Thursday, March 25, 2010

Phuket Seafood, The Big Buddha and Sunset

Sunset at Kamala Beach

On the 3rd day of our beachy trip, we decided to do some exploration and rented 2 motorbikes to go about the island. Motorbike rental was about RM30 for whole day usage. It was quite amusing that my travel buddies have no experience in riding motorbikes but they managed to manouvere the machine well (U-turns were the hardest) for one whole day on a foreign land- and we didn't even use the map!

Hilltop view- spectacular!

We managed to travel to a few places such as Karon, Kata, Rawai, Surin and Kamala. Since Patong is the most popular and overcrowded beach, other beaches have a more quiet and serene surrounding with definitely much less beach chairs and umbrellas and also shorter beachside. However, it is not near to get from one beach to the other.

The Big Buddha of Phuket

Our exploration brought us to The Big Buddha which was situated on a hill top, hence it's spottable from far away and with big signs in the vicinity. The Big Buddha is still under construction and yes, it is BIG!

Sunsets and silhouettes

The 1 day motorbike excursion really burnt us- we were too smart not to put any sun block ha haha! The air was humid and the sun was scorching hot coupled with the burning wind... on the last day, we became charcoals but it was a bold and brave experience nonetheless- it was a great experience to see things on a two-wheel instead of four.

Of Tom Yum and cooling Coconut juice

Left to Right: Butter fried prawns, Fried Fish and Stir fried curry pork

Last meal before we bid our beach holiday a farewell....

Food in Phuket is not awesome and not cheap too, with the exception of McD Samurai Pork Burger. I would suggest those who have never been to Phuket not to have high expectations when it comes to food (and 6 packs hot bodies).

Will I return to Phuket? Hmmmm, maybe not.

I'm now excitingly waiting for my next holiday trips- Bandung in August and Bali in September! Meanwhile, I'm still looking out for affordable holidays before August arrives- any recommendation, guys?

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Phuket's Red Light District

Do you wan a piccha Sirrrrrr? 300 baht onleee!

Thailand is probably one of the rare Asian countries where SHims are as common as the beer bellied guys you'll find along Patong Beach. Similar to Bangkok, where there is a whole road dedicated to these guys and/or girls, Phuket has one too and it's at the infamous Soi Bangla. Erm, contrary to the street name, you don't find much 'aBangs' here. There are a row of A-Go-Go bars (aka Tiger show) which I learnt from a friend to be wary of such shows as they're all out to con you by promoting very cheap show package, ie. buy 2 bottles of beer and watch show for XXX baht but you'll be charged XXXX baht later on.

Scantily clad 'girls' are everywhere in every club/pub doing their publicity thigamajig with the poles, as celebrity impersonators, cosplay etc and a picture with them will set you back 300 baht (RM30). Erm, thanks but no thanks!

Phuket in its eccentricity
Clockwise from Top Left: Massage, no SEX!, Kangaroo bar- kangaroo show??, Oooh they sell 'boys' too??, Creative publicity stunt to promote kickboxing match

JungCeylon- The New Shopping Mall in Phuket

JungCeylon is the new shopping place in Phuket, also my fav place to hideaway from the scorching heat outside! It's known to have a very cool water feature which we checked it out and confirmed. I think it's quite cool to have a sail ship in the middle of a shopping mall and water fountains surrounding it.

Patong Pearl Resortel Restaurant
Clockwise from Top Left: From the Thai Set Menu- Stir Fried Assorted Vege and Coconut Chicken Soup (300 baht- RM30), Menu, Fried Thai Curry with Pork on Rice (80 baht- RM8)

The food scene is not very happening (for me) in Phuket. Desperate for food, we settled at Patong Pearl Resortel's restaurant.

Clockwise from Top: Chinese Spring Rolls (80 baht- RM8), Baked Rice in Pineapple (120 baht- RM12), Assorted Tempura from Thai Set Menu, Spicy Soup with Seafood (120 baht- RM12)

While they actually look good in pictures, reality is it was only to line our stomach for the cheap cheers.

Patong Pearl Resortel
13, Sawasdeeruk Rd.,
Patong Beach.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Phuket- Sun, Swim, Sea and Beer Bellies

Where are the 6 packs..........????

I was in Phuket for a ho-ho-holiday in January, expecting to look for some jolly good relaxing time ogling at hot 6 packs surfer dudes, sipping on inexpensive alcohol and taking in the cool sea breeze. The inexpensive alcohol was the only thing I got :(

Phuket is packed, OVERCROWDED and congested with too many beer bellies (most old and wrinkly) and the number of decently hot guys (and girls) are countable by the fingers (doesn't even include toes). My travel buddies and I were utterly disappointed that after an hour or so of doing some human scans, we gave up and turned to our alcohol instead.

I like the colourful umbrellas

The sun was scorching hot. So hot that any white chickens to get under the sun for 5 mins would be roasted. We stayed at Patong, the most overcrowded beach in Phuket (oh yessss, we contributed to the overcrowded-ness). The beachside was lined with thousands and millions of beach chairs, which to be honest the colourful umbrellas make a pretty sight :) Each beach chair is up for rent for approximately 100 baht (RM10) a day.

Patong Downtown

Patong Downtown is just like any other beach town... touristy stuff, tour agents, plenty of 7-11 for convenient alcohol purchase, eatery outlets, bike/car rental, massage parlours, dodgy bars etc.

Club Andaman Resort at Patong

We stayed at Club Andaman Resort where we got a pretty decent deal from AirAsia Flight + Hotel package. The resort is pretty nice and comfortable, I love the buffet breakfast especially due to the pork sausages and bacon, and the poolside is a more relaxing spot than the beachside as it's less crowded and shady.

Patong Seafood
Clockwise from Top Left: Lipton Ice Tea in a bottle- classic!, Tom Yum Goong, Stir Fried Pork with Garlic, Seafood Glass Noodles, Shrimp Cakes

On the first night, we headed to Patong Seafood for our dinner which turned out to be a disappointment as the food weren't great. I especially remember that the Tom Yum was too salty! The rest were just edible to fill our stomach :/

I see....... Cheap Alcohol

The alcohol were really cheap. A bottle of Smirnoff pre-mixed cost about 500 baht (RM5) while the Bacardi Breezer was about 420 baht (RM4.20).

Cheap cheers!

Patong Seafood
Beach Road,
200m North of Soi Bangla,
Patong, Phuket.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Il Padrino's Offer That You Can't Refuse

Inarguably one of the most quoted lines in the century

Il Padrino in Italian means The Godfather- yes, the universally popular icon played by Marlon Brando. And here's an Italian restaurant that is named after what some would say the greatest American gangster film and delizioso dishes up that even the Mafia Boss would approve.

Assorted Bread with Balsamic Vinegar and Oil

What I like about Il Padrino's complimentary bread set is the carbs in a variety and assortment of shapes and forms and makes eating bread never a dull moment.

Crema Di Funghi- RM18

Without even having to go into mains, the mushroom soup has already warmed the cockles of our hearts. Rich, creamy and generous portion to share- the picture above is one half of the soup as the attentive waiter helped us to separate our soup into two bowls knowing that we will be sharing.

Pizza Il Padrino- RM32

We actually read about Il Padrino on the food section of the papers and what attracted us to give this place a visit is the Pizza Il Padrino where parma ham is used to give it a different flavour (salty side) complimented by a refreshing combination of tomato slices, buffalo mozzarella cheese, rocket salad (not my fav vege though) and sprinkles of oregano on a handmade oven baked thin crust. The taste is simply magnifico! Parma ham is one of our lookout points when it comes to Italian cuisines.

Costolette Di Agnel- RM42

Costolette Di Agnel means Lamb Chop and this was more than just a lamb being chopped. The Mafia instructed to have his lamb in medium and luckily the instructions were obeyed so no other things were chopped off that night except the poor but tasty roasted lamb rack which proves to be more than just a winner that night. Beautifully grilled outside, the meat was pinkish, juicy and tender.

Sfogliatine Di Mill- RM18

The dessert was a delight with the wonderful orchestrated texture of flakiness from the phillo pastry layered with vanilla custard cream, strawberry slices and fruit sauces. It took as much effort to eat this than to make it as we resisted from destroying such a beautiful piece of edible art.

Where the Mafia Boss have his drink and eats with his fork

Service is good, ambience is wonderful, the Boss says, "Fantastico!"

Il Padrino
Unit No. 50-G-1, Ground Floor,
Wisma UOA Damansara.
Tel: 03-2093 8596

[disclaimer: the opinions expressed here are based on my personal views, tastebuds and preference and may vary for others. please dont sue me, i dont have money. kthxbye.]

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Nha Trang in Pictures Part II- End of Vietnam

Clockwise from Top Left:
Skewered meat that attracted us, Iberia degambas y chorizo (Shrimp skewered with chorizo and fried with olive oil- 75.000 vnd/ RM15), Entrance of La Mancha, Alex the hungry caveman, Tapas

Ending the series on Vietnam, will be this last post on Nha Trang. We arrived at Nha Trang city somewhat after a 7 hours bus ride with sore backsides and growling stomach. A stroll down the street from our budget hotel takes us to this Spanish restaurant called 'La Mancha'- we were attracted by the flames of skewered meat in the making!

Clockwise Left to Right:
Skewers of grilled pork and chicken fillets (130.000 vnd- RM26), Pupls al grill con hierbas y aceite de oliva (Octopus fried with pepper garlic, herbs and olive oil- 85.000 vnd/ RM17), Complimentary Herb & Garlic and Tomato Bruschetta

We took the liberty to order as much as we could fit into our stomachs to compensate on the lost time during the bus journey. The menu was extensive and it took us quite awhile to make up our minds and in the end, these were our selection of meat, tapas and drinks.

Clockwise from Top Left:
Black beer (25.000vnd- RM5), Octopus tapas, Sangria Red (80.000 vnd- RM16 for 500ml)

The food were good (perhaps partially due to the theory of "everything taste good when you're hungry"). Service was great too and we really enjoyed our 1st meal in Nha Trang.

Clockwise from Top Left:
Fish & Chips (90.000 vnd- RM18), Bloody Mary and Sunshine Vodka (USD2 each), BBQ Pork Ribs (90.000 vnd- RM18), Tropical Rhum and Captain Flame (USD2 each)

On the last day, we had the whole day to kill since we couldn't go to the beach due to the storm. We met some people who told us that there is a brewery further down the road and it's a good place to chill out. We finally found the place and darn- it's really good to wind down and relax. We had some classic pubgrub and cocktails to kill time... There were a selection of cocktails at unbelievable cheap prices on Tuesdays and Thursdays at USD2 each for 2 hours starting at 2pm.

Tasting Tray (75.000 vnd- RM15)
200ml each of Louisiane Pilsener, Dark Lager, Witbier and Crystal Ale

Oh yes with the cheap alco, you bet we drank! Alex is a fan of beer and has been pursuading me to learn how to appreciate and gulp down this western herbal tea. Sorry to say, after having a sip of everything on the tray I still dislike this malt drink. The beer from tasting tray were from their in-house brewery which if anyone is interested can take a 30 mins tour, choosing from the following packages:

Group of 4: 260.000 vnd or RM52 per pax includes 2 pizzas and 2 tasting trays
Single persons: 180.000 vnd or RM36 per pax includes your choice of 2 small beers or 1 tasting tray

This is THE Life @ Louisiane Brewhouse

Most watering hole in Nha Trang has pool tables for their guests to use. Louisiane Brewhouse even has a swimming pool and massage areas. It is really nice and relaxing to do nothing, sip your cocktail, play some pool and inhale the sea breeze.

Cheap Cheers!

Alcohol is really cheap in Vietnam, as my friend Alex kept telling me "It's cheap, it's so cheap!!" and further proceed to grab 2 big bottles of Tiger back to the hotel for his before sleep and wake up consumption. A big bottle of Tiger costs about RM4 in Vietnam when in Malaysia, it's triple the price! It's definitely a haven especially for the Westerners and beer lovers.

Louisiane Brewhouse
Lot 29, Tran Phu St,
Nha Trang City.
Tel: (84.58) 352 1948

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Nha Trang in Pictures

Nha Trang- after a storm :(

We were very excited for our trip to Nha Trang. When I was planning for the trip, Google Search gave me very nice beach pictures... but on our way there, it was raining crazily and we saw that everywhere was flooded! True enough, this was the scene that welcomed us :( We could neither chill out at the beach or get a tan as the whole day was drizzling and the roads were wet and muddy. We spoke to a bar owner and was told that the storm came 2 days ago... Darn! What a disappointment!

Pho Vietcali Restaurant
Clockwise Top Left: Beef Noodle Special (30.000 vnd- RM6), Cafe Sua Inha trang- vietnamced (12.000 vnd- RM2.40), Menu, Beef Rice Noodle (35.000 vnd- RM7)

Without any sun and swim, we just walked around and ate all day. The noodles at Pho Vietcali was surprisingly good eventhough calling itself a 'restaurant' is abit misleading as it is just a small little shop.

Fanny Ice Cream @ Pho Vietcali
Cafe Liegeois (45.000 vnd- RM9) and Dame Blanche (55.000 vnd- RM11)

Having read about Fanny Ice Cream on the net, it was a coincidence we found this at the same shop and decided to give it a try. We had the Cafe Liegeois (coffee ice cream, coffee liquor, kahlua and whipped cream) and Dame Blanche (coconut and stracciatella ice cream, malibu, chocolate sauce and whipped cream). It was disappointing, and not cheap too - the whipped cream tasted funny and there were barely any alcohol taste :/

Khanh Kat Restaurant
Clockwise from Top Left: Fried Mackerel with Lemon Butter Garlic Sauce, Fruit Platter, Khanh Kat Restaurant- nice and cosy, Larue Beer and Dalat Wine

Lunch at Khanh Kat Restaurant where we headed for the value for money set lunch, consisting of a soup, appetizer, mains, fruits and alco drink of either the local Larue BGI beer or Dalat Wine.

Khanh Kat Restaurant- Set Lunch (95.000 vnd- RM19)
Clockwise Top Left: Tom Yum Koong Soup, Calamari Rings, Cream Mushroom Soup, Pan Fried Pork Chop, Spring Rolls

The pork chop was actually pretty good! Also, we met a waiter who could speak considerably well English and helped us with our train ticket booking to get back to Saigon.

Truc Linh 1 Restaurant
Clockwise from Top Left: VN handrolls (42.000 vnd- RM8.40), Truc Linh Restaurant, Grilled Snapper Fish, Seafood Basket (248.000 vnd- RM49.60)

Seafood dinner at Truc Linh Restaurant was so-so but looking at the Seafood Basket (clam, scallops, mussels, squid, prawn, snapper fish), it is quite worth it.

Asian Lounge

We stumbled upon Asian Lounge on the first morning. The place is very nice and cosy and makes a great place to have drinks. I love the deco of the place!

Asian Lounge Food
Clockwise from Top Left: Stir Fried Ostrich Noodles (50.000 vnd- RM10), Pork & Shrimp Siu Mai (30.000 vnd- RM6), Stir Fried Crocodile Noodles (50.000 vnd- RM10), Nice dining environment

We decided to be adventurous when we spotted 'crocodile' on the menu! Of course we were hesitant at first, reptiles give me the creeps :/ Well, you've probably heard it before and it's true that crocodile meat taste like chicken, but stiffer.

How to get there:
Saigon to Nha Trang via bus @ USD7 per person. Bus tickets available at Tam Hanh Travel, departure daily at 8.15am, 9am, 8.15pm and 9.30pm.

Pho Vietcali Restaurant
7G Hung Vuong, Nha Trang
Tel: 058. 352 5885

Khanh Kat Restaurant
22B, Tran Quang Khai Street, Nha Trang
Tel: 058. 352 6287

Truc Linh 1 Restaurant
11, Biet Thu Street, Nha Trang
Tel: 058. 3526 6742

Asian Lounge
1/8, Tran Quang Khai, Nha Trang

Tam Hanh Travel
199, Pham Ngu Lao St., Q.1 HCMC
Tel: 08. 3920 5653/ 3295 8818
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