Life is short. Do everything twice.
Bangkok. With my ugly brother Carlos. Again.
What could be more fun than spending the weekend with my only brother? Yup, the same brother who posted my grotesque photo as an awkward teenager on his Instagram for the world to see.
Well, I guess, it’s spending the weekend with my brother AND his girlfriend, making ME the World’s Biggest Third Wheel Loser EVER. Sigh.
But we got free tickets from the cool folks at Tiger Airways so might as well endure the self-imposed distress. 🙂
Truth be told, I had the option of spending the weekend with a friend. Or an officemate. But I chose to bring my silly younger brother along instead. I figured, if I’m going to leave for London in a month’s time and spend at least a year there, might as well bond with my ONLY sibling and travel with him like we did in 2010. (Aww…) It doesn’t hurt that he’s a professional photographer who can help me take beautiful photos for this blog. (cough, hidden agenda, cough)
WHY BOOK BUDGET FLIGHTS
The tickets sent to me by Tiger Airways were stamped CLARK to BANGKOK. They only gave us 2 free tickets so Faye, my brother’s girlfriend (of 10 years!!!), booked her flight separately via http://www.tigerairways.com/ph. Booking was a breeze and her ticket was LESS than PHP10,000/ USD250 only and it was NOT even on promo! Imagine how much cheaper it would be to fly via Tiger Airways when their flights are on promotion! [Note that in the Philippines, Tiger Airways is in partnership with Sea Air.]
I was never really a fan of blowing my money on air fares anyway. If Tiger Airways can bring me from Point A to Point B for a fraction of the cost, then there’s no point in booking a more expensive flight. Come to think of it, all of those extra perks like heavy in-flight meals are just hyped-up luxuries that I can get when I’m at my destination already. I would use the savings I’d get from booking a cheaper flight for steak or buffet once I reach my destination.
So how did we travel from Manila to Clark?
By Car. We allotted 2 hours travel time (3 hours if we traveled on a weekend). We filled our tank with 1,500 pesos worth of gas. We took the Angeles exit of the North Luzon Expressway. We entered Clark Airbase and followed the clear signs to Diosdado Macapagal Airport.
Another option is to go By Bus. The Megamall/Philtranco station has buses that go directly to Clark. Damage will only be 300 pesos per person. I will post a detailed schedule of their trips (may change without notice so best to call their trunk line) below. An alternative route is to take the bus going to Dau. Go down at the terminal in Dau near Jollibee and look for a shuttle going to Clark Airport. Minimum payment per person for the shuttle is about 45 pesos.
images from the web
At the airport, you go through the same steps as you would if you’re at NAIA:
Step 1) Check-in (45 minutes before Travel time)
Step 2) Pay Travel Tax
Step 3) Pay Terminal Fee
Step 4) Go through Immigration
Step 5) Pass through x-ray scan
Step 6) Wait for your Boarding Gate to open
In our case, a shuttle brought us from the Boarding Gate to the Plane. And since it was raining at that time, a row of courteous men put up their umbrellas for us.
Depart from Manila
Contact Philtranco: +632 8518077 or 78 or 79.
Airport: Suvarnabhumi Airport
Currency: Thailand Baht
Exchange Rates: 1 THB = 1.527PHP
Language: Thai (Tai)
Type of Government: Constitutional Monarchy
Hotel we stayed at:Pathumwan Princess Hotel (connected to MBK Mall, 50% off on room rates at Agoda.com, 108USD per night with free wifi!)
Since we only had a few days to prepare for this trip, we decided to buy tours on-the-spot. We booked 2 tours via World Travel Services, Inc. which luckily had a hub at our hotel lobby.
They have been in the travel tours business for 64 years already. Awarded most-trusted travel firm in Thailand.
ELEPHANT WORLD CUP SERIES 2012
Faye had one agenda for this trip: see the elephant show! We had to travel for about an hour and a half to go to the park outside of Bangkok to see the trained Dumbos.
We arrived early so we still got to see the magic show.
Elephants, in the olden times, were used by the Thai people to transport local goods. The same elephants were also used to protect the King and assist his men during battles. The King’s chosen one called “white elephant” was supposed to be the strongest and most dapper looking of all. He was the one with supposedly the most swag! 🙂
In the show, the white elephant’s name was “HipHop”. He led the others in re-enacting the many uses and talents of his kind. My favorite part was when they showed-off their football skills. I got a kick out of seeing the Thai Dumbo score a goal.
Animal feed can be bought for 10 baht after the show. The elephants would snort the feed using their trunks. When I took a picture with the trunk of the elephant wrapped around me, I gave the trainer a tip. The elephant got the money from my hand using its trunk and handed it over to its mentor. Coolness!
STEADY AS A CROCODILE DUNDEE
After the fun elephant show, we proceeded to watch the heart-pounding tricks of the crocodile caretakers. I never knew crocodiles were steady and catatonic. I guess I never really paid attention to Zoology class. I was surprised that the caretakers could insert their hands and heads into the crocodiles’ mouths without getting chopped off. I know crocodiles don’t have tongues but what I didn’t know was that they could also stand a few hours of not moving. They look like rocks in their natural habitat. Amazing.
Our tour guide Michael showed us the crocodile sanctuary. He also showed us the Siamese tigers at the entrance of the park.
The first time I went to Bangkok, I skipped all of the temple-hopping activities. My main goal back then was to shop. This time around, I promised myself that I would control the shopping urges since I’m leaving for a cold destination anyway. For this trip, I planned on seeing the 3 famous Buddhas instead: 1) Golden Buddha 2) Reclining Buddha, and 3) Bronze Buddha.
I got to see a bonus Buddha: the happiest one of them all!
I like the story behind this treasure. It was in the 13th century in Sukothai that this buddha was discovered. It was camouflaged and covered in clay when it was moved to a temple in Bangkok during Rama III’s reign. A crane lifted it but the weight of the buddha was so heavy that the clay began to crack. As the light reached the crack, the head monk in-charge of transporting the buddha noticed a little gleam shining back. He chiseled and hammered the clay. When he was finished, he found himself standing face to face with a buddha made of solid 18-karat gold.
I was excited to visit our next stop because it is known to be a place where massage schools proliferate. I’m a sucker for good massages. A good day for me would always end in a 2-hour relaxing massage. When we got to Wat Pho though, I didn’t see the massage schools they were talking about in Trip Advisor. I guess it was a few meters outside the Wat. I didn’t have time to roam outside since I was part of a tour group. What I saw though was a structure that epitomizes calmness– The Reclining Buddha. Leaning on one hand, this Buddha looks like he just took a chill pill. It reminded me of what mama would always text me when I’m working late or on weekends: “Take it easy.”
By the end of the Wat Pho tour, we were given coins or what they call “satangs” for a donation of 25 Baht. We were supposed to put these satangs into 108 bronze bowls for luck and prosperity.
Before we officially got “Templed Out!” as my friend Jenny calls a day of temple overload, we got to see the bronze buddha and all the other little wats in the compound. I got lost in the maze that our tour guide Sam ended up looking for this last person in neon to board the bus. A group of students caught my attention and I ended up having my photo taken with them. I blame them for my delay. 😛
AMAZING THAILAND GRAND SALE
Bangkok has always been known as a shopping hub. Most of their big malls are inter-connected by a long and convenient walkway. From Mah Boon Krong (MBK) Mall to Siam Discovery to Siam Central, to Siam Paragon, and all the way to Gaysorn Mall. Cross the street and you’ll find the Silom stalls. Ride the BTS Train and you will end-up at Chatuchak Market. Go to the Baiyoke center and find Pratunam and Platinum Malls. Temple 21 is also an emerging shopping haven. The choices are endless! Like icing on top of the cake, these malls go on crazy sales with offerings up to 70% off!
That weekend was one of the craziest sales I’ve ever been to. The entire Siam Center Mall was on sale! I know I told myself not to shop for clothes so I didn’t. But I kind of blew some Gs on makeup. The Makeup Store was on 50% off! I bought makeup fixers, tweezers, mirrors, etc. Chanel was also giving 20% off on their makeup. It was like Christmas!
I will never get tired of going back to Bangkok. There are just so many things to see and do! 😀
Thank you, Tiger Airways, for flying us safely to Thailand! A special shout-out to Zerline T. of Tiger Airways Singapore for making this happen. We’re looking forward to more trips aboard Tiger Airways!
For MORE PHOTOS from this trip, go to #COOLDETOURDOTCOM on Instagram (@denisecongco)!