What a difference 12 hours make

Seventeen hours ago, I was lying on my back, soaking in some UV rays in the gorgeous white beach of Alona, Panglao, Bohol.

Fourteen hours ago, I opened my pink Emily the Strange pouch and commented how roomy it was.

Thirteen hours ago, I realized why said pouch was so roomy: my MP3 player wasn’t in it.
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Category: Everything Travel, Philippines
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Lomprayah High Speed Catamaran

Lomprayah High Speed CatamaranI booked two trips with Lomprayah: A one-day snorkelling trip to Ko Tao and Ko Nangyuan from Ko Samui, and transfer to Bangkok from Ko Pha Ngan.

I booked with Lomprayah because…their boat looks good. Yeah, I think that’s it.

Seriously though, I picked them because I thought the boats look good, can stand swelling waves and doesn’t look too old.
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Category: Ko Nangyuan, Ko Pha Ngan, Ko Samui, Reviews, Thailand
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Let’s go to Sint Maarten!

I have to admit that I often have strange reasons for wanting to go to a certain destination.

For example, I wanted to go to Ko Samui because I discovered that’s where you can see Hin Ta and Hin Yai (Grandfather and Grandmother stone). But I got lazy and opted to catch up on all the sleep I’ve been missing. Hey, at least I have a valid reason for wanting to go back to Samui, right?

I also have this urge to go to Cairns, for AJ Hackett’s Bungy, Le Marche in Italy because I read about it in a click lit, and to Bratislava for reasons I’d rather not go into.

The newest destination in my list is Sint Maarten (St. Martin), an island in the Caribbean:

Isn’t that lovely? Don’t you just want to get your ass there and take your chance at getting run over by a 747? *giddy with excitement*

Check out the other videos over at YouTube, though be warned that you’ll be hearing a lot of “holy shit” uttered over and over. There’s also a great collection of pictures in this site.


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Metroblogging Manila

You may be wondering why I don’t post much about Manila, my grimy, dirty, lovable city. That’s because I write about my city over at the Manila Metroblog.

Metroblogging is “the largest and fastest growing network of city-specific blogs on the Web.” There are currently around 50 cities in the Metroblog network, among them Bangkok, San Fransisco, Singapore, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Berlin and New York City.

It’s a great place to know more about a city you’re thinking of visiting: see the city though a local or an expat’s eyes; get ideas where to shop and dine; read about what’s happening as it unfolds (like in the case of Hurricane Katrina, the London Bombings, the Kashmir Earthquake, Dawson College Shooting and most recently, the Thailand Coup).

Whether you’re researching for your trip or just looking for new blogs to add to your RSS, do check out the Metroblogs.

</shameless plug>

Category: Geek stuff, Manila, Philippines
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Baan Panburi Village

Baan PanburiI picked Baan Panburi to stay in Thong Nai Pan Noi in Ko Pha Ngan for two reasons: I heard that the restaurant is good, and they have a website. Being one who practically grew up online, an accomodation with its own website gets higher marks than a resort/hotel without. I know it doesn’t mean that those without websites aren’t as good, but it’s one way of getting a feel of the place.

Baan Panburi has made some changes through out the years, which resulted to having two types of accomodation: the Old Island Huts and the New Island Huts. There is a THB 100 price difference between the two kinds, and I spent weeks trying to decide whether to be cheap or take a chance with a newer hut, hoping it has better facilities. I went with the latter.

Baan Panburi New Island HutThen there’s the debate if I’ll splurge on a beachfront hut or be contented with a seaview. The price difference was bigger, so I opted to be cheap this time.

If you compare the two pictures (the first was of my seaview hut, the 2nd is the beachfront hut), the additional THB800 was for the extension on the side where you can hangout while having a view of the beach or the pathway. You also get a window with a glass and curtains, whereas with the THB 500 hut, you get a small porch and a wooden window, which you have to open if you want some natural light inside your hut and which you have to close if you want to change your clothes (unless you’re an exhibitionist) or if you want to keep the insects (and unwelcomed humans) out of your hut.

Baan Panburi Thong Nai Pan NoiUnlike Moonhuts Bungalows, their huts are made of natural materials, similar to the Philippines’ bahay kubo. I had many gripes about my hut: it was too dark, little natural light coming in, there are crevices which lets insects and bugs in, the window doesn’t have a screen, so you can’t leave it open at night when you sleep, the bed was too hard, and ugh, it goes on.

Its saving grace is its beautifully landscaped gardens, gorgeous beachfront (inhabited by friendly dogs), the courteous and friendly staff, and its wonderful restaurant.

Thong Nai Pan Noi is pretty small, and while there’s ample restaurants around, most of the tourists head on to the Sala Rim Nam Terrace Restaurant. They offer a wide variety of dishes from native Thai cuisine to Western staples like hamburger, pizza, and a sampling of Asian dishes as well. The dishes are moderately and reasonably priced: the food’s delicious and served in a timely manner. A little precaution when ordering though: If you’re thinking of ordering dishes that starts with “Fried Chicken with…” clarify with the server how the dish is cooked. I ordered Fried Chicken with Pinapple and added an order of Mashed potatoes to go with it and got chicken stir-fried with pineapples. While the dish was delicious, it just wasn’t what I was expecting. Their Cheeseburger and Spaghetti with Garlic and Basil is a winner in my book. Try it!

Baan Panburi VillageAnother great thing about Baan Panburi’s restaurant is the overall ambiance of the restaurant. There are no walls in this restaurant; you’re offered a gorgeous view of the beach or the gardens anywhere you turn. In case of rain, they just roll down a tarp on all the sides. You can choose to sit at a table nearest the beach, a table for two near the center, or relax in one of the wooden beds with a group of friends.

When you’ve gotten tired of relaxing at the beach, they have a cabinet filled with toys and games you can borrow. I think there was a chess set there, as well as dominoes and probably a badminton set. They also sell junkfood, souvenirs, postcards and books in their gift shop. There wasn’t much difference in their prices with the stores outside the resort, though their Internet is priced higher and has a sub-par connection. And it’s running on Windows Vista.

Baan PanburiSo would I stay again at Baan Panburi? To answer this question, I’ll ask you, dear reader, to answer one of my own: Would you judge a resort by its toilet? I enjoyed my 4 days in Baan Panburi, but this toilet is really something I don’t want to encounter again.

I hear they’re making a lot of improvements in the resort, including expanding unto the land across the road near the mountains, and adding in a swimming pool (probably where the Old Island Huts used to be). Maybe they’ll have better (read: cleaner) bathroom facilities by then. But I think I’ll try out the other resorts in the area and just go there for food.

Baan Panburi Village
Amphur Baan Tai, Thong Nai Pan Noi
Koh Phangan, Suratthani 84320, Thailand.
Tel: + 66 (0) 7723 8593, + 66 (0) 7723 8599, + 66 (0) 7744 5075
Fax: + 66 (0) 7744 5076
E-mail : reservation@baanpanburivillage.com

Category: Ko Pha Ngan, Reviews, Thailand
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