Sunday, October 24, 2010

Exploring the Royal Pavilion in Phraya Nakhon Cave

Here we go! Filled with excitement to see the Royal Pavilion in the cave, we all couldn't imagine what the journey would be.
We started off from the beach to take a boat to take us to the foot of the mountain where Phraya Nakhon Cave is.
I was asked by my colleagues if my two kids were sure they could make it to the top of the mountain where the famous Royal Pavilion in the cave is.
Tham Phraya Nakhon is a cave high up in the mountains of Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park in the coastal province of Prachuap Khiri Khan. We were told that to get there is a real test of stamina and surely not for the faint-hearted or they will give up half-way. But my two kids were strongly determined to take the challenge. And so was I! Shame on me if I wasn't!?!
 This was how we sustained ourselves - rested for a while midways and drank plenty of water.
 Having a stick helped a lot. My kids told me that in their camping, they've been always instructed to have a stick on mountain climbing. It may ward off snake and help in balancing along the way.
 My son was the youngest among the mountain climbers. He was only 10 then but he would always assist me especially when the trail was very steep and the rocks were so sharp reminding me to be careful. How lucky I am to have such thoughtful son (and daughter, too)! They're a real help when dad isn't around. How could they thought that mom isn't strong? Well, mountaing-climbing has always been fun for me, they never knew as it's the first time we went mountain-climbing together. Such a sweet assurance to have them though!
"Take a deep breath, Mom, and look at the beautiful sight," they would both cheer me up. They were worried about my not yet completely healed surgery then. But I'm always a nature-lover. I would never give up!
What a truly educational trip it was for my kids! They were both giving me lectures on the rock formations they have seen distinguishing stalactites from stalagmites, etc. - things I learned back when I was at their age until college.
 And finally, here we are beholding the Royal Pavilion with our own eyes! It was built fot the King Rama III to rest during his visits to this cave.  It's an hour climb but it's worth the time and effort especially with such a bonding with my kids. My boy could have reached the destination first but he never left me and his sister behind. Such an assurance of loyalty and this great activity proved my kids' values. With kids like them around, I feel no threat of getting old at all.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

An Exciting Riverboat Trip

Happy Monday, everyone! It's been a while since my last post here. Have I been affected by the political unrest here? Not much as I'm on the other side of Bangkok, luckily a bit distant from downtown where the protests are held. Amidst the turmoil suffered isolatedly downtown, Thailand is generally in good shape. In our area, life goes on as usual. But thanks to the 2-day emergency holidays declared as I am given some time off from work so I can post here. 
The photo above is taken at the Fisherman's Village in Pranburi, East of Thailand. It's our first time to see thousands of fishing boats docking to unload their catch and preparing for the next long trip over the sea.

This is the boat that took us to a river trip around the protected mangrove area then to the estuary where the fleets of fishing boats are oared.
The explorers walk under the canopy of mangroves towards the boat for an hour river trip.
Mangroves at low tide. This area has been rehabilitated due to the toxic wastes flowing here. It used to be a shrimp farm but because of the high level of toxic wastes, shrimps could no longer thrive so the rehabilitation was necessary. Now, it grows a vast robust mangrove plantation of various species and is recovering fast to be a productive area for fish, crab and shrimp farming again.
Our boatman, also trained as tour guide, explained to us that these are century-old mangroves in this area. He also showed us baby crocodiles but I wasn't quick enough to capture them. He also slowed down close to monitoring lizards but they're so wiggly so all my shots were not so good.  Still need to improve my skills at photography, hehehe!  Overall, it was truly an educational and relaxing trip not only for us adults but for our curious kids. Thanks to my generous department for this yearly retreat:)

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Monday, April 19, 2010

Ruby Antiques

The wishing well

Here are lots of antique rubies displayed close to the library of King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT)  in Bangkok, Thailand.
An old cart
A boat
An old mill
This old mill is planted with red Bromeliads.

And these red leaves can be seen in the antique area.

More Ruby Tuesday posts here.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Modern Songkran Festival: A Diversion from Thai Spiritual Tradition

Today is the first day of the Songkran Festival, the traditional Thai New Year. It is celebrated from April 13 through 15 but some areas such as Phra Pradaeng close to our place extends it for two weeks. Traditionally, it is a spiritual event paying respect to the elders by pouring water over their shoulder and saying their wish for them. In return, the elders bless the young ones by doing the same. Water-pouring symbolizes cleansing and renewal in welcoming the new year, which is still practiced in the provinces. But now in the modern times especially in Bangkok, it has become just sort of a water war or a fun game among the young generations such as shown in these photos.

This girl using a garden hose waits for her preys.

And here are the kids throwing water to each other and to the passersby.
Kids using water guns don't realize that this event wasn't really meant for just having fun as originally conceived. But they're just following the locals who celebrate it this way. For them, it's simply one great way to beat the summer heat.
Could you imagine a pick-up loaded with large water tumblers for the water splashing war?
Here's what my kids enjoyed most. The water they use is cold because ice companies supply blocks of ice for free during this season. April is the hottest month of the year here reaching up to 42 degrees so the cold water splashed on the Songkraners is such a treat. Putting on mentholized powder is also another way to cool down the Songkraners. Here's a video.

More watery posts here and with reds here.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Familiar Thai Arch: The River Dragon

 Standing splendidly in the midst of a pond filled with flowering waterlilies, this statue welcomes you when you enter the main gate of KMUTT, one of Thailand's leading universities in technology particularly in the field of engineering. This statue is one of the symbols of King Mongkut's University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), in Bangkok, Thailand.
 Look how it glows at night-time!
It is surrounded by other images of river dragons.
Now you have a closer look of this ubiquitous arch in Thailand, the legendary river dragon, you often see in the designs of Thai temples (look at my header), shrines, buildings and even Thai boats and barges.

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On the other side of Bangkok

Trying to avoid the red-shirt infested area downtown, we still enjoyed the weekend bonding as a family just close by. We had a sumptuous dinner at HotPot Buffet at Central Rama 2 and walked around the plaza. We were supposed to let the kids feed fish at the pond here but sad to say the mall closed at 8:00 PM so we had to rush going to another mall instead to buy our groceries. Just the same, the mall we went to closed at 9:30 instead of the usual 11:00 PM. Again, it's all due to the political unrest. We're lucky we're on the other side of Bangkok, across Chao Phrya River as we're not so much affected with the rallies downtown. For many days, major malls downtown such as Siam Paragon, Central World, Siam Discovery, etc.  temporarily closed causing so much losses. As I don't frequent going downtown except if necessary, I was shocked that I was asked to get off the taxi last week when the protesters blocked the road to my destination. Luckily, there's BTS (sky train) as an option for my return. I should have walked far like my other friends did. I never knew the protesters moved downtown. But for many friends who are asking and worried of us here, FYI not the entire Bangkok is really affected. We still go to work and do our routines here as usual because our area is very peaceful.

Hope the Songkhran Festival, the Thai New Year celebration, even if canceled in some places will go on in our area being a bit far from the protesters so that I can post fresh photos here. Definitely, the celebration in Khaosan, famous for tourists, has been canceled as it is close to the protest areas.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reclining Buddha

  Housed in the oldest temple of Bangkok, the gold plated Reclining Buddha about 46 meters long and 15 meters high illustrates the passing of Buddha into the state of nirvana.
Here's a closer look of the head of the Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho (Reclining Buddha Temple) in Bangkok. My ADMU professor, Dr. Carol, wanted to be just the background, LOL.
Another angle. Taking a picture there needs much time as a lot of tourists all want to capture this image.
 Considered the oldest temple in Bangkok being built 200 years before this city of angels became the capital of the kingdom, Wat Pho is one of the most visited temples in Thailand. It's conveniently located close to a boat pier and Sanam Luang, the government center of Thailand, so it's very convenient to get here by river cruises or tourist/ passenger boats traversing the scenic Chao Phraya River if you want to go temple hopping. It's just across Temple of the Dawn or Wat Arun and a walking distance to Wat Phra Kaeo (Emerald Temple), both frequently visited temples in Thailand as well.
It's really amazing to see how the ancient people built a very high temple with such an impressive artistry.
Look how ornate the designs are. This made us all sigh in awe, "Truly Amazing Thailand!" Posing with the old temple guard is my former professor Dr. O, then English Chairperson of the Ateneo de Manila University.

More posts with yellows here  and reds here.