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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Hong Kong Entry #11 Special Bangkok edition!


Lebua at State Tower

Whats up?!
So the last entry ended with the Bangkok cliff hanger...so let me fill you in on how the weekend went.  So Friday was a busy day for me, I had a bunch of stuff to work on at work then I had an interview with the recruiters as I had previously mentioned in the middle of the day, then after work I had to head straight to Hong Kong airport as my flight left at 8:50.  So the interview with the recruiters went well like I said they asked me about myself and to give them a brief summary of my past and up until how I ended up in Hong Kong.  I gave them a quick overview about how I started out in my first internship at Northwestern Mutual Financial Network and how I liked the whole meeting new people aspect of the job but hated the fact that I was selling insurance.  I mean honestly who wants to be talking about death all day? It't depressing! Frankly most people just rather not hear about it.  I mentioned to them that I did well at Northwestern and that I have been offered a job numerous times and that I still have a great relationship with some of the people there till this day, however it was just not my cup of tea selling insurance.
Then I brought them to this past fall when I did my social media and marketing internship with Cambridge Credit Counseling Corp., I basically explained how the experience I had essentially opened my eyes to social media and it immediately became something that I knew I could enjoy doing.  I told them how I still have a great relationship with my supervisor from the internship Thom Fox and he was not only a mentor to me but also became a good friend.
From there I explained to them how as a college athlete I was never able to study abroad, however that was always something that I wanted to do.  I told them that my thought process was that if I could find a international internship it would be like killing two birds with one stone for me because I was always curious about working internationally and I always wanted to study abroad, so this would allow to me to both.  I told them all about Dream Careers and how I found it by simply typing into Google "International Internships"  The other thing that I made clear was that after I got accepted into Dream Careers and was trying to decide what internship I wanted, I made a mistake.  Instead of looking for something that was straight marketing and potentially social media, I went for something that was a mix of marketing and finance because I thought it would help me get into the financial industry.  So essentially I based my decision on money instead of what I enjoyed doing most!
I brought them to the present and explained how the people at Global Sage were great and the internship was a great experience, it was not going to help me do what I really enjoyed.  I told them that after listening to guest speakers every Wednesday, one thing that all of them have said every time is do something that you love and are very passionate about.  It finally hit home to me that Finance and Banking is not what I want to be doing, Yes it may pay the type of bills for the lifestyle I would like to live haha. (Right Dad?? ROFL) However I don't think I would be super happy and engaged every day at work.  At least not for banking or the financial services type jobs, maybe I would enjoy sales/trading like with commodities because that is a always on your feet, gotta be ready type job.  However I did realize that I enjoyed marketing and that I was a social media addict and then pursuing a job in the field would be my best option, and who knows maybe one day I could be a Marketing Director and make the big bucks by doing that!
So basically thats how I summed it up to them and I think they believed me because they told me they had two positions they were working on that might interest me and basically you know the rest.  I told them on Monday actually that I was interested in the Social Media job and not the Real Estate sales job.   But thats getting ahead.  So back to Friday, so I had a good interview and from there the rest of the day dragged as I anticipated the weekend in Bangkok more and more.   When 5:30 came I was pumped and at 5:45 I had to leave because our Receptionist Vanessa, gave me a company pass to ride the bus to the Central train station.  Now this bus is only for people that work in the Central Plaza building.  The bus picks them up and drives them directly to this one stop, and this stop happens to be right across from the Central train station that the Airport Express Train runs out of.  The airport express is essentially a line of the MTR that runs back and forth from the airport to this station downtown, with only two stops in between.  The ride from the station I was at, to the Airport is 27 minutes and costs $100 Honkie.  So I chose to take this route instead of taking a taxi from work to the airport.  Now when I got to the airport I had about 2hrs and 15 min to spare however because Air Asia is one of the biggest Cluster fbombs of an airline it took me right down to about an hour to spare.  Basically there are maybe 5 or 6 check in stations open and people just get in long lines behind each one.  I don't know if I have mentioned this in my blog before but people here have no respect for lines.  What I mean by that is, in restaurants like McDonalds lets say, if you are in a line waiting for a register to open up and do not move quickly they will frigging cut right in front of you from another line! That type of stuff drives me crazy!!
So at the airport I am waiting in line right, and I get up about 4 places away from being at the check in.  All of a sudden some lady who works at the airport holds up a sign and says something in Chinese and and two groups of people in front of me pick up there stuff and hustle over to her, I guess they thought they were getting special treatment or something.  So I shuffle up and now I am one away from the desk.  A couple minutes go back and all of a sudden these two groups of people come back and re-take their places in line and move me back!!!! Although I just calmly waited and said nothing, I wanted to go nuts, like what the hell you just left your spot to try to cut ahead of everyone else, you don't get to come back to your spot in line because that didn't work, get to the freaking end!  That stuff would never cut it in the U.S., but I kept in mind that I am not in the U.S. so I just waited my turn patiently.
I met Ross and Ali at the airport since the other three, Mike Huang, Ignacio Martin, Mike Pulchino had already left the day before.  Ross and Ali got to the airport a little while after I arrived, after they got their boarding passes we decided that we should get some food because it was dinner time and we were not sure what the food on the plane would be like.  So we all just got airport fast food, none of us got Chinese though we are all pretty sick of that! haha  That proved to be a good choice because this airline Air Asia charges for everything, food and even drinks!  Before the plane took off, we were just sitting at the gait and Ross who was sitting with Ali about 5 rows ahead of me, called me to come sit up by him because there was plenty of seats up there.  So I left my window seat and went over and sat in the row next to theirs.  What I did not realize is they were sitting in a section that costs $100 HK extra because it had like 2 inches of more leg room, the "red" section.  I made a dumb move because I knew the plane was not going to fill up but I wanted to ask anyway just to be nice, so I asked the flight attendant if it was okay to switch seats.  She asked me what row I was sitting in and I said 9 and she said "no no" and I was so like in disbelief because the plane was practically empty.  She said I could only switch black to black and if I wanted red I had to pay.  So I said screw it and went back to my row and seat.  In the end I was the idiot because if I just said nothing at all she would have never known, and I would not have been sitting next to two people.  Ross and Ali each had their own row and got to lay out which looked awesome.  However I don't know how great of a sleep they could have gotten because the flight attendants never shut up! The dude would be on that thing every five minutes it seemed like.  Also what the heck is with leaving the lights on, Air Asia?  They turned all the lights off for take off and landing but left them all on for the entire flight! Are you kidding me its a late night flight, turn the damn lights off!
Anyway we landed in Thailand around 11:30 if I remember correctly and it took us about an hour to get back to the hotel because we had to go through immigration and then we had to wait for the Mikes and Ignacio to come pick us up.  When they did pick us up it was quite impressive, Mike Huang has his own driver who drove us around most of the weekend.  So they came and picked us up and we headed back to the hotel.  For those of you that do not realize this Bangkok is freaking huge! It takes forever to get anywhere in that city because everything is so spread out.  Also during the day the roads are madness and traffic is insane, if I drove there I would get in an accident first day maybe first hour.


Anyway so we arrived at the Lebua Tower Hotel all I can say is WOW!!!  The place is beautiful an when we finally got to our room on the 57th floor WOW again.  This room was literally ridiculous big, like unnecessary big!  Absolutely massive, unfortunately my camera as I said is all messed up so I did not take pictures but I think Ali did so I am working on acquiring those.  This room had three bedrooms with two with king size beds and another with two full beds in it. We had three bathrooms in the room, two of them were full bathrooms with large glass showers and marble tubs.  A There was a dining room and living room combined in one open area but in the living room space it had three couches, the dining room table had eight places I believe.  It had a complete kitchen with marbletop counters and even a washer and dryer area.  There was a total of FOUR balconies, where the view was really just amazing! The hotel towers over everything around it so you could see for miles.  There is a river through the middle  of Bangkok and it divides the old part of the city and the new part of the city.

What two of our bedrooms looked like

pic from the Lebua website
Our Actual Room

Otherside

We all got to wear hotel bathrobes as there were enough for all of us, we even took a picturewith all of us wearing them.So going back to our first night after we got to the hotel we sort of had to rush to shower and get ready to go out as it was already late.  So after we were all ready, Mikes driver picked us up and Mike had him drop us off in this bar area called RCA or Royal City Avenue.  This place is insane and so different then anywhere else I have ever gone out.  This is where we actually ended up going out both nights so I will only write about it once.  What it is, is essentially a street of bars.  The most famous of the bars in this area is Route 66, its huge and like all the bars here has a indoor and outdoor section.
Before our first night on the town!
Here is a description of the RCA area I got offline:


RCA is the epicentre of Bangok's clubbing scene and one of the officially designated nightlife zones, meaning that all the clubs and pubs here can close a little later than those outside the designated zones. Favoured by local revellers, most RCA clubs cater to their Thai clientele - mostly university students and young office workers. International DJs as well as live concerts and soundtracks by popular local artists are to be expected. Clubbing institutions like Route 66 and Slim are packed almost every night.



Both nights we were there we would start out at Route 66 and stay there until it closed at 3 because it is huge as I said, and it has three different areas with three different types of music.  It's a ton of fun and is always packed with people.  Its really neat because there is a fence around the entire thing and you pay at the fence and then go in and can walk to any of the parts of Route 66 you want.  They are all attached and all have an open face with tables outside in front of them.  Here is a layout and description I found to sort of get an idea what I mean.



Route 66 is probably the most famous and beloved club amongst Thais and Foreigners in Bangkok. It features three separate sections in which different type of music is played. The first section, called “Route West” plays Techno / Trance Music. Moving along a bit further you will find Thai Pop and going towards the end you will hear American Hip Hop beats. Most popular is the Hip Hop Section, which gets filled fast and to ensure a good table it is advised to arrive early (10 pm weekdays, 9 pm weekends).
Hip Hop songs are very popular amongst the (younger) Thai people and you will be hearing it in nearly any club you go.



VIP behind the DJ in the Hip Hop Room (not my pic tho)


So its a really unique place and definitely something to try out if you ever find yourself in Bangkok.  At the bar Ross met this girl and after talking for a little she actually invited us up to the VIP in the hip hop section which is all the way to the right side behind the DJ station so that was pretty neat.  I guess her whole family was pretty popular there, because when we got to the VIP we met her brother, sister, cousins and friends.  The neat thing about this VIP is that it's not off in some quieter area its literally right behind the DJ in front of the big screen, and its loud with a great view of the dance floor. 
The second we went to Route 66 much earlier and we ended up getting our own table with a couple of Mikes close friend Oat from home.  They were some really great people, and we had a ton of fun.  The second night we got absolutely smashed at Route 66 because Mike and Oat kept making us this traditional Thai drink at our table.  Basically you get yourself a bottle of Johnny Walker, another large bottle of Smirnoff Vodka and Coke if I remember correctly, all I know is Mike's friend made them super strong and by the time we left Route 66 to head to the next bar, we were all rocked.
After Route 66 would close we would all head to this bar called Narcissus or NARZ.  This is known as the after party club, as it has special privileges and gets to stay open much later because of who owns it.  The owner according to Mike Huang is the Crowned Prince of Thailand.  NARZ is very popular and because of this it is absolutely massive!  It is also very popular among ex-patriots and model type people from Thailand.  Just like Hong Kong Bars, you can stay at NARZ till like 6 or 7 the next morning.  Now, because its open all night, it opens around 10pm and then people do not start showing up till around 2am, so it's a real late night scene.  Here are few pictures of NARZ. (I did not take any of these pictures)




NARZ Outside view (not my pic)
NARZ inside (not my pic)


NARZ (not my pic)

NARZ inside (not my pic)

NARZ inside (not my pic)
While we were in Bangkok and out at night we did see a few of the famous lady boys, however the bars that we decided to go to, they are not very prevalent at, and is actually rare to see them.  When we did see them it was usually when we were walking on the street.  Now people said that there are some that are hard to tell, well out of the ones that I saw, it was quite clear that they were...lets say different.   One thing that I grew quite fond of while being in Thailand was sticky rice!  I bought it both nights off the street vendors that sell food to all the bar crowds.
Another thing we did while in Bangkok was go to the old Palace and walked around that during the day on Saturday.  The palace was very beautiful but it was wicked hot out so it made our walking around a little miserable. When you go inside the temple you actually have to wear pants, so all around the temple street vendors sell these very light pajama bottom type pants so people with shorts can wear put them on and still enter the palace.  They are actually super comfortable so I bought a bunch of pairs to give ppl back home because they were so cheap only like $3 US.  After we were done with the palace we walked around a market.  Now in Hong Kong people are pretty aggressive in trying to get you to buy stuff from them, however it does not even compare to the people in Thailand.  To give you an idea these guys were selling these like woven picture type things that you would put in a frame, and Mike P. was interested in buying one as well as Ross.  However they decided they did not want one and started to walk away.  These guys literally followed us all the way to the van trying to give the guys a deal they would take.  When we all got in our van there ended up being around 8 of these guys all selling the same thing swarming our van and trying to get there chance to make a pitch.  One of these guys climbed in and was sitting next to Ross, and when after he continually ignored Mike asking him to get out, Mike finally yelled at him GET THE F***k OUT! and yelled at him in Thai.  Then the guy climbed out and got really mad and one of his friends had to hold him back.  I have honestly never seen anything like it and wish I had my camera to videotape it.  





Haha I love this one, clearly not ready.

Better




Breeze Restaurant & Bar on the 51st and 52nd Floor of Lebua


The last thing we did at the hotel before we left Bangkok on Sunday was go to another one of the other bar/restaurants in the Lebua tower to take a picture of all of us together.





Breeze

Sirocco Restaurant & Bar on the 63rd Floor of Lebua
Skybar 




Sirocco




The Sunday Morning pic, all super hungover lol


Us doing our Hangover Pic


The last thing we did in Thailand before we left to go back to Hong Kong was visit Mike's home to have lunch.  His house is absolutely gorgeous right on a golf course.  His mom cooked us a bunch of dishes including her own recipe of a famous Thai dish called Phat thai, consisting of noodles, shrimp, thin sliced chicken, eggs, onion, carrots, and some other things.  My favorite part of the meal was dessert, sliced mango and sticky rice!  This is a very popular dessert in Thailand and many places in Asia and is now my favorite dessert dish of all, it is soooo good.  The pairing of the sticky rice with the sweet mango is literally perfect!
Now our flight was at 4:30 and Mikes home was about 20 minutes away and like idiots we left about 3:30 and got there as they were ready to last call check in's for the flight to Hong Kong.  Now we all gave our passports and the guy was going through and checking us in, and giving us our tickets, except for myself and Ignacio! For some reason he could not find us on the flight!  So I pull out my flight itinerary and he looks at it and then finds the problem for us, apparently we bought our flight home to be at the 6:30 am flight!!!!!   So of course we missed it, and needed new tickets, this flight that our friends were going to be on was almost ready to board and we had no tickets so we ran over to this Air Asia ticket booth and had to buy new tickets home.  We are still not quite sure what happened because we both thought we clicked the later flight, then again I can't be sure because I barely actually checked, I just asked Ignacio which flight it was and signed up.
So now we are stuck paying another $150 for a flight home!  It took us like 10-15 minutes to get the stupid tickets because of how slow the lady was going.   When we finally got our receipt we ran back over to the check in counter and threw the guy our passports.  He got us checked in fairly quickly and from there it was just a sprint to the gate.  However first we had to get through immigration which was freaking packed!  The other guys were way ahead of us because we let them go when we had to buy tickets, so we were on our own.  I got in a line to hold a spot while Ignacio looked for a quicker way through all the people.  He ended up working his magic and going up the side to a checkin area where no one was except a bunch of people working for the airport.  He actually got them to let us cut the line because we literally had no time, or so we thought.  Once we got through immigration we just sprinted through the airport and I must admit at one point I almost lost all my lunch from Mikes house.  When we finally got to the gait the sign said last call however people were there, so we went right up to get on however we were stopped by the check in lady who said "2 minutes 2 minutes you wait."  So we stood there in front of her until she made an announcement and people began to line up behind us.  Then we boarded and ended up being the FIRST ones on the plane!  Absolutely insane and we could not believe we beat our friends to the plane.  We watched as they all got on and did not see us and literally had no idea if we were going to make it, even though we were sitting just a few rows behind them.  It was really humorous to watch them all frantic and worried, and more rewarding when we finally revealed ourselves.  Aside from that not much else was interesting on the plane, except for the fact, that the guy sitting next to me brought his own beer to drink on the plane, just a little bizarre.  
So that was our Bangkok, Thailand weekend in a nut shell.  
I will be really quick to write my next post, as I need to catch up bad! So look for that soon! Adios!



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