Remembering FS IV: Pai, Chiang Khong, Mae Sa Long and Chiang Dao!

HAPPY 48th BIRTHDAY SINGAPORE!

*please credit if you’ll be using any photos, thank you!

Greetings from Pai to Chiang Khong to Mae Sa Long to Chiang Dao~ travelling is definitely a large part of our humanoids journey for this FS.. we go to different borders and along the way had really nice “rest stops”. and of course we made these trip in between our stay in Mae Aw before going back again to complete our projects..

i guess some might not like the travelling, but personally i think these trips allowed us to bond and it seems like a good break from doing work hehe (although almost everyone brought working gear and slip in work time here and there ^^)

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this photo was taken on the way from Mae Hong Son to Pai, actually it shows that we’re already in Pai (some park thing..) which btw, i think we really travelled on about 1864 curves.. and towards the end of the trip everyone had a certificate for ‘surviving’ and completing the ‘gruelling’ journey.. though really if you are travelling with friends, it is not that bad..
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a group shot with my friends (Cheryl, Esther and myself ^^) i really love them and will definitely miss them when we’re all away for this coming semester.. but i guess that’s what photos are for, to remember the great times spent together!
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an “I believe i can fly” shot, it can look a bit intimidating staring down, but the air and wind is so so good up here 😀
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this photo was taken with Joyce, one of the most fun people on our trip, and i adopted the name “Sheep” because she thinks have the ‘aura’ of one heh.. thank you for taking good care of me and bringing joy on this trip ^^

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arriving at Pai town, this town is one of the more underrated places in Thailand i think.. it is considered as backpackers’ haven, but really i think young travellers will like it.. we had cake for dessert after lunch, which is probably our first slice of cake for the entire trip.

this really recharged us and is definitely considered a luxury.. i really like how FS as a journey not only teaches us about field work and application of field ideas and theories, it teaches you more about how to live your life (along the lines of revelation).. every single one of us became more appreciative of what we have, and 7-11 stores there are really what we are content to have and considered a bonus for every place we visit.

in addition, Pai also have really unique souvenirs with an artsy twist to them and every shop sells a different kind of souvenir, not to mention one of the cheapest Roti sold in Thai night markets can be found here!

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cute doggie belonging to the owner of our guesthouse @ PaiSeven
IMG_6073BBQ fish for dinner, easily one of the most delicious fish i’ve tasted! which was cooked by our Songtiao uncles ^^

we stayed in Pai for a night (too short as everyone would tell you…) then head to Chiang Khong, where we will be visiting the Thai-Laos border 🙂

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lunch stop on the way to Chiang Khong, braised pork rice *yum*

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fast forward and we’ve arrived in Chiang Khong, i like how as a group we all went out looking for a dinner place recommended by Lonely Planet. it’s a Thai restaurant and serves really good Tom Yum soup :p the above is a photo of us on a street there.. feels pretty peaceful and ‘leisure’ heh

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passed by a row of shop houses and this statue was really randomly placed outside one of the shops. really cute statue and quite heartwarming if you think it’s about a couple growing old and staying by each other’s side.. (thinking too much…)

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easily one of the grandest temple around in Chiang Khong, it looks more magnificent and grand from its sides… and is really big i must say, pity it’s closed by the time we arrived in Chiang Khong~

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introducing our main purpose in Chiang Khong… to visit the Laos-Thai border! this time we travelled by boat, and i must say it’s a different experience, and even before we embark on the actual journey, it is clear that the port serves different functions and also how one’s identification plays a part (as for every border around the world?)..

a side note would be how the random coffee shop at the port serves really good coffee, better than Starbucks and at least five times cheaper 😉

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a shot of the Mekong River  from onshore the land across is Laos. i think i have express that visiting the Mekong River and seeing it in person is almost like a milestone for me.. i’ve always learnt about river management, river uses and its links to different countries on textbooks, and in particular i’ve never failed to read and learn about Mekong River..

but for the past 7-8 years learning about Mekong River, i’ve only know about it as an “arm-chair Geographer”.. when you truly see something that you’ve read and learnt about, it makes all that learning come to live and knowing that what you’ve learnt about is real… that feeling is just indescribable 🙂
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a photo of me taken with Shawn, one of our seniors who is also the teaching assistant and helper for our FS! we actually took it because we were wearing similar hats (mine actually belongs to my friend, Jiayi ^^).. i hope this photo is good enough, because Shawn is almost a professional photographer and here is his photography portfolio: https://www.facebook.com/SQphotog

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this is a photo of our breakfast in Laos, banana pancakes which is really delicious although easily one of the more pricey food we’ve ordered throughout our FS journey~

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here is the shopfront, and this was taken in Laos 😉 i guess the town we visit is pretty much a tourist destination so non-local Laos food can be found easily (well to cater to the tourists’ tastebuds?) haha functions within a border town ^^
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yeap and this photo (which is also the blog’s background) was taken on our way out and back to Chiang Kong.. my group and the tourism group left early to another village, Mae Sa Long, for our projects’ research..

Mae Sa Long is actually also another Chinese village in Thailand, more well known perhaps? but easily more commercialised in the sense that once stepped in, the surroundings is ‘so Chinese’ that you kind of know parts of it have been shaped to earn the tourist dollar.. not exactly reflective of the local people there in my opinion. nevertheless the stay there has been an eye-opener..

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this is the front desk of our one night accommodation in Mae Sa Long, really really clean and well-furnished guesthouse.. so glad we came when it was the low season for tourism, i’m pretty sure my group won’t enjoy it as much if there were a lot of guests too..

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our room for the night ^^ unforgettable room with powerful shower head, comfortable beds and great Mae Sa Long weather! there was also a TV set which shows Chinese channels :O well, it is a Chinese village after all~

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after checking in, we also checked out the local hot-selling noodle shop! traditional Yun nan noodles, easily the best noodles and dumplings i’ve tasted, and the taste is NO JOKE, really worth the trip down in any case!

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let the photos do the talking, golden brown dumplings~

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oh glorious and flavoursome noodles heh

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the focus of our trip into Mae Sa Long, the Chinese Martyrs Memorial Museum.. it’s not exactly a museum in my opinion, but more of a place to show case the development of Mae Sa Long when the KMT soldiers came into Thailand.. with snippets of other Chinese villages in Thailand also..

but i will say this place is not possible if not for funding and donations, which not all Chinese villages are blessed with… for instance, Mae Aw (Ban Rak Thai). although sometimes i would rather a place slow down development and retain more of its vernacular culture (let’s not discuss what is culture here~)
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me being a country bumpkin and taking photo of a fresh sunflower with edible seeds~

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fast forward to nightfall, and this is a view of our guesthouse’s exterior.. really quaint and tranquil at night which is what i really appreciate about this place!
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our sumptuous dinner! Mae Sa Long also has about 30% Muslim population, so this is a Halal establishment, which we visited with our group mate, Aqram, to break his fast that day. although it is Halal food, it’s also Chinese-style and the food is really really good and satisfying.. fond memories coming back to me as i’m typing this…

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highlight! highlight! highlight! of the day… my favourite Greentea Cornetto ice cream, which i sorely miss when i’m now back in Singapore.. some might say it’s overrated, but i say: to each his own 😉

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greeting us after a good night’s sleep: traditional bakery in the village.. very underrated in my opinion, and all the baked goods are freshly made!

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piping hot cake we ordered the minute it was ready, the lady boss even brought it out specially for us.. about 50baht for this, but still good, the taste is just heavenly and it gives me a familiar and simple taste of home..

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the famous food in Mae Sa Long: soybean drink and fried dough (i never thought i will find these outside of Singapore or China..) this meal is also our lunch, stir-fried mushrooms, seaweed soup and fried mantou! food glorious food, and very fond memories shared with my friends ❤
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before we leave the village, some short sight-seeing to be done.. neat rows of tea plantation..vastly different from Mae Aw (covered later)~

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and a photo of me with my boy-scouts hat! i didn’t bring it back to Singapore because it broke on the last day of our trip 😦 i think i look pretty good in it though.. cheap things can look good too!

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this jaw-dropping resort in Mae Sa Long, a big contrast to the other structures we see in the village… i guess it is pretty much equipped with any facilities one can think of~

IMG_6236arriving at Chiang Dao, where we will join back the rest of our Humanoids group.. we managed to visit the Chiang Dao caves and the trip down is pretty interesting.. glad to have gone in with the Mae Sa Long buddies hehe 😉

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i forgot what this represented, but it’s a landscape within the dark and quite dangerous cave.. there were many others too, some looked real, some not so..

IMG_6254we also checked-in early to our accommodation in Chiang Dao before the others arrive, and a photo taken with Peggie (flower of the tourism group ^^)

FS brought me to so many different places and every single place taught me something, i truly am thankful and blessed to have made this trip and i would say the best place hasn’t even been covered yet~ till then, Mae Aw!

Remembering FS2556 III: Mae Sot, Mae Sam Lat

*please credit if you wish to use any images, greatly appreciated ^^ 
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In this photo are my Songtiao buddies, we travelled everywhere together in the same vehicle, and it really made my journeys interesting, fun, enjoyable and more bearable (as we tackle motion sickness hehe)

we have officially ‘split up’ from our big group of 47 to the respective Humanoids (Human Geographers) and Physicoids (Physical Geographers).. then we will meet up in the last week.. and very much from this point on, the assignments we have will be focused on the different ‘genres’ of Geography!

presenting to you our main mode of transport: Songthaew or Songtiao as i would prefer to call them.. i don’t have my own nice shot of our Songtiao, so i will show one taken from the internet!

Songthaew/ Songtiao Credit: http://www.chiang-mai.org

yeap i must give a short introduction to these red vehicles! they are versatile, better than Jeep in my opinion because they really can go rounds and rounds up a mountain and the most important point is they can hold up to eight of our large backpackers’ haversacks!

another plus point of loving our Songtiao is also the team of uncles driving them, they are not our drivers! they are our teachers and they can do anything.. from driving a boat, cooking, fishing, carrying heavy loads and to of course driving these Songtiao for long hours and not look like they have motion sickness :O *thank you Pii-Songtiaos*
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a photo of other Songtiaos in our troop, this was taken from my seat in the Songtiao 🙂 this time we were travelling from Sukhothai up North to Mae Sot.

when i look back at these photos and think of the people, i cannot help but have revelation that people do come into our lives for a reason (good and bad).. what i’ve learnt from every single Thai people i’ve met on this trip is to be sincere and genuine in how you treat people, it might not have any impact on yourself, but you surely will bring joy for others 🙂

last but not least, that effect is a lasting and lingering effect.. as an artist once said: “anything that leaves a yearning is beautiful.”

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some wonderful and delicious coconut ice cream from a random stop on our way to Mae Sot. lunch stop was a good time knowing new people (i wasn’t close to a few Humanoids friends until we really got to spend time together over meals, travelling, projects and basically living together ^^)

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words from one of our Ajan (lecturer).. “we are experiencing calm before the storm”.. checking into our wonderful one-night accommodation in Mae Sot! after which we were given a trip down to Tesco Lotus, which would be our last for the entire trip…

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before dinner we went for some snacks inside Tesco Lotus and did some last minute shopping for any necessities that we wish to stock up.. we also had a snack, which is simply delicious: KFC Banana Chocolate Portugese Egg Tart 😛

these simply melt in your mouth and fill it with banana goodness! Thailand really has a lot of really good and affordable food, some of my favourite snacks are Nori Seaweed Lays chips, Puriko Herbal Tea and my ABSOLUTE FAVOURITE: Green Tea Cornetto! i really miss that ice cream when i came home, i even dreamt about it :O
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i like how the skyline becomes a pretty backdrop for these cables, there is some contrast (or maybe not).. but the skyline never fails to cheer me up~ this was taken outside Tesco Lotus ^^

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our dinner place in Mae Sot, it’s cowboy-themed and also our first official dinner as Humanoids team (with many more to come too!).. really enjoyed the company every single moment..

you know how sometimes with a big group of people one might think: i need a break from large group? with this team of friends, teachers, mentors i never had such a moment.. the wish that we never part was in fact always there ❤

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after dinner we went back to our very nice rooms for a good rest and of course our Songtiao started our adventures together.. first up: Mask party ^^

this was bought in Tesco Lotus and cost about 45 baht for a packet of two.. it warms up upon contact with your skin and really clears my blackheads! i hope Singapore has this, but it’ll probably cost a lot more…

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umm.. i hope this is small enough (mask up unglamness).. collage of our Songtiao’s mask party together.. hehe everyone had clear and clean skin the next day!

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the next day was another trip and lesson about Borders (we have more border lessons after this too).. this time we are brought to the Mae Sot-Myawaddy border.. it is the second official land border (with bridge crossing) between Thailand and Myanmar.

i guess even non-Geographers would know that borders serve important functions and as a landscape it is easy to observe these functions too.. they are also imbued with meanings and also geopolitical significance..

this particular border strike to me as serving important economic functions, where Burmese workers can cross into Mae Sot for work on a daily basis or periodically.. but their movement would be confined within a particular area only.. the photo above shows how busy the border actually is.
IMG_5852another observation, these employment agencies in Mae Sot probably have support functions for incoming Burmese workers and also employers in Thailand.. and it is particularly obvious and prevalent in Mae Sot.

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yeap the check-point is as shown in the photo, it is vastly different from the Causeway or Tuas checkpoint Singapore has with Malaysia.. and i will explain more about the unofficial border~

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we met a local Burmese-Thai guide and this is an example of a temporary borderpass.. he is just a person whom our Ajan Carl befriended. initially we asked: who is that random stranger?

we were taught a life lesson here, Ajan Carl said, “nobody is ever random.” and him befriending this person proved a point, that you can make friends anywhere if you try 🙂 so he became our impromptu guide into Myawaddy, and his service is FOC!

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and… introducing River Moei, this river lies beneath the official check point. and every landscape has a certain function, so what is its function? it is the unofficial border. yeap some Burmese would cross into Thailand without the official documents and they usually go back on a daily basis.. they usually sell goods in Thailand (just on another bridge below the official one).. well this is what i would be willing to share, for more information refer to academic papers written by Dr. Carl Grundy-Warr ^^

sometimes there really isn’t a distinction between  black and white, and who is to say what is right or wrong? on FS i’ve learnt an important lesson, don’t be judgemental and be open to things and events..

the environment i grew up in does not really expose me to these grey areas very often, and therefore as a bystander with no actual experience or knowledge, i will not comment if it’s right or wrong.. although personally, i would think it is all for the sake of livelihood and that becomes a factor shaping different courses for things.

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another photo of our official border crossing before we have to keep our cameras at the checkpoint ^^

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and we’re in Myawaddy, Myanmar.. this particular town is really a typical city i guess, different industries can be seenand the streets are just busy and bustling; except it’s different from our typical office-dominated city-centre.

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before leaving for lunch, we took a trip to the unofficial border’s bridge.. we see dried goods and some contraband products being sold there.. they actually sell the same type for each stall, sometimes i can’t help but wonder how sustainable is this?

our next stop is to Mae Sam Lat, where we get to experience a different kind of borderscape (border landscape).. and off we go on our Songtiao!

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a view of passing rice fields from the Songtiao 🙂 i really enjoy travelling on the road cos i get to see so many different places! btw, we were suppose to reach Mae Sam Lat National Park by nightfall…

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an oh no, because the journey there is too long we only reached the river around evening and hence we couldn’t take the boat into the National Park, cos there will be pirates at night! in addition, we are in a small village by the Salween River 🙂

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when we’re delayed and unsure of how things will go, we take a selca! with my pretty friend, she can never have a bad angle and of course she is already attach in case you are wondering… hehe

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more selfies.. i title this photo: the prince and princesses of selfies!

i won’t go into details how we go into the Mae Sam Lat National Park, cos it will take me one day to share the full story.. but it has been an adventure of a lifetime and also a test of our mental strength and also proved how bonded we can be ❤

so we stayed there for three nights, and since it’s a park it’s naturally infested with different creepy crawlies.. i think our tolerance level suddenly increase and almost everyone had some form of insect attack.. no assignments here, just some trekking, bonding activities and observation of our surroundings~

the food btw… is DELICIOUS 😀

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fast forward, this is a morning shot of the Salween River on our last day.. and across the river is Myanmar where mainly the Karens reside in.. the geopolitical history and situation in Myanmar is really interesting, which i think is also good to know..

it puts things into perspective, how close two countries can be and makes you think about the functions of landmarks around and along the border hmmm? and there is actually a film titled “Salween” taking place in the same location, of course an action film with subtle political meanings imbued within.
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on the boat rider back to the border village, we are on our way to Baan Rak Thai! the bost ride is actually very enjoyable ^^ breezy and calm, not something i get to experience often~

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our group on a single boat, everyone is looking forward to Rak Thai! hehe cos’ it will be a different environment and the place serves as our base camp for about two weeks!

IMG_5936one last photo of boats and village… i think a single post has to be dedicated to Ban Rak Thai apart from another post about our trip from West to East of Thailand (this was slotted in between our stay in Rak Thai).. more great journeys ahead 😉

Remembering FS2556 II: Ranong, Kawthaung, Kanchanaburi, Sukhothai

*please credit if you are going to take and use some of the scenery photos (of course if it’s applicable to you), much appreciated! 

Let me begin my second post on FS with numbers.. we spent about 42-43 days in Thailand, travelling from South to the North. and for the front part we travelled as one big group until we had to split to Physical Geography group and Human Geography group at Sukhothai..

presenting the map to you. this map’s property of the Andaman Coast Research Centre located in Ranong.. we were exposed to some extensive and crash course physical geography field work there, and my group did on beach erosion. as seen from the map, we’re really located beside the Andaman Sea..

being an arm chair geographer for most of my life, seeing the Andaman Sea upclose is yet another eye opening experience..you see the waves come crashing in, and then when you look into the horizon, you can clearly see two shades of the sea.. one greenish-blue and another being brown (filled with sediments).. not something we can observe clearly at East Coast Park i guess?
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i will say i have new found respect for Physical Geographers, it is not easy work and sometimes it can be tedious and mundane with all the data collection.. i am not a fan of it, but being a Geographer myself i do admit that this aspect is important as well.. so all hail to Geographers everywhere ^^

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moving on, im showing off a photo of what we did for our project.. we drew a diagram about how to measure extent of beach erosion, and of course this diagram is not drawn to scale, it is also not 100% accurate in terms of the coast line. but pretty interesting fieldwork that we did out in Ranong.

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sharing a photo of my group members and i.. everyone really gave their all for this and many teams even stayed up late thinking about their hypothesis questions and also how to best present collected data in a clear and easy to understand manner. i am happy with our group dynamics cos everyone is so easy-going and really supportive of one another. thank you my lovely group mates and friends ^^ lucky me ❤

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another photo of our “workroom” in Ranong..we spent about six days there and towards the last three days all the groups really gathered in this hall and did discussion and compilation work. the atmosphere can get a little “workish” but looking back it is really nice seeing everyone working hard together..

of course all is not rosy at Ranong, initially we thought that place was stifling.. imagine not having any access to telecommunications or amenities except for food prepared by the cook house.. but thankfully Dr. Z brought my group out for “chill-out” session on a random day.. we did learning on the beach and swam in a river, the water is actually cleaner and nicer to drink than the water we get at the research centre!

i guess i can now declare: i have swam in and drank from a river, i also learnt how to toss stones to make them bounce on water surface ^^

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right after leaving Ranong, we went for a day trip into Kawthaung, Myanmar. it’s not all leisure and fun.. being Geographers we had to observe our surroundings and make notes on what we see at the border. such border crossings are definitely new for most Singaporeans, i believe and it is not often where we get to step foot into Myanmar right? more on borders in a later post…
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another shot of KawThaung from the boat. really interesting landscape over there, and nothing like the ‘usual’ border-scape we have experienced..

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with “Fan” at a temple in KawThaung, i would say this town is quite catered for tourists taking a day-trip in? there’s also Victoria Point where we visited, where there’s a statue of a great Burmese king.. although interestingly that statue was not state erected, other possible relationship and economic implications to think of as a Geographer can tell you~

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it’s not very often one steps foot into Myanmar, and therefore a mandatory self-shot/selca must be taken ^^

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and after Ranong-KawThaung, we were given Tesco-Run hehe.. meaning a short break at the local Tesco lotus mega-mall.. i really like that place, it’s so clean and brings some familiar order back when one misses Singapore… but i think overtime, the need for order diminishes as we continue our FS journey..

our coach took us to Kanchanaburi, which means City of Gold for a short stop-over. the photo shows the Death Railway built during WWII.. i don’t really like that place for some reason, just not a vibe that im inclined towards..

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despite that, we visited the local night market and everyone took a photo of this beautiful sunset. now now, even though i don’t exactly like Kanchanaburi, what is not to like about this photo? and moving on….

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this delicious siew-mai was bought in Sukhothai! it costs only 5 baht for five of them!

yes… we’ve arrived at ancient kingdom, Sukhothai. i really like this place, it’s so full of history and culture that gives quite a quaint feeling.. the best part about Sukhothai is it’s so accessible and bike-friendly!

almost everywhere you see bike shops, laundry services and also a mix of local and foreign eating places~
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a group shot with the “explore Sukhothai before dinner” gang 🙂 before we were briefed about our assignment here.. erm it’s aka the 18-hour assignment.. basically we have to cycle around the relics the next day, and make an annotated sketch of what we see, and then link it to any form of Geography we think is appropriate..

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an evening shot of Sukhothai before dinner. the whole place really allows one to take pretty photographs even on an iPhone! hehe i did not do any photo editing!

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the following morning we went out early on our bikes to explore Sukhothai! and this is me with one of the relic. i made use of the wifi-access to read up about Sukhothai’s history (but i didn’t use any information except for the religion part…) anyways, my personal feeling about this place is: it somehow makes you want to show the place respect and you can’t help but be in awe of this place.

i think i will come back here some day!

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i was also lucky to take a photo of this sight, i explored the whole day and was getting really impatient and quite flustered that i haven’t taken any photographs to give me inspiration for my sketch.. i really don’t want to just sketch the relics cos everyone would be doing the same thing..

on a side note: i even managed to chat with the devotee, who came all the way from Bangkok and he gave me inspiration.. thank you kind person who also happen to speak English~
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and so this is my annotated sketch, i actually took a risk to make my sketch with more of the artistic/lit. direction than geographical.. having explain the links with Geography through the annotations.. and i drew myself in, being the fat human climbing the flight of stairs up to a buddha relic.. all in all i enjoyed this project very much hehe..

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photo of one of the greatest Wat (temple).. the sight is really magnificent and although much of the structures experienced weathering, the size of it pretty much remained the same.. one can’t help but feel minute and small among them~

1012924_10200227190104192_851826498_nlast but not least, a photo with my friends who explored Sukhothai with me so early in the morning. i am so glad to have known them better and got closer to them, it is always good to have the company of friends! thank you to YT for taking this photo before some of us part ways to our respective Humanoids and Physicoids group ^^

Remembering FS2556 I: Songklah, Phattalung and Khao Lak

*please do not use any photos without credit, if using photos is applicable 🙂 much appreciated! 

Wanted to title the post: “Remembering FS, Post-FS’s Post”, but realized it’s quite a bad title… still, i think i need to ‘document’ my FS journey in one way or another, although i don’t have a lot of photos.. because my old digital camera’s lens has mould on it..

lesson learnt, don’t leave your camera lying around for too long and not use it.. also just bring a good camera anywhere you go, i wanted so much to protect my new camera but end up using my phone for photos which is less than ideal..

summing up, FS brought us from Southern Thailand to Northern Thailand and it really is a journey which must be experienced in order to understand how significant it is 🙂

for the first part we were at Songklah, that’s where we met our thai buddy from Thaksin University.. it has been a really pleasant and i learnt so much about Thai culture in a short span of one week..

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introducing my Thai buddy: Mod. also during the trip i was grouped with Charlene, a really cute and pleasant girl from NUS Geography.. it’s really interesting when i look back at my first impression of her (without any interaction), and the actual impression i had.. i must say they are world’s apart!

goes to show that never judge anyone by their appearance, even if being judgemental is inevitable in human nature.. and don’t judge anyone without interacting with them first 🙂

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visiting the Folklore Museum in Songklah, really impressive how they document the past lives of villagers in Southern Thailand. this is one pretty impressive view from the top of the museum ^^

Songklah’s like an orientation stop for us to interact and know each other, and for a day we had free time and roam around the streets and markets. our group kind of kept to ourselves and joined one other group, in a way it makes me feel that travelling and interacting in small group really provides quality time to know your friends.. not to mention, less chaotic~

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waiting and catching the sunset at a Mermaid’s Beach, Songklah. i really like this shot, although we experimented with many other gestures and even did impressive jump shots.

after our Songklah stop, our Thai buddies accompanied us to Phattalung area for our first assignment and also homestay.

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just a shot on a bridge in Phattalung area, we visited this lake and was told that the Water Buffalos can dive down to the fields when there is flooding.. a sight we didn’t manage to witness cos’ it was not flooding season when we were there.. but if you picture diving buffalos, i think it will be an interesting scene!

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fast forward to Thale Noi, Phattalung; where i had my home stay with the local cook, Pa-Auan (left), and our assignment’s on Food Culture.

interesting fact: in Thailand, people might not use their registered birth name for daily use, instead another name that is suited to one’s character is being used.. Pa-Auan being the local cook is called Aunty Fat ^^

Mod’s name was given by her teacher when she was in kindergarten, which means ant (probably cos of her small size). of course we have our Thai names.. my Thai name is “Fa” which means sky and Charlene’s is “Fan” which means dream. pretty names which i really like!

over the four days with Pa-Auan and her family, i truly experienced the hospitality and kindness of Thai people. it is no wonder the country is called Land of Smiles~ we met our host family as strangers but they treated us like their daughters and it makes you want to give your best in terms of helping them and showing them your respect 🙂

Pa-Auan’s daughter, Pii-Lan also took great care of us.. i remember my favourite drink was Cha-Dam-Yen (iced black thai tea), which i didn’t even mention.. but they always see me drinking it.. so on our last day, Pii-Lan actually bought it specially for me, it’s these small and simple gestures that makes you appreciate people and also be touched by how genuine people can be.

just a side note, i think as Singaporeans we take efficiency and speed for granted that we forget the small things in life that are actually significant in making you a happier and better person..

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one last mandatory photo with Mod before we bid each other good bye. thank you for being a great host, friend and not to forget a proficient translator! most importantly for teaching me to be a better person through your thoughtful and mature ways 🙂

love lots lots! <333
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just a short piece on our third stop at Khao Lak.. we stayed at a great guesthouse (probably most of our favourite?) and of course we had a second assignment there too.. my group did on Post-Tsunami Land Use planning.. we had orientation around the area as well..

being in Khao Lak is so different from Songklah and Phattalung.. it is so touristy that makes me feel like the place is pretty contrived.. that aside we visited the sea-people, Mokens’ villages and got to know about their way of life through a local museum. also learnt about how land use is really different pre and post-tsunami and how some people cope with land changes after the tsunami event..

one a side note, we visited one of the beaches where the tsunami actually hit back in 2004.. you have to be there to see the waves, although it’s normal wave but compared to the ones we see back home, they look pretty intimidating.. you hear the waves slapping on the shore and see them approaching, the height and size of these waves is quite a sight.

one can only imagine how scary the tsunami waves were when it is five metres or more.. visiting the site kind of puts things into perspective, when we always read about these events on the papers and from academic texts, but being there in person gives you a different feeling and sometimes it’s surreal too..
IMG_5535ending with a photo of the tsunami memorial park..

to add to how scary an actual tsunami can be, my group actually went out to the beach after our assignment one morning.. and we experienced an instant of strong waves sweeping onshore, where all our footwear and belongings were washed away.. we really screamed and scrambled to pick our stuff up, but the waves were too strong.. fortunately it died down very soon, but we had to go into other parts of the water to retrieve our belongings; one can only imagine how the actual tsunami hit..

PS: 2556 is the Buddhist year used in Thailand, equivalent to our Year 2013. some juniors actually thought the module changed name haha ^^

An Overdue Travel Log (IV)

 

The final log for my Taiwan trip this summer.. actually typing this is real cathartic, especially when  i have to plan for my new semester in school which gets real annoying, worrying and a bit stressful.

then seeing these photos gave me a chance to pause from all that necessary evil and a breather from seemingly rat race with myself and reality… and makes me remember why i am always reminding myself to give my best. it’s to get the chance to appreciate travelling more and earn the right to travel.

so i guess we all have a sanctuary and mine is just simply going out and experiencing the different environment, actually even taking a plane is cathartic in my opinion. i have this crazy love for air travel and my favourite meals are air-plane meals…

the morning of our last day in Taipei, we’re leaving in the evening =( yet we decided to make full use of it to immerse ourselves in this great country.. off we go to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall aka 中正纪念堂.

even the metro station of the memorial hall is special and packed with meaningful symbols.. for instance the underground tunnel has become a location for exhibiting art pieces (photo above), it reminds me of the underground route from City Hall MRT to Esplanade in Singapore.

only this metro station stick to its aims strictly and actively promotes art, i really like the arts and related things.. they intrigue me and my personal take on them is that they elevates one’s soul and gives you something beyond the norm.. don’t really know how to describe it here. anyways the national library of Taipei seems to be really near the memorial hall too, so i assume it’s all the cultural themed activities packed in an area (really good idea!)

selca with bird in front of the memorial hall, we’re squinting our eyes because it is really sunny on that day, and despite being really happy that we got to learn a small piece of Taiwan’s history, i could sense that we have mixed feelings bout it too.. cos’ we’re leaving but that aside, the visit is an eye-opener.

the is the outside of the memorial hall, really splendid and grand looking, for an important political figure. the whole place exudes a very traditional aura, a piece of history that makes you develop respect for this particular space. i was really awed by it and i must say it was a humbling experience in terms of how it affects my thinking..

when we were there, it happened to be the change-over ceremony for guards duty.. and this particular guard’s now in his place doing his duty.. his peers and him have to be in full gear and standing, in a stern position, no joke or anything, guarding the body of Mr Chiang Kai-shek. bird and i actually observed him for awhile and it seems as if he did not blink =O and he didn’t move an inch too!

really admirable attitude and sense of responsibility, this is the feeling i got when i saw him =)

another thing i like was the writings inside the memorial hall, they are wise words and teachings that i think would benefit us if we manage to practice them or simply remember them.. to conclude i really enjoyed this tranquil visit to the memorial hall and wouldn’t mind going back again and exploring the full grounds.

after the visit we had plenty of time, so we took out our map and sourced for last minute venues to visit.. we decided to visit MOCA (Taipei). Museum of Contemporary Art (Taipei) since bird has learnt art when she was younger i feel she might be able ot appreciate too, and i personally like visiting museums and art places, for the sake of these cultured experiences.. of course i like art and hope to pursue it some day, maybe it will come soon =)

on the way to MOCA, we had to take an elevator and since Taiwan is plaque with earthquakes, it’s really exciting to see that they have a seismic warning system in the elevator! (geographer’s delight)

the entrance to MOCA, there’s an over priced cafe there too.. i never understood why in art places there’s always over priced cafes, and i might never know but i still hope to find out one day.. is it cos people who visit art places are perceived to be more well off? or the value placed on art is high (monetary and intellectually).. i thought that art should be something easily accessed and appreciated, something to develop people and thus not exclusive like expensive coffee places..

a silhouette of myself with an art piece shown in the museum.. really abstract at times, but i understood the intent better after reading through the explanations.. quite different from how i interpret at times but other times i am awed by the artists’ train of thought..

my favourite shot in the museum, maybe cos of the photo composition.. but i really like how it exudes a bit of kiddish feel but also sending a great message through displaying the art piece in a mirrored room..

visit to MOCA’s really enjoyable and silent.. everyone was just going about appreciating the exhibits at their own pace and there’s not interference or disturbance. reminds me of the mood when i’m reading, no interference and just exported to another world.. but back to reality feeling surreal after experience =) LOVE IT!

i was not joking when i said we really enjoyed going to Yong Kang Street. as we had to get our luggage in the hostel and wait for the driver to send us to the airport, we decided to just roam around Yong Kang Street again to spend the rest of the afternoon there..

we chanced upon CafeArt, which is really art-themed and decorated, very “earthy” feeling but quite crowded.. i would have preferred if it was a little brighter and less crowded.. price is quite steep but i guess cos it’s the last day we really don’t care about spending close to $6 SGD for a glass of lemonade..

one plus point is it has wifi, so we could catch up on our sns activity and inform people we’re coming back! next time i shall make it a point to NOT use my phone when i travel, i’ll have it with me but the sns stuff shall be ignored and work ignored. everything not related to my trip and not concerning life and death will not be entertained. i will try this for my next travel =)

time flies, and we’re flying too…

one last shot in Taiwan inside transit area.. blurry selca but it contains all the wonderful memories and experiences. a promise we made: we shall be back =)

goodbyes are not forever, goodbyes are special. some goodbyes involve many, some goodbyes involve few… but each is definitely packed with emotions. saying goodbye and ending this log with a shot of the empty transit waiting area. i will be back and to other places, for sure =)

thank you Taiwan for the wonderful memories, it never fails to touch me just like how each trip does.. giving me room for introspection and simply more at ease with myself. i almost feel peaceful enough to just deal with whatever might come my way.

thankful for this and everything else.

Love,
Foofy.
 

An Overdue Travel Log (III)

 

 

Logging down the travels is always something that gives me mix feelings.. i am happy to have experienced a great trip, but with each reminiscence that urge to want to go out, comes back to me.

 

morning of the second day in Taipei, this couple are stationed daily outside our hostel, and since we went during school term in Taiwan the morning crowd is filled with students.. interestingly we were awake by 7am and left the hostel after an hour yet most shops were not yet opened.. perhaps we’re too early?

a shot taken along the roadside.. we’re just appreciating the surroundings and watching people walk past us, while we continue our way to our venue for breakfast.. hehe we’ve decided to visit one of the themed cafe for breakfast =) and that is located in 永康街 which is just behind the university..

this photo shall be titled: Mr Dreamy Eyes.

on our way to 永康街 (by foot), we saw this cute thing with its owner.. personally just by looking at its eyes my heart could melt ❤ what a fabulous start to a great morning and great day!

the exterior of our breakfast venue: Roaster Family Coffee.

it doesn’t open until 8.30am, so we actually waited for a few minutes outside and of course the best way to entertain yourself during travelling is either reading or taking photos.. we did the latter and the product is shown below…

selca outside a garage, belongs to a family in the neighbourhood..

inside Roaster Family Coffee =)

 i really like this cafe, they have a ready display of coffee beans and the open counter concept allows customers to see where the beverages are prepared.. of course the best thing is the wafting smells of coffee =)

i ordered the blue mountain blend and it tastes okay, not as strong as i would have liked but still a refreshing start to the day.. pricing for Family Roaster is not particularly steep, maybe cos we ordered with the breakfast set, which comes with a mega huge sandwich.

another thing that i love about it is that it provides free wifi and there’s a shelve of books for customers to read while they sip their coffee.. in general it’s a cozy cafe great for hanging out with friends.. Address: Lane 243, Jīnhuá Street, Daan District, Taiwan (very walk-able from Yongkang Street). not very sure if it’s a franchise service but no matter, the cafe exudes a very cozy feeling which in my opinion overwrites any negativity associated with franchises.

we proceed to the city hall area of taipei and also bargain shopping district: 五分埔

when in Taipei, the best form of transport is by metro. and i was immediately impressed by the people’s behaviour and graciousness, everyone adhere to the rule of lining up and allowing passengers to get off the train before boarding.

somehow a very stark contrast with Singapore.. and i sometimes wonder, since many of us often travel out of Singapore when we can, we would have seen the graciousness in other societies and why can’t we translate it back to our own country? something that will continue to be unanswered and seeing this photo always remind me to have a better conduct of myself..

lucky us, we got seats on the train as it was already off-peak hours about 10am.. this calls for a celebration with selca! we’re on our way to 五分埔 where wholesalers for apparels are located in, so we can get clothes at a cheaper price =)

here we are arriving at 五分埔, i didn’t take any photos but i noticed that the area is quite organized in the sense that products of the same nature i.e. infant wear, electronics will be grouped together.. perhaps we’re too early as we encountered a passer-by who very kindly advised us to visit the malls and city hall district until after lunch time, that’s when the shops will be opened for business..

we of course took her suggestion and boarded a bus  following the directions she gave us, and safely arrived at Taipei 101.

the famous Taipei 101, it’s a observatory but we decided to

visit it later in the day..

we lunched at Din Tai Fung, franchised version.. should have visited the original store but this is good enough.. globalization, a taste of home too we get exactly the same thing as back in Singapore.

this is my favourite dish from Din Tai Fung: pickle vegetables and pork la mian.. i like how it is light in taste and not very oily, perfect to fill the stomach and not make you feel bloated. but it’s a bit expensive to eat this in a restaurent though, i shall comfort myself by saying we don’t cook this at home so we get it from outside.

shall skip the shopping part where we went to 五分埔 and also visited Eslite 诚品书局. something worthy of mentioning is i really like Eslite bookstore. it allows customers to sit there and read, even when you do not buy. and honestly for book lovers i doubt anyone will leave the place without buying, so the shop is not exactly making a loss. in fact i think it’s a good impression that they leave for customers, a comfortable place to read in especially if the weather is bad (it was raining that afternoon)..

after shopping we’re back at Taipei 101, this time round we’re going up the observatory.

for students, always remember to bring your student id when you visit the place. they accept any form of student identification and offers student-priced tickets.. i didn’t bring mine so i had to pay the adult fee while bird paid the student fee, if i go back there i shall visit it in the day and bring along my student id!

night view of Taipei from Taipei 101.. a pity the weather’s bad so we couldn’t go further up and view from the balcony, nevertheless still a great sight to behold! after that we’re starving so we just went to a random night market, which is the most desertedone that we’ve visited on our trip.

random night market, very deserted but food is okay (as i’ve said the worst in Taiwan night market is still nice)..

oyster mee sua, not the famous one but more delicious in my opinion.. we tried the famous Ah Zhong’s Oyster Mee Sua, it is nice but the conclusion is that it’s overrated and more expensive..

a famous meatball stall, with history of over 20 years.. taste sweet but great too, just a pity that there’s no crowd in this night market so it’s really an odd atmosphere eating something supposedly famous but without the crowd. i shall see it as we’re lucky to patronize when it’s not crowded.

stinky tofu again! this is the second best version we’ve tried, the best being the one at NTNU Night Market and the worse from Feng Jia Night Market..

i never feel complete without stinky tofu when i visit the night market, and even up to now i still miss having it =\

love sign while on our way to the night market, and this conclude the second day in Taipei…

breakfast on the go.. we decided to try what some of the locals do, having on the go breakfast from convenience stores.. and they do have a wide variety of food to choose from, surprisingly delicious for the cheap price.. i think we didn’t spend more than $2.50 SGD to get our stomachs filled for the day!

since our circle of friends and family knew that we’re going to taiwan, they would naturally expect souvenirs.. and we left the buying to the third day, pretty rush.. traveled all the way to 九份老街 which is near KeeLung, a suburban area very far away from Taipei.. it’s apparently near new Taipei, i couldn’t remember the distance between them but it took us close to three hours to travel..

and we can only do so using the traditional rail system, which many in Taipei still use it to commute to and fro work..

the train ticket from Taipei to KeeLung, because it’s not the new system the train fare is relatively cheap too.. but takes some time to get there of course.

since we’ve traveled on all possible modes of transport in Taiwan, i am lucky to take a timely shot of the train arriving at the platform =)  this is something really new and interesting to add to my collection..

okay and the photo below is really old-school in my opinion!

train conductor sighted on the train! something and someone that will never be seen in Singapore, and i think his job is just to give directions to people.. not so much of checking the tickets since everyone has to have a ticket to be on the platform..

upon arriving at KeeLung, we’re still no where near our destination.. fortunately in KeeLung they have a local tourism office which basically offers directions for visitors (local and foreigners alike)..

interestingly, we asked for directions and knew how to go to 九份.. some locals didn’t know and asked us for directions, and they ended up following up on the bus and seeing where we’re going to alight.. after approximately an hour’s ride, we are finally there! the long travelling time sort of killed my mood to take photos, but KeeLung is a must visit i think.

i’ve seen many old-school shops and sights in KeeLung that is not available in Taipei, and this i feel is a greater difference felt when comparing it with urban Singapore.. i would like to experience it some day, again.

arriving at 九份, this place is MADE FOR TOURISTS. they have all sorts of souvenirs and food items, priced more steeply too.. and many repeats of the same products, which is a common feature in tourists attractions..

but this is a must-go if you are bringing back things, despite the long journey here they really do have everything you can think of to give as presents..

how can we not have something to fill our stomachs? this is yam balls, like glutinous rice balls except it’s made with yam flour, very delicious i must say and flavoursome too!

went back to Taipei via bus which took a whopping two hours =\ but after that we were free to roam Taipei after putting down the heavy load of souvenirs..

Long Shan temple, detour before going to Xi Men Ding.. i did a short prayer inside and it happened to be the buddha’s birthday so there was an on going ceremony.. didn’t stay to see but still a great sight to behold.

now this is where youngsters will like: Xi Men Ding.. personally i didn’t really like it, cos the things here are too expensive and it feels like any commercial district, maybe cos we visited the cheap places so finding similar goods at a higher price made us think twice about buying..

there is however the element of eating that Xi Men Ding is still useful for..

braised pork rice aka 卤肉饭. this simple dish is plain rice topped with full flavour braised mince pork. cheap,delicious and filling =)

oyster and egg, the Taiwanese version. the special sauce on top is sweet but the whole dish is really really good when eaten with chili, another must try in Taiwan.

walked around Xi Men Ding and saw this: Toilet-Themed restaurant.. not very compelled to go in, but the exterior is great for photo taking! we were rather aimless walking around, but maybe cos we had too high an expectation for this place.. one other thing that we didn’t managed to do was to get cheap japanese food in Taiwan..

actually saw one at NTNU Night Market, but wasn’t sure if we want to try.. nevertheless this shall be on the to-do list for a next visit..

after walking around, we chanced upon the famous Ah Zhong Mee Sua, overrated as i’ve mentioned.. but one special thing they put in is basil and the rice noodles they use is thicker.

beef noodles, i didn’t finish due to my diet preference..

we went back to Yong Kang Street for the third time, to try out the shave ice dessert.. and it didn’t disappoint =D

green-tea flavoured shaved ice. refreshing, satisfying!
the shop selling the dessert is called Smoothie.. interesting name, and this photo was taken by a helping passer-by who asked me to pose with my legs positioned like this.. in her words: it looks artistic… fun last night in Taipei and even as i type this after almost a month, i seem to still feel that withdrawal symptom coming my way the next day we’re scheduled to head back home.

An Overdue Travel Log (II)

I wasn’t kidding when i said that i procrastinate my posting because of the photos.. this entry will prove to be so.. covering the remaining one and half days in Taichung followed by our first night back to Taipei.

i tried to minimize featuring bird here cos’ i didn’t want to infringe on her photo rights (this is just my personal anal attitude towards posting about others..) one thing is for sure, we’re on our way to see breathtaking view, enjoy tranquility away from the hustle and bustle of the city.. but inevitably has to be back in the city for more great food~

first morning in Taichung, i remember tweeting about it at 7am.. it’s really interesting to see how the sun rises at different timings and then presenting a different sight too (geographical knowledge involved!)

we had our complimentary breakfast before meeting up with our guide who will bring us the the best place in Taichung~

before setting off, bird and i decided to do plenty of selcas, to commemorate our stay in the hotel.. and we met this really friendly japanese couple who offered to help us take photos, and we returned that favour by helping them take photos too!

the wife very kindly offered to take a photo with us, hey we’re all friendly travelers seeking some spontaneity on the trip.. and so we willing took a happy photo with kind and friendly strangers =) it makes me happy just posting about this encounter

on the road with our guide, he is a quirky person and okay a bit intimidating at first.. nevertheless we’re really glad to have known him and thank him for going out of his way to host us even though it’s not really his job to.. and he has superb driving skills which will be elaborated later~

gradually going away from the city, we passed by a stream on our way to the bamboo forest.. and I REALLY LOVE THE NATURE. this is something that i will never get in Singapore. not just the scenic view that i really like, the weather too! despite being summer, Taiwan in general is not humid and there are strong winds at random timings.. so it’s just okay to be out under the sun (but the sun is still big and hot)…

a sea of bamboo. every time i see this photo, it gives me a sense of tranquility, how nature is really wonderful and mysterious in its own way.. a must visit for myself, hopefully i can go back during another season and capture different sights of the same location.

this is me holding a huge fallen bamboo.. the texture is really smooth and hairy, i didn’t know the texture of bamboo and the plant itself is really rare to hold when it’s considered “fresh”.. again i am thankful to have this chance to get in touch with something different. pity there’s no small plant of sorts that i can bring back home, but i reckon this photo is a great souvenir on its own =)

now get ready for a great view!

this is the famous Sun Moon Lake 日月潭.. have to be honest i didn’t read up any bit about attractions in Taiwan, and my ignorant concept of Taiwan is night market… yet, this trip has managed to change all of it for the better. i now know more about what this country has to offer and it’s history.

moving on, at Sun Moon Lake, we saw this artist painting the scenery; and i couldn’t resist taking a photo of him. fortunately he is very game to let us take photos of him in action.. i really admire people who can draw well, it’s a wonderful skill to have and it takes training.. hopefully i can fulfill my wish of being a good artist when i’m still young..
mr. artist at work.. just look at the colour palette he had with him!

*look at him in awe*

bird and i behaving like fan-girls of the artist. we talked about how life should be like and i think this is my ideal way of life. doing things that i am interested in (the art, music and reading stuff), getting in touch with nature.. and then have a venue for like minded people to share their works and be exposed to other people’s works, and not judging the skills. simply appreciating the unique messages each artist wants to convey.. shall not digress and back to what we saw at Sun Moon Lake.

most handsome photo of the day belongs to…

a photo of a dog we encountered.. i’m not sure about the breed but it resembles a golden retriever (my dream dog)! a pity the photo is over-exposed, but a photo of this cute thing is still a nice collection to my photo bank.. and we bade farewell to it when it’s time for lunch at a local staff lounge.

as lunch wasn’t really factored in, our guide took us to the pit stop for local drivers and guides who are working for the local tourism board. we really have no complaints about that, as we met another driver uncle who is quite interesting and just talked about random stuff, introducing the “must-dos” in Taiwan which basically sums up to:

1) go night market and eat

2)walk around and eat

3)enjoy the nature in Taichung

4) go night market and eat just look at the backdrop in this photo, the fast flowing river is something that calms the mind.. something we so lack in Singapore and of course can only dream of having.. not really complaining cos i like my country where my family is and where i grow up in, but what i really like about going overseas is really these minute scenes that we might have taken for granted or missed to appreciate them..

before heading to our hotel, we were brought to one last place cultural village that features nine tribes, otherwise known more aptly in mandarin as: 九族文化村.

at the entrance of the cultural village, and i am constantly amazed by the different tourism features in other countries.. it makes what i have studied in geography very relevant, in this case the place is considered authentic to feature the aboriginal tribes in Taiwan. yet i’ve learnt to question what is authenticity?

putting that aside, the village has a triple role: showcases he nine aboriginal tribes, has a European-styled garden and a theme park attraction featuring the manga One Piece..

a photo we took at the European-styled garden, this place is really pretty.. if you didn’t hear people conversing, one would really think that we’re in some western country.. they even include a steam train for visitors to board and tour around the garden..

a pose of our quirky guide and i, we’re imitating the manga characters.. this photo is just dorky of us but we had great fun, before the fun got too wild for me!

add to taking dorky photographs, i experienced my first roller coaster ride in my life. and i did that in a foreign country. talk about adventure, this really is my idea of a holiday, to do things that i would never have done back home.. although it was a scary ride (heights phobia and all), i really don’t regret going up the roller coaster.. although i might think twice bout doing it a second time..

basically i have fulfilled an adventure aboard and can now strike one off my list.. and the things to do continues

 

bird and i after the roller coaster ride, that girl is a thrill seeker, i swear.

after leaving the cultural village, we were on our way to our hotel which is located in 清境(台中,南投县)the awesomeness of this trip struck me when we were on our way to the place, and bird has read up on where we’re staying.. and i didn’t.

i reckon i wanted to be surprised and i really was; anyways my idea of a holiday is actually: book the tickets, have a decent place to stay, enough money and time, right company and we’re good to go! totally stress free and no worries =)

driving up the mountains to 清境, can you see the clouds as we go higher and higher? as the altitude increases the temperature decreases and apparently temperature up there is between 10 degree celcius to 19 degree celcius.

my friend and i were really happy, cos we got to experience cool weather even during the summer!

and after almost an hour’s ride, we arrived at Dream Villa! wonderful boss and host, great cook and located in a friendly and peaceful community ❤

a sumptuous dinner after a long day, fortunately our guide stayed to eat with us.. cos we were quite guilty that he had to host us, and the food is great. as the area’s influence by Yunnan, the cuisine is also very similar in style..

playing wii and using the wi-fi after dinner, not a good idea but we stopped at bowling =)

in the games room, with pool table but the set was not complete, nevertheless we managed to occupy ourselves with selca!

self timer to the rescue!

i shall not post photos of our room but it is just marvelous as seen in the jump shot below. basically the room offers great view of the mountains and the bed warmer is a plus point for a cozy rest after a long day..

i mentioned that i would ace my exams if i cam staying in such an environment, and i am not kidding.
the following day we woke up real early, to see the sunrise.. but it had rained the night before so we could only see 云海 literally meant a sea of clouds.

waking up really early in the morning for the sunrise, we woke at 3.30am if i remember correctly we rested for only four hours.. but still really excited about what we’re going to do!

apparently watching the sunrise is what many others want to do too, so our guide for his is the local guard, he dresses like a park ranger and is really experienced with the terrain and stuff.. he even lent us coats as we were literally undercover with clothes, which is a big no no as the location we’re headed to is higher in altitude and temperatures could drop to 10 degree celsius.

taking a photo with the driver and guide, friendly uncle who is really humorous!

standing in the strong wind, we’ve made it up up up the mountains! what a sight to behold when we’re up at the peak (y)

this is what we get to see, it is simply marvelous as if we’re on a plane looking down from the cockpit (maybe i am exaggerating.. ) but still it’s is something that will stay etched in my mind when i see the photos and wonderful memories will come back..

i guess after each trip i can affirm that i like nature, cool weather, and things that allow me tranquility and reflection.. things for me to develop a gratitude towards them..

final stop at Taichung, we’re now at 青青草原.. Green Green Grasslands haha.. this is a show horse, who is pretty proud in my opinion, ignoring our pleas for it to face the camera.

yet this magnificent looking animal is really grand and big in real life, a photo doesn’t do any justice to how magnificent it looks.

i am now feeding my favourite animal (apart from golden retriever).. this is one greedy little lamb.. bird fed it, i fed it and a little fed it too.. we were randomly picking up grass and it just stayed in that position waiting to be fed… all the by standers made the same remark about how greedy it was =P

this is what we call Green Green Grasslands. this gives me the impression of some Scottish hills, okay this is my image of a Scottish hill.. not close maybe but enough to satisfy my imagination. i really love this, it seems false but is in actual fact as real as it can get.

selca whenever we get the chance to, i think i look really sleepy here.. waking up too early has affected our schedule and i am still feeling guilty that we didn’t follow through the plans that our host had arranged for us.. basically visiting a coffee farm and a temple.. hopefully when he comes to Singapore i can have a good meal with him and make amendments for being rude =(

one last stop to a chocolate manufacturer in the community, very well known but a pity it was closed. well once again another reason for me to go back again to visit where i’ve left off.

and being a real foodie, how can i miss out on posting about the delicious lunch? it really recharged my body and i feel okay to bring myself and bird to Taipei later in the afternoon…

we again took the speed rail back to Taipei and took the metro.. on our way we met this friendly stranger who was also on his way to NTNU, so he led us to our location. fortunately when we’re lost someone friendly is here to help, and i must say Taiwanese in general are really hospitable and kind! this impromptu guide was actually not heading towards the hostel area, but he helped find our location and made a short detour for us.. thank you random uncle

this is where we stayed in Taipei, NTNU hostel. enough for two of us and with its curfew it has managed to help us stick to a regular sleep regime.. and of course after settling down with check-in and stuff, we’re rested and is off to the NTNU Night Market..

i am really envious of the Taiwan students.. a night market is inevitably commonly located near a university, hence offering great, cheap food and entertainment..

the night market is located opposite our place of stay, and on our way there we saw an old lady selling glutinous rice coated with peanut powder also known as “Mua Chee”. this is the best i’ve ever tasted, soft and chewy the peanut powder is not too sweet either.

basically when i came back, i told momo that: even the worst food in Taiwan taste good and better… *grin*

highlight is coming up!

STINKY TOFU! this is the best version i’ve tasted, THE BEST. enough said. i would eat this everyday if i could, but i didn’t.. maybe i should if i ever go back, which i will =D

making a fat bun face, i am holding water-fried steamed bun.. okay i direct translated it from 水煎包. delicious, we chanced upon the stall and saw many many students queuing up for it, and we queued along with them.

the stall holder chatted with us and upon finding out that we’re from Singapore, he conversed with us in English but we replied in Chinese.. funny encounter and friendly people!

and as promised, i shall tal briefly about Birkenstock. apart from getting them cheap in Germany (place of origin), i now realised when in Taiwan (Taipei in particular) one should get Birkenstock sandals.

they have Birkenstock specialized shops almost everywhere and i got mine at $100 SGD, which usually in Singapore that particular design could yield up to $180SGD… goodness that price difference =O

that particular Birkenstock shop located in Yong Kang street, where we explored after finishing touring the night market.. this shop is real cozy and the lady boss is like my momo’s age so i can relate real well with her =)

attempting an artistic shot along Yong Kang Street, and the peaceful and cool night is really perfect for an after dinner stroll.. i feel really lucky and happy that we’re staying in this area.. although a bit far from all that city centre attractions, this location has a very artistic aura to it and it features many themed and personalized cafes.

there’s an art gallery which i didn’t get to go in, but it shall be my next to do list when i go back..

sights of two cute dogs, i have no idea what they’re doing but they are cute! they kept chasing after each other’s tails, and one particular thing to mention is that we encountered many stray dogs in Taiwan.

surprisingly they are all really obedient and not being a nuisance to people, wow.. apparently in Korea stray dogs are a common sight too and people adopt them.. something that i will never be allowed to do..

ending off this entry with a clock. the clock is projected onto the wall of a Chocolate Cafe where we had supper.. this is so cool, and people in the cafe are just chatting with friends..

i love how even when back in the city, there are still pockets within where we get to be in touched with the simplicity in life.. there is almost no stress felt in that Yong Kang community. even as my post gets weary and dry, this last image somehow brings back fond memories and i shall stick to the promise of posting my summer travel, and continue tomorrow~