Not just any tower

Had been dreaming to go to visit this landmark one day ever since I was awestruck by my schoolmate, M’s boyfriend’s romantic proposal at this place ,which was shown on video years ago. Finally, my lovely dream was fulfilled in December 2010.

On the way to the Eiffel Tower. A beautiful walk down the streets of Paris where I walked slower than usual just to admire the lovely surroundings around me.

My first glimpse of the Eiffel Tower. I can still recall the sheer excitement within me upon recognising the majestic tower that was slowly appearing clearly before me. Wow! 😀

A close up photo of the famous Eiffel Tower standing proudly in Paris for the past 122 years.

We had to buy tickets to take the lift up the tower and to our horror, the queue was extremely long. It didn’t help when it was freezing cold. The wind was extremely strong. We were shivering in the cold and fervently hoping that we could get the tickets quickly. Even buying some hot drinks and food from the nearby stall didn’t help at all. I think we queued for an hour or more. Meanwhile, the only thing that made us laugh were the police suddenly coming to chase away the large group of people who gathered at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower selling the souvenirs and how quickly they all dispersed to hide from the police. Actually there were already some sellers along the streets who were eagerly selling their souvenirs to the tourists even before we had reached Eiffel Tower.  Within minutes, they happily returned and began their illegal business all over again.

Up, up and up we went! So lucky to stand at the side of the elevator where we could admire the city as the lift ascended. The Eiffel Tower is about 81 storeys high and thank goodness they build an elevator to bring us to the second and third level of the tower. Yay!

At the second level of the Eiffel Tower. Behold the gorgeous view of the city below us. 🙂

Another view of the city at the 2nd level of the Eiffel Tower. Think that's the Seine River if I'm not wrong.

Ready to go all the way up to the 3rd level. Had to squeeze into the crowded elevator again.

Finally at the 3rd level of the Eiffel Tower. You can see the lovely Jardins du Trocadero and Palais de Chaillot.

Love how the streets in Paris intersect nicely as shown in this photo from the top. Brrrr. It got so cold as the net hardly sheltered us from the strong wind that we had no choice but to walk one round and quickly admire the panoramic view of Paris before going down again. Very memorable visit indeed.

The cruise along River Seine that we didn't get the chance to take.

Just as we thought we would say goodbye to the Eiffel Tower and move on to another place to have our lunch...

Love's all around in Paris. A romantic place indeed.

For those who have a dilemma deciding whether to visit the Eiffel Tower in the day or night, I would suggest going there around noon and then going for lunch in one of the nearby restaurants after the visit. As the day was short and passed by very quickly during winter, we walked around after lunch and to our surprise, we actually got to see the Eiffel Tower in the evening again. How mesmerising!

Eiffel Tower in the evening. We couldn't believe our eyes when we saw it. How lucky! 😀

There you see it up close. The Eiffel Tower shining and exuding its alluring charm in the evening. Lovely!

What’s my travel type?

Completed the Lonely Planet Travel Quiz a few days ago and according to the quiz results, I’m a Trailblazer.

Your favorite destination is ‘off the radar’. You’re not the kind of traveler to tread a well-worn path. You might have in the past but now it’s all about new frontiers, whether that be a destination, an experience or a place to stay. You’ll seek out the interesting little towns that are outside the popular cities, or you’ll choose the hotels that give you the most quirk for your buck.  You’re hungry for new adventures, and these places might just satisfy your appetite!

Partly true but not completely off the radar all the time. That will be too extreme for me (I wish I was that adventurous). I do enjoy walking around interesting rustic little towns where it is less crowded and I can slowly discover and find unexpected surprises. Usually, the people are more friendly too. Besides, as compared to some people who choose to go to the same country for travel every year (Some of my colleagues do!), I rather choose a new destination to explore and go to as many different countries as I can.

On a sidenote, I like this travel quote that I got from Traveldudes today.

Take nothing but photographs. Leave nothing but footprints.

That’s what I’ve been doing and that makes me happy. 😀

Wheeeee! An adventure on a songthew

yay! successfully reaching our destination (Central Festival Phuket) by this pink songthew. great thanks to the tomboyish bus conductor (the one wearing bright pink at the back of the songthew) who helped us. hee. we enjoyed the long ride a lot.

Unlike my Bali trip in September whereby we travelled either by foot or by taxi, the Phuket trip was considered more adventurous as we chose not to be totally dependent on taxis and decided to try their public transport. On the first day upon arrival, we had tried taking the orange airport bus from the airport back to Phuket Merlin Hotel and despite the roads that were pretty dark at night, we managed to recognise a few landmarks and spot the right road signs which led us to alighting at the right stop. Ole!

Gaining some confidence, on Day 2, we decided to try taking the songthew which is the public bus that takes us around Phuket town to do some shopping at Central Festival Phuket. According to the travel guides, we should be able to randomly stop these pink songthews along any road and they woud stop and pick us. While it was still drizzling, we made our way to the main roads near our hotel and we were eagerly trying to spot the pink songthews and getting ready to flag and stop them. What a great idea to paint the songthews in bright pink as it made it so easy for us for us to spot one immediately.

Nah, of course we didn’t get it right at our first try. The driver of the 1st songthew shook his head when I showed him the brochure of Central Festival Phuket. Nor the second try. We weren’t sure whether the driver and the bus conductor were telling us to cross the road and take the songthew from the opposite direction or take bus service number 1. There are actually different bus services around Phuket town and we learnt that we had to watch out for the bus number in front of the songthew.

Finally, we saw bus number one and there was this bus conductor who looked hesitant initially but pulled us up on the songthew eventually. Off we go, the songthew went really fast. We had to pay just 10 baht each for the bus ticket which was really cheap. Public transport should be like this, affordable for the commoners, unlike the frequent hikes in the cost of public transport in the sunny island where I am now.

This is how a songthew looks like. Just like a lorry with shelter and with just three long benches for passengers. Have to hold on to the sides of the lorry at times when it is going really fast. Wheeee....

Our bus number 1 went a really long way. On our map, the shopping mall was not far and we thought the songthew would just travel about 2km straight and we would reach the mall in fifteen minutes time. Haha, it went one big loop to the south of Phuket town, passed our hotel once more (we realised we should have crossed the road and boarded the songthew from the other direction), headed north and then finally headed west where the mall was located. One hour plus on the songthew but we didn’t complain at all as we were busy admiring the other parts of Phuket town that we didn’t get to explore and happily people-watching on the bus. It was also amazing how the bus conductor would call the driver using the handphone to signal to the driver when the passengers are about to alight as there was no bell on the bus for us to press.

So happy we made it. No worries about not being able to communicate fluently in Thai in Phuket. Just a smile and wave a photo or a brochure of your desired destination and the right songthew will get you there in no time.

Pad thai, anytime!

How many of us actually travel around the world to eat? No doubt, eating delicious authentic food has become one of the main highlights of our travel adventures.

Just came back from Phuket last week and instead of going to the Patong area to suntan at the beaches with the other tourists, my cousin and I explored the old Phuket town area. This is a must-try for all readers who are craving for cheap and good Thai food in Phuket – Uptown Restaurant which is just opposite the Thavorn Grand Plaza Hotel. Saw many travel guides and websites raving about the cheap and good food in this restaurant and we specially went there for lunch before our last round of shopping at the nearby Expo market.

Cheap, clean and good! A good mix of both tourists and locals there for lunch. Just look at the extensive menu featured on the wall.

It was not too crowded there and after browsing through the menu, I did not hesitate to order a plate of pad thai which I was craving for. It’s my all-time favourite Thai dish. 😀

Sweet tea. Slightly orange in colour. I drank the sweet tea without milk (on the right) and it was refreshing for a hot day but a tad too sweet for my liking. My cousin is a fan of sweet tea with milk. She simply loves it!

My cousin's bowl of kuay tiew soup. She finished all of it quickly even before my pad thai came.

Ordered the spicy basil chicken without rice. Get ready to drink water and sweet tea as you eat this. Have to avoid eating the little chillies hidden in this dish, otherwise it is really spicy! We still managed to finish most of it.

Finally, my plate of pad thai. Comes neatly wrapped in egg. Mix the ingredients together and voila, it becomes a plate of yummy pad thai. Quite generous with the ingredients used for this dish. Thumbs up!

And so we left Phuket, very contented that day. A good meal and a happy time shopping for cheap bargains on the last day of our trip. What more can we ask for? So glad that we made our way to Uptown Restaurant. If only they have a branch over at the Phuket airport too. This was far better than the expensive Burger King meal that we had at the airport for dinner. 😀

Art of survival

Words of wisdom from a taxi uncle last Friday night. It was as if fate was playing its game again as I would have never met this uncle if the previous cab driver had not refused to drive me back home.

It goes something like this.

Teaching is a noble profession. You must not quit, even if there are lots of things in your job that can make you fed up and angry. Have to be more thick-skinned like my wife (his wife is a teacher too), till you are totally numb to such things. Even if lots of arrows are ‘shot’ at you every now and then,  they will naturally bounce off you instead of hurting you if you stay cool. In that way, you can then survive and do a good job of teaching.

How true. Easier said than done but somehow, I will try to keep his words in mind.