Friday, July 30, 2010

Wat Arun ~ Temple of Dawn

Can you believe that we have lived 5 years in Thailand and NEVER went to Wat Arun ~ the Temple of Dawn! So this trip we decided we should go and visit. While we were in Pattaya and we went to Ripley's Believe it or Not! we read some interesting details about Wat Arun. The temple is completely build out of china pieces that they had dug up from a sunken ship in the Chaya Praya, the river that it is on. That part we didn't even know!! Shame on us!

The name Temple of Dawn it got because the first light of morning reflects off the surface of the temple with a pearly iridescence. This is a gorgeous view and also when the sun sets, it is a very dramatic effect, however we were there on the middle of the day, when the sun is blazing hot!! So this first picture is not mine... the rest is.

We took a water taxi to go to Wat Arun, and this is the first sight you see.

Jasmine and Juliet in front of the huge temple demons. It was so hot that day, like any day in the city, you can't just stand too long in the sun! So they weren't too happy to pose for me :-)

Completely build up with pieces of china, just amazing!

Here a close up of the broken tiles. What a tedious job to build all these stupas...

You could go up and climb all the stairs to different levels, but it was too hot for me to climb those high stairs, so I just photographed the girls from a level lower...

Just beautiful to see all the details...

Luckily we had a blue sky that day, it makes all the difference in your pictures :-)

On the way back in our water taxi these monks were sitting next to us with their bright oranges robes...

Wat Arun or the Temple of Dawn, is named after Aruna, the Indian God of Dawn. Sitting majestically on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, the legendary Wat Arun is one of the most striking riverside landmarks of Thailand. Despite the name, the most spectacular view of the glittering monument can be seen from the east side of the river at sunset, when the spires of Wat Arun make an impressive silhouette against the skyline.

This Wat or Buddhist temple is an architectural representation of Mount Meru, the center of the world in Buddhist cosmology. In the mythology of Tibetan Buddhism, Mount Meru is a place that simultaneously represents the center of the universe and the single-pointedness of mind sought by adepts. Thousands of miles in height, Meru is located somewhere beyond the physical plane of reality, in a realm of perfection and transcendence. The four-corner prang of Wat Arun, which house images of the guardian gods of the four directions, reinforces this mystical symbolism.

Another day spend well in the City of Angels, but now it is time to go to the hotel and take a dip in the pool, because it is hot... hot... hot and humid!!

Sawasdee Kha!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Bangkok ~ the City of Angels

Our last destination on this vacation is Bangkok. The girls are so excited about this... but because of different reasons then you might think :-)
I promised them to go to Pantip Plaza a huge mall with 4 stories just of electronics, games, computers, photo equipment etc... to buy some new Nintendo DS games, and they were asking me since we left Samui, when are we going to BKK?? Well, the time has finally arrived!! And to get rid of the questions we went immediately to the plaza to buy their games. Girls happy.... we ALL happy!!

The other thing Juliet and Jasmine really wanted to see was the puppet show at the Joe Louis theatre in the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, this was one of their highlights the last time we were in Thailand when the girls were just 4 years old. We were extremely lucky to be there this month, since it was their last month of performing. So sad, but they had to close it down due to lack of interest of the public and so not making enough money to keep the show going!! It was beautiful though and we truly enjoyed this last performance!!

We were not allowed to take pictures inside the theatre, but at the entrance they had a doll from Joe Louis with one of his puppets.

Bangkok's Joe Louis Puppet Theater, also known as “Nattayasala Hun Lakorn Lek,” is one of Bangkok's top but most underrated attractions. It was founded by the late master of puppets Sakorn Yangkhieosod in 2002, whose English name was Joe Louis, and showcases the remarkable Thai traditional art of puppetry.

These were 2 people, one dressed and reacting like a doll, controlled by his master! The doll only reacted on the movements of the levers and would hang his body like a puppet if it wasn't moved by the other guy. All the movements went syn chrome, not one was missed. Really amazing to see!

Each doll has 4 people performing on it at the same time. One for each arm and leg, this training takes years to learn the skill and it went from Joe Louis to his children and now his grand children!

This set of last performances they showed you how the dancers were doing it, normally you don't see the people they are behind a stage. But this was just to show the public how hard it is to perform these dolls.

All the dolls are handmade, mostly by Sakorn 'Joe Louis' Yangkhieosod himself, but he passed away in 2007, so now his family continues the tradition. They also lost a lot of dolls when their house burned down, so sad!!

Unfortunately this is the final week visitors will be able to check out the legendary troupe in its 400-seat Natayasala Theatre at the Suan Lum Night Bazaar (which is a great one stop shopping plaza), as the last performance was set for Sunday, August 29. We were there on July 28th. Check out the link here, to see some backstage pictures of this amazing show!! I am really sad that this show is not there anymore. An ancient art that is disappearing from Thailand!

Thailand just an amazing country full of surprises, ancient art and plazas full of goods to buy!!

Sawasdee Kha,

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Next destination: Hilton Hua Hin

4 days we were in Hua Hin. We stayed at the Hilton... all these hotels, Marriott, Hilton and the next one in Bangkok the Conrad were all done on points! Great locations, no extra cost, isn't that the way of traveling!!

We got even upgraded and had a whole suite with a huge deck, and this was the view. The only thing that wasn't that good was the weather. We wanted to sunbath for a few days, relax and enjoy pool time before heading to the Big City, but we didn't get that much sun. Only the last day was OK to hang out at the pool, so we enjoyed that for sure!

What I don't like is to see elephants in the middle of the City. We were in the centre of Hua Hin and this poor elephant had to beg for food walking in between cars and motorbikes... poor thing, I felt so sorry for this little cute animal!

Another 'cute' animal but now on our plates, JJ really loved the grilled calamari....

and especially those legs :-)

After our delicious lunch on the beach, the girls wanted to do some horseback riding, this time on the beach... they hadn't done that yet!

Some huge clouds were coming up, so we had to rush if we didn't want to end up wet!

And at night we got entertained by the girls, Jasmine gave me a facial and a foot massage, while JJ was doing some 'pole' dancing! These kids; better than color TV would Jaap our friend say when they were little... but really nothing has changed since then!

And here we say goodbye to our dear friend 'ome' Jaap, we spend some fun time with him during our visit in Hua Hin! We will miss you Jaap!! Till next time!

So 4 days in Hua Hin went fast, we mostly relaxed, had some great dinners and lunches and just enjoyed the last few days of doing nothing. Because when you go to Bangkok you can't afford to do nothing!!

That will be our next destination; the City of Angels!!

Sawasdee Kha,

Friday, July 23, 2010

Meeting friends in Pattaya

Since we used to live near Pattaya, a beach resort in the Gulf of Thailand, we wanted to meet our friends who where still there. Since most of our friends are expats and like us moving every 4-5 years, most where gone, but a few we still met and that was so much fun!

Here in the lobby of our hotel, the Marriott we met Bruce & Judy, we had some drinks in the lobby, while we were hanging out at the pool before and still in our swimming clothes, Bruce & Judy were all dolled up to go after our meeting to a fancy dinner. It was great to see them!

We had a lovely dinner with our friends Lek, Min, and Kim and her lovely daughter Jana. Of course their husbands and children as well at this super duper restaurant close to my old house near big Buddha Mountain. We had a grand time!

Scott, Van, Dirk, Me, Lek, Kim and her twins Nathan & Jana.

And all the kids; Nathan, Patrick, Jana, JJ, Nathalie, Melanie and Jezz. Martin is missing ;-(

We met Namphet and her family most of the days we were in Pattaya, she is my lovely friend!! Here with her husband Anders and her cute daughter Andrea.

And all of us girls together.

And one more shot before we leave....

Me and Namphet at a seafood dinner in Ban Amphur.

And JJ and Jezz made some new 'friends' :-) lovely girls doing some promotion work in Royal Garden Plaza.

It is so great to see all our 'old' friends! The only one we missed was Avninder! I wanted to go to her new restaurant but we just had no time left. So next time we are in Pattaya we will come and visit you Av!

So many good memories came floating back by just seeing all these friends!

Thailand; land of great memories!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Big Buddha Hill ~ Pattaya

We arranged it so that when we are in Pattaya our good friend Namphet and her family would also be there on vacation. I wanted to spend as much time as possible with her. She used to work for us while we lived in Pattaya from 1999-2003, but we became such a good friends and now she feels like family! Thanks to Namphet we have our beautiful girls JJ & Jezz, since she is the one who connected us with the Bmother. So we are sharing lots of history together.

We decided to go and visit the girls Bmother on this day, but unfortunately she didn't live anymore at the house she used to and where the girls were born. Eventually we found her and met her again, but this I keep private and will not blog about. But in the meantime we had some time over and Namphet mentioned that she wanted to make Merritt at the Big Buddha and I thought it was a great idea, since she could show the girls how all the Buddhist rituals are done. We normally visit temples and show our respect but have not really any clue what it all means and how to do it properly. So this was a perfect opportunity to do so!!

First the girls went into this small temple on the food of the stairs where a monk is sitting inside and you make Merritt. The girls lighted some incense and candles and did their prayers. Namphet explained them everything along the way, and JJ and Jezz followed her example.

Then they represented some money and a basket full of necessities for the monks. The monk took a special interest in the girls since he wondered why they didn't speak any Thai. Namphet explained and he really liked the fact that we tried to educated JJ and Jezz as much as possible. He did a prayer for everybody in the room.


Then Namphet & the girls filled some sort of tea cups with water, asked the monk to bless them and the water.

And watered the holy tree outside the temple with the blessed water. Now the girls and the holy tree were blessed!

We purchased a little cage with 9 birds inside (9-for good luck) to let them free on the top of the hill. One for the girls and one for Namphet. She needs her own good luck :-) The stairs leading up to the Big Buddha Monument are guarded by two dragons. Their purpose to stop any bad spirits following you up.

Here we go... up the stairs. It was a very hot day and those stairs were killing us!

Namphet let her birds free, and then when it was JJ and Jezz's turn a little stray temple cat sneaked up on them and snatched one of the birds before it could fly away! We were shocked and didn't know what to say... Having 8 birds let to freedom gives you that bad luck, or just a little less luck?? At least the cat got LUCKY!! ....OOPSY!!

On the top of the stairs is another small temple where you can make Merritt for your own Buddha depending on the day you are born. So that's what JJ & Jezz did, for Saturdays Buddha. I forgot what Namphet's Buddha was.

Look at Jezz, praying real hard! I guess she had a wish that she wanted to fulfill real bad :-)

Putting some gold leafs on the statues of the monks, for more good luck!

And last but not least, shaking the wooden sticks. These are long flat strips of wood numbered 1 - 28 placed in a circular container, shake up and down until one jumps out. When you have the number read the charts on the wall, this will be your destiny.

Jezz is on a mission to have all the good luck in the world, look at how she shakes so vigorously! This girl is too funny!

Dependant on the day which you were born you have your own guardian Buddha.

Mondays Buddha - will bring you peace.
Tuesdays Buddha - will give you peaceful sleep.
Wednesdays Buddha - means you are a giving person.
Thursdays Buddha - allows you peace of mind to meditate.
Fridays Buddha - will give you happiness.
Saturdays Buddha - will ensure your protection from the elements.
Sundays Buddha - will search for the needy and care for them.

Dirk and me just watched the whole ceremony, filmed and took pictures and were grateful that Namphet could educate JJ and Jezz about the principals of Buddhism and what to do when you like to make Merritt in a Thai Temple. Such a great experience and such a special day for us in many ways!

Khap Khun Kha Namphet!! We LOVE you!


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