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“Like That Also Can Ah?!!”

One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd

Published by on November 2, 2016

Some years back, after some concerns about my health and general wellbeing, I started getting into the whole gym and fitness thing. I signed up for a gym, went 4 times a week, started running long distance. First it was 2 km, then 5 km and then 10 km (that was the max, honestly I don’t see myself going any further than that). Getting fitter and slimmer is always better than the alternative, but when it comes to being the peak of physical condition, it is being a Marine.

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Or more specifically, a US Marine Corp. I think many of us hold to that ideal that to be a Marine, you are definitely the very best of an already elite crop of soldiers. It doesn’t just mean being physically elite, they are also trained to be mentally sharp, exhibit comradeship and integrity, etc. I think this ideal is somewhat perpetuated by years of watching movies and TV shows portraying Marines in the many battles throughout history, fictional or otherwise.

Which made me quite interested to read the book One of the Few by Jason B. Ladd, who tells his journey from childhood as an army kid, to a seasoned Marine and his struggles being both a Christian and an instrument of war. The book starts of peacefully enough, detailing his like moving across the United States, and even to Iwakuni in Japan. Then he meets his future wife as a kid, falls in love, gets married. Along the way he joins the army on the way to being a Marine. A pretty average story for an All-American soldier.

But what makes this book different for me is how he intersperse every chapter of his life in this book by asking the relevant questions about life, mortality and God. As his life gets more entwined in both his marriage and his training to be an elite soldier, the questions get tougher and more difficult to answer. Certainly, when faced with a life and death situation, you really start to wonder about the deeper questions of God and life. This is generalizing a lot, but the book goes into very detail on the struggles that he faced and how it relates to his walk with God.

I think because of how he handles this duality in his life, makes this book very different and rather special in the sense that there aren’t many books that I’ve read like this. Many people are interested in a memoir of a Marine, and by adding his Christian journey into the story takes the book on a whole different dimension. One complaint I would make, though is that the story doesn’t take a chronological path, it was quite confusing for me to keep track of the point in his life when reading through.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Wrap-Up

Published by on September 12, 2016

This is post concludes an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

Well, its been more than two months since my holiday to Thailand, and I have finally finished my travelogue here. What started out as a last minute unplanned trip, turned out to a rather enjoyable holiday. I remember we didn’t really get down to doing the itinerary until about 2-3 weeks before leaving.

In retrospect, Hua Hin was a rather laidback, family holiday. There isn’t much sights to see, nor many places to go around the town for day trips. Well, actually there are, but we didn’t go for them. After so many holidays where had packed programmes of seeing and doing as much as we can, this was a welcome change.

Bangkok, in contrast, is hectic and frantic as ever. But with only a weekend there, we only visited Chatuchak weekend market and Platinum Fashion Mall, with a detour to the husky café.

Hua Hin is recommended for a relaxing holiday, it’ll be good if you get a good hotel on a stretch with a nice beach. Check out the night market, eat some of the delish seafood on offer. It’s one of those holiday places you go once in your lifetime, I don’t think it will change much in 20 years.

So until the next mega year end trip, goodbye.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 16 – Love Eat Bistro

Published by on September 4, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

Our long holiday in Thailand have come to an end. It’s our last meal in Bangkok, and after a long day of Chatuchak, we decided to have dinner near our hotel. Based on online recommendations, we went for Love Eat Bistro, located in a hotel.

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The place serves a mixture of Italian and local food. But the décor is what sets this place apart. I really liked their frilly, almost Victorian-esque design.

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(a group of aunties having a lively dinner)

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(my beautiful dinner party)

We ordered some pad thai (as usual), burger, and spaghetti.

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Food was quite good, and pricing was reasonable. Would recommend it. They have a few branches around Bangkok.

So with after our early dinner, we went the nearby 7-11 to buy some snacks and buns for tomorrow’s our flight home. I love 7-11 in other countries, they have such wide variety of food stuff.

Next – the wrap-up of our trip.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 15 – Chatuchak Weekend Market

Published by on September 3, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

One of the reasons for extending our stay to include a weekend in Bangkok is to go to Chatuchak weekend market. We went there in our last trip a few years back, this time we wanted to make sure we covered the whole market.

The market is just a few stations away. The hotel provides free tuk-tuk service to and fro the BTS station.

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(Sanam Pao station is deserted during the weekends. But as you get nearer to Mo Chit, the trains get packed)

We reached there about 10 am, and the crowd was already slowly building up.

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Can’t really describe the experience of shopping here. You can buy (almost) anything here. But we were concentrating mainly on clothes and souvenirs.

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Didn’t take many photos, too busy shopping.

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This stall is the famous JJ coconut ice-cream, you can see the long line of people. I tried it, it was okay, not sure why its so popular.

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For lunch we went across the road to Or Tor Kor market. This time, though, it seemed more crowded than usual. Or Tor Kor is a covered market that sells fresh fruits and vegetables, and there is an excellent food court.

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(durian season is also in full season in Thailand)

Food court was so full we had to wait for our table.

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Finally had lunch at about 3 pm. Pad Thai and chicken rice as usual.

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After spending 5-6 hours of walking and shopping, I think we went through the length and breadth of Chatuchak. with exception of the section that sold kitchenware. The thing with this market is that towards the afternoon, the heat gets a little too much and its probably time to go back to the hotel.

Next – Last meal in Thailand.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 14 – Playing with Siberian Huskies at TrueLove @ Neverland

Published by on August 28, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

Friday morning was an odd day to be leaving Hua Hin. Most people recommend to visit Cicada, an artist market, that is open only on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights. But we wanted to make it back to Bangkok for Chatuchak Weekend Market, and we were already leaving on Sunday. So we had to give Cicada a miss, besides I think in the past week, we had our fair share of markets and shopping.

Before that, one last look at our wonderful hotel for the last 4 nights.

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Getting back to BKK from Hua Hin was pretty much a straightforward thing. Lug your baggage to the same place you disembark, and pay for the ticket, and board the next available van. Our van was leaving immediately, so we didn’t have to wait long. This time the van wasn’t full – two other ladies, plus a farang and his Thai girlfriend and the driver. I slept throughout the entire journey and by the time we reached Victory Monument, it was almost noon.

From VM we took a walk to our hotel, Bangkok Patio.

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It’s a (really) small hotel, chosen primarily for its vicinity to Victory Monument, Chatuchak and Don Mueang. But for the price we were paying, we got a cosy little apartment with 2 room and living room.

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Here’s the pool we never used.

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After checking in and leaving our luggage (and signing in the wifi), we set out to play with huskies! There’s this café we read about where you can play with rare Siberian huskies, and it was quite near our hotel. But since the hotel provided free tuk-tuk services (only to and fro the nearest BTS station), they were so kind enough to drop us off the café, which was about 2km away.

Unless you have a map with you, finding this place on your is tough. [email protected] (yes, the name is quite a mouthful) is located at the end of a very long (try not to walk there) lane in a housing area. It is basically a double storey bungalow with a huge compound refurbished with special kennels and large play area for the dogs.

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In order to get in, you need to buy tickets for your appointed time. there are limited time slots available, so please check their website or you will end up waiting a really long time as this place is indeed popular.

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Tickets to enter cost a hefty THB300 per person. This entitles you to drink, a slice of cake, and up to 2 hours of time with the dogs. If you come at the right time, you can go and play with the huskies first. Or else, you can wait in the café with your food and drink, but also depending on the limited seating in the café.

We were slightly early for our time slot, and we managed to get a seating inside.

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There’s a good selection of food drinks here, and you can opt to order ala carte if you want. But its all rather pricey.

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After food and drinks, it was time to visit the dogs. Getting to it isn’t so simple. First we have to watch a 10 minute video on screen about the rules. It was don’t very professionally and in a humourous way – but basically don’t let the dogs lick you, don’t feed them anything, don’t put your rosy cheeks near them, or else they mistake it for their favourite food i.e. carrots.

then you remove your shoes and wear plastic coverings over your feet / socks. After that, the proprietor makes you line up to wash your hands in the bathroom, followed by a long wait for the dogs to come out into the yard. Not sure why this last part takes so long, I imagine them prepping and giving pep talks to the dogs before they are let out to entertain the crowd.

But once they are out, what a beautiful sight! Siberian huskies are known to be fierce and powerful, but here they are well trained that even toddlers are encouraged to play with them.

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The dogs live better than some humans – air-conditioned quarters, the best food, ice water to drink, and professionally groomed everyday.

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They put some of the dogs in smaller enclosures to allow you to get up close and personal with them. Here they are feeding the dogs their favourite carrot bits.

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The only 2 non-huskies here -a shih-Tzu, and an aging Australian sheepdog in the background.

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The dogs lap ice water throughout the day to keep cool.

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After that, we planned to visit Platinum Fashion Mall, and getting a cab from this area was a huge problem. But the café was kind enough to order a Grabcar for us. We got into some 5pm traffic, but made it to Platinum in good time thanks to our awesome driver.

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(serious shopper lady in front of us)

Platinum Fashion Mall is pretty much the same since our last visit years ago, but prices are more rigid now, less tiered pricings. We bought lots of stuff, and after 4 hours, we were really tired. Time for some dinner.

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After that we had to settle for a pricey cab ride back to hotel on account of the traffic.

Next – Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 13 – Youyen Hua Hin Balcony

Published by on August 24, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

For our last night in Hua Hin, we decided to have dinner in a Thai restaurant near our hotel, called Youyen Balcony. This restaurant is quite well-known for serving traditional Thai dishes and snacks, and is recommended by many tourist blogs.

Since it is only a few doors down from our hotel, we took the scenic route there, i.e. walking on the beach instead of taking main road.

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It was a good opportunity to take some sunset beach photos en route to dinner. Although, generally, the beach here is nothing to shout about compared to the stretch near Centara, the view of the sky during the setting sun (“the golden hour”) is quite spectacular.

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For the benefit of those coming from the main road, we’ve also taken some pictures of the front entrance.

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Balcony has two branches in Hua Hin, so make sure you get to the right one. The restaurant is a simple renovated old bungalow facing the sea. Sitting with a view of the sea, wind blowing in your hair, its a perfect ambience for our dinner.

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Dinner was quite good, and the pad thai was definitely much better than most of the others we’ve had here.

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We’d highly recommended coming here for dinner if you are want to try traditional Thai food after having too much street food. It’s a bit out of the way from the town centre, but the ambience and affordable pricing is a big attraction. Our meal for 4 pax came to THB 1,160.

Next – Back to Bangkok.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 12 – Eighteen Below Ice Cream!

Published by on August 20, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

After our morning in Plearnwan, we took a cab to 18 Below Ice Cream, a place very near our hotel. This place serves freshly made ice-cream and drinks in a very cosy setting.

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They have a very nice courtyard for outdoor seating and photo opportunity.

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But the biggest attraction here is their ice cream and ice cold drinks. Here’s our order.

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Both the drinks and ice cream was delicious, and we really loved it. If you have in Hua Hin, do drop by this place to cool off in the heat.

Next – Youyen Hua Hin Balcony.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 11 – Plearnwan

Published by on August 20, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

Thursday was day 4, our last full day in Hua Hin. So far we’ve done pretty well on our itinerary, covering all of our planned stops. For today, we are going to Plearnwan Eco Vintage Village. This place, popularly known as Plearnwan, is an open air shopping arcade with a 60’s vintage team. The décor is main timber village, and the shops are a mixture of vintage clothes, toys, antiques and food stalls.

I really like the whole timber and rusted zinc / aluminium theme of the place, makes it look quite authentic.

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There are basically two floors of shops. Above the higher floor, there are hotel rooms available if you want the whole experience of staying in a noisy 60’s village.

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Nice cat guarding the pastry shop.

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Didn’t take many photos of the shops, but they have tops of souvenirs for sales and other interesting shops. The one that really caught my eye was this vintage console and handheld game collection.

I still have that rare silver coloured backlit Gameboy! that’s the one second from the right.

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At the end of the mall, there is a fun fair area with a ferris wheel and carnival games like, whack-the-mole, ring toss and knock-down-the-cans. A bit like real-life version of iPhone games based on old real-life carnival games. The ferris wheel, though, looked a little dodgy. Probably not the safest in the world.

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By late morning, the weather was getting a little warm so we sat down for some cold drinks and snacks. The egg waffles were just okay, nothing compared to the HK version. The mango sticky rice was really good, though.

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This is the traffic warden. Might scare off some small kids. Since we were slightly out of town, we couldn’t get a tuk-tuk, so scary clown traffic warden and his colleague helped get a taxi from across the road. It was a big SUV, and the 10 minute ride cost us THB 150, the most expensive ride we took while in Hua Hin. Plus, the driver was rather unfriendly, not having change for us, so upon reaching our destination we had to get change from the shop.

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Since Plearnwan is slightly out of the way from the town centre, I would suggest to do it as part of a day tour with other destinations. Or at least book a tuk-tuk to wait for you until you finish. You would probably spend 2-3 hours here especially if you have something to eat. But I found this place rather quaint, and worth a visit. We bought an vintage designed watch for my daughter (THB 200) and the vintage games store was really interesting. But food stalls were rather limited so you might want to plan to eat somewhere else.

Next – 18 Below Ice Cream!

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 10 – Inu Cafe

Published by on August 14, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

A few weeks before coming to Thailand, someone sent me a list of must-go cafes in Hua Hin, and Inu Cafe was one of them. Inu Cafe is a dog café, which are becoming very popular here in Thailand. More specifically, a café with Shiba Inu dogs (hence the strange name for the café). Shiba Inu is a group of rare breed originating from Japan, similar to spitz. However, unlike spitz, they are not noisy, and are world reknowned for their independent spirit.

If I were to describe them they look like a cross between a tiny wolf and a fox, but with white, grey or brown fur.

We actually came yesterday, but didn’t realize it was closed on Tuesday. So today we came again. It’s actually located in a semi-detached house in a housing estate. If you didn’t know what to look for, you’ll easily miss it.

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And once you are in the heavy metal sliding door, you’re greeted by happy Shiba dogs! They’re all busy running around and jumping its tough to get a good pic of them.

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There are 12 shibas here, but today only 7 are out to play. We were the only guests in this tiny café, so after awhile, the dogs get settled and you can play with them.

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I’ve been a dog person all my life (grew up with dogs) but this is probably the first time I’ve encountered a Shiba dog. And I can say they are incredible obedient and adorable!

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Even small kids can interact with them (so okay, my kid isn’t very small). Some of the dogs are more passive than the others, I guess since it was mid-afternoon some of them have been tired playing all day.

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(this one got tired and fell asleep waiting for my food)

We were here for a late lunch, so we ordered some of their signature dishes. They serve Western inspired food like pasta and burgers, and at quite good prices.

Since they knew we came yesterday when they were closed, they served us a dish of complimentary cheese nachos.

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This was the rest of our meals, some pork dish and burger.

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Meanwhile, while we ate, the dogs are patiently waiting for us to drop food for them. No such luck. Dogs shouldn’t eat human food as they could fall sick.

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After lunch and some ice cold drinks, more time to play with the dogs.

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Then finally its time to say goodbye to all of them. One day, if we ever come back to Hua Hin…

Next – Plearnwan Eco Vintage Village.

Hua Hin & Bangkok 2016 : Part 9 – The Grand Night Market

Published by on August 13, 2016

This is part of an ongoing travelogue. To start at the beginning, please click here.

***
Yesterday we received reports of twin bomb blasts in Hua Hin. Our prayers go out to the families affected.
***

After some rest back at the hotel, we ventured out to town again at night for dinner. It was drizzling, so we hailed a tuk-tuk downtown. As we mentioned earlier, there are at least 5 night markets in Hua Hin. We had already visited Chatchai and Chatsila night markets, so tonight we went to Grand Night Market.

Grand Night Market isn’t grand or big, it is named so because it is located in front of the Grand Plaza Hotel. It is situated in a open square which looks like a car park of some sort, sandwiched between the hotel and San Paulo Hospital.

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First thing on the agenda, eat. At the side of the market, there is a row of food stalls selling local food. After a quick survey, we settled on this place run by a few young Thais.

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We ordered our usual fluffy egg omelet and pad Thai. Of all the pad thai we had in Hua Hin, this was the best.

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After dinner, we took a walk around the market. Grand night market is smaller than the other main market, and due to the drizzle, the place was rather deserted.

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(cute puppies for sale!)

Found a stall selling second hand books.

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Another stall selling freshwater fish, akin to the one in SS2 PJ.

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Grand Night Market isn’t as vibrant as the main market, so I’d advise you to come only if you been to the other one.

Next – Inu Cafe.

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