Happy New Year everyone!
I apologize for the big lapse between posts - but the latest delay comes with good reason. Before I begin I want to note that I do have some knitting content to share but needs its own posts. Those will come shortly after the trip recap is published. I was out of town from December 9 - 30, 2010 traveling Southeast Asia with 2 of my good friends! We visited Thailand and Cambodia over the almost 3 week trip and I came back with literally thousands of photographs, more inspiration than I can explain, and a refreshed outlook on life, seeing how others live firsthand in other parts of the world. Because of the sheer volume of photos from this trip I decided instead of showing each individual photos from the trip that I would just speak in general about some highlights. This will also be a two-part post because it's just so much information to read and share, I think giving you a break in reading might make it easier to digest. (I also want to get part 1 out ASAP so that people can relish in the warm heat of Southeast Asia while it's chilly and wintery at home!) Enjoy the trip!
Wats in Bangkok
Before I went to Bangkok, all I knew about it was the sont "One Night In Bangkok" - I thought it was seedy, racy, and full of bars with back rooms that featured strippers or worse... When we arrived, I was pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful bustling city full of culture and history! We stayed on the river in a beautiful hotel, and took a water taxi almost everywhere we went! I have lots of favorite things to mention about Bangkok, but one of my favorites would be the wats - or Buddhist temples. We went to a lot of them, including Wat Pho, the home of the huge reclining Buddha. We saw the Emerald Buddha as well (it's one of the most important Buddhas in the history of the religion). I also really appreciated that the wats were almost all being renovated or restored... go through a doorway and there's an artist lacquering a giant centuries old Buddha image - through another doorway or around a corner in a different wat and someone is restoring a mural... the preservation efforts made me smile. I like when people do their best to preserve amazing spaces such as these! Enjoy a few of the photos I took while visiting these amazing spaces:
Jim Thompson's House
We had a wonderful adventure at Jim Thompson's House - after the adventure trying to find it, we were led on a tour of what was his home (he took a number of traditional Thai houses and reassembled them to make one large home with two outbuildings - one for his gardener and the other was for his housekeeper.
Jim went on an excursion in the Cameron highlandsin Malaysia in 1967 and never returned - his house is now a museum showcasing this brilliant businessman and his passion for the silk industry. He's the guy who revitalized the Thai silk world, and his name still hangs on shops around the world. I thought about buying a bag from the Jim Thompson shop, but decided that I have many bags as it is, and that the photographs and experience of being in this place were enough souveniers. There was also a small museum at the property, and theyon exhibit some of the silk items from one of Jim's collections. I really liked some of the fashions, but have no idea where I'd wear a fancy silk long coat like the one in the show... We were not allowed to photograph inside the home (except in certain areas) so I can only offer you these peeks into the world of Jim Thompson:
Markets, Waterways and Streets of Bangkok
Bangkok is a land full of sights and smells - there are markets everywhere you turn (but no yarn shops that we could find!) and commodities are divided into areas... if you want car parts, you head to that area of town. Need a new rubber stamp or embosser for your business? There's probably a street for that as well...
Everywhere you go in Thailand (and Cambodia) in the big cities, the way to get around quickly is by a little two stroke engine motorcycle with a cart behind it - they call this a Tuk-Tuk. They are cheap and they are everywhere! On one of the days, Chuck and I took a field trip to try to find a certain area of town, and while searching came across the flower market - this is where they make the floral adornments for the temples and Buddha's. Here are some of my favorite photos showing daily life in Bangkok, Thailand:
Monk Bowl Village, Bangkok
After our long walking journey through the city, we were starting to get a little frustrated. When visiting a country, it's good to have a guide or someone who can read the language. I'm not ashamed to say that Thai (and other languages like Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc.) when written, make absolutely no sense to me! This can be problematic when you're looking for a place and the only way to find it is to follow Thai street signs. Chuck and I were really at the end of our rope, and stopped at a corner to examine our tourist map to see if we could figure out which direction was which... when a lady approached Chuck and asked where we were trying to go... (most people there are eager to help you find your way, which is nice) - we explained we were looking for a certain Wat that sells Monk Bowls. Monk bowls are used by Thai monks to collect alms in town each morning--being pounded into shape out of eight strips of steel, one for each stage of the Buddhists' eightfold path. She told us that the village was just down the street we had stopped at - and pointed the way to where we really wanted to go; monk bowl village!
As we got closer, we were greeted by the ambassador of Monk Bowl Village - one of the residents who speaks great English - he showed us to the "store" (it was no more than a pile of bowls and a glass case) - We pondered the bowls, but I wanted to see where they were made. He obliged, and took us on a tour of their village - and eveywhere we went, we heard "tap tap tap"... That metallic tap you hear is the sound of the bowls being smashed into shape by the artists. The village was cute, and everyone seemed happy there... they are very poor people, but they do good work making something that they love - we were impressed by their work - it would take an artist one full day to make a bowl. Chuck and I each bought one bowl (about U.S. $30) and they are proudly displayed on a shelf at home in San Francisco now. When I brought my bowl back to the hotel, one of the hotel porters warned me that it was more than a souvenier. The bowls are sacred, and should never be put on the ground. I promised him I'd safeguard this bowl, and I'm honored to have it as a momento from this amazing adventure. Here are photos from Monk Bowl Village:
Are you hanging in there with me? I told you - it's a long trip! I hope you're enjoying the 5 day adventure in Bangkok, Thailand. Stay tuned; I will be posting a part 2 to this trip, featuring 7 days in Siem Reap, Cambodia, and 7 more on the beautiful island of Koh Phi Phi, Thailand!