Posted in Good gifts, Gratitude, Inspiration, Knowing oneself, Lessons Learned, Life's lessons, Travel, Travel Highlights

My Georgia Travelogue :) (Part 3)

Since early this year, I was thinking of travelling solo, atleast once in my life. I will be turning 40 this year, so I wanted to do it and push myself out of my comfort zone by travelling without a family member or a friend with me. I couldn’t decide which would be the perfect city for this pursuit, a few cities on my list were:

(i) Seoul (I travelled to Seoul once, in 2011, has become an instant favorite since then, so I know I need to go back, as soon as possible), (ii) Tokyo (I have been to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara – so my next target city is Tokyo), (iii) Singapore (I had a 2 day trip to Singapore in 2010, since it was so short of a visit, I wanted to go back to explore more and create better memories), (iv) Taipei (I haven’t been to Taipei but I was told that it would be ideal for a solo trip and “milk tea hopping” :)), (v) Hong Kong (I haven’t been to Hong Kong, so I also wanted to check it out atleast once in my lifetime).

As you can see, my list only included nearby Asian countries from the Philippines because of budget reasons. I have also considered travelling within the country, either to visit El Nido or Siargao for the first time, or to go back to Boracay. I have travelled to Europe for 2 consecutive years so I have to start saving up again and keep myself from going back to Europe so soon! 😛 But if budget is not an issue, my ideal destination for this solo trip or any other trip is Europe, always Europe. 🙂

My plan is to travel solo either before I turn 40 or shortly after my birthday. Little did I know that God has other plans, much better than my plan, as always, as usual. 🙂

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.

Proverbs 16:9

In late April, my boss asked me to join him to his business trip to Tbilisi, Georgia. You may check out the amazing back story from this post. 🙂

So it happened, my first ever business trip, God’s answer to my prayer, was in Georgia – Georgia is a small country in the Southern Caucasus, in between the two of my favorite continents, Europe and Asia — “Eurasia.” Such a sweet, unimaginable treat from Above! How amazing is that? 😉 Just how awesome and great our God is!! 🙂

a simple souvenir which was taken on our way to the historical monuments of Mtskheta, an hour trip outside Tbilisi

He has answered my prayer to experience going on mission atleast once in my ADB lifetime, He also answered my prayer to experience travelling solo. Oh well, not exactly solo, because I travelled with my boss, but since he is not a family member or a close friend, (but definitely a very dear boss not only to me but to many of us, a wonderful family man, a beautiful person), I considered this as my first ever solo travel experience, which makes it very special. I experienced flying on business class for the very first time, I stayed for almost a week in a very beautiful hotel, I loved my room soooo much, the view was perfect, the food was so delish, the service was great, all the meetings and arrangements went well, so it was a perfect experience for me. All praises and thanksgiving to our great God!!

Being on a solo trip, I barely had photos of me, so what I had were mostly random “mirror selfies” and “shoefies” or what I call as “I was here” photos. 🙂

But let me share with you some photos of my room first.

Here are my “mirror selfies” just to document my OOTDs 😛

While the Welcome Cocktails was ongoing on 29 May, I was able to explore a nearby “boutique”. It is basically walking distance from the cocktails venue.

This “unique” boutique or concept store is called “Chaos.” It has a cafe/bar inside but no one was there, if someone was manning it, I would have probably bought a cup of coffee there and had my own little fika. 🙂 Next to the cafe/bar, there was a retail shop, there were some interesting pieces of clothing, shoes and accessories.

One of my fave things to do while travelling is checking out quaint, beautiful, interesting cafes and shops. So it was such a sweet treat to find something unexpected just a few steps from where we’re having the welcome cocktails. 🙂

Hope you enjoyed this mini-travelogue of my first ever business trip/solo travel experience. Definitely, one for the books! 😀 I’ll have one more travelogue post to wrap up and that will be it. Please stay tuned! 😉

There’s always a first time – and almost always – it will occupy a very special place in our hearts 🥰

Posted in Coffee lover, Coffee Princess, Good gifts, Gratitude, Knowing oneself, Lessons Learned, Life's lessons, Travel, Travel Highlights

My Georgia travelogue :) (Part 2)

Asian Development Bank in Tbilisi, Georgia is occupying 2 floors in this building

In the morning of 29 May, my boss and I, together with our co-hosting partners from EBRD went to our office in Tbilisi which we call “Georgia Resident Mission” (GRM) to meet and finalize the remaining arrangements. Our GRM colleagues have helped us tremendously in dealing with the hotel where the meetings would be held, with the restaurants, with the transportation company, with the metro train company where we would have site visit, with the venues where we would have a field trip on the last day, and a whole lot more! We’re truly grateful to all our colleagues who had kindly and generously extended support to our event.

After the meeting which lasted for almost 2 hours, we had an opportunity to tour around the offices, but everyone was busy, so we didn’t get a chance to take photos with them. After the tour, my boss and I returned to the hotel. The welcome cocktails would start at 6pm. We didn’t have lunch yet, after I did some work and ensure that everything was in place for the first event, I decided to have lunch, this was almost 3pm already. My very dear friend Eia who had went to Tbilisi a couple of times for work had suggested for me to have coffee or a meal at Paul’s Cafe which is beside the GRM office. I had meals at Paul’s Cafe in Manila a couple of times and also in Paris, but I also wanted to try it in Tbilisi so I took a cab for the for the first time from the hotel and went to Paul’s Cafe.

After my yummy meal and some quiet time, I figured I still have time before the Welcome Cocktails at 6pm so I headed back to Rooms Hotel on foot, which took me around 20 to 25 minutes, it’s a good exercise and a way to experience the city. The weather was cool so walking outside between 4 to 5pm was easy breezy.

Now let me show you some photos at Rooms Hotel where I and 16 general counsels (GCs) out of 19 had stayed for almost a week, where we had buffet breakfast everyday and where the welcome cocktails, GCs lunches and meetings where held.

The chairs/co-hosts are Marie-Anne from EBRD (in dark blue suit) and Chris from ADB (in white long sleeves), my boss, are the ones seated next to each other at the end of the long table 🙂
Working while the meetings were ongoing. This stolen shot was taken by Ana, a GRM colleague. The pretty lady on the other side of the table was Nino, a Georgian lawyer from EBRD who had also kindly and generously helped us in the event.

That’s all for today, friends. For the next post, I will share photos of the Concept Store which is walking distance from the courtyard, and I will also share photos of my room, so far, it’s my favorite room ever. 🙂

Posted in Coffee lover, Coffee Princess, Gifts, Gratitude, Health, Knowing oneself, Lessons Learned, Life's lessons, Love, Travel, Word of God

In the Pink

The earliest citations of ‘in the pink’ are from the 16th century and, at that time, the meaning was ‘the very pinnacle of something’, but not necessarily limited to health. 

I actually feel that I am on my way to the peak of my life.
Life gets better and better every single year.
I thank and praise God for all His marvelous deeds in my life!
I am excitedly and expectantly waiting for more of God’s best to come my way. 🙂

One of my fave me-time/pastime(s) is chilling and drinking coffee in a beautiful café (with a good book is best).

Around this time last Sunday, I enjoyed a new cup of latte for the first time. 

When I was browsing through the coffee selection, “pink latte” caught my attention. Before I ordered it, I asked the waiter why it’s called pink latte, as soon as I heard beetroot and almond milk, I knew it was something worth trying. And I was right. 🙂

He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.

Ecclesiastes 3:11
Posted in Gifts, God's victory, Good gifts, Gratitude, Inspiration, Lessons Learned, Travel, Travel Highlights

{Another} one for the books

I had the most wonderful time last week in a place I have never imagined to see and experience in my lifetime, to say the least.

This photo was taken the morning after our Tbilisi event has concluded. I’m so grateful that everything went well, every single experience was new to me, and there’s so much joy in meeting and spending time with a bunch of brilliant, beautiful and kindhearted individuals while discovering an equally wonderful new place where every meal is a feast, and enjoying a couple of privileges for the first time.

Rooms Hotel, Tbilisi, Georgia

My work is one of God’s best blessings in my life and in my family. From it, wonderful and unimaginable blessings flow, both tangible and intangible. In the recent years, I prayed to God to let me experience to go on mission (business trip) atleast once in my ADB lifetime. Though I know it’s kind of impossible for my current position, but still I love asking God for impossible things because I know He’s a waymaker and nothing is impossible with and for Him.

Based on my friends’/colleagues’ experiences, going on mission is not something that you would wish to do every so often because it requires too much work before, during and after. But still I prayed to experience it atleast once. And it happened, I was in awe, and my ❣ is overflowing with so much gratitude for how the Lord orchestrated everything behind the scenes. You are an amazing God.

I had no expectations whatsoever, I know it’s work, so I just prayed for 2 things: everyone’s safety (all 19 general counsels, plus Nino (the very lovely, kind, helpful, young Georgian lawyer in photo below) and I were coming from different continents) and for the success of the event. But as always, God has surprised us with sooo much more (beauty, favor, kindness, joy, laughter, productivity, food, wine, etc).

To actually witness and experience what we’ve been preparing for since last year is one of the sweetest rewards, ever. Thank you and praise you, Jesus! 

🙌

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!

2 Corinthians 9:15


Posted in Family, Friendship, Gifts, Good gifts, Gratitude, Knowing oneself, Lessons Learned, Minimalism, note to self, Travel, Travel Highlights

Summer Special (Last Part)

When I travel, I usually pack my clothes on the day of departure because I didn’t want my clothes to crumple (too much). I think this is okay for short trips, but not for 2 or 3 week trip. I tried to do that for my 3-week Europe trip, and it was not good, it’s actually a bad move, I ended up bringing so much clothes which was a nightmare especially in Europe!! I lost weight (even after so much eating – too much pasta, pizza and gelato) from carrying my heavy large luggage while transferring from one city to another. We explored 6 cities in 4 countries within 3 weeks, I knew it was only by God’s grace that I was sustained with so much energy and strength, and I was definitely in good health, before, during and after the trip, thank and praise God for everything and for sending kind-hearted people who helped me carry my luggage when I needed it most! 🙂

So on the day of the trip, I packed the lightest clothes, mostly white tops, because Bangkok weather was ranging from 32-36 degrees that time. I actually dreaded the hot weather but I just tried to prepare for it, I brought a big good old fan, facial mist, wet ones, towels, sunscreen, my good old Starbucks tumbler (which I always fill up with water), and extra shirts. Below is the photo of all the things I packed for the trip. On the day of return to Manila, I only had 1 shorts, 1 skirt and 1 sleeveless top which I was not able to wear, so I was really happy for doing a good job in my packing this time. 🙂 By the way, I ended up not using the distressed jeans on the photo, I wore a lighter pair of jeans with floral stitches thrice during the whole trip! 😛

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Our 4th and last day was basically a travel/airport day, no more other agenda aside from checking out the nearby pool in our neighborhood which was less than a minute walk from our beautiful and big AirBnb, our happy home. We had hoped to atleast hang out by the pool and swim but we were so tired each night after a long day of travel so we didn’t have the time for some refreshing night swimming. Another thing that we ran out of time to do was to get some relaxing, must-needed Thai massage – definitely a must next time! 😉

So on our last morning in Bangkok, we tried to capture some more remembrance of our happy home and lovely neighborhood. 🙂

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group photo inside our lovely home on Day 1

I had managed to do an endorsement shoot in the morning for a newly discovered drink which became an instant favorite Thanks for the sister for being my photographer! 😛

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Before heading to the airport, we had our yummy breakfast at a “fancy” street food stall near our home 😛

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2570.JPGHere’s the authentic, freshest, yummiest chicken Thai soup I had for brekky, and it’s the cheapest too! 

Of course, I wouldn’t let this day pass without my milktea! I loaded up on milktea for 4 consecutive days!

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last milktea for this trip… until next time 🙂

Before going back to our happy home to get our things, we had one last stop at 7-eleven. I would have hoarded lots of drinks (especially the collagen one, soooo good!) if only I wasn’t afraid of them accidentally spilling on my things! Next time, I should have a separate, durable bag for drinks alone! I ended up bringing home only 3 pouches of the collagen drink which I finished all in one day… 😛

Now, we’re ready to go and spend a few hours at the airport before our flight to Manila. The flight of Nikky, my brother and my sister was 5 hours earlier than Tet’s and my flight. So Tet and I had some time to window-shop, chill at Starbucks and chat a lot! 🙂

By this time, you probably know that I collect Starbucks cards from the places I visit, and even from Philippines when I find the cards lovely and pretty. And my very thoughtful and generous friends give me Starbucks cards as pasalubong from their trips too. 🙂 I find that they are the lightest souvenir that I can take home from my trips and also I get to enjoy a cup or two because when you “buy” the card, the cost of the card is actually consumable. 🙂 The cards are free in some cities/countries too! Here are some recent additions to my collection, which are gifted by my sweet and supportive friends. 😉

So for this Bangkok trip, getting a Starbucks card was part of the agenda. There were lots of Starbucks in Bangkok but we didn’t manage to visit most of them due to lack of time. I checked out one Starbucks branch, I forgot where, but I didn’t like the available cards so I didn’t get any. I thought I would get another chance to check out other branches, which I did, there were 2 or 3 branches inside the airport, I was able to go to 2 of them.

Tet and I went to the first branch after we had lunch with Nikky, Carlo and Kris just before they checked in.

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Another thing I really enjoy is trying out new drinks and pastries in Starbucks. I know these are not available in the Philippines, so I ordered and loved the new cappuccino blend and the green tea and red bean mascarpone. I had to check my Merriam Webster app to check what mascarpone means. 😛

mas·car·po·ne

  (mäs′kär-pō′nĕ, -pōn′) 

n. fresh soft Italian cheese with a high butterfat content, made from light cream.

My sister requested me to buy her a set of Starbucks demitasse, her collection. Sorry, I didn’t have a photo of it, but it’s a set of 2 mini-mugs with Bangkok and Thailand inscription on each, a good souvenir too. The first branch had no Starbucks card. So while getting the demitasse for my sister, I got tempted to get a cutie mini-mug for myself. 

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I love the design and it’s very handy too. For souvenirs, I prefer something light and small. Btw, the demitasse is on the lower right corner of this photo, sorry, it’s blurred.

Maybe after more than an hour of chatting and chilling at Starbucks, Tet and I waited at the designated Terminal to check-in. After we got in, Tet and I walked a long mile to find the 2nd Starbucks only to find out that there were no cards too! 😩😭😫 So I tried to keep my cool hahaha and I was glad that I got a better remembrance from the 1st branch! 🙂 Thanks much Tet for supporting me in my crazy pursuit though all in vain! 😛 But seriously, thanks a lot for walking the long mile with me to find the Starbucks on the other end (of the world) from our boarding gate, and window-shopping with me! Really appreciate it. Kob kun kaa. 

Now that I am about to close this 4-part series of my Bangkok posts, I would really like to take this chance to thank these 4 amazing, beautiful, lovely, fun-loving, easy going, generous, thoughtful, godly bunch! If not for all of you, I wouldn’t have a very special summer trip this year. I thank and praise God for our wonderful, glorious, short but sweet summer vacation. I am truly blessed to have visited Thailand for the first time with my Christian family and friends – that’s another reason which made this trip truly special.  Where to next? 🙂

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“Every good and perfect gift is from Above…’ – James 1:17

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Posted in Family, Friendship, Gifts, Good gifts, Gratitude, Knowing oneself, Lessons Learned, Minimalism, note to self, Travel, Travel Highlights

Summer Special (Part 3)

P4280355Big. Enormous. Gigantic. Elaborate. Intricate. Beyond lavish.

These are just some descriptions I have for Grand Palace. It is very true to its name, grand is actually an understatement. I’ve traveled quite a bit and have seen quite a lot but it still blows my mind each time I see such elaborate, intricate, gigantic edifice of different forms, kinds, architecture and history. How in the world were they able to create those structures some hundred years ago (sans machines, technologies, electricity) with such accuracy, beauty, artistry and intricacy…

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On Day 3, we finally had the time to visit the Grand Palace. It’s a must see, never to be missed even on a hot day. But if ever I will go back with family or friends, I would prefer to go on a cooler weather. We were literally dripping with so much sweat because it was soooo hot, another underestimate. 😛 We were there between 9:00am – 10:30am. The whole place, though it was grandiose, it was still unimaginably and amazingly filled with tourists!!

I tried to take photos though I could hardly see through my camera lens because the sun was up and so bright even with my sunnies on.
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Of course, the 🌞 didn’t stop us from taking group photos and videos and having some good laughs and blogger poses in between. 😛😂

As soon as we got out of the Palace, we beat the heat by rewarding ourselves with some ice cream. 😍

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été is a French equivalent of ‘summer,’ it’s pronounced ‘ay-tay’

Since Day 3 was our last full day in Bangkok, it was also our last chance to do some shopping.

We requested our driver to bring us to Platinum Fashion Mall, where we first had lunch at the foodcourt, I had the yummiest Thai soup (forgot how it was called), but I was too hungry to even take a photo of it 😛 (sorry!) and then shopped. Since we had limited time, I bought first my friends’ requests and some souvenirs for family and friends.

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I got these keychains (and some cute elephant printed pouches) for pasalubong because I love that they are hand-made in Thailand (not in PRC). 😛

When my friends go to Thailand, I only have one request – Durian Chips. I would have hoarded these chips but they are expensive! The one in round container is almost P500 ($10)!!

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Aside from the Jim Thompson scarf, this lovely elphie wallet and a keychain were my remembrance from this wonderful trip. Really love these cuties. 🙂

When my friends learned that I would be going to Bangkok, they all had the same word for me – shopping in Bangkok is cheap. So I kept it in my mind and heart 😛 and managed to keep myself from buying anything from the time the flight was booked  until our trip to Bangkok – big milestone for someone who never failed to buy something new to wear for a trip (you know OOTD is life in IG). 😛 Each time I got tempted to buy a top, or a pair of pants, or bag, or even accessories, I would instinctively tell myself “that’s probably cheaper in Bangkok” and then I would walk away as fast as I could. 🤪

So the day of shopping finally came, but by this time, I’ve ran out of my pocket money, my ATM didn’t work, so I borrowed a few bucks from my brother & sister!! Lifesavers! 😛 So I depended on little cash and my creditcard but unfortunately, most shops don’t accept creditcard payment and some have 3% bank charge! But I still tried to go through each floor and looked for something to buy for momsy, my preggy sister and/or me. I managed to buy a dress and skorts (skirt/shorts) for momsy and nothing for me!! Amazing, such a breakthrough! 🤣😂😜

So I had some affirmations about myself through this experience:

✅ I’ve experienced this a few times – I would go home empty handed from mall wide sales.  It came to a point when mall wide sales don’t entice me anymore. I don’t and can’t force myself into buying something just because it’s on sale.

✅ No fitting policy won’t work for me. I want to try something on and see if it looks good on me before I consider buying it.

✅ Too many options, limited time and crowded malls have negative effect on my appetite to shop – which is actually friendly on my pocket. 😜

✅ I would rather spend my money on food than things – I love to bring home some local goodies for my family and friends for them to try and taste. So I bought some locally produced coffee, milk tea, noodles, and snacks from Big C, a big grocery store near Platinum Fashion Mall.

Thanks to Eia for introducing me to this coffee brand (Khao Shong), I love it! 🙂

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So that’s all folks for Day 3! We definitely had a grand and lovely time! On this day, my brother, sister and I wore our matching shirts! I got one for momsy, daddy and Matty too! 🙂

Posted in Family, Friendship, Good gifts, Gratitude, Lessons Learned, Travel, Travel Highlights

Summer Special… (Part 2)

Travelling is one of life’s best teachers. You learn about history, culture, language, you learn how to adapt, socialize, you realize that the world is big (and beautiful) and you are just a small (but blessed and special) part of it, you learn how to be grateful for what and how you are, you learn more about yourself and the family, friends, and even the strangers you are travelling with.

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On our 2nd day in Bangkok, our first stop was the Floating Market, another first and unique experience for us. Nikky was able to experience floating market in Bangkok, but on that day, our driver brought us to the first/original Floating Market which was far from the city center, between 1.5 – 2 hour drive. The Floating Market experience which lasts for about an hour costs 5,000 Baht. We were actually not expecting to pay anything for the Floating Market ride, unless we buy something, so we were quite shocked when we were told that the cost for the experience was 5,000 Baht! Anyway, we charged it to experience, appreciated that we had a wonderful and safe ride, the boat was made of sturdy and shiny wood and it was shaded/covered – we were protected from direct sunlight and heat! Lesson no. 1 – when offered with something, be it an experience, food, or anything, ask first how much it costs – when travelling, barely anything is for free! 😛

During the boat ride, we didn’t buy anything except food. 🙂 One common denominator in our group is we all LOVE to eat!! We are very passionate about satisfying our gastronomic cravings. 😛

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We bought sticky rice, mooping (really tender, tasty pork barbeque), and some fruits 🙂

After the Floating Market experience, our tummies were ready for lunch, yet another Thai lunch! 🙂 Our driver brought us to Maeklong Train Station Market.

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Here’s what we had for Day 2 lunch 🙂 – all soooo goood, yummeeehh and cheap too!! 😉

And of course, a Thai meal wouldn’t be complete without….

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Thai Milk tea! 😛

DCIM100GOPROGOPR2454.JPGP4280245After lunch, some train station photo-op 😛

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Another common denominator with this group is we all love taking photos and groupies ♥ 

After lunch, we tried to do some shopping around the Train Station Market, but it was too hot!!

Our next stop was Golden Buddha (Sukhothai Traimit). The Sukhothai Traimit Golden Buddha is the largest Golden Buddha Image in the world, it was made of pure gold, with a price value of 28.5 million pounds and ages over 700 years by now. It is a valuable treasure of Thailand and Buddhism.

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Outside the temple, it looks like this, photos below. We only went to the top floor. There’s a museum on the ground or 2nd floor but we didn’t go anymore.

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Our last stop for the day before dinner is another top favorite – Jim Thompson House Museum. Thank you Eia and Gill for recommending this. 🙂 This is where you will learn something new, there’s a 30-40 minute guided-tour around the house museum – you will know who Jim Thompson is – you’ll learn a bit of history, your eyes will feast on all the rich, beautiful art collections inside, you will be refreshed with the greens and waters around. 🙂 We all loved it! ♥ 

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James H. W. Thompson

After the guided tour, we went to the boutique where the Jim Thompson products are displayed and sold. My heart melt with all the beautiful silk products at the Jim Thompson boutique. I love the quality, the luxurious feel and the prints of the bags and scarves. It was love at first sight with this rice-large-silk-twill-hobo-bag but had to control myself from bringing it home, too expensive for me! 😛

But I knew from my melting  😛 that I had to buy something as a remembrance from this trip, and it has to be from Jim Thompson.

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This beautiful scarf called for me and I happily gave in.  On this scarf are all my favourite colours and more!

After my happy purchase, Nikky wanted to check out the restaurant inside Jim Thompson, so we did and we were happy to learn that all pastries were 50% off from 5-7pm! By that time, around 6pm, we were all exhausted, and loading up some sugar was a welcome treat with a beautiful, calming view of a big koi pond. 🙂

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We loved all the cakes, sooo pretty and yummy!! 🙂

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Pastries are always best with coffee so it’s high time for cappuccino – a break from Thai milk tea ;P

Before we called it a day, we took some photos with the Tuktuk inside Jim Thompson.

“Tuk-tuks or ‘sam lor’ (three-wheeled) used to be everyone’s favourite way of getting around Bangkok before the BTS, MRT and colourful taxis took over.”

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Bye for now, friends! Will share our Day 3 experience soon! 🙂

Hope you learned something from our Day 2 adventures and enjoyed it as much as we did! 😉