Monday, June 29, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 II

20 June 2015

First Breakfast in Phuket

I set the wrong alarm! Instead of the said 0700, I didn't realise my phone was still at GMT +0800. Hence, I woke up to sunshine one hour earlier, rolled around a bit and started to get ready for the day. We wanted to wake up earlier that day to go around finding tour package and start planning for the trip. I took a peek at the backyard of the hostel, which was not bad. It was the smoking area (you should not be smoking inside the hostel).

When everyone was ready, we started our journey by asking the reception if there was any breakfast place around. We were directed to this stall, just down the road.

The variety of the breakfast was intense. They were slightly familiar but not totally. For the heavier food, we've got rice or beehon with egg and meat and even chilli. On the other side, they were mostly kuih-muih, something that looked like nyonya kuih we encountered in Malaysia or Singapore. Recognize those green-ish delicacies?

One specialty on that day was this, rice dumplings! Coincidentally, it was Rice Dumpling Day (which also happened to our previous year's trip). To make that day a bit more meaningful, we bought some of the dumplings. If you haven't encounter rice dumplings before, the left ones are rice dumplings with meat or fillings. In Penang, it could come in sweet or savoury taste. For the right one, it was made from glutinous rice, pulut. It was usually plain rice and hence will be served with something sweet. In Penang, we could choose between sugar and gula Melaka (palm sugar). In this case, they came with a pack of sugar.

We walked further down the road to find places to eat or interesting food. We discovered a very nice hotel nearby, On On Hotel and a very classy building, which turned out to be a bank, 开泰银行 (Kasikornbank).

We found several stalls around the corner selling almost the same thing as what we saw and bought a few more before finding this little coffee shop. It was called T-origin. I can't read Thai, but it would be obvious it sells drinks and bread. We asked if we could eat there with drinks and outside food and - wait for it - yes! This was one of the best things I found to experience in Phuket, the willingness of the shop owner to allow outside food as long as you buy something from them. This, was not as easy when you come to Malaysia or Singapore. The owner most probably look at you with the darkest shade of stare. Well, so we settled in and ordered one drink. I know, sound stingy, but hey - first day, we need to save enough money to last the whole trip!

We arranged the food and started to feast on them. Most of the food were sweet and glutinuous rice. If not, they would be spicy. We ate the quail's eggs, which was a nostalgic food. The rice dumpling was sweet but not bad. I find it quite appetizing. The plain ki-zhang tasted totally same as in Penang, the only thing left out was gula melaka. Since the owner was so nice to let us eat, we might as well take as long as we can and even took selfie, or shall I call - wefie?

Walking continued as we start to search for shops selling tour packages. I was usually not so professional when it came to interacting with shopkeeper, asking for better pricing, therefore I turned into my better skill, documenting. Carrying my new camera around, I snapped quite some photos and tried to remember how things looked like. Hello there!

What makes the trip nice was the architecture around the town. Even some random abandoned house looked like these! Can you imagine how detailed the people were, to build just a small house? The small patterns which you probably won't notice unless you zoomed in. They were beautiful.

Alas, we did found a few stall selling good packages and we were collecting brochures for reference. According to one of the shopkeeper, it was a low season, hence a discount in most package price.

At one point, we passed by this row of colourful buildings and spotted a mart right at the end. We were happily inching towards the mart when we were nearly stunned by quarreling noise from one of the unit. It was a fierce fight and we kept our voice down, hoping we could go through that street in peace.

We eventually entered the mart and pranced around the isles of goods, examining each and every product. We commented on commercials and awed by rare brands of grocery. When we go for the cashier, we saw this cute little sign. They were selling some kuih and look at the mochi-like creature smiling there! We bought a box and ate it. It tasted like what we had as Ang Ku Kueh.

After that, we continued back to hostel while slowly deciding our next itinerary.

11th Doctor in The Rings of Akhaten

Random practice on pencil. That was drawn after I watch The Rings of Akhaten and find a certain insporation. It was lucky I could draw something out to even look like a face. Great drill.

Garden by the Lake

I painted Garden by the Lake before I even know Garden by the Bay existed. This was also a requested painting, meaning, this piece was no longer with me except softcopy unless I recreate it. The requester was getting a bit evil when she found out I was bad at painting flowers, by requesting a piece full of flowers. In the end, I put a bit of an effort looking through the internet for plants and flowers found near a lake to be a bit more realistic. I did screw up the sky a little, but I'm definitely proud to say I put in effort on the flowers.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Phuket-Land Trip 2015 I

19 June 2015

Arrival and First Meal

Naturally, this was the first day of our trip. We had a flight to catch around 2020 at Changi, so we head off from school around 1800. PK and I were to meet K at the airport. I changed into a more comfortable shirt and bought myself soymilk just because I was hungry. I was more concerned with the long journey ahead, travelling on MRT to Changi and check in before we could even start eating.

Anyway, yes, we had KFC as dinner at Terminal 1 and rushed to the custom and off to the gate. We were not too late but not early either. I was sitting at a window seat away from the other two, but the two passengers next to me were very kind, by lending me their pen during the departure/arrival form filling-up. I was too caught up with the book I was reading at that moment, The Martian, so I skipped the dark blue sky outside the window. Speaking of which, I just read about the concept of how an airplane window was constructed, but that's a topic for another day.

When we arrived at Phuket airport, we went pass the custom quite successfully except a certain attention was given with the officers wearing mask. That same morning, the first MERS case was confirmed in Bangkok, Thailand. Anyway, we found the car that was supposed to bring us from the airport to our hostel. The journey took around 40 minutes. The driver did chat a bit about the places and introduced us to certain local places we should take note of while we drove pass. I was just remembering landmarks to register the directions, so, not much was well-digested.

Our hostel was at Phang Nga Road in Old Phuket Town, Best Stay Hostel. It was a rather new dormitory style hostel, nicely painted, clean-looking and peacefully quiet. When we reach our hostel, the reception has closed, so we paid for most of our accomodation fee and went up to choose our bunk beds. It was always my favourite to get the upper deck, so I did requested one. We did meet briefly with a roommate from Canada. Shortly after we changed and unpacked a little, we were to walk out and find some dinner/supper. The driver was just nice there and offered to give us a ride to a nearby eating place. So he drove us a few streets down and we were put at an eating place, recommended by the driver.

Due to our halfway-here-halfway-there stomach, we ordered a dish of spicy fish soup and stir-fried morning glory. Let me start with the fish dish. The fish meat was okay but we had a bigger problem with the overall smell. It had a 'pee' smell and we soon discovered the origin, the bamboo shoots. Funny how the same bamboo shoot in Sichuan never smell that way. Anyway, we sort of skipped that soup part by forcing ourself to finish the meat. Sorry.

Next, morning glory. We ate the whole meal imagining this 'morning glory' was the morning glory we saw on fences, the one which greeted me every day during my kindergarten days. Apparently, it was what kangkong, or water spinach, was called in Thailand. I searched it up, it was technically right to call them morning glory though, since they are of the same species. It is supposed to be called phak bung in Thai. In case you wonder, the scientific name is Ipomoea aquatica. This dish was awesome, in my opinion because it was fresh and flavourful. I could empty the bowl of rice (khau) with just that. 

Other than the two dishes, we were served a bucket of ice and a bottle of mineral water (1.5L kind) as drinks.Oh, the straws came sticking out of the bucket too. At the end of the meal, we were also give a plate of pineapple - nice, sweet pineapple! And there, we paid the bill and left. Since I still have the record, this meal cost us 405 THB.

After leaving that place, we were bound to walk back to our place while passing by some mart to get simple grocer and look around. It was quiet at night, not much people around. The left slot meant 'phuket' literally, while the second slot meant 'other places'. It was interesting because the local was not the country, but the province itself.

Along the way, we saw the most common mart in Phuket, Family Mart. They were something like 7-11. We bought some grocer plus with a bottle of beer to taste the start of the adventure. There was a very nice roundabout with clock tower, a historical site apparently. Nothing much on the first night, as wel trailed our way back and off to bed.

Friday, June 26, 2015

You and I by Ingrid Michaelson (Cover)

Discovered this song on Spotify quite some time ago and since I 'liked' it, it has been popping up my indie radio playlist once a while. It's not every time I will like this kind of song but this is not bad and the chord is easy, so what can I say? It would sound better with ukulele and a different voice - but that would mean changing the whole team, so yea, stay put with this now.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Couple Watching Sunset

This was one of the few requested art, which I tried to challenge myself with. In the end, I tried to smoke through... but hey, at least there's a piece of work, even when it sucks.

National Museum of Singapore Architectural Tour


I signed this up few weeks ahead of the tour during the Singapore Heritage Festival. I did miss a few interesting tour, such as the synagogue tour. 

National Museum of Singapore, was one of the few tour location I visited during my 'grad trip'. Yes, trying to be less depressed about unemployment and low on finance, I found a better way to spend my time during that phase, doing things I like which took not much of my money. It was not as splendid and glamour as those of my peers' grad  trip, which mostly took place in places overseas or camera-friendly. Back to this topic, yes, museums in Singapore has become one of my favourite spot because they are quite organized and educational at times, though I do have a certain opinion about European history and art part. But this tour was not about its content, it was about the building itself.

For people who are curious how did the museum looked like, it was this. There was a dome and very classy looking exterior. I loved how it was painted.

Our first stop was to gather under this rotunda covered by a dome roof. It was right at the entrance of the building. Once you're in, you are covered by this area, a dome with these stained glass panels. When the tour started, we were introduced to this dome. There were 50 panels of stained glass, to commemorate the reason why this museum of built. The museum was opened on 12th of October 1887. If that didn't mean anything to you, that's the same year as Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. Hence, this museum's opening is to commemorate Queen Victoria's fifty years' reign, hence the number. This rotunda area was supposed to be open air but was re-furbished to be air-conditioned and closed.

To support the claim, there is Queen Victoria's coat of arm at the roof of the building. That was not a common sight and when that was put on a building, it was supposed to be big! The exterior of the building could see the museum was designed in a Renaissance and neo-Palladian style. The reminiscence of ionic columns was seen from outside. The pineapples at the corner of the roof was meant to mean prosperity in the European culture because it was such rarity during the time, which makes it almost meaning the same thing as in local culture.

It was explained to us that the older part of the building was designed by Henry McCallum, while extra search on the internet told me that there was another architect, J. F. McNair, involved.

Standing from inside facing out of the entrance, the left side of the building was once a library. Therefore, we could see real solid iron column at this section. These columns were put in to withhold the weight of books from the second storey. In this area, the palladian style windows could be observed clearly, the windows and lighting. Note also the patterns of floor tiles, which could be seen in many of the Sino-colonial styles buildings which was very common around Singapore.

That guy in the yellow and black checkered shirt was our tour guide. It was the second time I followed a tour by him. The previous one being the Leichtenstein's gallery tour years ago. Look at the high window at the side, allowing maximum sunlight into the interior of the building.

Motre look on the old building area. Each window, frames and wall were made with such intricacy.

This part was the right side of the building, the old building. It used to be museum area but is now instead a library. According to the guide, we could actually pay the library a visit and enjoy the quiet environment inside.

Outside, there was a sculpture with straw-like figure. It was a handicraft by a Taiwanese artist. This piece of work was previously placed in front of the museum but the contract was changed hence a new house for it.

Along the road, we could see little pillars like this. They were actually the old gate of the museum. They were more inside and nearer to the building than the road now as there was a change in the road and museum area. The wall showed the museum compound was once smaller with the road nearer to it. And due to frequent increase of earth while making of new road and tiling, the old gate looked lower than the ground by several inches...

Going through Fort Canning Park and reached the behind side of the building, which was nearer to the newer area of the museum, we could see the wall separating the hill and the museum. The design used for the wall was to remind us of what was behind, the geographical strata. Behind this would be Fort Canning and the cemetery. 

From there, we passed by the galleries exhibiting for Lee Kuan Yew's memory and into the building. The newer side of the building has more glasses and was designed by a local architect company. What was interesting was, once the museum of gazetted, the new regulation require no modification of original building with similar design. Hence, the old and new part of the museum were distinctly different. However, there were certain part linking the old and new part which was not quite different whereby the new add-ons were almost similar to the old building. According to the guide, it was because the modification was made before the regulation was set, hence that was still allowed. 

By the end of the tour, I made myself a little collectible souvenir.

Indonesia-Penang Trip XV

2 June 2014

Tangkuban Perahu West Jawa Crater and Domas Crater

After the morning walk in the town and a satisfying lunch, we head to one of the highlights of the trip, a crater. In my case, it would be my first time visiting one, so I should feel excited - though I did fall asleep during the journey. When the vehicle drove to a halt, what I saw was people, people, stalls, people, smog, some stairs, and more people. The place we started was a popular viewing site for the crater and it was unfortunate for that day it was particularly smoky.

The weather was so cooling and comfortable that I was too happy to take photos, even when it meant taking unglam photos. Who cares if I look like a sleephead now!

Unfortunately, as you would have notice from those photos above, that day's smog was way too thick to even observe any inch of the crater. All we could capture or even view, were signs and people. To convey the message about the foggy part more clearly, this is the proof! Look at how we posed with all the signage? The crater was just behind it, and all you can see is greyish background. Still, we took quite a few photos with the signage, to show how high up we went, just because.

At this very moment, we were very lucky to have Lucky, our tour guide. He suggested us to go an extra distance to visit another crator. That, according to Lucky, was not very well known and hence lesser visitor. We agreed to go for it and hence the start of our journey into the woods...

Perhaps due to the soil and geographical difference, the trees in the woods were quite different from what we had in tropical rainforest. The ground was covered in moss.

To some extent, even though it was quite a distance, I rather enjoyed the walk, because of what was surrounding me, nature. The weather was just nice, cooling and humid, feeling small with all the trees too!

Even the staircases looked stunning. The experience of walking between moss-carpeted staircase was extraordinary.

If you're not convinced, look at this!

I realized there were two kinds of moss covering the surface.

I know most of the touring places would be against picking, talking or destroying local habitat. However, the mountain guide (is that what they're called?) cut out a few small piece of moss carpet for us to bring back (I lost it few days later, which was not cool because I planned to plant it back in Singapore). This is me showing off, not knowing I will miss it soon after...

Photos were taken even when this was just a walk in the woods. I especially took a special interest in the wood texture. Look at how elegant they are! Trees are time machine. It accumulates the records along the years...

I was too fat to squeeze into that hole properly, obviously. So, here is me standing halfway. Cool!

But, even when the journey was exciting, we do start to wonder when will this end. And sure enough, we were outside the said crater: Domas Crater.

Eventually, we did arrive at the said crater. Since it was more secluded and not visited by many, it was significantly peaceful and the whole picture of crater or smog-filled landscape could be adsorbed slowly and enjoyed to its max.

There was even a viewpoint before we enter the crater to take photo, to show how big is the place.

According to the locals, this is the hottest pool among the allowed-pool. There's no doubt it was true because look at the water splashing out? When we looked closer, the water was boiling in it. And that was this place that we could boil the eggs, for fun or for consumption.

Other than that hot pool, we walked downhill for cooler pool. Sulphur-coated rocks could be observed around every corner, especially those with water or geyser(is it big enough to be called that?) oozing out if of the earth surface. Amazing huh, how nature works?

We found a not-so-hot-but-still-quite-hot pool and put our feet in. As predicted, I was the last to put in and I can't take the heat. It was too much for me!

We hopped out of that and went to a slightly cooler pool after that for longer immersion (hell yeah, immersion). This is when we are comfortable enough to stay put and chat and even take photos. Thanks for the local guide to help us take really good photos. He looked enthusiastic.

Sitting on rocks, cooking my leg in warm water with suphuric smell, I looked upon this scenery. It was awesome and peaceful. I could sit there whole day with a book propped open on my knees, feeling the peace.

In case you wonder what the water looked like. THIS! I know, I was thinking what was in it the whole time.

Soon after, we started to clean up and walk our way out of the wood to the other pick-up site. This is the guide who had brought us all the way.

My personal milestone was also achieved. I was wearing this Japanese flip-flop throughout the whole walk in the woods. That's given that, this was my first time wearing a Japanese flip-flop. It was not a very pleasant experience, but hey, I did it!

So, here is some souvenir we've got... stack of moss - or rather, I called it "Moss Burger".

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