Maeklong Railway Market and Amphawa Floating Market

Maeklong Railway Market and Amphawa Floating Market is just 10 minutes away from each other. It took about 1.5 hours from Bangkok and is just nice for a half day weekend tour. The first time I came, I missed the train @ Maeklong (bad tour timing!). The second time around, I am on a free & easy trip and on the way to Hua Hin.

Tips# Drop by Maeklong & Amphawa when you are on the way from Bangkok to Hua Hin during the weekend.

Maeklong Railway Market

The railway market itself wasn’t very long. I think it took us 30 minutes to walk to the station and back to the car. It sells mostly fresh produce or wet market stuffs. If you plan to have some snacks or food along the market, just scrap that idea. However, there are some nice drink (coffee) stalls if you walk till the station itself.

Maeklong Railway Market

Maeklong Railway Market

This fresh market is special because it was situated on the railway track itself. Not near, not opposite, not behind, but directly ON the track itself. Every time a train passed by, the traders will have to move their products away from the track. A loud train horn can be heard to inform or warn the traders (and now the tourists) to stay clear of the track.

Tips# Plan your trip based on either the train departure or arrival time

Amphawa Floating Market

We arrived somewhere around 4pm, where some of the stalls just started the business. The night market started from the side road leading to the bridge. Like a typical Thai night market, most are selling local Thai street foods, while a quarter of it are selling souvenirs.

Tips# Weekend only: Amphawa is an evening floating market which only open on weekend (incl. Friday)
One of the boat tour

One of the boat tour

If you didn’t fancy walking, there is a boat ride option which will bring you to tour the whole Amphawa Floating Market. To be honest, I have not taken any boat ride in Amphawa Floating Market, and I don’t think I will ever. It was just a very small market and most of the shops or stalls are meant for pedestrian instead of boat.

Knick knack shops @ Amphawa

Knick knack shops @ Amphawa

We tried to get a seat at one of the floating restaurants of stalls but to no avail. By 6pm;, tour bus has reached here and the long queue has dampen our hope. I’ve tried one of the floating restaurant the last time I was here. Basically you were seated on the stairs, and just given a stool to put the food and drinks. As it was mostly barbecued seafood (shrimp, crab, scallop, squids, .. ), be prepared to just eat with your bare hand. Don’t fret because there is sink to wash hands. What’s so special with eating at the floating restaurant is that you are able to watch the food prepared right in front of you. It was an open (and even floating) kitchen, where the cook cooks inside the boat. When the meal is ready, the cook will just pass it to you if you are within reach or to one of the helper.

Pick your food from the boat restaurants

Pick your food from the boat restaurants

One of the grilled seafood "stall" @ the floating restaurant

One of the grilled seafood “stall” @ the floating restaurant

There was this proper restaurant at the end of the floating market, where you can enjoy the food, the beer and the sunset ambience without other tourists interruption. I thought the food was affordable and definitely more value compared to the floating restaurants. We were only able to enjoy “half” the sunset as we will have to get back to the car and ride another 2 hours to Hua Hin.

By the way, most package tour will also includes boat trip to see fireflies, which starts after the sky is dark enough :P. It usually last about 10-15 minutes. If you’ve never seen it, you could take this opportunity up before the fireflies population dwindles in the area.

Details of the tour package taken on August 2013
Time: 1.30pm – 8pm
Costs: 2750 Baht / pax
Includes fireflies trip.

Travel from Lombok to Gili Trawangan – Car, bus and boat

Getting to Gili Trawangan wasn’t an easy task. There’s no travel tour/agency that provides island transfer directly from Lombok Airport to Gili T (at least none that I know of). In this post, I describe my personal experience on how to get there and how to go about Gili T & Sengigi. The bad experience from the scam attempt was quickly being put aside as we felt the warm and friendliness from the locals in Gili T.

Getting from Lombok Airport to Gili Trawangan

There is no packaged solution or direct way to reach Gili Trawangan. We decided to take the boat from Bangsal to Gili Trawangan. To get to Bangsal from airport, you can either take a public bus (DAMRI bus) or hire a private car. Once you are at Bangsal, you can either take a public boat or private chartered boat to Gili Trawangan.
Private car from Lombok Airport to Bangsal Jetty: 250k
Public boat to Gili Trawangan per pax: 13k (+ 0.5k tax)

Hiring private car from Lombok Airport to Bangsal Jetty

We took a private car from the airport to Bangsal jetty, followed by a public boat ride from Bangsal jetty to Gili Trawangan. It was just 10 minutes walk from Gili Trawangan to our hotel at Tir Na Nog.

There are several counters offering private services inside the Lombok airport. Each counter has a price menu on the cost to travel from Lombok but bear in mind that you can try to bargain. We got our package on one of the counter right outside the airport at a 100k discount off the price menu. The standard price stated on the menu from Lombok to Bangsal is 350k.

Tips# Bargain for cheaper rate. We paid 280k instead of the advertised rate of 350k from Lombok airport to Bangsal Jetty.

Our ride wasn’t a Toyota Innova although the counter stated that the price was for an Innova. We didn’t make a fuss out of it as the car was at an acceptable level – a clean Suzuki with a working air condition. It was about 1 hour 45 minutes from the airport, and at least half an hour of riding up the hill. It may even induce a light car sickness due to “curve”.

Public boat scam Alert!!. Do not believe or be intimidate until you see this building where you will buy the ticket for the public boat ticket.

Along the way, the driver tries to coerce us into getting a chartered boat instead of the public boat. At one point, he even drove and stop at one of the small road where he says ‘you can buy the ticket here’! We or at least I panicked for a while as there was no one else in that area except the driver and the other boatman. I do what I did best and totally ignored both of them and insisted that the driver bring us to the Bangsal Jetty. The driver relented and drove us away.

The real Bangsal Jetty. Do not believe whatever the driver says until you saw this building!

Feeling dissatisfied, the driver requested us to pay extra in order for him to drive us to the public boat terminal. We then threaten to call the sales counter for clarification (we got the sales counter contact number and had confirmed with him numerous times that there will be no extra charges, just the one time charge of 280k).
The last attempt by the driver was when he stopped at a roadside stall with a signboard written ‘Public boat ticket’, right before the policeman stand. The driver again tries to convince us that this is the terminal in hope we will fall into his scam. We insisted again that he drive us to the public boat terminal at no extra charges. When he drive by the policeman, we have to pay 5k to those policeman, which we unwillingly give in. In less than 500m, we have reached the terminal. You know you are really at the real public boat terminal when you can see this blue building on your left, and the pier right ahead of you.

Taking public boat from Bangsal Jetty to Gili Trawangan

Get into the blue building to buy your public boat ticket. Ticket to Gili Trawangan is the most expensive as it was the furthest island from mainland.
We had luck on our side as the boat is full in less than a minute after we bought our tickets. (The public boat will only leave when all the tickets are sold, thus there is no fixed time on when it will be leaving).

The real public boat. Passengers walk up directly to the boat from the beach

The real public boat. Passengers walk up directly to the boat from the beach

Tips# Wear a shorts. Be prepared to get your feet wet as you will board the public boat from the beach instead of the pier.

We happily walked to the beach, rolled up my leggings to the knee to board the boat from the beach. When we try to get on board the boat, a man offers to take our luggage to the boat, which we gave to. We thought he was part of the crew and was helping out so. But he then requested us to pay 5k to both of them!

Public boat interior

Public boat interior

Tips# Beware of porter. Don’t let anyone handle your luggage or you will be expected to pay.

Getting around Gili Trawangan

This is a fairly small island, and you can get from one end to the other end in less than an hour if you travel by foot. The pier is in the east of the island, and right in the middle of the “unnamed street”, or shall I say “main street”. There is no motored vehicle in the island, that means no car and no motorbike. The next best thing is to hoop on a cidomo (horse cart), or rent a bicycle.

We rented a tandem bicycle from our hotel at 100k for 24 hours. A standard bicycle costs 50k for 24 hours. There are a number of bicycle rentals around the main street, some goes by hourly rate too. It wasn’t a very pleasant ride for us, partly due to bumpy roads, maybe even our posture, or the bicycle itself. Our butt started to sore after an hour ride on it, hence a lot of pit stop in between. You can just “park” your bicycle at anywhere as long as it didn’t block the way of others or the horse cart. It is also safe to leave it unlock 🙂
Tandem bicycle rental for 24 hours: 100k

Plenty of bicycles for rent

Plenty of bicycles for rent

By dusk, you will notice that bicycle will be off the road, and most will just walk or take the cidomo depending on where they’re heading. There is no or limited street light, if you are going towards a quieter place (such as towards the Sunset Point). Do not worry though, you can depend on the moonlight or the people who is walking in front of you. There’s not much road junction, so just stick to the main street and you should be fine.

Tricycle for hire

Cidomo for hire

Getting from Gili Trawangan to Sengigi

We have decided not to take the public boat as it leaves early in the morning. It is only available one time (I think 8am) each day. We got ourselves a package deal which includes a chartered fast boat from Gili Trawangan back to Bangsal jetty, and then a private car waiting from Bangsal jetty straight to out hotel in Sengigi. You can try your luck and bargain at any of the “travel and tour” stalls – which are usually concentrated near the pier. The fast boat only took 10 minutes from Gili Trawangan to Bangsal Jetty. As soon as we reach Bangsal Jetty, the private car is there to pick us up to our hotel in Sengigi, which took an hour and a half to reach.
Fast boat + private car for 2 pax: 400k

Fast boat

Fast boat

Getting around Sengigi

Scooter FTW! As soon as we step into the hotel, we asked whether there is any available motorbike rental. There are scooter rental within walking distance too, but we decided to let the hotel arrange it for us so that we can leave the scooter at the hotel when returning it.

Sweet scooter ride

Sweet scooter ride

Taking the scooter is much more convenient than walking. We were able to get to the Pura Batu Bolong, Sengigi Art Market and even further down to the other town to get our oleh-oleh.
Scooter rental for 24 hours: 60k

Getting from Sengigi to Lombok Airport

We scouted for the bus station the day before and already knew where and when it will be. Sengigi beach is the first station, therefore we expect it to be punctual.
We were on our way walking to the bus station, when we saw the bus coming and just flagged it down to stop. It really did arrive at 8am sharp as expected 🙂

The bus condition is better than what I expected. (It does look a bit like the new RapidKL bus). It has a luggage compartment near the entrance so that passenger’s luggage will not block or occupy the pathway or seats.

Damri Bus

Damri Bus (taken from official website)

Taking the bus however do take longer compared to the private car. It took us 2 hours to get from Sengigi beach to the Lombok Airport. Of course, since it is a public bus, there are few other stops too. I noticed there are several checkpoints for the bus, where the bus driver will get down with a book and get a stamp or signature from the Damri post.

We had no idea when to pay the driver, but we knew it was 30k per pax, so we paid the bus driver as soon as we board the bus. Wrong! Only pay when the bus driver requested you to. He will get the bus tickets from one of the checkpoints and issued you the ticket upon payment. As we have already pay earlier, he didn’t request payment again, BUT we weren’t issued any bus tickets.
Damri bus to airport per pax: 30k

Tips# Pay only when requested and when he is issuing you the ticket

We arrived at the Lombok Airport at 10am and check in immediately. With limited food options around the airport, we got ourselves to the JW Sky Lounge. The “buffet” food inside is not exactly buffet nor delicious but there was unlimited coffee and drinks. There were sofa for us to enjoy the movie until it’s time for departure too.

Oh.. and we’ve only realized we haven’t go through the immigration when we are queuing to on-board. There were no officers near the immigration posts earlier when we passed through it to go into the JW Sky Lounge. Luckily the immigration is just 50 meters from where we were queuing, and we immediately walk to the immigration officer. And we got back to Malaysia eventually 😀

Boracay 6d/5n Itinerary

Day 1

3.15 pm : Touch down Kalibo Airport
4.30 pm : Southwest bus transfer from Kalibo Airport
6.30 pm : Reach Jetty
7.30 pm : Check in Boracay Haven Resort
8.00 pm : Dinner @ Nigi Nigi Nu Noos
9.00 pm : Beach walk towards Station 3

Day 2

9.30 am : Buffet breakfast @ Boracay Haven Resort (Breakfast served from 6am – 10am)
10.30 am : Beach walk & shop towards Station 1, drop by D’Mall
12.00 pm : Massage @ Palassa Spa
2.00 pm : Lunch @ Titos
3.00 pm : Continue towards Station 1, drop by Nami Hotel
4.30 pm : Happy hour @ Wahine Beach Bar while waiting for sunset
6.20 pm : Took tricycle to D’Talipapa (150k)
6.40 pm : Shop around D’Talipapa
8.30 pm : Dinner @ Spasso, beach front hotel

Day 3

9.20 am : Buffet breakfast @ Boracay Haven Resort
10.00 am : Walk towards and around Bulabog Beach
11.30 am : Tea break @ Lemon Cafe @ D’Mall
12.30 pm : Massage @ Beach Hut Massage
2.00 pm : Swimming/Sunbath @ Station 2, White Beach
3.00 pm : Lunch @ Sensi
5.30 pm : Sunset paraw-sailing @ Station 1
5.45 pm : Flying frisbee @ Station 1
7.00 pm : Return hotel to refresh
8.00 pm : Dinner @ Red Coconut
9.00 pm : Beach walk towards Station 1

Day 4

9.00 am : Buffet breakfast @ Boracay Haven Resort
10.00 am : Tricycle from Boracay Haven Resort to Ariel’s House (60k)
10.15 am : Registration @ Ariel’s House
11.30 am : Depart from Ariel’s House to Ariel’s Point
12.00 pm : Cliff Diving @ Ariel’s Point
1.00 pm : Buffet lunch @ Ariel’s Point
1.30 pm : Kayak, Snorkeling @ Ariel’s Point
4.00 pm : Leave Ariel’s Point
5.00 pm : Tricycle from Station 1 to Boracay Haven (60k)
5.15 pm : Flying frisbee
6.30 pm : Return hotel to refresh
7.30 pm : Dinner @ McDonald’s
9.30 pm : Room massage @ Boracay Haven

Day 5

9.00 am : Buffet breakfast @ Boracay Haven Resort
9.50 am : Beach walk around Station 2
12.30 pm : Check out Boracy Haven Resort
1.00 pm : Southwest transfer pick up
3.00 pm : Check in Kalibo Hotel
3.15 pm : Lunch @ Andok’s
4.00 pm : Walk around Kalibo market, supermarket
6.30 pm : Kill time @ Fun House (Game center)
7.45 pm : Dinner @ Lorraine’s Tapsi
9.30 pm : Return hotel to refresh

Day 6

10.00 am : Room breakfast
12.20 pm : Tricycle from Kalibo Hotel to Kalibo Airport (150k)
12.35 pm : Reach Kalibo Airport
1.00 pm : Lunch @ Kalibo Airport

BORACAY / KALIBO TRIP EXPENSES

Total per pax: RM 1900 for 6 days 5 nights (inclusive of return flight)
Note: Travelling in a group of two. Room, foods, transport expenses are shared.
Travelled on March 2015.

AirAsia KL-Kalibo RM 138
AirAsia Add-On (Luggage, Seats, Meals) RM 90
Kalibo Airport Tax PHP 500 RM 42
Boracay Haven Resort (4 nights) PHP 19200 /2 RM 806
Kalibo Hotel (1 night) PHP 1512 /2 RM 64
Boracay Ground Transport PHP 2940 /2 RM 118
Boracay Activities (Paraw Sailing & Ariel’s Point) PHP 2375 RM 182
Food & Drinks PHP 8297 /2 RM 326
Massages x3 PHP 1500 RM 97
Some souvenirs PHP 1757