Where in the world am I now?
I don't stop...
To keep up, please subscribe.
Feel free to share this blog.
Visit @SailGirl Design on Instagram!
To keep up, please subscribe.
Feel free to share this blog.
Visit @SailGirl Design on Instagram!
I finally made it to India!
This picture was taken in Mumbai at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya Museum. http://csmvs.in. This Sunday was the only day I had to relax and explore during the time I was there. I travelled from Singapore to Chennai on the Southeast coast of India, spent a few days, then flew to New Delhi in North central India for a stint, then on to Mumbai on the Western coast for a few days. All in all I spent 12 days in India including travel. If you look at a map, you will see how many kilometers I tracked.
We were busy!!! I visited hospitals, met doctors and nurses, taught classes and more.
In the photo above, the hand is in the Vitarka Mudra pose or position. Many buddhist statues and representations are noted with this mudra. This one is particularly significant as it represents the gesture of discussion or sharing of ideas and teaching. Although this wasn't in my mind at the time I snapped this image, it is truly the background behind my visit to India.
India can be described with words, but they don't do it justice. Some that come to mind easily are; chaotic, noisy, colorful, grimy, spicy, complex, gracious, poor, rich, hectic, beautiful, pungent, silky, ancient, modern and more! You must experience India with all your senses. If you aren't used to SE Asia, travel in less developed countries, and some 'in your face' poverty that stares you down, you may be shocked and India may not be for you. My co-worker from India told me that he was impressed with how I took India in stride. To me, it was amazing. I want to go back.
The majority of my time was spent meeting doctors and nurses in a variety of public and private hospitals. The public hospitals were very basic, and the buildings were old but the clinicians were very interested in new technology and excited to see our products. The public hospitals were packed with people everywhere. There were people waiting in chairs, on floors and in stairways. It was a bit overwhelming. Care is essentially free in public hospitals and it is done as best it can be, with limited funds for the throngs of people needing care. Those of you in the USA should count your blessings that even if you don't have insurance or money, you can still be treated in a fashion that is out of reach for most people in the world.
When inside the Indian private hospitals, it felt like I was back in the USA, Australia, Singapore or other countries with well developed medical care. The buildings are new and clean but the sheers numbers of patients remain evident. These patients pay for their care, there is health insurance. The growing middle class is evident in these hospitals. Visiting hospitals in other countries is always interesting to me and keeps me open to new ideas.
We spent a lot of time the car traveling between appointments. The traffic in Delhi is epic! All three cities I visited, the traffic is quite intense and chaotic. The lanes are just a "suggestion" and cars seem to come so close as to touch when navigating through the cities. In fact, I never saw a wreck. I told my co-worker that is seems Indian cars are "greased" and slide through traffic without a scrape. He thought that was quite funny. Truth told, most of the countries I visit, except Singapore have similar traffic. Must be why it didn't rattle me.
I ate a LOT of really good food. Not all Indian food is spicy and especially if you are not local (look foreign) it is harder to get spicy food. My co-worker asked often to provide us spicy food and although it was tasty, it was difficult to get them to up the spice to the level I'm used to. I stayed in business hotels that had amazing breakfasts! I started eating eggs with a sauce called sambar that reminded me of Mexican green chili. I was in heaven.
Each region has slightly different specialties and flavors and I loved it all. Since I was traveling for work I really wasn't too adventuresome and had no gut issues during my trip. I'm hoping to travel a bit in India with Corey and we will try a bit more of the edgy places. It was probably all for the best that I wasn't stuck in the bathroom when I was needing to be working.
During my one day off in Mumbai I rented a taxi/driver for about 5 hours. I had researched that there was a Ghandi Museum in Mumbai and had wanted to visit. It is called Mani Bhavan. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mani_Bhavan
Mani Bhavan is a lovely old home in the historic district that Gandhi spent his time when in Mumbai. The building is now a memorial and a library with multiple floors. There were many pictures and quotes of the great man framed on the walls as well as his life portrayed in dioramas. I've always admired Gandhi and it was deeply moving to spend time in this space.
My driver, Khan, took me to both museums and drove around to see some of the historical sights in Mumbai. The monsoons made it very difficult to take pictures. I did get in some shopping however.
Here are pics of just some of the amazing textiles for purchase in India. These can be rugs or wall hangings. I am ready to go back with another suitcase! I'm hoping to open a shop someday and feature some of the goods I see, touch, and admire during my travels. Who's my first customer??? I could start now if you are interested. I have the contact info!!
My trip to India was just a small taste, leaving me wanting much more. I flew to Hong Kong from Mumbai and spent the weekend at a medical conference. I'm now in Malaysia and have just about a week to go before I head back to the USA for a visit that I am eagerly anticipating!
I will leave you with a quote from the great man, Mahatma Gandhi. This was framed and hung on the wall at Mani Bhavan. It brought tears to my eyes as there was reported in the local news, just that week, another rape. These words ring more true than ever to me, a very blessed American. Where I travel I see women in full burkas, eyes alone peering out from their veils. I also see beach goers that could possibly do with a bit more covering their body. In this century and decade it is amazing the distance between these images and what this distance means for women around the world. Women may not be as physically strong but they can withstand much more than should ever be asked of them. I don't usually use this blog for a soapbox but here's to all the strong women I know and have yet to meet.
We made it out alive! Klang Cave in Krabi Province, Thailand
I'm behind again on blogs, as usual, so here we go! Don't forget, if you receive these by email, click the link, as there are slide shows embedded that don't show up unless you are on the blog site! You can also visit www.sailgirldesign.com and take a trip down memory lane with us. I do this occasionally. It's one reason I'm sharing our fun, so I can remember it later. Thanks for following our shenanigans! If you are having fun, please share our website and comment.
A few weeks ago I had some time in Thailand. Corey and I rented a car for the weekend and ventured over to the seaside town of Krabi. We really had a ball in Khao Lak (see previous blog) and the motorbike ride was definitely part of that adventure, but Krabi is a bit too far for a motorbike, especially in rainy season. It took us around 3 hours to drive to the beach side of Krabi as we stopped along the way to check out what ever tickled our fancy. One amazing detour took us into Klang Cave.
Klang Cave is a significant cavern with a small river and huge stalactites and stalagmites. The mountains in the Phang Nga and Krabi areas are limestone so there are quite a few caves. We think we found the best one! Happening upon a sign, we turned off and drove down a small dirt road surrounded by jungle and coconut palms. There was a little welcome center, with no one there. Actually a bit spooky. It has to be manned sometimes as there was a flashlight sitting on a bench and the batteries were ready to go. Corey borrowed it and I used my phone flashlight app-- off we went. The pictures below are some from Klang Cave. Don't miss the ghost globes and the captions.
We also explored a very beautiful temple on the way to Krabi. It was actually between Phuket and Phang Nga. An older lady selling temple goods told us that the monk the temple was dedicated to had a "good mouth and was very wise." In other words he spoke good things! The temple had multiple buildings and everything was perfectly maintained. A beautiful place!
Another discovery on the trip was a temple near Krabi called the Tiger Cave Temple -Wat Tham Sua. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tiger_Cave_Temple
It's actually a complex of temples plus a hike up 1237 stairs to the top of a cliff overlooking the region. The view was well worth the climb!
The story behind the name Tiger Cave Temple in summary is that many years ago a local priest was meditating in the area and would see a tigers living in, and around the cave. There are no longer tigers in this part of SE Asia but the cave was named for them. It is one of the most sacred areas in the Krabi province.
The hike up those stairs was brutal as they were very steep. Actually, it was worse coming down! My legs were jelly! I was lucky I've been exercising as we didn't stop there. We went up and down some more stairs and then around the back of the next hill. We followed a trail through a canyon with thick trees that took us by more caves, plus a Buddhist monk village. It was absolutely beautiful and felt like we'd gone back in time. Their rust colored robes were hanging out to dry on the clothes lines outside petite, well-kept shacks. This area was all arranged near the caves and a large outdoor worshipping area with a large Buddha statue. It seemed most people don't do this extra hike, so once again we were pretty much the only ones there taking in the wonderful sights. The air was thick with humidity but the rain stayed away.
Our final destination was the beaches of Krabi. We spent one night in the shopping, nightlife area on Ao Nang Beach, and the next night around the corner at Hat Noppharat Thara Beach. We both enjoyed Krabi. We imagined it is like Patong used to be. It is also slow season so it was particularly quiet.
We enjoyed the different scenery and some time at the beach. Including some great massages. If you visit on slow season expect cheaper prices but the water is rough and not a blue and clear.
Well, that's it for this week's update. Stay tuned for a write up about our jaunt over to Puerto Galera, Philippines for a weekend of diving! I seem to run about 3 weeks behind but I'll try to get to it shortly before I forget any cool details. Cheers!!!
Hey, blog readers! I notice when I get this blog in my email it only seems to show single pics. Some of the sections of most posts have a slideshow imbedded. Please let me know if you are seeing the slide shows. If you are not, try viewing the blog in your browser. This is easy to do by clicking on the title of the blog in your email.
You can always visit our website- www.sailgirldesign.com and check out the last page of the site which is the blog.
Thanks!! Just wanted to make sure you were seeing all the fun pics.
Peggy and Corey
Vesak Day is celebrated by Buddhists in a variety of forms and on slightly different dates across SE Asia and beyond. It is the celebration of the birth, enlightenment, and death of Guatama Buddha. The dates are based on the different Asian calendars and it is usually celebrated in related to the full moon. Wikipedia has a nice summary of Vesak Day. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vesak
There are some basic aspects of Vesak Day that I really admire such as bringing happiness to others, especially children, the elderly, and handicapped. Worshippers plan a trip to the temple that day to buy incense, pray and offer flowers in worship. Traditionally animals have been let free on this holiday in a symbolic act of liberation. This is to signify the liberation of those in captivity against their will. Singapore had a government announcement to encourage people to let bugs go as a gesture instead of any other animals. Vesak is also a day where many Buddhists will eat a totally vegetarian diet.
I really like this description of how to celebrate Vesak Day and pay homage to Buddha from Wikipedia:
" Tradition ascribes to the Buddha himself instruction on how to pay him homage. Just before he died, he saw his faithful attendant Ananda, weeping. The Buddha advised him not to weep, but to understand the universal law that all compounded things (including even his own body) must disintegrate. He advised everyone not to cry over the disintegration of the physical body but to regard his teachings (The Dhamma) as their teacher from then on, because only the Dhamma truth is eternal and not subject to the law of change. He also stressed that the way to pay homage to him was not merely by offering flowers, incense, and lights, but by truly and sincerely striving to follow his teachings. This is how Buddhists are expected to celebrate Vesak: to use the opportunity to reiterate their determination to lead noble lives, to develop their minds, to practise loving-kindness and to bring peace and harmony to humanity."
So, I do keep a fairly regular blog on this site. It's primary purpose is to keep family and friends up to date on our wanderings. As a somewhat regular "tweeter" I ran across a contest for amateur photographers and figure, why not?
The mission is to create a blog with photos that fall under these categories...
Let's see what Black's thinks of my examples of Wild, Fast, Panoramic, and Epic:
This was taken from a beach in the Similan Islands, Thailand. We were on a live aboard dive boat over Christmas.
A gorgeous place, where even mermaids may be spotted...
Songkran is Thailand’s lunar new year’s celebration and has been going on for centuries. It is celebrated across the country, from small villages to the alleys of Bangkok and there are two main themes- water and powder!
"The throwing of water originated as a way to pay respect to people, by capturing the water after it had been poured over the Buddhas for cleansing and then using this "blessed" water to give good fortune to elders and family by gently pouring it on the shoulder. Among young people the holiday evolved to include dousing strangers with water to relieve the heat, since April is the hottest month in Thailand (temperatures can rise to over 100 °F or 40 °C on some days). This has further evolved into water fights and splashing water over people riding in vehicles.
Although many people are focused on dousing each other with water, there is another way of marking someone and blessing them, by putting powder on their face.
Songkran is traditionally a time to visit and pay respects to elders, including family members, friends, neighbors, and monks.
Thais often travel back to where they grew up for family reunions and especially to visit and pay respect to their elderly. A visit to the temple is always important to ensure the upcoming year is blessed and bountiful." (Wikipedia)
This year’s Songkran found Corey and I in Phuket. Corey had been lucky enough to experience Songkran once before but it was my first. Hopefully it will not be my last. We packed a supposedly-waterproof bag, dressed in clothes that we hoped may dry at some point, and jumped on our scooter. I have to mention here that we both were wearing flowery shirts as this is another symbol of Songkran.
As we rode carefully into Patong from Kathu, armed with super soaker water guns, Corey kept a steady hand and navigated past a few “wet” spots. Families and neighbors, including kids come down to where their side street meets a main road and set up soaking stations. Many put ice in their water. The first ice water splash definitely got my attention! On the way to town we stopped by our last apartment. The kids we had befriended were standing on the side of the road, they recognized Corey and started yelling "Mac, Mac!" They truly enjoyed soaking us as we feebly attempted to give them a bit of a watering down.
The town of Patong is a crazy frenetic place at the best of times, at Songkran it is absolutely nuts. We again carefully made our way past multiple soaking stations to the WE Hotel, our hangout for the night. The WE is on Bangla Road, but the calmer section. It was a perfect place to play from, and use as our home base. We had a rooftop pool and our rooms looked out over Bangla Road. We were only on the second floor so we sprayed people from our window.
After getting settled at the WE, we took our first stroll up Bangla towards the beach. Throughout the day it just got crazier. You can see the pics, which although fun, don’t really do it justice! You really have to experience Songkran at least once yourself.
After we wore ourselves out playing in the waterfight in front of the WE and cruising Bangla, we made our way to the clubs, ending up at the TaiPan. Since we were also celebrating Mon’s birthday, we had champagne and not sure what else. Long story short, I ended up being invited up on stage with the performers. Luckily there are NO pictures of this…
Enjoy the photos. This is one festival that has to be experiences in person. Preferably on Bangla Road!
Mom made it all the way to Singapore! Thanks to Corey for picking her up at the airport and getting her to our current apartment. He is a champ!
Mom travels so well. She came in about 1:00am and she and Corey made it back to the apartment after 2:00am. Although I did wake up enough to give her a big hug, I had a crazy work day coming up so back to bed I went. When they got to the apartment, Corey took Mom to the roof so she could get a view of Singapore at night. Our rooftop pool area is an amazing place. As you can see from the pic to the left we can view the Singapore Flyer and much of the downtown financial district from our current building. Later the day Mom arrived, I made it home for lunch and Mom was already up and ready to start exploring Singapore! Corey flew back to Thailand and Mom hung out at the pool and walked around the general area.
Over the first weekend I showed Mom how to use an MRT pass. Singapore has an amazing public transport system that includes trains, buses and cabs. It is actually very easy to get around, and if you aren't afraid to walk a little you can see a lot of Singapore on foot (locally we call that using Bus 11). Saturday Mom and I took a walking tour in Little India. It was so much fun! Our tour guide was a local guy named Bernard. His laugh was contagious! He was full of information, from the history of Singapore to current day politics and more. We learned a lot about his home town/country of Singapore and especially the Indian community since that was the focus of the tour. The pictures below are mostly from our Little India Walking Tour.
This lovely building is Raffles Hotel, named after the British founder of the colony in 1819. Up until that time the area had been under the rule of India, Thailand, the Portuguese, Dutch, Malaysia, and more. Singapore gained it's independence in 1965. Much of the city was destroyed during WW2 bombing raids by the Japanese but some very wonderful little neighborhoods remain. I have been lucky enough to find a small apartment in what is called the "Arab Quarter." Mom will help me move this coming weekend. It is an area of mostly renovated shophouses that are clustered around the oldest Mosque in Singapore. Just down the street is a lovely old Catholic church and both Buddhist and Hindu Temples are just a few blocks further. Singapore is a wonderful melting pot of cultures. Mom and I took a Hop on- Hop Off Bus Tour around the city this past Saturday. It was a great way to get your bearings and see the city from an open topped bus! Here are some pics of our adventure.
We saw many of the main landmarks of Singapore and spent some time in Chinatown walking around as well.
Our last stop on Saturday night was down at Marina Bay. We had taken the train to watch the light show, which is well worth the effort, and happened upon the Singapore Jazz Festival. The main stage was right in front of the Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands. We were standing, elbows over the fence that was keeping the non-paying observers out, and a nice guy asked, "would you want some free tickets to the concert?" Well, anyone that knows me, knows how fast I said, "YES!" He handed us two passes and pointed us in the direction of the entrance. I asked, "Why us?" He answered with a smile and a twinkle in his eye, "Why not?"
What a treat! We relinquished our tickets for RFID bracelets, very Singapore, and were able to catch 3 acts. The first was an amazing singer named Allen Stone. He was from the US and his band was excellent. Mom and I both loved him, his music, and even more so... his vibe. We then were lucky enough to hear James Morrison and his band. He could play about any horn available as well as other instruments. The closing act was none other than than the amazing India Arie! Some of her songs literally brought tears to our eyes as she is one of the most soulful singers I have heard in a long time. What a night!
I've been in Singapore for a almost a month and am very soon moving into an apartment right near Arab Street in Kampong Glam. Work has me put up in a wonderful serviced apartment that I will hate to leave! Mom is actually here as well and the very next blog will be of our adventures.
However, just prior to really getting to work in Singapore I was in Thailand with Corey and we had a grand adventure to Koh Yao Noi. It is a smallish island just east of Phuket. To arrive there you must take a boat (or swim?). There are 2 choices, a fast boat or a slow boat. We chose the fast boat, after all I was with Corey Parker... I now can't remember how much it cost but it wasn't very expensive, about $20 each in USD total to go and return. We rode our motorbike up to the ferry terminal at Bang Rong Pier in NE Phuket. The only negative to the whole wonderful day was that when we returned some monkeys (seriously) had vandalized our motorbike and my helmet. They had basically chewed the lining out of my helmet (my sweat must have been appealing??) and taken a bite out of the seat. Corey was not happy as this motorbike was in prime condition. Anyway, back to the adventure.
Corey had been contacted by an American living there that had heard about some skydiving happening on Phuket. He ended up on Koh Yao Noi as a friend of his had basically homesteaded there with his Thai wife and kids and he lives a good part of the year there, going back and forth to the US to work. He is very interested in pursuing more experience as a skydiver and was hoping for a nearby drop zone. Alas, we are still in the process of getting that going so we went over to meet and hang out. I absolutely loved the vibe of the island! So different from frantic Phuket.
Here are some pics from our day... enjoy! If you ever get a chance to visit us, be sure to take the jaunt over to Koh Yao Noi and Koh Yao Yai. Oh and by the way, if you are a rock climber- bonus for you! This island is known for it's rock climbing. Our pals on the island are avid climbers and I'm sure they'd happily show you the sites.
Happy Chinese New Year! This Lunar New Year we enter the year of the Wooden Horse. There were big celebrations going on all over Asia and since we were in Phuket we attended the Chinese New Year celebration down near the Parliament Building. We joined at least a thousand local revelers to watch a live show that was basically a Cirque du Soleil type performance with a Snow White theme (I know, a little strange?). There were acrobats, jugglers, singers and dancers! The entire show was done in Mandarin with Thai subtitles so we were happy we knew the story very well. We do not know the relevance to Snow White, if any... but all in all it was a great spectacle!
I was hoping to see some dancing dragons and such but alas, we didn't. I'm hoping to still do so in Singapore as Chinese New Year Celebrations go on for at least 15 days.
All week there were firecrackers going off around Phuket island. This is one traditional part of the celebration as well as decorations, with red as the dominant color. Both of these traditions are based on an old legend, as they are meant to frighten away the Nian who was a mythical beast- not a nice one either. Singapore was decked out in red before I left to return to Phuket. The night of the big show in Phuket I saw many adults and children dressed in their best red outfits. Pink was also very popular that night.
You will see pics below of Phuket and also of Singapore. Lots of red! Enjoy!
May the year of the horse bring you much health, wealth, and good fortune.
Last Sunday Corey was out working on a dive boat so took myself on a little adventure. A short walk from where we live in Kathu (a township on Phuket Island) is a motorcycle taxi stand. It's the cheapest way to get around the island if you don't have your own wheels. The motorcycle taxi stands are easy to recognize. There is usually a wooden structure where guys in blue vests are lounging around and multiple motor bikes parked right in front. The sign lists destinations and pricing, in English.
I walked up, pointed to where I wanted to go on the sign and hopped on behind my driver. I'm becoming used to commuting by scooter, whether behind Corey or a local driver. In fact, last night I really went all out and rode "side saddle" behind Corey as I had a skirt on!
Phuket Town is about 20 minutes by scooter away from where we live and is the original town on the island. It is said that less than 10% of all tourists visiting Phuket make it to Phuket Town. There is a section called Old Town and that is where I was headed. Most of you know that old architecture is one of my favorite things.
A blurb from Lonely Planet about Phuket Town: "Long before tourist T-shirts or flip-flops, Phuket was an island of rubber trees, tin mines and cash-hungry merchants. Attracting entrepreneurs from as far away as the Arabian Peninsula, China, India and Portugal, Phuket Town was a colourful blend of cultural influences, cobbled together by tentative compromise and cooperation. Today the city is proof of the island’s historical soul. Wander down streets clogged with Sino-Portuguese architecture housing arty coffee shops, galleries, wonderful inexpensive restaurants and hip little guest houses; peek down alleyways to find Chinese Taoist shrines shrouded in incense smoke.But it’s not just some lost-in-time cultural archive. Bubbling up throughout the emerging Old Town is an infusion of current art, music and food that attract a very hip crowd, both foreign and Thai. Investors have finally caught on that culture, not just slinky beaches and girly bars, is a commodity. Old shophouses and homes, once left to rot, are being bought up and restored, resulting in flash-forward gentrification."
Read more: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thailand/andaman-coast/phuket-town#ixzz2q9NFRxcX
I safely made it to my destination and started walking. I found a very sweet little coffee shop called Kaffe Phuket where I treated myself to a cappucino. It was the best coffee I've had so far on the island besides what we have been making at home. Along my walk I ran into some lovely flowers. The orchid was hanging along with many more, available for purchase and the lotus was in a little fish bowl in front of a shop. Couldn't resist capturing their delicious colors!
I meandered around the streets and found Old Town. See the pictures below. Lady Luck was on my side as it turns out that Sunday evening, starting at 4pm, is Old Town Market night! It was amazing! Food, drinks, and fun things to buy all set up in the center of Thalang Road which is blocked off for the evening. Corey came and joined me there after work. We will definitely be back! Maybe tonight... as it's already Sunday again.
Today Corey and I are going to ride our motorbike down to the south western part of the island and explore that area. More ramblings to be recorded! Stay tuned!