Musings from the Mosh Pit…

Thoughts. Tales. Travels. Whatever.

Birthday Bonanza in Bangkok – Day 1 & 2 April 6, 2012

I told my good friend Ava last year that I’d like to do something different for my birthday this year.  That’s when Bangkok entered the picture.  I made travel arrangements, researched on the hotel, the train systems, the currency, listed places to see and shop at and picked up a few useful phrases.  I also attempted to make an itinerary…”attempted” because with so much information, I pretty much gave up on the idea and decided we’d just wing it when we got there.  We were already ticketed a month and a half before our March 15 departure and I was crossing off the numbers on my desk calendar until finally the big day has arrived!

Day 1: We arrived at PAL Terminal 2 pretty early–about 3.5 hours before our 1030am flight.  It left on time and it was actually smooth flying–so smooth that I dozed off after the meal was served.  Ava on the other hand spent the hours watching Adam Sandler’s Jack and Jill on the flight.

Di plane! Di plane!

Upon setting foot in Thailand’s Suvarnumbhumi International Airport (I can finally spell it without googling it!) we were totally floored at how big and beautiful it was.  Took a while to get past immigration (long lines!) and find my suitcase so our tour guide had already been waiting for us for a good 30 minutes before we showed up at the exit.  In the van, we were also joined by a Filipino doctor and his Spanish wife.  They were pleasant people and even if we weren’t billeted in the same hotel, we would see them throughout our entire stay.

That’s my buddy Ava leading the way…though admittedly we both didn’t know where to go to at first so we just followed the flock of people heading in this direction.

Once outside, this was the first thing we saw…colorful Bangkok taxis!  According to our tour guide, each color corresponds to the company of a particular taxi operator.

While waiting for our van, the doctor’s wife was kind enough to offer to take our picture.  This was the first of only 2 pictures of us during the entire trip that was taken by another person.  The first few minutes of travel from the airport was pretty fast.  There were hardly any bumps or cracks on the road so it was a comfortable ride.  When we got to the city proper and near our hotel, that’s when the bumper to bumper traffic appeared.  It gave me a chance to look out the window and take in the surroundings.  Bangkok reminded me so much of Manila–the traffic, the motorcycles that weave in and out of it, the little eateries along the road, the signs on the shops (they look the same except I don’t read Thai), the graffiti on the walls, the laundry hung outside of windows and yes, even the occasional man walking shirtless inside his property haha!  Though I must take my hats off to Bangkok for being a very clean city.  Even the markets, when they’ve already closed shop for the day, seem cleaner.

We arrived at our hotel, Citin Pratunam about 4 in the afternoon.  Pratunam is a shopping district located in Ratchathewi.  Who needs a 5 star hotel when this budget hotel is just as comfortable?  It’s clean, quiet and the staff are all smiles and always very helpful.  You can read about my review of this hotel here or you can visit their website.

When we finally settled in and did a quick freshen up, it’s time to explore the streets!  As soon as we stepped out of the small street where the hotel was located, we went wherever our feet took us.  There were so many street vendors selling clothes and some knick knacks that it’s hard to focus your attention on just one stall in particular.  Amongst the throngs of shops selling clothes, we finally found some vendors who sold food.  Apart from the shopping, we were really looking forward to the food!  And what better way to start the food adventure than by trying this:

Crickets.  Yes, crickets.  When Ava first whipped out her camera to take a picture, the lady vendor violently refused so my friend said, “If I buy, can I take a picture then?”  The vendor still refused.  She probably didn’t understand the question so another vendor nearby explained it to her and eventually she smiled when she realized we were buying.  There were all sorts of crazy insects on her basket…but these came highly recommended.  She was also pointing at the worms and giving us the thumbs up sign (which Ava wanted to try) but we ended up not buying it.  To be quite honest, it didn’t taste bad….it tasted like barbecue flavored chips actually.  The pandan leaves that it was cooked with gave it some flavor and good aroma too.  The only thing I had a problem with is that when you scoop them up on the spoon, some of them had their eyes on you which creeped me out a bit.  So, my eyes were always closed every time I’d put the spoon in my mouth.  This entire bag costs 10 THB.

A few stalls after the insects, I found some dumplings…fresh off the steamer!  You get 5 pieces also for the price of 10 THB.

We walked some more down the small street until we reached the intersection with the main road.  Across we found the Platinum Mall.  This was taken at the foot bridge as we made our way towards the mall.

After going around the mall for about an hour, we got hungry (crickets can’t really make you feel full after all) so we went up to the food court and ordered veggie dumplings and a plate of pad thai.  This is the first of 3 pad thais that we’ll eat during the trip and honestly this first one only gets a bronze medal from me.

After a long hot day, I couldn’t resist the urge to open a very cold can of coke.  We later on found out that Thailand is a “Pepsi Country” so finding a can of coke was hard to come by.

Day 2: The tour that came with the package was scheduled on this day.  Our guide picked us up at 8:30am and first on the agenda was Wat Intharawihan or The Temple of the Standing Buddha.  Here you’ll find a golden Buddha statue that stands 32 meters tall and 10 meters and 24 inches wide.  The place also had other versions of the Buddha statue.

Lotus flowers sold at the temple entrance

To enter the plaza where the giant golden Buddha stands, you’ll have to pass by a blue and gold gate with marble walls on each side.  These walls are also used to hold urns though I’m not quite sure who gets the honor of being laid to rest here.

The craftsmanship on these doors is really amazing.  It makes the entire structure pop even if you’re still some feet away.

Next we went to Wat Traimit or The Temple of the Golden Buddha.

Here is our friendly tour guide No. 1 Lok.  At the time we arrived, monks were still praying inside.  People can go in and stay in the back while they pray.  Although make sure you read up on the rules of temple etiquette.  Lok mentioned that her son, who is about 20 years old will become a monk in a few months time.  I asked her how she felt about it and she smiled and said that she’s truly honored.  Even if her son will leave her and can no longer experience the comforts of home, she considers it a blessing.

The last stop was at Gems Gallery, which according to their website is the “world’s biggest jewelry store”.  It was a pretty interesting place.  I’d never seen so many shiny things I can’t afford in one go…but they truly are very pretty (albeit some of the pieces bordered on “too much”).  After some welcome drinks, we were ushered into a small theater where a short film was shown about Thailand being known for their sapphires and rubies.  After the 15 minute film, you’ll be taken into another room where you’ll be shown how a raw stone is turned into something you’ll readily see on the red carpet at a Hollywood event.  Think of it as a small assembly line for jewelry.

Now, Ava and I are also fans of Kpop and we were delighted at the news that one of the groups we liked, Super Junior were also in town for their Super Show 4 tour.  We didn’t buy tickets online so we decided to take our chances and see if we could score some at the Impact Arena.

We finally made it!

It was way past noon, the weather was extremely hot and we were terribly hungry.  We saw a McDonald’s but it was still closed so we just took pictures of Thailand’s Ronald McDonald doing a gesture one does when greeting someone. We ended up eating KFC instead.

There were fan booths and sponsor booths.  Here’s Ava posing with characters from a local soft drink commercial.

This is probably the closest we’ll ever get to the boys…

Ava with Cardboard Kyu

Me with Cardboard Siwon & Donghae

While waiting for the show we hung out at the airconditioned food court and tried this.  I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s got crushed ice, syrup and gelatin.

We enjoyed the show (which lasted for about 4 hours) and luckily got a cab that agreed to take us back to the hotel.  The sad part was that the driver was asking for 600 THB which, if converted to pesos would make it THE.MOST.EXPENSIVE.CAB.RIDE.I.EVER.TOOK.  But it was late, we were tired and the hotel was very far…oh well…  It had been a long and eventful day but we’ll only get a few hours sleep (just 2 actually) before we had to be up and ready again for Day 3!

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Fangirl Day! January 7, 2011

Last Dec. 29, I went to my first ever Kpop convention.  I think this is the second or third time (?) it’s being held in Manila but I wasn’t able to attend the previous ones.  I was really excited to go because as big as this hallyu wave may seem, there’s really not much merchandise that you can easily get here and that’s what I was really looking forward too.

I went with my sister and my friend Ava–who confirmed her attendance with me more than a month in advance and who also came despite being slightly sick….awwww, kamsahamnida!  And once we arrived we met up with my friend from work Mere–a huge Big Bang fan.  I must say that I do admire her influencing skills because I’ve already started listening and becoming a fan of Big Bang as well!  (But the dillema still remains: GD or Top???)

There was already a line snaking around the entrance of the Megatrade Hall when we got there and an excited mood in the air.  As soon as we entered, our sense of sight & hearing were assaulted–to the right is the stage where they were holding dance presentations and to the left are the many tables selling Kpop goodies.  Everyone kept floating in and out of the many booths.  They were selling cds (regular and special editions), dvds (concerts & live performances plus special boxed sets), tshirts, hats, pins, magazines, banners, ID tags/necklaces, bracelets, photo books, posters, calendars and every possible and imaginable knick knack to delight any and every fangirl–whatever her budget maybe.  You name it, they probably had it there…no wait, cross that thought.  There wasn’t really any drama dvds being sold which I found quite disappointing because that’s what I really wanted.

Me, Mere and Ava...with Dara and Taeyang behind us!

Tickets for Super Show 3? Check!

My sister and Ava

Of course we couldn't leave without having our photo taken with Lee Min Ho

Anyway, here’s a look at the goodies that I bought.

You're Beautiful OST, BigBang's BigShow concert dvd (the poster came with it), Taeyang's Solar album, a Super Junior Donghae fan, a Jang Geun Suk pad (Ava tells me firmly: Buy it na!) and the hats are courtesy of my sister.

My friend Mere on the other hand got herself some Big Bang stuff like Taeyang’s special boxed edition of Solar (with free shirt to boot!), 2 ID necklaces (1 is for safekeeping and the other is to be used for work haha) and the one item I wish they had another copy of is Big Bang’s 2011 Calendar.

iCovet.

The dance competitions were going on as we made our way around the tables.  We weren’t able to check it out but from across the hall I did hear Ukiss’ “Be Quiet” being performed and receiving a lot of screams.

After taking some more photos and making several rounds among the booths, it was time to leave.  Mere had to report for her half day duty at work while the rest of us were off to a late lunch.  Much love and thanks to the organizers, KFest Manila Events Management, the folks at the concession stands and the many fan groups/clubs that participated.  You’ve made me and my friends a bunch of happy fangirls that day.  We’ll be looking forward to the next one.

 

 

Super Show 3 = Super Excited!

I missed watching Super Junior when they came to Manila last April.  I’m still a newbie fan you see and only started listening to them when they released their fourth album “Bonamana”.  The first time I saw the video for that song, I was hooked and I never looked back.

A few weeks ago, during a particularly slow day at work, I discovered that SuJu has confirmed their return to Manila on Feb. 26, 2011 as part of the Super Show 3 Tour.  I immediately texted my good friend and official concert tag-team partner Ava and told her (I don’t think I even asked or contemplated the thought that she might say no haha) that we were watching. I even ended the message with the words *puss in boots eyes* so she couldn’t refuse me haha!

"Can we go watch Super Junior...please???"

She did say yes on the condition that we wouldn’t be getting the outrageously priced seats…and that we also have to go see Deftones when they come here  in March (duh? of course!)  I agreed, told her I had it covered and immediately made my online reservations.  I’m not sure if there was a glitch in the matrix but after I followed the instructions online, I got an email saying thanks and that it’s  still best to give them a call and place my reservations via phone as well.  Say whuuut?!  Bit ridiculous don’t you think?  Anyway, 4 hours later I was already handing over my credit card to the woman behind the ticket booth counter.

There’ll be no more feeling “sorry, sorry” (Yes, I just had to insert that in) for myself about not seeing them live this time. Let the countdown begin.

 

Oh no she didn’t!….Ah, but yes I did! September 24, 2010

I have officially gone to the point of no return.  Here is proof that I am indeed riding the hallyu wave…

Oh Joy!

I’ve recently purchased these two babies right here…on the left is the OST (2) to the drama “He’s Beautiful” and on the right is Super Junior’s latest album “Bonamana”.  I can’t understand a single thing of course…except for the occasional “baby”, “girl”, “yeah”…and a few simple Korean words I’ve learned from watching my dramas…but I’m loving it just the same. They don’t come cheap by the way…especially the soundtrack…but it came with some very pretty, pretty pictures from the series, not to mention drool worthy photos of the male leads so it’s all good!

Oh and I just want to add….the senti songs on that ost are to die for! Love!  Love!  Love!

 

Super weekend! September 20, 2010

A.N.Jell

One of the best things that I enjoyed this past weekend was finally finishing (with proper subtitles!) the drama He’s Beautiful!  I did mention a while back that my copy had wonky subs towards the end which made my viewing of the last few eps very annoying.  I tried watching it over on www.mysoju.com but they’ve been having site problems recently so the loading of the videos was pretty slow.  I’ve been trying for 2 weeks now but to no avail.

But yesterday, choirs of A.N.Jells (haha!!!) were practically singing in my heart and the mighty DSL gods were smiling down upon me because the video loading on the site was super fast!  I was able to finish the last 2 eps in no time…actually “no time” really means 3 hours because I kept rewinding/repeating the scenes which were *kilig*.  (I mean, how can I not when the internet was so kind to me?)

I loved it!  It’s now one of my favorite dramas.  It’s right up there with Boys Over Flowers and Hana Yori Dango!  And just what I wrote on facebook: I now like byeulls (stars) and dweji tokki (pig rabbit) even more.  Yeppuda! (It’s beautiful)

The other reason for my super weekend came in the form of Korea’s biggest (literally & figuratively) idol group, Super Junior.

Who's who? I'm still working on that!

Honestly, I haven’t been a fan for long–I’m still learning about them and their songs.  Even though I wanted to see them when they came over last April for their Super Show 2 tour, I didn’t really exert any efforts in doing so. 

However, since the release of their 4th album, Bonamana, I’ve been noticing that my eyes & ears are glued to the tv whenever the video comes on.  And this past weekend–and most of the weekends that came before it–I’ve found myself googling them and watching their videos on youtube.  I’m particularly addicted to watching their appearances on the Korean show Star King with Charice Pempengco.  It’s like a double whammy–I’m watching Charice…and I’m watching them watch Charice! 

Like I said, I’m still a newbie fan and I’m still learning their songs.  Hey, they’ve got more members than Slipknot alright, so I’m still working on matching their names and faces.  They’ve got 13 members…but only 10 are currently active.  As of now, my name-face recognition is up to 8!–Hee Chul, Ryeo

 

KPOP! September 9, 2010

In celebration of my new found love for Kpop, allow me to share with you–yes, all 4 of you who I’m pretty sure regularly read my blog–the songs that I’m absolutely loving right now.  I swear, when these videos pop up on Ch. V or tvN or on the Arirang Ch., I’m stuck on the tv like a baby mesmerized by the mobile hanging above her crib…or someone watching a fireworks display…or a crack addict mesmerized by pretty, pretty images…that aren’t really there! Take your pick.
1.  Super Junior – Bonamana
First up is a song I cannot get enough of.  I watch it on tv, wait for it on tvN, view it on youtube…and when I finally have the chance to upload it on my ipod, I’m quite sure I’ll watch it there too.  I also happen to have an mp3 of this song on my work pc!  I love the beat of this song–makes me wanna get up and dance along with SuJu!  Honestly, I’m still having trouble naming them though.  I only know 3–Si Won, Shin Dong and Ryu Wook.  But I shall not fret!  If I can name all Slipknot members, as God is my witness, sooner or later you can pop quiz me on SuJu as well.  Until then…let’s dance! Bounce to you…bounce to you…
2.  MBLAQ – Y
I’ve always liked videos with some sort of storyline concept…pair that with a pretty cool dance beat and I’m sold!  I read somewhere that this song was originally supposed to appear on Rain’s newest album…but he gave it instead to his proteges, MBLAQ.  He did however, produce and choreograph this song/video ( according to that article).  Plus, I’m rooting for these guys too because their member, Thunder (Cheon Doong) is the younger brother of Sandara Park.
3.  FT Island – Flower Rock  (note: I’m tying these 2 songs in for no. 3 all because of Lee Hong Ki!)
Let’s rock, shall we?
I love the way Lee Hong Ki sings!  I think he’s awesome.  I’m a rock fan so I’m happy to have discovered FT Island from among the Kpop Idol groups–nothing wrong with the idol groups though–it’s just that it’s quite refreshing to see an idol group with their own instruments.
3.1  Lee Hong Ki / Still/As Ever
This song is from the soundtrack of the drama “He’s Beautiful/You’re Beautiful”.
When FT Island came over to Manila earlier this year, they performed this song on a show called “Showtime”.  I didn’t know who they were  then but at that time I was already starting to get into Korean dramas and listen to kpop so…When their performance was nearing, I left my work desk and deliberately passed by the dressing room where they were staying–fyi, I work for the tv station that broadcasts showtime and other korean dramas–There were quite a number of fans outside the dressing room but I did catch a quick glimpse of Lee Hong Ki’s beautiful blond head of hair.  Naturally with that color, it’ll surely stand out.  I was starstruck even if I had no idea who he was.  God…if I knew then that a few months later I would be gushing over him as Jeremy in “He’s Beautiful”…I would’ve elbowed my way through the crowd towards him!  Alas, I didn’t seize the day, so I’m sure you’ll understand that there’s a slight “ouch” that I feel in my heart when I watch this..*sniff*

4.  SS501 – Love Ya
Kim Hyun Joong is in this group…enough said!  Haha!  I’m really glad that I watched him when he performed here a few months back.  Sometimes I forget that he’s an awesome dancer because I always think of him as the quiet Yoon Ji-Hoo from Boys Over Flowers…Oh but lord help me when he starts busting those moves!  Plus, the video’s quite stylish.  It’s always a cool thing when classical instruments are added to spice up a song from a genre it’s not usually used in.  And have I mentioned that Kim Hyun Joong is in this group?!  Oh I did already? Oops…
5.  Jang Geun Suk – Magic Drag
Ok fine.  I’ll admit it…I love Jang Geun Suk!  What else is there to say? Haha.  Honestly, like all of the songs on this list, it sounds pretty cool and upbeat and yes…I shamelessly rewind his “rap” part when I view this on youtube.  *swoon*  When I showed this to my friend Ava, the first thing she told me was, “He’s prettier than the girl in the video!”…and quite frankly, I do agree with her.
Honorable mention:
1.  2PM – Fly to Seoul
Ok, I’m not really sure if this should count because the video was obviously made to invite tourists to come and visit Korea…but yes I must admit that the message and the song works…I want to fly there…right now.  Seriously..right now!
2.  2NE1 – I don’t care
Honestly, there’s not that many girl groups/girl artists that I listen to.  It’s not a prejudiced thing…it’s just that I like listening to dudes and I have yet to come across a female artist that has ever made me stop and pay attention and this is true across the board–locally and internationally.  I think I can count with 1 hand the number of cds I own that’s by a solo female artist or female group…1 hand, I promise!
But 2NE1 gets special mention here because I really think this song is pretty cute (oh and “fire” too!).  Plus the fact that Sandara’s career began here.  Hard to believe she just won second place in that talent competition huh?  Look where she is now.
There you have it…my top 5 kpop songs of the moment.  I really can’t offer you four (yes, you four who regularly read me) any amazing factoids about the groups I’ve mentioned because I’m still learning about them myself.  I’m not a hater so I don’t enjoy reading stories about fans hating other fans for not liking their idol groups…or arguing who’s more amazing.
Friends, you know me…I’ve always had music in my life and this wonderful thing called kpop is just another fun & enjoyable addition to my varying spectrum of musical tastes.  Yes, Slipknot, Incubus, Oasis on one end, The Smiths somewhere in the middle and Kpop on the other end.  Somewhere in between all those is Beyonce & Lady Gaga!
all videos courtesy of youtube! thanks!