Lilypie - First Birthday

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Koh Samui - Part 1: Angthong National Park

Day 1
Reached Koh Samui around 5.30pm Bangkok time after an unexpected long (1 hr 20 mins) flight from Penang. Checked into Tango Resort, had a nice dinner at the fancy restaurant next door, and took a walk down the street to central Chaweng.

More hotel pics coming up later!



Mandarin orange + lime juice


From top left: Tomyum, broccoli with roast pork, Thai sauces, sweet-tasting duck, assorted dish


Lovely ambience

Day 2

Early next morning, we were already awake for our adventure to Angthong National Marine Park! The package cost RM130 per pax, inclusive of speedboat transfer, breakfast and lunch, snorkelling equipment, and an endless supply of cold water and soda drinks on board. Pretty worth it, as we soon found out later!

As we were waiting for the speedboat, Leonard bumped into his colleague, Zaki, who were also going on the same trip with us! The world is so small, and Intel is so huge... -_-'''


Look who's the 'broadband' now...


Leonard managed to chat up a cute Parisian.


Our first stop was snorkelling at Koh Vaw. I expected a speedy arrival, but it took us almost 1 and a half hour to get there! Was feeling a bit seasick from the boatride, but once we arrived, my health completely took over and I was soon throwing off my clothes and jumping into the sea!

Once in the water, Leonard and I were already swimming around like fish, while mom took a while to get used to being in the open sea. Dad however, after a few feeble attempts in the water, shouted: "Get me outta here!" Hahahaha... what to do... he became our camera-man afterwards, poor dad :P Better get more swimming practice!


Happy snorkellers ^__^


Say cheese!


"Cheese!"


Happy mama ^__^

One for the family


We had only an hour to snorkel. The water around the boat was dirty and filled with breadcrumbs, but it got clearer as we neared the shore. I saw schools of yellow fish, the usual rainbow-coloured trouts, several mud-slingers, a long, sharp-nosed fish and many corals. Though Leonard said they were dead corals. I think I gotta buy a fish-book to start identifying the fishes I see on my snorkelling trips! The corals were at very shallow waters, and I literally floated just above them, scared to get my legs cut on the sharp rocks.


Coral island


Next, on to Angthong! Angthong is an archipelago of limestone islands located to the west of Koh Samui. Before the trip, I thought Angthong was given 'National Park' status for its beautiful marine life and corals and there would be some place for us to snorkel. However, it was actually something similar to Langkawi's Geopark. -_-''' But nevermind, I enjoyed the view a lot! Albeit the scenery was constantly blocked by an European who kept on hogging the deck to become everybodys background... Poor Leonard got seasick, his face turned green and couldn't bear even to stand up to view the magnificently formed islands.


Majestic Angthong


The Leo and Koh Leo (encircled)


Us and deck hogger (behind) :P


For lunch, we were whisked away to a picturesque little island called Koh Wau-Talap. So picturesque that I was so caught up in the view until I forgot to take photos!! I loved the cuteness of it all: the beautiful blue skies and sea, green, tidy landscape, coconut trees, sandy white beaches and pastel-coloured kayaks. It looked like Survivor Island! There was a quaint little well and makeshift shower for us to wash ourselves before lunch. Surprisingly, there were also clean toilets and bathrooms and freshwater supply! We had a lovely buffet Thai lunch, much better than the lunchbox provided at Pulau Paya. The French girl sat with us and talked about food (Ratatouille!) and places in Paris. Now... I'm SOOOO looking forward to going there!



Koh Wau Talap


...Ohm...


After lunch, time for some exercise! All of us got into kayaks and started rowing round the island. For first-time kayakers like my parents, a guide sat into their boat and rowed with my dad while my mom sat back like Cleopatra. :P Leonard and I, on the other hand, took our time to enjoy ourselves. While I was paddling, I saw a humungous jellyfish the size of my head and I stabbed it... much to Leonard's shock. He was shouting for me to not to stab it. Haha... sweet revenge for the jellyfish that stung me in Batu Feringghi!

We rowed and rowed till we came to a part where we saw other kayak members lining up to go through what seemed like a small cavern. So we queued up also. Little did we know that it was a misunderstanding; somebody's kayak got stuck in the small cavern and everyone thought everyone else was lining up. Luckily with the help of a guide, we lay low and our kayak passed through safely without us needing to get into the jellyfish-infested waters... *scared/ guilt*

Back on the boat, we played games to guess the age of the Thai guides on the boat. I scored correct all 3 times! 25, 26 and 27 years old! I wish I were that good at gambling :P

Our next destination was to visit the Emerald Lake at Ko Mae, otherwise known as Talay Nai. Talay Nai means Lagoon inside the Mountain. It is also famously known as the Blue Lagoon from Leonardo DiCaprio's movie The Beach. It is a large pond formed by the sinking of the limestone base of the mountain. Water was channeled in through an underground tunnel from the surrounding sea outside. We climbed a short distance uphill, through the marble rocks to reach the viewpoint to see the lake, spread out in front of us.

Trekked through the stone caves like the Seven Dwarfs


Emerald Lake


Comment allez-vous?


Archipelago of mountains in the sea as seen from the viewpoint



Ko Mae beach



Taking a moment's rest


We got back to our hotel around 5pm. I bought myself a nice souvenir from the boat - the guide had taken a silly, laughing picture of me and put it on a souvenir plate! Later that night, we were so washed out but we wanted more! So we took a tuk-tuk to Chaweng center to look for food.



Beautiful Girl ^__^


Pretty Boy ^__^


From top left: Spicy chicken with santan, spicy fish, mixed vegetables with pork, Tomyum (everyday!!)

My Hong Kong Trip '06 - Part II

从山顶一览香港全景

香港全家游(一): My Hong Kong Trip '06 - Part I

那天在回家的途中坐在巴士上用港剧最喜欢用的 Sony Ericsson 手机听着林一峰的 《活下来》... “几多次感慨,几多次心急心虛心痛心爱,通通都走过,那一切仍能凭着回忆活下來...”,我顿时有一股冲动,想把我的 Hong Kong travelogue 给写完。

我一直对香港这个地方有着深深的情意结,也许因为自身是怡保人都在说广东话,也许因为爸爸那边的家人多数都在香港居住,也许因为从小到大追看港剧... 那时候自己有钱想去旅行时,想也不想,第一个地方就想到香港去。

其实没有写完香港游记是有理由的,那一次应该是全家欢欢乐乐的旅行却因为差点被不法商人所欺骗而闹得不愉快。

第一天晚上到达澳门时已经是晚上八点多了,我们差点赶不上最后一趟开往尖沙咀的渡轮。大家都跑得气喘喘,到达码头后又等德士等了很久,等待 check-in 酒店之后,大家已经很饿了。上街走走看见一间蔡澜推荐的饺子店就随便进去医肚子了,大家累得头昏脑胀,妈妈因为早前晕机还没康复过来,结果进了一间药材店看看,店主也不列明价钱就很快的把鲍鱼切片还有山药磨成粉后就把它用十千块马币售给我们。还好妈妈清醒过来对店主破口大骂,付了鲍鱼的钱就赶紧离开那里。我们还算走运了,我听说我的亲戚还被落匣强迫刷卡还钱呢。

第二天早上,我们参加了半天的 city tour。如果你入住香港酒店,那里的酒店通常会免费给你一个半天团,带你环绕香港岛。我们先在铜锣湾吃点心,我到现在还记得那滑嫩入口的港式猪肠粉。爸爸倒是说富山点心做的比较细致。接着,导游带我们到湾仔紫荆花广场看香港会议展览中心,也就是《新警察故事》里谢霆峰滑下来的屋檐。香港会议展览中心外型象只海龟,面向中国大陆,代表着香港回归中国政府。一路上我们经过很多经典的地方,比如《无间道》内的香港警察总部,还有学警学校。然后我们到半山区,遥望黎明当年追李嘉欣时买下来住的那栋楼。香港人很讲究风水,导游也向我们解释了很多建筑物的特别风水设计。有一点遗憾没有坐缆车通上山顶喝茶和看杜莎夫人蜡像馆。过后我们就到浅水湾,真是个天然的海浴场,找一天一定要带妈妈到这里畅泳。有浅水湾,也有深水湾,导游带我们绕过李嘉诚的住所,还有邵逸夫的小老婆的住所。真是有一种身处超高级住宅区的感觉... 不知道什么时候我才有钱在深水湾买下一间家呢?哈哈,伟廉陈曾经对我说过,大马人买屋子是一个 achievable dream,但香港人买屋子却是一个遥不可及的梦想。过后,我们到珍宝水上王国餐厅去看水上居民,看见香港少数居民的另一种生活方式。是被时代的脚步抛离在后了吗?到一家酒楼吃过午饭之后,我们到黄大仙庙去参观。原来黄大仙庙比起槟城极乐寺,就这么小而已。虽然这一次的旅程闹得不是很愉快,但还是和家人在黄大仙留下一张“皆大欢喜”全家福,希望我们一家大小平平安安,开开心心一辈子。

黄大仙庙

皆大欢喜!:-)


白天上半段的 city tour 已经结束,其他团友继续上深圳,我们要求巴士司机把我们停放在新世界中心购物广场,因为我们要观赏晚上在星光大道的幻彩咏香江(Symphony of Lights)表演。那时候恰逢哥哥张国荣 50 生忌,星光大道上摆设了很多张国荣一生的史记。我站在星光大道上,对着维多利亚港。迎面而来的绵绵细雨,夹着耳边不断随风传送的哥哥的歌声,《追》、《左右手》等脍灸人口的歌曲,顿时对哥哥的离去感到极度怀念与悲伤。幻彩咏香江准时开始,看见对岸的摩天楼纷纷被射上幻彩的镭射灯光,我们都躲在雨伞和夹克下观看这一场丰盛的灯光舞蹈表演。

"Cut!!!"

与李小龙合照

脚踩星爷之手印

香港是一个很有情调的地方,这个城市,对我来说,既陌生,却扣人心弦。冷冷的雨夜躲进温暖的德士里头,司机听的是收音机播出很旧的英文歌曲,那种感觉对我来说真的非笔墨所能形容。我们回到酒店,稍微整理一下,就到附近的庙街走走看看。我们住的帝豪海景酒店 (Dorsett Seaview Hotel) 就在庙街附近,走到油麻地地铁站只不过 15 分钟路程。对面有家《楚留香》甜品餐厅,那里的芒果布丁还有燕窝炖奶真的要一试!

我住油麻地

第三天早上,我们一大早离开酒店,我在酒店外打包一份菠萝包,店外贴着一份报纸介绍,说:“菠萝包配上冷冷的红豆水,堪称人间一绝!”至今我还是无法忘怀那甜入心底的滋味。早餐到对面的茶餐厅喝奶茶,瓶装冷冻牛奶,再吃猪扒饭,云吞面还有干炒牛河。香港的东西是超大份的,可是我看见许多 OL 一碗一碗的吃,但还是骨瘦如柴。香港东西也很贵吃,可是我也看见许多菲佣一碗一碗的吃,比我们吃得还豪爽,好像不用钱那样。过后,我们到中环坐 tram (轨道巴士),真是别有一番趣味。我们到处看看,进去别致的小型购物中心看看,拍照。走下走下,走到中环商业中心。我到处寻找哥哥降落的地点-Mandarin Oriental Hotel。看见一位那里的保安,我先问他烧腊店镛记在哪里。他热情地告诉我方向,再告诉我一些好玩的地点。我鼓起勇气问他:“哥哥自杀的地方在哪里?”顿时,一丝哀愁掠过他的脸,过后很不客气地对我说:“正在重新装修,关了。”就回到他的岗位去。从这里,看得出香港人对哥哥的自杀愁云还是无法释怀。是一种责备呢,还是一种思念极深的感觉?走在中环紧密的摩天楼中,妈妈说:“住在这里真的随时会疯掉。”午餐,我们到镛记吃超贵,超好吃的烧鹅和鹅掌。但是妈妈还是说怡保的比较好吃。-_-'''爸爸向我指出著名的陆羽茶馆就在附近。

人在中环


好有情调的餐厅,其实槟城也找得到

过后,我们到天星码头乘坐新渡轮到大屿山去看大佛。到了大屿山梅窝,要乘坐巴士到昂平的宝林寺去。一路上绿意盈然,还看到漂亮的大水坝。远离香港这烦嚣的大城市,投入大自然的美丽,我和爸妈都不禁松了一口气。一个小时之后,我们到了宝林寺。这天坛大佛是全球最大的青铜佛像,高 34 米,于1993年12月开光。站在那冷冷的山顶上望着这巨大的佛像,只有一句话可以形容: “Take my breath away”。晚上回到香港,我们意犹未尽,乘地下铁到旺角女人街去走走看看。

好宏伟的天坛大佛

全家福


女人街

这一次香港游,玩得不够尽兴,因为没得血拼,还有很多地方没有参观到。而且也没有偿足那里的食物。如果有机会,我想再与一班怡保好友重游香港,在港剧港片的背景前面留下倩影,参观香港著名的博物馆,一起大声探讨香港文化生活课题,一起夜泡兰桂坊。

More Wine on the House!

The first time I noticed Amy Winehouse, it was through Leonard's recommendation. He kept pointing out Amy to me whenever Fly FM played Rehab on the radio that it was impossible not to notice her. She has a really special voice, like a big, fat, black woman singing as what Jules said, but she's actually a white Brit. Yet, you can't deny the fact that Jay-Z makes this single a thousand times hotter compared to the original single.

Later, I got my hand on the album Amy Winehouse - Back to Black and was hooked thereafter. In this album, Amy sings about love and loss, and most of all, about her tumultous relationship with her husband (check out their bruises on the latest gossip news). Back to Black is a fantastic album full with emotions, and is wickedly decadent yet depressing at the same time. Songs like You Know I'm No Good and Back to Black kept me repeating them over and over again.

If you're one for soul and strong, lyrical content, you might wanna consider getting your hands on this album.

Favourite track:
-Back to Black, Rating: ***** stars

"We only said goodbye with words
I died a hundred times
You go back to her
And I go back to... us"

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dermalogica Facial

After all that exposure to the sun, sea and sand, I decided to pamper myself to the Dermalogica facial package that I purchased weeks ago at a factory promotional. The package cost RM188 for 2 Power Radiance facial treatments plus 2 free LHE (Light Heat Energy) eye treatments. The facial and eye treatments go together at one time. I thought it was worth it cos it's a Buy 1 Free 1 promotion. (Normally costs RM188 for 1 Power Radiance facial.)

On Sunday, Leonard drove me to Gembira Parade for the facial. The Dermalogica agent, Faceveil, was located on the 1st floor. Gembira Parade looks 'sad' - there's no shops there except for the occasional hair salon, beauty salon and slimming salon -_-'''

The lady started off by rubbing aromatherapy oil on my face and neck for a soothing effect. Next she cleansed my face and neck with a milk cleanser (precleanse). PreCleanse is the new cleanse! Milk cleanser is used to dissolve oil-based waste on your skin as oil dissolves in oil. Since I have combination skin, with most of my skin on my face dry except for the T-zone, she advised me to use a gentle milk cleanser in the morning and another milk cleanser followed by a foam cleanser in the evening. Next she cleansed my face with a gel cleanser and did a skin analysis of my face.

Next came the exfoliating mask enriched with fruit acid to dissolve dead skin cells and promote cell renewal. The exfoliant dehydrates the skin, so she followed-up with a deep hydrating mask... very comfortable! To achieve radiant skin, the lady advised me to exfoliate at least once a week and use exfoliating and deep-cleansing masks. Then, came the suffering part - extraction of black/whiteheads. Using a small pincer, the lady skillfully pinched every inch of my face to weed out the blackheads! Painful >.<

Next, there was a change of personnel and a young lady came in to attend to me. She picked up a thing which gave a horrible, buzzing sound like something you hear at the dentist's! I thought she was gonna extract something out from my head. Turns out that was a high-frequency germicide which was used to clean my face to be free from germs after the extraction. Macam-macam ada! -_-''' Afterwards came the LHE eye therapy, where she flashed a high-intensity light 3 x 2 times each in both eyes to stimulate the collagen around my eyes for firming purposes.

Then she massaged my face, neck and upper body. It was so much more wonderful than the Thai massage I had to go through last weekend. More aromatherapy oil, but I couldn't really relax, because I had to go to the loo. :'( Next she gave me an eye collagen mask and a multi-vitamin mask and told me to relax for 15 minutes while she massaged my hands and arms. Lastly came the skin-booster/ moisturizer.

Voila! My almost-2-hour long of pampering session was up. Thanks to my driver for fetching me and being bored to death there. Hahaha...

Verdict: **** 4-stars for highly-acclaimed and worthwhile Dermalogica products, quick and attentive service at Faceveil, clean and fresh after-results, and lovely, relaxing time!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

《生日快乐》

看了 Kelly 推荐的 《生日快乐》。

感觉很悲伤。原来爱一个人,是真的很痛苦的。我希望我爱的人,还有爱我的人,永远不会离开我。

Friday, August 24, 2007

300


就快接近第三百个 post 了。今天连这个,我一口气写了四个 post。可能因为太久没写了吧,想要好好对自己补偿一下。

刚才一个人去游泳,grocery shopping,打包食物带回家一面看 CSI Miami 一面吃饭,做家务;寂寞的感觉对我来说竟然如此陌生又熟悉。自从拍拖之后,很少一个人做事情,偶尔的寂寞反而让我感到舒畅。嘻嘻... 希望 darling 不会看见。:P

在十字路口停顿时看见一件很 comical 的事情。一位像圣诞老人一样肥,一样白毛,穿着运动装的洋人把脚踏车骑上 traffic island 之后坐倒在地上,想把脚踏车扶起来时又跌到,跌跌撞撞好几次,样子真是滑稽,但看见他是个 clumsy 的老人又好像怪可怜的。我想,要是圣诞老人骑脚踏车派礼物,也应该是酱的模样的吧... 哈哈哈! 一位好心的马来青年把摩多车停着将老人和脚踏车扶好,其他路人看见都笑了。我怪责自己去了几天泰国就觉得外国的月亮比较圆。其实不只是泰国人亲切友善而已,马来西亚人也挺爱助人的。看来 Visit Malaysia Year 还是有得救的。^_^

最近爱上一首歌,卫兰的《离家出走》。我把我的 Gwen Stefani 《Sweet Escape》 换掉,改放这一首。但是 Leonard 说不好听。我一定要努力熏陶他明白广东话,看广东戏和听广东歌!>:)

好啦,要去把自己浸在 Stephen King 的书里啦... 祝大家周末愉快!

On Chaweng Beach

Dipping in the sea

真好玩!住院 5 天,回家乡再休养 5 天,就直接到风光明媚的苏媚岛去玩水!This picture was taken outside our hotel at Chaweng Beach. Doesn't it look like a gigantic swimming pool?

Day 4,我们要离开的那一天。今天早上我们坐在 Hotel 的 restaurant area 享受一个十点钟的 late breakfast。刚巧那时海浪退潮,露出一条长长的 sand bar,从海滩伸展到海中央去。平日的我们是遇不到的,因为天天早上我们都很早就跑出去玩了。外边的太阳很晒很晒,妈妈不给我出去,因为怕我会晒到变黑妹一样。我和 Leonard 不管三七二十一,搽了防晒油就手牵手跑到海中央去游泳。

意想不到,这么漂亮的海滩,就在我们的 hotel 旁边!走到海中央,海水清澈见底,白色的海沙幼细得像粉末一样,果真是水清沙幼!我在海里拾到一只 shellfish,还活着的呢!好可爱!

我们就在海里悠闲地浮游,周围的沙滩,椰树把我们包围着,感觉就像在一个大泳池里头。我们在海里抱着,哈哈,妈妈还说,我们不敢在海里亲亲呢!^_^

回沙滩的途中,我们看见有裸女在晒太阳。好漂亮的一双... 嘻嘻... ^_^

Colors at Starbucks


暮色低垂 我站在窗外用手机拍摄
这一切绚丽景色
用脑袋记下 我们共同拥有的时光
祝友谊永存

This picture was taken outside Queensbay Starbucks where there was a children's funfair going on.

My hospital ward

Deluxe suite

This is the hospital ward (supposed to be isolation ward) which I spent five days in. Not to say I miss it, but I find myself saying "hotel room" each time I'm answering my friends' questions about my being admitted. Other than the food, I must say that the room is great... Astro, air-con, big fridge, dressing table, spacious space, people to change your bedsheets everyday... etc.

Nothing to be missed about

Yesterday I went to my office toilet. I sat on the toiletbowl... and oh man, I miss the warm seat in my "hotel room"... ^_^

And yeah, I felt like a concubine cooped up in the room, having my beauty sleep, clean and comb my hair everyday waiting for my emperor to come.

Bangkok! 2007 - Part 2: A Visit to the Royal Palace

A continuation from Part 1. :)


The next day, we woke up early, eagle-eyed for our visit to the Thai Grand Palace. Getting around in Bangkok was a breeze because there are strategically-placed information booths for the convenience of tourists. Maps are freely given, and the booths are open early in the morning. It is no wonder that tourism makes up a big part of Thailand's economy as the locals are warm and helpful with their ever-ready smile, and are more than willing to point you to your destination. Being young and thrifty, we took a bus to the Grand Palace, which only cost us less than 10 baht each.


Tourist Information Booth

You can view the bus schedule here

Taking the bus is good - you feel like a Thai, and you can view the city from the routes that Thai people usually take. And there are chun university chicks hopping on too! ^_^

Bin and I at the entrance to the Grand Palace.


Note: Visitors to the Grand Palace or any temple in Thailand must wear long pants, sleeved shirts and shoes. Otherwise you have to buy a piece of overpriced clothing from the nearby stalls.

Before entering the compound of the Grand Palace, we first visited the Pavillion of Regalia to take a look at the royal paraphernalia: costumes, uniforms, badges, swords, coins, etc.


Smiling goblin at the front of the Grand Palace

From the moment we stepped past the royal gates, our eyes glazed over in gold as we stared in bewilderment at the majestic monuments inside. Really, only 4 Chinese words to describe the whole place - 金碧辉煌!


Phra Sri Ratana Chedi


Phra Mondhop (Library) - I'm guessing they store Buddhist scriptures in here

Even the drawings are plated in gold - we saw Thai art students restoring the drawings by painting on gold flakes


Midday in Bangkok

Bangkok!

This is the picture I love most cos it's so vibrant, colourful and traditional at the same time!


Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew

According to legend, when the Emerald Buddha was unearthed, it was coated in clay, so nobody knew that there was actually jade inside. The Emerald Buddha, like a doll, has three sets (hot, rainy, winter season) of gold clothing to wear and the clothes are changed by the King of Thailand himself every year. Just like fashion houses' Spring/Summer, Fall/Winter collection...

Us with the figurines:


Wei Xuan and the gold Kinaree (half-bird, half-woman mythical creature)


Bin and a bronze Kinari


Ferocious, gigantic statue and I


Prasart Phra Debidorn (Royal Pantheon)



Chakri Maha Prasat Hall - Siamese rooftops with Western style building architecture


Beautiful

The Royal Guard and I

Wei Xuan almost got run down by a marching parade of royal guards while he was busy taking photos of the magnificent palace.


Wei Xuan, safe and sound at the Royal Gardens


After visiting the Grand Palace, it was already 1-2pm. We crossed the road to the little marketplace outside the palace to eat chicken rice. I bought 2 pairs of sunglasses by the stalls because they were so cheap! Next, we planned to go to Wat Poh (Temple of the Sleeping Buddha) which was just nearby. However, we took a wrong turn and were heading back in the correct direction when I discovered a familiar face busy snapping photographs! It was none other than Wei Jiang and Chen Jie... what a happy coincidence! :)


Chen Jie, I, Xuan and Wei Jiang


Note: Beware of too-friendly locals. After exchanging contacts and making plans to meet up for dinner afterwards at Siam Paragon, we headed off for Wat Poh. Suddenly out of nowhere a peddlar came to chat with me and told me that Wat Poh was closed for the day. Wei Xuan, being the knowing one of the three, told me to just ignore him because it was probably just a ploy to lure unknowing tourists away from the tourist trail and to some place where they could force you to buy jewellery. True enough, we soon saw a notice that said:



"Don't trust strangers"


My dad had reminded me to MUST try the baby coconut juice. The three of us were so tired after walking in the hot sun that the baby coconut seemed like a gift sent from heaven. Slurpeelicious!


Finally reached Wat Poh after all that trickery


"Would ya look at the size of my foot!"

Sightseeing in Bangkok basically means, well, looking at temples and temples and more temples. Around 5pm we set off for Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn). Beautiful, isn't it? Love the name :) We got there by a mini ferry ride, which is pretty cheap by the way. If you have a little more time you should go for a Mekong river cruise. I heard it was fabulous.


Wat Arun once hosted the Emerald Buddha and is therefore, considered as a place of high reverence. One of the special characteristics of Wat Arun is that it is actually a "recycled" piece of art. The Thai King ordered that the porcelain pieces dug up from the sea from the sunken ships be pasted onto the walls. At that time, I thought it was pretty special. After I visited the Cheong Fatt Tze mansion in Penang later, then only I knew it was a Chinese art called "Chien Nien" that only the Emperor of China, the royal family or high-ranking officials could use.


Wat Arun in the distance



Recycled tower

Temple of Dawn

Next, we went to Chinatown by bus. I had to buy some Chinese delicacies for my mom that she said were cheaply sold in Thailand. I bought cashew nuts, shark's fin, dried cuttlefish and a handbag for myself.


It was already dusk when we hopped off our bus outside our hotel. After a quick bath, we met up with Chen Jie and Wei Jiang at Siam Paragon for dinner. The carpark of the Siam Paragon had only been bombed a few days before. So, our feeling was that of a risk-taking "they-won't-bomb-the-same-place-twice" as we sat in the modern, swanky foodcourt. Chen Jie sms-ed us "We're sitting near the aquarium." But which aquarium?! There were dozens of fish-tanks in the foodcourt, with happy little colourful tropical fish swimming around, oblivious to the bombings. Actually not just the fish were oblivious, bunches of tourists and locals were bustling all over the city like nothing had happened.

Chen Jie introduced us to his friend, Lee Siew Hwa, who was working for the Committee for Asian Women (CAW), an NGO in Bangkok. We sat there discussing local places of interest, people, social culture, politics, and the bombings. It was a very enlightening and interesting chat with a fellow Malaysian who had actually lived and did research in Bangkok. Later that night, she brought us to Patpong district for some "continued research". :-)

Patpong - Bangkok's infamous red-light district, consists of rows and rows of back-end alleys and streets filled with the hottest stuff; there, just barely-after-school-age SYTs (sweet young things) winding and grinding on table-top poles in colorful bikinis, and men, mostly foreigners, prowl the streets looking for girls. I wondered, why are so many young and pretty girls willing to shamelessly bare themselves for the pleasure of men? The answer is money. The streets of Bangkok in the daytime are filled with fashionable young girls. University students and Office Ladies walk around carrying expensive bags (might be fake, I dunno..) and nice makeup and pretty heels. Heck, I can't even afford to change my wardrobe that often with my pay! My guess is that many of them moonlight as gogo-dancers for the money.

Many pimps came forward to ask the guys to go in to watch the gogo-shows. They held a slip of paper, on top of it was written "Pussy Ping-pong, Pussy Coke Bottle, Pussy this-and-that". All the variations of what the girls can do with their pussies. I was so disgusted I shook my head and refused to enter even though the cover charge was only 100 baht (RM10). Wei Xuan wondered at the sight of such immoral decadance in a pious Buddhist society. And Siew Hwa had an answer to that. Long time ago, the Thais cleverly learnt how to adapt themselves to avoid being colonized by the British. Brothels were opened up along the border and Thai women learnt the skills of "pleasing" the officers on duty. For decades onwards, this - the women - has become one of the reasons foreigners come again and again to Thailand. Today, tourism holds much importance and forms the basis of the Thai economy. And the Thais are not doing less to further strengthen their stronghold as the must-visit destination of Asia. Their smiles, their facilities, their many efforts to accomodate the whims and requests of each tourist - all learned to perfection.

The next day, the 3 guys took off to visit the Bridge on the River Kwai. I had had too much of dead people in Phnom Penh I decided to forgo it and go for some cheap shopping at Chatuchak market instead. Chatuchak is the biggest open-air market place in the world. It is open only on weekends, and is situated near the old airport, to the north of Bangkok. We arrived there by SkyTrain and got down at Mo Chit station. There is all you can find at Chatuchak - handicraft, clothes, accessories, animals, furniture, food... you name it, you got it! One piece of advice is - if you see anything you like, grab it, bargain for it, and BUY it! Because the moment you leave the stall, there is hardly a chance you'll ever find it again in that huge sea of stalls.

We spent the whole morning at Chatuchak and bought quite a number of items. :) On our way back to the hotel, we were so lucky to pass by Victory Monument on the SkyTrain, thus saving our little cash left. It was also one of the bombsites of the Bangkok bombing.

Victory Monument