Monthly Archives: September 2011

Some Things Never Change Along Khlong Damnoen Suduak

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I came home from my recent trip from Bangkok.

The usual goes.

Downloading my photos.

Segregating my photos.

Deleting some of my photos.

And I discovered something.

~

August 2009

(two years ago)

             

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I started my floating market tour, this woman selling an assortment of hats greeted me.

 

September 2011

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two years later, she’s still there selling hats.

Still the same woman.

Same expression.

Same hair length.

Same hair color.

Same checkered over shirt.

The only difference is, she’s on the other side of the canal.

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Septemer 19, 2011

Khlong Damnoen Saduak

Ratchaburi, Thailand

~

I carefully assist my mom into her seat inside the small Thai paddle boat.

She grunts as she sits down.

“Her feet might still hurt.”, I said to my self.

I look towards the dock and I see the two fat guys we rode with on the long-tail boat.

Then in Visayan my mom said, “I hope those fat men won’t be in our boat!”. My thoughts exactly.

**

My mind wanders back a few minutes earlier when we were cruising around the canal area. The long-tail boat we were riding would sway precariously when either of them got excited and they would move around the boat to have their pictures taken. Not a pleasant feeling especially when you have a nervous mother sitting beside you.

**

Thankfully  a Chinese family of four rides with us and we got paddled away by an old man around Damnoen Saduak Floating Market.

~

hat vendor

some bananas

grandma crossing

Haggling is a skill you will learn and use while shopping throughout the floating market.

FYI, the things that you will purchase here are expensive because it is a tourist destination.

The merchants here add as much as 200% on the regular price on an item. So when they hand you the calculator showing the price of an item, always make sure to slice it by 50% when you return the calculator back to them. They may not accept it at first, but they will eventually give in.

Let’s just say that I bought a souvenir for 200Bhat. It was originally priced at 400 Bhat. When I started walking around the market grounds after our paddle boat ride, I found the same souvenier at a store selling for 80 Bhat! I could have kicked myself right there and then because I knew I could have gotten it for 5o Bhat.

But then again I realized (maybe, just maybe.), that rent for stalls by the canals of the floating market are more expensive than those located on the market grounds.

Food is a staple around the market. There is no need to bargain to get it at a cheaper price because it is priced accordingly.

~

To get to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market you have to book a whole day or half day tour.

Your hotel or guest house can help you with this.

It costs around 800 Baht for a half day tour and around 1500 Baht for a whole day tour.

A half day tour will bring you to the Floating Market and the Elephant Camp. The prices stated above are exclusive of the paddle boat ride and the elephant ride.

A whole day tour will bring you to the Floating Market, the Elephant Camp, the Handicraft Center, the Rose Garden Show, the Elephant and Crocodile Show, and for the Cobra Show. The price stated above excludes the payments for the paddle boat ride around the floating market, the elephant ride, the entrance to the Cobra show and the entrance to the Rose Garden Show.

The paddle boat ride at the floating market : 150 Baht per person

The elephant ride : 600 Baht per person

The cobra show : around 200 Baht per person

The Rose Garden Show: 500 Baht per person.

 

 

 

 

Scenes From The Ramakian III

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Scenes From The Ramakian III

September 2011

Wat Phra Kaew

Bangkok, Thailand

“On The Balcony”

~

The Ramakian are painted murals that surround Wat Phra Kaew.

The colors are emblazoned across the wall and what is so amazing is what seems to me are gold leaf  incorporated into the paintings.

~

Wat Phra Kaew is accessible via the Chao Phraya Express Boat.

The quickest way to get here is to take the BTS Silom Line to SAPHAN TAKSIN. Go down the station and walk to the pier Tha Sathorn (CEN). Hop on the Tourist Boat, pay the conductress some 30 bhat (+/-), enjoy the view that the Chao Phraya gives you. Just make sure to go down at Tha Chang and you’re there.

Scenes of the Ramakian II

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Scenes of the Ramakian II

 

September 2011

Wat Phra Kaew

Bangkok, Thailand

“The Crossing”

~

The Ramakian are painted murals that surround Wat Phra Kaew.

The colors are emblazoned across the wall and what is so amazing is what seems to me are gold leaf  incorporated into the paintings.

~

Wat Phra Kaew is accessible via the Chao Phraya Express Boat.

The quickest way to get here is to take the BTS Silom Line to SAPHAN TAKSIN. Go down the station and walk to the pier Tha Sathorn (CEN). Hop on the Tourist Boat, pay the conductress some 30 bhat (+/-), enjoy the view that the Chao Phraya gives you. Just make sure to go down at pier Tha Chang and you’re there.

Scenes of the Ramakian

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Scenes of the Ramakian

 

September 2011

Wat Phra Kaew

Bangkok, Thailand


I call this “Three’s a crowd.”

~

The Ramakian are painted murals that surround Wat Phra Kaew.

The colors are emblazoned across the wall and what is so amazing is what seems to me are gold leaf  incorporated into the paintings.

~

Wat Phra Kaew is accessible via the Chao Phraya Express Boat.

The quickest way to get here is to take the BTS Silom Line to SAPHAN TAKSIN. Go down the station and walk to the pier Tha Sathorn (CEN). Hop on the Tourist Boat, pay the conductress some 30 bhat (+/-), enjoy the view that the Chao Phraya gives you. Just make sure to go down at pier Tha Chang and you’re there.

Bangkok Rain

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Bangkok Rain

We crossed the Chao Phraya River from Tha Tien  (Wat Pho stop) to Tha Wat Arun.

We were at Wat Arun for barely 5 minutes when we had to rush back to the ferry because the rain started to pour.

We took the ferry back across Chao Phraya and took shelter at Tha Tien.

I told my mom that we should “wait it out”.

Sure enough the rain abated 20 or so minutes later and we went on our way.

~

So for those of you traveling to Bangkok, always bring an umbrella where ever you go.

It will protect you from extreme sun light and from unexpected down pours of rain.

Suvarnabhumi in 18 mintues

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September 20, 2011

Phaya Thai BTS Train Station

Bangkok Thailand

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“Where are we supposed to go?” asks my mom.

“I think we just have to go through this bridge on the left and up that escalator.” I replied while pointing my lips to the general direction of an escalator located on a new wing to the right (from where we were standing) of Phaya Thai Station.

I carefully read the signs that says “To Airport Link”. We are on the right track.

There I was dragging two rolling luggage. One was mine and one belonged to my mom.

I am starting to sweat and  I could feel it rolling down my back.

I turned to my mom and kidded her, “The next time we are to travel, make sure not to sprain your ankle the night before we fly!”

There was my mom limping and clutching on her cane laughing her ass off while I was manoeuvering both our luggage.

We crossed Phaya Thai Station, through a bridge and reached the escalator.

We ride it up.

As I look up, I see a foreigner walking down the steps while lifting his luggage.

“Is there no elevator?” my mom voiced out the question I was just thinking about. We reached the top, I looked around and came to the conclusion that there are no elevators!

I take it back! There were elevators but it was only from that floor (I think it’s the 2nd floor) all the way up to the platform for the airport link.

A BTS personnel points us to the cashier and I purchase a one way ticket for Suvarnabhumi for 90 Bhat per person.

We rode the elevator to the airport link platform, got on the train and arrived in Suvarnabhumi 18 minutes later.

~

Phaya Thai is a Station on the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line.

Click here for the official Bangkok Mass Transit System website.

See below for the Route Map of the BTS Sukhumvit (Yellow Green) and Silom( Dark Green) Line, the underground MRT (Light Blue) Line, the Suvarnabhumi Airport Express (Red) Line and the Suvarnabhumi City (Dark Blue) Line.

A Placid Beach, Bantayan Island

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A Placid Beach, Bantayan Island

April 2011

Beach Palcid

Bantayan Island , Cebu Philippines

Enjoying the Sun and the Sea.

~

To get to Bantayan Island, you need to fly into Cebu City.

Upon exiting Mactan – Cebu International Airport, you hail a cab and tell him to bring you to the North Bus Terminal. Just ask around which bus goes to the port of Hagnaya in San Remegio, Cebu. Buses for Hagnaya depart every hour starting at 6 AM. The last trip of the day is at 5 PM. It takes 2.30 Hours to 3 Hours to get to Hagnaya from Cebu City. An aircon bus ride costs Php 180 pesos per person, one way.

Upon reaching the port of Hagnaya, you would have to catch a ferry boat for the municipality of Santa Fe.  Tickets range from Php 130 to Php 150 per person. It takes an hour. Just make sure to arrive at the port of Hagnaya before the last boat departs at 5:30 PM.

There are private vans for hire at the North Bus Terminal. It costs around 2500 – 3500 to rent a van. The rate depends on your haggling skills.

There are flights available from Cebu City to Banatayan operated by Midsea Express (click here for their website.). The 25 minutes flight costs Php 1500 per person / per way. You just have to call and inquire in advance if they have flights scheduled for Bantayan.

RoRo boats from Cebu City to Bantayan are also a nice alternative IF time is not an issue. Unfortunately, I could not give you any advice about this because I am not well versed with which shipping line goes to Bantayan.

~

Cholo and I stayed at Beach Placid (click here to be brought to their website).

It is conveniently located 5 minutes away from the port of Sta. Fe.  Just peruse through their website to see their rooms available and their corresponding rates.

Becoming Sayuri

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Becoming Sayuri

August 11, 2011

3rd floor AbAb Store

Ueno, Tokyo, Japan

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I see Tita Petite and her Thai friend, Rudee, go through a stack of Yukata.

Tita Petite then lifts one from the rack and holds it up in front of me.

She starts to asses the how the Yukata would look on me.

Tita Petite and Rudee then starts to discuss something in what I hear is a mix of Thai and Japanese.

And I begin to wonder.

My mind floats back to when Cholo and I  had first arrived in Tokyo and I pointed out to Tita Petite how pretty the Yukata girls look. When she asked me if I wanted to wear one. I said “Yes!” I didn’t think she would take me seriously.

I was snapped back to reality when Tita Gina started to explain to me that the Yukata I would be wearing tomorrow would compliment the Yukata that she, along with Rudee and her other friend Grace, would be wearing.

She gave the Yukata to me. I drape the black Yukata with flower designs in pink, yellow, white and purple over my arm.

I thought we were done, but no! Rudee then held my arm and pointed out to me that we are to go to the accessories department.

“Oh My God! I couldn’t believe this is happening!” was all I could say to myself.

There I was standing by the accessories counter, my face with a 4 day old beard, with two lovely ladies clipping flowers on my hair.

~

August 12, 2011

Kimono Tansu Ya, Shin Nakamise- dori

Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan

Cholo and I found ourselves in a Kimono-ya San* in Asakusa. Tita Petite along with her friend, Grace, was talking to two older Japanese women who, I presume,  run the place. Lets call them Oka-san one and Oka-san two. While Tita Petite was having a conversation with the owners. I decided to look around the store.

At the inner left corner of the store, I see curtains. “That must be where we would change”, I surmised. As I looked around I see beautiful Kimono all around me! Such vivid colors and such amazing details in its design.

A bell rings and I turn around. As the door slides open, two girls wearing their Yukata comes in and goes to one side of the store. They are buying accessories.

I look back to Tita Petite because I sense that she was telling the women that I would be wearing the black Yukata with pink, yellow, white and purple flowers. I could see the look of confusion in their faces and I could tell what was running through their minds!

Grace is now being dressed and as per Tita Petite’s instructions, I start to get ready.

My makeup was already done for I applied it at the hotel an hour before we left. As soon as I put on the wig, styled it accordingly with Tita Petite’s help, I turned to the two old women and asked; “Oka-san, Atashi daijobu?” (Mother, I okay?) in barbaric Japanese.

And they swooned! They started saying things in Japanese that I couldn’t even understand but I felt that they approved of my immediate transformation.

“They say you look pretty!”offers Tita Petite. I bow and gave them my thanks.

getting ready

It was now my turn to get dressed. I wore a shirt and shorts so that I could have something under the Yukata. The old women wouldn’t allow it. So with their help, I removed my shirt and I stripped down to my boxers.

Oka-san one started to dress me, she first gave me a white robe which would serve as an inner lining. She tied it around my waist and stopped. She went behind the curtain and came back a few seconds later with a face towel.

” A face towel? What for?”I asked myself.

She placed the towel on my waist and tied it with the strings of my inner robe and secured it in place. I later found out that the white inner robe would keep my sweat from seeping into the Yukata. The face towel was used to add some meat on me because I have a very small waist. A Obi sash sits better on  a “not so trim waist”.

Oka-san asks me if I’m okay. I nod my head. It’s a little bit tight but I could still breathe.

Oka-san two comes along and starts to dress me in my Yukata. She drapes it left over right. She goes behind me and spreads the reminder of the cloth on the floor nicely. She then disappears behind the curtain.

Oka-san one appears and kneels in front of me. She holds the Yukata from the waist and gently adjust the hem. I look down and realize that the Yukata has to be at a certain length. It brushes by my ankles.

Both women are now attaching my Obi sash. Oka-san one wraps the pink Obi sash around my waist. Before securing my Obi, she instructs Oka-san two to put an Obi-ita in between the layers of my Obi sash. I can feel my Obi sash getting tighter and tighter as she ties it. Oka-san two gently pulls in one area to adjust it, making sure my Obi sits nicely around my waist. My Obi sash is called a Tsuke Obi, this is an informal type of Obi that is usually used for securing a Yukata. It comes with a “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon too.

Oka-san one asks me once again if I’m okay. I nod my head. Though it’s tighter now, luckily, I can still breathe comfortably.

Through the mirror, I could see Oka-san two hand my “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon  to Oka-san one. Once more I could feel my Obi getting tighter. Oka-san one secures my “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon that perches at the edge of my Obi to prevent it from falling down while I walk around later.

Oka-san one disappears behind the curtain and I thought we were through but, no! She comes back with a white lace. She folds it and ties it around my Obi sash. I turn to look at the mirror. I could see the white lace was tied like a ribbon and was placed just above my pink “Sailor Moon-like” ribbon. She once again disappears behind the curtain and comes back holding a long string colored in variations of red and pink with tassels dangling at the end. This is called a Obijime, a string that is tied around the Obi sash that serves mainly as a decoration.

She stands back and observes her work.

I look at myself in the mirror with such amazement that I couldn’t  stop giggling. I turned around and look at the ribbons behind me. I continued giggling.

sharing a laugh

Oka-san one declares that she is through. She guides me off the dressing area and helps me wear my Geta.

I gathered my bearings and faced the two Japanese women.  I bowed and thanked them for dressing me.

everyone in full garb by the Nitenmon

It was now Tita Petite’s turn to be dressed. When she was done, Rudee arrived and got dressed in 15 minutes.

When all the women were done changing,  It was now Cholo’s turn. No, he didn’t change into a Yukata, but he wore a Jinbei, a traditional summer clothing for Japanese men.

After arranging the necessary things I need in my bamboo purse and having some last minute adjustment from the two Oka-san, we were ready to hit the temples of Asakusa.

~

This wonderful experience wouldn’t have been a blast if it was not Tita Petite. Bless her sweet heart! Never in my life have I ever dreamt that I would ever walk around Japan in a Yukata. That’s why I am most grateful to Tita Petite for making this dream into a reality. I will forever cherish this experience.

Cholo and I went to Japan to celebrate our 5th year together as partners. Tita Petite made sure that we are to experience “getting married” in a traditional Japanese manner. Cholo and I had our selves smoked! We gave offerings to the gods! We even cleansed ourselves with water. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter if it was all for fun, Tita Petite choreographed everything to give meaning to our excursion for this day. It is not only about going around Asakusa in drag, but it is a celebration.

A celebration of new experiences, a celebration of love, a celebration of friendship and a celebration of LIFE.

Thank you Tita Petite! Thank you Rudee! and Thank you Grace! Our visit to Tokyo is truly an affair to remember!

~

To view the complete photo album of “Being Sayuri” click here.

Kimono Tansu Ya

*A Kimono-ya San is a store that sells new or second hand Kimono, Yukata, and all the accessories that comes along with it. In some Kimono-ya stores, they offer to dress you and to have your picture taken for a fee. It ranges from 3000 Yen to 6000 Yen.

Tita Petite brought us to the Kimono-ya San she usually frequents in Asakusa. It is Called Kimono Tansu Ya.

To get there, you have to get to Asakusa station and make it your starting point. From there, make your way to the Kaminarimon. When you face the great red lantern of the Kaminarimon, go through the gate. You will find yourself at the main starting point of Nakamise-dori (If you walk straight this will bring you straight to the Hozomon of the Senso-ji). You will be flanked by kiosks on the left and the right. Start walking until you reach the end of the second block of stores. This is the first corner.  Turn right and you will find yourself at Shin Nakamise-dori. Continue walking until you see the Kimono-ya San situated on the left.  See the photo on the left for reference.