Thailand: Relaxing in Phatong Beach in Phuket

After enjoying our breakfast at our hotel room, we were ready and excited for a relaxing and fun day at Phatong Beach.

Phatong Beach

i love my tan…

Phatong Beach is popularly known by its long, wide, white sandy beaches. It’s busy, but it’s family-friendly. It’s close to all Phuket’s main attractions. The beach has a great atmosphere in the day and has a good fun-vibe as there’s always many things going on to keep the whole squad entertained.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Since our hotel was located near the beach (5 min by foot), we decided to walk. Unfortunately, we took the long route. We strolled for about 30 minutes from our hotel to the beach, but it was ok because it allowed us to explore the area.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

As soon as we arrived at the beach, our son had immediately plunged himself into the water since it was about a year and 3 months that we hadn’t gone to the beach. Certainly, Pete had a time of his life at the beach – swimming in the sea and playing with the sand the whole day long!

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We had a real fun day too – I got my hair braided and Alan got an temporary hyena tattoo.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

We enjoyed lying on the beach all day under warm sweet sunshine and a gentle little breeze. It was like a massage from nature – so relaxing and so enjoyable. And woke up beaming with energy.

Phatong Beach

Then grabbed a book that’s perfect beach read while listening to the sound of the waves, savoring the smell of the ocean, and reveling in the mesmerizing beautiful view. In between, we guzzled down a glass of fresh fruit juice and sipped on Singha Beer.

Phatong Beach

Phatong Beach

And at lunch time, we devoured Thai food with pleasure.

Thai Chicken BBQ

Thai chicken noodle

Fresh coconut juice

Phatong Beach

The beach closed at 5PM, before the sun sunk further and further down the horizon. We packed our stuff and went back to the hotel.

Indeed, it was a great relaxing beach getaway! It gave us positive energy! We had a ball!

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Thailand: One Day Tour in Phi Phi Isands

While in Phuket, we visited Phi Phi Islands, which is composed of several different islands and one of the most famous group of islands in Asia. The speedboat ride from one island to the other offers stunning and breathtaking views of cliffs that rise like skyscrapers from the ocean. It has warm white sands and gorgeous turquoise blue waters that make you feel like you are in a dream.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

We did a boat tour with Phet Phoom Travel, which the hotel booked for us. Even though we do not really like organized group tours because it’s far too commercial and structured, we thought it was the best way to go since we only had a day to explore the islands. We stopped at 6 different islands, and the tour lasted the whole day from 7:30AM to 5PM. A minivan picked us up at our hotel at 7.30AM and picked up several other guests at a couple different hotels before heading to the pier area (Ko Sirey), where we hopped on our speedboat. After the short orientation about the tour – safety and schedule, we boarded the speedboat and off we went. And after the tour, the same minivan dropped us at the hotel from the pier area.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Our first stop was in Maya Bay, where the movie ‘The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCarpio, was shot. I have learned that Maya Bay is a part of the natural reserve, so you can’t stay there for more than a day unless you pay the entrance fee. Once there, we got off the speedboat and explored the place for about 40 minutes. The place was so crowded – full of boats and tourists, and felt a bit like we were processed like items in a factory.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

From Maya Bay we sailed away to the Monkey. Beach. We saw the monkeys on the rocks, some are hard to spot because they camouflaged in with the rocks. We took some pictures for a few minutes and moved on to PhiLeh Lagoon and Viking Cave. In those places, we didn’t get off the speedboat as the boat just stopped for about 10 minutes, just enough for taking some photos from the outside. It was the exact opposite of what I was expecting.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Before heading for lunch, we took a break in the middle of the sea for a quick swim and snorkeling. The water was really deep, so I put on the gear on when I went into the waters (just wanted to make sure that I wouldn’t drown). From what I saw, it was a magnificent world under the sea – so many different charming and colorful fish swimming around me and it felt like a different world under there. I couldn’t believe how clear the water was, and I wish I could have explored more.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

After 50 minutes of fun snorkeling, we headed to the main island of Phi Phi Don, where we had our catered buffet lunch at the restaurant. We really enjoyed the food with pleasure – it was fresh and very tasty, and you could eat as much as you can. We were so hungry, and we ate a lot. After lunch, we relaxed on the white beach for a few minutes, and luckily it was not as crowded as Maya Bay.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little did we know that this was not the end yet, we sailed up North towards Khai Nok Island and spent around 40 minutes there before heading back to the mainland. We relaxed on the white sand beach – sipped beers, had some ice cream, lied down on the sand, and read a book. Even though it was a little crowded, at least we found some space for us. At this point our son enjoyed swimming longer, and even took a video on his iPhone under the sea.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Overall, the island itself is naturally beautiful. It is one of the most picturesque beaches we’ve been to, but it’s still far from the best. Although the tour was ok, I prefer islands/beaches with fewer guests and where the vibe is more chill, I don’t think I would go back there again.

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Phi Phi Islands

Little Lilly travel tips:

  • Some islands are crowded and spoilt by the influx of tourists.
  • The tour is relatively expensive.
  • The tour group was well organized, and well run with new boards and snorkeling equipment. The pick up and drop off services to and from your accommodation was free. The food was good and the lunch was well catered. They offered many options for all dietary requirements. And the crew were friendly and willing to assist wherever possible.
  • The tour guide gave a safety speech before the boat tour to the islands but we had a strong feeling the speech was mainly delivered in order to sell some equipment like rubber beach shoes, special snorkeling masks etc.
  • If you like organized group tours – like being picked up, fed, told where to go and for how long and then at the end of the day being dropped home again, then it is for you. But, if you do not like being herded from one location to another with large group of travelers then this tour is mostly likely not for you.

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).

 

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.