Showing posts with label tours. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tours. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery

We picked up littleC at the Hong Kong International Airport on Monday evening. After only 4 hours of sleep, she was ready to take on Hong Kong the next morning. We headed to town to join the AWA group tour of the Ten Thousand Buddhas Monastery.

Finding Buddhas in Hong Kong is not surprising, but seeing more than 10,000 in one place is quite impressive. To get to the monastery (this term is used lightly, as there are no actual monks living here), we had to walk a path known for monkeys hanging around (we didn't see any) and then climb about 430 steps completely lined on both sides with golden buddhas.

These buddhas all had very different facial expressions meant to demonstrate the various states of enlightenment.

The monastery was spread out over two levels. To get all the steps out of the way, we went right to the top level. We saw some of the most beautiful temples (there are five in total). I loved the colors in this one.

The different buddha statues continued. It was fun trying to figure out the significance of what they were holding.

The reclining buddha was a big hit. His toes were so big, I kept counting to make sure there were only ten.

The ivory white Kwun Yam statue riding a dragon was a stunning find in the farthest corner of the upper level. With a waterfall behind her, she seemed to be looking over the other buddhas and the village of Shatin far below.

On the main level of the monastery we found the nine story pagoda that is featured on some $100HKD bills. Rumor has it that you can climb up for great views, but it was closed when we were there.

On this level there were several pavilions, more and more buddhas and the main temple with more than 10,000 buddhas inside (no photos or video were allowed inside).

This place was just so interesting! We might have rushed a bit because winter temperatures have arrived in Hong Kong and we were really cold.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

5 Days in Phuket, Thailand

Warning: many pictures in this post!!

Thailand is officially the 12th country I've visited and the 9th in just a year and a half. mrC and I took advantage of his days off and headed to the beach. There's just something awesome about being able to stay in your flip flops all day in December!

We spent most of our days at Karon Beach, right across from our hotel. Karon was perfect for us. It was beautiful and relaxing. The beach is about 5K long, so it feels less crowded than places like Patong. The sand was clean and the water was clear. Funny thing about the sand ---> it squeaked when we walked barefoot. I've never had that happen before!

On our last day, the red flags were up because the surf was rough. I loved playing in the waves that day. The waves kicked up a lot of sand, so I ended up with sand everywhere but it was worth it.

There were probably four boats picking up people all day long to go parasailing. It was crazy watching the "monkey man" accompany the customer. He climbed right up on the ropes WITHOUT a harness line and guided the parasail.

Locals came around selling all kinds of things: sunglasses, elephant carvings, paintings. I found this cute bikini! There were also many shops and restaurants within walking distance of the resort ---> I found a cute cover-up and those snazzy flip flops at the beginning of this post.

I never get tired of sunsets on the beach. 

One day we went on a half day city tour to some popular tourist stops in Phuket. We were picked up at our hotel and traveled around by van with 10 others in our group. We were first taken to Kata Viewpoint for some great views of Kata and Karon (the beach farther away in the photo below).

Our next stop was to Phuket Safari (which our tour guide kept calling saf-a-ri and confusing all nationalities in the van, haha!). We were allowed to feed a baby elephant (who gave thank you kisses), we walked through a small mini orchid farm, and went elephant trekking. Our elephant was Lucky and she loves Lady Gaga music. We also saw some monkeys and a parrot. If you can't tell by the smile, I had a lot of fun.

Next we went to see the Big Buddha which you can see from a great distance as it is 45 meters tall and sits on top of a hill. The Big Buddha is made of concrete layered with Burmese jade that shines in the sun making it a symbol of hope. The views of Phuket from the top were amazing.

We made stops at a souvenir shop (really a high end jewelry store) and a cashew nut factory. Cashew nuts are native to Thailand. We learned a little about the processing of cashew nuts at the factory tour. Cashews are manually opened one by one and it’s no easy task, that’s why they’re more expensive than peanuts and (sometimes) almonds. Aside from the fact that each cashew apple only bears one nut.

Our last stop was to see Chalong Temple. There are 29 temples in Phuket, all beautiful and all welcoming to visitors. I was wearing a tank top and shorts, so I couldn't go inside but I heard it was beautiful.

We saved our full day trip for a June Bahtra cruise. This trip was recommended by a friend in Shenzhen and cruising on a Chinese junk boat sounded fun. After about an hour ride to a marina, we set "sail" up Phang Nga Bay (the boat had an engine). We spent most of our time relaxing on the cushions in the front of the boat and watching the beautiful scenery.

When it was time to go island hopping, we switched to a long-tail boat so that we could get up close to the land.

One visit was to Khao Phing Kan, the island made famous by the James Bond movie, Man with A Golden Gun, filmed there. James Bond Island is not a big island - mostly some caves, the beach where the famous duel scene took place, and a bunch of souvenirs stands. It was fun to walk around, but we stayed out of the muddy water at the suggestion of our tour guide.

Our next visit was to Panyee Village, a fishing village built on stilts. Many people in the village now also work in the tourism business: on the boats, selling souvenirs, at the restaurants. We saw children in their classrooms and visited a small museum before ending up on the other side of the village.

After returning to the June Bahtra, the crew served a delicious Thai buffet lunch of fresh fish and chicken with rice and vegetables.

On the way back to the marina, we stopped for some swimming. mrC and a couple other people jumped in, but the rest of us had seen the VERY LARGE jelly fish and stayed safely onboard. All of the swimmers were just fine and obviously braver than me!

We stayed at the Hilton Phuket Resort in Karon Beach and loved it. Every morning we had breakfast at the Sails restaurant with a view of one of the three pools and a waterfall. The buffet breakfast had everything you could want.

When we had enough sun at the beach, we found lounge chairs in the shade at another pool on the resort. From here we could still see the beach but enjoy the breezes under the umbrellas while sipping on smoothies.

One afternoon we went to the spa for a couples massage. They gave us refreshing lychee tea, and soothing foot scrub, and then a lovely hour long massage.

The only way to get around the resort was on foot (much like here in Discovery Bay) or use the shuttle to get to the Welcome Lobby where public transportation was arranged. The only other cars in the resort were the airport transport.

We had our choice of five restaurants in the resort plus some cafes and room service. Our favorite was Thai Thai Restaurant. mrC loved the phad thai and I loved the sweet and spicy pineapple shrimp.

You would think I'd have tried fresh coconut water by now especially after living more than a year in China, but I actually had my first taste poolside. I wanted to like it (because of all the benefits), but I just didn't.

This was one of those vacations that you just want to continue indefinitely. I loved hanging out in the clear blue water and playing in the waves at the beach.

Have you ever made sand squeak?
Do you like coconut water?
Ever been to Thailand?