Kuala Lumpur – Manila – Puerto Princesa

Bangkok. Thailand, April 2016. Tomorrow, Sunday I will fly to Kuala Lumpur, night stop and fly out to the Philippines on Monday. I should arrive in Puerto Princesa, Palawan Late afternoon – hopefully ūüôā

So, until Malaysia, enjoy the rest of your weekend.

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The best photo award go’s to this Colourful Bird spotted in Bangkok City Park

Thailand – Bangkok, The cost of 9 Days

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. Bangkok is always a good place to stay – vibrant, exciting and always something good to eat! A city that keeps me coming back, and back again. Here’s a rundown of the cost of a 9 day¬†stay in Bangkok.

Being outside the tourist area the cost of living is actually petty good. Food is cheap and excellent value for money while groceries are reasonably priced – milk, tea bags similar to the UK. Breakfast, lunch and dinner always less than a pound each meal. Water was freely provided as part of the room cost as was toiletries.

  1. Accommodation, double bed apartment in Chatuchuk  9 nights £111
  2. Transport, Metro, Sky Train and buses across 9 days £6.20
  3. Food and drink, local eats, coffee from Seven Eleven across 9 days £30.60
  4. Groceries Рtea bags, milk, bug spray and laundry powder £3.75
  5. Flight from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok Don Muang Airport £27.37
  6. TOTAL 9 Days £178.92. Minus the flight cost then actual cost of living, £151.55 over 9 days, £16.83 per day.
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    Balcony View from the Apartment

     

Thailand – Bangkok, The Sky Train

Bangkok. Thailand, April 2016. Not a new concept by any means but the elevated mass transit system weaving between the skyscrapers of downtown Bangkok is one that gives visitors some outstanding cityscape views as well as a good ride above the traffic jams!

So, why not buy a 1 station ticket and ride around the Bangkok Sky Train lines for a while and take-in those amazing views on the horizon, and of course a closer look at some pretty innovative architecture in the downtown. Its a pretty cool way to spend an hour or 2.

Riding the BTS around downtown an getting out at each station is a good way to grab some unique photos as seen here.

Thailand – Bangkok, Fusion with Nature

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016.¬†Probably the best city park anywhere in Southeast Asia. Situated in the Chatuchuk area, this park provides a true oasis in an urban jungle. I’ve visited several times and each time I see something different – plants, wild animals, insects. This is where city and nature come together without boundaries and co-exist happily, if only for a few hours under the palms.

Easily accessible via the Mo Chit BTS station, Chatuchuk Metro station or a host of buses including numbers 3, ¬†510, 29, 134 and 503. Its quite a vast area so visitors should allow at least 3 hours to walk the entire area beginning from beside the Metro station. There are some pretty big monitor lizards here so be careful and never get too close – even if they look dead they’r not! Chatuchuk is also home to a famous weekend market, another vast area that’ll take hours to explore. I’m not going there this trip since I was there a while back, but believe me its worth ¬†exploring. ¬†Google Map.

The Bangkok Butterfly House is situated here in Chatuchuk park but don’t expect to see many exotic butterflies. On my visit here a few days ago I spotted about 10 of the insects across 2 species, so the place may disappoint some visitors. The good news though ¬†is that its a free entry attraction!

So here is how the city and nature are co-existing in Bangkok. Rather randomly there is an old steam train, clearly unloved gathering leaves right on the northern edge of the park. I don’t know the history around here but it looks like this train ran out of steam right there and then, some 50 or so years ago.

Warning: Don’t chase or touch the lizards ¬†– it’ll be a regretful decision!

Thailand -Bangkok, Old City

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. The historical area of Bangkok is worth a look. Stretching from Khao San Road and the Democracy Monument towards the Chao Phraya River and extending south visitors will find a wealth of history to explore. The grandeur of the Palace, small streets lines with traditional shop houses and still used as such, many temples and religious buildings displaying splendid colours and not forgetting the centuries old riverside communities – all waiting to be explored. The place is busy, especially around the Grand Palace with Chinese, Korean and Japanese tour groups giving ticket touts a run for their money.

And when it gets too much visitors can retreat to the Thammasat University canteen and grab some lunch with the students – yes, eat cheap, drink cheap here at Thammasat, itself a historical attraction being the seat of discontent and revolution along the path to democracy. The place here has so much food choice that its quite bewildering at first. All good local food mostly with one booth taking on the western burger theme. I settled for a mild chicken curry, tasty and only 30 Baht (60p).

Easily accessible via bus 203, 503 or Chao Phraya Express Boat Tha Chang Pier. From Khao San Road its a 25 minute walk. Allow at least a few hours to see the main sights – Grand Palace, Temples etc. To explore every nook and cranny I’d set aside the whole day! On the other hand Tuk Tuk drivers will gladly take visitors on a whirlwind tour of the area – negotiate hard for at least 50% less than the original price!¬†Google Map.

The streets outside Thammasat University, colourful and occupied with locals selling all manner of illegal items – illegal in Britain of course. Gun, animal skin and plenty of ivory products. When done with lunch in the University canteen, head underground to the library coffee shop and join students in a nice fresh coffee.

Quaint streets, art and tour groups…life in old Bangkok.

Thailand -Bangkok, Chao Phraya River Express

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016.¬†By taking a ride on the Chao Phraya Express Boat, visitors to Bangkok will not only get to see the stunning Sky Line view, but will also be able to take a peak at some historical architecture that isn’t always accessible from the land! Yes, a ride on the river will give one a fascinating look into life on the Chao Phraya in Bangkok – past, present and future!

Express boat from Sathorn Pier (Google Map) to Tha Chang (Google Map)

So here are the views a 15 Baht (30p) ticket will buy…Pretty nice!

And on the edge of the historical district where one can take a peak at some pretty old buildings with beautiful architecture including the spires of the Grand palace.

The river is a busy place…

 

Thailand – Bangkok, City Views for less than a Dollar

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016. Visitors on a tight budget likely won’t be staying on the 45th floor of the Hilton or dining in a sky-bar downtown Bangkok, where city sky-line views can come at a hefty price.¬†Here are a couple of exciting alternatives that wont dent the budget and provide some pretty nice views of the city – for under a Dollar!

1. Boat Ride the Bangkok River. The Chao Phraya River flows north to south through the middle of Bangkok and is a hub of transportation as river buses, water taxis, ferries, tourist boats and cargo barges continuously sailing the length and breadth of the waterway Р the place can look pretty hectic at times. For just 15 Baht visitors can ride a water taxi pretty much the length of the city and at the same time experience some rather nice skyline views.

Here’s how I took the local water taxi boat south to north and took in some awesome scenery. The most accessible pier is outside the Saphan Taksin Sky Train Station, Sathorn Pier. The first and most prominent ticket counter is selling tickets for the tourist boat (blue flag) at 40 Baht. Bypass this and join the queue behind it. That’s a queue for the local water taxi called the Chao Phraya Express, and soon someone will collect the 15 Baht and issue a ticket. Wait for the next boat with an orange flag and enjoy the ride along Bangkok’s famous Chao Phraya river. I’d recommend getting off in the historical district at Tha Tien or Tha Chang pier and explore the Grand Palace, Thammasat University and some quaint streets.

2. Ride the Sky Train.¬†Riding the famous Bangkok Sky Train is an exciting way to get a more personalised view of Bangkok as the lines meander right through the hart of downtown. Buy the cheapest ticket, there appears no time limit, and ride around for a few hours getting off at various stations for that elevated view of the city. Don’t forget to end the journey¬†at a station appropriate to the ticket price or there could be trouble! But its a fun way to grab a few photos of Bangkok – i’d recommend avoiding rush hour though! I paid 42 Baht since I needed to alight at Mo Chit. I then spent a good couple of hours riding around, taking a look at Bangkok hassle free.

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More photos of the river ride and Sky Train journey are coming up on the next blog post.

Thailand – Spare week, Cheap Flight, Its Bangkok

Bangkok, Thailand, April 2016.¬†I’ve visited Bangkok several times since I started travelling in 2011. This time though I am staying in a neighborhood called Chatuchak in the city’s Northern suburbs. Famous in Bangkok for being the location of a giant weekend market and for having a pretty decent city park to relax in. The place is also well connected to the city via Sky Train and Metro.So, when a spare week coincides with an ultra cheap flight to a city that wows, its just go to be Bangkok.

A room with a view this time.A balcony looks across towards the city skyline. The apartment block is pretty smart, new and with all the modern lifestyle conveniences one looks forward to when back home. The neighborhood is pretty quiet, nothing like the backpacker area of Khao San Road but this visit¬†¬†isn’t all about the hectic boozy scene, no, I’m intending to take things easy for the next week, relax and catch up on some blogging.

So, after that short flight from Kuala Lumpur and a very short bus ride from the airport, time to freshen up and grab some of that exquisitely delicious Thai cuisine РI just hope places are still open this late at night in a quiet neighborhood like this! Yes, luckily there are some places willing to take last orders Рa rather tasty fried pork and rice dish, a good plateful and only 45B, about 90p. Yep, thats one very good reason to spend  a spare week in Bangkok Рgood cheap food!

 

 

I like coffee more than I like beer so tomorrow, in dayight and with a clear head we’ll go and take a look at the city.

Malaysia – The Brickfields Stopover

Kaohsuing Airport, Taiwan, April 2016. Leaving Taiwan and hopefully ending up in Bangkok tomorrow, with a night stop in Kuala Lumpur. Kaohsuing has a smart, modern little airport and its especially pleasing to find a Family Mart tucked away on the ground floor. Yes, a budget travellers paradise is the Family Mart, especially if one is about to endure a 4 1/2 hour flight with Air Asia. Formalities are quick and painless, even the immigration officer gives a polite smile. So, after filling up on coffee and a garlic cheese bread roll time to board the plane for our 4 1/2 flight to Kuala Lumpur. Its the South China Sea pretty much the entire journey so sight seeing from 36,000 feet consists of spotting the odd ship and maybe a small tropical Island, otherwise its a good time to take a nap!

Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur, April 2016.¬†I’m often in transit when in Kuala Lumpur so to decrease my workload I’ll simply re-blog the text from a transit stop earlier in the month.

“When I‚Äôm in transit I‚Äôll stay at either Tune hotel downtown or bunk down in Brickfields, also known as Little India, but it‚Äôs nothing like Mumbai or Delhi. Another option is the Tune hotel at the airport but its¬†going to blow that backpacker budget all the way back to England!

There‚Äôs a bus about every 20 minutes from the airport to downtown Kuala Lumpur leaving from the bus station on the bottom level ‚Äď just follow the transport signs. At the bus station there is a row of ticketing booths ‚Äď 11 Malaysian Ringgit to KL Sentral, the city‚Äôs prime public transport hub and shopping mall. The bus‚Äôs are comfortable, modern and fast taking just 1 hour to downtown”.

Brickfields is lively, exciting and colourful and makes an ideal stopover when jetting around Southeast Asia. Good hotels and excellent cheap food in abundance, all easy to find. Malaysia of course is renowned world over for its diverse foods and cultures. Personally, when I’m here in Brickfields I like to feast on some rather tasty Indian cuisine.

A quick rundown on the cost of a Brickfields stopover: Bus from Airport £1.93, large curry meal from Jaya 88p, Single room Pods Backpackers £11.45, bus back to airport £1.93. Oh, I forgot to add tea, 28p for Tessi Kassong from Jaya.

here’s a few shots from my latest stopover in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

 

 

Taiwan – The Cost

Taiwan, April, 2016. Here I’ll take a breakdown of the costs for a 3 week stay in Taiwan including the cost of getting there.Exchange rate averages T$45 to ¬£1

So, starting with Taipei, the accommodation wasn’t smart but budget style and adequate with all that a budget backpacker needs. Purchasing an Easycard for travelling on public transport is the most cost effective way of getting around the city and to the suburbs. Food, well I tried to eat simple – common everyday Taiwanese food, no western gunk. Coffee, well that’s remarkably good value for money in Taipei.

Taipei: Flight from Kuala Lumpur with Air Asia X = 441 MYR = £77.59.                                                        Single Room via Air BnB  10 nights                                  =£105.00                                                          Daily food and drink cost averaging  T$ 245 x 11            = £59.88                                                          Transport Metro and Bus Via Easycard                             = £20.00

 TOTAL     =£262.47

Next, Hualien on the east coast. The room was a double and in pretty good shape, just like a hotel room actually. I paid more but it was still the cheapest option avoiding dorm rooms. Food, well its tastier than in Taipei and excellent value for money too where its more about the locals tastes than it is about tourists. Getting around well there are a few buses but I got by with a push bike provided by the room host, since the place is pretty small its no problem to explore this way.

Hualien: Bus and train combo ticket from Taipei                       =£4.64                                                                  Accommodation Via Air BnB 5 nights                          =£60.00                                                                Daily food and drink  T$155 x 6                                       =£20.66                                                                Transport 0                                                                           =£0                                                                        Groceries Рwater, tea bags, milk                                  =£5.55

  TOTAL       =£90.85

Finally Kaohsuing. Somehow I ended up in a dorm room but actually it wasn’t that bad after the snorer moved out. Food, well, once again like Hualien its good value for money and tasty.

Kaohsuing: Train ticket from Hualien                                            =£15.66                                                                     Accommodation Via Air BnB 6 nights                     =£30.00                                                                     Daily food and drink T$245 x 7                                  =£38.11                                                                       Transport Metro                                                             =£5.25

TOTAL       =£89.02

Total 3 weeks in Taiwan comes out at £442.32. Discount the flight cost then actual living costs equate to £364.75. 

And that rounds off a trip to Taiwan. I’d say spend less time in Taipei and more time in Kaohsuing where the sun shines and the people smile.