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Saturday, February 15, 2020

Around Three Countries In Six Days: Malaysia And Thailand

After spending less than 48 hours in Pontianak, it was time to begin the second part of my holiday. Mum, Bro and I reached KLIA in the afternoon. By the time we cleared the immigration checkpoint, it was already 4pm. We had early lunch in Pontianak, so I got me a plate of nasi kandar at Food Arcade because my colleague Ariff hyped so much about it, haha. Nasi kandar is an Indian Muslim dish with mutton and chicken. Quite delicious. I liked it and, when I met him in office after my holiday, Ariff told me there are better outlets in town.

But, no, we didn't go to the city at that time. It would be quite rush for us to go to KLCC only for few hours and then headed back to the airport later on that night. Mum and Bro didn't feel like it, so we spent our time exploring KLIA, shopping and having our dinner there. Much to my surprise, we spent almost MYR 300 while we were there!

Mum and Bro inside the so-called suite room of Capsule Transit.

If you wonder why we needed to go back to the airport, that's because our flight to Bangkok on the following day was quite early. Because of that, I booked the suite room at the Capsule Transit. The hotel has a rather interesting design. The interior had the feel of a warehouse. Our room was like inside a shipping container. The ceiling was low because the container was split into two and we were occupying the lower half. The shower was very narrow and the water piping had the rustic look. Quite an experience, I'd say.

The next morning, we flew to Bangkok and landed at Don Mueang Airport. It was supposed to be nearer to where we were staying, but thanks to the traffic jam, it didn't feel that way. As we were heading to Centre Point Pratunam Hotel (it was an old hotel, but the room was spacious and it also came with a living room), Bro commented that the capital city of Thailand looked like Jakarta v2.0. Similar, but better.

When we landed in Bangkok.

Once we left our luggage at the concierge, we walked to Platinum. Bro loved the meal he had for early lunch, but got bored real quick because Platinum was all about clothing. On the other hand, Mum liked it there, but something didn't look quite right with her. I found out later that her inability to bargain due to language barrier made the whole experience less enjoyable. 

From Platinum, we went to Central World to check out Naraya bags, a popular brand in Thailand. Next thing we did was late lunch because, well, Mum and Bro like eating, haha. Mum tried something that was equivalent to economical rice in Singapore. This allowed her to choose the menu simply by pointing at it. And what a choice she made! That's when she learnt Thai food could be extremely spicy!

Bro in front of Hard Rock Cafe.

After lunch, I sneaked out to the nearest post office at the basement of Central World for the usual routine of sending a postcard, then we took a Grab car and headed for the Hard Rock moment. That's when I realized that I couldn't always be on the go as I wasn't traveling with my usual travel buddies. Mum was no longer young and her idea of traveling was at a much slower pace. We woke up very early to catch our flight to Bangkok and we had been travelling by plane, by car and on foot since then, so it was only right for me to bring Mum back to hotel and rest. 

And that turned out to be what we sorely needed. We dozed off immediately and by the time we got out of bed, it was already dark. We explored Pratunam Market at night and had a tom yum soup steamboat next to McDonald's. The roadside eatery seemed to be for tourists, hence the tom yum soup was only moderately spicy and edible, haha.

At the Temple of Emerald Buddha.

The next day, I learnt to take it slow. We went to the Grand Palace. Though I came here before, this was the first I ever stepped in to explore. The palace lived up to its name and it was quite grand. The Temple of Emerald Buddha is also within the complex. In fact, the entrance would lead us to the temple first. We went one round of sightseeing before we reached the gate to the palace.

The boat ride was the easiest way to go from the Grand Palace to Chinatown, therefore we headed to Tha Chang. The pier was of local standard and it was floating shakily above the mighty Chao Phraya River. I glanced at my brother as we stood there and waited for the boat. He was very concerned with his safety, haha. But it was alright and we were soon cruising to Rajchawongse Pier. Mum loved the boat ride! Once we alighted, we walked towards the crowded Yaowarat Road. We passed by old buildings that looked no different than those on Jalan Sultan Muhammad in Pontianak!

Bro and Mum in front of Yoo Fishball, Chinatown.

Apart from eating Yoo Fishball, we actually did nothing in Chinatown. After lunch, we tried the MRT at the nearby station called Wat Mangkon. It was... decent. We stopped at Sam Yan Station, went up to Chamchuri Square and took a Grab Car there to go back to hotel and take a nap. Yeah, that's how you do it when you are travelling with parents. Resting is part of the trip.

As suggested by my buddy Franky, I brought Mum and Bro to the Asiatique. By the way, Bangkok Jam wasn't just a restaurant name. It was a real deal especially right after office hours. We were stuck in the traffic jam for quite some time when we headed to Sathorn Pier. Worse still, the Grab driver didn't have a clue where Sathorn Pier was, so we walked the last few hundred metres.

At the Asiatique.

From Sathorn Pier, we took the shuttle boat to the Asiatique. It wasn't a exactly a mall, but more of shop houses that were nicely done and combined into one big shopping complex by the riverside. It was bright and well-lit, made it all the more attractive and charming at night time. Nice place to relax and shop. We ended the visit by watching Calypso, a cabaret show. You couldn't be visiting Bangkok without paying respect to the ladyboys, so it was a must!

The following day, Thursday, was the last day in Bangkok. We had breakfast at Pier 21, the food court at Terminal 21 shopping mall. The food was surprisingly cheap and yet quite tasty. It was almost ideal until Mum ordered a plate of phat kaphrao, better known as Thai basil minced pork rice. It was bloody spicy!

At Asok BTS Station.

After buying dried fruit snacks that Thailand is famous for, we tried the BTS from Asok to Chit Lom. From there, we took a walk to Platinum for one last round of shopping. As I crossed the bridge to head back to our hotel, I gave it a thought and concluded that Bangkok is quite a fun place to be and perhaps I should come back here with my wife for a short getaway. Then off we went to Suvarnabhumi Airport. Until we meet again, Bangkok!

Keliling Tiga Negara Dalam Enam Hari: Malaysia Dan Thailand

Setelah menghabiskan waktu kurang dari 48 jam di Pontianak, babak kedua dari liburan saya pun dimulai. Mama, Herry dan saya tiba di KLIA pada sore hari. Ketika kita selesai cap paspor, jam sudah menunjukkan pukul empat. Karena kita makan siang lebih awal dari biasanya di Bandara Supadio, kita pun singgah di Food Arcade. Saya memesan nasi kandar karena kolega saya Ariff sering menggembar-gemborkan kelezatannya. Nasi kandar adalah masakan muslim India yang disajikan bersama daging domba dan ayam. Lumayan enak. Saya cukup menyukainya dan ketika saya berbincang lagi dengan Ariff tentang nasi kandar, dia berkata bahwa nasi kandar di KL jauh lebih enak rasanya.

Nasi kandar.

Akan tetapi kita tidak sempat ke pusat kota. Akan sangat tergesa-gesa rasanya bila kita ke KLCC untuk beberapa jam, lalu balik lagi ke bandara. Mama dan Herry tidak tertarik, jadi kita pun bersantai di KLIA, berbelanja dan makan malam di sana. Dan dalam tempo kurang dari sehari, kita menghabiskan 300 ringgit! 

Oh ya, jika anda bingung kenapa kita harus kembali lagi ke bandara di malam hari yang sama, itu karena kita hanya transit di KL dan jadwal penerbangan kita ke Bangkok di hari berikutnya sangatlah pagi jamnya. Oleh sebab inilah saya memesan kamar di Capsule Transit. Hotel ini unik tata ruangnya, mirip seperti gudang. Kamar kita menyerupai kontainer kargo di pelabuhan. Langit-langitnya rendah karena kontainer dibagi dua dan yang kita tempati adalah bagian bawahnya. Kamar mandi ada di luar. Sempit kamarnya dan pipa air logamnya dirancang supaya terlihat kusam. Pengalaman yang menarik.

Herry di Bandara Don Mueang.

Di pagi berikutnya, kita terbang ke Bangkok dan mendarat di Bandara Don Mueang. Lapangan udara ini seharusnya lebih dekat dengan tempat tinggal kita, namun perjalanan ke hotel lumayan macet sehingga akhirnya sama saja. Dalam perjalanan menuju Centre Point Pratunam Hotel (ini adalah hotel tua, tapi besar kamarnya dan dilengkapi dengan ruang tamu pula), Herry berkomentar bahwa ibukota Thailand ini terlihat seperti Jakarta versi 2.0. Mirip tapi lebih bagus dan maju. 

Sesudah menitipkan koper di hotel, kita berjalan ke Platinum. Herry menikmati makanan pertamanya di Thailand, tapi dia lantas merasa bosan karena Platinum hanya menjual pakaian. Akan halnya Mama, dia suka melihat-lihat, tapi ada sesuatu yang janggal dengan sikapnya. Lambat-laun saya menyadari bahwa dia kesulitan melakukan tawar-menawar karena perbedaan bahasa, padahal menawar harga adalah bumbu yang membuat berbelanja menjadi sedap.

Makan siang di Platinum.

Dari Platinum, kita berjalan ke Central World untuk melihat tas-tas Naraya, merek populer di Thailand. Setelah itu kita makan lagi karena... makan adalah hobi Mama dan Herry, haha. Mama mencoba sesuatu yang mirip dengan nasi ekonomis di Singapura, dimana kita tinggal menunjuk menu yang kita mau. Ternyata ada yang salah dengan pilihannya dan dia pun merasakan pedasnya masakan Thai yang bikin ampun.

Setelah makan siang menjelang sore, saya ke kantor pos di lantai dasar Central World untuk mengirim kartu pos. Kemudian kita menumpang mobil Grab untuk mengunjungi Hard Rock Cafe, sebuah rutinitas yang senantiasa saya lakukan saat berlibur. Di sini saya menyadari bahwa saya tidak bisa ke sana dan kemari tiada henti karena saya tidak sedang bertualang bersama teman-teman. Mama tidak lagi muda dan akan lebih cocok baginya untuk berlibur dengan santai. Kita sudah bangun sebelum matahari terbit untuk berangkat ke Bangkok dan kita juga sudah berkelana menggunakan pesawat, mobil dan berjalan kaki, jadi saya pun menyadari bahwa sudah waktunya untuk beristirahat di hotel.

Jalan-jalan malam di Pratunam.

Dan ternyata waktu istirahat itu benar-benar kita butuhkan. Kita langsung tertidur saat menyentuh kasur dan ketika kita bangun, hari sudah gelap. Kita berjalan menyusuri Pratunam di malam hari dan menikmati sup tom yum di samping McDonald's. Tempat makan tepi jalan ini sepertinya memang untuk turis, jadi sup tom yum yang dihidangkan pun tidak terlalu pedas dan bisa dimakan, haha. 

Keesokan harinya, kita pergi ke Grand Palace. Meski saya pernah mampir ke sini sebelumnya, ini adalah kali pertama saya masuk untuk melihat-lihat. Istana ini luas dan megah. Kuil Emerald Buddha juga berada di kompleks istana. Ketika kita membeli karcis dan masuk, kita akan tiba dan mengitari kuil terlebih dahulu, baru kemudian memasuki kawasan istana.

Mama di kapal yang mendekati Dermaga Rajchawongse.

Transportasi sungai adalah cara paling praktis dan cepat untuk bepergian dari Grand Palace ke Pecinan, jadi kita pun berjalan ke Tha Chang. Dermaga ini benar-benar bernuansa lokal dan terombang-ambing di permukaan Sungai Chao Phraya. Sekilas saya melihat wajah adik saya yang tampat cemas saat kita berdiri di dermaga dan menanti kedatangan kapal. Terlihat betul bahwa dia gelisah dan tidak tenang, haha. Kendati begitu, semuanya aman-aman saja dan kita pun melaju ke Dermaga Rajchawongse. Mama sungguh menikmati perjalanan menggunakan kapal! Setelah merapat, kita berjalan ke Jalan Yaowarat yang ramai, melewati bangunan-bangunan tua yang tidak jauh beda dengan toko-toko orang Tionghoa di Jalan Sultan Muhammad, Pontianak.

Selain bersantap siang di Yoo Fishball, kita sebenarnya tidak melakukan aktivitas lain di Pecinan. Dari tempat makan, kita berjalan ke Stasiun Wat Mangkon dan mencoba MRT Bangkok. Lumayan, tidak jauh beda dengan yang ada di Singapura. Kita berhenti di Stasiun Sam Yan, naik ke mal Chamchuri Square dan naik mobil Grab untuk kembali ke hotel. dan tidur siang. Ya, beginilah caranya kalau berlibur bersama orang tua. Beristirahat adalah bagian dari liburan.

Herry di stasiun MRT.

Seperti yang disarankan oleh teman saya Franky, saya pun membawa Mama dan Herry ke Asiatique. Oh ya, yang namanya Bangkok Jam itu bukan hanya sekedar nama restoran. Macetnya tidak kalah dengan Jakarta saat jam pulang kerja. Kita terjebak macet saat menuju ke Dermaga Sathorn. Lebih parah lagi, pengemudi Grab yang kita tumpangi itu tidak tahu di mana Dermaga Sathorn, jadi kita harus berjalan kaki sejauh beberapa ratus meter. 

Dari Dermaga Sathorn, kita menaiki kapal gratis ke Asiatique. Ternyata tempat ini bukanlah mal, tapi ruko-ruko yang digabungkan menjadi satu kawasan perbelanjaan di tepi sungai. Asiatique menyala terang di malam hari sehingga tampak menarik. Santai tempatnya dan enak pula bagi yang sekedar ingin jalan-jalan. Kunjungan kita pun ditutup dengan menonton Calypso, sebuah pertunjukan kabaret. Selagi di Bangkok, kita harus menyaksikan para banci. Ini wajib hukumnya!

Herry di Terminal 21.

Hari ketiga di Bangkok menjadi hari liburan terakhir sebelum kita pulang ke Singapura. Kita sarapan di Pier 21, pujasera di mal Terminal 21. Makanan di sini terkenal murah dan lumayan. Awalnya terasa ideal, sampai Mama memesan sepiring phat kaphrao yang lebih terkenal dengan nama nasi babi cincang dan daun basil. Pedasnya dashyat dan bikin tobat!

Sesudah membeli buah-buahan kering yang merupakan cemilan khas Thailand, Kita mencoba BTS dari Asok ke Chit Lom. Kita kemudian berjalan kaki melewati Central World dan kembali ke Platinum untuk berbelanja sebelum pulang. Sewaktu saya menyeberangi jembatan yang mengarah ke hotel, terlintas di benak saya bahwa Bangkok itu seru dan mungkin saya akan kembali ke sini lagi bersama istri saya untuk liburan singkat. Dan ketika tiba waktunya, kita pun berangkat ke Bandara Suvarnabhumi. Sampai berjumpa lagi, Bangkok!

Herry saat kita berjalan menuju Platinum. 

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