Thursday, July 30, 2009

Edited Part 3

Due to overwhelming response from friends who insist me to write detail stories about my student exchange life in Cagliari. I have edited my

Part 3 - School and Friends in Cagliari.

Thank you for reading! Please click the link to read.

Sukhumvit

If we want to have much classier western food such as Italian food, red wine, oyster or Subway for supper, we will head to Sukhumvit. There are way many fancy restaurants and eatery to be found there. You don’t have to worry what you will be eating; there are arrayed of foods to choose from German to Japanese posh Restaurant. Generally, Sukhumvit is filled with high rise condos. It’s like Ampang in Kuala Lumpur but bigger and swisher. Expatriates are commoners. Most of the 5 stars grand hotels are located at this area.


Yes, another Ta Lad can be seen along the way. Ta Lad is everywhere in Bangkok. Not all Talad is that exciting to stroll. I only love the one and only Suan Lum Night Bazaar. European or American loves to hang out in that area. Food is definitely more scrumptious and a bit costly. Body massage parlors are also common to be seen everywhere in Bangkok. Guess I don’t have to mention about this. Always ask for price politely before a body massage to avoid unnecessary circumstances. Do also ask if it is for men only or otherwise.


MAP to Soi Cowboy and Sukhumvit

Soi Cowboy at night, with elephantImage via Wikipedia


A nearby red light district Soi Cowboy, is just a few meters from Asoke BTS station. Ask for direction it is just nearby. It is not a street packed with cowboys. No it is not area for the gigolo. Barely-naked sexy ladies will stand out sides with the clubs and pubs inviting, trying their best to attract and receiving guests, promoting their special offers and services. I feel perturbed walking to the end of the soi. Their business purposes are aiming to the men only. I did not dare to take a picture at that point. What if they slap me when I took a snap? It was crowded and occupied with horny and drunk men. It is a bit different from Silom and Patpong as it’s much more rattling. Go take a stroll to understand what I mean. You will get the uneasy feeling if you are a feminine.




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Patpong / Silom


A dancer at a go-go bar along Patpong.Image via Wikipedia

Patpong or Silom, a place surrounded with hotels, night market, shopping malls, pubs, clubs, gays, transvestites, market, sex…Tourists favorite night spots. Patpong is two small streets (Soi) running between Silom Rd and Suriwong Rd named Patpong 1 and Patpong 2. The Sala Daeng BTS skytrain station is very nearby. MRT station, Silom is also close by, with an exit straight onto Silom Rd and Patpong 1. It is always convenience to travel in Bangkok.


Startling experience exotic and nudity shows such as Tiger show, ping pong show, gay show is also to be discovered in this notorious place. I can’t recall the name of the smaller alley. Make sure you look closer to all smaller alleys as there are lots of clubs and pubs all the way in. Thais are definitely much more open minded than we are. It’s deliberately normal for homosexual’s couple to loiter around holding hands and hugging. Older men are seen embracing the younger Thais. Pubs are always occupied with homosexual foreigner embracing their Thai partner. Sauntering and people watching is what people usually do there. Comparing their partner or eyeing others. It’s different ambience from Soi Cowboy in Nana.



MAP


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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Suan Lum Night Bazaar


A trip is not complete without going to Suan Lump Night Bazaar. Suan Lum Night Bazaar which is next to Lumphini Park, another destination where we will go for a stroll. Covered walkways with centrally-located snack bars provide perhaps the most luxurious (outdoor) market shopping experience in the city. It has vendors selling gifts, clothing, jeweler, fruit, hand-made products like tapestries and fine arts, such as paintings and sculptures. There is a large beer garden, with an array of food available, and live entertainment. On the other side of the market, there is a quieter area with many restaurants offering both inside and outside garden seating. Several bars along with Thai, Italian, German, and even Mexican restaurants are expediently within the market area, close enough to scrutinize the crowd while enjoying refreshment, yet away from the market's hustle-and-bustle.


Information office in Suan Lum Night Bazaar, B...Image via Wikipedia

After a long stroll in Lumphini Park we will head over to Suan Lum. I never had dinner there as it’s a tourist spot. So when its tourist spots you got to pay extra for the food. I love shopping and browsing for new Thai local designers wear in Suan Lum. Plus size fashion is easily to be found in Suan Lum Night Bazaar. There is this one particular shop “Fat Story”, (rummy name for a shop), which I usually patrons. They have fashion sizes for large women. The clothing size can reach to UK size 28. Most young Thai designers and entrepreneurs will sell their fresh and latest clothing line in this bazaar. Every single shop has their unique designs and icon which you will fall in love by just looking at it. Buying my self beautiful design out fit is the best thing in the world. A size 16/18 like me it’s always pretty hard to find beautiful and suitable outfit. So going there is like a paradise. The clothing is much more affordable too.


It is far more comfortable to walk in Suan Lum than in Chatuchak. You won’t feel uneasy walking in as it’s much cleaner and pleasant than the other market in Bangkok. Suan Lum is a best place to get souvenirs for friends and family.


Their operation hour commenced at 5 pm – till 12pm. I find that some shops started to close at around 11 pm.


Way to get there:- MAP



stop at Lumphini MRT – Bangkok Metro Subway


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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What is in Huay Kwang, Bangkok


We would often hang out in Huay Kwang which is strategically located on Ratchadapisek Road, one of Bangkok's new main commercial center. The nearby neighborhood are Rama 9 and Ratchada Soi 4, a place occupied with posh night clubs with eventful nightlife. Renowned massage parlors mostly for men such as

Ceasar’s Entertainment Complex

Emmanuelle Massage

Hi-Class Massage

Mirage Massage

Nataree Massage

Poseidon Massage

Copa Cabana Massage

Barbara Massage

Are to be discovered. I never attempt any massage at any of these massage parlor as it’s for men ONLY. I heard from an acquaintance, masseuse can be picked out from a fish bowl, women standing behind a glass windows with numbers tagged on their clothes. Some masseuses are dress with formal and appropriate uniform. You are allowed to pick your favorite masseuse. Besides giving a reliving chiropractic Thai massage, other services will be inclined whenever customers quested. There will be extra charges for the xtra sevice, you have to pay at the desk at the end of the service. Mostly Taiwanese, Korean and Japanese tourists are to be spotted with no trouble. We have no intention or interest to hang out in the night clubs.


We will walk by the night life area in the night market or “Ta Lad” which is just a

IMG_20275Image by Ian Fuller via Flickr

few steps away from the exit of Huay Kwang, MRT sky train station. The MRT sky train is just next to Emerald Hotel.


Huay Kwang Night market is open daily for 9pm – 5am. Fresh market selling fruits and vegetables will be operated in the morning. I don’t find many attractions at the night market. Most of the shops sell sexy lingerie and food. Our main point is to stop at our favorite eatery, for pork knuckles and gravy pork. “Kah Mu” is must eat dish in that location.






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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Vol 2.Transportation in Bangkok

After hubby’s office hour, we usually linger around in Bangkok. We would travel either via the BTS Sky train, MRT sky train or by a taxi. Taxi is not expensive in Bangkok; bare in mind make sure the taxi driver is using the meter before you hop onto it. Taxi meter will display 35 Baht for a start then subsequently add 3 Bhat after a meter or something. To avoid time wasting, we usually opt to get to a destination by sky train then only to return home by a taxi. I don’t take “tuk-tuk”, the main reason is its life-threatening, and you should see how the driver drives when they turn in to a junction. It’s like drifting in Initial D. Secondly, price are hardly negotiated. They are the only one to call the price. Traveling by “tuk-tuk” usually will end up costing more than a regular taxi. Remember to agree upon a price beforehand, if possible, if there is no other way to get a taxi. Most “tuk –tuk” drivers don't speak English and I do find them a bit rude. Motor taxi is always convenience when roads are highly congested. In Kuala Lumpur, we have 2 times of peak hours daily which cause traffic jam but not in Bangkok. Bangkok is always congested. Motorcycle taxi driver can be recognized with their colored vest. Vests are colored for area code.



Water taxi of Chao Phraya Canal

Water taxi or
Chao Phraya boat are used to travel across the river or to different pier ahead. A boat ride can cost as cheap as 20 cent per ride while tourist boats can cost up to RM 200 per person just to tour the river in less than 45 minutes. I have tried to cross to Wat Arun from Chang Pier which only cost less than 50 cents via the local boats which was interesting.

Behind - Long tail tourist boat RM200 per person.


I suggest that plan your route ahead to avoid un necessary circumstances.




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Vol 1. Introduction - Bangkok

Rampaging anti-government protesters forced the closure of Thailand's main international airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport. Politics issue which causes topsy-turvydom to the Thai citizen and the Prime Minister was switched every 3 months. It was insane and demented.











Bangkok International Airport - Departure Hall



It all occurred last year. I was there for almost 6 months in Bangkok as my hubby was transferred to work in Bangkok for a year. It’s was a once in a life time opportunity for us to be based in a foreign country. We dwelt in a studio apartment in the metropolis. Public transportation and facilities are seen in every inch of the area I live. Flag a hand, getting in a taxi, “tuk-tuk”, a three wheel motorcycle with a carriage at the back, or a motorcycle taxi is as easy as ABC. Hawker stalls, small shop selling Thai foods, convenience store are scattered everywhere. I am never hungry living in Bangkok. When a weird dainty delicacy attracts my attention I will halt and give it a go.









A Thai style BBQ fish at a hawker.



















Me roaming and riding on a water taxi.






I was concern about the political issue in Bangkok. I did witness a demonstration from Thaksin’s supporter. I remember wearing yellow when the protesters dressed themselves all in red. No harm was done to me while walking by the demonstration. Taking heed to the discouraging news has demoralized my faith and trust living in Bangkok. Yet to an extent, I believe that the news has exaggerated quite a bit to make it BIG, scaring visitors and tourists. I can assure that it was safe enough to roam in the city. I did that while hubby was busy with his work. I am so smitten with the city. No matter what happens to that country I love the people, the mouth-watering cuisine and the culture of Thailand.

Continue……Protesters in red.




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Part 3. School and Friends

My schooling begun the next day. I was shy and petrified on the first day. Isabella and I went to the same school; Liceo Scientifico G. Brotzu. She showed me to my class then proceeded to her class room next door. Not knowing what I am supposed to do in class, if I should make the first attempt to introduce myself to the class. I kept silent. Everyone looked at me as if I was an alien who has just landed on their planet. Their facial expression gave me the sign.

Divine Comedy. Dante.Image via Wikipedia


My first lesson was “Dante’s Comedia” – Dante Divine Comedy. Good lord, what the heck is that? Cikgu tak ajar di sekolah le! The teacher mumbles her lecture with her soft, delicate sleepy voice. I pay no heed , it was cold and I dozed of in a blink of an eye. She blabs too much. Hahaha..
Next class, Latin. Holly … I felt like I was in a preaching home or something. Continued with French, Mathematics and etc….

Then it was when during recess, people started to gather around me asking me questions that have been boggling their mind earlier. They are bubbly, friendly and easy going. I was invited to go to their home, Christmas party, and was ask to hang out with them. It was awesome. I felt like the most popular student in school. Yeah I am going to win the prom queen. Pulling the leg of, it didn’t happen. LOL.

The school
The Amici

High School and Friends
The first one standing on the right side taught Dante's Comedia.

I received email from friends and was advised to write more details for this post. I got few readers who are interested with my student exchange program. Thank you for reading!


After my first day at school, the butterflies in my stomach have flown away. Everything was aplomb. I do not have to do any homework. That is the best school year of my life. I don’t have to take any examination. I slept in class. I precisely sat in front of the teacher. I was on the first row of the class. Cool and envious isn’t it? When others are concentrating on their study, I will do some sketch, write letters back home to my family in Sabah, and my mind will swing away dreaming in a cartoon world. For sure there were times I was bored. I did avoid few classes as in, I skipped class. LOL. I went back home to sleep. Did I mention the school is just few meters away from where I live? The 3 stories bungalow that I lived in was just behind the school up on a hill. I never tell Marge about this.


Few days in school, classmates became friendlier. I was introduced to friends outside the school which sounds like networking. I hung out with friends in a park sometimes in a shopping mall after school. I had an old video camera that recorded what we did in the park. We sang, we joked, and we flirt. Oh yes. It was fun. Language barriers doest exist but who cares. We will just laugh and try to help each other by translating using the mini dictionary. I was truly happy to be with them. To be honest I hate to go home after school. We were nuts! Those good old days! I do find the experience of studying overseas does differ and it does make one more gallant to approach to a person. When I am back here in Malaysia, I turned to a timid mouse again,


It was from there then I started to call some AFS students who were in Cagliari before me. I never met anyone of them. I grab a phone I just give them a ring and chat. Amazing eh? They were students from Brazil, Panama, Chile, Colombia, Argentina, Austria, Republic Dominican, Iceland, Australia and Indonesia. I called each and every one of them. I was then invited to an organized trip to camp a day in Mont Fortubo. So guess what did I missed, if I didn’t make the random phone calls??


I was invited for a trip. At first it was skeptical. I am not sure if it is safe for me to travel with unknowns. I got 2 weeks ahead for the coming trip and I was worried. I do not own a mobile phone, GPRS, GPS, Internet during those days of cause, I was worried sick.


Finally, I pay no heed I went for the trip. It was a trip I will never going to forget. We travel to this peak by a MPV. Half way up the hill, it started to snow. That was my first time I encounter the snow. I was exciting and happy. “Salju salju” the Indonesian guy next to me exclaimed. It was his first time to encounter it too. I put my hand out of the window; the snow gracefully fell on my palm. I can see the delicate intricate snow flake. It was a truly unique and amazing. I was mesmerized. I was blew out of the water. Our AFS organizer Bruno stopped the car. I rushed out immediately. I think Wan (the Indonesian) and I were stun and speechless to experience the amazing phenomena. Other students rushed down to take their pictures too.


After awhile, we went back in to out car headed to the peak. There was a fort behind the hill that we need to do a bit hiking over to the next hill. Hiking is not a thing for me. I can’t hike with my body weight. The air gets thinner when I climb higher. I was wearied and suffocating. I was out of air. But as I came closer to the fort, again I stun by a mesmerizing scene was right in front of me. The peaks were all covered with snow. It was too beautiful for me to describe. How could Mother Nature be that beautiful?


It was a lovely setting. I was tired and glad to be there. I never regret going to that trip. I totally blocked the skeptical thought I had before. We ascend back down then walk to a nearby chalets. Three students were to share a chalet. Each chalet has 3 bunks. I shared my room with an Icelandic girl and Emma who is from Perth. The temperature drops by the evening. It was tremendously cold. The snow continued… I did not take any shower that day. It was weird for me not to take a shower. The water was too freezing.


We went to have our dinner at this barn a like dinning place. We were sitting in a long table. Authentic Italian meals were served and wine did the job for the rest of the day. We all got high and drunk. We danced, joked, laughed and fooled around. I, who was sober, sat at the corner taking photos of the drunk. I know I was like the geek in the group.


We head back when it reached midnight. I remembered as we walk back to out chalet, a student, I can’t recall who, wore a mask (the mask from the movie Scream) trying to scare us. We were shocked at first, screaming like an old lady (we were drunk) and then we ran chasing after him grabbing his mask. Placed snow under his pants! It was totally outrageous. How I wish I can turn back time for that moment. I would love to capture those moments again.


I was there for a day. I returned to Cagliari the next day and it was only a week left for me to return to Malaysia.


Friendship blossom, my friends and I started to hang out every single day. I attended party dinner, camping, I was taken care of, friends' parents loved me and I was doing all sort of things that I usually don’t do or allowed to do at home. Time flies. I started to love my life there until it’s time for me to head home. It’s sad that I have to leave every beautiful moments behind but I have gained my love from friends, had the best moment, knowledge of cultures and the unforgettable experience of a life time. The experiences that I have always cherish. I am proud to have supportive parents and has given me this once in a life time beautiful experience.


Visiting the seaside at Villasimius

Camping at Monta Fortubo


“Grab holds the opportunity right in front of your eyes as chances never comes twice.

Life is too short to not make it beautiful and memorable. Share it with your love ones”.”






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Part 2 - First day in Cagliari

Their Fiat pulled over in front of a 3 stories, dainty - contemporary bungalow, located on top of a hill. Exquisite bungalows with its own unique designs are to be seen around the neighborhood. It’s as though standing in front of the rich and famous. At some point, I can glimpse partly of the suburbia and the scenic glistening sea waters. It was an astonishing view.



I was invited into the house, Simone, their Bullmastiff were constantly barking and wagging its tail welcoming me whilst walking towards their home. Simone was huge; I never came upon a dog that immense where I hailed from. I was petrified and simultaneously wanting to pat him. I didn’t get to pat him. My host mother, Margarita – a doctor, ushered me inside her house.


It was cozy and warm inside the house. Isabella, my host sister – a high school student, showed me to my room which was on the loft. I had my own room. I possess my own study table, my comfy bed and a closet and a funky radio. It was too perfect to be true. I usually sleep with my sister back at home. Now I get a hold to have my own room! The room comes along with a perfect view.


Lunch was prepared after they showed me around the house, Antonio, my good looking-host brother – A law student, came home for lunch. We sat on the dining table and started our conversation. They are very passionate and enthusiast where I came form. I was filled with incertitude questioned of curiosity. Bare in mind they don’t really speak English. They rendered me a dictionary and that was how I communicate with my family. We had language barriers. Dictionary was like part of my limbs.


My first day in Cagliari was superb. I would normally hang out with Marge and Isa, Ant was busy with his studies. Dusk came, Marge took Isa and I for a ride in Quartu Saint Elena. The town was pleasant, again may be the illuminating lights did some trick that brought my attention. It was breathtaking. We roamed in the town, ate dinner and had some creamy gelatos. There were ample of stores selling cute, rugged, and erstwhile to fine merchandise. Clothing stored and bistros were everywhere.


It was all worth while for flying miles and leaving my loving family. It was an awesome experience and cognition knowledge, a cultural memes that will remain unforgotten in my whole life.

Continue…




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Part 1. How it all started...

Once you have attempted to fly solo, the gumption, the “chi” of yours will increase automatically. “Sap-sap-sui la!”

Buy a plane ticket,shut one eye and the last thing you know you got on a plane and reach your destination. Kerfuffle no more.


Back to my chronicle……


After I succeed my AFS interview in Kota Kinabalu, I flew back home, Tawau on that same day. I went back as my SPM examination was held few weeks later. I was excited, gouge, all types of mixed notion. I was panic with my exam, happy for my interview success. All I can think throughout my exam was my AFS program. I can’t even concentrate on my exam papers. What is Chemistry? What are the equations? Who was the English Resident that got murdered in Perak? No, not a word. I am not sure what my answer was. Luckily, I did nifty in my SPM with Grade 1.


Finally, the day I have been eagerly waited arrived. I flew 18 hours (correct me if I am wrong) flight to Rome all by my self. Of course I am proud at that instant. Imagine an adolescent flying to Europe all by her own, not acknowledging anyone seated nearby. No travel guide and no I do not put on Traveling Alone Tag. No GPS, no mobile phone, no maps, no nothing. Hahha… There were 4 exchange students who flew along with me which was not known till I arrive at Rome.


Wondering what I did during long-haul flight? I slept. I wake for my meals and slept again. This kinda repeated few times. Played some Nintendo games. Watched some lame movies. Read the in-flight magazine. The best part was I video recorded my self (cam –whoring) with some uncles and aunties on the background. There was no good-looking man around my designated area. No fun right?


Rome_Fontana di Trevi_155Image by pixseb via Flickr

I arrived at Rome Leonardo da Vinci (Fiumicino) Airport

after the long-haul journey. I was greeted by an Intercultural Volunteer with my large font name on a white card board. along with AFS logo. We (me and few unknown girls) were brought to visit the Colosseum, the Aqua duct, Fontana Di Trevi…other unique historical piazzas. Rome is perfectly beautiful. I was in love when I first step in Rome especially standing in front of the Trevi fountain. The lighting, ambiance, the ravishing outflow, I was speechless. It was sooooo romantic. Awwwww….That was my first encounter on a Europen architecture. I know I resemble a peasant in a city.. :P


I rested a night in Rome. The very next morning, I flew to Cagliari, Sardenia. “Alone again naturally- Gilbert O'Sullivan". Plane taxied down at the tarmac, I step out of the airport, and my host mother and sister were expecting me at the arrival. They were delighted to see me wanting to bring me back to their warmth home. This is where my life as a student exchange started…..




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