Chatuchak Market to open on weekdays?

Chatuchak Weekend Market City Hall will be managed by the State Railway of Thailand from 2 Jan 2012. They will takeover the operations from the City Hall. There seems to be plans to open on weekdays and to change its layout too. (story here)

Weekdays part, I’m not entirely convinced. It’s the weekenders sellers that give this market its uniqueness. A good mix of veteran sellers and a really good variety of “flea market” and amateur sellers with quirky products and services.

The layout change, I’m sure all of us who visit the place once a year will agree. Somehow though, getting lost and walking in circles in Chatuchak, was a lovely annual affair. New sections discovered always.

I seriously hope it will remain a people’s market. It will be sad to see big stores and franchises chains like the Starbucks, the McDonalds and the 7-11s in Chatuchak Market.
It’s like Singapore without hawker centre’s and street food at all.


Wiping data on mobile devices

A friend had just changed to the new huge Samsung smartphone. I quickly asked if he had cleaned up her phone before trading it in. Fortunately, she said the sales staff had helped her with it.

Here is how to reset and wipe your Android, Apple and Windows smartphone.

: Press “Settings”. Press “Privacy” and press “Factory data reset”. Select “Erase SD card” and press the “Reset phone”.

Apple iOS: Press “Settings”, press “General”, and press “Reset”. Choose the option “Erase All Content and Settings”. Press “Reset iPhone”.

Windows Phone 7:
Press “Settings”. Press “About”. Press “Reset your phone”. Press “Yes”.

charming Putahracsa, heritage Railway Station and nostalgic PlearnWan

We checked out from our hotel in Bangkok and made our journey down to Putahracsa Hua Hin.

Took BTS to Victory Monument Station, walked on the circular overhead bridge facing the monument. Had a little misadventure, we walked to the right side of the circular overhead bridge, when we should have walked to the left side towards the Rajavathi Hospital. Blessing in disguise though, we now know we can travel to Ayutthaya by minibus in future.

Along the road, there will be lots of white minibuses. Just ask a friendly face, and say “Hua Hin”, they will point you in the right direction. The services on this road only caters for the minibuses to Phetcaburi, Cha Am and Hua Hin. Other roads will have services to Ayutthaya and Pattaya etc.

Upon arrival in Hua Hin, actually walked to Putaracsa Hotel. Once we checked in,  we hired an automatic motorcycle for 200 Baht a day. The lady owner required a copy of my passport and license and a simple proficiency test. Bike check… once done, look for a gas station to fill her up, (in my non-existent Thai language again, though we looked the part), I attempted to ask the attendant to pump at 40 Baht, the Stations only accept 50Baht for pumping).

Oh yes, we did get helmets, a red and white one, it looked basic enough and I wondered if this was the best they had, and if that helmet would make any difference. Soon enough, it proved to be our savior as we fell off the bike at the first u-turn we had to negotiate. My non-familiarity with auto bikes was evident here. Ouch! A few bumps and bruises and some TLC by a Thai elderly woman who helped us up, the helmets had saved us when fell gently on the road.

Btw, there were road blocks at night too. We approached one, were told to slow down but once verified we had our helmets on, they waved us on quickly. Some offenders were stopped and got the ticket though. In Hua Hin, non-helmets, side saddling and toddlers carrying were actually a common sight.

We rode the auto bike extremely slowly to PlearnWan.

For the second time this trip we were at a public place during flag lowering. Everyone stopped in their tracks again. Yesterday in Bangkok Chatuchak everyone just stop, wherever they were facing any direction…it was quite a sight, its like some X-Men unleashing its TIME FREEZE power. This time around, at PlearnWan, I was right in front of the flag, as the flag lowering was in progress. Awesome! You can view the video recording too.

Food sellers can board the train to sell their food or simply transact through the windows. I guess even if the board the train, they will walk the whole length of the train and probably follow the train southwards and alight 1 or 2 stops away. They then take the next train northwards to sell and return back.

We went to the Bismillah, Southern Thai Muslim Restaurant along the Hua Hin Railway track for dinner.

 At night, they have an adjacent stall selling Teh Tarek (Milk Tea) and Fried Chicken with Yellow Rice. We had the following:

2 plain rice + Stir-Fried Beef Chilli & Tom Yum Soup = 130 Baht.
1 hot milk tea + 1 hot tea w/o milk = 20 Baht


Did I mention about the lovely resort we stayed in? Putahracsa Hua Hin.

We took the Oceanbed Pool Villa at SGD$250 per night via an Agoda promotion.


Rocking with Stone Temple Pilot at a room with private pool, jacuzzi and a BOSE set. I’d not ask for more.


On 26 Dec 2011, we were both lazing at home, watching the news on TV, when we saw images of Hua Hin affected by flooding and high waves. I do hope the lovely folks at Putahracsa: Aom, Aun and Kwang, the lovely stall owners we had met in Hua Hin will be safe.

1 night in Bangkok

Our last trip to Bangkok was in 2006. We were actually arranging for a Chiangmai-Ayutthaya-Bangkok-Hua Hin trip, but due to the recent flooding, we had to abort it. After some deliberation, we then decided to do Hua Hin and a night in Bangkok.
We looked forward to arriving at Suvarnabhumi Airport and taking the 
Chatuchak Weekend Market was still opened when we left at 7pm. It used to close at 5-6pm, not too sure the reason for this. I did find out though that City Hall will no longer manage the market in 2012. State Railway will be claiming its rights to manage it. There seems to be plans to open on weekdays and to change its layout too. (story here)
No, these boxes were not Xmas presents. Those were sandbags used during the flood.
We took a short walk to MBK for halal dinner and some shopping.
We stayed at Novotel Siam Square for the night. In 2006, it was still located at MBK, but they are now at Siam Square, still spanking new. We also read that during the flood last month, the hotel opened up 250 rooms for the staff to stay in with their families. I’m sure it meant a lot for the staff and families.
My feet in the middle of the Thai Foot Massage. Check out the swollen blood veins of my feet.
The morning after…thought I was looking at pair of girls feet. No kidding, just check out the blood veins at my feet no longer popped out.
The beautiful sunrise at Bangkok overlooking Sukhumvit area.
We had to checkout early and make our way to Hua Hin, via a minibus from somewhere around Victory Monument area.

JPO Kulai Visit

We made a trip up to Johor Premium Outlet in Kulai today. Took the Causeway Link Bus and it was a breeze.
Jurong East to CIQ 2nd Link: SGD$4.00
CIQ 2nd link to JPO: RM$4.20

Immigration clearance was quick, no weekend tour buses or China tourists bus loads in sight. We actually left our home (Bukit Batok) 10:00am to catch the 10:40am JPO2 at CIQ 2nd Link, managed to reach just in time and we reached JPO promptly at 11:15am.

We reached JPO by bus in 1h 15minutes, faster than reaching Orchard Road on some days. Timing started from when we stepped out of our house, includes bus waiting time, travelling time, immigration and toll clearance. We did not miss not having the Mazda or Chevy around this time.

Stroller and wheelchair rental services are available. A few ATMs around, Maybank is there too, right beside the Police Base.Store List here.
Some stores like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger will only open in Jan 2012. There were a few stores undergoing renovation, we got a major high from carpenter glue smell. Expect a big hit on your smell senses if you go now.

Discounts varies from store to store. Some up to 70% discount, some only 10% and a few actually only offer discounts with purchases of 3-5 items. The crowd seems to know a bargain, with crowds seen in Burberry and Coach especially.
Stomach wise, a few F&B stores were open. Coffee Bean, Starbucks, CrispyCrepe, a few restaurants non-halal and the Food Court. No off-season discounts or last year stocks from the F&B though. Food Court only opened half its stores. The Nasi Lemak there cost 9 Ringgit. I saw a staff from one of the stores brought in food boxes for lunch for his colleagues. Baskin Robbins have not brought in their chairs though, although they are operational. It helps in the searing heat. JPO smacks itself among the “kelapa sawit” oil palm plantation.


Notice the big space at Baskin Robbins? The chairs are not in yet, understandably.
Baskin Robbins House Warming


Nike Factory Store is huge. Price are about the same in Singapore though. Lots of old designs, it was a factory outlet after all.

Big store

Opening only in Jan 2012


Pink Jambu


We came in from CIQ on JPO2.
Decided to take JPO1 to JB Sentral for the return trip. Costs RM0.30 sen more, slightly longer draggy route. It was a humid afternoon, and we both slept peacefully throughout the comfortable bus ride. Looked forward to having Peri-Peri Chicken at Nandos, City Square.


Besides the shuttle bus service by CausewayLink, there was another shuttle service provided by TranStar via Kotaraya II Terminal. RM5.00 per adult and RM2.50 per child, 1 way. You can board it at the the same bus bay at JPO too.

We didn’t buy much at the JPO. Might have bought something at Burberry or Coach, otherwise there is nothing much for us there. The Europeans outlet change are still better than the US ones for me.

TWS – Travel Withdrawal Symptoms

I’m suffering from TWS – aka Travel Withdrawal Symptoms. The past year December and June school holidays, I’ve always sought to travel out of the country, but not this Dec 2011. Timing of some events and work and nation building does not allow us to plan for a vacation. Anyway, not going anywhere and not doing any trip planning this time around, allows us to step back and save up some money.

Some lessons learned from previous trips and hopefully to further maximize my travel experience in the future.

  • Cheap travel: Not saying, you should stay in a bug infested motels or rooms, but why spend $400 a night, when you are going to sleep at 2am and be up and about for a morning stroll or  a day trip tour that departs at 6am. It will work out to a rate of $100 per hour for those sleeping hour. Talking about day trip tours..
  • Day Tour trippers: I have issues with packaged tours. I joined a packaged day trip to Great Ocean Road, Melbourne. We left super early, waited for others, received instructions, herded through the exploration and rushed through it. Lots of toilet breaks and it really felt like a school excursion at times. Being told when to sit, move and eat..It takes a bit of planning if we want to F&E, but totally worth it.  We did not do any tour in South Korea. All was F&E and we had fun being clueless and totally flexible about everything. We explored Seoraksan, not just the cable car and back down, but we walked the waterfall, view the sunrise from our hotel balcony(both the false dawn and true down), walked on a frozen stream and filling up our bottles with coolest of spring water.
  • Plan everything and.. : …look forward to fail. Totally! Ever wondered how our life sets out to be. When you had always planned for something but the Almighty planned something else for you bigger and better and making you coming out of it, more enriched. My partner was never an early riser, and in some countries where the day is shorter and offices close at 3pm it can make your day shorter and before you know it, it’s night time. In Melbourne, we planned to take the Puffing Billy Train Ride, wife woke up late, and insisted on eating first, and by the time we actually got our directions right and headed for Belgrave, we actually missed the scheduled last ride up to the mountains by just a minute. We actually heard the train whistle blown and it went away.  We checked with the friendly station master, who gave us direction to take a bus up and meet the last train coming down halfway. We took the shuttle bus, paid a dollar, together with primary school kids. The bus driver stopped at where we need to alight, got down the bus and pointed to us where we should go. I remembered he used the word “Paddick” to describe a “grass patch or small field” and I was thinking “they have paddy and rice farm up here?”. We both had fun walking along people’s houses, and there was a beautiful lake, and we managed to take the last train down, although it was 1/4 of the whole experience.
  • Overrated Tourist spots: Some tourist spots can be totally wasteful. Example in the tiny capital of Kuala Lumpur why would anyone visit both the KLCC Twin Towers and KL Tower, went up both buildings for the high-rise experience when they are like 1-2km apart. Wouldn’t being high up on one be the same as the other? Yes right, the paid one might revolve 360 or give you a 720 view, when you walk around twice, but how different can it be?
  • Train: Train will soon be a thing for the past, especially steam trains. The newer electric ones just does not have the same feel to it. While heading to Nami Island in Seoul, we’ve missed taking a classic steam train ride to Gapyeong Station by just a day late. The classic system had ceased operation and we have to take the new modern system.
    We’ve also witnessed the Malaysian KTM Railways closed down it’s train services in Singapore, and operated from Woodlands Checkpoint instead. A whole stretch of 26km of rail track disappeared and the majestic Tanjong Pagar and rustic Bukit Timah Train Station will be converted into something else other than a train station.
  • Get your Ride: The flexibility to go where/how/what/when and why worry about taking a wrong turn? Definitely half the fun. It doesn’t has to be a big MPV or convertible car, as long as you are in control and gives you the mobility to go somewhere more of a “not a Lonely Planet” spot.
    A 2 wheeler would be excellent too. But observe safety and put on a helmet even if not required by law. Having travel insurance is one thing, but getting a knock on your head in a road traffic accident can spell DOA – Dead On Arrival