Tag Archives: Travel

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

Good Morning Bangkok

Our flight to Chengdu was 10.05 am. Although we had already done online check in for our flight, we would want to be at the airport by 8 am. So we went up to the rooftop restaurant for breakfast slightly before 7 am.

Breakfast would start at 7 am and was getting ready by the time we arrived. We took the opportunity to look around the Bangkok scene from up here. On hindsight, we should have come up here the previous night to check out the night scene with the busy night market below. The views of the surrounding were pretty nice with the sun beginning to rise from the far end.

Next we helped ourselves to the modest breakfast spread. Breakfast was decent given the price we paid for the room. The breakfast wasn’t sumptuous but sufficient. After this quick breakfast, we returned to our room, freshened up and then checked out at front desk. We got back the same THB500 deposit we gave to the staff upon presentation of the receipt.

Patra Hotel to Ratchaprarop Station onward to Airport

According to the map provided by Patra Boutique Hotel, there is a short cut to Ratchaprarop Station. So instead of turning left out of Patra Hotel and then left and another left turn again towards Baiyoke Sky Hotel to walk back to Ratchaprarop Station, we turned right and walked across the railway tracks and then turned right to walk to Ratchaprarop Station not far ahead. It took only 5 minutes. However, you can’t drag your bags all the way as the path is uneven and having to walk along some dirt path. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 2 Bangkok to Chengdu

13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok

Flight from Singapore to Chengdu

We had wanted to visit Jiuzhaigou for quite some time. So when there was an offer from Singapore to Chengdu flying Thai Airways at only $272, we booked our flights for November. The catch was to transit in Bangkok. Instead to having a short transit from Bangkok to Chengdu where we had to take a very early flight from Singapore to Bangkok, we planned an overnight stay in Bangkok to have a more relaxing arrival in Chengdu on Day 2. Our flight details are as follows:

Singapore to Bangkok 12.25 pm to 1.45 pm
Bangkok to Chengdu 10.05 am to 2 pm on the following day

Chengdu to Bangkok 3.05 pm to 5.20 pm
Bangkok to Singapore 7.25 pm to 10.45 pm

Since we had quite a bit of time in November, we decided to visit Chongqing as well, a city in under 2 hours away from Chengdu by high speed train. We also took advantage of the Accor super sales and booked Sofitel Chengdu Taihe and Sofitel Forebase Chongqing at 50% discounts.




Original Itinerary for Chengdu and Chonqing

Day 1: Singapore to Bangkok

Hotel: Patra Boutique Hotel

Location of this hotel is near Platinum area, easily accessible from the airport using the airport rail link six stations away.

Day 2: Bangkok to Chengdu

Hotel: Leeden Hotel

This hotel is located near MRT Station walking distance to Chunxi Shopping Area.

Day 3: Chengdu to Juizhaigou

Hotel: Jiuxiang Hotel

This hotel is located near the main entrance into Jiuzhaigou National Park.

Will need to take a nine hours bus ride from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou. Continue reading 13 Days Chengdu and Chongqing Tour – Day 1 Bangkok

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

Last Day in Europe

Finally, we woke up to the last day of our Europe Tour. Our departure flight out of Amsterdam to Zurich was 8.05 pm. Connecting flight from Zurich to Singapore was 10.45 pm. So this left us with an entire day to explore Amsterdam one last time before saying good bye to this beautiful city.

As for breakfast, we consumed all those food we bought from the supermarket since this was our last day in Europe. Coffee and tea were self service in our room. Although breakfast was simple, it was good to get us started. It was still pretty quiet on the street when we looked out from our room windows. We decided to explore some attractions nearby before returning to check out and then leave our luggage with Hotel CC. We would then explore attractions further away from the hotel.

Exploring Attractions near Hotel CC

Out on the street so early, we encountered the same situation the day before. The streets were filthy and smelly. However, city cleaners were already out on the streets getting into gear with their cleaning up operation. Auto street sweeping machines were deployed and the streets would be ready to welcome visitors quite soon.

This morning, we walked through the red light district which was pretty dead at this hour. The first place we visited was the Oude Church. This was quite a sizeable church but what was the church doing right in the red light district, we failed to figure out. Anyway, this 800 year-old church is one of the main attractions here. This is a significant historic building. It was closed when we were there but we would probably not pay to enter the building. The church building was however, pretty nice.

We then crossed the canal and then another canal and enjoyed the quiet neighbourhood. As expected, the streets were quite empty. It was still very early and shops were not open yet. This was a rather different experience as we had a very excited busy and noisy day in Amsterdam the day before.

We continued walking to find the Nieumarkt and reached an open area in another quiet neighbourhood. To our disappointment, this market wasn’t open on the day of our visit. So we walked back towards the main train station enjoying canal sights and a peaceful morning in Amsterdam. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 10 Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

Rotterdam Holiday Inn Express

We woke up to an exciting day as we prepared to head to our final destination – Amsterdam. As usual, we went to the restaurant for the Express Breakfast. We liked the clean and pleasant ambiance there and the breakfast was pretty good even though it was just an express breakfast. With breakfast done, we went back to our room, did some last minute final packing and then returned to the lobby to check out.

The staff were really friendly. Holiday Inn Express was a great place for us to spend two nights here with very reasonable hotel rate. The location of this hotel was great being so close to the train station. We got to explore Rotterdam and Utrecht the past two days. Staying over in Amsterdam would cost us more than three times the cost for accommodation for these two nights.


Rotterdam to Amsterdam

We then left and walked to the train station to head to our most expensive accommodation in Amsterdam. That was why we only stay one night there. Very quickly, we reached the train station. We had already purchased train tickets the previous day so we went straight to the platform and shortly after boarded a train to Amsterdam.

The journey was just an hour and the ride was pleasant. We were eager to get to Amsterdam early to spend more time exploring this great city. Once we got out of the train station, it was a very great feeling. This city was gorgeous. We walked towards the left to head to Hotel CC not far from the train station. We soon walked into a side lane but found the street filthy and smelly. A moment ago we were awed with the sight of this wonderful city but now taken by surprise with this darker side of the city. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 9 Rotterdam to Amsterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht

Waking Up in Rotterdam

Morning came quickly. We liked it better staying in modern Holiday Inn Express Rotterdam than the quaint old world charm Domstern Hotel in Cologne. We slept very well. Our stay in Holiday Inn Express came with express breakfast so we went to the restaurant about 7.40 am shortly after waking up to another sunny summer morning.

The restaurant was at the further end of the lobby and lounge area. It wasn’t crowded when we arrived. The ambiance was pleasant, restaurant was presentable and clean. Breakfast selection was not very much but more than sufficient. After all, this was just an express breakfast and we were more than satisfied even though this couldn’t be compared to the German breakfast we had the day before at Domstern Hotel in Cologne.

After breakfast, we returned to our room to rest a while and then prepared to head out to visit other cities in the Netherlands. It was a bright and windy summer morning as we made our way to the train station. We went to the train office, took a queue number and waited for our turn to purchase our train tickets. Unlike the previous evening when I came to enquire about train tickets, the office was pretty busy this morning.

Rotterdam to Utrecht

Finally it was my turn to speak with the staff. Since it was already a little late, we just purchased return train tickets to Utrecht. We probably didn’t have sufficient time to visit Leiden. We also bought train tickets to Amsterdam for the next day as well as train ticket from Amsterdam to Schiphol Airport for our departure day.


So we entered the train station and went to the correct platform to wait for our train to Utrecht. The train station was very busy. Staff were deployed to help passengers with questions concerning their train journey. It was a pretty easy affair for us and soon we boarded our train and were on our way to Utrecht.

Actually, we came to Rotterdam via Utrecht the day before so we knew what to expect. The journey to Utrecht was pretty short, just 40 minutes ride away. By now, we were into the 8th day of our Europe Tour and the summer weather was getting much warmer. Apart from some chills we experienced in Vienna and Berlin, it was very good so far.

Utrecht Train Station

Very quickly we arrived Utrecht Station. This station was very pleasant. We then made our way through the mall connected with the station. We approached the tourist help desk and were attended to by a very nice lady staff. She gave us all the information we needed as well as a map.

Before leaving the train station, we did some shopping at the fashion shops here. My dear wife and son bought stuff at Bershka and Stradivarius. It was about time to do some shopping as we had just another three more days in Europe before leaving for home. With shopping done, we exited the train station. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 8 Utrecht

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 7 Cologne to Rotterdam

Cologne to Rotterdam Itinerary

We were finally heading to the Netherlands after this very brief stopover in Cologne. Initially, we planned to stay three nights in Amsterdam. However, the hotel rates in Amsterdam were insanely high. Our next best option was to stay two nights in Rotterdam before eventually staying the last night in Amsterdam and then fly home.

The hotel we booked for Rotterdam was Holiday Inn Express costing around 178 Euro for two nights for three persons. This rate was less than half the cost for a night stay over in Amsterdam for the same period.




Our train ride departing Cologne was 10.39 am with a change of train in Utrecht. This allowed us plenty of time to enjoy breakfast that came with our booking of Domstern Hotel in Cologne.

Nice German Breakfast at Domstern Hotel

It was already 8.30 am when we showed up at the cozy restaurant which wasn’t very big. The restaurant’s furnishing was like our room with an old world charm type of ambiance. There were some guests already having breakfast when we went to the restaurant.

Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 7 Cologne to Rotterdam

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 6 Berlin to Cologne

Last Morning at Suite Novotel Berlin

We entered the second half of our Europe Tour beginning from Vienna eventually terminating in Amsterdam. Having spent two nights in Berlin, we would be travelling on to Cologne. Actually, our original intention was to head straight to Holland but the journey would be a little too long on the train. So a convenient stopover would be Cologne along the way to Rotterdam.

This morning, instead of making tea and coffee in our room, we went to the lobby to get our coffee and tea from the facility provided by Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel for guests who prefer a quick fix breakfast. Those little snacks available on the table were good too. So with coffee and tea back in our room with more snacks we bought the day before, our simple breakfast was taken care of.

Our train to Cologne was 1.34 pm so we still had the morning to explore Berlin one more time near our hotel. As such, after packing up, we left Suite Novotel Berlin to explore some parts of the neighbourhood nearby where we missed when we first arrived two days ago. It was a very good day this morning with clear blue skies. The day before was cloudy and so cold even during summer.

Exploring Neighbourhood Near Suite Novotel Berlin

This time, we headed south of the hotel and checked out the quiet neighbourhood. It was really quiet and we hardly met anyone on the street. After roaming the streets, we headed back north towards Checkpoint Charlie. The Checkpoint Charlie Museum wasn’t open when we arrived.

We then turned right to explore further east from Checkpoint Charlie. It was a leisurely walk. Modern and old buildings in the vicinity were pretty interesting and the streets were orderly and clean. However, we came across a drunkard shouting at two young Caucasians probably in German which we could not understand. Some cafes were in the process of opening and we saw staff preparing tables and arranging chairs.

Having roamed around this side of the neighbourhood we returned to Checkpoint Charlie. Tour buses were seen on the road waiting for action for the day. There were a few visitors this time when we were back to this place of interest. The American GIs were manning the checkpoint on the street with the American flag noticeably at half mast like the previous day joining UK in the solidarity mourning the victims during the recent terrorist attack in Manchester. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 6 Berlin to Cologne

10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 5 Berlin City Tour

Berlin City Tour

We entered the fifth day of our Europe Tour. When we arrived Berlin from Prague in the afternoon the previous day, we only walked around to nearby attractions from Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel. This day would be spent exploring the city of Berlin on foot via public transport.

As Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel came with all the facilities of a mini kitchenette, we had a simple breakfast with food purchased from a convenience store a day earlier. The coffee and tea were good and we were satisfied with the snacks for the moment expecting to pick up more food during our street pounding later. From our room window, we could see it was a cloudy morning.

We then left our room and went to the lobby preparing to leave for the day tour of Berlin. At the lobby entrance, a coffee machine was setup on a table. Various types of tea bags were available as well together with snacks for hotel guests to grab a quick bite to get on for the day. We had already eaten but I still made a cup of coffee to carry along and then left the hotel.

We realized it was a windy morning when we exited Suite Novotel Berlin Hotel. Moreover, we noticed many people were wearing jackets but we didn’t think much about it. After walking less than two minutes along the street, we decided to return to our room to get more clothes. It was freaking cold on this summer morning. We probably won’t last through the morning with our present attire.

Topography of Terror

With our jacket over our body, we confidently walked towards our first attraction for the day, The Topography of Terror just few minutes walk away. It was already 9.45 am when we arrived. Opening hours start at 10 am. So we waited for a short while and then joined the other visitors to enter the premise of The Topography of Terror.

The first exhibit is the walls around one side of the compound. There are holes exposing the rusted steel bars on the rugged walls. A barrier is erected before the walls to prevent visitors from getting too near damaging what is remaining on the walls of this historic site.

Next we went a level slightly below ground level along the walls to check out the other wall structures inside the compound. A glass shelter is built to protect this part of the exhibit and also to allow visitors to stay longer to read the articles posted on some parts of the inner wall structures. The information was rather sobering, a reminder of the terror that was committed under the Third Reich where this place was once the headquarter of the secret police during that time. Continue reading 10 Days Free and Easy Europe Tour (2017) – Day 5 Berlin City Tour