Going 4!

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I still can’t believe that I have reached the 4th year of my travel blog! It was 4 years of great journey about travels, places, discoveries and experiences. I experienced a lot – places, sights, cultural learning and one-of-a-kind adventures that I will treasure for the rest of my life. With that, I can say that in the last four years of my travels and sharing my stories in this blog, I continually did my goal of sharing the best travel experiences in each destination I went through by writing a tell-all adventure stories.

I have also continually to improve my writing as I share my travel stories. And I can see the improvements that I made over the last years of blogging here in Going Places.  It was nice and heart-warming to read the inspiring and good feedbacks and comments made by you, of course! Thank you so much for those comments that you continually pour into this travel blog!

4 years of travel, places, discovery and experiences! Clockwise from top left: Agho Island in Concepcion, Iloilo, Wangfujing in Beijing , China, Mines View Park in Baguio and Miag-ao Church in Iloilo.
I hope that I encouraged and continually to encourage my readers and other “travel addicts” not only to travel and go places but visit and explore the beauty of our country. This is one of the goals of Going Places that still continues. We know that everything is “more fun” in the Philippines! Right?

There is so much to improve I know. At least my follower increases =) and I hope a lot more followers in the future – much more, more readers in the future! I am also launching my travel blog’s official Facebook page – Going Places Facebook Page – to reach out more people in the social media world. People who liked the page will get travel stories updates posted in the blog. Maybe the next project is getting my own domain name, we’ll see…

Future travel stories to be feartured in Going Places. Clockwise from top left: Sweet escape to the islands of Guimaras, I survive Sagada's Sumaguing Cave, Banaue's magnificent stairway to heaven and The Imperial Gardens of Beijing.
Now in its 4th year, the blog will continue sharing the beautiful places that I went about along with my travel experiences and discoveries that I encountered.  Travel is a learning experience and discovery. Though, it’s quite tiring for some and needs enough money funding to take a trip, it’s still one of the best activities to learn and create beautiful memories. Traveling is fulfilling. You don’t just get to learn or discover but also enriches you as a person through experiences that the travellers encounter. 

So, I will continue to encourage everyone to travel – as base on my experience, you get “experiences of a lifetime!”  Expect more exciting travel stories in the future here in Going Places as we en route to Going 5! Cheers!


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Pratunam’s Irresistible Bargains

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Thailand is one of Asia’s shopping capitals. Shopping can mean from the highest luxury goods and fashion boutiques down to the lowest wholesale market trooped everyday by the locals and tourists as well.  Bangkok is widely known for its day and night market’s irresistible bargains. Whether inside a building or streetside stalls, bargains of shops from shoes, clothes, accessories up to underwear are endless! And when in Bangkok’s Pratunam Market, be ready to cash out all your money as credit cards are not widely accepted in those stall markets. It also time to hold the impulsive buyer in you as this endless paradise of shopping bargains are all in Pratunam - Bangkok’s shopping mecca.

Souvenir... souvenir.. souvenir in Pratunam Market!
When I set my foot for the first time in Pratunam, I had a quite chaotic experience of Bangkok. It is a street market place with so many small alleys and narrow streets of numerous stalls and store market much like Divisoria and Baclaran but only cleaner, organized and foreign tourist laden marketplace. With it numerous blocks and streets, we were lost looking for the hotel that my mom was suggesting to stay because it was a cheap accommodation. But the thing is; she stayed in that hotel 14 years ago! Her last trip to Bangkok! Imagine? There are so many changes in the area that happened since then for sure. Even my mom can’t remember the exact place of that hotel!

Pratunam's busy street market stalls.
We tried to look for that hotel in Pratunam’s lost-inducing street alleys. And who wouldn’t lost in that place especially for first timer like me who are not really familiar with it. We then tried to ask for directions with the local but we had a hard time to conversing with them as most are non-English speakers. So under the scorching hot noon sun, we continue searching for the exact place of the hotel until we stumble upon a Filipino restaurant in one narrow street owned by Filipino residents in Pratunam who helped us find our way to the hotel. I felt thankful for finding that Filipino restaurant because it relieves us from our tiring search for Bangkok accommodation. It all happened on my first day in Bangkok. And it was quite a welcoming experience to the city because I consider that experience as “The Amazing Race” moment for me!

During my second day in Bangkok, I notice how huge Pratunam is as a market place when I had a Tuktuk drive tour around as we head to the historical sights of Bangkok. It has endless open market stalls in every street blocks and mall buildings lining up the main street of the district.  And every day and every hour up to midnight, people flocks these markets of Pratunam for endless shop of goods, clothes, shoes, accessories and other commodities. Not only locals are flocking the markets but also foreigners and tourist visitors alike that enjoys shopping bargains in open street markets! With all these scenarios, Pratunam to me is an endless city of markets and shops!

Every hour, ever minute visitors and shoppers flock Pratunam for good bargains.
Bargain everywhere!
One thing that really caught my attention in the streets of Pratunam was Bangkok’s street foods. They are everywhere in the city! Even in the narrowest street corners or tightest alleys, there is always a presence of street food stalls! I know Bangkok is famous for its street foods. It is not only because they are cheap and affordable that’s why they are popular but they are also delicious, clean and stored in sanitized food panels while being sold which I all observed during my stay. And I wouldn’t let myself pass to get a sample of Bangkok’s famed street foods. I tasted Khao Phat as my first try of Bangkok’s street foods. Khao Phat or "Playd lays" as pronounce by the Thais for Fried rice is a Thai variety of fried rice that usually contains meat (shrimp, pork or chicken) with eggs, onion, garlic, tomatoes and seasonings mixed and stirred in then plated and served with accompaniments like cucumber slices, tomato slices, lime and sprigs of green onion. I also tried fried local sausages and pork barbeque sticks in Pratunam. I was amazed by a roasted violet colored corn being sold in the streets near our accommodation. It was my first time to see a purple corn and it tasted delicious. But I can’t get over with Khao Phat. I become addicted to it that everyday during my whole duration of stay in Bangkok, I had a sample of Khao Phat bought everyday in the streets of Pratunam!

Roasted purple corn!
Khao Phat - my first taste of Bangkok’s street foods.
Pratunam Market is one of Bangkok's major markets, and is Thailand's largest clothing market. The name Pratunam means “water gate”. The market comprises retail stores and outdoor stalls, the latter of which are aimed at tourists. It is a major market area with thousands of fashion stores that sell wholesale with cheap prices guaranteed, especially if you buy in bulk.

Most of the products available are on wholesale, so this is the place to go for some cheap bargains. Haggling is more important here than in other shopping malls, and things get considerably cheaper if you buy in bulk. First to head out is for the Pratunam Market’s jam-packed maze of alleys where tiny stalls are offering t-shirts, jackets, dresses, jeans, shorts, shoes and accessories, including many fakes. Don’t also miss the City Complex, a fashionable shopping mall marketed towards female teenagers and students and Indra Square that has a more diverse audience. It is located at the intersection of Ratchaprarop and Phetburi roads in the district Ratchathewi.

Pratunam's streetside stores and shops.
Sawasdee ka from Ronald McDonald! Inside Indra Square building.
Almost everyday of our stay in Rachatewi, our day won’t end without a pass in Pratunam Market since our accommodation is within the district. So everyday, we get to see and buy the daily bargain offerings of Pratunam. Everyday, I noticed that open market stalls in Pratunam changes by shift schedule like there’s a different stall in the morning that changes by mid-afternoon and night time in a particular street side location. That also means there are different stalls and vendors in the morning that sells items and commodities different in afternoon and night time sellers. That’s why on a particular street side of Pratunam that we frequently passed by, in the afternoon vendors are selling clothes but by the evening vendors are selling shoes already.  

One of the best times to shop in Pratunam is night time because the place is full of visitors and commercial activities. Pratunam Market is so alive at this time. And you’ll never which market stall you’ll first to shop as everything is bombarding with lots of bargain goods and commodities. One of the best things to do is shopping in the market stalls while munching for delicious Thai street food or do it the other way around - after shopping, have a break by sampling those street foods! Just don’t forget to haggle the price for the irresistible bargains you found. As our Thai tour guide advises in shopping, “Tawad, tawad…” in Thai accent! (Tawad is Filipino term and/or way of asking for lowering prices in market stalls).

More goods... more bargains!
On our last day in Bangkok, we decided to do a last minute shopping in Pratunam in the early morning before we take our flight back by noon. Starting early, I saw Thai monks for the first time, asking for alms to the locals which will be exchange by blessings and prayers by the monk. Pratunam Market scene is almost the same I saw it last night. It is still packed with visitors which I think has a higher volume at this time. And it’s still full of commercial activities left and right. Each street and alleys is crowded with buyers while sellers are calling out loud for big discount if you buy bulk and high volume on what they are selling.

We visited Indra Square where we find a lot of selection of clothes, dresses, jackets and boots. This is where we spend most of our last minute shopping time in Pratunam. And here we also learn the “great rule” when shopping in Bangkok’s markets – that when you’re run out of cash, credit cards are not accepted in open markets! My mom found a very nice summer dress that she really wants to buy but unfortunately she ran out of cash. Even I too, found a very well-tailored cardigan but sadly I don’t have enough cash anymore. We are running out of time, so we just decided to return to our hotel and ready our things for our flight back home but had a heavy heart because of Pratunam’s irresistible bargains!

Bangkok city scene within Pratunam area.
If you’re tired of shopping there are some few sights of interests that you might find worth visiting. Among these sights is going atop Baiyoke Tower that gives a breathtaking views of the city's skyline. You can also drop by to Bangkok Dolls Museum at 85 Soi Ratchataphan (Soi Mo Leng) (ARL Ratchaprarop) which boast a private collection of about 400 dolls from around the world. You can also visit Suan Pakkad Palace, this complex of five Thai-style houses was once the residence of one of Thailand's leading art collectors, Prince Chumbhot of Nagara Svarga. It houses an extensive collection of Asian art and antiques, including items from the prehistoric Ban Chiang civilization, and an impressive collection of sea-shells.  Also see Thai Labour Museum that displays items showing the 300-year history of the Thai labour movement. There is also a library with books and research reports on labour.

There are other Bangkok markets that are famous among the city’s visitors for its specialized commodities that are also worth checking out. One of these markets is Pak Klong Talat Market that sells flowers, fruits, and vegetables. It is the primary flower market in Bangkok that is open 24 hours. It is busiest before dawn, when boats and trucks arrive with flowers from nearby provinces. This market is very famous among Filipino flower sellers who bought bulks of flowers especially orchids to sell days before All Saint’s Day in which there is a high demand for Thai orchids for the occasion. 

Baiyoke Tower at the center of Pratunam Market.
The City of Angels - Bangkok.
Another famous market in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It is Thailand’s largest market that contains approximately around 5,000 stalls. Most stalls only open on Saturdays and Sundays though Jatujak Plaza, the western section is open daily. The market offers a wide variety of products including household items, clothing, Thai handicrafts, religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, and live animals. It is estimated that the market receives 200,000 visitors each day.

But whatever market you choose to shop in Bangkok, just remember to cash out all of your moneys as the city has endless of markets that might drive you shopaholic! And don’t forget to haggle for bargains! Might as well, try Thai street foods too! As for me, I will return to Pratunam Market once given a chance to visit Thailand again. It simply has irresistible bargains!

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Pratunam’s Irresistible Bargains is part of my Thailand's Amazing Smiles series where I share my wonderful trip to the land of amazing smiles last October 25-28, 2011. For a helpful trip to Bangkok visit Bangkok for Visitors website for more information. You might also like the other parts of the series:  


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