Tag Archive: Thailand

Whenever I thought of Phuket back then, I thought it was just a single destination area where one chooses which beach corner to claim for a getaway. I didn’t realize that Phuket is Thailand’s largest island and that there is a variety of beach resorts to choose from. Neither did I know that it is the jump-off point for smaller islands like Phi Phi Don, Phi Phi Lei, James Bond Island, Maya Beach, Koh Lanta, Monkey Island, etc.




Marriott Vacation Club in Mai Khao, Phuket.


JW Marriott Hotel and Spa



We stayed in Marriott Vacation Club in Mai Khao Beach which is near the airport. It is nearly an hour away from where the action is (Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Kata Beach, NaiYang Beach, etc) but we don’t mind as you have everything you need in this more quiet corner of the island. Perhaps not so for the party crowd and the shoppers, but we’re neither so the “remoteness” is perfect for us. Besides, there’s a free shuttle to the sister-hotel (JW Marriott Phuket Club) where one can enjoy charming sunset views. For retail therapy and other dining outlets, just a stroll away is the Turtle Village. We highly recommend the Coffee Club here not just for the coffee and desserts, but also for their Pad Thai, Thai Prawn Rice and Curry Dishes. We went there for 2 consecutive dinners. And guess what, we ordered nearly the same dishes.


Check out these links:


Holy Cow, We’re in Mai Khao



Oh, So ChiChi in Ko Phi Phi



Sunsets In Phuket



Prawn Rice. Ohhhhh such goodness!


Lunch was in this place with this view in Phi Phi Don.



We devoted an entire day visiting some islands on a speedboat. Booked the tour online via AsiaWeb. No hassles. They picked us up from our hotel, brought us to the Royal Phuket Marina, enjoyed unlimited drinks and fruits on the boat, had an authentic Thai lunch in Phi Phi Don, snorkeled and enjoyed the islands. Some may still have the energy to shop and party later that night, but not us. After a good dinner at Turtle Village, we just wanted to crawl into our beds.




Snorkelers Haven


Just another beach.




AsiaWeb bundled up the speedboat tour with a choice of airport transfers, or a city tour or a night with the ladyboys. We chose the city tour where we had the van & driver all to ourselves visiting temples, the old part of town and about 4 beach areas. The beach resorts especially Patong Beach underwhelmed us. Overhyped, if you ask me. But maybe I’m saying this because I’m extremely biased in favor of our Boracay (yes, despite the rowdy crowd and the trash), the islands of El Nido and other parts of Visayas. But I love how the Thais do this tourism business nearly seamlessly.







In the end, we simply breezed through the beaches. Declaring ourselves beach-fatigued, we skipped the stroll on the sandy shores and only managed one temple visit and a drive around the old town. No need to get sand between our toes. We had enough of that when we did the islands. As for shopping, we were just interested in food items! Can you blame us?





The day my Canon G12 “died”, I was in high spirits literally “shooting the breeze” in Chamantad Viewpoint in Tinian Cliffs in Sabtang, Batanes. Standing by the promontory facing the Pacific Ocean, I let that breeze slap me in the face. I took in all the ocean spray as well. Refreshing. I took it all. And so did my Canon G12 which jammed soon after I took a video and more snapshots of the cliffs and the rocky coast. It “died”. I began to mourn its “demise” only when I reached chaotic Manila. Took me some days to bring the camera to the Canon Center for repairs. Sob 😦




My Canon G12…. a faithful companion in my travels.



The entire lens had to be replaced, costing 8,500 pesos. Luckily, the 3 year warranty is still good for a couple more months. When I picked up my cam, it was as good as new and didn’t cost me a cent. Just in time too for my recent unplanned, unscheduled trip to Phuket. Sunsets in Phuket every single day we were there never passed without my memory catcher getting into action. Though it is only a Point & Shoot cam, I fell in love with my Canon G12 again. What a lovely travel companion!




SPOTTED With My Canon G12: Bromance in Phuket Beach.


SPOTTED: Bromance in Phuket Beach. Thailand. May 2013



It is the same sun. But as a friend would say, sunsets melt your heart in different ways. In my case, I was only too happy my resurrected Canon G12 can capture these moments. For sure, there are better sunset shots. But I like mine, simply because they’re MINE. I alone captured the exact spot, the exact angle, at the exact moment, with the exact sentiment I felt on the exact second I pressed to take the exact shot! I owned that feeling. Does that make sense?




Sunsets are lovely. But I honestly love twilights more. TWILIGHT IN PHUKET BEACH. JW Marriott Resort and Spa


Just a manageable “crowd” in JW Marriott Resort and Spa. Phuket, Thailand.



In Phuket, we had the luxury of viewing the sunset without the crowd. That helps build up the mood, I guess. Calm, serene, quiet, almost sacred. As we headed back to our rooms, we caught a few more snapshots. It seemed the sunset shots were never enough. Truly, who can compete with Nature? The explosion of colors just as and as soon as the sun set was the highlight of our evenings here in Phuket. Thank God my good ol’ buddy is back in action. πŸ™‚




A few more shots. Can’t seem to get enough of sunset and twilight shots here in Phuket, Thailand.


Just before going off to dinner. Can’t make that Pad Thai wait too long…..


View from the lobby of JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa

Thinking James Bond 007 this morning as we boarded our speedboat to the islands off Phuket. Phi Phi today. The Beach. Monkey Beach. Vikings Cave. But no time to do James Bond Island. Funny how some of these islands’ claim to fame is by way of the movies shot in their lovely shores. I’ve seen the movies. Enough to get me all excited. And thinking James Bond….. No ferries for old ladies. Let’s have the speedboat, no less!




Royal Phuket Marina where the speedboats are parked.


There’s our speedboat (bottom left) with 675 hp engines. We flew!



Oh, the kids would have loved this. Maybe next time. How I wish we have speedboats hopping from island to island in El Nido or Coron. Quite an adventure. Outside of that, I can’t say I’m really overwhelmed. The beauty of our own islands compare very well with the likes of Phi Phi. And it is just as hot and humid too. If it were cooler, I’d choose these tropical islands anytime of day, or year, over the Greek islands off the Aegean Sea. Just make it a tad cooler. Enough to make it bearable, but warm enough to still swim in its warm waters. Or maybe I complain too much. I must be SPOILED πŸ˜‰




The monkeys in Monkey Island must have been waiting for boats to stop and throw ’em those bananas! Quite a show.


We had lunch here in Phi Phi Don. Calmer waters. Colorful boats. Relaxing.



We booked the tours via Asia Web. For 3,100 baht, you have the speedboat to island hop the whole day and a half-day tour of Phuket Island another day. The speedboat cruise includes lunch, unlimited drinks and fruits on the speedboat. You may choose to ride the ferry to see the same islands for far less (900 baht) but I’m telling you, the speedboat ride is an adventure by itself! Powered with 3 engines @225 hp for a combined power of 675 hp, we flew! In some of the islands, we were allowed to swim, snorkel, feed the fish ( I love this part best! ). In one spot, the current was so strong it was a struggle to swim back to the boat!




Snorkelers galore!


Hungry fish!



We saw the boat crew catch fish with their bare hands! It looked so easy as they grabbed the fish by the heads and threw them in a basket. We were kinda hoping that was lunch, but the tour operator had other ideas. Thai lunch was not bad, but it wasn’t spectacular. I wouldn’t trade our grilled seafood lunch in one of the El Nido islands. Neither was I overwhelmed with the sights. I prefer the beach, coves and seascapes of Palawan. But I’ve got to say the speedboats and the colorful traditional boats give the place tons of charm.




Off the boat for some siesta time in Rang Yai Island, nearer to Phuket.


Vikings Cave. Nothing spectacular but those birds’ nests fetch a hefty price!



And it sure helped a great deal that Hollywood movies were filmed here. The Beach starring Leonardo di Carpio was quite a hit — which explains the thick crowd when we visited Maya Cove. Personally, I prefer the more quiet beach of Rang Yai Island. The sands pale in comparison with Boracay and El Nido, but it attracted a more sober crowd.




The Beach. Thick crowd. Rowdy youngsters who got busy “throwing” their lady friends into the water. Boys will be boys!


This is more like it. Quiet. More serene. Huts around. Showers off one side with a pair of peacocks watching! This is Rang Yai Island, just a few minutes to Royal Phuket Marina.



But you’ve got to hand it to them Thais. They sure know their tourism industry. The tour was conducted systematically, the guides were very well-trained, you never grow hungry throughout the cruise, and there’s the element of “surprise” and personalized service the way the tour was handled. In particular, we were all pleasantly surprised to find exotic fruits on the boat — sliced pineapples, rose apples (macopa), local oranges, bananas — and to be offered local Popsicles at the last leg while viewing photos taken by the tour photographer. Nice touch. Everything was well thought-out!




Macopas is what we call them. Rose Apples to others.


BOND. JAMES BOND. Very chichi.



The marina looked very classy that one easily justifies the hefty price paid for this tour. Very charming. Very cleverly done. Indeed, it was so chichi in Koh Phi Phi! πŸ˜‰

Monday delights. Left Manila at noon via Thai Airways, made a brief stop in Bangkok, then flew onwards to Phuket. It’s the biggest island in Thailand and we found our retreat here in Mai Khao. The beach resort is blessedly isolated and away from the tourist crowd. Very much self-contained with an option to do some retail therapy in the nearby TurtleVillage. But who wants to get out? A 2-room villa with its own plunge pool tempts you to stay in. In fact, we opted to dine in and used the well-appointed kitchen to cook our pasta pomodoro dinner to go with a bottle of good shiraz. L.U.X.U.R.Y. Pure luxury. This is the life! Happiness πŸ™‚




JW Marriott Phuket


It is tempting to just stay IN in JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa



In the end, we decided to skip the shiraz. It can wait till tomorrow. We turned in early to prep for a whole day of activities tomorrow. The stroll around the lovely resort hotel can wait too….. and so with a dip in the plunge pool. It could have been perfect. Four friends around the pool, each holding a glass of wine, chatting like there’s no tomorrow, while keeping their heads dry and the rest soaking in the pool. Holy cow! We must be getting old. All we wanted to do after dinner is to climb into our heavenly beds.




One of 2 villa bedrooms in Marriott Vacation Club in Mai Khao, Phuket.


That’s the plunge pool right outside the room in Marriott Vacation Club



This is NOT an advert. But MARRIOTT VACATION CLUB in Mai Khao, Phuket is a lovely place to stay in. The 2 bedroom villa with a well-appointed kitchen is a sanctuary for weary bodies and tired souls. The plunge pool is a bonus. Easily, the villa can accommodate 6 pax. Maybe even 8 pax. Best for families or good friends. You can even choose to stay in, buy your supplies from the nearby Turtle Village, cook and dine in. Tonight, that’s exactly what we did. Tomorrow and days after, we’d be in serious search for Pad Thai and some curries. πŸ™‚




Who’s cooking dinner tonight?


Towel elephant on my dining table!


The Living Room. Marriott Vacation Club. Mai Khao, Phuket.

Food is an integral part of my travels and yes, you may say food defines many of my adventures. The passion to search for certain kinds of food is serious business. Going to great lengths for a food particular to the area builds the excitement as much as checking out the local attractions. So, here’s a compilation. It is a living, breathing list as I intend to add more as I get busy celebrating life. A few inches more on the waist, on the hips won’t hurt πŸ™‚



It all starts at home. While the Philippines has national dishes like adobo, sinigang, Kare Kare and lechon, there are regional cuisines that are must-try eats. Check these out.

Philippine Cuisine

Regional Cuisine: Northern Philippines

What and Where to Eat in Laoag and Vigan

As Spicy As It Gets in Bicol

What To Eat In Batanes

Eating Frogs and Crickets From the Philippines’ Culinary Capital


Boma Dinner and the Exotic Meats of Africa

South African Cuisine


Eating Around Spain

Best Churros Con Chocolate








Four months. Four Countries. November 2011 through February 2012. Extended till May 2012. Vietnam. ThailandΒ . Bhutan. Spain. Each country a delight to visit. Each country with its own distinct, unique cuisine. The languages compete with the culinary delights to render you “tongue-twisted”.






It lasted about a week each in Vietnam and Bhutan. And some 4 nights in Bangkok, Thailand. Then all of 10 weeks in Spain. My taste buds were never as confused as they were in the last 4-6 months. But if this is what confusion means, I wouldn’t mind being in that state for a prolonged period. 😊😍😘






Vietnamese cuisine tastes “clean” and subtle. Happily combining Asian flavors with French mastery of the kitchen, the dishes are beautifully plated even if purchased off a corner stall in the market. Besides, Vietnamese dishes are more veggies than meats which lessen one’s guilt but not the pleasure. The same aesthetic value can be said of Thai dishes. The vibrant colors combine so well in every single plate or tray whether they are vegetables, fruits or meats. And the sauces! Each single dish presents a variety of options by way of sauces. Major decisions!






The food in Bhutan is an altogether different story. There isn’t much by way of meat choices unless you are craving for yak burgers. Vegetarians would have a field day here in this Himalayan kingdom but the spices are just too much for my liking. But I like their mountain rice and the simplicity of their vegetable dumplings and soups.






Aroused by the flavors of the Orient , my taste buds were ready to be assaulted by the varied, meaty, cheesy, olive-oily dishes of Spain. From the very beginning, I knew 10 weeks won’t be long enough to try all 500 or so bacalao dishes. But really, I can’t complain.






We tried and compared the churros con chocolate from Chocolateria De San Gines and Valor, we sampled the croquetas and quezos in Mercado de San Miguel, we dined in 101 Tapas in Andalucia, traveled to Valencia for their authentic and original paella, ate not once but twice in Segovia for that cochinillo we’ve dreamed about, relished the morcilla from Burgos and the Leche flan and crema de Catalan of Barcelona.



So, after 4-6 months….. What do you think am I craving for? Sure I miss those Vietnamese rolls, the pad Thai, momos, Jamon y Quezos . But nothing beats food from home. I shamelessly requested a good friend to cook my favorite pancit, ordered halo-halo in the middle of a board meeting, drove all the way to Binondo for my lumpia and quikiam fix, waited mornings for the taho vendor, emptied my dish of dinuguan and puto in record time, and to this day, still dreaming of bibingka with kesong Puti and my favorite seagrapes (Lato) salad. Pinoy food rocks! 😝




Bangkok. Think Grand Palace. Wat Po. Vimanmek Palace. Chao Phraya River. Floating Market. MBK. Jim Thomson. Oriental Hotel. Wat Arun. Pat Pong. Khao San. Chatuchak.

Wat Po. Just one temple this time. We skipped the rest!

After as many as 7 trips or so here, I have yet to venture out of the capital. Well, I have visited Ayutthaya if that counts. But that was just a day trip from the city. I’m thinking Chiang Mai. Or even Phuket. Ko Phi Phi. Hua Hin. Kanchanaburi. Chiang Rai. Not this time. Another time, is what I keep repeating to myself.

Golden Gate Bridge Crossing Terminal 21's Atrium : Impressive!

Inside Terminal 21

So what else is new in Bangkok? Stuck in the city, we checked out the newest shopping mall in the capital. (Thanks to Bing who brought us here) Terminal 21. No, it is not within the airport complex. But it does look like one. Located at Sukhumvit 21 (hence, Terminal 21) this shopping mall is connected with the BTS Asoke and MRT Sukhumvit Stations.

Carribean-themed floor is all about the beach and lighthouse!

Working on the theme of travel, Terminal 21 allows you to “travel” from San Francisco, USA to Istanbul, which is just an escalator away. As we entered the complex, we were greeted by this red and white lighthouse right smack in the middle of the atrium. This ground floor is where the supermarket is, replete with its Carribean beach decor. The signature shops are largely on the Paris and Rome-themed floors. Higher up, one finds the London-themed floor. You can’t mistake it, what with the lifesize red bus parked at some corner there. The Tokyo section is also quite popular. Many ladies had fun posing beside the sumo wrestler statues you find on that floor. πŸ˜‰

A London Bus Parked in Terminal 21?

And then there’s Istanbul. And the fancy restrooms! No visit is complete without stopping by the modern restrooms. Think bidet, heated seat cover, air blower, etc. Cool! What’s more, there’s wifi all around the complex. So bring your laptop and check out the many food outlets here. Grab some lunch. Just take time to decide what to have. With all these different themes, it can be a chore choosing what to have for lunch. Happy time, happy thoughts to all!

Be warned. Old hags can have fun too!

An Array of Dining Choices Inside Terminal 21