Thursday, 20 December 2012

Thailand, Krabi

I'm back from Krabi. It seemed like yesterday since I set foot at Krabi International Airport, all geared up for some fun and adventure. Why did time seem to fly so fast when you are having a great time? I'm already missing the place and wish to be transported back to day one of my holiday trip.

The picture below shows the Walking Street in Aonang. There are many shops along the entire stretch of road, especially food stalls, tour agencies and massage places.

Spotted a Hello Kitty taxi parked under the shade. Really cute and here when we thought the driver must be a woman, it turned out to be a guy! Cool...

The natural wallpaper in Aonang is its cliffs. I felt so rejuvenated just by walking on the street. No stifling, humid air and crowded spaces. No traffic, no concrete jungle, and most importantly, no deadlines to commit to.

The Aonang Beach is just down the road. We spent some time walking along the beach during most of our evening there.

There's this fabulous eatery called Mayai stall by the roadside. We ate there on our first day as it seemed to be very popular with the locals, so we decided to give the place a try.

We ordered simmering, hot, shrimp tom yam soup and one appetising plate of chicken soy bean noodles. Both taste heavenly, especially with a hungry stomach. The plate and bowl were emptied shortly after they were being served.

I find that getting halal food in Krabi is not a problem because half of the population is Muslim. Most Muslims settle by the sea, adopting agriculture and fishery for their livelihood. Several mosques are seen in Krabi while we were on the road and these mosques are the centre of activities for the Muslims here

The other half are Buddhists who are mostly farmers working in rubber and oil-palm plantation. Within this group, the Chinese seem to dominate the resort and sales industry. Another special group which need to be mentioned is the Mokens. They are the sea gypsies who lived in the small islands near Krabi.   

At night, there were locals and tourists who paid 100 baht to light up a 'khom loi'. The 'khom loi' were let to float into the air and carried up to the sky by the cool breeze. It's an amazing sight.

These were some beautiful lanterns hanging in one of the streets. And because I'm a sucker for those lanterns, I'm not sure how many shots I've taken to get a good photo. This is the best among the lot.  

Stay tuned to the next part of my Krabi adventure.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Singapore: Here & There

I've not done any traveling lately. Very bored at the moment but I'm planning for my next vacation so that I can enjoy myself as much as possible, especially when I know I've covered most of the interesting places in the trip. To put it simply, I'm just looking forward for the great vacation because work is draining me right now. So, holidays... here I come.

In the mean time, I'm just snapping pictures on whatever fancies me...

Like food.. Tell me who doesn't fancy food.

My Super Spicy Ramen at Ramen Ten.

To be taken with some Agedashi Tofu. Slurp your way...
Sometimes, you just need to take pleasure in the simple things in life to be happy and to recharge your energy level.

Flowers in a vase at Royal Scotts Hotel

Ceiling high, colourful rows of Jelly Beans

The No-Signposts at Universal Studio Singapore

Glowing purple lights at the Helix Bridge

Cute cat looking out from the stairway

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Thailand, Pattaya (Sanctuary of Truth)

I was truly fascinated with this place. The Sanctuary of Truth was an unforgettable destination for me although the photo below made it looked like it's a normal temple. When I was at the site, I thought the entire structure was some kind of a Hindu relic that must have traveled through the time machine into our world. 

Standing at 105 metres high, this sanctuary is equivalent to a 20 storey building! A building that housed all kinds of statues and sculptures. While the place itself was massive, it felt empty because there were only workers finishing the incomplete parts of the building. Not surprising actually as not many outsiders knew about this place. 

Apart from this, the building is made of 100% wood. This means that metals and nails are not used at all in its construction. Instead, the builders rely on wooden pegs to bring the structure together.

To create this sculpture, large blocks of wood were hand carved from scratch. The tour guide told us that the sculptures were meant to show visitors the relationship between human beings and the Universe. The Eastern philosophy was also introduced several times in her explanation. 

 Actually, I didn't really get what she means by Eastern philosophy or what exactly it represents. From my own understanding, the sculptures depict how culture and religion have merged. And when we talk about religion; Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism seem to have very little distinction from one another based on how they were presented. Thus, I conclude that the Thais in general accept this as a holistic approach to their lives.

The cosmological sculpture on the high ceiling also signifies how human beings should live in harmony with nature and the universe. The circle of life is an important symbol which lay the groundwork for an ideal world formed by 7 creators - namely the Heaven, Earth, Mother, Father, Moon, Sun and Stars.

Besides the gods depicted in the 3 religion, sculptures of Apsara dancers (female spirits of the clouds and waters in Hindu and Buddhist mythology) also decorated the building. The mystical element here also points out that both fantasy and reality do coexist in the belief system of the Thais. 

In a nutshell, I still do not understand what Eastern philosophy is but I do hope that the building of this sanctuary will get completed soon as it has been ongoing for more than 20 years.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Thailand, Laem Chabang Port

It's another brand new day in Thailand. We have travelled from Koh Samui to Laem Chabang the night before. The sun is still very low but it's here to bring the promise of a meaningful day for us.

As our cruise ship entered the port of Laem Chabang, a ship loaded with cargoes exited the port.

I've never been this close to a port as the port in Singapore is not open to the public and only authorised personnel could enter the area. Thus, the fact that I was at a port excite me and all activities taking place immediately caught my interest.

Seen here are rows of cars to be exported to other countries in Asia, Europe and Africa. Thailand has a large automotive market and it is a global supply chain for cars such as Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Ford and General Motors.

Closing up on the cars.  It was a rather misty morning...

After checking out from the Port of Laem Chabang, we transferred to a bus to make our way to Pattaya. This time, our destination is to 'The Sanctuary of Truth'.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Thailand, Koh Samui Temples

Visiting the temples is a must when you are at Koh Samui or in other parts of Thailand. For most Thai people, Buddhism is a way of life so that is why there are many temples even on a small island such as Koh Samui. 

The most popular temple in Samui is the Kunaram Temple, where curious people like me could see for themselves the mummified monk, whose body was put on display for more than 20 years. According to the story, the monk had died while meditating and his body was in the same sitting position when he was first found.

An interesting lamp post found at the temple.

There was a small stall selling yellow flowers just outside the temple. Some of these flowers were bought by several members in the tour group. The flowers were offered to the monks as a form of merit. I noticed that Buddhists knelt 3 times while praying. 3 incense sticks were also lit, which are then placed at the altar. I found out that one is lit for Buddha, one for Sangha (Buddhist monks), and one for Dharma (teachings of Buddha).

Venturing outside the grounds of the temple, one small shady corner caught my attention. I wondered why these Buddha statues were left in the open and not placed on the shelves available in the temple.

Apparently, this was the final resting place for the old and broken Buddha statues, which worshippers no longer wanted to put at their altar. According to the tour guide, one could not simply throw away their Buddha along with all the other rubbish in the trash bin because it was frowned upon by the religion. Hence, worshippers left their "unwanted" Buddha at this temple or they may alternatively place their Buddha under a Bodhi tree.

Beside this spot, there was also a small lotus pond in the temple. Lotus is a significant flower in Buddhism as it is associated with rebirth and purity.

Even the second temple, which we went to - Wat Plai Laem, is on a lotus-like structure built on a lake.

Interestingly, each petals of the lotus surrounding the temple was made to house the ashes of those who were cremated.

The other unique feature of this Buddhist temple is the Kuan Im statue (the lady monk) with 20 arms. Not sure what each arm represents but the two hands at the top of the statue's head are actually holding a golden Buddha. Overall, this temple is a little bit different from other temples because there seem to be a strong influence in Taoism in this temple.

At the end of the trip, it feels like I have at least understood a little bit more about Buddhism. It also helps when the tour guide was so passionate when explaining to me about his religion.

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Thailand, Koh Samui (Chaweng Beach)

I have been super duper busy these past few weeks. Finally, I can continue with my updates on Koh Samui - the most interesting stopover in the cruise, so I'm really glad I didn't give this island a miss.

This is the street that leads to Koh Samui's most popular beach at Chaweng.

There are many restaurants along the street including fastfoods and Indian restaurants. We decided on having a hearty Thai lunch before heading to the beach. I like how the street is not crowded with people.

There are also some posters on the next Muay Thai match, hung around several lamp posts. What strike me as interesting is that there is going to be a match between a Thai and a French! This sport has certainly come a long way to gain an international recognition.  

We made our way to the beach and had a pleasant surprise. There were quite a number of water sport activities to watch.

And the beach is really beautiful. The sea water is in different shades of blue. It stretches far out into the sea. Plus it's really shallow, so you can walk towards the sea with your feet touching the ground at quite a distance. 

I can't help taking photos of the beach. Unfortunately, I couldn' take a dip too. Sob..sob.. Our itinerary is so jam-packed. That's the downside of going on a tour - you can't do what you want to do.

A songtaew in Samui.. this is actually an open red pick-up truck, which is a form of 'taxi-bus' for the locals. One can board and alight anywhere along the route that it takes.

We went to the temples after this. 

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Thailand, Koh Samui

I went snorkelling in Redang Island for about 2 hours at its Marine Park. Unfortunately, I did not take my camera with me because I thought it might get wet. If only I had those waterproof cameras... I really wanted to capture the life under the sea, which was really amazing.

From Redang, the ship set for Koh Samui, an island close to the mainland of Surat Thani province.

Taken from:

We were very near to the Gulf of Thailand. At one point of time, I remembered standing on a beach at Chantaburi Province, facing the Gulf of Thailand. The beach there is really spectacular, with shimmering turquoise water.

This was at the Lomprayah jetty, where we disembarked from the boat. Pretty excited here because this is the beginning of our island exploration.

I had the impression that most of the islanders must be fishermen, since there are many fishing boats on the shores. The scene here looks so tranquil with small waves and soft breeze, accompanied by the mountains in the background.

Later, I was told that the island has a thriving coconut industry, exporting about 2 million coconuts a day to other parts of Thailand and Southeast asia, namely Singapore. One of our itinerary is therefore to visit the coconut plantation. Coconut plantations used to cover 90% of the island, but now some of the lands had been cleared to make way for the booming tourist industry.

The coconuts here were plucked by this skillful little fellow..

Featuring Jas with one of the monkeys. At the end of this trip, I bought quite a number of organic coconut products. I now know the difference between products made from real coconut and those made from a concoction of various chemicals. My only regrets is that I didn't buy more of those organic products.

Also, spotted at the plantation is a bull. Not the kind that is used for ploughing, but for bull fighting. It's a popular sport in Koh Samui.

Stay tuned for more updates on Koh Samui.