Thursday, December 31, 2009

Sawatdee Pi Mai!

New Year Myspace Comments

Sawatdee Pi Mai kha! It's the Thai way of greeting Happy New Year.
As we count our blessings for the year 2009, I wish you and  your loved ones good tidings, good health, success and abundant blessings in the New Year 2010!

For the reason why we celebrate New Year, visit my post at my other blog or click:

Cheers for a more prosperous and abundant year! God bless us all.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Thai Landscape for Ruby Tuesday

Red bricks are common roofing in Thailand even in its early history. Not only are Thais known for their distinct architecture but  also for their horticultural talents. Well-trimmed hedges are seen everywhere in Thailand.

I love these flowers grown at the park in preparation for the birthday of His Majesty the King on December 5. Can anyone please tell me the name of this flower?
For more Ruby Tuesday entries, please click here.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Sunflower Garden in Saraburi

A green worm enjoys feasting on the bright sunflower. My daughter took this photo.
Sunflowers are so bright that when they are planted in a vast farm, the place glows with warmth. Farmers in Saraburi, two-hour ride from Bangkok, grow acres of sunflower gardens and they are in full bloom in November until mid-December. So last weekend when the kids arrived, we headed there with friends right away to catch up with the blooms that would soon wither.

These flowers wonderfully follow the sun's direction.

 This time we want to take the nice view of the mountains, not the faces of the sunflowers as they just all together keep following the sun. Even 7-month old Jako enjoys the trip.

For more MYM entries, click here.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Thanks God I survived the tsunami in 2004: A Flashback after 5 years

When I and my family were watching on TV the flashbacks of the tsunami this morning at a guesthouse for a weekend treat for our kids, I could not believe what I heard. That unmonitored tsunami took away over 250,000 lives in 14 countries in just a matter of one hour. And I'm one of those lucky souls who escaped that disaster as I was on an island in the western part of Phuket on that very day the big waves struck with fury.
It's good we were brought by our guide to the wrong island. But I would say that it was God's hand leading us because there were islands covering the island where we were so the impact of the big waves was not that strong compared to that in Patong where most of our guys wanted to go. Thanks God our boatman was able to bring us back to the pier before the third big wave hit. I can still freshly remember how Bert, the tallest guy in our team, hurled us ladies into the boat as we could no longer reach it after the second wave. The first wave was only about 2 meters high. Then all of a sudden, the water came down like it was swallowed by the sands of the sea without us realizing it was just gaining momentum for its next stronger blows. Before the second blow, I was already terrified with panic and didn't know what to do. I ran uphill but shouting to my colleagues that it's a tidal wave. Thanks to my husband who is very knowledgeable about science. He was yet in the  Philippines that time and he happened to be exchanging SMS with me while the rest of our colleagues were swimming except my friend who I was enjoying taking photos with. Dear hubby bade us to leave the place quickly. And so we did to save our lives.
When I was thrown into the boat, I got hurt but I didn't mind at all. What was racing in my mind was to secure ourselves from the terror of the upcoming bigger waves. Sad to say, both our boats didn't have any life vest at all and we noticed the mangroves and the rocks we enjoyed taking pictures earlier were now all out of sight. The floating restaurants close to the pier were no longer in their place. They were all swept away. Many seaside dwellers were carrying some of their stuffs on their head and their back as they tried to flee away from the coming waves.  We could feel the panic and hear the cries of the women and children but some of us were also crying. I was praying really hard as I was thinking of my two precious kids who are still dependent on me. I didn't go to Phuket only for sight-seeing. I went there with a noble purpose to sing Christmas carols at the hotels and resorts as organized by our church there and our proceeds would go to the orphanage for their educational fund. Going out to the sea on that day was just a treat for us by our hosts. It was even out of the plan. But the One who is greater than us knows what lies ahead of us. As my daughter sings, "I know He holds the future and I know He holds my hands."

 We're enjoying taking photos here just before the first wave came up.
My friend asked me to take a photo of her just a few seconds before the first wave slapped the seashore where we were. Some of my friends' clothes and bags they hanged on this tree with their cellphone, camera, passport, money, etc. in them  got wet. They had to chase or find them elsewhere. We were more concerned of saving ourselves than those little earthly possessions though. And thanks God we all survived the wrath of the sea on that fateful day of December 26, 2004.
A detailed story was posted by my friend now based in the UK. She's at the center in the photo above, the rightmost in the second and the one posing on the tree on the last.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Sunset Viewing at Cape Promthep, Phuket on Christmas Day before the Tsunami

I love viewing the sunset at Cape Promthep, a tourist attraction in Phuket. But take a look at the date of this photo. It was taken on Christmas Day of 2004, just a day before the tsunami that claimed a big number of lives hit Thailand and its neighboring countries.
Watch out for my post tonight on my personal experience how we escaped death from this catastrophe.
Merry Christmas to everyone!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Mellow Yellow Monday at Thai Parks

It's not only in blogging that meme is common. In Thailand, there's a color-coding everyday. If you go to the parks around Thailand everyday, you will notice this well-observed color codes. On Monday, you will see groups of people wearing yellow. For example, this group of senior citizens doing yoga under the palm trees wear their daily uniforms so on a Monday, you will see them in yellow.

Even many joggers also wear yellow every Monday.

And so as these aerobics enthusiasts.

For more MYM entries, click here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yellow flowers for offering at shrines and temples

This tourist attraction on the busy Sukhumvit Road always catches my attention whenever I take the skywalk from Chitlom BTS train station to Siam Paragon. It's called the Erawan Shrine and is often adorned with yellow flowers for offerings.There are always Thai performances held here such as Thai traditional dance.

For more interesting posts on Mellow Yellow Monday, click here.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Christmas in a Buddhist country

We used to feel the cold breeze of Christmas starting early November but climate has really changed so we're still waiting for the chilly air at this Christmas season to come soon. Anyway, it's good to see Christmas symbols around, at least, as there's no Christmas celebration or holiday here in Thailand except for New Year.
About 95% of Thailand population are Buddhists. But even if Thailand is a Buddhist country, we can feel the Christmas atmosphere by the fabulous Christmas decors around like these poinsettia plants at the parks and establishments anywhere. Poinsettia is a tropical plant with bright RED leaves that look like flowers and it blooms on Christmas season.Some people call it Christmas plant.

This is a towering Christmas tree (about 3 floors in height) at Zen and Central World, downtown Bangkok. It looks rather dull at daytime, especially without a touch of red, the dominant color for Christmas (maybe not yet completed). As it's not yet December, Christmas tree is still rare but next month, we can see spectacular well-decorated Christmas trees everywhere in Thailand.

You may want to visit other Ruby Tuesday entries by clicking:

Friday, November 13, 2009

Colorful Taxis: Only in Amazing Thailand


My two kids don't want to take the usual yellow taxi they are used to back home so we always have to wait for any other colors. Their favorite taxi colors include blue, pink, purple, orange and green. 
Thanks to Chris, my German friend who is an architect, designer and a photography lecturer at the School of Architecture and Design of KMUTT for all these professionally shot photos of colorful taxis here in Bangkok. He himself is greatly fascinated with such a colorful sight especially when various colors of taxis come close together during a traffic jam. They all look so bright decorating the roads in Bangkok.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Somtam with raw crabs, anyone?

Have you ever tried eating raw crabs? Here's an exotic food loaded with chili you wanna try - Somtam! In my previous post, I featured my favorite Somtam Polamai (mixed fresh fruits) but this time, it's Somtam Malaku (papaya) mixed with carrots, string beans, tomatoes, -all raw, fresh and crunchy!

It's seasoned with nam phla (fish sauce) manaw (lemon) juice, Thai caramel from sugary palm and spiced up with garlic and tons of chili as you wish.

Then choose your flavor - salted egg, dried small shrimps, salted or preserved freshwater crab which my Thai friend calls "rotten crab". Or if you dare, try raw sea crab. This is the most expensive kind of somtam as sea crab is rare.The ingredients are mixed together while being pounded in a mortar and pestle so the raw crab's fresh juice is blended well to give a distinct taste. I haven't tried it though as I don't eat crab even if it's cooked. For me, I choose vegetarian somtam mixed with roasted peanuts or salted egg or both. When I order, I always say "maisai prik" or "don't put any chili" but still they put one or two because to Thai people, no chili means "tasteless". But my tongue can now tolerate a chili or two as I already get used to it.

Somtam is loved not only in Thailand but everywhere in the world where there is a Thai restaurant. It's not only due to its great taste but also because of its high nutritional value and antioxidant properties.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Tourist-friendly bazaar selling low-priced Thai local products

Thailand is a tourist haven as it offers not only its interesting cultural heritage and unique attractions such as amazingly built temples but also delectable food and traditional products. Compared to the prices in Bangkok when buying Thai local products, you can buy Thai-style dresses, bags, scarfs at low prices in Chiangmai right at Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew's ground floor. When I checked at the night bazaar, the prices are two or even five times higher especially when you speak English. The dresses above, for instance, can be purchased for only 280-950 baht,  FIXED price so no overpricing for "farangs" (foreigners). The Thai silk scarf is only from 120-250 baht compared to 250-500 baht of the same quality sold at any other shops here. It's at Kad Muang Traditional Bazaar where farangs are treated equally as local shoppers. Go to other shops and when you speak dollars, the price also becomes dollars.

See? Lots of "farang" shoppers are going there.

Famous Thai beauty products such as spa

Durian chips, other local desserts and specialties

Place for shopaholic and night-life lovers to stay in Chiangmai

As I promised to have a series of posts about interesting things in the north of Thailand, here  I go on with it. Here's a great place to stay in case you have the chance to travel to the north. I and my team were booked at Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew which offers a very low rate ranging from ranging from 1,180 (US$37)-2750 ($86) baht per room including ABF. But the main reason my Thai colleagues chose it was its perfect location and amenities. Last year, we stayed at a Thai-style hotel away from the city so we had to spend much for the transportation in going downtown especially to the night market, restaurants, massage parlors and the internet. Lotus Hotel has pickup service from the airport to the hotel (for FREE!) so it's quite convenient for us.

You will also feel relaxed with the cool view overlooking the beautiful mountain from your room.

And for tourists who love to shop for local or Thai products, a bazaar that has a wide variety of quality but inexpensive goods is just on the hotel's ground floor. Check out in the next posts what these interesting Thai or local products right at the hotel are. Central Department Store is also a walking distance away in case you need something. For those who want to connect to their loved ones while away from home, a nice but cheap internet cafe that opens until 2:00 AM is just around the corner. The hotel also offers a ride for only 20 baht per person going to the night bazaar downtown. Although the hotel is not new and the buffet breakfast is not that excellent compared to other hotels in Chiangmai, the service is good, the rooms are clean and well-decorated, the price is fair and the location is really traveler-friendly.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Northern Thailand spicy but yummy khao-soi

While I was in Chiangmai in the north of Thailand last week, I enjoyed looking around for what is unique in there. My Thai friends brought me to the night market and here's the food they let me try - Khao soi. "Khao" means rice and "soi" is a northern term for the spicy curry with coconut milk that is mixed with the yellow noodles (shown on the left photo). You may have a choice between "nuea" (beef) or "kai" (chicken). As a beef-lover, I chose khao-soi-nuea.

The northern-style curry beef or chicken with coconut milk and lots of chili

The curry is rather spicy but you can mix it with a lot of raw sprouted mung (mongo) beans and sliced cabbage then squeeze manao (lemon) into it to balance the taste.

Now pick extra spices in case you're not contented with the tons of chili in the curry. 

There you are, so aroi (yummy)! Eat it with chopsticks. In case you can't bear the fiery taste, cool yourself with chilled fresh passion fruit juice famous in the north.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Is floating a krathong only for lovers?

On the full moon of the 12th Thai lunar calendar, usually November, Thai people float a krathong. Some Thais put cut nails or hair into the krathong to drive away bad luck and troubles, incense sticks to drive evil spirits and some money to wish good luck. To Thai people, water means life so floating a krathong unto the water signifies thanksgiving for the blessings water brings to them.

Mom and daughter are lighting the candle in their krathong.

Dad is saying a prayer or making a wish for his krathong while his son is waiting to help him float his turtle-shaped bread krathong.

It is said that loy krathong is meant for lovers who wish for a lasting and happy relationship.

And so Thai families don't miss floating a krathong.

Even high school sweethearts do have their own wish, too. Look at their hands!

There you are. The krathong is now released unto the water.