Sunday, June 30, 2013

Ane Zarina, my friend

Anne has given a permission for me to write about her. The permission was granted on our last night in Bangkok. She was my junior at school, way back in 1985 and an office colleague at present. I barely known her during school days but we started to get closer when I was reporting to work in our HQ in 2010 where she is in 1st floor and I was in 2nd floor. It was 14 months in HQ before I took another assignment to India in May 2011 but those 14 months are enough time for me to get to know her better. She's too trusting and failed to enjoy a beautiful life.

When I returned back to HQ in December 2012, we became inseparable in office. Everyone has notice and made a joke about us. They always see us together at breakfast, during lunch and performing prayer at almost the same time. As I was getting over my depression and started enjoying the silver lining, Anne was part of the process. I thank her for getting me back on my feet.

Somewhere in December 2012, hubby had shared an article about "Anis solo trip via earthbound" . I suddenly saw another silver lining coming along for me to follow suit. I suggested to hubby to travel by train following Anis's route but I get a "NO" as his answer. I becoming sad as the more I learned from what Anis has shared in her blog, "Anis website" the more my instinct told me that I can also do it. But, who would want to come along with me?

During 1 of the lunch with Anne in January 2013, I told her about my ambition to travel by train. To my surprised, she assured me that she is willing to tag along. Hence, we started to prepare the route, the budget, the place of interest and dreaming so much about the plan. We rarely gossipping, rather talk positive things about ourselves. We discussed a lot about our friends and colleague previously, but suddenly we both change. We became very much matured. We had no ill talk about others, rather, we appreciating us and everyone for their good and bad sides as no one is perfect.

What do I like about Anne? Plenty, I must admit. First, we both agreed that to know a quality of true friend is to experience the 1st leg of our proposed plan. Instead of implementing the trip when we reach 50's, we decided to split our travel. The recent trip  "Train Ride 2013 - Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok", has given us the answer. We can have endless trip by train as long as we have the energy, the money and the desire.

She has all true friend characters. She is pretty, funny, passion, generous, humble, outspoken etc etc. Most important she has a genuine heart and never ever she's been judgemental. I love having her accompany and I really hope that we shall stay be forever friend. We have a lot in common.

To Anne, who might be reading this, I wish to advice and/or hereby confirmed that you are my "Best Friend Forever" @ BFF. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Bangkok - Pattaya, 2005

Tour date: 18th to 23rd December 2005

I started to keep a journal, both on daily life's activities and financial statement after reading books written by Robert Kiyoshaki and S.Robin Sharma in 2005. In fact, 2005 opened up my eyes to a lot of positive thing, I started saving for future, I bought a medium cost apartment and also a plot of land. We also stop having children's :) 4 is enough.

Unfortunately, all those records has gone with the damaged hard disk. Sigh. I was shattered as I lost many of memorable record including a detail itinerary to Bangkok and Pattaya with the boys. No details can be shared except that I recall few places we go and the place we stay, a 3-star hotel in China Town. However, I learned to let go and detached my emotion for any extreme sad feeling. Nothing is indispensable in life. You need to move on, and I did.

I also remember that 2 lady friend that was with me during International Valuation Course in INSPEN came to meet us on the day we arrived. They waited at the hotel and we slowly walked to get a MRT, heading to Chatuchak Market. We passed by a nice temple, we stopped, both of my Thai friend was offering prayer and we continued a walked to the MRT station. They paid our fares and the kids were enjoying the ride. They helped me snapped the photo of me and the boys, shared in the last 2 photo, below.

We spent so much time in a famous Chatuchak weekend market, shopping local products for souvenirs to our friends and family. We had Thai laksa as we couldn't find anything "Halal" for us. We took a train back to the hotel. I lost contact with my Thai friend. It was sad.

We went to many zoos and safari's in Bangkok and Pattaya including an elephant zoo. The children's were given opportunity to had an elephant ride. I couldn't wait to leave as I saw how the elephant guide use a sharp metal to make the elephant listened to him. I opined that his act is cruel. 

The most enjoyable place to the boys was when we spent almost a day in Safari Bangkok whereby an international buffet lunch was included in the ticket. During the lunch, we accidentally ate the soup cooked using a pig's bone. We stopped when a Singaporean lady who saw what we were doing told her son in a loud voice that it was not "Halal" as it was a pork soup. My husband had 2 bowls and I had 1. What an experience.

My husband and I was very excited when we entered the dolphin show where a crowds of beautiful children joined us that day. They were all singing and cheering. They are lovely children, how we wish we could kidnap 1 of the beautiful Thai girl home. We were seated among them. You all must have agreed with me by looking at the beautiful girl in below photo.

When we were in Pattaya, they children's had their swim at the beautiful island. We went shopping at night in Pattaya. On the road to Pattaya, Johny, our tour guide had arranged a Muslim food nearby the mosque. We were so grateful for his kindness.

As our hotel is in China Town, we had the last morning shopping at the China Town market and also at MBK Mall. We went to MBK Mall a night before we left by taking a bus. On the way to airport, Johny was kind to take me to Jim Thompson where hubby bought 5 suits of materials that I cherished till now. It was my first shopping in Jim Thompson but I could not recall which outlet. Okay, I must not forget that we have been to the River City during day time (morning) for a cruise before journeyed to Pattaya by bus. We stopped to explore Wat Arun and a fake floating market. 

Though I am not able to recall the actual itinerary of our Bangkok Trip like any other trip, I am still happy that I managed to record a very little memories of us with the young kids.

Bangkok, City of Angels - 2013, 2005 revisit

December 2005

It was a year end school holiday when we took our boys for their first overseas vacation in a neighbouring country, Thailand. Our only girl, Syahirah was not in the trip as she was spending her school vacation with her cousins in Kuching, Sarawak. We bought so many presents for her when we got home.

Safari Bangkok

In the first few trip of our family vacation, we chose a well known travel agent to ensure safety and security to the family. After a bad experiences in China the following year (2006), we had agreed to travel on our own enjoying our pace without adding pressure to anyone to catch the group schedule. It's a fact that our kids are all too much pampered and never learn anything about being Independence.

Wat Arun

We met the rest of the Malaysian group in Bangkok when the tour bus picked them up from 1 point to the other. It was a cheerful Johny, our Thai tour guide who made each of the visits becoming very interesting. There's 1 Chinese family, 1 Indian family and 2 Malay family in our group. We were covering both Bangkok and Pattaya. Sadly that all our photos, except few shared in the Facebook were inside the the damaged portable hard disk. What I'm going to share in the next entry to come are the left over photos, merely for a family record.

Bangkok Zoo

May 2013

After my recent trip to Bangkok, it made me realize, hence form an opinion about why the city is being called as "City of Angels". It's the Thai people who made the city being given such a wonderful title, they are humbles, down to earth and rarely you find that they try to take advantage from the foreigner, a tourist like us. They spoken in a very soft and melodic language that made you instantly melt your hearts toward their hospitality. Such a wonderful people. 

For instance, the lady in the above photo was putting a big smile and her husband too was also given such a spontaneous pose to a stranger (me) when I asked her permission to take photo of the fried fish that they were selling. Instead of taking the fish photo, I took theirs. 

The lady in the above photo merely smile while continuing her flower arrangement when I asked her to pose for me. It was a busy day in her shop, I could understand why. Anyway, Bangkok's local name if Krung Thep  which carry a meaning, City of Angels shortened version of the official Thai name of "Krung Thep Maha Nakhon". Bangkok full ceremonial name, claim to being the longest place name in the world is "Krung Thep Maha Nakorn Arun Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayutthaya Mahidol Pop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchawiwet Makhasathan Amon Phiman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit".

Bangkok ceremonial name is a mixture of the ancient Pali and Sanskrit languages which has different translations in the meaning and the writing of the name in English. A general translation of the name is "The great city of angels, it’s where the immortal divinity dwells, the invincible city, the royal capital endowed with nine precious jewels and full of joy, it is abundant with enormous royal palaces, it’s where the reincarnated angels reside, at the order of Indra, Vishvakarma majestically built the capital".

To be continued...

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The kittens once

Kitty on my lap in Khayaban-i-Hilal house, Karachi

The first cat that we had in our house was when my late parent died in 2002. They left an adorable cat, fully trained to no one. I took him home to our place in Cheras from Bachok village, a family house. It survived few months in the city before he disappeared without trace. Later, my younger brother brought home a stray cat who shit on his bed. I had to clean patiently though my heart was burning with anger. He took away the cat thereafter.

Syahirah was 15 and Kitty was 3 weeks old, December 2007

When I decided to work abroad in 2007, I bought "Kitty" from the Empress Market, Karachi. Cheah Lee has helped me to get a smoked blue Persian after careful selection. He was an adorable kitten, my companion for few months before the family joined us in end November 2007. We took him home when there's chaos in Karachi city right after the death/assassination of the late Benazir Bhutto. Ever since, Kitty has accompanied my husband and took my place in the house. They two became inseparable. 

However, somewhere in 2009, Kitty met in an accidence and died peacefully in the bathroom. We were crying at his funeral. My husband was greatly affected. I made everyone promised not to have Kitty's replacement as it was very sad to bear the loss feeling.

1st week of Jan, 2010 - Billy was a father to 4 male & 1 female kittens

My best friend, Dilla gave away Billy when she had Zara as Billy was an extremely active cat who always disturbed a baby. Hubby took him with him in mid 2009 before my the demobilisation back to Kuala Lumpur. He married Bella, my brother's cat and later they had 5 beautiful kittens in early January 2010. It was a glorious day for all of us.

Lola, 2nd week of February 2010

We took home Mickey and Lola back to our Cheras home (fair sharing) in February 2010 as Syahirah is very fond of her. The remaining 3 under my brother's custodian died after another, whilst, Mickey died in December 2011 due to infection. We were all saddened with the lost. Lola was hit by a car right in front of the house that forced her to stay in the hospital for more than 2 weeks. She was cured but it was not advisable to have a baby as her pelvic was badly affected. It might endanger her life.

1st week of May 2010, the week Tottie & Roger was born

I took Tommy and Maya home from Karachi (purchased from the same Empress Market in Karachi) with me in February 2010. With Billy around, Maya got pregnant and later gave birth to 2 beloved kitten, Roger and Tottie in early May 2010. The 2 of them, Lola and Mickey, Tommy and Maya with Billy before he went missing has made our family becoming very large. However, 1 after another gone away, being stolen, Maya died in an accident has left us with only Tottie and Maya till present.

Roger in May 2010

Now, Maya is already 4 and a half years old and Tottie is 4. We will remain our family of 6 till we moved out to a new place which will be more convenience and spacious for them and us.

3rd week of May 2010

All photos are the memory of our life together with the kittens which are priceless and full of happiness. Thank you Allah for giving us so much joy and happiness in our home.

June 2010

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Bangkok - The Grand Chaophraya Cruise

Cruise date: 29th May 2013

Despite a challenging task to complete the last day itinerary in Bangkok, coupled with time struggling from a hectic day after a floating market experiences, a photo with the reclining Buddha and a rushed shopping at MBK Mall, we managed to get back to the hotel to freshened up, performed obligatory prayer and get down to the hotel lobby just in time for the travel agent to send us for dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya River. The booking was decided at a last minute before we toured inside Wat Pho.

The travel agent apparently had booked our dinner with the luxury 5 star company called The Grand Chaophraya Cruise at a rate of THB1,500/pax. Those who wishes to directly arrange can visit the cruise company directly, as shared herewith  "The cruise website", it might be cheaper. We arrived at the River City Pier right before dawn, at about 6.30pm. There's already crowd at the spot where we supposed to wait.

On the way to MBK Mall earlier, we almost cancelling the cruise as we thought it will be very stressful to finish our shopping list and the sudden plan (not in original itinerary) to go to Asiatique, a new shopping area built similar to Bangkok most famous weekend market, Chatuchak. Asiatique is located at the same compound with Bangkok's Eye (seen from the last photo of this entry). However, the travel agent informed that booking has been made, and it's not possible to cancel at a last minute. Hence, we had to rush our lunch and shopping like mad.

In the end, we do enjoy a romantic candle light dinner cruise very much. The Chaophraya River was the origin of Thai civilization that passed down a long lasting history well known to all until today. It was the memory of the blood vessel that runs through the heart of the Thai Kingdom. It was an enticing experience with Thai Kingdom history imprinted on the both sides of the river of the Chaophraya, known as "The River of Reign".

The scenery at the River City deck was really awesome. While waiting for the ship to arrive, we were able to do some more shopping as the deck is attached to the River City shopping mall beside taking photos. Anne bought a beautiful cotton bag for her and her mother, I regret that I did not had 1 for myself as it was very cheap, THB350 each. Sigh.

We boarded on the upper deck at around 7.30pm. Beautiful Thai dancers greeted us. As soon as everyone seated, the dancer was performing a traditional Thai dance which can be seen on the first photo shared in this entry. We were fortunate as our table for 2 was adjacent to a performer stage and not far from the buffet table.  The night was just perfect for the 2 of us.

The dinner includes a wide selection of dishes ranging from Thai styled to international foods, appetizers to main dishes to deserts served in a buffet fashion. While enjoying the dinner, the saxophonists and singers performing range of Pop and Jazz songs throughout the journey. 

Candle light dinner with Anne :)

Besides, we had a great opportunity to take snapshots of the scenery, famous historical structures and religious monasteries such as the Royal Grand Palace Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun (The Temple of the Dawn), Bangkhunprom Palace, Kanlayanamitr Temple and the Rama 8 Bridge along both sides of the river bank. Let's just enjoy some of the photos that I snapped that night.

Grand Palace night view

Wat Arun at night-My family & I was there during a day time in 1995

The suspension Rama VIII Bridge 
The singer in below photo sang a Korean and Mandarin song, much to our liking beside Thai and English song. There's another lady singer who sang my favourite Chinese song of Theresa Cheng "The Moon Reflects My Heart". At the end of their performance they played a rhythmic songs suited to get the passengers to get up and dance. I was really enjoying everything that night.

I'm sharing here the last few photo of the performers before saying goodbye and goodnight at almost 9.45pm. The saxophonist in white shirt is very talented himself, he played Michael Bolton's song so well. I'm really impressed with his talent.

Soon after, we immediately get a taxi to Asiatique which seated at about 20minutes drive from the River City. What we saw inside the very big shopping area was something that we regret for not taking seriously the advised offered by Jim Thompson sales assistant that we should shop in this place as it has everything that we might need. True indeed. For those who is visiting please follow the locals recommendation, visit Asiatique as soon as you landed in Bangkok. You may read about the place in here, Bangkok's Magazine.

We had unpleasant experienced thereafter but lucky that both Anne and I did not burst out our temperant, rather, we chose to stay quite, play Candy Crush and did some positive thinking. After an exhausted night, we reached hotel at almost midnight.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Bangkok - Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

Tour date: 29th May 2013

It was almost mid day when we arrived at Wat Pho from the floating market. Though we were hungry, the cool temperature inside where the reclining Buddha seated made us forgotten our hunger. The tourist has crowded the place whilst the locals were offering prayers. We were really impressed with the interior decoration. Kindly noted that you must put your shoes in the provided shoe bag and carry it with you. Strictly "no shoes" inside.

Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple in Phra Nakhon district, Bangkok, Thailand, located in the Rattanakosin district directly adjacent to the Grand Palace. Is is famously known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, its official name is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram RatchaworamahawihanThe temple is also known as the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Remarks: In 2005, hubby and I tried the Thai massage which basically no use of oil for massaging, rather a system of massage assisted with stretching @ bodywork method.

The front view

Back view - only to show the pillow with Anne smile broadly

Wat Pho is named after a monastery in India where Buddha is believed to have lived. Prior to the temple's founding, the site was a centre of education for traditional Thai medicine, and statues were created showing yoga positions. An enormous Buddha image from Ayuthaya's Wat Phra Si Sanphet was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767, hence, King Rama I incorporated its fragments to build a temple to enlarge and renovate the complex, where it was today.

Foot indicating 108 auspicious symbols of Buddha

The image of reclining Buddha is 15 m high and 43 m long with his right arm supporting the head with tight curls on two box-pillows of blue, richly encrusted with glass mosaics. The 3 m high and 4.5 m long foot of Buddha displays are inlaid with mother-of-pearl. They are divided into 108 arranged panels, displaying the auspicious symbols by which Buddha can be identified like flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers and altar accessories. Over the statue is a 7 tiered umbrella representing the authority of Thailand. There are 108 bronze bowls in the corridor indicating the 108 auspicious characters of Buddha. People drop coins in these bowls as it is believed to bring good fortune, and as donation to help the monks maintain the complex. Though the reclining Buddha is not a pilgrimage centre, it remains an object of popular piety.

108 bronze bowls indicating 108 auspicious characters of Buddha

The complex underwent many changes in 260 years. Under King Rama III, plaques inscribed with medical texts were placed around the temple. These received a recognition in the Memory of the World Programme launched by UNESCO on 21st February 2008. Adjacent to the building housing the Reclining Buddha in a small raised garden, where it centerpiece being a Bodhi tree which is propagated from the original tree in India where Buddha sat while awaiting for enlightenment

The temple was created as a restoration of an earlier temple on the same site, Wat Phodharam, with the work beginning in 1788. The temple was restored and extended in the reign of King Rama III and was restored again in 1982. 

The fish pond garden - so serene and so lovely with the Bodhi's small tree

Wat Pho is one of the largest and oldest wats (temple) in Bangkok which is a home to more than 1000 Buddha images, as well as one of the largest single Buddha images of 160 ft length, the Reclining Buddha. The Wat Pho complex consists of two walled compounds bisected by Soi Chetuphon running east–west. The northern walled compound is where the reclining Buddha and massage school are found. 

"Chedi Rai" near Phra Rabieng cloister

The southern walled compound is a working Buddhist monastery with monks in residence and a school. Outside the temple, the grounds contain 91 stupas, 4 halls and a central shrine. 71 stupas of smaller size contains the ashes of the royal family, and 21 large ones contain the ashes of Buddha. The 4 stupas are dedicated to the 4 Chakri kings. The temple has sixteen gates around the complex guarded by Chinese giants carved out of rocks. These statues were originally imported as ballast on ship trading with China.

The outer cloister has images of 400 Buddhas out of the 1200 originally bought by king Rama V. In terms of architecture, they are varied in different styles and postures evenly mounted on matching gilded pedestals (can be seen in below photo). The main temple is raised in marble platform punctuated by mythological lions in the gateways. The exterior balustrade has around 150 depictions of the epic, Ramakien, the ultimate message of which is transedence from secular to spiritual dimensions.

Among 400 statues of Buddha

Thai Massage school

The information centre which is available at the courtyard