Thailand: A Lazy Day at Karon Beach in Phuket

Our first quarter in 2018 was quite crazy – long and busy days at work! So we decided to have a short trip to Phuket for a relaxing getaway at the island and beach.

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

We headed to Karon Beach and spent the whole day lazying there. It is the second most developed beach in Phuket and it is conveniently located 15 minutes away from our hotel in central Patong (the most industrialized area in town).

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

Karon Beach is just beautiful and lovely with soft fine sand for miles, clear water, big waves, and beautiful sunset. The beach is long and open and it is nice for walking. It is quite green, clean, it does not feel.as crowded as Patong Beach, and there’s not too many boats to destroy the atmosphere.

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

There are sea sports activities to choose from – surf boats, jet skis and para-gliding. And there is a corniche on it with stacks of small shops and restaurants. There are also restaurants and supermarkets over the road if you need some refreshments, and hotels too.

Para-gliding at Karon Beach

Reading on the beach

Karon Beach

best beef burger we’ve had for ages

Fortunately, the red flag was not raised on that day, so we’re able to enjoy swimming and playing with the waves – so fun! Besides, we passed the time sunbathing, sleeping, talking, eating, playing with the sand and reading.

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

Certainly, nothing soothes the soul like a whole day beautifully spent relaxing at the beach while listening to the waves rolling on the shore!

Karon Beach

Karon Beach

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • I heard that in low season, which runs from April to October, the waves are quite big, and if you see red flags please don’t swim because you might drown.
  • March to May are the hottest months in Phuket. June to October is the monsoon season while the coolest season runs from November to February.
  • You can rent a pair of beach chairs with a parasol for 200 baht (about $7).

 

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Phnom Penh: Sip and Paint with my tween son at The Art Bar

Being a mom of a pre-teen boy is a rewarding part of my life. Even though he is our only child, we don’t spoil him with many toys but we want him to experience things and stuff for his own benefit and at the same time to strengthen the bond between us

@ The Art Bar

Fortunately, our pre-teen boy is the most fun to hang out with because he is always up for some new adventure. So, one beautiful Saturday afternoon, I found some spare time on my work schedule, and I wanted to make the most of my time, and since my son loves art, I took him to The Art Bar for a sip and paint course.

@ The Art Bar

@ The Art Bar

The Art Bar is a new art entertainment in town where you can fuel your imagination. It offers activities like painting and pottery.

@ The Art Bar

Before we started, we were only given 6 colors – white, black, blue, green, yellow, and orange, and our drink was also served. Then, our instructor started with a sweet welcome speech and followed by a lovely explanation about each type of brush we were going to use, how to combine colors to create a totally new one, and how to clean our brushes.

@ The Art Bar

The art instructor @ The Art Bar

@ The Art Bar

@ The Art Bar

Then we started to paint. Throughout the course, our instructor taught us different techniques such as how to make dark, medium and light shades and how to create the desired effect we wanted. He also walked around us and since we were only 4 on that session he had enough time to help each one of us.

@ The Art Bar

@ The Art Bar

Personally, I’m no artist – I never held a brush before. Although my son loves art, yet it was only his 2nd time to paint on a canvass. However, it was not a problem at all because the art instructor guided us step by step along the way. At first I was quite skeptical since I had never painted in my life, but I’m proud and I love how my painting turned out. Since then, I fell in love with painting, and I can’t believe how habit-forming it is.

Proud of my first painting, 2/16/18 @ The Art Bar, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Here are 3 reasons why we like The Art Bar:

  1. The experience. It was fun and even though we are amateur with painting, we were not intimidated. I also love the idea of bridging the gap between a non-artist person and the art world. My son and I learned basic painting techniques and I was able to unleash my inner artist.
  2. The place. I liked the vibe of the place – it’s cozy, spacious and studio type.
  3. The staff. They’re friendly and helpful. They also didn’t mind taking some photos of us while we were painting.

@ The Art Bar

Overall, my son and I enjoyed the 2-hour painting course, and our faced was flushed with pride that we were able to create our own masterpiece! Certainly, it was an absolutely amazing mother-and-son bonding moment, and we’ll definitely coming back for a pottery course!

@ The Art Bar

If you are looking for something artsy, something creative, something new to do in the Penh with family or friends, The Art Bar is a perfect place for you!

@ The Art Bar

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • It is located at #225, Street 45, right below the Chroy Changvar Bridge. There’s not enough signs on the road though, so if you’re driver has a difficulty in finding the place, the best way is to call the Art Bar and let your driver talk to the receptionist.
  • It is open every day from 10AM to 9PM.
  • We paid $25 per person for a 2-hour session of Sip & Paint which includes painting materials, a drink/beverage of your choice and a whole pack of amazing fun!
  • You can make reservation online at www.theartbarkh.com or by phone +885-299-188.

Phnom Penh: An afternoon stroll at Wat Phnom

Do you know how Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia got its name?

Take a break from the bustle of Phnom Penh and take a serene walk through the park of this exquisitely built Wat Phnom roundabout situated up on a hillock, where the city got its name.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom

According to the legend, when a wealthy widowed Khmer woman named Daun Penh was dawdling by the riverbank, she found a Koki tree and she noticed four bronze statues of the Buddha inside it. She took the statues out and constructed a small shrine on a manmade hill. Then in 1437 King Ponhea Yat named the new city as Krong Chaktomok Mongkol or Phnom Penh. Through the years, it became a sacred site and sanctuary where people pray for more blessings, to make wishes for good luck and success in business or school.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom was built in the north of the city center in 1372, and stands 27 meters high above the sea level. To the north, you will see a busy market. To the west, you could choose to drop into a café. To the southeast, you can see the Post Office Square, which gives you a glimpse into Phnom Penh’s colonial past, the Chinese House and The Exchange, both offering a contemporary take on beautiful historical buildings and great food.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is a very calm area in the middle of a beautiful garden. It has a great park for people to relax. It has many old Buddha statues of different types as well as wall paintings. At the west of the sanctuary there is a prominent stupa that contains the ashes of the king and his royal family. There are stunning views of the grounds and the buildings. This is a good place to witness real religious habits and tradition from Cambodian people.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom

I think the temple’s most striking element is the giant flower clock that has 20 meter circumference. I have learned that the original clock was a gift from France which was installed in 1960s and in 2000 it was re-installed with a newer version which was a gift from China.

Wat Phnom

We have been there quite a few times, and we’ve always had a nice walk. The temple at the top is really impressive, the vegetation is magnificent and the structures are fascinating, but most importantly the historical background makes it more worthwhile to check out.

Wat Phnom

Wat Phnom is a beautiful temple, and it’s certainly a zen place in the middle of the bust city.

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • The best time to visit the place is from 4PM to 6PM – at this time it’s not too crowded and not too hot.
  • The entrance fee is $1 for foreigners.
  • You can buy a songbird at the entrance and release it.
  • There are always quite a few mischievous monkeys around Wat Phnom, so keep an eye on your soda, your snack, your wallet and your smartphone (a monkey stole my Coca-Cola once and would just not give it back).

Taste of Home: Garbure

We enjoy trying out new dishes, and this time it’s Garbure, a French stew of chicken with cabbage and other vegetables.

Garbure

We love stew not only because it’s easy to make, filling and inexpensive; but it is also a great way to let our son eat a variety of vegetables. The stew is creamy and not too thick with beans, potatoes, leeks, and celery. Plus, this dish gets better with each successive reheating. It is so wholesome, delicious and aromatic.

While hearty Garbure is very common in Gascony, in the south-west of France, where the weather is cooler than in Cambodia, we still love eating it here. So what better dish to prepare than a Garbure, using our favorite Garbure recipe, which provides a whole amount of healthy protein, fiber, and nutrients along with it.

Certainly, Garbure is our new comfort for food.

Garbure

Ingredients good for 8 persons:

  • 600 grams of chicken breast skinless, boneless, cut
  • 2 balls of garlic, sliced
  • 4 onions, sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 5 ribbed stalks of celery, chopped
  • 2 whole stalks of leeks, chopped
  • 1 can white beans
  • 1 whole cabbage, chopped
  • 100 grams butter
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons of thyme
  • 2 teaspoons of parsley
  • black pepper, to taste
  • salt, to taste
  • soy sauce, to taste
  • 5 medium sized potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 2 cubes of chicken broth

Garbure

How to cook it:

  1. In a big cooking pot, put 1 liter of water and chicken broth with parsley, bay leaves and thyme.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, potatoes, carrots, celery, leeks, cabbage and white beans.
  3. Let it boil until it is cooked. (if you let the dish boil long enough, the potatoes and beans will partially melt, making the stew creamy without needing to add cream or flour. This way the stew stays light)
  4. In a separate frying pan, cook the chicken in butter and add black pepper.
  5. When the chicken is ready add it to the vegetable mixture in the pot.
  6. Add some soy sauce and salt.
  7. Let it boil for ten extra minutes.
  8. Share, serve and enjoy!

Myanmar: The World’s Largest Book at Kuthodaw Pagoda

Our last stop in our Myanmar tour was in Mandalay, the second largest city after Yangon. It’s a fairly young city (161 years old) with an intriguing history, founded on February 13, 1857 by King Mindon. So, here’s our most unique and best experience in the city: The visit to the world’s largest book at Kuthodaw Pagoda.

Hundreds of white stupas glistening in the sun

Some of the white stupas of the world’s largest book

Have you ever heard about it before? Personally, I never knew such a place existed.

The World’s Largest Book

Kuthodaw Pagoda, which contains the “World’s Largest Book”, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located at the foot of Mandalay Hill. It was built in 1857 by King Mindon. The monks started working for the World’s Largest Book on October 14, 1860, and the inscriptions on all the stones were completed and it was opened to the public on May 4, 1868.

The Kuthodaw Pagoda

the entrance to the world’s largest book

The World’s Largest Book contains 730 marble slabs – it means there are 730 leaves and 1460 pages. A page (one side of the slab) has approximately 80 to 100 lines of Buddhist inscriptions called Tripitaka, chiseled-out and originally filled in with gold ink. Each slab (1.53m tall) is housed in its own stupa. Literally, we saw endless rows of geometrically arranged small bright white shrines – symmetry at its finest!

A page of the world’s largest book

We leisurely strolled around the pagoda at around 4PM. We enjoyed the serenity of this splendid structure’s inner courtyard with many Buddha images and flowers. There was hardly anyone around so we virtually had the place to ourselves. We were fascinated while going around, learning the history of the place and seeing the unique architecture. Such an impressive site to see – it really speaks of the value and importance of the Buddha’s teachings for the people.

White stupas everywhere.

We liked it a lot, and certainly the best place of interest we visited in Mandalay. The World´s largest book is definitely worth to be seen and the whitewashed stupas make for great photos.

Fantastic and beautiful

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Highly recommended to ALL travelers.
  • It’s close to Mandalay Hill so it’s convenient to visit this in the afternoon at around 4 pm because this Temple is next to Mandalay hill, a good place to watch for sunset at 5.30 pm.
  • It’s a big area, so allow yourself to wander around for an hour.
  • Dress modestly – no showing anything above the knees or shoulder parts.
  • NO shoes and socks allowed, so bring wet tissues to wash your feet afterwards.
  • NO camera fee.

 

Myanmar: Spectacular Sunset at Mandalay Hill

After we visited the Kuthodaw Pagoda, we decided to go up to the summit of Mandalay Hill to watch the sun stunningly vanish over the horizon, giving way to a thousand others.

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

This beautiful hill is popular for its superb valley views. It is situated at the corner of the moat of the Palace, northeast of the city center and about 240 meters above sea level.

From the top of Mandalay Hill

We hired a taxi to take us around Mandalay and before he drove us back to our hotel, our last stop was in Mandalay Hill. When we arrived on top, we removed our shoes, and took the elevator to go up.

at the top of Mandalay Hill

We went up 30 minutes before sunset to soak up the atmosphere, and stay until dark. It’s lovely up there! In spite of the huge crowds, we enjoyed the fresh air with spectacular 360 views of the city and the surrounding countryside. It’s a gorgeous place to witness the entire city and the palace grounds, encased by snaking rivers to one side and distant mountains to the other.

From the top of Mandalay Hill

at the top of Mandalay Hill

At the top of Mandalay Hill

Wandering around slightly at the top of the hill, we came across many nicely decorated pagodas, stupas and monasteries that have been the pilgrimage site for Burmese Buddhists for about two centuries. We also noticed the king of the ogres with his armies at the four corners of the top terrace, and saw many creature statues such as rabbits, cockerels, and lizards which represent Buddha experiences – his birth, suffering, death, and rebirth. The temple complex at the top is worth the journey alone – it’s wonderful with gorgeous artifacts and a cool marble floor as you go without shoes.

at the top of Mandalay Hill

Later, we found a quiet place. We sat there. Far in the distance, we watched the blazing yellow sun sinking low in the sky. Then the sky was dyed with the splash of colors. We savored the moment. It was romantic. It was magical. And, this beautiful sunset reminded us that no matter what happens things end in a beautiful way.

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

Spectacular sunset in Mandalay Hill

Certainly, Mandalay Hill is a fascinating historical place and watching the magnificent sunset is definitely a must see if you are in the area.

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • There is no entrance fee. But you have to pay a fee for your camera and for the shoe box.
  • A lot of tourists visit the hill for sunset.
  • It is accessible to everyone. There is a one-way motor road, an escalator and a lift for those who are unable to climb up the stairs.
  • Try to get there a while before sunset and stake your spot otherwise you’ll be knee-deep in tourists.

Taste of Home: Potato, pumpkin and Leek Soup

I made potato, pumpkin and leek soup several times cause my family really loves this fabulous soup! It’s really hearty – the leeks with the pumpkin and potatoes make for a really full flavor combination. Also, my son gobbled this right up and asked for more.

Potato, pumpkin and leek soup

The last time I made this soup was 2 weeks ago when some of our friends came over during the weekend. They love it very much, and I shared my recipe with them.

In my recipe, I didn’t put a lot of cream as the soup was already rich and tasty on its own. Usually I serve it with baguette as we really enjoy dipping some buttery bread in it.

Next time I make it, I’ll try to add a wee bit of ginger, I think it adds zest and fragrance to the soup.

It’s a great soup – easy, quick tasty and healthy, and a comforting cold-weather soup puree. The rave reviews from my family and friends make it all worthwhile to share my recipe with all of you.

Potato, pumpkin and leek soup

Ingredients good for 6 persons:

  • 1 small pumpkin, seeded, peeled and cut roughly
  • 1 big potato, peeled and cut roughly
  • 3 stalks leek, cut roughly
  • 25 cL fresh cooking cream
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste

How to make it?

  1. Put pumpkin, potato, leek and 1 L of water in a large pot. Let it cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Blend it for 1 minute or until it becomes smooth. [If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a blender to puree the soup. Just be careful in transferring the veges to the blender as it’s still very hot.]
  3. Add fresh cream, salt and black pepper. Stir.
  4. Let it cook for 3 minutes.
  5. Et voila! Serve, share and enjoy!