#003 Daily Photo: Pasir Ris Town

20170627_175540

Pasir Ris probably has the only town centre in Singapore that is surrounded with so much green spaces. I like seeing the town centre set against the empty fields and wide blue skies.

But unfortunately, all this is is going to be a history of the past soon. The town is stipulated to be redeveloped in the years to come, more public housings will be built and a tender has been released for developers to take up. It is wise now to take more photographs for memory sake and cherish whatever is going to be gone.

Advertisements

#002 Daily Photo: Marina Bay

20161229_213234
Marina Bay Sands, find your legitcrazyrichasians inside there
20161229_223608
Merlion, half fish half lion mascot

I think 2018 is a year that Singapore is feeling “shiok” for the massive publicity, there are many indirect benefits for a small city state.

First, we successfully held the trump-kim summit, an incredible event that the whole world is looking at.. We stood by the tv, together with the koreans and people around the world, hoping for a peaceful progress of the historic meeting. This event has help to market Singapore as an ideal location for meetings and businesses.

The movie, Crazy Rich Asian also set tongues wagging about Singapore, both mainstream and social media are talking about the disparities of the real and portrayed sides of the country, and most of us identify ourselves as “crazy rich asians” instead.  But all in all, it is a fantastic movie that you should go for.

Putting these aside, i think Marina Bay is a really unique place worth talking about. Because where in the world can you revel in the remarkable views of the skyline, enjoy musical performances at the esplanade, watch a spectacular water show, feast on local hawker food and get your nature fix, all at a walkable distance? All the above mentioned is located around Marina Bay. That being said, being small has it advantageous too.

Image result for marina bay tourist map
Credits: mapaplan

#001 Daily Photo: Singapore Port

20161106_185802
Sunset over the Port of Singapore
20161106_190016
Silhouettes of PSA during sunset

Location: Marina Bay Cruise Centre

I think any Singaporean would be really proud of their skyline, it is always a nice feeling to sit at the CBD and watch the sun set or enjoy the breeze of the wind. I think the govt did a reasonably good job with urban planning and making our CBD attractive.

I am inspired by bloggers who takes pictures of their own city/town and post it up daily. I’ve been trying to learn how to see things in a different lens. Everyday life can get really dull, boring, rigid and stressful. Sometimes being stuck in the same environment and routine can drive people crazy. That is why i often take breaks and go out of town to broaden my horizons and get a mental break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Singapore. It is easier to get a break when you’re in a entirely different environment, i’m the kind that hardly gets stress up when i’m in a foreign land, i absolutely love the process of getting loss, finding directions, speaking to strangers and discovering surprises at every corner.  

That said, i’m trying to incorporate this mindset into my daily life, distance myself from the usual thought and familiarity of the activities while enjoying the new experiences. This would require some practice of mindfulness (which is good!) to become a tourist at my own land. Alas, hope this effort would last!

Longest wooden bridge in Thailand

This is a place that i never expected i would visit, not even known on most recommendations i see online. Prior to my Thai trip, i planed to explore some non-typical places to visit in Thailand, most of the travel blogs recommended the usual places, Chiang mai, Chiang rai, Tak, Issan. But none of which is within my reach… I came across a random blog that introduced to me this mystical town called Mon Village.

This village is situated at Sangkhlaburi District, next to Kachanaburi and 5 hours away from bangkok. Making the trip there is equally fascinating.

Going from Kachanaburi: There are two ways to go there, either by private van or public bus, depending on your budget and comfort. There is only one ticketing office for the private van, based in a shop house(dark translucent doors) opposite Kachanaburi bus terminal, asked around for direction, we couldn’t recognise the shop at all. At the office, one can immediately recognise the locals who is of Burmese descent as they have white face painting over their cheeks. I was surprise that there is only 2 tourists waiting for the bus, and 1 european guy who arrived late as the tickets are sold out fast.

We finally arrived after a long road trip, with a few stops along the way. It was a tough journey with some steep roads, lots of risky bends and a couple of police checks when nearing Sangkhlaburi (so get ready your identification/passport near you). But i enjoyed the long trip anyways, something that is impossible in Singapore.

20180410_195251
Daily night market selling Thai and Burmese snacks.. You can find 711 round the corner
20180410_201833
P. Guest House is the only place where you can rent a bike
20180410_221250
Halal vegetarian Samosa
20180410_222245
Impressive bridge built by the local community of Sanghklaburi.
20180410_222308
love the vibes of this place
20180410_222334
Check out the smiley face
20180410_222857
Beautiful night lights, cool and calming 
20180410_224152
Mon village
20180411_060050
woke up at 6am to see this
20180411_060253
floating bamboo bridge replacing the wooden bridge when it collapse in 2013.
20180411_060519
Man on his long boat
20180411_060631
away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok
20180411_062248
The practice of offering food is a Theravada Buddhist tradition, its their way of laity support for the Monk’s training.

One of the main activity at Sangkhlaburi is to observe/take part in the morning alms giving tradition. As early as 5 am, one will be able to see monks from the nearby monasteries walking along the street to receive alms. Here are some dos and don’ts for photographers who are not partaking in the ritual..

  • Always Keep a respectful distance, do not obstruct the laity or monks, use a long lens if you need.
  • Dress modestly: This is doubly important if you plan to participate in the almsgiving. Take off your shoes if you’re giving alms.
  • Never use your camera flash: It distracts the monks’ concentration from the spoils the solemnity of the ritual.
20180411_062418
They are probably the first in line to offer alms to the Monks, as their spot is quite a distance away from the main street where most devotees congregate
20180411_062510
I am as excited as they are…
20180411_062527
The most senior monk usually walks at the front
20180411_062609
offering of rice & flowers
20180411_062617
Giver and receiver… The monastics depend on the generosity of the lay community to sustain, therefore the monks accepts any food that is offered.
20180411_062648
The ritual is done in silence; the almsgivers do not speak, nor do the monks. Note the lady removes her shoe out of respect
20180411_062753
Beautiful sight, one that you can’t see in Singapore
20180411_063602
This lady devotee humbly wait for their arrival
20180411_063612
She prostrate before the monks when they are close, the sincerity of her offering(just rice) is far greater.
20180411_064328
what a sight to see, the saffron robes in contrast to the colourful clothes of the laity.

20180411_064423

20180411_064436
Monks walk in meditation
20180411_065224
Sunrises over the Thai-Burmese border
20180411_065310
At 442 metres long, the wooden bridge is one of Sangkhlaburi signature sites
20180411_065607
Mile stone of Sangkhlaburi
20180411_070311
Traditional breakfast, you can opt for a meatless porridge. You can’t miss them as they are situated near the village entrance
20180411_075216
Traditional Myanmar textiles, local handicrafts and restaurants. Do buy something or eat here to support the mon community.
20180411_075828
Scenic view from the bridge
20180411_075908 (1)
Uttamanuson Bridge
20180411_080215
Village boy posing for you, do tip them if you can, it’ll help them in a way or another.
20180411_080225
There’s not much happening here, but you’ll likely receive smiles as you wander through the village.

20180411_080430

20180411_091918
Mahabodhi-styled stupa
20180411_092752
Dharma Cakra

20180411_092816

20180411_093054
Even the main Buddha is a replica of the Buddha in the Bodh Gaya Chapel

20180411_093144

20180411_093412
Chedi Buddhakhaya
20180411_100306
Wat Wang Wiwekaram

20180411_113835

20180411_115953
Three Pagoda Pass
IMG_20180825_153331_272 (1)
Over here you can get over to the burmese side if you have a visa.
20180411_120504
Memorial plaque of WWII Death Railway

20180411_12123120180411_12520620180411_125235IMG_20180825_153645_802 (1)

20180411_131850
Cave visit

I really enjoyed this area and strongly recommend it to others looking for a Thai adventure just outside of Bangkok!

Paaaataaayaaaaaa

I always wonder if Nasi Pattaya has anything to do with this place.. Anyone care to enlighten me?

Pattaya is one of the best beaches outside of bangkok, only a few hours away from the capital, it is one of the most accessible cities. Several long-distance buses depart from Bangkok’s Northern Bus Terminal (Mochit), the other being Southern Terminal (Ekamai).  Bus tickets in Thailand are relatively cheap and you’ll get to enjoy the scenery along the way.

Here are some pictures of my trip to Pattaya… Let the pictures do the talking.

20170917_123534
Entrance to the bus hub is guarded by security personnels.
20170917_123627
Don’t worry about getting lost
20170917_123700
The place is well organised and easy to navigate.
20170917_124024
Counter 48 near to the first floor exit is where you can purchase tickets to Pattaya
20170917_124031
This place is full of Thais and Tourists going to all destinations in Thailand.. as well as to Laos and Cambodia.
20170917_124054
Grab some snacks and drinks for your journey..
20170917_124457
Left baggage is private-run, use at your own risk.
20170917_131300
Cross over to the departure platform to board your bus.. Ask a local or the staff if you’re unsure where.

20170917_132307

20170917_133700
I would say that the bus is well maintained and comfortable, comparable or even better than some Malaysian buses.
20170920_132817
Arrival at Pattay! Read the signboard carefully…
20170917_155651
…it isnt even air conditioned?
20170917_155742
Remember to check out the return timing to Bangkok, Mochit.
20170917_155813
There are also buses to Suvarnabhumi Airport
20170917_160034
The Bus that brought us here
20170917_160047
Lots of tuk tuk and taxi drivers waiting to ketok you, remember to bargain!
20170917_162217
took a motorbike and alight here
20170917_162104
Overall first impression of the beach is okay, it is a pretty touristy, long and narrow beach. Otherwise, really convenient to access from the nearby hotels.
20170917_172839
I wouldn’t mind spending one afternoon here just people watching and chill
20170917_211757
Good holiday vibes at Central Festival Pattaya
20170917_212129
Busy streets at night.
20170917_215855
This is where you can get cheap facial treatment, unfortunately this mall is almost due for redevelopment
20170917_220811
Typical bar scene in the red light district

20170918_14515820170918_14560820170918_14562320170918_145626

20170918_150047
Spot our local brand
20170918_150902
again.. Spot our local brand

20170918_16111120170918_161340

20170919_125638
Only in Thailand you get to see Ronald doing a wai and at his usual posture.
20170918_165942
Other than gogo bars, beer bars, this street is filled with seafood restaurants too.

20170918_170006

20170919_183329
Muay Thai bar
20170919_183118
walking street pattaya
20170918_172746
Steps leading to Wat Phra Yai Temple

20170918_172823

20170918_174330
18 metre tall Buddha
20170918_174407
Can’t help it but it does feel like Buddha is really please with his offerings
20170918_172928
Buddha Approves.. hahaha
20170918_173118
Beautiful sky, it was nearing sunset.
20170918_173418
View from Pratumnak Hill is really gorgeous
20170918_173210
Excellent view of Pattaya town and the gulf of Thailand
20170918_181026
Naval Monument with statue of  Thai Admiral Kromluang Chomphonkhetudomsak credited as the founder of the Royal Thai navy. Many Thais visit here to pray and make merits. You can also offer firecrackers as an utmost respect.
20170918_181604
Chance upon another temple at the hilltop, but i didn’t get the name of the temple. Let’s just name it the cat temple.
20170918_181750
Haven’t seen more cats in the same compound ever in my life.

20170918_182218_00120170918_18223120170918_183419

20170918_190002
Spent like an hour here…

20170919_13021320170919_13034120170919_13413320170919_14144820170919_14151020170919_14594920170919_15583620170919_180331

Will i come back again? hmm probably yes for the cheap and worthy facial treatment at mike shopping centre. Not my kind of place (mainly caters to farangs who come for the sex industry), but i really enjoy the vibes and beautiful beaches.

Daily Inspiration for the Mind & Heart

20171226_130716-01
The work that Tzu Chi does is firmly rooted and inspired by Buddhist philosophy. Volunteers strive to act morally, be mindful and self-aware, and seek to attain ultimate wisdom, or enlightenment (“bodhi” in Sanskrit). The goal is to awaken great compassion for all beings in our hearts, and to walk a loving path of selfless action serving others.

CONTEMPLATIVE WISDOM

20171227_152550-01
Daily thoughts for meditation, contemplation, and
reflection from Master Cheng Yen

230818 Thursday

Dharma Master Chengyen says we must have a mind free of discursive thoughts to truly be reverent. We must listen reverently to the Dharma, and sincerely receive the Dharma, only then the Dharma will naturally penetrate into our mind. Sentient beings, foolish beings like us live in this world, rushing and bustling about, often troubled and do not know how we come and go. But in this lifetime, interpersonal conflicts connect us and create cycle of enmity. How can the cycle of birth and death be broken? How to still our minds. The birth and death from of arising and ceasing.

This is this suffering of the endless cycle of life and death. To learn the Buddha Dharma is to severe this, but we are also unaware, where we are going in the next life. After hearing the Buddha Dharma, and to be reverent, naturally our mind will find it’s answer.

Heart refer to accumulation, mind is contemplation, as long we as truly listen reverently, we can understand this teaching, after hearing the Dharma, we know there is nothing to be calculative and there is no reason for interpersonal conflicts, only having the gratefulness at heart.

Master said we need to practice diligence, going among people to give, we must train to avoid give up to external conditions and practice to live beyond it. We need to go into Dhyana, which means to think deeply, when we engage in spiritual practice, we need to enter into deep thinking. In daily living, facing various phenomena , interpersonal conflicts, the consciousness, still trouble our minds. We should know that spiritual practitioner should not act impulsively but quietly contemplate. How to resolve. Even when we are in grievances, we must reflect on ourselves.

We need to think , to create space for self-reflection. As things happen, we must quietly contemplate, consider how to handle it, this is wisdom, we need space to reflect and think. For practice and learning, if we know to practice spiritually, naturally the space will emerge. “Eye for eye” mentality, we can imagine the consequences. But we want to practice spiritually, so we quickly give ourselves space, he look at me, i will respond with smile or quietly disregards, no angry glare, i will not have such attitude, so this requires cultivation.

We need to work on our habitual tendencies, Dhyana, means to create space for reflection, we need to learn to cleanse, if someone glare at us, we glared angrily that is habitual. If we can reflect and give ourselves space, we will refine our habitual tendencies, we can naturally mitigate challenging condition – cultivate good habits

The moment we can eliminate all habitual tendencies, we no longer have angry glare, slowly rid off this habitual tendencies, we will have tolerance and forbearance, minds in tranquil, no state can shake this tranquil state, nearing buddha state. Dhyana practice contemplation and calm thought, still and quiet.

With Metta,

Sharing from my Telegram Group, Global Xun Fa Xiang (a international English Dharma sharing group for Tzu Chi volunteers)

The Beauty of Decay

Welcome to Thailand!

The comfort when seeing this few words upon reaching the Thai airports…

I was so excited about visiting Ayuthaya, because that would mean that i will have completed 2/3 of the ancient ruin cities in Thailand. Prior this trip, I did pretty much homework to decide whether to take a train, cruise or minivan from Bangkok to the ancient city of Ayutthaya. Transport is really convenient in Thailand, though there may not be sufficient information online for us to know how.

To begin with, my flight arrival time is midnight, so i had a night stay near Don Muang Airport, nevermind the location, because it was cheap, comfortable and within walkable distance of the terminals. All i need is a 711 and a couple of street vendors to deal with my midnight hunger pangs. *Tesco Express nearby was a bonus!

20170914_000914
Silence in the city
20170914_001616
Miss this familiar scene? 711 Dogs
20170914_001704
The  magic of Thailand’s 711 is its ability to satisfy our need for retail therapy even in the wee hours.
20170914_005452
Look at the variety of options, I don’t know 711 saved how many souls.. hungry ones included
20170914_185805
Bustling street beside FuturePark Rangsit
20170914_205730
Who wouldn’t enjoy some aircon in this tropical climate~
20170914_221219
Packs of dogs chilling outside the shopping mall
20170914_221226
woof what do you want
20170914_112809
Drying salted fish on the streets, wanna try some?

20170915_093958

Getting to Ayutthaya via Mini Van from Don Muang, Future Park Rangsit

Slide1.JPG
Pictures taken from Google

The van station taking you to Ayuthaya is located across the highway, one will need to cross the pedestrian bridge to reach the place. Do not be confused with the van terminal beside the shopping mall. The Van station looks like the picture above.

  • Cost:  Less than 100baht/pax, you would have to wait for the van to be filled up before the driver is willing to leave.
  • Duration: Journey takes about 30 – 40mins
20170915_100453
The van can take up to 14 people
20170916_100530
City Municipality Building, where your minivan will drop you off.
20170915_142618
Ayothaya Hotel

This hotel is recommended for no-frills stay, as the rooms are clean and inexpensive. It’s safe and beautifully quiet. The downside is that the lobby is huge & stuffy, not very conducive for tourist waiting to check in or coming back from their visits. This hotel is strategically located within walking distance from the minivan drop off point (municipal building), bicycle rental shop and many more.

Visiting the UNESCO sites of Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues is definitely a must when you are in Ayuthaya. But one should really spare some time to explore the other parts of this ancient city. Located diagonally across the minivan drop off point is the Chao Phrom Market. Here you can get your lunch or check in to the hotels nearby to freshen up before starting your temple visits.

Chao Phrom Market

Chao Phrom Market is Ayutthaya fresh market, opened 7am-5pm, daily.  Its good to come here and experience the sight and smell. There is an abundance of cooked food, raw seafood and meats, more fruit and vegetables than you can imagine, and other captivating snacks.

20170915_105824
Chao Phrom Market
20170915_114841
Surprise to see a modern bakery in a traditional wet market
20170915_115221
Food vendor delivering or collecting bowls back from customers.
20170915_115353
The market is open throughout the day, but also depending on individual vendors.
20170915_115417
Locals can totally rely on this market for their groceries
20170915_115639
Check out the Thai-Chinese shop selling old school tidbits and household stuff.

Travel Tips

Depending on your desired time to spend here, It is still good to rent some form of transport to explore all the sites. One may hire a tuktuk driver to bring you to all the Temples. But if you are like me who is only interested in one or two temple, a bicycle would be sufficient to bring you from Ayuthaya Municipal Building > Wat Mahathat Compound > Bang Lan rd (Night Market) > Naresuan rd. A proper visit will take entire day, while a visit to a couple of sites takes 3-4hrs.

    • Pack less, carry light
    • Wear comfortable clothing, sunblock and bring water
    • Carry a map around, keep the phone batt for your photographs 😉
    • Respect the rules e.g. Not climbing over the stupas
20170915_142831
Maps are available in most touristy places, you should be able to find them at your hotel lobbies, or bicycle rental shops.

Wat Ratchaburana

Admission Fees. There is a fee of 50 Baht (1.30 USD) to enter the grounds of Wat Ratchaburana. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm every day.  Monies collected are use to fund the maintenance and preservation of these sites.

20170915_161050
Wat Ratchaburana

The UNESCO historic site of Wat Ratchaburana aka Monastery of the Royal Repairs is situated on the corner of Chikun road and Naresuan Road, directly opposite Wat Mahathat in the vicinity.

20170915_161059
View of the main prang
20170915_161411
Steps leading up to the phrang
20170915_161709
View inside the prang

There is a two level crypt inside the prang tower, you can reach there via a narrow (REALLY NARROW) and steep staircase. It is warm and stuffy inside, really not recommended for those who are claustrophobic.

35762290_10157484396947802_3103641860279631872_n (1)
View of Lower Chamber
20170915_162230
Ancient murals i assume to be depicting Buddhist Stories?
20170915_161738
View of the Main Vihara

20170915_16314020170915_162719

20170915_163239
Opps spotted!
20170915_163248
Woof!
20170915_165800.jpg
Simply impressive
20170915_164639
Wat Mahathat

Wat Mahathat

Admission Fees:  50 Baht to enter the grounds of Wat Mahathat. The temple is open from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm everyday

Just next door of Wat Ratchaburana is Wat Mahatat, a must visit site of Ayutthaya. One of the most photographed Buddha around the world is the Renown for the stone Buddha head entwined within the roots base of a tree.

20170915_164928

20170915_164817
Seeing this is like a dream come true

20170915_17124620170915_174909

20170915_172636.jpg
Spot some elephants grazing nearby

20170915_175551