Category: Visas

Thailand: Third Time’s The Charm in Bangkok

By , April 18, 2011 2:26 pm
Mansion 7 Hunted Mall

Mansion 7

Being rejected for an India visa in Malaysia got us a bit down, but arriving in Bangkok for the third time, help boosted our energy. It seems like every time we have visa issues, Bangkok comes to the rescue.

Also to the rescue are our dear friends in Bangkok, Wan and Noel. Staying at their fabulous pad, having great company, and paying less attention to our budget, has us exploring the joys of expat living.

One of our favorite habits while living in San Francisco is having brunch on the weekends. Once our friends learned this, they immediately brought us to Kuppa Cafe. One giant step into this delightful restaurant sends me right back to all the warm memories I have of SF. The display of wonderful desserts and great atmosphere makes this a great place to splurge. The cheesecake is even better than The Cheesecake Factory.

Kuppa Cafe

Kuppa Cafe

Morning Brunch

Morning Brunch

Must Have Oreo Cheesecake

Must Have Oreo Cheesecake

The variety of good eats in Bangkok is something we can rely on. With the added bonus of a live show, Tawandang German Brewery is also a great choice. Our friends did all the ordering while we jam to the music. Great Thai food and entertainment, what else can you ask for.

Go Boris!

Go Boris!

Restaurant or Club?

Restaurant or Club?

Something we missed, but didn’t know, was good old Korean bbq so we head to Drum B.B.Q. on Soi 14 Ratchada Rd. We began with small side dishes, but the great joy was the mouthwatering Bulgogi meat and marinated chicken. Each table even came with its very own vacuum or telephone?

Hello?

Hello?

BBQ Chicken And Garlic

BBQ Chicken And Garlic

The Crew

The Crew

There are only a few places where charging $15 for a drink is ok and that is at Vertigo bar at the rooftop of Banyan Tree Hotel. The panoramic city views make you forget everything, but be careful not to stand too close to the ledge.

City Views From Vertigo Bar

City Views From Vertigo Bar

Rooftop of Vertigo Bar

Rooftop of Vertigo Bar

If you are like me and you like to shop and adore interesting design, Mansion 7 brings a new experience to shopping. As I enter through a wooden structure of a giant purple hand, I start to wonder what I signed up for. The haunted house inside definitely confirms I have wandered too far but then the little cute shops have me poking around. My curiosity draws me to this black door. As I open it, an army of gnomes is looking at me. Don’t miss out on the signature drinks at Cocktail Bar.

Entrance Of Mansion 7

Entrance Of Mansion 7

Filled With Restaurants, Bars, and Cute Shops

Filled With Restaurants, Bars, and Cute Shops

Haunted House @ Mansion 7

Haunted House @ Mansion 7

Cocktail Bar @ Mansion 7

Cocktail Bar @ Mansion 7

Good Times @ Cocktail Bar

Good Times @ Cocktail Bar

To fulfill my shopping needs without the fancy decor, Platinum Mall is my favorite. It is so easy to get lost in this maze that after hours of non-stop shopping and being separated from Wan, I hear my name announced on the intercom. Whoops! Also, the food court is an experience in itself.

Food Court @ Platinum Mall

Food Court @ Platinum Mall

Among all the fun we are having, there is still business to be done while in Bangkok. We dropped off our application for our India visas at The India Visa Application Centre (IVAC) on Monday morning. Four days later, at 6:50 pm on a Friday, I receive an e-mail message that our India visas are complete. However, the embassy is closing in 10 minutes. I rush to the subway and as I’m standing at the closed entrance of the Indian embassy begging for our visas, I finally convince one super-duper-nice employee to help me. As she hands me the two envelopes, our trip here is complete. For those doing the same thing, I advise going on Friday afternoon to check regardless if you get an e-mail or not. It takes approximately 5 full business days.

Thanks again to our friends, Noel and Wan! You have us tempting to move to Bangkok more each time. Also we had the pleasure of meeting Linda, who just moved to this great city from the US. It’s always nice to make new friends around the world.

Glowing Bunny

Glowing Bunny

Leave Me Alone Panda!

Leave Me Alone Panda!

Love It!

Love It!

Signature Drinks @ Cocktail Bar

Signature Drinks @ Cocktail Bar

The Pool @ Mansion 7

The Pool @ Mansion 7

Pin-up In A Coca-Cola Truck

Pin-up In A Coca-Cola Truck

Delicious Green Tea Ice Cream

Delicious Green Tea Ice Cream

What We Paid: THB USD Euro
– Flight on Thai Airways from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Bangkok, Thailand using 10,000 United Airline Miles each 41.80/pp 29.40
– Subway from airport to city 45/one-way 1.50 1.05
– Average price of taxi within central Bangkok 100/ride 3.30 2.35
– Lunch at Kuppa Cafe 633/pp 21 14.80
– Dinner at Drumm BBQ 350/pp 11.60 8.20
– Dinner at Tawandang German Brewery 468/pp 15.55 10.95
– Drinks at Vertigo Bar at Banyan Tree Hotel 400/drink 13.30 9.35
– Drinks at Cocktail Bar at Mansion 7 from 200 6.65 4.65

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Malaysia: Snacking Our Way Through Kuala Lumpur

By , April 13, 2011 10:13 am
View From KL Tower

View From KL Tower

A single bus ride from Singapore lands us in Malaysia. While this stop is not initially planned, we will try to get our India visa from here. We do not have any expectations of Malaysia, but as we step off the bus, we know right away we are going to like it here.

Frenchie & Me

Frenchie & Me

Instead of wandering the streets blindly for accommodations, we did research before hand. It turns out our first choice actually looks like the photos online and is located right in Chinatown; one big cheer for Boris.

Chinatown is buzzing with tourists and locals. There are food and retail vendors everywhere. Deciding where to eat for our first meal gets to be difficult as everything looks so yummy and it feels wonderful to be back in a country of cheap eats. Boris spins me around and I randomly land into a small restaurant on the side of the street. They are serving mostly noodles and rice bowls. This is very typical Chinese food, which I’m a big fan of. Char siu bbq meat just brings me back to my roots.

Throughout the day, I find myself snacking. How about this for a headline: Snacking for $2 a day. It begins with fresh sliced mango dipped in chili and salt.  Then I work my way to a fruit vendor. I’m somehow drawn to the smell of durian, but then I see delicious longans and it’s talking to me, “MuiMui, eat me.” Well, I use my bargain tactics and it works. They’re happy and I’m happy. I end up visiting these two vendors daily.

Logan Fruit

Logan Fruit

The weather is hot, but with only a few days in Kuala Lumpur, we decide we have to make the most of it. On foot, we walk around the city and just gravitate towards buildings we like. We first visit a mosque and in order to enter, we have to put on these purple cloaks. If my friend, Seevon, saw me, I know she would be laughing at me and would be convinced I look like a Teletubbie.

Inside KL Mosque

Inside KL Mosque

Praying Hall In Mosque

Praying Hall In Mosque

Heroes' Mausoleum

Heroes' Mausoleum

Arabic Clock

Arabic Clock

Walking Down The Hall

Walking Down The Hall

We make our way to the top of the hill. There is a beautiful building and no one around except for two gardeners. As I stay near the entrance, I end up losing Boris. It turns out he snuck inside and went to the top of the building and got a great view of the city. When he returns, the gardeners realize we are there and ask us to leave.

Beautiful Interior

Beautiful Interior

Glass Roof

Glass Roof

View Of KL

View Of KL

Roof Of The Islamic Art Museum

Roof Of The Islamic Art Museum

After a short debate between going inside the Petronas Twin Towers or KL Tower, we decide KL Tower will have a great view of the Petronas Twin Towers, so we will get to enjoy both. We enter through the park and make our way up a hundred steps. The place is packed with people. There are elementary school children running around, mobs of teenagers doing a treasure hunt, and the two of us. When we finally arrive at the top of the tower, the view is just okay as it is mostly obstructed with metal bars.

View From KL Tower

View From KL Tower

Around KL, there are so many beautiful buildings, including the old rail station. Getting around is easy thanks to the great subway system and the many buses, and people are friendly for the most part.

Kuala Lumpur Rail Station

Kuala Lumpur Old Rail Station

Cool Graffiti

Cool Graffiti

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

Sultan Abdul Samad Building

To end on a good note, we find a restaurant with lots of great reviews. A subway and taxi ride later, we end up in the suburbs where eating in large malls is the norm. Inside Marufuku Udon restaurant, the workers are very welcoming and help us with the menu. We decide to choose a few classic dishes. We do not regret our choice of the house special udon noodles with egg and some yakitoris. For dessert, we walk next door to bakery called A Slice of Heaven, which specializes in cakes. I order a cupcake and Boris gets a chocolate éclair. What a satisfying day.

Udon Noodles

Udon Noodles

A Slice of Heaven

A Slice of Heaven

Red Velvet Cupcake

Red Velvet Cupcake

Kuala Lumpur is a nice intro to Malaysia. We had an enjoyable time, in spite of not being able to get our India visas.

As of November 2010, non-residents of Malaysia can no longer get an India visa from here. Despite being told that, we tried applying in Malaysia and were turned down.

Women Only

Women Only

Prohibited List

Prohibited List

KTM Building

KTM Building

Reflection

Reflection

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers

Petronas Twin Towers From The KLCC Mall

Petronas Twin Towers From The KLCC Mall

At The Foot Of The Petronas Twin Towers

At The Foot Of The Petronas Twin Towers

What We Paid: MYR USD Euro
– Bus from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur [5.5 hours using Grasslands Express Bus] 60/pp 20 13.75
– Double room at Etika Inn [private bath, TV, AC, free wifi, clean, spacious, convenient location, recommend] 80/double 26.50 18.25
– KL Tower [discounts are sometimes available at entrance or through hostels] 25 8.25 5.70
– Average Lunch 7/pp 2.30 1.60
– Average Dinner 10/pp 3.30 2.30
– Half kilo of longan fruit 4 1.30 0.90
– Sliced mango with chili 3 1 0.70
– Subway 1.75 0.60 0.40
– Dinner at Marufuku Udon restaurant 11.50/pp 3.80 2.60
– Dessert at A Slice of Heaven 5 1.65 1.15

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Indonesia: Visa Extension In Jakarta

By , March 4, 2011 5:18 am

Upon our arrival into Indonesia, we were issued a 30-day visa on arrival (VOA) for a fee of $25 each. It used to be a 60-day VOA but as of early 2010, this change went into effect among many others. Just in case, we had on us a copy of our tentative flight out of Indonesia and plan for a visa extension. As we were not asked for any paperwork or questions by immigration at the airport, we were issued VOA right away.

Before our VOA expired, we went to Jakarta to have our visa extended. As we read so many horrible experiences with visa extensions in Indonesia, we anticipated having some issues.

We arrived in the Jakarta Pusat immigration office around 10am.

Kantor Imigrasi Klas – Jakart Pusat
Jl. Merpati Blok B12 No. 3
Kemoryan district

Jakarta Pusat Immigration Office

Jakarta Pusat Immigration Office

We were required to have:
– Passport
– Photocopy of information (photo) page in passport
– Photocopy of visa page in passport
– Photocopy of arrival/departure card
– Ticket out of country
– Completed application form (you can get this from Immigration office)

There was a copy machine there, for which they charge.

We could have dropped off the application and picked it up later that same afternoon, but we stayed to speed up the process. Here is a diagram of the complete process they had in the office.

Visa Extension Process Chart

Visa Extension Process Chart

What it translated to was a lot of waiting around and bringing paperwork from one window to another and then back to the same window. Note: there is a prayer and lunch break from noon-2pm. We didn’t realize the break hours, but luckily there were food stalls outside on the street where we hung out for lunch.

We received our visa extensions with no issues by 4pm. The people at this office were very helpful so the overall process ended up being simple, but just time consuming and expensive.

What We Paid: IDR USD Euro
– Visa upon arrival at airport 219,300/pp 25 17.90
– Taxi from central business district to Jakarta Pusat Immigration Office 25,000/ride 2.85 2
– Fee for application (if you did not print it out prior) 5,000/pp 0.60 0.40
– Official stamp 8,000/pp 0.90 0.65
– Photocopies (if you did not make copies prior) 1,000/pp 0.11 0.08
– Visa extension fee 250,000/pp 28.50 20.40
– Street food 20,000/pp 2.30 1.65
– Tuk tuk from immigration office back to central business district 15,000/ride 1.70 1.25

Helpful link:
www.expat.or.id/info/docs.html

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