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Trip Report My first trip to Asia in November 2010 (pictures and notes)

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I spent a lot of time reading this board and asking questions last year to prepare for my first trip to Asia so I thought I would post my pictures and a few notes I sent to friends while I was travelling. From October 30th to November 26th 2010, I visited Hong Kong (5 nights), Singapore (4 nights), Kuala Lumpur (2 nights), Siem Reap (4 nights), Bangkok (4 nights), Ao Nang (4 nights) and Koh Phi Phi (3 nights). I flew from Ottawa to Hong Kong via Detroit with Delta Airlines. I also spent one night in Hong Kong before flying back home. I used budget carriers to travel from country to country.

Here are my pictures. Sorry that I have so many. I just couldn't stop! :)

Hong Kong: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/HongKong2010#
Singapore: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/Singapore2010#
Kuala Lumpur: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/KualaLumpur2010#
Siem Reap: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/Cambodia2010#
Bangkok: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/Bangkok2010#
Ao Nang and Koh Phi Phi: http://picasaweb.google.com/dinogoulet/AoNangAndKohPhiPhi2010#

And here are some notes from my trip:

October 30th (Hong Kong):

I am currently enjoying breakfast on the 38th floor of my hotel (Hotel Panorama by Rhombus) at a table overlooking the harbor. The view, which I also have from my room is magnificent. I think I'll go to the Peak first thing this morning and then just explore the city. My cab drive told me to go to Central/soho tonight for Halloween.

November 1st (Hong Kong):

Holy crap, there are so many people here lol. I went into Harbour City for a quick look and I ended up getting lost. I'm now taking a breather in the lounge. I spent my morning at Repulse Bay and then I went to Stanley Market for lunch. Shockingly, I didn't buy anything. I might go to the Temple Street market tonight though so watch out, wallet!

Yesterday, I went to the Peak first thing in the morning and enjoyed fabulous views. I then had a quick lunch in the mall before doing the Morning Trail which was a long but easy walk around the peak. Took many pictures. I then walked around Central and Soho, went up the escalators and explored. After that, I was exhausted so I took the hop on, hop off bus to tour Hong Kong island. I also took their green route this morning to get to Repulse Bay/Stanley. I was sitting on the top deck and while I was enjoying the scenery, I got whacked in the face by a tree branch. It hurt like hell but it surprisingly didn't leave any marks.

November 2nd (Hong Kong):
Another long but wonderful day. I took the cable car to Lantau island to see the big Buddha. I spent a couple hours walking around the grounds and I had lunch. I then took the cable car back and shopped for a while at the citygate outlet mall. It was heaven but I didn't buy anything. I just feel like it's too early into my trip to buy stuff.

By the way, I did go to the temple street market last night. I have to say I am underwhelmed by the markets in Hong Kong so far. I did enjoy the craziness of Nathan Road though. I'm getting pretty good at ignoring the hawkers lol.

I was planning on going to Macau tomorrow but I'm not so sure anymore. There's a lot more I want to see/do in HK. Since tomorrow is my last day here, I was thinking of maybe checking some parks and try to buy a few souvenirs at the markets in Mongkok. What do you guys think?

Oh, I saw the craziest thing last night! I was walking up Nathan Road and stopped into the Miramar mall. A man fainted while going up the escalator and he just couldn't get back up. A security guard ran up to help him but he too fell down backwards. Thankfully they were able to get back up and nobody was seriously hurt.

November 3rd (Hong Kong):

I'm off to Singapore in a few hours. Looks like I'm leaving at the right time. The weather looks pretty bleak this morning. I really enjoyed my stay in Hong Kong. I think in four days I've done most of the touristy things and I also had some time to just walk around and explore. I would love to come back.

Yesterday I spent my morning walking around the botanical and zoological gardens. I really loved watching the monkeys lol. I then went to the Hong Kong park and spent the rest of the afternoon at Pacific Place. I then took the MTR to Mongkok and wow, I thought I had seen big crowds before. It was insane. I didn't mind though. I'm used to seeing that many people now. I walked around the Ladies Market and then went back to Tsim Sha Tsui to catch the lights show. Really impressive from up close.

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    November 4th (Singapore):

    I LOVE Singapore. I love the food, the architecture, the humidity. I arrived at my hotel, the Fairmont, at around 5pm yesterday. It is fantastic. I got a complimentary upgrade to their deluxe room, which is beautiful. I went right to the pool and spent an hour relaxing before foxing out to explore. I was pretty tired so I just walked down a few blocks to the marina. The Marina Sands complex is really impressive. On my way there I passed an outdoor food court with tons of little stalls. Everything looked delicious. I will probably eat more than twice a day there.

    Right now there's a thunderstorm outside but it's supposed to pass soon. I'll head down for breakfast and maybe go to the zoo after if the weather improves. I want to come back to the city in the afternoon since today is Hindu new year and there will be some celebrations.

    November 5th (Singapore):

    This morning I explored further the esplanade and the marina bay sands complex. I went up to the skypark and the view was impressive. I wish I could swim in that pool. I feel bad for the hotel guests though, having hundreds of tourists walking right behind the lounge chairs and the pool. I'm now back at the hotel. I'm gonna go for a swim and go back out later this afternoon.

    November 5th (Singapore):

    Oh my god, I am going to explode. I went to the food court near the explanade and had chili crab and crispy chicken in a spicy sauce with rice. I also had coconut juice in a coconut and sugarcane juice. On my way back to the hotel, I saw a store selling billions of cupcakes so i bought a white cholocate one to eat in my room. When I got to my room, there was a piece of cake and a bottle of merlot on my desk. There was a note from the general manager saying he hoped I was enjoying my stay. I had emailed him before my trip to ask for a harbor view room and since they were all booked, I guess the room upgrade I got and this gift are for that reason. I can't really drink a whole bottle of wine by myself though. Can I keep it in my luggage and bring it to Malaysia/Cambodia/Thailand? Off to eat some more...

    November 6th (Singapore):

    Yesterday morning I took the hop on, hop off bus to get a good overview of the city. I then had lunch at Clarke Quay which is a very trendy area. I had spinach ravioli with shrimps in a light pesto sauce. It was delicious. I then took a river cruise and went back at my hotel at around 3pm to relax by the pool. At around 7, I went back to my favorite hawker place and had chicken satay and crispy chili chicken with rice and veggies. A Canadian couple sat next to me and they gave me some pepper crab to try. It was sooooo good, but it was really expensive. 36$ for two crabs. After dinner, I just walked around the city to take some night pictures. They have put up Christmas decorations all over the city. It's beautiful. I ended the night at Clarke Quay, which was packed with people.

    Today is my last day here so I have a lot to do. I think I'll go to the zoo first, come back to the city for lunch and then explore further Little India and Chinatown. I may do the night safari in the evening. I'm just not sure if it's worth it.

    November 7th (Singapore):

    Singapore is really ridiculous. Everything here is so cool. I can see why some people call it the Disneyland of Asia. It is so much fun. I saw a bar at Clarke Quay last night called The Clinic and you had to sit on hospital beds and wheelchairs. Crazy!

    I just got back from the zoo. It was great. There were barely any people there since I arrived early. I think it is the best zoo I have visited so far. When I left, there were huge lines to buy tickets. I'm going to the pool for a bit to cool down and then I'll go out for some shopping and dinner. Gotta come back early to the hotel to pack. I've got an early flight to Kuala Lumpur tomorrow. I don't want to leave.

    November 8th (Kuala Lumpur):

    I am now in Kuala Lumpur. It is so freaking hot. 34 degrees plus the humidity. My plane landed at 10am but it took two hours to get to my hotel. I took a shuttle bus to the train station and then a taxi to my hotel. The traffic is insane here. People drive like maniacs. I went out this afternoon for a few hours to explore the area around my hotel. I am staying just a few blocks from the Petronas Towers. They are huge. There's a great little park with a fountain in from of them. Great place to escape from the craziness of the city. The mall under the towers is gigantic. I didn't have the heart to check it out but I might go back tonight. Tomorrow is my only full day here so I'll take a bus tour of the city and go to the Batu caves. Off to the pool to relax. My 5am wake up call coupled with the heat is really making me tired today.

    November 8th (Kuala Lumpur):

    Excuse my language, but someone f***ing stole my wallet. Thankfully I got it back but I'm so pissed off. I went to the Central Market and to use the restroom there, you have to pay 50 cents. I took out my wallet, gave the money to the attendant and put the wallet back in my front pocket. To go to the bathroom, I had to walk right next to the attendant and as I did, I felt like something went missing from my pocket. I put my hands in my pocket and my wallet was gone. I looked around and it wasn't on the ground so I knew the attendant had to have taken it. I asked him (in more vulgar words) if he had freaking taken my wallet and he tried to play dumb saying he didn't know what I was talking about. I screamed at him to give it back to me and when his colleagues (who were in the back) heard me and came over, he magically found my wallet under his desk. He just kep saying "next time, money belt". I so wanted to punch him (not that I'm a violent person) but given how tired I already was, I was just ready to explode. I didn't want to end up in a Malaysian jail though so I just gave him the evil eye and walked away. It took me a while to cool down but I actually was able to walk around the market and enjoy it.

    I signed up for a city tour tomorrow morning and for a tour to the Batu caves and the countryside tomorrow afternoon. I'm not usually a tour person but right now I'm not in the mood to tour alone in this city lol.

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    November 10th (Kuala Lumpur and Siem Reap):

    Breaking news! But first, a short recap of my second day in Kuala Lumpur. In the morning, I went on a city tour and visited the national museum and mosque. It was pretty interesting. In the afternoon, I went on a tour to the Batu caves, which are used as Hindu temples. There were almost 400 steps to climb but the views were worth it. I then went back to the mall under the twin towers to have dinner and do some last minute shopping.

    Now heres the fun part: I woke up at 3am this morning to catch my 6:45 flight to Siem Reap. Everything went well until my luggage was nowhere to be seen. Yup, Air Asia lost it. They still don't know where it is. Thankfully all my important stuff was in my carryon but now I have to go buy some new clothes and toiletries and frankly the selection here isn't that good from what I have seen so far.

    With that said, I really love SR. I spent all day doing the small circuit to see the temples. I climbed up and down so many steps. The temples were really breathtaking. I took way too many pictures.

    November 10th (Siem Reap):

    I bought a few t-shirts at the night market last night for a dollar each. Not bad! By the way, I hired a tuk-tuk to see the temples yesterday. I thought it was really fun and I liked the breeze when we were driving. The dust not so much but I guess it's part of the experience lol. I'm off to see more temples. I'm going to do the big circuit which takes you further out of town.

    November 11th (Siem Reap):

    Another long day exploring temples today. We did the big circuit and visited many temples, including Bansra Rei (spelling?). It wasn't as hot today so it was easier to walk around. It still went up to 30 degrees though. I came back to the hotel in the late afternoon, relaxed by the pool for an hour and then went to the town to check out the old market, the river, the French quarters and pub street. I had some ginger chicken with jasmine rice and spring rolls for dinner on pub street. I then walked around, had some ice cream at the Blue Pumpkin and then I went back to pub street to have a drink on the balcony of the Red Piano to people watch. I then explored further the night market (which is a lot bigger than I thought) and took a tuk-tuk back to my hotel. I really like Siem Reap. Even with the crazy traffic, it has a nice laid-back vibe. I am getting annoyed at all the people trying to sell me things though. I also got a lot of offers for "boom boom" tonight. Yikes! My throat is sore from all the dust/smoke.

    I'm not sure what I want to do tomorrow since it's my last day. I feel a little bit "templed out". I might go on a tour to a floating village instead to see another side of Cambodia. We'll see.

    Oh and I got my luggage back! I came back to the hotel this afternoon and it was waiting for me in the lobby.

    November 14th (Siem Reap and Bangkok):

    Hi from Bangkok!

    Sorry for the late update. I've been sick for the past two days. On my last day in Siem Reap, I really didn't feel good. My cold was getting worse but I decided to go out and spend the morning visiting a floating village on Tonle Sap. I then had lunch in town and went back to the hotel to get some sleep since I felt horrible. I briefly went back in town in the evening for a light meal and to buy some souvenirs.

    The next morning, I got up early for my flight to Bangkok and I still felt under the weather. I got to my hotel in Bangkok at noon and just slept all afternoon. I went out for dinner right next to the hotel and went to bed at 8pm. I got up at 8am this morning so I slept a lot lol. I feel a lot better today though. I blame the staff at my hotel in Siem Reap. They were all sneezing and coughing so I must have gotten something from them.

    My hotel in Bangkok is great. I have a great view of the river from my room. I love watching the activity going on. I had breakfast at the hotel this morning (included in my rate) and then took a taxi to the weekend market. It is UNBELIVABLE!!! I spent five hours walking around and I bought so many things. Good thing I packed light for my trip. I came back to my hotel in the late afternoon to drop off my purchases and I then took the shuttle boat to the BTS station to go to Siam Paragon. First time I had to go through a metal detector to go into a mall. I had a light dinner in the food court since I'm not that hungry and I visited the aquarium in the basement. I had a free fish spa with my ticket so I tried it out. What a weird feeling! I then took the BTS/shuttle boat to my hotel, hit the pool to cool down and I am now back in my room, ready for bed. Hopefully i feel even better tomorrow. I think I'll visit the grand palace in the morning and then I'll see where the day takes me. Any suggestions?

    November 15th (Bangkok):

    I visited the Granc Palace and Wat Pho today. I spent many hours walking around in awe. It was incredibly hot but they were worth the trek. I had forgotten about the dress code so i had to rent the ugliest pair of pants. As usual, I came back to my hotel in the late afternoon, had a swim to cool down and I then went to the MBK shopping centre. I had dinner at this great food court on the fifth floor. I had the best chicken Pad Thai ever with an iced coffee. I then walked around the mall for a while and came back to my hotel for another swim. Tomorrow, I think I'm going to visit Wat Arun and then go to Khao San road to see what the fuss is all about. I feel like I'm running out of things to do here though. I will have one more day before I fly to Krabi. I am so looking forward to laying on the beach and doing absolutely nothing.

    November 17th (Bangkok):

    Yesterday was a day off from touring lol. I woke up feeling a little homesick and the sky was gray so I just hung out around the hotel all morning. I went out for lunch and caught a movie at Siam Paragon. I then walked around the mall and went to Central World. There was an ice skating competition there so I watched it for a while. I them shopped some more, had dinner and came back to the hotel for a swim. At the pool, there was just me and three old fat guys with young Thai women. Creepy. I got out of there pretty fast lol. I was in bed by 9pm. I think the heat is getting to me.

    Today was a more productive day. I went to Wat Arun this morning and then I went to the Khao San area. I really liked the vibe of the place. Very laid back. I saw some interesting characters lol. I just came back to the hotel for some rest and a swim. I think in an hour or two I'll head to the Silom area. I also want to check out the patpong night market tonight. Don't worry, I won't go to any crazy places lol. I just want to see what the area is all about. Off to Krabi tomorrow morning. Woohoo! I can't wait to drink some cocktails on the beach!

    November 17th (Bangkok):

    Wow, tonight was quite an eye opener. I was craving for some western food so I had fish and chips for dinner at the awesome food court at Siam Paragon. I then made my way to the patpong night market. The area was full of tourists but it was still pretty shocking. I got many interesting offers that I declined LOL. I ended up on one street with probably hundreds of young prostitutes. It was sad to see but I guess it is another side of Thailand that needs to be seen so that things can change.

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    November 18th (Ao Nang):

    I spent a few hours this afternoon walking on the beach and around Ao Nang. The views from the beach are to die for. Behind you, palm trees and huge cliffs and in front of you, a bunch of islands, including the very close Hong Island. I had read Ao Nang Beach was nothing special but I disagree. I love it here. Tomorrow I'm going to check out Railay Beach. I'm debating whether I should join a tour to see the four islands and Hong Island or if I should hire my own long tail boat.

    November 19th (Ao Nang):

    Zzzz I can barely keep my eyes open. I spent all day at Railay Bay and it is even more beautiful than Ao Nang. Nice white sand and clear blue water. I worked on my tan, swam and had a well needed foot scrub and massage for 8$. There weren't that many people on the beach. It was really peaceful. I guess it's not the high season just yet. It started raining just as I got back to my hotel but it cleared up within an hour. I then went back in town after some rest and a shower for dinner and some shopping. While Railay is stunning, I'm glad I'm staying in Ao Nang. It's cheaper and it has a bigger selection of bars, shops and restaurants. It's still very laid-back. Railay is just a short boat ride away. The sea is really smooth by the way. I didn't get sick so that's good lol. I picked up a big bag of laundry tonight at a small store (looks more like somebody's house) and it cost only 30 baht. My hotel charges 120 baht per item!

    November 20th (Ao Nang):

    Ouch I got so sunburnt yesterday. I went on an excursion to see four islands and I underestimated how strong the sun was. I will put on extra sunscreen from now on. The day was fantastic though. I think those islands were the most beautiful places I have seen in my entire life. The snorkeling was really good too. I saw plenty of colorful fish. Today is my last day here. I think I will just read a book in the shade at the hotel and go into town this afternoon for some shopping. I really wanted to buy some kind of Buddha statue on this trip but I haven't seen one that I really like so far. Off to Koh Phi Phi tomorrow. I can't wait!

    November 21st (Ao Nang):

    Another beautiful day. I slept in, had breakfast and went into town at around 10am. I was planning on just relaxing in the shade and maybe get a massage but I ended up meeting a German couple who were looking for people to hire a longtail boat and driver for the day to go to Hong Island. I decided to go with them and it only cost us 1000 Baht each. The hotel charged 900 Baht for a group tour so this was a great deal. We spent five hours on the island relaxing, swimming and snorkeling. It was fantastic! Most of the time, we were just a few people on the beach. The tour groups only stayed for maybe 45 minutes. I got back to my hotel at 5pm, showered and I went back in town for dinner and to check out the celebrations for the full moon festival. It ended up raining at around 9pm so I went to Starbucks (they are everywhere!) and waited for the shuttle to go back to the hotel.

    November 22nd (Koh Phi Phi):

    I am now in Phi Phi and wow, there are so many people here. It's quieter in the evening today. My hotel is located right on the beach about 10 minutes away from the centre. I have a great view of the sea from my room. I walked around all day and the views are spectacular. I literally said WOW out loud when I got to one bay (not the one where all the ferries arrive). I don't see any signs of destruction from the tsunami. The place is huge. Much bigger than Ao Nang.

    I dont really feel like sharing a big boat to Maya Bay with lots of tourists so I arranged to hire a private longtail boat to take me there at 7am tomorrow. That way I'll be able to avoid the crowds. It only costs 1000 Baht for three hours. 1500 if I want to go to Bamboo Island. We'll see!

    November 23rd (Koh Phi Phi):

    I want to go to Laem Tong but I just checked and it's 1200 baht per way or I can hire a longtail boat for three hours for 1800 baht. I don't know why it's so much more expensive than to go to Maya Bay.

    I went to Phi Phi Ley this morning and it was amazing. We stopped at a few places so that I could snorkel. I got to see some clown fish. We circled the island and ended up at Maya Bay where there were less than ten people. What an experience. I got to enjoy the place for an hour before the big tour boats arrived and spoiled its beauty. This afternoon I'm doing nothing but relaxing on the beach. Tomorrow is my last day and I want to go up to the viewpoint.

    November 24th (Koh Phi Phi):

    Today was another busy day. I went up to the viewpoint this morning and then I went to Laem Tong Beach and Bamboo Island for a couple hours. I found a longtail boat driver who was willing to show me around for 1000 baht. Laem Tong Beach was so quiet and peaceful. I really liked it. It's a pretty small area so I think I would get bored staying there though. I didn't see the resort you were talking about ChiChi. Bamboo Island was fantastic. I did some snorkeling and I saw a big black and white sea snake. Up early tomorrow to take the 9am ferry to Phuket. My flight to Hong Kong is in the late afternoon so maybe I'll have my taxi driver show me the island a little bit before going to the airport. I realized last night I had forgotten to book a hotel in Hong Kong near the airport so I looked online and booked at the Marriott Skycity.

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    I forgot to mention some of the hotels I stayed at:

    Hong Kong: Panorama Hotel by Rhombus
    Singapore: Fairmont Hotel
    Kuala Lumpur: Maya Hotel
    Siem Reap: Kool Hotel
    Bangkok: Royal Orchid Sheraton
    Ao Nang: Phu Petra Resort
    Koh Phi Phi: Mama Beach Hotel

    Feel free to ask any questions :)

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    Thanks for the TR -- could u pls tell me a little about Ao Nang: Phu Petra Resort? Did u like it? What type of room did u have? We're thinking of staying there this winter.

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    I didn't read every single word of it, but enjoyed reading the parts of your report that discuss places I've been. I also enjoyed your photos. Looks/sounds like you really had a good time. So when are you going back??!! haha (I've now been to Bangkok 23 times)

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    yestravel: I loved Phu Petra. Very quiet and secluded. The staff was really nice. I stayed in a hillside villa. The room was huge. You can see some pictures of the resort in my photo album for Ao Nang. The only thing is that the resort is kind of far from town if you want to walk (about 20-30 minutes, which I did a few times despite the heat!) but they have a shuttle and taxis are cheap. I highly recommend it.

    simpsonc: I'm planning on taking my parents for their first trip to Asia this fall, probably in November. Thailand is definitely on our itinerary, not sure where else we'll go. When are you going back? I love reading your travel reports. Makes me wish I could travel as often!

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    I loved the Kool Hotel. I couldn't believe the value for the money and the staff couldn't have been nicer. The breakfast was amazing and I liked the quiet pool when I was coming back from touring temples.

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