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Cruise Dining in Bangkok

From the previous post, I wrote about belated dining with friends at the rooftop bar in Bangkok. That was one day after my BD. On my BD I arranged to dine with my family on the cruise in Bangkok along Chaophraya River. First of all, I did a lot of research where I can book the journey, how much the price, what kind of food, how many types of cruise they have.

I checked on the internet, called agencies to compare prices and promotions. I decided to go with a small cruise called Wanfah with the reason that bigger cruise, more crowded but the smaller boat we have more privacy. Apologies for the photo of the ship where we boarded is not available, I was not able to take a photo of my own boat in that time. I took a picture of the big cruise where we passed instead then the blog readers will have an idea of how it looks like.

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We have to choose the menu, whether seafood or traditional Thai food once we book the table with the agency. The money we paid for the reservation is non-refundable. So make sure first if you are not going to cancel later.

We went to the pier at Bangkok River City, the boat will depart on time at 7 pm and will return at 9 pm. There was a photographer who took our photo before we were on board (we have to pay later, it’s not free 🙁 )

The entry started with spring rolls and deep-fried noodle. For Thai menu, you will have Tom Yum soup, stirred mix vegetable, Chicken red curry, steamed jasmine rice, Thai dessert and fruits.

The Seafood menu will go with Grilled salmon dish and seafood basket then Thai dessert and fruits. Drinking water is free and refillable, but soft drink and alcohol.

The boat cruised along the river, passing many significant landmarks such as the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho etc. The sightseeing at night makes them look mysterious beautiful.

There is a trip guide on the boat who will explain the stories of historical landmarks where we passed. The weather was good, no rain as we were afraid, just only humid in the air.

There was live Hammered dulcimer music and Thai traditional dance performance to entertain the tourist until we returned to the pier.

We returned to the pier on time at 9 pm, enjoyed and had a good time with family. I’m now thinking about what the next creative birthday celebration will be.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Rooftop Dining in Bangkok

The second home visit this year on my birthday makes it more special to spend time with my family and friends. It’s been several years that I didn’t have a chance to celebrate my birthday in Thailand.

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I spend time celebrating with my family on my birthday and a day later with my friends. We booked a table at a rooftop restaurant at a riverside hotel in Bangkok. I picked the hotel on the west coast, not in the city so we can see the river Choapraya view at night without any overshadow. 

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In that evening, the sky was totally blocked out with nimbus about 6 pm-ish the rain poured down. The electric roof shade was spreading cover us in the restaurant. I started ordering my first drink “Lady mermaid”, that looks purple and good choice!! Following up with Shushi and Tacos while waiting for my friend’s arriving.

The rain was gone an hour later, everything was back to normal. The sun has gone,  the sky was partly clouded and nightlife in Bangkok Metropolis awaken appreciating all audience from the top view. 

Once they arrived, we have our own drinks and ordered other dishes. We also have double sushi (recommended, it’s nice).

We enjoy good music and good food. Late-night those bartenders showed their throwing shaker mixing skill to customers. Good time to spend with friends talked for several hours about midnight. Time filed, we need to go home. 

On the bill, 5% service charge is included. Not too expensive and acceptable. We felt comfortable and have our privacy. Nice place for a couple as well, there is a private table facing the river view. 

See you until next time.

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Al Wakrah Souq

In the windy Friday afternoon, I escaped from Doha to the nearby city called Al Wakrah; 21 kilometres from Doha to the South of Qatar. It took a short drive (maybe quicker than driving to my office, due to the better traffic) around 20 minutes. I had the place in mind to visit, “Al Wakrah Souq”. 

“Souq” refers to “Market” in general as I understand from their activities and the place. Doha also has “Souq Waqif” but what makes Al Wakrah Souq different is locating beside the beach!! If you keep driving south, you will reach Sealine where you can expect to see tremendous of sand dunes like in the movie, i.e. Transformers.

Beautiful weather during winter here, little warm sunny but mostly cloudy and strong wind, just right for rumbling on the beach and sitting outdoor at the coffee shop. While I walked pass by the alleys, I could see new restaurants, shops, cafes and stalls alongside. The Souq is such a labyrinth town for unique visitors, but no worries there are the signboards. To be honest, I don’t think it could help (sorry :()

Many wrecked ships set along the beach line, last time I was here there were only two. Big portable swimming pools laid on the beach for kids, the beach umbrellas and seats reserved for family only (if you are alone, not allowed).

After having a survey walked and checked for an excellent outdoor restaurant, I pick one which I can see the view of the Arabian Gulf. There is a new port on the left hand (I almost got a job there).

I couldn’t eat much as I had eaten a large breakfast from home. Mostly spending time relaxing and talking with a friend, exchanged life experience in Qatar. Later horses walked pass us, I wondered if they are for taking photos or riding.

Later the wind got wilder and caused the fault alarm to the fire detectors at the beach. I concerned about my respiratory that was just recently recovered then I shouldn’t stay for long. Due to it was Friday, people went to pray, and the market will start late in the afternoon. Some shops will open in the evening. Time to leave.

The first thing I did when I arrived home was taking a shower and wash my frizzy hair from the sand. And I didn’t forget to clean my nose. 

There are a lot of exciting places in Qatar outside Doha to visit. Especially in winter. 

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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My tale from Qatar

Living in Qatar isn’t like what many people imagine. I can’t deny that I also used to have a wrong idea when I was informed to mobilise here.
I will share my experience from living here almost 12 years for both pros and cons.

Tax-Free:
Yes, you are not mishearing. Every penny you earned here is Tax-Free unless you have to pay the income tax to your home country, i.e. US citizen. Luckily I don’t have to pay the fee to Thailand. But recently the burden of tobacco and alcohol has implied. That’s it; the consumable products remain the same price. Most of luxuries products price here is lower than in many countries.

Very fewer burglaries:
Based on my own experience, the first year in our staff accommodation got burglarised; the DVD player and Athena receiver were taken. A year later I moved out and had my own apartment, I forgot and left my door open for 2 days once I returned home then realised that I didn’t close the door. I urged to search for the missing belonging, but none was taken. I haven’t got a steal. I lost my iPhones several times due to my forgetful habit, I always got them back.

The income rate:
The salary base is higher than in EU and the Middle East: Base on the recent analysis of Numbeo report in the year 2018. The percentage of employment is higher, and so does income. The cost of living may vary, base on the local product and manufacturing.

Currency Rate:
While many countries face with the US Dollar currency fluctuations, Qatar still remains fixed rate with 3.65 Qatar Riyal to 1 US Dollar.

Gasoline Price:
Due to Qatar posses the third most natural gas resource and the first rank in the refinery in the World. Therefore, the price rate of gasoline is cheaper than the global market.

The city growth rate is significant raises:
Qatar is now constructing infrastructures spreading overall the country. The large metro project-wide, highways spreading to all sub-urban as well as the new HIA airport leads to the expansion of the city rapidly. All infrastructures construction is the core aims to support the upcoming World Cup 2022 that Qatar will host. Hopefully, I will still here to watch the World Cup (crossed fingers).

Now I’m talking about the disadvantages.

Climate:
As we know how cruel and severe of the heat in the Summer. The high temperature hits 50°C during day time causes the dehydration and heat stroke. But no worries, we are still surviving. How? Well, we keep staying and continue our activities indoor, avoiding exposure to the sun. The summer here is from May – October.
You may have another question, what’s about the people who have to work outdoors.
Once the temperature reaches 40°C, the government will announce a notification enforces all people and organisations to follow that working outdoor during daytime is prohibited. They will have to divide into nightshift. So they are working at night. For any necessary or urgent case may request for approval to operate at daytime. Besides the heat, you must also be aware of unpredictable duststorm as well as sandstorm that occur overall the year. Once it comes, it could lift a small tree, or in the worst case that it used to happen, it lifted cars. Yes, you didn’t misread. Anyway, the weather in winter (November – April) is pretty good.

The timing during Ramadan:
Actually, it’s not a disadvantage. I’m telling a story that it’s more difficult for you to find an open restaurant during the daytime. All shops and restaurants are closed and will reopen again after sunset. The working time is 6 hours per day; so if you have something to liaise with the government entities, you must expect the delay. The supermarkets and groceries have a specific opening time that you can buy, but you can’t try or eat all the food (it’s about religious).

Nightlife:
If you are such a nightlife or party person, there are limited places that allow you to drink. Either at your home or in a pub (in a hotel) where has the permit to sell alcohol (you have to finish the drink inside, bringing out from the place are not allowed).

All the above are just what I can recall now. However, it depends on you and your lifestyle that how you can manage and adjust to being flexible, then you can live most of the places in this world. I told you in the previous post that the happiness depends on you.

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Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise

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The further you go, the wiser you are

I have heard that things could make people smarter are travelling and reading. I believe the quote because the further you go, your vision will be broader. You will understand the world and flexible your perspective to the difference on this earth.

Learn to drive because it makes you travel anywhere you wish yourself whenever you want, not burden other people.

Save money, prepare the budget for travelling like as trading the new knowledge to your life.

Planning your trip will teach you to be more accurate and precautionary in everything. You will learn how to spend, how to survive outside your homeland and how to make friends with strangers. You will unfold the new things that amaze you.

Leave your footprints as far as you can, it will widen your vision. But if you can’t go yourself, let the books take you there.


Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise

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Relaxing on my weekend at Aspire Park

I am sitting at the coffee shop balcony while writing this post. It’s a winter morning in Qatar, and the temperature is below 12°C. I intended to get up early today to spend time at this place before going to the market. I do savour the scene of the nearby Aspire Zone park side view with the Torch Doha standing in the background combined with the first light of the day. If you get up early, you will have more time to enjoy the beautiful nature and moment.
(I don’t promote the brand of this coffee shop or any drink on this post. It’s just what I ate and drank today. No commercial, and drama.)


Of course, it could be the only season I can do such a thing due to the heat during the summer would burn you down since 4 am.
The Aspire park is 24/7 open for people to walk, jog, do exercise, chilling relax or picnic. This area developed for the tourists in the Asian Games 2006.

Our weekend is Friday and Saturday, some people may have only Friday off and continue working on Saturday. Lucky me, working as a consultant has plenty of time to spend with other activities. I have been working as contractors for several years and found out that I can’t work 6 days a week longer, it was a tiring and tough job. Although the emolument is much more than the consultant,t I consider my health comes first. We grow old every day, and I can’t work like that until retire. I choose to trade my happiness with money. Every people has his own thought, million people have a million perspectives. We are different, but we must admit the difference.

The supermarket opens at 8.00 AM, so I have some time to write the post, the supermarket is next to the park. I planned to walk to the mall through the Aspire Park so I can relax, absorb the good weather and also can exercise. My target is to walk 10,000 steps every day. The park has a large pond with ducks, gooses and swans in the open area. I used to get attached by gooses here, so funny. There are 2 fountains and 2 concrete bridges. The park has many exercise stations and tracks for jogging. Winter is the best time to come here for jogging. I will add the photos I snap from the park during my walk when I came back. Cheers!!

Copyright © 2019 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Sabaidee Luang Prabang #3

The schedule for the third day in Luang Prabang started with visiting the National Museum (the same area with the Royal Palace) in the morning, follow with buying souvenirs in the morning market and end up with the night market in the evening. The breakfast was good as it was, we order omelettes with grill hotdogs served with Laos tea and pineapple juice.

The weather was beautiful as usual but bright sky, that was the first time we saw the Sunshine since arrival. We walked less 10 minutes to arrive at the national museum, the place began crowded. Once entered the main gate, the ticket booth is on the left hand. The entry fee is KIP/person (USD 3.50). You can notice the wayfinding signage aside the ticket counter directs to the theatre and locker room (they are in the same building). Both taking photos and videos inside the building are prohibited then cameras, mobile phones and all electronic devices equipped with cameras have to be kept in the provided lockers. The proper and polite attires are required. You will need to take off the shoes and put in the given rack before entering the building. I do have photos from outside that is grand hall building at the entrance (I didn’t go inside then not know exactly it is a temple or something else.) and the landscape scene.

Inside the high building structure are made of Teak wood, is preserved as a museum, all authentic appliances in the royal family displayed in each room. There is formal foyer for guests and official ceremonies and the private one, library, bedrooms, dining room and living room. The last room exhibited the tributes sent from countries around the World including Thailand. I was surprised that there are also gifts from Japan, Australia, France, India, USA even from Denmark. There was the gift & souvenirs shop at the out, but quite expensive. They are selling jewellery, the price tagged in USD.

At the backyard of the high building is the garage where all royal cars are stored. There is Lincoln, Ford and more. This area also prohibited for taking photos and videos.

We left the place in the late morning and walked along the street where we came but headed to the west then turn right at the first alley to the morning market. The morning market is a local market that you can have the feeling of the real living hood there. They are selling the fresh product, i.e. fish, meat until souvenirs. If you are a tourist, they may give you a higher price but bear in mind that you can bargain for everything. We got a handful of sweet, food and gifts and yes, I totally forgot to take a photo. My mom chose a street restaurant randomly on the way back to the hotel, we wanted to try a spicy papaya salad or similar as recommended by our friend as a must in Luang Prabang but what we got yesterday the taste was too sweet. Well, my mom picked one randomly. There was crowded with tourists, unbelievable that such a small street restaurant could have a lot of customers. There are many juice stalls (everywhere I can tell). My mom loves grilled banana, she prompted to spring to any booth at first seen. It was KIP 5,000/unit (USD 0.58).

They took a very long time to get us a menu book and longer to take our order and the longest to serve us the food, overall took around an hour. We order spicy cucumber salad with pickled fish sauce, steamed mushroom with chilli paste and deep-fried chicken drums with garlic. Once the food was served, we started eating and agreed that the spicy cucumber salad with pickled fish is tasty as told. This restaurant is inside the small alley in front of Sackarinh Guesthouse. We arrived at the hotel and started packing our bag for leaving tomorrow, also took some rest before went out again in the evening.

We left the hotel a bit earlier before the night market started, so we went to the same coffee shop again. Having the same drink with different time but cool (free WiFi available). Half an hour later the night market just started, it is on the same street in front of the National Museum which we went in the morning. Most sells or handicraft products, souvenirs, i.e. scarves, notebooks, magnets.

Also, there was a lot of food for your choices, vegan or local cuisine. I tried Khoa Soy, they said it taste like Nam Ngew noodle in Thailand. It looks red and hot, yes it was boiling but yummy. I wish I could have tried since the first day.

While off the market, I spotted a little girl selling Thai sweetmeat freshly from the pan and put in a banana leaf container. It was KIP 5,000/container (USD 0.58), but I did have only KIP 4,000, so she kindly discounted for us. Our stomach was full of food.

We woke up a bit early the next morning, to prep for leaving, we did book the airport bus thru the hotel, and the fare is the same rate KIP 50,000/person. We had the last breakfast and enjoyed the trip there. The flight was at 10 AM operated by Thai Airways and arrived home in Bangkok safely at 1 PM-ish.

Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Sabaidee Luang Prabang #2

Our second morning in Luang Prabang began since 3 AM to get ready to join the traditional alms-giving with sticky rice that starts at 5.30 AM every morning, it was a Buddhist holy day on our visit (we were lucky) but in Thailand is the next day. We have a similar tradition, but we use regular rice instead of sticky rice. We walked along the street to the point that the monks will pass (as guided in the given map from the hotel). There was a lot of stalls that you can get the set of sticky rice and breast cloth to put across your shoulder (we were told that it is their tradition to have a breast cloth during this ceremony). But I recommend buying those sticky rice set from the morning market if you could walk in the early morning (it is a bit far from my accommodation). Our sticky rice has finished before 209 monks arrived, we decided to head back and have some sleep before breakfast.

Breakfast starts from 7.30 – 10.30 AM, we can order from the given menu, unlike many hotels that provide a buffet breakfast. We emptied our dishes quickly, and I offered an idea to have a chilly walk to a local coffee shop. We chose a small coffee shop not far from our guesthouse (less than 10 minutes by walk). The temperature was a bit cool but beautiful atmosphere. We touched the slow life environment of the living hood there, but also a lot of tourists. What makes this town attract people around the World? It could be nice weather, friendly people and the local tradition that remains until present. I would escape from a hectic life in Bangkok Metropolis where I was born and even Doha where I have been worked for a decade to such peaceful town here. If you are looking for a place to rest, where your answer is.

Time to cast off the coffee shop and start the first trip of the day. We walked up to the north to Mae Khong River and kept walking along the river until reached Wat Xieng Thong. The view along the river, we spotted a hotel boat, canvas paints sells and a lot of guided tours that annoyed me by kept following us for a while.

Fact: Wat Xieng Thong is a Buddhist temple on the northern tip of the peninsula of Luang Prabang, Laos. Wat Xieng Thong is one of the most important of Lao monasteries and remains a significant monument to the spirit of religion and traditional art. (Wikipedia)

Information: The entry fee is KIP 20,000 (USD 2.34). The proper and polite attire required.

Not many tourists in the morning, we could walk around and get inside chapels and pray. There is a Buddha statute named Pra-Man which is kept inside the locked chapel and will be brought out only once a year on 21st April for the traditional holy ceremony in Luang Prabang. People are not allowed to get inside this chapel. I went inside a building where keeps various Buddha statues and the golden sculptured 7 heads of the king of Nagas that I guess it is used for Pra-Man ceremony.

We left the temple and used the different road heading to the national museum which is our next target. Unfortunately, it was closed when we arrived and will reopen again at 4 PM. So time to have lunch, we were told that the spicy papaya salad in Luang Prabang is a must. I followed the map that I got info from the internet where the recommended restaurant is, and again it was not open until evening. With no choice, we randomly pick a restaurant on the way back. We order spicy papaya salad, grilled chicken and juice. What surprised me is coconut juice, it is not juice, but they use coconut milk blended with ice, OMG. I felt eating a thick cream.

Papaya salad was not much impressed, it was too sweet, but grilled chicken was superb. The sweet-scent and savoury flavour of Laos coriander seasoned the chicken very well. We paid around USD 12 in total.

The national museum and royal palace schedule were shifted to the next day. We couldn’t do anything but tried to look up from outside.


Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Sabaidee Luang Prabang

The last trip in the year 2018 was requested by my mom. She wanted to visit Luang Prabang where in the north of Laos. I confess that this trip never been listed in my task. Travelling to my neighbour country is not my preference. We arranged the plan, flight ticket and an accommodation a few months before moving in December. Then we had time to check the hotel price periodically if it went down then we can rebook again. I booked the accommodation through Booking.com which gave me the lowest price and good reviews. I chose the guesthouse inside the ancient town so we can walk around the city on our own. This trip is a bit difficult due to travel with a knee injuries senior, I got knee supports for my mom so she can walk further.

The best accommodation is 3 stars hotel/guesthouse inside the town. I book “Villa Oudomlith” as given top 5 rating by guesses. We travelled from Bangkok International Airport in the morning and took 1 hour-ish to arrive at Luang Prabang International Airport. The weather in the winter was very nice (17 – 25 degrees Celsius) with cloudy. While walking to the parking lot I noticed those mount peaks were covered by clouds, probably it was rain last night.

The money exchange counter is at the main arrival gate which the given rate isn’t different from inside the town. Also, SIM card shops are there on your arrival to purchase as necessary. They accept almost currencies, I did exchange Thai Baht to KIP with rate 1 THB = 265 KIP. In case you forgot to do the exchange at the airport, no worries, there are currency exchange counters in the town and all the shops there accept Thai Baht, US Dollars and Euro (but they will give a change in KIP). You can find Taxi counter for going to the town at the exit gate, the fare is 50,000 KIP/person. You will just inform the driver your hotel/guesthouse name, they will bring you there. It’s a small town then they know every hotel here, no worries.

It took 15 minutes to arrive the guesthouse. The staffs are very friendly, greeted with “Sabaidee” which means “Hello” in their local language and fully assist since we stepped down from the van. The welcome drink and complimentary was served. They can speak both English and Thai, so it’s easy to communicate with my own language. They gave us a map and information about tourist attractions and also advise if we book the ticket through them, we will get some discount.

After finished storing our stuff, we were ready to set out. We followed the map to Khan River, strolled chilly along the river. Khan River secluded from the Mekong River that joins at Luang Prabang. Some tourists stopped to snap photos, some crossed the bamboo bridge (it’s not free, the entry fee is required, but I didn’t try). As we looked up, there was cloud topped over the mountain range. We spent around half an hour surveying the living hood along Khan River, there was a small group of novices passed by, monks in a red bus, street food and guide tours asked you to book a trip to Kwang Si Waterfall through their agency. It was time to fill our empty stomach (I realised we had just only breakfast), we spotted a lovely restaurant beside a junction to the Airport (there was no traffic signal, if anyone found, let me know). We were curious about the food that I have imagined I couldn’t eat their local food, but I will try. Once opened the menu, they are precisely the same as Thai food (thank God), we ordered 2 dishes of their local cuisine and sweet mangoes with sticky rice (as I said it is also our Thai food). The taste was OK, but I give proper credit to the sweet, nice one.

Next attraction is Mount. Phusi, the most beautiful sunset scenic point in Luang Prabang, the top has a stupa with Buddha statue located inside. You will need to climb over 250 steeve steps to reach the top which challenged my mom leg strong. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day, we could do only just snapped photos before went down, from the top view there is Khong river lies beneath; branches with living buildings orderly including old temples along the mountain ranges (Mae Khong River is the longest river in South East Asia) — the opposite Mount. Phusi ascent is the National Royal Palace museum (I will write about it in the next chapter). Once arrived the ground, the night market was early preparing the area, but we drained from the climbing then nothing better than heading back to the guesthouse, take a shower and have a full sleep. I do have a full schedule for the next day. See you! The Royal Palace.

Information: Mount Phusi gets its name from an old Lao folk story. The stupa was built in the year 1804 by King Anourat. One legend, with ancient roots in the Ramayana, tells how the mountain was moved from Ceylon (Sri Lanka) by the monkey king, Hanuman.

Phusi Mount Entry Fee: KIP 20,000 (USD 2.34)

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Copyright © 2018 All Rights Reserved. All photos on this post were taken by me unless stated otherwise.

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Little tips when you arrive at Suvarnabhumi Airport

Thailand is the one of the world most destination as the view of the tourist you may not know many little tips that could be useful once you visit Thailand. 

source: Tooykrub / Shutterstock.com 

First of all, our main airport is Suvarnabhumi International Airport, and its code is “BKK”, but the airport isn’t located in Bangkok as people think. The airport located in Samut Prakan Province that is Bangkok’s perimeter at the East.

The currency is Thai Baht and it’s rate is floating on US Dollars in the market.

Once you arrived the airport, I would suggest you not to do any exchanged at the bank kiosk inside the airport because you will lose some money due to the low rate. The place where you can get the better rate exchange is “Super Rich” kiosk that is at the basement. You will need to go down under the last basement and walk to the Airport Rail Link Station, you will see many exchange counters there, but keep looking for Super Rich in Green Color. I am emphasis again “Super Rich Green Color”. There is 2 colour, orange and green, I suggest you go to green. It offers you the highest rate among those kiosks in the Airport.

About the telecommunication i.e. telephone number, SIM card. Once you grabbed your bags and walked out from the Customs area, you will find the telecom network provider on the left hand, there are AIS, True and Dtac that you can take information and purchase the package during your stay. Also another option at the 4th floor, far right corner, same area as the post office where you can buy SIM card from CAT Telecom (which I have never tried before).

The airport offers you 2 hours free WiFi, you will have to register your passport and email address at the first connect to the WiFi. The internet is provided by AIS, True and Dtac then you can choose whichever you prefer. 

At the passport control, there is E-gate for Thai Passport on the right hand. Foreigner passport has to go to the left. There are 2 passport control at East and West and usually the West is faster for early morning arrival. 

You are allowed to bring 1 ltr of Alcohol through the Customs.

These are simple tips as I can remember from every time I came back home. If there is any new things I discovered, I will share to you.