Dawn of Happiness

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UNESCO World Heritage Site

The Sukhothai Historical Park covers the ruins of the ancient Sukhothai city, literally known as”Dawn of Happiness”, capital of the Sukhothai Kingdom in the 13th and 14th centuries in what is now Northern Thailand.

The ruins are basically a complex of temples and the royal palace. The city walls form a rectangle about 2 km east-west by 1.6 km north-south. There are 193 ruins on 70 square kilometers of land.

The park is also a world heritage site and is maintain by the Fine Arts Department of Thailand with help from UNESCO.

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Wat Mahatat

Some simple guidelines that visitors should follow when visiting..

  • Do respect all Buddha images. Do not attempt to climb the chedis or sit on the Buddha’s lap
  • Dress appropriately, wear something comfortable and loose.
  • No fires or smoking are allowed.
  • Bring along a handheld fan, a cap and apply sunblock!
  • Hydrate when you need, carry a water bottle with you.
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Close up shot of the Main Buddha at Wat Mahatat

There will be numerous opportunity to take nice and creative shots. All you need is some patience and a handheld fan. The weather can be a real killer.

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Offerings left behind by devotees
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Bodhi Sapling
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A mailbox pinned on a tree?

You are strongly encourage to rent a bike to explore the park. Bicycle rental are available near the park entrance, at about 30-50baht until daybreak at around 1900hrs. Exploring by foot is still possible though.

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Wat Sa Si
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The vajra seat

FYI Facts: Buddha statues originally did not exist because Buddha discourage idol worship. In spite of that, after Buddha’s passing, his disciples instead erected thrones made of valuable stones to remember the Enlightened one and his teachings. Buddha images then started appearing in 1st century CE in North India.

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I can almost feel the serene atmosphere
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Wat Si Chum

There are plenty of amenities in the park; you can find toilets, restaurants and even a massage parlor in the park. Outside the park is a cluster of eateries, and many shops selling souvenirs. You would have pass by before entering the park.

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Impressive view of the Buddha at Wat Si Chum
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Wat Chana Songkhram
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Wat Chang Lom

Best time to visit would be in November during Loy Krathong. When people decorate the park with lights and released candles and lotus into water bodies.

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Wat Saphan Hin

How to get there

  • Sukhothai Historical Park is located about 12km from the new city.
  • From Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok Airways operates two direct flights to Sukhothai daily.
  • Opening Hours: 06:00 – 18:00 daily

Luxurious camping in Bintan

Beautiful blue lagoon

Nope this photo is not heavily filtered. The canopi features the largest man-made saltwater crystal lagoon in south east Asia. I had only drop by to use their water sports facilities, cant wait to come again for a short stay.

Wat Yannawa, Bangkok

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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple

On the banks of the Chao Phraya river in Sathorn district is the Wat Yannawa. The Wat Yannawa aka known as “the boat temple” features the viharn built in the shape of a Chinese junk vessel, a 19th century sailing ship.

The Wat Yannawa is one of the older temples in Bangkok; it was built during the time of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, before the founding of the Rattanakosin Kingdom and the city of Bangkok. At that time the temple was called Wat Kok Khwai.

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Funny signboards at the temple ground.

The structure has a multi tiered roof with chofas in the shape of stylized naga decorating its roof edges. Other buildings on the temple grounds include a large meeting hall, several offices and libraries and the monks living quarters.

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Behind the boat shape viharn is the ubosot, the building where monks get ordained.

The King Nangklao had the boat like structure built to serve as a memorial to the Chinese junk vessels that were used intensively for trade with China and that had brought prosperity to the Kingdom.

The replica of a Chinese junk vessel is over 40 meters long and made from concrete. At the place where the masts should be are two white chedis or pagodas. In the back where the wheel house should be is a room containing a number of Buddha images where visitors can pay respect to the Buddha. The viharn is open to visitors; At the top of the stairs leading to the boat is a statue of King Nangklao.

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There is a relic exhibition of sages and monks here
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Lay congregation chanting in another hall
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Chinese wording translated as dragonboat temple
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a lay devotee meditating outside the ubosot
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Monks gathered for evening service
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Monks chanting in the ubosot

The boat temple is located in the Sathorn district of Bangkok on Charoen Krung road. It is found just around the corner (South) from BTS Sky Train station Saphan Taksin.

Address: 40 Charoen Krung Rd, Yan Nawa, Sathon, Bangkok 10120, Thailand

National Gallery Singapore

Skyline of Singapore waterfront, featuring some of our famous icons. To the right is the Singapore flyer, Esplanade theater. Middle of the picture: Marina Bay Sands Hotel & Artscience musuem at MBS, At the foreground: the Padang, the place where many historical events took place, eg. our first national day celebration.

You can enjoy this view from the rooftop of National gallery of Singapore.

Rotunda dome

You can also see the Rotunda dome from the mezzanine level.

National Gallery Singapore is a new visual arts institution which oversees the largest public collection of modern art in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The Gallery is housed in two national monuments—former Supreme Court and City Hall—that have been beautifully restored and transformed into this exciting venue in the heart of the Civic District.

Reflecting Singapore’s unique heritage and geographical location, the Gallery will feature Singapore and Southeast Asian art in its long-term and special exhibitions. It will also work with leading museums worldwide to co-present Southeast Asian art in a wider context, positioning Singapore as a regional and international hub for the visual arts

https://www.nationalgallery.sg/about/about-the-gallery

I visited the gallery on one of the weekdays, and i am surprise there is still a healthy crowd of locals/tourist visiting. The gallery features alot of artworks from around S.E.A, there are also some temporary exhibition from local & international artists.

I am more interested in the historical background of the venue, and also how they transform a building of historical significance into such a comfortable and conducive environment for exhibiting arts. Good job to those behind this project.

Address: 1 Saint Andrew’s Road, Singapore 178957

Opening hours:

  • Sun–Thu, Public Holidays: 10am–7pm
  • – Fri–Sat, Eve of Public Holidays: 10am–10pm

Admission ends 30 minutes before closing time.

Vandalism ≠ Rubbish

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Malacca, 2015

Vandalism is art when it is done nicely! Saw this on the metal door of a shophouse in Malacca, Malaysia. Not too sure if its deliberately done by the owners, but it has def made the place looks more hipster than it’s neighbors.

Chinatown, Singapore

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Chinese new year market, 2016

This is a shot taken from the steps of Chinatown bridge. Lots of people thronging the streets buying festive goods in preparation for the Chinese new year.

Wat Phra Si Rattana Mahatat

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Khmer style chedi or pagoda
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Stop and breathe
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No one saves us but ourselves. No one can and no one may. We ourselves must walk the path
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Side chapel and museum
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The main sanctuary

The main sanctuary at this temple, known by locals as Wat Yai, houses the Phra Phuttha Chinnarat, one of Thailand’s most revered and copied Buddha images. This famous bronze statue is probably second in importance only to the Emerald Buddha in Bangkok’s Wat Phra Kaew.

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Most beautiful Buddha in Thailand

The image was cast in the late Sukhothai style, but what makes it strikingly unique is the flamelike halo around the head and torso that turns up at the bottom to become dragon-serpent heads on either side of the image. The head of this Buddha is a little wider than standard Sukhothai, giving the statue a very solid feel.

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Finding a peaceful corner in this fully congregated hall.

Despite the holiness of the temple, endless loud broadcasts asking for donations, Thai musicians, a strip of vendors hawking everything from herbs to lottery tickets, several ATM machines and hundreds of visitors all contribute to a relentlessly hectic atmosphere. Come early (ideally before 7am) if you’re looking for quiet contemplation or simply wish to take photos, and regardless of the time be sure to dress appropriately – no shorts or sleeveless tops.

Address: Ong Dam Road | Nai Mueang, Phitsanulok, Thailand

 

This post is interesting..

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National Musuem of Singapore

There is a colorful lampost located just outside the national musuem of singapore, you will see once you cross over the traffic light to the museum.

I guess some of the visitors contributed to this colourful lamppost after their visit.. and over the time the stickers accumulate and became a trend. Something surprising to see!

Exercise Wallaby, Australia

One of the most memorable experience of national service is going for oversea exercise. I am sure many of us who’ve gone through NS will agree on this.

Ex Wallaby at SWBTA (Shoalwater Bay Training Area) is a yearly affair conducted between the 3rd and last quarter of the year. A typical training frame last around 3 weeks or so. Vocations from all different units and divisions will get a chance to train there for at least once.

Btw, Wallaby is the name of a kangaroo species. Don’t embarrass yourself going around telling people you are going to Wallaby. You will see alot of wallabies during the exercise, they mightvisit you near your tent and your bx might also run over them

So i shall share more with the pictures..

We took Qantas to Rockhampton City

We were expecting to take the Singapore Airlines, because there was a rumour spreading that all saf personnel leaving for oversea exercise will get to take the national carrier to their destination. Sadly it was a no, but Qantas wasn’t that bad either.

2ic beside me

7hrs flight from Changi – Rockhampton, direct flight. We had supper, breakfast, snacks served by angmo flight attendants, first time in my life.

After 7 hours, we landed in the land of kangaroos!

Camp growl, shoal waterbay

Some tips to share…

Time Frame & Communication: We stayed at the camp for approx 3 weeks? longest time i have ever being overseas and away from home. Some of us got really homesick but there is no signal in the camp, our camp is in the middle of no where. There is only reception at specific areas.

camp growl
W A H H H H H

During admin time, there will be many people camping at the reception pole for signal. The reception pole is a specific lamp pole found behind the cookhouse, not any lamp pole you see. You will know when you see alot of people around the magical pole. For better signal & lesser crowd, go to the vehicle ground nearer to the exit of camp growl.

Get Telstra or Optus sim card, also available at Changi airport. You may not have time to purchase them at the Rockhampton airport. Btw, you wont be able to use your phone all the time in the camp, so just forget about being connected to the outside world. go and be a kangaroo for the time being.

Accommodation & Sanitation: We all slept in the tentage, which can house 12 to 16 soldiers per tent. Each soldier will also given a safari bed, sleeping bag and a pillow. The only locker is our own duffel bag, so remember to bring a good lock to safe-keep your valuables. The tent will be very cramp and squeezy but you can make your environment comfortable if you keep your stuff organised and tidy. I will suggest bringing your groundsheet, just in case it rains and the ceiling leak, use the groundsheet to cover your bed.

Tentage is green in the foreground & cookhouse in white on the right.

For the bathing part, it will be an open concept shower. After all the training, you will be too tired to bother about all the nudity. We had to bath with just a shower bag tied with a rope to the hook on the wall. All you need to do is to fill the bag using the pails in the shower room and tap, there are hot/cold taps, just fill up accordingly to your preference. Thankfully, toilets are  well maintained and cleaned everyday by the Angmoh cleaner in Camp Growl. Proper toilet bowls with cubical and toilet rolls provided to use.

Food: The only time you will praise SFI food is Ex Wallaby. The food served in Camp Growl is more edible and beyond imagination then the ones in Singapore camp. Over there, food quality and variety are so much better. You will spend most of your chilly nights at the cookhouse with a cup of hot milo or congee.

Outdoor seats with scenic view

When the unit celebrate their mission success at the end of frame dinner, a huge party will be thrown with angmoh girls coming in to perform and dance with you, free flow of wine and alcoholic drinks. Wait longggggg longgg

Okay, you get to taste barbeque kangaroo’s meat and free flow canned beer, a bbq cohesion thats it.

Recreational facilities: For the couch potatoes, kopi-kias and the otakus, your only entertainment you get to have in SWBTA is to go to the mess to watch movie or surf the net at the internet kiosk, the kiosk is a huge tentage with two rows of laptops. There is a pingpong table-in a container and a gym-in a container for the gym goers.

Mess: The mess is run by the local Australian, selling fries, carbana, chicken kebab, soft drinks, breaka. etc Price range from $3sgd – $10sgd for a cup of drink and a kebab in a bun. Check out their daily promotion for certain food items, you will see it on the whiteboard over their counter.

Flags of Australia and Singapore

Weather and temperature: Rockhampton’s afternoon are crazily hot like machiam siao, and due to the humidity level you don’t perspire like you do in Singapore. But that doesn’t mean you are alright, the water in your body is still being evaporated/absorbed. Follow the hydration plan or take initiative to drink up. Heat stroke/falling sick is the last thing anybody wants to get. MO & basic outfield medical facilities are available in the camp, anything deem serious will be send to the hospital, which is like 1-2hours journey by car, unless you want a free ride in the super puma.

The temperature difference in the day and night is drastically different.

The night is chilly cold, i wear my long 4 pants and green socks to sleep every night. It is important to keep your feet warm, that will prevent you from getting cold. Get a cup of hot milo and lepak at the cookhouse with your mates, best time ever.

Remember to bring your Goretex jacket, the jacket will become your best friend. There were be thunder storm in the afternoon and the cold temperatures in the night too.  Your best friend will protect you from the rain and wind there.

Seek Save Serve

Some afternoons are spent cam-whoring, sleeping, or digging drains and prepping our tent for the the storm. (previously when the storm came, our tent flew away, the ceiling leaked and our area was flooded).

Beautiful sunset everyday
Sauna-ing in the tent

Some mornings, we did morning jogs from camp growl to the vehicle point, probably a 3.5km run to warm up ourselves. Imagine the chilly cold wind blowing into your face when you run, then slowly your body starts warming up and finally sweating? That is the best feeling ever!

Leaving for 1 week of outfield training

Trainings: 

The humidity level there is perfect for outfield trainings, you dont get to perspire alot, no sweaty sticky soldiers squeezing in the bx. The constant wind blowing also helps to cool you down during the long walks, really like a walk in the park.

Start of our outfield and live firings.. Sat, slept, ate, drink in the bx for days and nights, crazy days but memorable experience. I will never ever forget how amazing the starry nights are, witness countless of shooting stars too.

One of the most memorable time happened on the 4th day of our mission. It was tactical halt after a long day in the bx, we slept by the road beside our vehicle. It was cold, but we couldn’t help it and too tired to care much. Halfway sleeping around 1am, we were awoken by the bright headlights and sound of the toner. The toner came to deliver fresh ration! We had warm seafood fried rice and hot milo in the cold night. It is a state of happiness indescribable.

Going to thrash some enemies

Oversea training allow SAF soldiers to get expose to the different terrains & weather elements and also to build up combat confidence in a different environment.

Unlike Singapore, driving in the tough terrain allows our bx driver to experience what its like to drive like a real bx driver. Long distance, bumpy mudroad, steep hills, deadfalls and also the opportunity to chop trees down by driving the bx against it.

Platoon one

Group photo after fighting Cougar company at the urban training facility. SAF invested in some money to build a urban complex for saf to train there. Cool huh

Cause we are going back to camp growl

live firing signals the entire exercise coming to a closure and that means we are getting closer to R&R. Before that, we gotta pack everything up the container, send our duffel bags up the truck then leave camp growl and return to civilization.

Rest and Recreation (R&R): R&R would be a 2 days 1 night affair. Rockhampton is a small town, there really isnt much place that you can explore. For people who just want to buy some souvenirs and gifts back home, you will have more than enough time on the second day to shop at Stockland.

  • Short guided tour to Koorana Crocodile farm
  • Visit to Rockhampton Zoo & Botanic Gardens
  • Free & easy at Shopping centre
  • 1 night stay at Capricon resort
  • Lunch buffet at Keppel Bay Sailing Club
  • Free & easy at Shopping centre
  • Dinner buffet at CQ university
  • Free & easy at Glenmore shopping village

Not gonna elaborate much, just some photos to share..

Photo from Capricon resort website

Rockhampton zoo comes with a aviary too
Section 2 mates
at the Capricorn coast
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This beach is just behind our resorts!

 

3 kinds of coke you’ll see there
Some random van parked outside the rockampton zoo

Acting cool on the streets
Can i not leave?

Conclusion: I will still say this is one of the best time of my life. Almost perfect condition for outfield training.  The sky is so clear and blue in the day and at night the star is so bright, the wild wallabies hopping around randomly. All these is something you wont get to appreciate in Singapore. There is alot of first time in the exercise, just embrace the differences and you will enjoy the entire trip.

And of course, we should give thanks to the host country for allowing us to train in such a wonderful environment!

Exercise Kocha Singa pt 1

Pre Departure: 12 of us had to book in to camp by 2300hr.. because we volunteered to take the military plane C130 to Phisanulok, Thailand. The remaining of the troops took Thai airways. Kind of like a advance party thingy, but the plane delay made us reach there later than the main party.

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Packed and ready!

The group of us waited at our courtyard for rollcall and further instructions. Came to know that we will be moving out at 0130hr, gotta help shift crates up the truck that will be transported to Thailand through the C130.

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C-roy-ha-sip in Thai

Reached Paya Lebar Airport at approximately 0220hrs. We had unfinished job to do! We had to continue move crates down from the tonners for immigration checks. Thereafter, we collected our plane ration, went through immigration at the small and desolate immigration hall.

Estimated to fly at 0430.. Waited forever at the runway.. then finally board the plane at around 0730, sited down and belt up. The engine started running, the air crews seem ready to shut the doors and all.

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Dhewww… the engine died. We still thought it was just part of warming up the flying machine. God knows that the flying machine was faulty! The plane broke down just before we fly, no joke.. but thankgoodness, it was found out before we fly. not DURING we fly.

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Just too bored..

Another 2-3hrs of waiting on the runway, ate our plane ration on the runway, read a book, did everything. But it was a cool experience though, lying down facing the big vast sky with no buildings surrounding, enjoying the cool breeze and basking in the warm morning sun.

Whatsapp from the medic group:

Doc: Have a safe flight!
A: Thanks! Quite safe ah, they found out the plane was faulty just before flying.
Doc: Oh shiaattt!!

Boarded the plane at approx 1000hrs.. reached Phisanulok Airport safely after 4hrs.

Arrival at Phisanulok Airport

Some RTA representative received us into the airport. They arranged for 6 tonners of kakia (privates & recruits) to unload the crates from the plane then load up the tonner (hats off, because they did it all without a forklift) and I can already feel the vip treatment from here.

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Just some simple office tables set up as the immigration counter, express queue for us i guess. The RTA also specially prepared prepacked lunch and gave us the privilege of having all-drinks-free from the airport cafe!

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Phisanulok airport

Journey to the camp was another 2 hours journey.. we had 1 toilet stop along the way, so some of us bought snacks and drinks from 711 for our driver.

Wachiprakan Camp, Tak Province.

2330hr, we finally reached the camp in Tak province. I am impress with their regimentation, as the moment our tonner entered the camp. All the guards on duty immediately stood up and salute the arriving vehicles. 

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Warchiprakan Camp

Here, we begin our 12days of fun and culturally interesting bilateral exchange with the professional soldiers from the Royal Thai Army.

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To be cont’d…