24 August 2008

Kuwago's Flights: Bangkok - Kuala Lumpur - Singapore - Manila

One particular trip that stood out among those in previous months, was my journey which commenced in Manila, to Bangkok, to Kuala Lumpur, then to Singapore and finally back to Manila.

As a traveller on business, I usually try hard to squeeze some leisure time into my day, where I can visit some markets, groceries, homes and alleys, while taking a few snapshots. Oftentimes, after reviewing the snaps I took of my trip, I feel that I missed out on a lot of photos that now need to then be committed to memory instead.

Such is the case on the Bangkok leg of my journey. I have no photos of the seminar I conducted in that lavish hotel, or of the screet scenes and food I enjoyed so much. All I have are snaps of this, my hotel room at the Ariston Hotel, in Sukhumvit, on the other side of town from my seminar venue.

It was a huge room, with a receiving area where my partner and I spent some time discussing business. It was also right next one of the better malls in Bangkok, the Emporium. In Bangkok, I always have enough guts to just barge into just about any restaurant or bar, knowing that the tab would always be reasonably priced. That is one of the things I love about Bangkok.

I used to get frustrated with the language barrier, with most people on the streets lacking the facility of decent conversational english, that is until my partner explained to me that it is exactly that which further adds to the charm and exoticity of the place. I now look at this minor obstacle as an enchantment.

Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok is one of the largest airports in the region, and one of the most alluring at night, with all its lights. There is also so much to see, explore and eat at in this airport. I had a wonderful bowl of Thai Noodles before I hopped on my plane to Kuala Lumpur.

Thereafter, it gets worse. I have absolutely no pictures of what I did for the next few days in KL. Nil. And what a pity it was. Until of course I was in the proper frame of mind again, off of work mode, and about to board a bus to Singapore.

I had booked myself on an Aeroline coach from the Corus Hotel in downtown KL to Harbourfront Center in Singapore. The bus was scheduled to leave at 4:30PM on a Friday, and I came early. Aeroline provides its passengers with a lounge within the lobby of the hotel, where coffee and tea is served with their compliments. It was wonderful sitting in the lobby of a fine hotel while waiting for your bus to board. If only all airports were like this. On top of that, the Petronas Towers were just a stone's throw away. If I wanted to, I could have strolled on over there.

The bus we took was a double decker bus. The main seating area is located on the upper deck. There are two rows on the right hand side of the bus while a single row spans its length on the left hand side of the bus. The bus left exactly on time, and meals were served on board by a stewardess. The seats are similar to most airlines' business class seats. Although there were no individual video screens for each passenger, there was a large video screen up at the front of the bus where movies were shown. The seats were spacious and reclined comfortably.

The lower deck is where the lounge is located. This is where you can sit and chat with other passengers, if you're up to it. I spent most of my journey in the lounge and managed to meet a swell bunch of people: a travel agent from India, a businessman, a retired Singapore Army man, a Pakistani professor at one of the Malaysian universities and a Petronas Employee. The conversations were varied and interesting. It was a great way to kill time.

The best part about the bus is that it had an on-board toilet. Although the bus did make a brief stop along the way, mostly for people to stretch their legs, the toilet meant that I did not have to calibrate my kidneys for the journey. I could go when I pleased, not needing to hold it in. I could not say the same for the Konsortium bus I took to from Singapore to KL on one instance. Although the seats were more spacious and reclined even more than the ones we were in, it had no toilet, which made the 5 hour journey, for me, at times, unpleasant.

Before exiting Malaysian territory, we had to alight from the bus and clear immigration. It was brief and easy. After a short queue to get our passports stamped, off we were once more.

A few minutes later, we were entering Singapore territory, and this meant we would need to carry all our bags off the bus and go through both customs and immigration. This time, it took a tad longer, but not at all inconvenient.

We were off again in no time, spanning the length of the island of Singapore from west to east, before reaching Harbour Front Center at around 9PM, where my very good friend, an Architect, met me. Next door, somewhere in Vivo City, our dinner comprised of green tea rice, which really hit the spot for us. It was the first time for us to try this dish, and we definitely made the right choice. He later told me that he makes this dish a regular now.

The next few hours were then dedicated to hanging out and meeting other old friends at Clarke Quay, which we reached via the mighty-efficient Singapore MRT. There, we had some coffee and checked out the scenery.

We spent the rest of the evening chatting the night away at some Kopitiam and at Punggol Park, sitting around its huge lagoon, reminiscing the past and contemplating on the future.

It is sometimes times like this that help you meditate on your existence and define what you do with the rest of your life. It turns out, tonight is one of them.


tutubi said...

hmmm...i stayed at Corus when i was in KL so i can relate here. didn't cross to singapore though

Ang Kuwago said...

Tutubi, you should try it, at least once. The fancy buses are a treat, and having gone to at least one more place makes the trip worth it. I now make it a point to try a new bus company each time I cross over. So far, it is still Aeroline for me, the toilet makes a big diff.

JayAshKal said...

I guess with less pictures we have to go out there and experience the visuals of the places you've been to.

Sometimes taking too many pcitures ruin the experience. Atleast you have described to us your business cum leisure trip.

Ang Kuwago said...

Kuyang Jay,

So true, sometimes taking pictures can actually ruin the whole experience. Instead of soaking it all in, you have to distract yourself momentarily to take a few shots. I like to live in the moment.

But then, you do realize that you've lost the opportunity of capturing some memento of the moment.

Oh, well....

Senor Enrique said...

What a fine trip! The bus is awesome, though. Wish we have same here for Baguio and even longer trips.

Ang Kuwago said...

Senor, I think we have luxury buses that ply the Manila-Baguio route now, and it has toilets on board. Nice. I haven't seen nor tried them, though. I plan to make a trip to Baguio soon, maybe I will get a chance to see one of them.

I heart comfortable public transportation!

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