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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!!!
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Peggy and Corey
As most of you know, Corey spends most of his time in Thailand and I spend much of my time traveling in SE Asia and living between Singapore and Thailand. On a recent weekend spent together we adventured out from our place in Phuket, north to Khao Lak. Two friends of ours, Paul and Mon, tagged along and together we had a grand time. Keep in mind that we are now into rainy season in this part of the world. In the tropics when it rains, it absolutely pours! At least for a few minutes or so at a time. That said, we took this jaunt on motor scooters. Not sure if we should be considered brave, or silly! Turns out either way- we were quite lucky!
This picture is of a beach we stopped at on the way to Khao Lak. It was part of a huge resort that seemed all but closed. It was absolutely gorgeous! Since we were on our motor scooter we took a lot of breaks. Any sign that we could read or any suggestion of something interesting took us on a side trip. This beach was a reward for following our whimsy that day. Khao Lak is about a 3 or 4 hour motorbike ride north of Phuket. It can be done much more quickly, and comfortably in a car, but hey, where's the adventure in that? Right?
Above are some pictures from our way up the coast towards Khao Lak. There were some beautiful beaches and we stopped at the Hot Springs Resort, looking for the hot springs. We didn't find the hot springs. As I mentioned the resort was all but closed. It is slow season, but really? I was so surprised as I would certainly recommend it if someone wants a gorgeous get away. The downside was that is was quite far from anything to do but relax... is that a problem?
Elephant rides are offered in many places in Thailand. I personally am not a fan of this attraction and don't plan to ever partake but the owner of the Full Moon Bar, whose beach we hung out on, said that the elephants used for this local attraction are free ranging at night. That made me feel a little better. They were a great photo opp.
We ultimately stayed at a resort called Brisas in Khao Lak. It was beautiful and since it is low season we got a killer deal. Corey, Paul, Mon and I went for a swim in some pretty significant surf, then relaxed in the pool with drinks before going out for a tasty Thai meal. Such a nice little get away!
Our visit to Khao Lak falls almost 10 years after the huge tsunami that wiped out much of this region and beyond. The SE Asian tsunami struck after a very large earthquake on December 26th, 2004. For Corey and I, it visiting the memorial was a sober reminder that you never know when your time on this earth may come to an end. Not only because of what happened where we now call home, but also because we were supposed to be in Phuket that day years ago. Some of our family and friends may remember hearing about the event from thousands of miles away and becoming very worried about us. Corey's work had taken us to China and we had plans which included a stop over during Christmas for a few days in Phuket. Phuket was hit very hard by the tsunami and no doubt we'd have been staying at the beach. Instead, Corey's project was delayed, and we made a detour to Hong Kong instead, but did not tell anyone about our last minute change. I don't know how many of you watched 'The Impossible'- a movie about a family staying at a beach resort in Khao Lak. While living in Australia I watched this movie alone. It was intense, and I knew it would be very hard to watch realizing we could easily have been there. I cried and thanked God for our timely detour and the chance to do more things on this earth to hopefully make it a better place.
On our way back from Khao Lak, we did hit some rain. We had little rain overcoats in the motor scooter that we put on, and took off... and put on. It was quite funny as it seemed that every time we put them on, the rain stopped. In Thailand, it is very humid even when it's not raining- and hot! The discomfort of sweating in a plastic cover was not appealing and the flapping sounds the jackets made was quite annoying. I'm happy to say our use of the jackets was quite minimal and overall we had a pretty dry trip! Following the "stop when we see something interesting" principle found us at a waterfall, a cute coffee shop, and a lovely temple. Such a great way to travel.
I'm back in Singapore now as this little jaunt was a few weeks ago. Stay tuned, I have one more little side trip to share!
Recently I did a work trip that had me visiting 6 Chinese cities in 5 days. I flew into Beijing and took trains and planes between cities. I finally flew out of Guangzhou back to Singapore. Basically I was tasked with lecturing to local clinicians about IV Therapy. It was a grueling trip but I found some fun along the way. My favorite part of the trip was the very warm reception I received from the nurses.
When traveling in China for work I am usually accompanied by one of our local team members. This trip, I needed an interpreter for all my lectures so Shu, our Marketing Director and basically "jack of all trades" for China and I spent a lot of time together. Shu was born and raised in China but spent many years in the US so her English is great. The pic at the left was taken at a wonderful temple in Wuhan called the Yellow Crane Pagoda. We ended up with a few hours of down time so Shu took me to explore. I was very lucky to have her to translate information at the temple and I made sure that she appreciated some of the Chinese to English translations that I noticed along our way. I think at both work and fun, we made a great team.
I love the signage and translations in China. Chinese is extremely hard to translate for more than one reason. To a native English speaker the meaning of the translated sign is usually very clear, although the actual wording is just not quite as we'd usually expect it. These signs make me smile.
This sign was directing us through the Yellow Crane Temple.
This Pagoda style temple in Wuhan is very well known. There have been many beautiful poems written about this temple over thousands of years.
I feel very lucky to be able to visit such a beautiful place. More pictures in the slideshow below.
The nurses in China were amazing! As I mentioned I was tasked with lecturing to groups of nurses in a variety of cities. Since I don't speak Mandarin, I had She with me (thank goodness) and as a team we tackled lecture after lecture- usually at least 2 per day. I would guess this was at least as exhausting for her as for me. The nurses quizzed me with thought provoking questions and shared their local experiences. Long days... however, the huge hugs and hearty hand shakes I got from the white capped nurses made it all worthwhile. I love meeting nurses in different countries. You can see from the pics Chinese nurses proudly continue to wear caps. It was like going back in time but the heart of nursing shines through the ages.
So, I mentioned that I rode the high speed trains. Here is the max speed I noticed on one of the legs of my journey-305 km/hr! These trains are clean, comfortable, timely, and relatively low cost. It was an amazing experience.
When the new train driver (engineer?) replaces the current driver he saluted the oncoming train in a neat little ceremony.
Although I'm not sure if I could figure out how to buy a ticket without some Chinese assistance, I would recommend riding the trains! Once you have the ticket, it's pretty easy to figure out from there.
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."