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Review: The Songs of Distant Earth

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The Songs of Distant EarthThe Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Date read: 27 January – 4 February 2018

I picked this book as an introduction to Sir Arthur C Clarke because a) It is not a series b) Wiki says that it’s the author’s favourite. I had high expectation and honestly a little bit scared that I would be a convert, that I would prefer him than my current favourite of the big three, Isaac Asimov (I haven’t read any of Heinlein’s books).

And I was no traitor. Until half of the book I was the loyal Asimov fan. It was not bad, it just seemed ordinary. It made me wonder whether I should have gone with his other book.

Starting the second half, I started to appreciate the way the story was told. If it was a drawing, i think it would be a dotted picture. There’s a tiny gap between chapters which I find enjoyable.

One part of the story told about how most men would abandon religion in 2400ish because the great good it had done being eclipsed by greater evils. Now I’m wondering if there’s any sf works that portrays good thing about religion in the space travel time. Because I only remember the religious extremist group in second book of Honor Harrington series. I have read The Left Hand of Darkness, would there be some there? I don’t remember, should reread the book.

Coming to the end, really, it is only near the end of the book I realize that I love many things in this book:

  • how the story could be told in form of imaginative dialogue to the dead wife
  • the idea of how human grow as a race where there’s no God introduced from the beginning (the Talassan are very peaceful)
  • the idea of meeting fellow human from another centuries through indirect time travel
  • the heartbreaking end that seems really appropriate

Though I’m not a convert, my love for Clarke had grown to a four star and a promise to read his other books.

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Written by Elfira Y S

February 9th, 2018 at 10:00 pm

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Review: This Is The Way The World Ends

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This Is the Way the World EndsThis Is the Way the World Ends by James K. Morrow My rating: 4 of 5 stars

One of my Big Bad Wolf’s haul. No special reason on why I chose to read this book first. If there must be one, it could be the title. If there must be two reasons, it could be that I’d like to get to know more new-to-me authors this year.

Date read: 9 – 27 January 2018

Anyway, here is my notes on this book:

  • The beginning is very funny. Usually I feel a bit bored reading the introduction part but I think Morrow knows how to entertain the readers while building the story.
  • I notice the further unto the story it gets more serious. It doesn’t lose its humor but it’s like I was offered another focus, another things to enjoy. At some points it even raises interesting points for debates and discussion if you want to.
  • I love the idea of unadmitted future and invalidated past. And I love the trial. Awesome ideas.
  • Towards the end, I feel like it could stop at several points and called it the end and I would feel it’s finished. Depending on where it stops, I would feel triumph, sad, more sad, weird, face-palming, and devastated. I think this is the part where I decided to rate this book 4 (instead of 5).
  • I feel like I’m missing something in the epilogue because I’m not familiar with Notradamus.

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Written by Elfira Y S

January 29th, 2018 at 9:51 pm

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Review: The Handmaid’s Tale

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The Handmaid's Tale

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked this book because Book Depository offered where-have-you-been-10%-discount and this book is a classic and they have made this into a TV series with a pretty good rating.

Date Read: 21 – 31 December 2017

My notes (full of spoilers ahead):

  • I love how this book limits how we perceive a dystopian system, only through the handmaid’s eyes and later by the “colder” perception of historians.
  • I wish to know the timeline of when the Gilead was formed. Offred was only 35 years old at the time and the “normal” days were like a very distant past. How did it happen so fast?
  • When Offred felt terrified and realized how powerful the government was, I can’t help but remember 1984 by George Orwell. I didn’t intend to compare but there’s an instant thought that Big Brother is scarier, maybe because there’s horrifying torture happened before the character accepted the Big Brother.
  • When the historian presented who they thought was Offred’s Commander, I was quite surprised that the options are one of Gilead architects. When Offred described him in her story, he didn’t seem that “evil”, just someone who did their job very well. And how the Commander treated Offred, with the Scrabble, magazines, and taking her to the club, what was that? Did he not know his idea helped build a horrible system which he himself did not like its implementation? Or did he just miss parts of the past and since he had power, he might as well enjoy it? Did the historian guess incorrectly? Maybe they were not Offred’s Commander.
  • The sentences are so well written that makes me want to read more Atwood’s books.

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Written by Elfira Y S

January 1st, 2018 at 7:09 am

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Review: The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling

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The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sci-Fi Indonesia group in Goodreads chose Ted Chiang’s works for buddy read this month. So far Ted Chiang has only written short stories or novelettes. The group chose 3 of them and this one here is not in the list. Those 3 are The Merchant and The Alchemist’s Gates, The Lifecycle of Software Objects, and Stories of Your Life and Others (which will be coming to theater soon). I only have read Merchant and Lifecycle so far because both are available in the wonderful world of internet. Stories is still on the way to my shelf.

And I can’t help it, I’m hooked, I’m thirsty for more Ted Chiang’s works so I find anything I can find fast. The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling is available on Subterranean Online.

This story is about how how human keep history, the truth of their story. It takes place in two periods with quite some years between them.

One in far (?) future where mankind have managed to invent a device to wear and capture every seconds of our life with feature to search and view past digital memories, called Remem (me: because you will always “remember” everything). One in the opposite direction of time, where a young man named Jijingi from an African tribe, the Tiv tribe, learned to read and write for the first time from their fellow human from Europe.

Things I remember from The Truth of Fact, The Truth of Feeling:

    • Ted Chiang’s works reminds me of Isaac Asimov a bit. That bit is that both of them have one clear topic/idea and then present it from various points of view in such a satisfying way.
    • I never thought about how it is to learn to read. I understand the frustration of not being able to read in other languages but I don’t really remember the transition from being illiterate to being able to recognize the alphabets and later understand words, sentences, and stories. My childhood amnesia robs me of the chance to hold dear that memory. But Ted Chiang offers it in the story of a Tiv young man who got curious in the paper and the “drawing” in it and had the missionary teach him to read and write.
    • What makes me really want to remember how it was like when learning to read/write is when reading about Jijingi slowly understanding about the usage of space. How he at first didn’t get why we separate words with space because we surely don’t stop speaking for each words when speaking.
    • Also, when he first wondered why Moseby, the missionary, needed to write down his preach, why not just talk? I never question that. As far as I can remember, writing down what we want to say before we say it (especially in important events like presentation and such) is clearly useful.
    • But that brings me to the other story. If I have a chance to use Remem and play the video of my younger years, will I find different truth? Will I actually see myself ever ask a friend or a teacher about why it’s good to write before speaking? I say most certainly not! I’m quite sure.
    • The Dad in the other story also has that same level of certainty. It is a fact for him that her daughter once accused him as the reason the Mom left. Guess what he found when he played with Remem? The truth, of course.
    • By the time I read that part, I feel like I’m forced to stop and notice the title. Well, of course. Then, comes this quote:
On the one side are the truths of fact, on the other the truth of the writer’s feeling, and where the two coincide cannot be decided by any outside authority in advance.
  • And when I start admiring the usefulness of Remem and, exactly like the Dad, push down my skepticism and favor one truth over the other, the Tiv way surfaces and argues differently. And I can’t, I can’t say that they are wrong.
Our language has two words for what in your language is called ‘true.’ There is what’s right, mimi, and what’s precise, vough. In a dispute the principals say what they consider right; they speak mimi. The witnesses, however, are sworn to say precisely what happened; they speak vough. When Sabe has heard what happened can he decide what action is mimi for everyone.
  • I don’t believe that this is a novella! It’s so rich! I read others commented that Ted Chiang’s ideas are so awesome that they don’t care about plot or character and that’s also the reason he hasn’t produced any writing longer than novella (yet). Yes, I guess that’s true.
  • I enjoy the Merchant, I enjoy Lifecycle but this one is my favorite so far.

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Written by Elfira Y S

September 23rd, 2016 at 5:00 pm

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Review: Railsea

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Railsea Railsea by China Miéville My rating: 4 of 5 stars

List of things that I remember from Railsea:

  • Lesson learned: I should choose the ebook version for my next Mieville book so that the dictionary is just one or two click away.
  • It was not until the fifth chapter that I could adapt to Mieville’s writing style. The out-of-my-range vocabulary is one of the reason but I’m not sure it’s the only reason.
  • What kept me going is that somehow even with that limitation, the words translate into a beautiful 2D Japanese anime style in my mind. The world is portrayed in mostly brown colour (even if it doesn’t fit the actual description in the book because I misunderstand it or something :P). So I kept on following Sham’s mind & journey.
  • & I’m glad I did. The sixth chapter is my favorite. I can understand why he had the urge to save the bird & then cause his train mates to chase him. The dull & lost feeling Sam had leads into this one scene where he just felt enough & submitted to his instinct. Grab the bird & run! Oh, it was beautiful.
  • The word “philosophy” in this book makes me wonder. I never see the word used this way and I like it. The captains of the train usually have a philosophy and it most likely means a certain creature, an archenemy, that they will hunt earnestly.
  • I very much enjoy the “rest” chapters, the one page chapters placed between longer ones. They are usually written slightly out of story but still related, like a little footnote but in form of a short chapter & they complete the story, you know, like why there is only ampersand (&) sign in the story.
  • I didn’t expect the story at the end, the one isolated town at the end of the railsea, with their own myth. I’m not sure why after how long it is, years, centuries, epochs, the factory-town people do not venture outside. I don’t understand why they keep believing outside people will pay their debt. I imagine their area is quite small, nobody ever want to see what’s out there? Even if there’s angel guarding the bridge. Wait, did any of them even have the chance to see the bridge? Poor people.

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Written by Elfira Y S

September 22nd, 2016 at 12:03 pm

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Review: Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

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Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage by Haruki Murakami

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I was in a reading slump, had been for several months, when I picked this book. This latest English translation Murakami novel was not my first attempt to get me back to finishing this year reading challenge. I had tried several books but only this one I could finish.

My review may contain spoilers.


I still enjoy Murakami’s work. Although Colorless (the whole title is just too long :P) is not on my top 3 Murakami books, his fiction and non-fiction (I’m halfway reading — have been for more than a year — his autobiography, What I Talk About When I Talk About Running) have always this peaceful nuance, at least to my mind. Does anybody else feel this way too?

When I started turning on page one, I knew only part of the big story. Tsukuru Tazaki is the main character who has four close friends from high school who all have color as part of their name. You know, like having friends called Danny Blue or Jack Black.

They were black, blue, red, white and Tsukuru Tazaki. The only one without color, the colorless Tsukuru Tazaki.

I tend to shut out any information about books that I might have interest to read so I missed the next part of the synopsis which is that when they are in college, those “color” friends of Tsukuru Tazaki suddenly cut their relationships with him. Without explanation.


If I took time to read the whole synopsis, I think I’d read this book. sooner. But that part of ther story became apparent quite early and that was actually the reason I got hooked and could not stop reading. Because I wanted to know how he would deal with losing big part of his life.

Ok, I don’t really remember how exactly Murakami paints how painful it is for Tsukuru Tazaki but I remember that I got it and it’s heart wrenching.

When he couldn’t stand the pain, he distanced himself from his body and, from a nearby, painless spot, observed Tsukuru Tazaki enduring the agony. If he concentrated really hard, it wasn’t impossible.


And after months, Tsukuru Tazaki survived. He could move on and continue with his life. He’s getting better. But the baggage remained heavy and with him until he was thirty something.

Honestly around this part, the more pages I turned, the less I could relate myself to this introvert main character and finally I disengaged and just enjoyed the story.

Perhaps I actually still put myself in his shoes, became numb just like him. He lived but not really lived.


And I guess many people live that way, with unresolved issues that they  thought they had put behind them. Until for some, at one point they just couldn’t run away anymore. For Tsukuru Tazaki, it took about almost 20 years to arrive at that point.

It was because of a woman. I am not sure I approve (who am I?). It’s just that I could not feel what makes this woman so special. Sure, he liked her more than any of her previous girls (which not even have their names mentioned), but I just could not grasp the reason.

Is it a translation issue? If I knew Japanese, would I appreciate more how Murakami grant this woman her right to push Tsukuru Tazaki out of his misery?


And as it is with almost all Murakami works that I have read, most of the characters are well off. Financially they seem never to have problem. They almost always are all good in their job. Or they do not possess desire for worldly things, they are content with what they get (but still able to travel around the world or locally but for a very long time).

Can you smell envy? Ha.

Anyway, when the past started to unravel itself, Tsukuru Tazaki (and I) found that it’s not only him that has been hurting. The reason behind his alienation was horrifying and I’d understand why it had to happen.

If only they care to explain to Tazaki sooner. Can you imagine for almost twenty years you thought that you were being treated unfairly and not knowing that it was for the greater good? I mean Tazaki would definitely feel better if he knew! Maybe not right away, but twenty years is a very long time.

I know, I know. To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;  time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance.

Ok, I’ll stop quoting Ecclesiastes 3.


There’s the fifth “color” friend of Tsukuru Tazaki. He appeared in Tazaki’s college years, I think, as a filler. Appropriately named as grey, mixture of black and white.

For me this character serves as an emphasis that all color person will eventually leave Tazaki. He just (at that time felt that he) did not deserve them. Although he’s a filler, I think his story was craftily put by Murakami-sensei.

All Good Things Come To An End

Reading this novel makes me think growing up suck. Somewhere along the way, terrible things happen and it gets harder and harder to be happy (or maybe it’s just me? Ungrateful spoiled human being).

What might come across as being happy could actually be acceptance of how life has broken us all. Be that as it may, I’m glad that Murakami chose a happy ending.

Tsukuru Tazaki, hesitant at first, started giving his past another look. Though it’s not a comfortable journey, the closure is enabling him to free his soul and change him.

He was one who believed he was as colorless as his name, one who just accepted whatever life had thrown him, who just went with the flow. In the end he started to have a will to fight, to not just let go what could be a precious thing to him, to once again, really live.

In the end, all is good.

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Written by Elfira Y S

October 4th, 2014 at 9:08 pm

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Review: Cloud Atlas

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Cloud Atlas Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


It’s beautifully written and if it was a map, a treasure map, to my eyes it would have so many X letters in it.

Though I’ve been avoiding spoilers from the movie and reviews, I knew there was going to be multiple characters with different stories from different period of time. And I think (Sir) David Mitchell has taken it as an opportunity to show his mastership of a true wordsmith through his characters, plots, and the weave and thread that make it as one whole story.

List of things that I remember from Cloud Atlas:

  • This sentence from the first page of the book: “If there be any eyrie so desolate, or isle so remote, that one may there resort unchallenged by an Englishman, ’tis not down on any map I ever saw.”
  • Robert Frobisher character. I watched the movie, right after finishing the book. They change him and his story in the movie (that’s understandable though) but I will always prefer the book version of this young composer. I’m having difficulties to explain why I like this character but if I can take a guess maybe it’s because I want to be like him. I want to write letters (or email/blog ) like the way he did. I want to deal with life like the way he viewed and dealt with whatever life had thrown him. But uhm not that one particular preference of his, mind you. And not definitely that one decision of his.
  • It’s rich. Well, given that it has 6 mini story lines in it, we might expect that. But things can go wrong with author having too many stories in his head. It could be delicious of course, like one of those desserts or meals that has all our favorite stuffs in it. So delicious but unhealthy. Cloud Atlas is delicious and healthy, perfect portion.
  • David Mitchell slips explanation about what this book is about.  He did a remarkable job at showing part of “show, don’t tell” but he also had an amazing “tell”, a very neat one. Someday if I reread this book I hope I would find another tell. From this first reading I remember a part when Frobisher told Sixsmith about the Cloud Atlas sextet that he was working on.
Spent the fortnight gone in the music room, reworking my year’s fragments into a “sextet for overlapping soloists”: piano, clarinet, ‘cello, flute, oboe, and violin, each in its own language of key, scale, and color.
  • I adore different language styles each main character uses in Cloud Atlas with exception of Timothy Cavendish. Reading his first part revoked me a headache. Even Zachry’s overly-abundant usage of single quote did not offend me as much as Cavendish’s narration haha, don’t know why.

Aaah, it’s one satisfying read. I borrow this book from a friend and will certainly get myself a copy for a reread.


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Written by Elfira Y S

February 23rd, 2014 at 6:24 pm

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Bangkok – Part 3

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Previously on November Getaway 2013: Pre-departure, Bangkok day 1 and day 2

11 Nov

This day was the last day in Bangkok and also the day that I was very grateful that I brought my sneakers. I used to think that sandals were my choice of footwear when it came to travelling but after the long walk today I converted to pro-sneakers.

The travel mate and I visited Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho. We went by feet and boat to reach those places and got back to Happy House to get some rest before watching the Siam Niramit show.

Grand Palace

Grand Palace was the reason I packed my sneakers. Visitors had to dress properly and that meant no bare feet (we had to wear socks if we’re wearing sandals/flip flop).

To The Grand Palace

Let’s walk walk walk to the Grand Palace!

Grand Palace Gate

.. and we’re there!

There was this one famous scam, one in which the swindler would say that the Grand Palace was closed and then lure tourist to other places (like gem stores) but that morning the Grand Palace gate was swamped by groups of tourist (with their buses parked nearby) so there’s no chance to see this scam live in action (not that I hoped to see or worse, fall into one).

Golden Palace

No wonder why I sometimes searched for ‘Golden Palace’ instead of ‘Grand Palace’

My Fave Area at Grand Palace

My fave area in Grand Palace

The Palace Guards

Guards on duty

The 500 THB Grand Palace ticket included several entries to other places. One of them was Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile which was also located in the Grand Palace.

At first I just wanted to cool myself down but this museum turned out to be offering much more than air conditioning. They put multimedia to a good use  and had amazing display cases to show off the royal collection.

They used special glass that surrounded several clothes and when the visitor moved around the glass, the glass will focus visitor’s eyes to one specific clothe only. Awesome! We couldn’t take picture inside the museum though.

Queen Sirikit Museum of Textile

To The Temples

Graffiti On The Way To Wat Pho/Wat Arun

Demo related graffiti found on the way to Wat Pho/Wat Arun

Snack and Lunch

Snack and lunch (chicken with basil)

We had lunch in front of the N9 Tha Chang pier (see map). At that point I didn’t have how-to-get-to-next-destination recorded in my brain. I only had this: Wat Pho and Wat Arun were near Grand Palace and somehow there had to be boat involved. That’s it.

So there we were, looking around Tha Chang pier, trying to locate where to buy boat ticket for a moment, we had no clue at all. So when we found a line of people started to form on one of the waiting points at the pier, we just followed the crowd.

Soon a boat came and we mentioned ‘Wat Pho’ to the boat guy and he directed us to the other waiting point on that pier. Apparently the queue was for the boat that travelled the other direction.

We then successfully boarded the right boat without tickets in our hands and knowing where to alight. The boat was full of people and we just stood at the stairs near the deck. A bit later a woman came and collected money.  Ah, so you pay onboard…

I mentioned ‘Wat Arun’ to the boat conductor and she mentioned the cost (15 THB). One stop later, catching the word ‘Wat Arun’ and ‘crossing’, we hurriedly alighted at N8 Tha Tien pier. This time it was clear to us that we had to purchase the ticket at the pier (3 THB) for boat ride crossing the river.

Crossing Chao Praya

Crossing Chao Praya – Wat Arun in the background

The boat was smaller and less crowded. It was a short trip, so short that the boat guy didn’t have a chance to finish his bowl of noodle.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun

Wat Arun and its freakin’ stairs (love that guy who was all smile at the stairs!)

Pigeons at Wat Arun

Wat Pho

Back crossing the river and then few minute walking from N8 Tha Tien Pier we found Wat Pho.

The Reclining Budha

The Reclining Budha

Wat Pho

So quiet, so peaceful here

There were several parts in Grand Palace and Wat Pho where we had to take off our footwears, i.e the praying area like picture above. We sat for a while in that place along with other foreigners, enjoying the silence and resting for a bit. I felt so peaceful there…

But not for long, stepping outside that praying area there should be an exit entrance nearby, just few meters from it really and I still don’t understand how my travel mate and I could circle around back to the entrance (Wat Pho is a 20 acres complex) and no we didn’t exit at the entrance, that would not be proper. We went back to find the exit gate. Disoriented travellers…

From Wat Pho we walked back to Happy House.

Thai Food

Recharging: Green Curry, Pad Thai, Vegetable Stir-Fry, and Mango Sticky Rice (no pic)

To Siam Niramit Show!

This show was number one in my Bangkok bucket list and it lived up to my expectation. If I ever get a chance to visit Bangkok again, I’d love to see this again, perhaps in Phuket.

We took bus no 53 to get us to Hua Lamphong station. Halfway the passengers needed to change bus with other bus no 53 (don’t know why). There was this one westerner expat on the bus assured us that sometimes it happened and he hadn’t found out the reason yet.

At Hua Lamphong station we wanted to get next day train ticket to Aranyaprathet (for land trip to Siem Reap) but the information center staff said that it should be same day purchase and we could buy the ticket tomorrow.

Besides train station, Hua Lamphong also had MRT station and we took train from there to Thai Cultural Center station. The travel agent from which we purchased the show ticket had advised us to go to Exit 1 and there we found the free shuttle van that would take us to Siam Niramit show.

Thailand’s Must See Show

Siam Niramit Pre-show

Performance and Thai Village to see before the show

We exchanged the receipt from the travel agent and got our seat number printed on a sticker that we should stick to our clothes. Cameras and video recording devices should be deposited right before entering the theater.

The theater was just like a cinema theater, a huge cinema theater that could accomodate 2000 seats. We got G48 and G49, that was in the middle of the fourth line from the bottom of upper seating area. I know, I’m not good at describing things but it was good seat and one hell of a show.

yours truly at Siam Niramit

yours truly

Siam Niramit show had an amazing set  and special effect. The decoration was sometimes gigantic yet the transitions between each stage were so smooth and fast. They also had ‘river’ on stage.

There were hundred of casts in costume. They even had goats and elephants walking on the stage and on the space between the bottom and upper seating area. Elephants. And goats.

The show lasted for 1.5 hours and I enjoyed every second of it.

Siam Niramit

They provided bus that took us to Thailand Cultural Center MRT station. We walked around the area for about half an hour and then got a taxi to Khao San road.

The taxi driver agreed to use meter but kept trying to make us pay 200 THB. No way, Mr. Taxi Driver! He took the taxi to the expressway and we paid 50 THB for the toll. Going on Bangkok expressway: checked!

Pork Noodle and Choco-banana Pancake

Midnight snack: pork noodle and choco-banana pancake

So that was it for Bangkok, a wonderful reminder of the excitement of seeing new places. I said goodnight and could not wait what the next city would bring me.

Plan: Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Cloud47 Reality: Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Siam Niramit Show

Written by Elfira Y S

December 22nd, 2013 at 6:31 pm

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Bangkok – Part 2

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Previously on NG2013: Pre-departure, Bangkok 9 Nov

10 Nov

10 Nov was the first full day on November Getaway 2013 and it was also a shopping day, window shopping mostly. Today agenda was to visit Chathuchak Weekend Market, malls in Siam district, and to watch the Siam Niramit show.

Sunday Morning Bus Trip

Happy House Breakfast CouponsWhen the travel mate did the booking on booking.com, there was no breakfast included for our rooms. But when we checked in, we received free sandwhich and coffee/tea coupons for 3 days. So we started the day around 8.30-ish in the morning, munching the sandwhich, slurping coffee, reuniting with internet (internet connection was only available at the receptionist and dining area).

The receptionist told us to take bus number 3 if we wanted to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market. When we asked about the fare, they said that some buses are free, wah! Unfortunately I didn’t run into such bus during my stay in Bangkok (that’s because you only took the bus twice, Ra!). Well, maybe next time.

Ride Like a Local

ride like a local!

Bus no 3 only had one seats on each side and that Sunday morning everyone got a seat and no one was standing. The bus conductor was a woman wearing mask, she would got up and collected the money when there was new passenger aboard. I guess it was a flat fare because with exception of the foreigners, all local passenger didn’t mention where they would alight.

This ride cost 13 THB and though the receptionist warned us about the traffic, I think the 45 minute trip to Chatuchak Market was rather due to the distance.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This. Place. Is. HUGE! If one really intends to do serious shopping here then one should have the market map in their hands (available on their website and provided at certain entry point)  otherwise one will waste their time. And if one also likes something they see then one should immediately open their wallet and haggle if possible otherwise one will forget where the stall is and regret not buying the first time.

Chatuchak Weekend Market


Coconut Ice Cream

coconut ice cream – perfect for your sunny  Sunday!

Boat Noodle

boat noodle – use tongs to get as many bean sprouts as you want from the blue bucket


crocodile head, sir, mam?

Let’s Go To The Mall.. Today! (*song by Robin Sparkles)

The (windows) shopping tour continued. Next on the list was Siam district area. The malls there are connected by sky bridge. To get to Siam district from Chatuchak was easy. Mo Chit BTS Skytrain station was nearby and the train could take us to Siam Station (22 THB). The first mall that I saw right when exiting the station was Siam Paragon.

Around Chatuchak and Mo Chit Station

top: park next to Chatuchak Weekend Market
bottom left: Bangkok traffic, what a colorful line of cars
bottom right: one of my regret, did not investigate what rabbit and carrot service center was

Siam Paragon, Siam Center, MBK Center


Siam Paragon

Siam Paragon: this mall has luxury car showrooms and Kinokuniya

Toilet - Siam Center Style

Siam Center Toilet: Must Visit


Bridge to MBK

Bridge to MBK Center: perfect spot for photoshoot session

Plan B

After buying book, postcards and car charger adapter in those malls, the travel mate and I went back to the Skytrain station with hope to find travel agents that sold Siam Niramit ticket for that day. It was Sunday and it’s either there was no travel agent at Siam station or it’s closed. We then searched the area with no luck and decided to switch the schedule and end this day with sky bar experience.

I did my homework on Bangkok sky bars and proposed Cloud47 because this sky bar was new, not crowded yet, and it received excellent reviews for points that I cared about including say-yes-to-flip-flop rule (the famous Lebua sky bar/Hangover sky bar has strict dress-code and more expensive beverages/food, not to mention the place is certainly packed). If I am to visit Bangkok again, I’d like to have dinner at my second choice of Bangkok skybars, Vertigo.

Flying Going to Cloud47

We followed guide from Tasty Thailand and went back to Siam station and got into the Silom Line and alighted at Sala Daeng station. Ten minute walk, we stepped inside Union Center office tower, gladly arrived at 5 PM sharp (Cloud47 opens at 5!) and found before us an announcement that Cloud47 was closed until 8 PM due to a private party. Ok.

3 hours to kill.. at Moz in Union Center tower, snacking and writing postcards.

At Moz Union Center

2 hours to kill.. Patpong Red District Night Market. We walked through the market which was not alive yet (it was merely 6PM) and then entered one of the bar a supermarket where we saw the sexy dance one of the staff, the deposit counter staff (is this the right term for ‘penitipan barang’?), greeted and talked to us in Indonesian (and amazingly the travel mate didn’t realize that at all).

Foodland Supermarket

‘dua tas?’ ‘iya, makasi’


45 minutes to kill.. Leaving the Patpong night market area and heading back to Union Center tower, there was this street concert for charity. This was my first encounter with Thai pop that night.

Street Concert


Up Up to Cloud47


Cloud47 Party

wait.. what?! the party is still on! crashing party abroad: checked! Second encounter to Thai pop that night.


40 minutes later… I was definitely on cloud nine on Cloud47

Back To Khao San Road

The magical night didn’t end there. That night the travel mate and I managed to get a taxi that used meter! Ha! It was night, we were going to Khao San road and the mob was still going on, so I would count that as a miracle. Thank you, Mr. Taxi Driver!

Back on Khao San Road, our first priority was to find travel agent. Several of them were still open and our Siam Niramit tickets for tomorrow show were secured. The official ticket costs 1500 THB each but we got it for 1000 THB. It was the first price that the travel agent mentioned and we quickly nodded in agreement.

Happy. Happy House. Sleep. Ready for tomorrow.

Plan: Chatuchak Weekend Market, malls in Siam district, Siam Niramit show Reality: Chatuchak Weekend Market, malls in Siam district (Siam Paragon – Siam Center – MBK Center), Patpong Night Market, Cloud47

Written by Elfira Y S

December 15th, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Posted in my going places

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Bangkok – Part 1

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Previously on NG2013: Pre-departure

Rika Potter has waved her wand and I am spell-bound to finish the November Getaway 2013 series (or at least write this post).

9 Nov



On my birthday I hopped on a 4.35 PM plane to Bangkok. The flight from Jakarta took about 3.5 hours and there was no time difference between the two cities (GMT+7). This time the pilot did not make birthday announcement on the plane. Phew!

Soekarno Hatta and Suvarnabhumi International Airport

After obtaining visa on arrival and meeting with the travel mate whose flight from Singapore was one hour earlier than mine, we took  the City Line train to Phaya Thai station (45 THB). There were 2 train lines heading to the city and the other one, the Express Line, was the expensive one.

To The City!

Exiting from Phaya Thai station and out into Bangkok street at night I was feeling.. that particular mix.. excited and scared at the same time. Not that I didn’t feel it from the time the travel plan started but up until Phaya Thai station it was kinda bit dreamy and also everything seemed to be no different than my daily routine when I knew exactly where to go and how to. But when I was outside the station, trying to get a taxi to the Happy House, it seemed reality pinched me in the cheek and said: let the journey begin!

City Line token

So the journey began with waiting for the right taxi, that is the taxi that was willing to take us to our stay using meter. My guide book said that most taxis would use meter.. not! Within minutes I could see how it was done in that spot: flagging down taxi, asking to use meter, getting a no answer, giving the destination place, haggling for the fare, if deal – getting in, if no deal – back to step 1.

It was not like there was shortage of taxi there, the travel mate and I had been flagging several taxis in just few minutes before we decided to get in the next taxi that would agree on 150 THB (the guide book said going places in the city usually costs 60-100 THB).

To Happy House Hou!

Mr. Taxi Driver that agreed to take us did not speak that much of English and kept asking to see the map and address on the hostel booking print out. The hostel was supposed to be near the famous backpacker street, Khao San Road, but it seemed Mr. Taxi Driver didn’t recognize it.

He asked fellow local for direction, ‘Happy hou, happy hou’! while I whispered the ‘s’ ending inside my head. (Note: it seemed in the three countries that I visited, the local tends to omit the ‘s’ at the end of an English word).

Somewhere along the way Mr. Taxi Driver pointed to a group of people in the street and said ‘Mob! Mob!’ Then I saw what would be the reason why most taxi drivers were a bit reluctant to drive to our area. I knew that there was a demo going on in Bangkok before I left but my searches told me that it was on other side of city so I assumed they were not in my route and certainly I didn’t expect them to still have activities past the sunset!

Anyway, the mob/demo seemed to be a peaceful one that night and we safely checked in into Happy Hou. This is the end of day 1… not!

To Khao San Road!

Happy Hou was within 5 minutes walking distance of Khao San Road and that’s good because I found several accommodations on Khao San Road and I wondered how the guest could sleep at night (well, they probably didn’t). This crowded street is a line of restaurants and bars with loud music, travel agents, massage spots, clothes/souvenir sellers and food sellers.

Khao San Road

Khao San Road

Some street food sellers, snack and heavy meal sellers alike, didn’t have sitting area so people would buy and eat it while walking. I finally got to taste Pad Thai in its original place and leisurely enjoyed it sitting down on the floor in front of one closed store. A beer seller girl who had just set up her stall in front of us chatted us a bit, telling that she was from outside Bangkok. She offered drinks to which we politely declined and then we continued strolling down the busy street.

People of all ages were having fun along this street. Yes, I spotted families with kids at approaching midnight hour. I saw man dancing solo to the song played in one bar and people around him laughing and clapping his performance.

I saw lines of beach chairs full of foreigners enjoying massage outdoor (I was tempted to snap a picture but didn’t want to make them feel like they were some kind of tourist attraction. Well, they were kinda to me haha).

I saw people staring at exotic food, like scorpion, and apparently I was not that adventurous enough to try it. Taking picture cost 10 THB. I was kinda hoping to see people who bought and tasted the food, to see their reaction but I found none that night. And I saw KFC and Burger King (the latter was recently open).

Khao San Road

First Supper!

The street next to Khao San Road was still alive at midnight as well. This street whose name is still unknown to me had restaurants and bars as well but the music was not as loud as those in the neighbor street. We picked a random restaurant and had Thai Papaya Salad (Som Tam) and Tom Yum for supper. I didn’t know that unripe papaya could be that delicious and refreshing! You shouldn’t go into that ripe state, Papaya, just die young (in my stomach) and stay yummy in my memory.

First Supper

Tummy’s full and the battery’s low. Time to head to bed in Happy Hou. Good night, Bangkok, see you later.

Plan: arrive in Bangkok Reality: arrive in Bangkok, Khao San Road 

Written by Elfira Y S

December 14th, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Posted in my going places

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