Wednesday, 31 December 2014

A Climbing Gym - 30 Dec 2014

Indoor climbing gym is so popular especially during the school holidays, coupled with a prolonged rainy season. Kudos for the kids to be brave enough to take on rock climbing, though just a 1-hour taster session. On second thot, I don't think they could last longer than an hour :) Testing yourself against your limits can give a boost to your ego. They came out with great sense of accomplishment. It's exciting and challenging, it allows the boys to be focus in the moment, but first, they've to overcome some physical and mental barriers.....

'What!! Tis is just a warm up wall!'

 And the real climbing walls looked like these..... 

Testing yourself against your limits!


Very proud of the young ones especially!


Coming down was more scary than going up......


Climbing is also a balancing act.

The Itsy Bitsy Spider-Kids!

Hang in there, brother!

Lesson learnt : Don't look down.

Peak experiences
Don't know where this baby step will lead to. But it was an awesome Spidey-challenge!

Kiwanis Youth Camp - 11-15 Dec 2014

Posted by Xian Jin

I joined the Kiwanis Youth Camp again this year, since last year's camp had been a truly great experience. The theme was 'Learn, Live & Lead Together.' What I like about these sort of camps is that I can try something new, not just physical and endurance activities but also learning how to live up to our full potential.


This time, the campsite was in Dusun Eco Resort. Before we reached there, we visited a special needs centre. I could see that the camp participants were trying to interact with them, even though most of them were not familiar with the special needs people. I was touched to see that there were no barriers between us and the special needs people. We played telematches and had fun with them.


When I reached Dusun Eco Resort, I thought that it was very clean and spacious. I immediately felt at home. Some of us already knew each other so I just stuck around with the familiar faces.


After we were divided into groups, I felt sad because the rest of my team mates was new participants. I knew I should interact with new people rather than just staying with people I know. I cheered up after the ice breaking games and had a good night's sleep.


Morning exercise was fun and interesting at the same time. We danced and sang, at the same time preparing our bodies for the day's activities.


Paul, one of the facilitators who led us in many activities, only stayed with us for 3 1/2 days. I enjoyed his sessions the most and learned so much from him.


There were not as many outdoor activities as last year, but this year, the activities were more meaningful. There were serious and fun ones, individual and group ones. The activities changed how we think, from everyone wanting to win to helping other teams achieve their goals.


Sponge wars


Rope climbing


Obstacle course


Rafting


It had been a totally different experience, and I definitely would consider registering for next year. I learned to work together with new people, even though we may not get along well at times.

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

One week in Bangkok - 23 Dec 2014

Bangkok has something for everyone. Whether it's exploring the city's shopping malls or the colourful traditional markets. Or you can go to palace or temples, cultural centres, animal parks, theme parks, or go for an eating spree. The list is really endless. We've enjoyed this trip very much though our favourite is the charming countryside. In Bangkok, we've taken a slower, more relaxed pace.

A gem in the city. There're 3 floors to this museum - a good place to spend 1 - 2 hours.

Plenty of shell exhibits and a good collection of snails too.

Boys took time to draw and share a few of their favourites. We've discovered cone shells to be poisonous, how the shells pry open clams and oysters for food, how conch shells are used as horns and the differences of shells and snails.

It's an interesting place, with very helpful staff, to spend time with kids.

Shopping in Bangkok felt like in Singapore or Hong Kong. The malls are very well-connected by overhead walkways. Most of the time we're in Siam Paragon. The food hall was unbelievable, really spoilt for choice. On weekend, we went to the huge Chatuchak open market. We didn't bring the boys! You must be prepared for the crowd, confusing maze of stalls/shops, heat and must have lotsa time to brave this place. 

"Hello Cruise, finally we met....."

We didn't go to Siam Ocean World in Siam Paragon cos it's so overpriced.

Boys spent the most time in Kinokuniya, Siam Paragon. 

TK Park - another cool library in Central World

A Bran-spectacled Snoopy?

All-time favourite - mango sticky rice

Traffic jam in Bangkok was an experience too.

A thrilling experience for 5 of us to squeeze into one tuk tuk while it swerved and maneuvered around traffic at lightning speed.

We went to Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi, less than 2 hours by car. It's in between Bangkok and Pattaya. There's nothing much in this zoo, and it's soooooo far away in the countryside. There're also a zoo and a safari park in Bangkok, but even better, if you don't have time, to give it a miss.

 
I'm not sure we could call this a wildlife zoo, or a petting zoo. The concept in this zoo was that visitors are allowed to feed almost all wild animals. 

Good shot with the heavyweight-Binturong!

Deers, giraffe, gazelle, ostrich, goats, rabbits, lions, tigers, penguins, hippo, rhino, sheep, elephants, gibbons.....you can feed them at close range!!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sunset at Amphawa - 20 Dec 2014


  Boat ride at Mae Klong River

 Beautiful sunset


The boat stopped at the Amphawa jetty. We walked past the night market on the way to the floating market.

 The Amphawa night floating market is only available in the evening from Friday to Sunday.

The floating market has the atmosphere of a night market. There're more locals who came here for an eating spree. 


Customers enjoying their grilled seafood, sitting on rows of narrow steps leading down to the water and food is brought directly from the boats to the tiny tables.  


Along each side of the canal, there're old wooden shops selling all sorts of stuff. The narrow walkways in between the shops and canals were so crowded with people.

We didn't stay long at the floating market cos it's just impossible to walk. The atmosphere was like a typical night market, and very different from the Damnoen Saduak experience. Maybe we got tired of so many market trips in a day! The boatman brought us for a short tour to see fireflies before we headed back to the Nopparat Garden resort.

We spent the evening relaxing at the resort and enjoyed the cool breeze. Most of the guests were so engrossed watching the Malaysia vs Thailand football finals. When Malaysia was leading 3-0, it was so awkwardly quiet but the Thais were in a festive mood when their team finally won.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Bangkontee Off-the-Path - 20 Dec 2014

My previous post - Coconut Grove @ Bangkontee led us to a beautiful and serene place with tall, elegant coconut palm trees in between many small canals. The green water ferns on the canals were captivating. We're so taken in by the view and wandered on and on into a farm. We met Mr Suchon, the owner of the farm, and meant to ask him for permission to take some pictures. Little did we know that this was just the start of our adventure. We're so privileged that he gave us a personal tour of the place without any hesitation. I have to admit that initially I thought he had wanted to sell us his goods. Not only he did not, but he was so friendly and hospitable.

A demonstration of how the raw palm sugar was derived from the young coconut palm.

The flower will be cut twice a day, and liquid sap will drip into a container. Sugar palm can only be harvested in trees of about 4 years old, and for the next 20 years they can continue to produce the raw sugar. If raw sugar is not harvested, then the flower will grow into coconut fruits, and useful for other purposes.


End product - 'palm sugar'.

THE HOMESTAY

This farm offers homestay with farming activities. There's no website or any publicity but Mr Suchon is quite a well-known figure in this area. Cooking class can be arranged for homestay guests. We couldn't help but notice the place is very clean and environmentally friendly. There're hardly many workers around. 

Guests can also learn to make a local delicacy - preserved eggs using herbs and spices - all produce is sourced mostly from their own farm.

A SUSTAINABLE FARM

We saw chickens in baskets tied to rows of trees.

Small-scale poultry farming eg chickens, ducks, quails, etc for meat and eggs. Frogs are also included in the menu!

Poultry manure converted into methane gas for cooking.

Biogas is environmentally friendly and you can see the bottom of the pan is clean.

Fish and shrimp rearing in the small canals and a homemade aeration system for the fish and shrimps.

Raising tiny wild bees for honey. These Chanorg bees are quite harmless and they're everywhere in the farm. The tiny wild bees produce honey using nectar from flowers.

Waste products from the coconut grove and farm are turned into useful products, eg. biodiesel to generate electricity and used in incinerator to make charcoals.

Using solar energy to dry legume, charcoal, fish and other produce from the farm.

Cultivating oyster mushroom and other fungus from sawdust and other waste products.

Truly, this tour was eye-opening and beyond what we had expected here. The boys, too, I hope would catch on something from Mr Suchon - he was very inspiring and humble to share his knowledge and passion with us. I finally understood why this whole place looked so clean and neat - cos everything, even the waste, is recycled. Just like the coconut tree, every part is useful and has its place here.

A MAGICAL GARDEN


A beautiful garden in between small canals, next to the homestay chalets. It's so magical, like a garden from a fairytale. I can just relax here the whole day.


Guests can go for boat ride to catch fish or see the fireflies or simply to relax....


Lookout for many wild orchids and flowers around the farm and garden.


We didn't have to spend so much money to travel far for a wonderful experience. Mr Suchon makes something inspiring from ordinary things - just like the rose bouquet from pandan leaves. He has won many awards for his innovations and creativity, even from the King of Thailand. He's not highly educated, more of a self-made man. 

Mr Suchon's farm is a learning centre. And this is not the only one in Thailand. It's part of a grassroot movement in Thailand helping and supporting people to be self-sufficient and passing on the cultural heritage from one generation to the next. You can find it also in making handicraft, dessert, soap and spa products, salt and in many other cottage industries. 



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