The Tijuana Cultural Center

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One of the advantages of living in San Diego is that I can rather quickly go to Mexico; if I’m inclined to.

Rather recently I have had the opportunity to go to Mexico twice. Both times after work for a total of around 10 hours. Obviously not the most time but I got to see some things.

The picture above is of the San Ysidro walk in entrance to Tijuana, Mexico. Once you walk in to the processing building you are immediately aware you are no longer in the United States.

On both days I was advised by my significant other to look as natural as possible when entering the processing building pictured above. Both times I was immediately stopped and sent to a line consistenting of 1 or 2 other people. A officer then stamped my passport and sent me on my way.

After walking a block or two you will be greated by a horde of people trying to shuffle you into a taxi. Only 1 of the 4 or 5 taxis I was in had seat belts. I am a seat belt person and they make me feel slightly more comfortable when driving through what I can only describe as crazy Tijuana traffic.

Aside from the feeling I was walking in to a prison and the anxiety of driving in craziness I actually had a pretty positive experience.

I had some great steak at a lovely Aregentinian place.

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And my personal favorite experience of my mini adventure was exploring the Tijuana Cultural Center.

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The cultural center is actually really cool. It is the only IMAX theater in Tijuana. They currently have a Journey  (the rock band) lazer show that plays inside the dome. I am disappointed I did not get to see it.

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Additionally the building behind the dome structure is actually a museum complete with botanical garden. The Botanical is small but free and has some cool statues you can view

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The museum itself is about $1.25 usd to enter. You appearently have the option to view either the Tijuana rock museum which from what i could discern has replica guitars of famous TJ rock bands or take a trip through the history of Baja California.

The museum would not allow me to take picturesof the displays inside but you’ll see replicas of Spanish ships, sword, chapels, and even a small section on dinosaurs.

If you get the chance i would recommed stopping by this museum watching the Journey show (I love Journey) and checking out the Cultural Center.
 

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Places I plan to visit when I go back to Bangkok

During my last trip to Thailand I feel I did not get to explore enough. Which is kind of a crazy thing for me to say because I am very much a stay indoors and fire up the playstation type of guy.

In Thailand though I was out pounding pavement everyday. I was out riding the BTS, riding the water ferry,  seeing Wats (temples) and hanging out eating delicious food in the night markets. That being said here are the things I want to see most when I get back to the Bangkok area.

 

THE GRAND PALACE

Grand Palace

(Note: The above is a picture I took outside the of Palace. While not the most flattering it is one that I took and I’d prefer to use as many of my own pics as possible.)

I think I mentioned in my last post that while in Bangkok I had planned to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Pho on the same day. Long story short the Grand Palace was closed to the public when I got there and so now this is the place I want to see most in Bangkok. Not getting to see this amazing place is regret of mine.

Some interesting things you may not know about the Grand Palace:

-King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX) doesn’t actually live here. The Royal family hasn’t really lived on the grounds since 1925.

– It was initially built entirely out of wood.

-There was an Inner Court where the King would house his harem. It’s no longer in use.

-The famed Emerald Buddah is kept here.

  • Emerald Buddah is actually not made of Emerald. Emerald just refers to the color.
  • Has 3 seasonal outfits that only the King or Crown Prince can change.

 

Ayutthaya Historical Park

I REALLY REALLY wanted to come here while in Thailand but did not get the chance to. Chances are if you are a Martial arts movie /video game nerd you have seen this place and may not know it. Remember the old 80’s movie Kickboxer where Van Damme is training in the ruins of what looks to be an old temple. That is a part Ayutthaya.  Sagat’s stage  from Street Fighter with the statue of Buddah lying on his side. Thats Ayutthaya.

While its not really in Bangkok its not crazy far either. So I would not mind grabbing a taxi and heading out there. Something about this place really draws me to it. Its number 2 on my list!

Interesting facts

– The capital of the Ayuthaya Kingdom aka Siam

-In 1767, the Burmese attacked and conquered Ayuthaya. This is when the capital was moved to Bangkok.

-It had not 1 not 2 but 3 palaces

  • Grand Palace – This was the King’s residence. It was destroyed during the Burmese invasion of 1767.
  • Chandra Kasem Palace – Royal residence of the crown prince.
  • The Rear Palace  – Built by King Maha Thammarachathirat  for one of his sons.

 

Floating Market

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Pictured above is the sign for the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. I tried coming here with a few family members and ended up not going due the amount they wanted to charge us (about $64.50 USD per person. They charge over double for foreigners)  and the fact they wanted to put us in like 3 different boats. I was very surprised they did not want budge on the price. Next time I will be looking for a different market.

Otherwise I think the idea of climbing in a boat for an afternoon and doing all your shopping by paddling  around is an amazing idea. There are many different floating markets around. I would suggest doing some research online before trying to goto one that way you don’t get surprised like I did.

This is number 3 on my list!

Things I wish I knew before going to Thailand

Wat Phra That Phanom 1

I went to Thailand within the last few years. I can’t really give specifics as I don’t want anyone from work finding this blog and finding out I plan to escape.. I had a amazing time. So here are some tips that may help you when you go.

1) Get comfortable. That plane ride is LONG if your coming from the States. I was on the plane for about 21 hours. When I landed in Bangkok my bottom hurt and I still had to take a bus 12 hours to get where I was going. Bring a pillow for the plane. If you’re a giant like I am (about 6ft tall) airplane seats are not your best friend. My knees were constantly shoved into the seat in front of me. Sometimes you’re lucky and once the plane is actually in the air you’ll be allowed to move to an empty seat area.

2) Do you really need an electronics converter? I am a guy who always needs to be “connected”. I need internet! I did a ton of reading online before I went to Thailand about what power converter I needed to buy for traveling and while I did in fact buy one to be safe I actually found out that alot of devices now such as laptop and cell phone chargers are able to compensate for the voltage differences. I did not even end up using the power converter I bought. So you may want to do a google search before you end up buying a converter.

3) Tipping is not the norm.  I am used to tipping my servers in restaurants here in the States. In Thailand this is not a normal practice as far as restaurants. I did make a few exceptions and left a tip for some of my usual servers.

4) Dress appropriately when visiting a temple (wat). When I went to Wat Phra That Phanom (awe inspiring btw) one of our female companions came in shorts and was promptly denied entrance. This is not appropriate dress for a temple and is considered disrespectful. Luckily most of the temples, including this one, I saw do offer rental clothing. She was able to rent a Sarong ( a long skirt) for something like 5 baht and enter the temple.

5) Tourist Maps. In Bangkok free tourist maps are available at the BTS stations (ie a trolley station). They are very basic and just say what stop to use to get where. I used one of these maps and road the BTS to alot of places. That being said I found that they aren’t perfect. I planned to visit  Wat Pho (Temple of Reclining Buddha) and the Grand Palace on the same day. I spent a lot of the day at Wat Pho. Once I was ready to leave and see the Grand Palace I checked the map and found I needed to leave Wat Pho go back to the River boat station and ride the River boat up one stop. Well I took the maps advice and road the river boat up one station. By the time i got to the Grand Palace it was closed to the public. This was not the maps fault. So I decided to at the very least walk around the Grand Palace walls, after reaching a certain point I found that things looked familiar and that the Grand Palace is actually right next to Wat Pho. So if you grab a free map try to plan accordingly.

Well thats all for now guys. I hope you find these tips helpful for your own trip!

We have a domain

Hi all. Today is a great day. Why? Because its the weekend and now I get to just be on call.

In website related news some of you may notice that we now have an official site domain name. Silentlyplottingmyescape.com is live! Additionally we are also now on google +. Over the course of the next few weeks I will be re-posting the older posts there.

I am also looking for a decent picture to replace the default mountain picture shown in the banner above and hope to have something reflecting the country I am hoping to visit, Thailand.

I was hoping to have a review of my Capital One Venture Card soon but I still have received it. Once it has been received I will be using it for a week or 2 before posting my review of the card.

Anyway everyone have a great weekend and don’t forget to follow on Google +