•November 18, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.
-Buddha

Saelao Project

•November 17, 2011 • Leave a Comment

 

Swaying away in the red hammock above the rippling pond dotted with blossoming pink lotuses and swimming ducklings, I find myself absorbing in the serenity and beauty of simplicity. After spending two weeks away from the boisterous world of technology and reality on a farm in the heart of the Kathong Village, the SaeLao project has not only taught me the lifestyles of the rural Lao community but also gave me an insight of inner peace and contributed greatly to my love for the country.

Being estranged away from the rest of the world, I automatically became immersed into the scenery as I met the other volunteers and heard their fascinating life stories; trekked in the heavy jungle and rocky, mist-shrouded hills; taught a group of young monks English; made bamboo rafts and pots for plantings; harvested rice in the hot sun with friendly locals; swam in the blue lagoon; fed and socialized with the cats, cows, ducklings, pigs, and even the huge spiders; filled my stomach with delicious homemade Lao dishes; painted maps on the walls for the children; celebrated Buddha Day at the temple; slept in the creaky bungalow under the bright moon; and the list goes on.

Nevertheless, volunteering at the SaeLao farm was an unforgettable experience for me. With just a few days left in the country, I could not help it but to feel a sense of bitterness and remorse, knowing that I’ll be biding my farewells to the warm villagers, especially Sengkeo aka Bob and the SaeLao Family, the gorgeous landscapes, the colorful markets, and, of course, the ducklings and cats that simply will melt your heart!. On the other hand, I look forward to see the stories of Vietnam that soon will be filling up in the next chapter of Mallory and my journey.

Saelao Farm

View from the hammock

Gone with the fire

•October 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Glistening with sweat and heat, their dark bodies moved, whirled, bent, and twisted in harmony with the glow of roaring flames, I immediately became immersed into the art of fire spinning. With their faces and bodies deeply concentrated, the fire-spinners threw exploding fire balls in the air; whirled the fiery baton, creating hauntingly beautiful, thick halos around their bodies; and rhythmically spun the chains of fire in their hands to create illusions in the night sky. I’ve heard about fire spinning and saw some shows before but it wasn’t until I saw this amazing group of young fire dancers at Woody’s bar on Koh Phi Phi island when I fell in love with the music of my eyes. I cannot describe enough how beautiful the fire dancers were–it’s something you’ll have to see for yourself!

In the past week, Mallory and I’ve been island hopping and I loved each one of them…Koh Tao, Koh Phi Phi, and Koh Phangan all have their own touch but I admit I love Koh Phi Phi the most.  The Full Moon party on Koh Phangan was a blast although I must admit it’s overrated with too many drunk people =P 

Mallory and I bid our farewells to the southern part of Thailand and to Holly (it was so wonderful to see her again) and are currently relaxing at this awesome guy Samart’s house in Chiang Mai.  Trekking with elephants, hanging out with tigers at tiger temple, exploring the long necked village, and mediating at the temple–this week is going to be a great one!

Food Art

•October 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment

After receiving a delicately carved carrots consisting of rose and leaves that look like wings in a main dish, I was delighted to see how closely the food art actually resembled my blog name! For further ado on the meaning behind my blog name, just go here. As I was reading Baedeker’s Thailand book, I stumbled upon a section on food art and find the legend fascinating! The story goes as:

“In one of King Rama II’s poems the story is told of a queen who loses the king’s favour to a rival. Banished from the palace she returns secretly as a kitchen maid, revealing herself to her son by depicting incidents from her life at court in the vegetables she prepares for the soup. Recognizing his mother the boy intercedes with the king on her behalf and she is at least restored to her rightful place.” So hence the famous traditional Thai art of cutting and sculpting fruit and vegetables!

Kanchanaburi

•October 3, 2011 • Leave a Comment

From the boisterous inner city of Bangkok to a quieter, calmer town of Kanchanaburi, I immediately fell in love with the setting as Mallory and I were guided to our houseboat floating on the Kwai River. Our guesthouse was surrounded by lush green hills and tropical forest, soothed by the rippling river dotted with many lily ponds and flowers that bloomed iridescently in the mornings, and greeted by numerous geckos during twilight hours. Costing only $2.41 a night, I simply am in love with Jolly Frog Guesthouse!

Kanchanburi’s pretty much your average town where people seem to know everyone with no McDonald’s, colorful bars and charming restaurants, and adorable stray dogs prancing around.

Besides being entirely in our own worlds and chilling hard, Mallory and I spent an adventurous day swimming at the Erawan Falls, watching two monks mediating at a magical shrine with an immense Buddha statue inside a cave, riding on the train across the plantations, and walking across the bridge adjoined to the infamous Death Railway above the Kwai River. I enjoyed the Erawan Falls the most with its mystical seven-tiered waterfalls, which supposedly represent the three-headed white elephant of Hindu mythology. Despite the large fishes that would suck piranha-style on your legs, it is the perfect place to describe the word ‘serenity’.

 

Biggest tip I can give anyone right now about Kanchanaburi? Don’t order their club sandwich. Trust me.

The earth laughs in flowers.

•October 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

A beautiful lotus flower blooming at Jolly Frog Guesthouse in Kanchanaburi, Thailand.

Shrines and Art of Bangkok

•September 30, 2011 • Leave a Comment

About just every corner, you’ll find yourself glancing upon colorful shrines decorated with flowers, gold and silver trims, miniature statues of Buddha and other religious figures, candles, and so on.  I find them fascinating as they give off such a spiritual and serene sense of respect and peace…and what hit me was that those shrines, along with various statues and arts around in the city, were well-respected and untouched by people.  If you build a shrine or leave a sculpture in the middle of a road in America, chances are probably high you’ll get them damaged, marked on with graffiti, or stolen.  But not here.  Here, the arts, especially those affiliated with religious and spiritual figures, are preserved with adornment.  Definitely beautiful!

Khao San Road

•September 26, 2011 • Leave a Comment

The Khao San Road stood out not because of its colorful market stands and vendors but rather for the reputation it withholds as the perfect place for backpackers from all over the world to shop, eat, party, and sleep at!  Ever since I arrived in Bangkok, it has not hit Mallory and me that we are in a different country until a Sunday night on the Khao San Road.  It all began with us walking down the street by a vendor selling fried bugs and our awestricken reactions immediately captured a bystander’s attention as he bought a bag of fried grasshoppers.  He gave us each one large fried grasshopper and, yes, we both ate it.   The flavor and texture actually were not that bad although it was the bug’s legs being stuck in between our teeth that bothered us the most.  After that very moment, Mallory and I were struck with the fact: WE ARE IN THAILAND!  We met a couple of backpackers from London, were introduced to cocktail buckets, adorned by Thai women with crazy hats and hilarious bracelets, and the rest of the night morphed like a kaleidoscope into an amazing week at Khao San Road!

The Journey: Day One

•September 22, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Today is going to be a long day for me as I will be having two different layovers before reaching my final destination.  On the other hand, I find it pretty neat that I will be in four different countries within 24 hours period: USA, Canada, Hong Kong, and Thailand!  Looking forward to meet up with Mallory at the airport and see what Asia has in store for us!

Just a few pages away from the next chapter of my life

•September 20, 2011 • Leave a Comment

In just two days, I’ll be heading over to the airport and fly into my next chapter of life: traveling in southeast Asia.  With the flight ticket as an one-way, I have absolutely no idea exactly when I will be returning back to USA.  Even though I admit I have butterflies in my stomach just thinking about that, I am also exhilirated at the thought of exploring the unknown!  My Aunt Kitty asked me what I expect from the entire trip and I actually had a hard time answering that question because I have absolutely no idea what to expect, however; I do hope for one thing out of this trip: finding myself. 

Ok, let me elaborate on the “finding myself” part a bit.  Yes, I never lost myself or anything like that as I already know who I am and am still learning new things about myself everyday…it’s just like that I want to be able to explore and understand myself on a new and deeper level.  I find myself becoming a bit too dependent towards people as I simply cannot live without people…although there’s nothing wrong with that, I still need to learn how to be one hundred percent independent and, most importantly, let things go.  I need to learn how to say goodbyes as people and things come and go in our lives.  I need to learn how to face and to understand my emotions as I almost always deny them.  I need to clear my mind as I often would overanalyze and imagine things too much.  I need to get a grip on myself, breathe in deeply, and just be F R E E.  Yes, this is going to be a challenge for me but if I’m determined to do this, then I will do it.  And Thailand is my starting point.  =D