[THAILAND] o19. AFTER YOU DESSERT CAFE 

After You Dessert Cafe bangkok - Viktoria Jean

If you could only make one dessert pit-stop in Bangkok, it has to be AfterYou Dessert Cafe! In the absence of distractions (animals, excessively hipster embellishments) the establishment focuses on a competitive menu  and plain awesome desserts! Since Taiwan’s Dazzling Cafe experience and toasty good times in Korea’s trendy coffeehouses, I’ve not had good toasts in a while. Until Shibuya Honey Toast and Ferrero Icecream Toast came into my life at AfterYou and my life is worth living again. Teehee. Scroll for toastporn, millefeuille and photos of the cozy cafe interior, featuring the ChaiArmy up to our usual shenanigans, this time in Thailand for Red’s birthday celebrations (all pictures taken with my old iPhone 5 because 6+ had to stay home, in case it decides to stay in Bangkok and to never come back)

                  

 

Just waiting for the day that AfterYou comes to Singapore too, like all other high-profile franchises.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o18. SALA AYUTTHAYA


Sala AyutthayaThailand might be most famous for vernacular and religious buildings, but its modern-day architecture has surpassed world-class standards. We hunted down this structural wonder, with the luxury of time and an inexplicable need for coffee, situated across the famed Wat Phutthaisawan, along Chao Phraya river.

Sala Resort’s boutique accommodation in Ayutthaya features 26 guest rooms (all uniquely designed) including a duplex river view suite and a pool suite, a small art gallery as well as a signature restaurant with a splendid view of Chao Phraya (reservations required, but helluva beautiful place to sit and ponder about life). I loved their deconstructed wave-inspired bricked buildings that were impressively designed to capture a play of lights. Sala Ayutthaya SIgnature Curved Staircase Sala AyutthayaArt Sala Ayutthaya ThailandArt Gallery Thailand Seaview Dining Sala Ayutthaya Thailand Seaview Dining Thailand Ayutthaya Coffee and canapés. In Thailand sauce maketh a meal complete.Crispy Rolls Thailand Sala Resorts Thailand Coffee Latte Thailand Sala Ayutthaya Sala Ayutthaya DiningDesigner living spaces and boutique serviced apartments are increasingly receiving its share of love in the land of smiles, even in city-centred resorts away from beaches and the sea. Interestingly, ‘photogenic’ qualities plays a big part nowadays as holidaymakers want to take incredible pictures for their social media platforms on top of collecting snapshots as memories. The deciding factors of holiday accommodation are as much about concept as they are about prices, location and people factors.

Food for thought. Happy holidays, people!

Sala Ayutthaya Resorts
Thanon U-Thong
Pratuchai, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o17. AYUTTHAYA – OF RECLINING BUDDHAS AND WISHING WELLS

Following a seafood-induced food coma and a brief exposure to Thai Buddhist rituals at renowned Wat Phanan Choeng, our local Thai friends took us on yet another cultural tour – the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, also known as Wat Lokkayasutharam. At this point it would be useful to note there are more than 2 Temples with Reclining/Sleeping Buddhas in Ayutthaya – one of which is indoors at Wat Pho, and 2 others are documented below.

In good faith, devotees typically purchase incense sticks for prayers, which came with flowers, candles, joss-sticks and 2x2cm flecks of gold paper for ‘dressing’ the Buddha. A huge test of devotion often involved patience for adhering the flimsy pieces of gold, bound to escape like seeds of the dandelion in the wind.

The first thing about ‘Sleeping Buddha’ at Wat Lokkayasutharam that amazed me was its absolute size, followed by the sense of peace upon seeing the gentle unassuming smile of the sacred giant. Putting aside fatigue of travel and accumulated stress, an aura of serenity took precedence as all else fell into the background. Away from the bustling city was this figure of faith on which many troubles were unloaded, to which hopes and dreams were articulated.

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Gold Flecks on the Reclining Buddha

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It suffices to say that the Kingdom was wealthy, to be in possession of enough to construct multiple such shrines in praise of its gods. IMG_6665

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Within the shrine more surprises were in store. Wishing wells, treacherous stairs, relics from another life. To make a wish at this particular wishing well, you have to conquer a tough flight of stairs.

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Wishing well for the weary – only by conquering a treacherous flight of stairs could you be deemed eligible to cast your wish

If one reclining Buddha wasn’t enough, we visited and prayed to yet another, this one albeit with a much brighter smile in my opinion! Don’t you feel instantly cheered up by this mega-watt beam? For a truly cultural experience this part of Ayutthaya is definitely not to be missed. I thoroughly enjoyed immersing the the local customs of praying and showing respects to local monks, as well as learning to different eacf part of the city from another by events that went down post Burmese-invasion. I don’t think there was any other way I could have learnt more from the trip.

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xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o16. DAYTRIP TO AYUTTHAYA

40 miles north of Bangkok lies Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, capital of Ayutthaya Province, Thailand. Ayutthaya Kingdom was destroyed in 1767 by Burmese army who took down the city. Ayutthaya, like Rome, has since left most of its ruins within sight. Officially listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site is its Historical Park, whose ruins were a peek into the kingdom’s past grandeur.

Dia and Ake drove us on a daytrip from Bangkok to Ayutthaya. The journey could have taken way longer (by means of Thailand’s inter-city railway) than our tranquil 1.5 hours drive to the country side which I truly enjoyed. Having lived in a city all my life, the drive was akin to entering a timezone ungoverned by conventional rules of time. I was fascinated by farmers in paddy fields seeming to move in slow-motion, accustomed to a lazy pace of life. The last time I’ve ever immersed in such a slow-moving city was during a layover in Mumbai, India, but even then I was concerned by and paranoid of the city’s hygiene. Here I rolled down my windows to let unfamiliar country smells invade my olfactory senses. The experience was truly rural and underrated.

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A stream leading to Chao Phraya, Thailand
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Enjoying this incredibly scenic view while dining on the country’s finest seafood

With Dia and Ake, our tummies were in for a treat. Along a stream that leads to Chao Phraya River, we located Yang Deaw Restaurant, a local eatery well-known amongst the natives for grilled river shrimps.

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A mouth-wateringly good salad with Thai version of the Chinese salted eggs, tossed with shrimps and chunks of chilli
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Steamboat / various fried fishcakes and pork dishes
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Pork in spicy gravy with salted eggs. Thai dishes are just so big on gravy and sauces it’s impossible to go without.

An old lady, aided by 2 others only a decade younger, took our orders, prepared the seafood, grilled the prawns, chopped the vegetables, served the dishes, iced our tea and washed the dishes in a small pantry; hence service was, like everywhere else in the country, slow. Oddly enough, us city-dwellers never for one second lost our patience. I contemplated going to the kitchen to help mince the pork and skewer some prawns.

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Looks ugly here, but this crispy salted fish blew our minds.
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Highlight of the meal: hugeass river shrimps!

Highlight of the meal: river shrimps! In all its fresh glory. Caught right off coast at neighbouring streams surrounding Ayutthaya. When de-shelled, these shrimps were almost the length of my forearm (note: I have long limbs)

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Did I make you wanna lick the screen?

We left Yang Deaw feeling like our lives was complete, then we drove further north, nursing an intense food coma with tonnes of iced tea. One of our major pit-stops was Wat Panan Choeng temple, on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, part of Ayutthaya Historical Park. Fervent Thai Buddhists usually made it a point to journey to this temple to pray for the best of luck on New Years and special occasions. The Golden Buddha statue is known as Luang Pho Tho, who stands at 19meters tall.

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Our Thai friend Ake going about with his prayers by sticking gold flecks on small Buddha statues

 

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Luang Pho Tho @ 19m tall

We were there for a ceremony on that particular day – Thais were flocking in to pray for good luck for the coming year (2015). Fervent Buddhists purchased golden cloth to ‘clothe the Buddha statue’. We purchased one each and handed the golden sashes to a temple staff, who then proceeded to mumble his blessings, before tossing the golden cloth to 3 pairs of waiting hands standing on Luang Pho Tho who would catch the cloth, tie them to the existing length covering Luang Pho Tho. During the ceremony, Buddhist monks would then chant a long series of words in Thai. We joined the fervent Buddhists in kneeling at the Buddha’s feet with our heads bowed. When the time came, the monks and temple staff began throwing the tied cloth back at us and people in the front started pulling the cloth for us people at the back. The cloth went over our heads as a symbol of protection and having us ‘covered’. After we were all draped in gold cloth, the chant went on in Thai for about 5 to 10 minutes, before we returned the cloth and made our donations to the temple.

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Blessings from Luang Pho Tho
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Passing the golden cloth, over our heads

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A room filled with religious statuettes
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Devotees

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The first of my posts on Ayutthaya had touched on aspects of local food and Wat Phanan Choeng. In the coming posts I’ll be sharing on other places to visit in Ayutthaya, including the famous ‘Buddha head in tree‘ featured in many travel guides on Thailand. Stay tuned for more!

Yang Deaw Restaurant
5/1 Moo 4, Tambon Ban Len, Amphoe Bang Pa-in, Phra Nakhon Sri Ayutthaya

Wat Phanan Choeng

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o15. VINTAGE ROD FAI

Talad Rod Fai, Bangkok, is an open-air bazaar peddling an insane array of vintage collectables, quirky kitsch and memorabilia from yesteryear. Since its move in 2013 due to an expansion of the BTS Skytrain line, its reappearance at the new site accommodated a bigger, more international crowd. I loved the old Rod Fai next to the train tracks, where shop-owners displayed their wares on floors or did business right out of 1950s Cadillacs. The new locale is posh, less rugged than before, while retaining signature vintage elements.

Shopping was way down on my list of priorities as opposed to capturing these on camera.

“Vintage books, old china, antiques; maybe I love old things so much because I feel impermanent myself.”
― Josh Lanyon

All things biker chic
All things biker chic
Vintage television
Vintage television
Lorries from another era
Lorries from another era
From before our parents were born
From before our parents were born
Vintage Chinese
Vintage Chinese

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For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
For Sale: Gas masks, anybody?
So old your nose will blow
So old your nose will blow
Coca cola signs
Coca cola signs
This still exist?!
This still exist?!
Route 66, US
Route 66, US
Old is gold
Old is gold
Rod Fai Gems
Rod Fai Gems
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
This is how coffee is made, sometimes
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Pretty interiors of Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
Title @ Rod Fai
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
LOVE @ Rod Fai Thailand
Leaving space
Leaving space
Pinball or something
Pinball or something
Vintage bikes...vespa?
Vintage bikes…vespa?
Mannequin.
Mannequin.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o14. SIX HANGOUTS TO HIT IN BANGKOK (FOODIES ONLY)

Perks of having native Thai friends – they’ve tried it all and only take you for the best. I had the honour of my Thai native friends’ undivided attention 5 days in January this year. Knowing us (foodies who were through with tourist traps in the big city), the pair of them took us gallivanting through Bangkok for the best F&B. Here are 6 of my favourite picks,

GRAM CAFE – Brunch

Nestled within the trendy streets of Sukhumvit 49 near to Thong Lor is GRAM Cafe, featuring an open-kitchen counter and a pretty garden where you dine. Highlights of our meal: ovaltine volcano pancakes dripping in chocolate fudge and ovaltine powdered goodness. Also loved their latte: I’m a sucker for hand-drip coffee.

Gram Cafe Thailand

Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Gram Cafe, Bangkok
Their lattes are not to be missed
Their lattes are not to be missed
Smoked salmon salad - my all-time salad of choice
Smoked salmon salad – my all-time salad of choice
What 5 Persons Ate
What 5 Persons Ate
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Ovaltine Volcano Pancakes
Pulled Pork Burger
Pulled Pork Burger

Outdoor-dining only meant there were certain elements of nature interrupting our quiet brunch: flies, mozzies and leaves falling into your coffee. But when your bill arrives all’s good again, since a Bangkok hipster brunch is one of the most affordable in the world.

GRAM CAFE
1/F, 49 Terrace, Sukhumvit Soi 49, Bangkok, Thailand
Tue-Sun 9am-5pm
081-884-8554
Nearest Train: BTS Phrom Phong


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ROCKET COFFEE BAR – Brunch

An uber-chic hangout for hipster lunch in the up and coming Sathorn area; the best flat white in town makes this the expats’ choice on the weekends. Save yourself the best seat by the window when you make reservations! Rocket is well-known for their artisanal coffees – I fell so in love with their iced latte that I had to have two.

Muesli Yoghurt with Honey
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Eggs Benedict
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Salmon Roe and Crab Meat Toast

Their eggs-ben weren’t fantastic and drool-worthy so don’t bother if you’re hunting for the best food in time. Come here for a cozy meet-up, and to immerse in a chic up-town environment.

Check out their menu here.

Rocket Coffee Bar
147, Sathorn Soi 12, Silom, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand
+66 2 635 0404
Monday to Sunday 7am – 11pm
Nearest station: BTS Chong Nonsi


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MR JONES’ ORPHANAGE – Cakes, waffles and all things sweet

Named after a renowned children’s book, Mr Jones’ Orphanage lives up to its name with teddy-bear strewn interiors, low-hanging ceilings resembling children’s bedrooms, and quirky cutesy dessert creations. We ordered a round of cakes and rocky road waffles after heavy-on-the-savoury-buds lunch – the kick on our sense of taste was incredible. Mr Jones’ is a sweet-tooth’s haven.

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Cookie Monster Cupcakes
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Red Velvet Cakes

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We had one of each: the strawberry shortcake is too amazing. The kitkat mud monster was way too chocolatey but if you’re a fan, it’s a chocolate heart attack.
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Marshmallows Rocky Road Waffles

With more than one outlet, the cafe still gets crowded. Save the wait and make reservations!

Mr Jones’ Orphanage
2nd Level, Siam Center
Rama 1 Road, Bangkok, Pathumwan 10330
11:00 am – 10:00 pm


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MANNA THAI – Rock Melon Sorbet

rock melon sorbet siam paragon manna thai

Situated at the basement level of Siam Paragon is an outdoor paradise, where the food isn’t spectacular but they serve a mean rock melon sorbet straight out of rock melon skin. A hand-drip latte goes well enough, and together we’ve got tea-break for the high-soul in Bangkok. Dining in is great, but the view outside is better. If you’re into people-watching this is your little heaven.

Rock melon sorbet is highly recommended.

Manna Thai
G Fl., Siam Paragon
991 Rama1, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330
+66 2129 4555


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CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET – Street Food

Don’t waste your time and money if you’re hell-bent on eating clean in Thailand! Street food has too much flavour and life in it, so who cares what happens in the kitchen right? Eating straight from street stalls gave me a genuine taste of Thailand – where the culture stands, and what the people enjoy in their spare time. Here, flavour is key (as lovers of uber-sweet Thai Iced Milk Tea can vouch for), and Thais are big on traditional spices. Meet some of my favourites from the all-time touristy Weekend Market of Chatuchak.

Yummy oily thing
Carrot cake-ish mash up – oily but sooo good
Quail Eggs
Quail Eggs! Featuring my Batman-inspired nails.
smoky ice cream
Smoking Ice Cream
Street oysters
Street Oysters

Shoppers are advised not to waste any time stopping to ogle at street food if intent on covering every nook and cranny of this 32.91 km² maze. Shopping can be endless in this god-amazing place, but some things are just not up my alley, especially when the weather’s too hot and I’ve been here more times than I bothered to count.

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SOMBOON – Seafood

The best place for fresh seafood fix in Bangkok: my all time favourite dish is the fried curry crab which comes in a fuss-free pre-shelled form so all you need to do is scoop it up, eat it with rice or fried bread! Do not exclaim “so cheap!” each time you select a dish or you’ll end up sounding like a bird. Yes, seafood is seriously affordable here.

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PRE-SHELLED FRIED CURRY CRAB: Party in my mouth and heaven in a dish
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Deep fried sea-bass – just look at this meaty goodness
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Steamed and tossed mussels in onion and gravy. Hmm
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Darn fresh oysters! Gotta slurp ’em all
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Feast for Five
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Delish mango sticky rice

Somboon Seafood
895/6-12 Chula Soi8, Bangthadthong Road | Wang Mai, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
11:00 to 23:00 Daily
0-2216-4203-4 or 0-2214-4927


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Stay tuned for more adventures in Bangkok, as I’m always back for more. I’ve got too much affinity with the Land Of Smiles, it seems.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o13. BANGKOK ON IMPULSE

“I don’t believe in guilt, I believe in living on impulse as long as you never intentionally hurt another person, and don’t judge people in your life. I think you should live completely free”
― Angelina Jolie

2 Jan – 7 Jan // There are only two places I travel to on impulse when alone: Korea and Thailand. In under 24 hours I went from Christchurch – Singapore – Bangkok Suvarnabhumi with bare minimum rest. What made it all worthwhile was seeing Elizabeth, Dia, Ake and Terence in Thailand! Literally only booked my Bangkok-bound tickets 16 hours before, as I was contemplating between a solo-trip to Seoul, or a vacay with friends to Bangkok. Meanwhile, caught 5 movies onboard and savoured at least 6 Vanilla Haagen Dazs minis amidst fellow travellers who managed to fall asleep!

SIA flight christchurch bangkok

Upon touchdown, Dia brought us for fine Thai food. Could always depend on her to get us the best! Thai sticky rice, fried pork skin, papaya salad, crispy chicken, and my favourite lychee shake – I was completely satiated! That lychee shake is perfect for Thailand’s scorching heat as it expels heat from your body better than jumping into a pool of ice. Plus it’s sooo good.

thai food bangkok

thailand food bangkok

Honestly I’d thought a solo trip might have been a better idea, because out of the five of us, I was the only single girl while the rest were attached to each other. But turns out I was wrong. I had a blasted good time!

On ur first day, we went easy on shopping / exploring. Aside from Terence who was only in Thailand for the first time, Beth and I liked to take it slow. Ake and Dia are Thais who lived within Bangkok.

Snoopy was having it seasonal run at Central World with its Universe Of Happiness exhibit for Christmas! Picture a sea of Snoopys and pop music blaring from gigantic speakers, and you get people fighting for pictures or plotting ways to kidnap a plastic white dog (I was tempted to!)

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Central World Snoopy

Central World Siam Snoopy

After lunch and picture-whoring with dogs, we made our way on foot to Chit Lom. Many foreigners make the annual pilgrimage to Erawan Shrine at the Chit Lom / Ploenchit intersection. I find myself back here more than twice a year to jostle with the fervent Buddhists. Do not expect a temple though as this is an open-spaced shrine on a street corner. This is a good place to explore Thailand’s culture as there are Thai dancers on special occasions as well as street stalls on the adjacent streets.

Prayers Bangkok Erawan Shrine

erawan shrine

 

It’s way too hot here so be sure to ditch your jeans and sneakers for shorts and slippers!

The rest of the day was spent searching for funky local eateries, and knowing Dia and Ake, it’s never just street food. They’ve got a solid list of mid-high class restaurants they frequent, which only locals would know. Which I would post some pictures of in upcoming posts. So stay tuned 😉

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o12.Does Nature Imitate Art?

Legend has it: a boat carrying Ta Kreng (Grandpa Kreng) and Yai Riem (Grandma Riem) capsized at Ko Samui, killing the old couple who, for their son’s sake, were sailing to Prachuap Khiri Khan to ask for the hand of their in-law’s daughter. The locals believed then that their organs turned into the rock formations which are now widely known as the Grandpa and Grandma rocks (Hin Ta and Hin Yai Rocks). No prize for guessing which body parts they came from!!

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 1

Ake drove us all to this south coast; the rocks are located between Hua Thanon and Lamai Beach, roughly 17 kilometres from the airport. How did these rocks come about?

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 2

It’s a puzzlement as to how these rocks came about, in such close proximity, if we choose not to believe in the folklores of the local community. Nature’s imitation of Art (artistic ribaldry) continues to amuse and baffle us beings. Seriously, mortal art will never match up to the art of nature.

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 3

Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 4

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Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 10

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Grandma rock was partially submerged due to the high tides and the area was cordoned off because a tourist had slipped and fallen to his/her death a couple of weeks ago. This is what the Hin Yai Rock looks like!
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Samui Grandpa Grandma Rocks 12

I know right.

xoxo,
Viktoria Jean

[THAILAND] o11.Shopping @ The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

Drawn by the ring road’s sleek and appealing post-colonial design, we parked here on our way to Lamai Beach for beach-wear shopping. The ring road consists mostly of restaurants (Pazzo Italian Cuisine and Wine Bar, Mulligan’s Irish Pub) and boutiques (Chicstation, CocoVilla Supermarket, Lamai Boutique). The street stalls on the road leading away from the plaza sells pretty much all the stuff we need!

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui Shopping

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui

The Buddy Oriental Plaza Samui