Bangkok (21/4/2017)

We woke up at 10:00. Aiming to have lighter activities for today, we scheduled to go to visit animals. However, he had a bad stomach ache when we arrived to the station. He carried on and said he was fine. At 12:09, we arrived at Ratchetwi station and entered the cat world.

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It was the day he started to be really sick. After we left the cat cafe, he had diarrhea again and started to feel weak on the limbs. I hurried him back home and took care of him. He slept at once. After cleaning up the room, I looked at him for a long time and felt an unbearable heart ache. I went out to buy medicine and food for him. Throughout the entire trip, he had been taking care of me and making me happy by bringing me to different places and having fun with me. This was the time I felt I had the responsibility to make sure he is safe and sound again. The primary concern was him getting better soon. [He was healed naturally back to health 2 days after the trip.]

I have been reflecting a lot after this trip as it has reminded me of the good in life that I have dismissed and forgotten most of the times. As Bob Marley had once said,

Only once in your life, I truly believe, you find someone who can completely turn your world around. Never do they hurt your feelings or make you feel like you are not good enough, but rather they build you up and show you the things about yourself that make you special and even beautiful. There is never any pressure, jealousy or competition but only a quiet calmness when they are around. You can be yourself and not worry about what they will think of you because they love you for who you are.

Before and during this trip, I had been unreasonable and always threw temper tantrums because of my insecurity. He would tender my anxieties and calm me down and hug me. He knows what I really am and accept this genuine version of me completely. This acceptance validates my existence and motivates me to carry on even when he is not beside me. I know, deep in my heart, I would want to be happy with him together in the long run. To do that, we need to go through something. Without pain and yearning, there won’t come a greater blessing. This journey teaches me to appreciate what I have (including myself) and live at the moment, as Dr. Seuss has said,

Today you are You, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You.

Bangkok (20/4/2017)

As our schedule was fully packed the last few days, we decided to take a break from now on till the end of the trip. We went shopping today, trying to find a suitable pair of shoes for him. Even though we did not find what we want, we explored different colorful and interesting things together.

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Perhaps we were too heated, we went back home for a rest in the afternoon. At 21:35, we went back out to look for food. We ordered something very healthy (soup, vegetables, mushrooms…those light dishes) because he felt his stomach was starting to reiterate.

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Bangkok (19/4/2017)

Our journey would end four days later. We were wearing the matching outfit of a seagull saying “I am not fat” today.

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Our first destination today required us to transit. So, we went to the Ratchaprarop road rail and got the airport rail link token to travel and change to the BST rail. We ditched the idea of BST rail because we did not want to walk the steamy bridge. We went on the bus. The bus money collector called the bus to halt because she needed to fetch breakfast for the bus driver.

Our destination was Maeklong Railway Market (Talad Rom Hub), which is located at the outskirts of Bangkok. The most interesting feature of this market is that there would be a train running through the middle of the market several times a day (06:20, 08:30, 09:00, 11:10, 11:30, 14:30, 15:30, 17:40). The train is close enough for anyone to touch when it passes through slowly.

How did we get there? We first went on the BTS and stopped at Victory Monument and walked a while to the bus station to catch bus no. 515 for free service. At 10:06, we arrived at Sai Tai Mai (Southern Bus Terminal). We looked for the Damneon Saduak ticket booth and they sold us the ticket for 70 THB/ person. The distance from Bangkok city to Maeklong is similar to Tin Shui Wai travelling to Guang Zhou. The duration is around 1 and a half hour to 2 hours.

 

On that day, the temperature was as high as 36 degrees. The sky was pure blue without clouds. Steamy hot whenever we were outside. Yet, I was still impressed and gratified to be able to come. My inspiration came and I wrote a poem dedicated to what I had seen and felt on that day.

Landed.

Where meat
sizzles and fries,
a figure
crosses mini aisles
with flames and hues.
Never forget
to plant footprints for miles
and sweat with smiles.
Grab a breeze
as it takes you
off your seat;
then swirls around
and kisses your feet.
You hurry on
to taste the bitter
and the sweet;
dreaming to hold on
till the next second meets.

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At 15:41, we hopped onto the minibus and headed out to major Cineplex pinklao, and moved on to Thanon Khao San. It is a tourist district like Mong Kok Woman Street in Hong Kong. There were a lot of Thai people selling us scorpions, but we rejected. There were a lot of clothes, pubs and Western people, like Lan Kwai Fong in Hong Kong. He said the buildings were similar to Caribbean style.

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We then hopped onto bus no. 511 back to Shibuya Pratunam Platinum Fashion Mall. Again, it is mini Mong Kok in Hong Kong. I wanted to buy shoes for him, but the shoes mall already closed.

We ended this day by eating Milo Kakigori, which he tasted last time and liked so much at Arnoma Grand Bangkok. It was the first time he suggested going to eat dessert, a particular dessert. This day was so memorable.

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Bangkok (18/4/2017)

Last night, I had taken the medicine and woke up at 09:30 today.

We took bus no. 29. It seems that the older the bus, the faster the bus driver would drive. The newer buses drive much slower.

We had walked a bunch of railroads today as shortcuts, and thus lucky enough to witness a train pass through.

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After walking and crossing railroads, we arrived at Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). It was so far away, near Don Mueung Airport, near highways. The entrance fee is 150 THB.

Like MONA in Brisbane, there are already works displayed outside of the museum. Perhaps on one hand, their purpose is to welcome visitors into this world of art, on the other hand, it shows the values held by Thais, which are religion and faith.

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Walking in, we saw a Dali sculpture inviting us to sit on the chair. It is interactive installation sculpture.

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There are different styles of Thai art showcased. It seems normal at the start with realism featuring Buddhism, change, architecture, portraiture etc.

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Then, as we went up the flights, we began to approach some surrealistic, a bit harder to digest paintings, illustrating the downfall of mankind due to the seven sins.

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I was also captivated by the design of the chairs for spectators. The chairs symbolize growth. There would be mushrooms, tendrils planting on top of it. It challenges not only the way we look at things, but also the way we use things.

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The museum designs the exhibition in such a way that at last there must be something that wow us. Yes. They guide us to walk through a tunnel and out that tunnel, three colossal paintings erect. The Three Kingdoms. The large scale blows me away. I could not help thinking how much time the artist Panya Vijinthanasarn spent painting or the process of him drawing(whether it is concentric or sideways, climbing a ladder or drawing on the floor).

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It is similar to Bosch’s triptych The Last Judgment or the Garden of Earthly Delights since it references the form of triptych and the content of heaven, earth and hell.

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The Garden of Earthly Delights, 1510 - 1515 - Hieronymus Bosch

But Vinjinthanasarn keeps all three kingdoms of the same size.

In Buddhism, the Lord Buddha opens up the idea of the three spheres: the sense sphere, the form sphere and the non-form sphere. These paintings only presented us the journey to the hereafter within the Sense Sphere. In other words, still a long way to go.

As always, I was most interested in hell. There are 4 Unfortunate Realms in total punishing different kinds of people/animals(Niraya, Peta, Asurakaya, Animal)

(1). The 1st plane is the  Hell Realm (Niraya). It punishes people with habitual misdeeds. The different forms of punishment locates in 8 major sites of ‘Mahanarok’, 128 satellite sites of ‘Ussadanarok’ and 320 minor sites of ‘Yomalok’.

(2). The Peta Realm is the 2nd plane caused by meanness/selfishness.

(3). The Asurakaya Realm is the 3rd plane that is joyless. You need to experience severe hardship with thirst and hunger. This is to punish you of your greed and covetousness.

(4). The Animal Realm is the last plane. They cannot attain Nibbana (insight), so they suffer less.

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We went back to Siam station to eat at the gourmet market. The banana egg roll was so savory, so sweet and so warm. We tended to eat bits and pieces every day rather than a full meal in this trip.

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Since my hair has grown quite long and I craved for another change again, he brought me to a salon called K2. Although we could not communicate in Thai and the stylists could not understand English, we used tonnes of hand gestures and pointed at certain hairstyles on the magazine. The stylist was so serious about it that she suggested another haircut for me and it turned out pretty good. It was my first haircut experience outside of Hong Kong. I normally cut my hair myself to save money.

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After happily walking off with my new haircut, we went to Saphan Taksin station. We caught on the Asiatique shuttle boat, which is free of charge. When, we arrived at Asiantique, it just looks like Tsim Sha Tsui’s Avenue of the Stars in Hong Kong or Southbank in Brisbane.

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My another first time. We actually tried the FISH SPA (in ozone water)!!! I have not even tried this spa in Hong Kong, I usually went for the massage. It claims that the fish would eat away your dead skin, but all that I feel was itchy. We had paid 150 THB for 15 minutes.

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A beautiful sunset.

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We started our bus ride back the city again. Now we were familiar with riding a bus in Bangkok: bus no. 1 to Chinatown, bus no. 15 to Siam, bus no. 17 to Siam. In the middle of the ride, we encountered a really bad traffic jam, so we hopped off the bus and caught the Skyline back to Siam.

For dinner, we rented a card and put money in it to eat in the food court.

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It was the middle of the trip already. I wish time would not pass so fast as I was having a great time here with someone I value so much.

Bangkok (17/4/2017)

As I had eaten too much yesterday, my sore throat started to grumble and I felt a bit heated up this morning.

As the bus system in Bangkok does not track each bus’s arrival time, we received no updates. We waited and changed bus stops for a while.

At last, we settled for BTS. We arrived at Phrom Phem station to check out the emporium, particularly the TCDC Art Gallery. This shopping center is very high-class. However, TCDC gallery had already moved out to the other side of the city. At least we had taken a look at this Sukhumvit shopping mall, and the lift color is very eye-catching and mesmerizing (a combination of red and blue)

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Traveled by train again, we arrived to the Saphan Taksin station. Bangkok has 2 major train lines developing currently, which include the BTS Skytrain Sulhumvit line and the other called the Silom line. This time we needed to transit to the Silom line.

At that Saphan Taksin station, we could actually see the famous Bnagkok ghost tower Sathorn Unique. Its construction began in 1990 and planned to have 49 stories. However, its construction was stopped at 80% completion and was abandoned in 1997 due to 1997 Asian financial crisis. I had an urge to climb, but he told me it costed THB 500. It is haunted because daring people go inside and accidentally die.

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It suddenly rained when we had arrived at Sathorn pier.

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We went to TCDC’s new address, but unfortunately again, we were no luck in visiting the exhibition. No exhibitions open on Monday.

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Life moves on despite heaps of errors. We hopped onto bus no.1. During the ride, there are familiar hardware shores around with big Cantonese signs hanging.

There were no bus fee collectors get our fees this time. We assumed this ride was for free.

Eventually, we got off at Bangkok Chinatown. It reminded me so much of Hong Kong! Yet, it actually blends Chinese and Thai cultures perfectly. Of course, as always, we were attracted to exotic street food. Just a little note, as Chinatown is a famous tourist attraction, the prices are normally higher than other places in Bangkok.

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After wandering for a while with unstoppable sweat, we moved to Dindang pier to feel wind from the sea. The ship took us to another pier called the Tha Chang pier, where the Grand Palace is located. However, I wore short pants this day and was refused to be let in the palace due to inappropriate dress code.

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Due to the increasing penetration of heat, we decided to stay indoors afterwards. Terminal 21 seemed to be a good idea.

Basically, Terminal 21 is unlike other shopping malls that sell convenience, brands etc. Its selling point is its design. Its theme is travelling, thus the whole building simulates different airport styles around the world. You can totally indulge in this diverse cultural shopping experience in Terminal 21. Even the toilets on each floor suited various countries’ styles.

Terminal 21 has 9 floors.

Basement level(LG): Caribbean (Gourmet Market)

Ground Floor(G): Rome (fashion labels, e.g. Nike)

(M): Paris (fashion brands)

1st floor: Tokyo(women’s fashion)

2nd floor: London(men’s fashion)

3rd floor: Istanbul(gifts, jewelry, home decor)

4th floor: San Francisco: food

5th floor: San Francisco (Pier 21)

6th floor: 8-screen cineplex

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After hanging around in Terminal 21, we went to Sukhumvit Station. It is similar to Hong Kong MTR. It is underground and is cheaper. Skyline is expensive. We stopped at Huai Khwang station. We aimed to go to the Huai Khawang night market. However, it was just 17:45. So, we returned to Thailand Cultural centre station and hung around in Big C and we had found Sukiyaki & Sushi Buffet that costs around 349 THB/ person.

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It ended up we went to Huai Khawang Night Market after finishing dinner with our puffed up tummy. Luckily, we had made a right decision because the market mainly is a wet market selling fresh vegetables and seafood produce.

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Bangkok (16/4/2017)

It was a Sunday, and our itinerary involved visiting the art center and the Chatuchak Market.

We woke up at 08:00. We walked past the San Phra Phrom/ Erawan Shrine (四面佛) between Ploenchit Road and Ratchadamri Road. He reminded me that in 2015 Bangkok Bomb Attack was located here, where 19 people have been tragically killed. The golden statue is in the middle of the square, encompassed by worshipers. As Erawan likes to watch dance performances, the shrine would also provide worshipers the chance to pray while dancers perform in the background.

We then went into an orange exchange center under the scorching sun. I have exchanged 2000 Bahts from Australian dollars. He has already exchanged before coming to Bangkok.

We stopped at the Siam Station, a station with iconic shopping malls in Bangkok. Two biggest Asian shopping centers (Siam Paragon and Parc Paragon) stand before our eyes, one attached to the other. The Siam Paragon even houses the largest aquarium in South East Asia, the Sea Life Ocean World aquarium, which we did not visit due to its expensive entrance cost. The Siam Station is similar to Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay station or London’s Stratford station. The food in Bangkok is special in terms of its size, a palm size wrapping can have 6 small little cakes in it.

Bangkok has a wide mass transit system with buses and motorbikes on the ground and trains above and on the ground. Traffic could be bad during peak hours and flyovers provide an alternative for tourists and locals alike to get around.

At 10:00, we then proceed to the chosen place we have planned for today, the Bangkok Art & Culture Center (BACC). We came there through the BTS and stopped at National Stadium station. A little fact to know, all museums in the world closes on Monday. The interior design of this art center highlights curvatures and spirals. When we were on the escalator, it seems we were within a floating wedding cake with layers of icing (its main color is the sharp white with light brown as railings).

The main exhibitions are housed from the 7th floor to the 9th. Exhibitions have high mobility. What you have seen 3 months before might not be what you would see 3 months after. On the 7th floor, the current exhibition is dedicated to the legendary King Rama IX, who has reigned for 70 years and was considered as the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history. His recent decease evokes public mourning. This exhibition is named “Thailand: Land of Happiness under The King’s 70-Year Reign”. It was the theme for the 6th White Elephant Art Award Exhibition. 21571abc.jpg

We were captivated by the first artwork near the entrance. It is a sculpture of Bangkok public housing, with mini people inside every floor, engaging in different activities. Despite its hyper-realistic style, most special part is that it is not static. There are music playing and on and off colorful lights.

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This exhibition really changes my perspective in creating artworks. The medium and materials used are the ones you would never expect, which includes

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tiles

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woodcut

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stein glass

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installation

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The range of tools and skills required to create these artworks must be so broad because I promise you they are jaw-dropping, especially looking at them real.

After being blown away by the diverse artworks made by Thais, we moved on to the 8th floor, where the exhibition Mode of Liaisons were displayed. It is a collaborative project with Japanese and SE countries curators. The main theme is “What is Southeast Asia?”

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Again, I was impressed with the details and skills involved, especially with one installation. It is a black wall with a TV installed, there are cushions for audience to sit on and headphones for them to engage in the video clip. Despite this interactive element, the installation itself is a sublime artwork. The floor and wall are realistic. The artist uses real garbage bag remnants, sticky tapes, wires, shells, rubbish to form this masterpiece. The feeling you experience when sitting on top of it is awe. How come the artist would make it? I think it is related to local complexities people are not normally aware of. Itself represents the ecosystem that houses the roots of the artist, the communities where the works were conceived and the networks systems that branch and transfer the artworks in relation to time, space and people. In other words, it transcends any physical boundaries and is inside our blood.

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Another work I was mesmerized is without any name or simply I could not find any description near it. It is a skeletal model with fabricated meat lingering on the ribs. Perhaps it is present to portray the delicate relationships between curators, artists and viewers. It is open to interpretation anyway. I have taken a lot of shots on this artwork to get the shadow right. 20170416_105918.jpg

Then, we entered an Utopian district. The artist him/herself created a whole set of rules for sex, transport, food, tools, entertainment etc. I found sex as the most interesting part because it literally said your hands would do it all and it is a holy process.

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The bathroom utensils were colorful. He explained the color might be heated onto the metal to make such diffusive effects.

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The final exhibition is on the 9th floor, named Crossing the Dateline. It revolves around the theme of time and travelling. It challenges our perception of time. This exhibition is a cross-cultural presentation through different forms, including photography, drawing, mixed media, interactive installation and video installation.

This is a simulated studio room of an artist. There are even biscuits provided for audience to consume.

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Another interesting art I approached is a video installation. It is an honest documentation centering the theme: limited space for intimacy. Many viewers could not last till the video ends because of its slow motions and lack in dialogues. I found this delivery intriguing as if this is portraying a slow death.

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There is also an artwork showcasing strings of fish hanging from the ceiling. I could not decipher how it is related to time though.

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After consuming thousands of breathtaking art, our stomachs growled. We moved to our next destination, which is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We arrived there through BTS and stopped at Mo Chit station. This market is Thailand’s largest market as its surface area houses 8,000 market stalls. The alleyways are called Soi in Thai. Generally, there are plants, antiques, pets, food and drinks, fresh and dry food, ceramics, furniture, clothing and books for sale. But we came here mainly for food.

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After eating a few skewers, we went in the tent and had some Phad Thai. The portion was appropriate for him, but not for me. We tried the seafood cakes as well with salad and soy sauce dressing on top.

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As I could not have enough of food, I consumed a coconut ice cream too with red bean and agar.

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Our hunt for food almost satiated and we walked across the alleys until we could not stand the heat and left for Siam Paragon.

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The Siam Paragon has a food court and a range of savory snackables for sale. It is quite impossible to consume them all because even your eyes cannot take everything in.

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After visually and gustatorily consumed enough food, we actually did some window shopping and fooling around the mall.

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I do not know the reason why, but it seems going to travel always involves a much bigger appetite than you normally have. We went to another night market that night.

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Going to Bangkok, you do not need to worry having nothing to do, instead you need to worry would you have stomach ache after all those eating on the street, in the mall, in the markets, even in the convenient stores and there are a lot of food+desserts with coconut as ingredient which would make you cough very easily.

Bangkok (15/4/2017)

Before he had come to Brisbane, we had scheduled on a holiday trip to Bangkok from 15th to 22nd April, following the footsteps of his college trip.

Owing to the fact that we would like to save money, we bought air tickets on Expedia. The less expensive tickets often have embarrassing take off times, rending us to stay outside of the Gold Coast Airport for a night as the airport closes at 22:30. We both stayed in the open resting area beside the security guard room. Due to the strong wind and lower temperature at midnight, we listened to music and danced for the whole night till 04:30 the airport reopened.

Our flight included the transition from Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok. We went on the Air Asia plane at 09:45. The original time for taking off was 09:30, but too many passengers hindered the efficiency. This flight from Gold Coast to Kuala Lumpur took 9 hours. The plane service did not include any meal. It was a fully packed flight with tonnes of passengers. We did not get to choose our seats, ended up near the corridor. 9 hours were not fun. We both experienced neck pain, back pain, pain at the bottom etc. He dozed off despite all these muscle pains due to the limited leg and body room.

Soon we arrived at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We have ordered a bowl of prawn noodles and have had a fight over it. (Actually it was me overreacting things and making him sad. I was always the one who initiated quarrels). When we were lining up, I found the staffs in this airport is lacking severely, e.g. only one cashier doing all the work in a shop, including making drinks, food etc. In the newly built Kuala Lumpur airport, the dominant color is purple. The atmosphere is full of naturalistic elements, much influenced by its rainforest. We also observed that there were quite a lot of different nationalities in Malay, including middle Eastern people, Asian people, Indian people etc. It was such a multicultural place. Because our flight was cheap, our flight delayed for 30 mins to 1 hour. We had even got to sit on the floor because the waiting room was so full of grumpy passengers.

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2 hours staying in Kuala Lumpur, Don Mueang Airport awaited for us. We finally arrived at 21:20. Don Mueang Airport is Thailand’s old airport. There were not any convenient stores, just some transportation shops selling trips and cards etc. The layout is similar to Narita Airport in Japan, where the escalator and the main entrance were located etc.

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We have hopped onto the shuttle bus, not for free. I realized that any vehicles riding on the highway needs to pay some fee, like in Hong Kong going through the under tunnels. He told me that last time he came, most traffic congestion occurred in the morning and in busy hours. Traffic jams are prevalent in Thailand due to the way they construct the road for more development in open spaces. I observed that there were Buddha statues everywhere, he told me that Thai people are mainly Buddhist (about 95% of the population). We were dropped off at Mo Chit station, our train passed to the Chit Lom station. We then walked back to Kim Hostel @ Moeleng, located at Ratchaprarop Road, Ratchathewi.

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