"When a traveler returneth home, let him not leave the countries where he hath traveled altogether behind him." ~ Francis Bacon

Monday, December 8, 2014

Bangkok Diaries: Temple Tour of Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

I have been to this place about three times already as part of half-day city tour offered by travel agency where I booked my hotel. It was not my first time to travel Bangkok but since it was part of the deal so I joined and might as well check what is new in this place.

What I like in this place is that it was isolated (you need to cross the Chao Praya river to get there) and I'm somewhat a sucker of ruins and heritage sites. I'm always amazed how the pagoda was made, if you check every details of the pagoda it was adorned by broken pieces of Chinese porcelain, how intricate. Our guide told us it was 70meter high.  

My boat ride to Wat Arun
Boat ride to the temple
To give you a little background of Wat Arun: 

History: (source: Wikipedia)

Wat Arun Ratchawararam Ratchawaramahawihan or Wat Arun ("Temple of Dawn") is a Buddhist temple (wat) in Bangkok Yai district of Bangkok, Thailand, on the Thonburi west bank of the Chao Phraya River. The temple derives its name from the Hindu god Aruna, often personified as the radiations of the rising sun. Wat Arun is among the best known of Thailand's landmarks and the first light of the morning reflects off the surface of the temple with pearly iridescence. Although the temple had existed since at least the seventeenth century, its distinctive prang (spires) were built in the early nineteenth century during the reign of King Rama II


The central prang symbolises Mount Meru of the Hindu cosmology. The satellite prang are devoted to the wind god, Phra Phai. The demons (yaksha) at the entranceway to the ubosot are from the Ramakien. The white figure is named Sahassa Deja and the green one is known as Thotsakan, the Demon Rāvana from Ramayana. Travel Wat Arun can be easily accessed through the Chao Phraya River, and ferries travel across the river towards the Maharaj pier. For the foreigners, the temple charges an entrance fee of 50 baht (as of March 2013). Wat Arun figures in one of Thailand's most colourful festivals, the Royal Kathin and the king travels down in the Thai royal barge procession to present new robes to the monks after their three-month lent period.

The two demons/ guardians 
Inside the place was a beautiful well-manicured gardens taken cared of by the monks: 

Architecture (sourced from Wikipedia)

The main feature of Wat Arun is its central prang (Khmer-style tower) which is encrusted with colourful porcelain. This is interpreted as a stupa-like pagoda encrusted with coloured faience. The height is reported by different sources as between 66.8 m (219 ft) and 86 m (282 ft). The corners are surrounded by four smaller satellite prang. The prang are decorated by seashells and bits of porcelain which had previously been used as ballast by boats coming to Bangkok from China.The presiding Buddha image, cast in the reign of Rama II, is said to have been moulded by the king himself. The ashes of King Rama II are interred in the base of the image.

Construction of the tall prang and four smaller ones was started by King Rama II during 1809-1824 and completed by King Rama III (1824–1851). The towers are supported by rows of demons and monkeys. Very steep and narrow steps lead to a balcony high on the central tower. The circumference of the base of the structure is 234 metres, and the central prang is 250 feet high. The central prang is topped with a seven-pronged trident, referred to by many sources as the "Trident of Shiva". Around the base of the prangare various figures of ancient Chinese soldiers and animals. Over the second terrace are four statues of the Hindu god Indra riding on Erawan. In the Buddhist iconography, the central prang is considered to have three symbolic levels—base for Traiphum indicating all realms of existence, middle for Tavatimsa where all desires are gratified and top denoting Devaphum indicating six heavens within seven realms of happiness. At the riverside are six pavilions (sala) in Chinese style. The pavilions are made of green granite and contain landing bridges.

Next to the prang is the Ordination Hall with a Niramitr Buddha image supposedly designed by King Rama II. The front entrance of the Ordination Hall has a roof with a central spire, decorated in coloured ceramic and stuccowork sheated in coloured china. There are two demons, or temple guardian figures, in front. The murals were created during the reign of Rama V.

A monk feeding the pigeons 
A word of caution, our guide told us about not getting any souvenir from the temple, he narrates a British tourist who took something from the temple ( a piece of porcelain as a souvenir) when that tourist came back to England, he can't sleep for many weeks and always dreamed of someone who 's asking him to return back what he took, he decided to come back to the temple and returned what he took and never dreamed of it again. 

*all photos taken by the author

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Southcrest Beach Resort and Nature Park Weekend

Southcrest  Beach Resort and Nature Park is a private beach resort in San Juan, Laiya, Batangas, a 15 hectare of a scenic land near the beach in San Juan, Batangas. San Juan, Batangas is 116KM from Manila, known for the wide variety of Eco-Tourism activities like hiking and swimming on the emerald green sea. Local Tourism office also collect P20 for the tourism fee to keep San Juan the cleanest and greenest place you’ll stay. 

Coconut trees abound the place

Southcrest is not open to the public, it is a private resort for the use of owner's family, friends and big events such as the Sandstorm 2014 electronic experience,  a festival that will fuse its biggest talents in one massive celebration of sound – the Sandstorm Electronic Experience'


Southcrest have different accommodation according to guests needs, they have air-conditioned Villas, small cottages and beachfront cabin.
The Villa or the Casitas has 2 bathrooms and bedrooms and a living room 

Beachfront Cabin

The place is very peaceful and quiet, you only hear the sounds of the waves, swaying palm trees and other nature sounds. Totally relaxing. 

Fish pond 
Fish pond 
Other Amenities:

There is a kayak, jet ski and speed boat for adults who's into water sports and giant inflatables for kids to enjoy.

For big parties and special occasions, a huge pavillion is also available, chairs and tables provided.  

Our team enjoying our stay at one of the villas, we had a great bar-b-que party for dinner, evening of laughter and fun. 

For more info, visit:

San Juan-Laiya Rd. Calublub 1 San Juan, Batangas

0935 444 0888

Friday, September 12, 2014

Exploring Simplicity of Life in Mindoro

While in Gatber Beach in Sta Cruz, The Gatdula and Medina family tour me around the countryside of Santa Cruz in Occidental Mindoro. Together with Bhebot her sister and children Darryl, Ron and Hazel we went to RDH farm.

It was simplicity in its finest, life without signal and development, life is so slow yet so serene, road is rough , SUV can't even drive through it so we took the tractor which is more exciting, we had fun riding it and seeing the views. 

We  reached the vast land owned by the Medina's, stayed at the bahay kubo (nipa hut ) to rest and have some lunch of native chickens, fish, vegetables and fruits all fresh. 

Swimming with the Mangyan Children:

After our lunch and brief rest, we went ahead to the mangyan village (Indigenous people of Mindoro) and swim in the river, There are many Mangyan children swimming and playing around and they were sort of struck when they saw us. We tried to communicate with them and swim with them in the clear waters. We are very fortunate to experience this river since it was unexplored and very few people goes  there.

Mangyan kid get a potable drinking water from the spring (bukal)

A visit at RDH Watermelon farm:

Looking for a perfect watermelon to quench our thirst.

Hazel Medina got her watermelon
Mangyan houses
Visit and explore the natural beauty and simplicity of Santa Cruz, Occidental Mindoro, a charming place waiting to be discovered.

Santa Cruz trip can be arranged by Gatber Beach Resort in Sta. Cruz Occidental Mindoro, Inquire about their customized package, land arrangements etc. Contact Mr. Norman Gatdula:  + 63 9982551215.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Pandan Island: A New Paradise

Sablayan, Occidental Mindoro.  During my summer vacation in Santa Cruz, Occ. Mindoro, my friend Bhebot Rummel and her family suggested that we go to Apo Reef, one of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Mindoro. I heard so much about the place that it was beautiful with rich marine biodiversity. 

Bhebot and Family
On our way   to Sablayan ( it was a long drive from Sta. Cruz), the road trip keeping us fascinated with great views of the province, mountains, rivers, villages and farm lands. 

Upon reaching Sablayan town, fishing village and inquire about a boat ride going to Apo Reef, we were told that it will took us 6 hours to get there and  another 6 hours to go back, and we should came earlier. The trip will not worth it if we don't have much time to enjoy it so we decided to scrap the idea and just opt for a nearer island which is the Pandan Island.

Upon reaching the Island I was surprised it was a white sand beach, and the more we get nearer we were awed by the beautiful sight and clear waters of the island. It was underdeveloped which I like with few cottages available, we rented the boat for a whole day so we could keep our things there since there is no more cottage available. 

Seeing the pristine white sand is a sight to behold, I excitedly jump into the water and enjoy. It was like a Boracay sans too much development and huge crowd. I just hope they will keep the natural state and beauty of the place. Locals and foreign tourists abound the area. 

The road leading to Sablayan town:

 The Beautiful White Sand of Pandan Island:

Sunburn and Me

Spotted some foreign tourist/scuba divers:

Island Tour:

Pandan Island tour can be arranged by Gatber Beach Resort in Sta. Cruz Occidental Mindoro, Inquire about their customized package, land arrangements etc. Contact Mr. Norman Gatdula:  + 63 9982551215.