later on, I took taxi to Davis hotel. Irawan has been sleeping when I was back to the hotel at 2.30 am.

Pattaya and the Queer
May 18, 2007. It was the third day in Thailand and we had planned few months before on the trip to Pattaya. Personally, when I visited Phuket 6 months before, I wanted to see the second most famous beach life in Thailand. That is Pattaya. Pattaya could be reached from Bangkok via land; car or bus. It takes only 2 hours drive from Bangkok and it is not difficult to get there as many signs directing your trip to that beach. For car rental, you will need to pay Baht 4000 for one car with capacity of 8 people, and for 12 working hours. You will need to pay extra Baht if you plan to use it more than 12 hours. Anyway, you could still bargain for the car rental fee. The car is mini van with air conditioner and comfortable seat, exactly the same with mini van that I used in Phi Phi islands tour, border crossing between Hat Yai in Thailand and Khanga in Malaysia on October 06 backpacking trip. You can get the information about car rental from your hotel or travel agent alongside Khaosan Road.

The group picked me up at Davis Hotel and we were on the way to Pattaya. The first one hour in the car was really fun; laughing, joking each other and introducing each other as we did not have introduction session a day before. The balance one hour, we were all sleeping! Well, we were so exhausted a day before; the first group was in city tour in the morning until late at night, the second group was busy catching the flight from Jakarta-Batam-Singapore-Bangkok. When we were awake, we had been in Pattaya.

Crocodile Farm and Pattaya Walking Tour
The first destination was Crocodile Farm ( Baht 300, one time payment for whole day trip, crocodile show at every two hours ). Basically it was a zoo, with crocodile as main animals. The other animals are tiger, bear, birds, and so on. It was just the same with many zoos in Indonesia. In that complex, you could find thousands years wood stone, made from the big trees, they were died and then changed the form into the stone.

Should you have many other plans in Pattaya ( Tiffani/Alcazar show, sunbathing on the beach, visiting Hard Rock Pattaya and other places ), this zoo is not recommended. Just put them in your last priority.

After having a not-too-good-time in crocodile farm, we continued our trip to Pattaya beach. It was a not-bad-beach, but compared to either Phuket or Kuta beach, it is not comparable. We just walked alongside the main road in Pattaya and stopped at Hard Rock Pattaya. As usual, the price for all goods there are expensive. I planned to buy some t-shirts, but I cancelled it. Then I bought only a Hard-Rock-Pattaya-writings-at-the-back jacket. It is a cool jacket for a cool man, black colored one with yellow line at the arm. I love the Hard Rock writings at the back side of this jacket. Cool! Later on, we walked around Pattaya and continued to watch queer show there.

Queer Life in Pattaya
There are two queer shows in Pattaya; Alcazar show and Tiffani show. People there recommended us to choose the last one since the shemales are more beautiful vs. the one in Alcazar. You can ask the people there how to get to there and they will help you. It was easy to reach. Tiffani show has three different seats; VIP ( Baht 1000, sit at the front), Deluxe ( Baht 700, sit in between VIP and Mezzanine ) and Mezzanine ( Baht 500, sit in the second level ). My first impression to this show was really good. I was just so shocked watching that show as most of the stars did not look like a man. They have been a woman look alike, the skin, the eye, the shape or their face and body, the way they walk and the body movement when they were dancing. Unbelievable and I was just speechless how come a man could change into a ‘woman’?

The show finished and the stars were going to the garden at the front of the building. It was the time for anyone who wanted to take picture with all of them. You can just pick one of them to take the picture and pay Baht 40. Originally they will just posed, but some of the guys touched their breast and or hugged them from the back. They would not be angry but they would ask for more Baht if you did that. I spent Baht 200 for all poses, with special poses, one was when I touched his ( or her ) breast, and another one is when he (or she) kissed me! Damn it! I could hardly believe that I wanted to do that. Well, you know now that I love challenges and will try anything new.

The next two hours, we were on the car on the way back to Bangkok. After that, the adventure to find Thai Girls show began!

Oh My God, “She Can Do That!”
It was 00.00 am Thailand time. After discussing with the gangs about the plan to visit Thai Girls show, we decided to stop at Pat Pong area, not Khaosan Road. The first plan was to stop at our hotel, then put our bags and take shower, but we thought it was not a good idea as it had been late at night.

Pat Pong area is the place if you want to watch Thai girls show. Many places you could visit there. The show will start at 10 pm until 2 am. You should be careful to choose the club as many of them will not show any sex show but only Thai girls show. One of the tricks to ensure you maximize your Baht for a sex show is by entering the club without paying and see what they show you inside. If it is only Thai girls show, then you should not pay and spend your time there. If it is Thai girls and sex show, then you could enter that club with all of your team and enjoy! Many of the club will promise you a sex show at 1 am or 1.30 am but they will not show any sex show though you have paid for that. What can you do to fight it, given the fact you’re in their club and not in your country? So it is better for you to have strategy against their trick.

Entering Pat Pong area, we were offered by some peoples promising both Thai girls show and sex show. After experiencing deception a day before, we did not accept that offer. Lately when we have been so tired walking and looking for a quality club and we started accepting someone’s offer, a foreigner came to us. He said that that offer could not be trusted as he was tricked by the man offering the sex show to us. Then we walked again and looked around. The strategy was changed. We entered a bar for a drink and asked the owner of the bar to show us a quality sex show in that area. We believed that that man would not trick us as he would not take any advantage by bringing us to any sex show club. Then immediately one of his staff brought me and Jerry, one of the Andri’s gangs, to a sex show club. What we could see inside was only Thai girls show. Promised that at 1 am we would see sex show, I took the gangs to come inside. We paid Baht 300 for free drink.

Waiting until 2 am, we did not see any sex show. Damn it! It was the second time we got tricked by Thai.

Anyway, it seemed the gangs enjoyed the Thai girls show as they could do unbelievable things with their v*g*na; opening a bottle of beer with her thing, smoking as if her thing is a mouth, throwing banana and small balls from her thing to 5 meters far! I could not believe how she could do that.

Well, it was a new experience for us and we could not forget it. I, Santi and Riri continued the night and planned to go to Bed Superclub, but it had been closed at 2 am. The taxi driver brought us to another club that would be closed at 5-6 am. At the gate of that club, I left the girls and back to Davis hotel. I was so exhausted and needed to get rest.

A day after, the first team would leave Thailand to Vietnam. The exciting feeling disturbed us as we were just curious how Vietnam looked like.

Chatuchak Market - The Mother of All Market, the Biggest Market in Southeast Asia
May 19, 2007. That day I was feeling so exhausted, but so excited. The exciting thing was I saw many new things there and I loved them all! Before leaving Bangkok, I planned to visit Chatucak Market and Vimanmek Mansion, the place that I did not visit 2 day before.

Chatucak Market, opened only at weekends, is the biggest market in SE Asia, which is why people call it as mother market. When I was in skytrain and about to stop at Mo Chit BTS station, I could see series of roofs near the station. I wondered what they were and lately I knew that they were buildings of the market. It was a huge market, seriously. I never saw the market that big like that. When I was entering the market, I walked surrounded by many people; Thais, Indonesian, Caucasian, many more! It was so crowded. The market sprawls over the huge area with 15,000 stalls and there are estimated 200,000 visitors a day. You can find anything there, live chickens and snake, t-shirts and clothes, souvenirs, man and woman accessories, house tools, anything! Name it and you can find them there. Be aware that you can be so exhausted and may bring lots of plastic bag after spending several hours inside the market. It was a great and lots of fun shopping experience.

To reach Chatucak market, you can use either taxi or skytrain to Mo Chit BTS station from any BTS station in both Sukhumvit and Silom line. If you are in a group of 4, use taxi will be cheaper.

Vimanmek Mansion
After visiting Chatuchak Market and there were still free 3 hours in Bangkok, I decided to look how good Vimanmek Mansion was. I should have visited that place 2 days before, but because the time was not enough to cover Vimanmek Mansion visit, I could not visit it. From Mo Chit BTS station, I stopped at National Monument BTS station and used taxi from there to Vimanmek Mansion ( Baht 40, 10 minutes drive ). You can use bus if you want the cheaper price.

Vimanmek Mansion ( Free with Grand Palace ticket - should be visited at the same day, Baht 100 – if visited not at the same day with Grand Palace, 9.30 am-4 pm) is the world’s largest golden teak building, used to accept state guest from all over the world. Rama V, one of the Kings in Thai history, lived in that building of grateful staircases, octagonal rooms and lattice walls. You can see many pictures and ornaments inside it to understand how the history of that Thai kingdom flew at any specific decade. You will follow a group with one guide ( free ) to enter Vimanmek Mansion, as they prohibited person to come inside alone.

There are many other buildings near Vimanmek Mansion building. You could visit them with one ticket you got from locket. At 3 pm, I came back to Davis hotel and took my bags to catch up the flight to Hanoi ( FD 3706 Bangkok-Hanoi 19.00-20.50, Airfare Baht 1450, No airport tax ). If you’re in a group of 4, using taxi ( Baht 200-250, 45 minutes ) is cheaper vs. skytrain or airport bus. If you’re alone, you can use airport bus departing from any bus terminal in Bangkok ( Baht 150, 45-75 minutes as they will stop at some points before reaching airport ).

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Friday, August 07, 2009

What are you stealing from the universe today?

I am on the flight from Jakarta heading to Pekanbaru to see my house there. I bought it 2 years ago while I was still working there. It's generally a very nice house in a residence located close to Pekanbaru airport. The area is free of flood and the water is differently clean, so this residence becomes a favorite one that many people want to stay there. As a result, the price has increased quite significantly. So I felt so lucky to have bought it once.

Here I am on 9D seat in AirAsia flight. The captain just told us that the plane will be landing in Medan, instead of Pekanbaru. What? Yes, I will be in Medan in a couple of minutes. As happened every year, Pekanbaru is now covered by smog that plane won't be allowed to land. The flight attendant tried to tell us, "We'll just have fun and at least we can enjoy Medan for awhile." That's exactly what I was thinking actually! If something in the world moves against us, what we need to do is accept it and react in a way that we treat our self easy.

Last night I attended P&G reward&recognition night that was held in Moroccan house in Menteng. Thankfully I got three rewards for the work team has done for the past 1 year. What special is among those 3, the last award is from country manager which was the most prestigious award.

I believed award, congrats and honor can't be claimed by single person in any situation. While we can accept them for the contribution we did, but we should not be arrogant or claim the greatness for our own glory. We all steal something from the universe. And if we have to thankful for the praise people give to us, it should be passed to the universe.

We are all one. We take things from universe; from friends, family, co-workers, bosses, nature, any kind of being in the universe. We are the one in a whole. A success story is contribution of all aspects which we interact to during our whole life.

Successful writers for example. While they can claim the honor people give to them, but they actually learn, take things from universe. From the books they have been reading since Angels opened up their eyes and introduced letters to them. From the inspiration they stole in the making, so they can write undeniably beautiful words. Even honor should be passed to whoever invented paper, books, distribution networks, language and letters so the books can reach you and inspire your minds.

While I know that the awards were given to my hands, I actually stole things from bosses, co-workers, books and unique people I interacted with, even if I don't realize they have contributed to. The greatness comes from others' greatnesses.

What are you stealing from the universe today? What are greatnesses you want to pass to universe?

Feeling one inside the whole One.

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Thursday, August 06, 2009

Southeast Asia - Thousands Miles Trip on Small Budget - Malaysia Edition

Beautifully made by the hands of God, Southeast Asia has become one of most favorite tourist destinations in the world. With its white sandy beach, warmth of the sun all days, priceless value culture and the people inside it, you’ll feel like in the world of dream.

The last stoppages of my trip were Singapore, Malaysia and Phuket in Thailand. At that point in time, I promised myself to continue this journey to other parts of SE Asia. Made to be the house for world’s backpackers, Bangkok is the first priority of my trip. From the visits of sacred temples to wild nightlife, the city promises extra value for your budget trip. Guarantee! Covered by the nightlife and queer community, Pattaya is more than worthy to visit. Vietnam with its ex-French colonial city of Hanoi and UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay rise as one of destinations in that region. Everybody, backpackers particularly, are curious to explore this new country of destination.

Getaway from busy life to relaxing vacation in Thailand and Vietnam is not just a dream. It is a reality and a must-do-off-time for you. Thousands miles trip on small budgets.

Memorial Trip of Pekanbaru

A Talk and Laugh for Mic and Yang
May 15, 2007. It’s been two months I moved to Jakarta with all of its crowded and complex life. Originally the route was Pekanbaru-KL-Bangkok-Hanoi-KL-Pekanbaru ( Rp. 1,4 Million, Air Asia free ticket promotion, booked on January 07 ), but then I had to change the last flight from KL-Pekanbaru to directly KL-Jakarta. Tuesday, May 15, I woke up at 3.00 AM to catch Air Asia flight from Jakarta to Pekanbaru at 6.30 AM ( QZ 7430, 1.5 hour, Airfare Rp. 212.650, Airport Tax Rp. 30.000 ). The time was moving slowly, just like my body, my mind and my soul. They synchronized the move of the time. Arriving at Sutan Syarif Kasim Pekanbaru airport, Mic and Yang picked me up and took me around. Excitement sharing, laughing and life updating inside Mic’s car, we really had the great times. That time I could hardly stop my mouth having a talk and a laugh and it was the first time within two months I wanted to spend more time having conversation with others. Busy and hectic life in Jakarta had made me anti-social-person – “the faster I stop talking to the people, the more productive I am” principle which I realize lately was wrong - in the contrary with what I want to be.

Two Portions of Chinese Noodle
Not having a breakfast at all, we visited Pasar Bawah, the oldest traditional market in Pekanbaru town, in where most of Chinese people spent their time to shop daily needs. We stopped at a small Chinese restaurant and ordered Chinese noodle. It is a mix of noodle and Cukyuk soup ( pork leg soup ), making it so special and a very good food to eat in the morning. Excellent! I ordered one more portion of it.

AK 972 Pekanbaru-Kuala Lumpur 12.05-13.50
Taking the flight to Kuala Lumpur ( AK 972, 45 minutes, Airfare Rp. 265.000, Airport Tax Rp. 60.000 ), I did not need to pay fiscal tax as I had been having Pekanbaru passport since 2005. You don’t need to pay any fiscal tax to visit SE Asia countries if you have one of Sumatra provinces passports ( except North Sumatra and NAD provinces ). After checking into the counter, I needed only to pay airport tax RP. 60.000 for international flight. In the plane, I started reading ‘Southeast Asia on a shoestring’ book of Lonely Planet. Reading in the Air Asia flight was simply fun. The cheap price and high value are the best combination for all travelers. Comfortable seat with synthetic leather, new aircraft and beautiful flight attendants made this airway my best flight for personal trip. They have expanded its territory from only in Malaysia to many countries in SE Asia and beyond, making it one of the biggest flight services in SE Asia, in only 5 years! And to run 4,500 flights in a week, most of them from Kuala Lumpur, they have built their own airport, Low Cost Carrier Terminal ( LCCT ), just 15 minutes from main airport of Kuala Lumpur International Airport ( KLIA ). Amazing! No private flight service company ever did that! The idea, marketing strategy, close-to-people-heart flight and new routes for sure will bring this airway to value leadership in next 5 years. Superb Air Asia!

The Couch of Ken – Couchsurfing Experience in Kuala Lumpur

Titi in Pyramid of Kuala Lumpur
After 45 minutes in the flight, I arrived at LCCT, phenomenal airport of Air Asia. The airport is not big, dominated by yellow and white color. From the aircraft to the airport, no bus will take you there and you’ll need to walk ( that’s why they call it with LCC Terminal! ). Right after coming into entrance gate, there are passport checking lockets. Baggage claim at the right side of the lockets, exit gate at the opposite side. You can also take some ‘Visit Malaysia 2007’ brochures about some interesting places to visit in Malaysia. Before you exit from LCCT, you can find some taxi and bus services lockets. They provide taxi to Kuala Lumpur ( RM 60-70, 45 minutes ) and efficient bus directly to KL Sentral ( RM 9, 45 minutes ), from where you can find buses and trains to many destinations in KL. The bus is equipped with air conditioner and comfortable seat. No worries about security.

Several days before, I had made appointment with Titi, Rejoice model and Ken, couchsurfer from Kuala Lumpur. From KL Sentral, I took taxi to Pyramid of Sunway Lagoon to meet Titi. It is one of big malls in suburban area of Kuala Lumpur. The mall is signed by big Sphinx at the front of it. Sunway Lagoon is a complex of mall, hotel and entertainment site. After stucked in a traffic jam for a while, I finally met Titi and her friend, Kiki in Coffee Bean. We had fun talk with a cup of cappuccino ice.

Couch of Ken
At 6 pm, I took taxi to Ken’s apartment. This is actually my virgin couchsurfing experience, hosted by Ken Choong, a Chinese Malay who spent most of his time working in USA and traveling in Europe. The warm introduction happened when I searched the people in couch search. Ken responded my request of couch very kindly. Arriving at his apartment, his room is very comfortable with big soft bed and air conditioner. When I was showering, he surprisingly made a dinner for us. That was above my expectation. Even he took me around Kuala Lumpur and we watched Spiderman 3 movie. It was the first impressive couchsurfing experience! If you want to have the same mind-linking, excitement sharing experience and want this world smaller than you think, just visit and enjoy the be-hosted and be-surfed experiences with people around the world! Guarantee you it is FUN!

AK 880 Kuala Lumpur-Bangkok 08.25-09.30
May 16, 2007. Woke up at 4 in the morning, I took the taxi ( 5 AM, 45 minutes, RM 60 ) and arrive at LCCT to catch my flight to Bangkok ( AK 880, two hours, Airfare RM 105, No Airport Tax ). Again, it was a fun time in the flight of Air Asia.

Malaysia at a Glance
Malaysia has changed itself into one of main tourist destination in SE Asia nowadays, with the motto ‘Truly Asia’. Many great places to visit here. Recommended for adventurous people are Pulau Perhentian on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Kinabalu National Park in Malaysian Borneo, Bario & the Kelabit Highlands in Malaysian Borneo, Cameron Highlands in Peninsular of Malaysia, Pulau Langkawi in the East Cost, Labuan in the north of Kalimantan. Those places can be reached using mix of by air, by bus and by walking/trekking. For city tour and old building sightseeing, visit Kuala Lumpur ( Petronas Tower, Batu Caves, Culinary at Bukit Bintang and Shopping at Bukit Bintang ), Genting Highlands, Penang, Malaka and Negeri Sembilan. All of them can be reached using the flight/bus from Pudu Raye Bus Station.

If you get stuck in Kuala Lumpur and don’t know where to sleep, just visit Bintang Guest House in Golden Triangle area ( 27, Jalan Tong Shin, Off Tengkat Tong Shin, 50200 Kuala Lumpur, phone 03-2144 3398 & 03-2148 9398, website ). Another option is stay at Pudu Raye area and China Town as there are many guesthouse there.

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Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Easy With Self, Easy With People

Lately I've been exercising 'go easy with yourself' principle and I can say it is superb mantra for happiness. At least it has lifted up big portion of my burden and I feel much more happier. I feel much more appreciated by people as a result of being relaxed in living my life. I feel loved. I feel awesome.

Going easy with our self relates closely with how we interact with people, first, and how we perceive our self, second.

Have you ever expected someone to be like what you want and the reality ruins your perfect imagination? In my case, it is many times and it was really disappointing.

Simply accept that people are not perfect will lift up our burden. And sometimes we need to lower our expectations. No, it's not that it lowers our personal standard; it is simply an acceptance of reality. We can still expect people behave in an appropriate way; what society perceives as good, but we need to refuse to be disappointed by it. It's different. Being disappointed means that we become reactive rather than proactive in choosing the mood we want to have for our day.

And if we can't really accept particular people's behavior, why should we keep pushing our self to maintain that relationship? There's no wrong with removing relationship. Or if you still want to have one, minimum interaction is maybe a solution as well. And maybe it's the right time for us to exercise pleasure freedom that we expected to have.

Another thing is about giving love to people. If we give love to someone and they don't really accept and react in a way we expect to see, why it bothers us? It's their right to accept or putting our love in the trash.

So having full control on how we react to people's behavior may be one of the big things for our easy life.

Aside from people related matters, going easy with our self is about how we perceive our life and how we choose to live our life.

We can perceive life as heaven or hell. And unfortunately people seeing life as heaven react in a way that they create happiness in life. They strive positiveness in life that adds abundance in life.

Life is meaningless and empty and it's true. Seriously. The meaning of life depends on how we perceive it and how we add meaning into it. Some people see having wife and kids as important they can't live without. It gives meaning to their life, but some people see those as least priority and being independently alone doesn't really matter for them. But both lives can be meaningful.

Some people see diamonds as something meaningful in life but for others what meaningful is spending rest of life with partner in a jungle being servant of poorest people in the world.

Some people see money as the most important thing in life but others can live happily in the absence of income stability.

So the meaning of life really depends on how we perceive it. We're the actor for own life.

Be proud of our self and just go easy with our self. We're just special and loved. And doing what we want, though it's different, is no shame. Go easy.

Okay, I hope this note gives enlightment to your day. For those who tried hard to change people, maybe this gives encouragement to lower your expectation and react in a way that you may bring happiness into your life.

For those who see traveling as the way to go easy with self; some next posts will be about traveling. It's basically some posts about my travel over the past 5 years unpublished. So enjoy!

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Monday, August 03, 2009

My Eyes Can Hear You, My Ears Can See You

Being spiritual healthy is really something that helps ourselves to be on top of everything. By having so, we know that energy from universe transferred to us in a way that it creates abundance within. As a result, it's a bless that comes out. And it's gratitude prayer we say; neither negative words nor curses.

The result of gratitude prayer is higher happiness level everyday, which eventually creates bigger energy to solve things. People around us will see us on top of things, someone proactive rather than reactive and someone having free will rather than following things.

To be spiritual healthy, we need to communicate to THAT.

It doesn't matter to what god we're praying to. The thing is if we communicate to that Being and feel awesome, relieved, then we will feel spiritually healthy. Well, awesome and relieved sometimes can't really describe how big the feeling is, because the feeling to THAT is too majestic to be transformed into phrases and words. THAT is limitless, highest level of being and omnipotent.

So what's gratitude prayer that we bring up everyday to bless the universe?

Feeling abundance

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