Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Me Before You, Me After You


能不能给我一首歌的时间,再次为你写上一小段周年作品。

翻回所有写给你的文章,我真的无法想象我每年在这时候向你表白的精力是哪来的。或许,那是你的爱成就了这份坚持。

1st Anniversary : It Will Go On and On
2nd Anniversary : Another Mark of Us
3rd Anniversary : Do I Like You?
4th Anniversary : The Days with Dave
5th Anniversary : Still, As Always

爱情沒有时间的长短,不是因为认识得夠久,就一定会很相爱;而是你懂我的每一个动作、每一个情绪,我们可以互相成长,可以是朋友、情人,更可以是相依偎但无血緣关系的家人。我曾说过那样的一句话,“人生的道路不能一帆风顺,爱的路程也有风雨”。摩擦确实会伤了彼此的感情,但同时也让我们能对彼此有更深地了解,从而去接纳对方的不足,协助对方改善不正确的习惯。

Problems and challenges in life can be like the wind, which blows unpredictably. We can’t control the wind, but we can learn to set our sails and to make repairs. Life, with all its ups and downs, has taught us a few lessons about building a more lasting romance.
P/S:去到哪儿都是公事,拍拖旅行机不离手,可以不要那么工作狂吗?电话响不停,拜托,除了你家人,你是我的好吗?干嘛大家非要一直冲着你来跟我争😕😝

茫茫人世之中,相遇,本就是极奇妙的事。在某时某地遇见谁,根本不是你我可以掌握。遇见你,可说是很重要的转折点。除了是与你的真实相会,也是带给我们截然不同的生命观点,改变对方之于生命的想法。遇见你之前,因着某种不信任感作祟,我沒有信心与他人交心。所以好久以前,我都会避开人潮,深怕一个不小心遇到认识的人,不晓得该说什么,尷尬的我只能逃离现场。😣
遇见你之后,你用真诚的心丰富我。生命的截然不同,可能不是当下即刻的转变,但你让我愿意踏出那一步,等到数月甚至或许是数年后反观自我,深觉从原先的模樣,转变成另一个更理想的自我。对我來说,也就是你这么一个人,让我成为现在更好的我。😊

Throughout our 6 years together, there were days when we didn't even like each other. What we noticed was that every time we let a gap come between us, it was whenever we let our pride come in the way, we thought we deserved better, and we chose to be right rather than be kind. Love is realising everybody is different and unique with their own perks and qwerks. Love is understanding that everyone makes mistakes. Love is a choice. A choice to not give up on one another. Our love change the day we took up the daily habit of asking each other if there's anything we could do for each other. Love doesn't demand but give. Like a boomerang, it comes back to you. 
P/S:爱小孩的你,在你每一次跟孩子们嬉戏的时候,让我忍不住偷偷想想以后你和咱们孩子之间的互动,嘴角不禁上扬。再来看见罕见下厨的你,就算原本心里有气都会瞬间消了。😳

 Happy 6 years anniversary, my dearest. I love you to the moon and back 😘

Saturday, March 12, 2016

2016 Laos Trip — The Secret Place on Earth


Contributor

Photo courtesy of

Currency reference
** USD 1 ≈ Kip 8,000
** RM 1 ≈ Kip 2,000

Journey to Laos
Vientiane > Phonsavanh > Luang Prabang > Vang Vieng > Vientiane

Weather
8'c~23'c during our travel time. It's not always cold, depending which season and which area you go. It can be as hot as above 30'c. Do check weather forecast before travelling.


SABAIDEE !!  (*^_^*)

Some people wonder why I choose Laos as a trip destination. Well, you'll know it later haha. Try to pay a visit, you will realise how lucky & blessed you are to live in such a warm zone, well-fed & well-clothed.

First thing to do right arriving at the airport is to find mobile data service. Basically we don't need phone call, mobile network is just sufficient. You may get 1.5gb data plan @ USD4 for 7 days (USD2 for sim card & USD2 for the data). Having some time in between before departing to Phonsavan at night, we took our lunch & rent bicycle (Kip 10,000 per day for a bike) to explore the city of Vientiane (Laos' capital). You may take the map brochure available @ your guesthouse/hotel for easy reference.
This Patuxay Monument (means 'Victory Gate' or 'Gate of Triumph') was built & dedicated to those who fought in the struggle for independence from France.
Laos Golden Reclining Buddha
Buddha Park
Pha That Luang
We were divided into 2 groups to explore different areas of Laos. For us (Team 2) who will be departing to Phonsavanh at night, we did not explore much in Vientiane. The journey to Phonsavanh from Vientiane took 11 hours at night, and the bus is very special!! I cannot find it here in Malaysia. It is double decker sleeping bus with pillow & blanket. One unit can fit 2 persons. So if you do not have any partner & if the bus is full, you might be arranged to 'sleep' with any stranger haha. Kinda special experience though. The cost per journey is around Kip150,000~Kip175,000.
We arrived at Phonsavanh (Hills of Paradise) at 7.30am in the morning next day. The weather is freaking cold, 9'c unbelievable (1,100m from sea, of course cold lah). There were no toilet available along the journey, therefore first thing was to go toilet right after we arrived at the bus station. For your info, most of the public/private toilets in Laos required Kip2,000 per entrance. Actually in the middle of the night, the bus did stop few times for passenger to pee, however they are all convenient for guys only. Girls also can lah, if only you don't mind people looking at you (like I say, no toilet) @@ We were picked by the local tour guide at the bus station and brought to our guesthouse. Due to time constraint, we did not have much time to bath and wash face. Quickly we changed to some sweater or heattech jacket, filled up hot water with our own thermos, took a breakfast & visited to historical sites.
Xieng Khouang bus terminal
Our overnight place : Namchai Guesthouse
One of the reasons to go Phonsavanh is none other than Plain of Jars, which has been nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status. Between 1964 and 1973, Laos was heavily bombed (around 2.5 million tons of bombs) by the U.S. Air Force against Vietnamese forces, approximately 8 minutes per bomb was released for 9 years. Many of the cluster boms did not explode and remain a deadly threat to the population. Evidence of the bombing raids can be seen in the form of broken or displaced jars and bomb craters.

Therefore, one of the main activities of NGOs in Phonsavanh is relating to clearing unexploded ordinance (UXO). Until today, only 6% of the site areas have now been cleared of unexploded bombs and are open to visitors, this include the (jar site 1) that we visited. Entrance fee is Kip10,000 per person. 
Result of bombing raids : Bomb crater site
Result of bombing raids : Jar Site 1
Due to the large quantity of unexploded bombs in the area, free movements were limited. Hence, do walk inside the white zone marked by MAG (Mines Advisory Group).
The jars
There are some sayings about the jars :
(i) A race of giants, whose king fought a victorious battle against an enemy. The jars were their wineglasses to celebrate the victory.
(ii) The jars were molded from natural materials including clay, sand, sugar, and animal products in a type of stone mix.
(iii) Human remains, burial goods and ceramics were found around the stone jars by a French archeologists. Therefore, it is believed that the jars were used to place the corpses of deceased people where they were left to decompose before being burned.
The scenery @ Plain of Jars is actually quite beautiful. Peaceful.
We were then moving to next station, Hmong Village @ Phonsavanh. The Hmong are one sub-groups of the Miao ethnicity (苗族) in southern China. The weather was freaking cold. 8'c with strong winds and drizzling rain **ohmaigod** !
Hmong houses are not fenced. Their houses are on beaten soil and have only one door & without windows. They only have one room in the house. Normally the parents sleep on bed while their children are all sleeping on the floor.
 
Traditionally, when a Hmong boy wants to marry a Hmong girl, he will make his intentions clear and kidnap her during day light or night at any opportunity that is appropriate. Before kidnapping her, the boy must first give a gift to the girl whom he wants to marry. If the boy has never given a gift to the girl, she is allowed to refuse and go back home with any family member who comes to save her. The girl's parents are not notified at the time of the "kidnap", but a messenger will be sent to inform them of the whereabouts of their daughter and her safety. Through this, the bride price (compensation from groom's family taking the other family's daughter, as the girl's parents are now short one person to help with chores) will be cheaper. Interesting isn't it?
 
The kids are so helpful. They carry their younger brother/sister even they are only 4-6 years old. The kids don't brush teeth. They don't have any water heater (8'c there!). I wore 3 layers clothes but trembled seriously while they only have one normal jacket and scarf. There is only one lamp in each house. If raining, their houses are all muds. Can you imagine how's their life?We are all very lucky enough. Aren't we?

Our tour guide, Mr.Vong is an English teacher at the same time. He teaches children English in the village. In order to support him, we collected money & buy some stationeries and foods for the children there (buy from here in Malaysia). 
 
If you are visiting there one day in future, please buy them some foods.
Spoon village is where we next headed to. You may support them with the aluminium souvenir they make. Not much things, but at least we can see how's the process of transforming the aluminium bomb casing into various souvenirs. We even have the chance to try it ourselves haha.
Aluminium bomb casing. One bomb can make approximate 6 keychains.

Other short visit include Wat Phia Wat Temple and That Foun Stupa.

The ruin of Wat Phia Wat was subject to bombing during the Vietnam War. This Buddha statue and some walls are all that remain. However, Buddha statue's left arm was severed and the right eye was damaged. Until today, this enduring Buddha statue is still highly revered by worshippers.

That Foun (30m tall) was built and covered ashes of Buddha that were brought from India. It was partially damaged and a Buddha statue made of Gold was robbed.
Not to forget, we paid a visit to Mr.Vong's tuition class before we called it a day. He hopes we can communicate with his students so we had a short sharing session that night. It was after all a special & meaningful experience that we gain from the trip to Phonsavanh. 
After whole day activities, all you need is massage!! This is the section I must share with everyone of you. It all starts with the this masseur, Mr. Lue Ha. When he was 24 years old, Lue Ha hit a UXO bomb while foraging for medicinal herbs in the jungles of northern Laos. The accident blinded him. After the incident, depression overwhelmed him & he tried to commit suicide several times. One day, aid workers came to his village, asked him why should he feel discouraged in life and suggested him to learn to be a masseur. Since then, he learnt massaging in Vientiane and back to Xieng Khouang (Phonsavanh) to carry out massage business with his wife, Yue (normal person, very pretty!) in a tiny apartment where the family of four now lives. Sometimes they get couple of customers while sometimes they gets none. It's quite hard for them as they have to pay for the rental & utility bills. 
Mr. Lue Ha (photo source : article pasted on the wall of the shop)
Mr. Lue Ha is training his wife in massage (photo source : article pasted on the wall of the shop)
So please, if you go Phonsavanh and looking for massage service, please find them. It is not about the sad story, but their massage service are TRULY GOOD!! (massage your body nerves and bones). It's only Kip50,000 per hour per person. However, maximum 5 persons per section ya. This massage shop is just near to my guesthouse (Namchai Guesthouse), within walking distance only.
Thank you & goodbye Phonsavanh. Take care, Mr.Vong & students.
Next day early in the morning, we took a 8-hour-journey mini van from Phonsavanh to Luang Prabang. The mountain journey is uneven, it's bumpy and rough. Do take up motion sickness pill before the journey starts if you will easily feel dizzy or vomit. However, the scenery out there is quite breathtaking (put down your smartphone) :)
這一刻,就讓我暫時把所有煩惱都拋到九霄雲外吧!
By the way I love Luang Prabang! It is almost similar like Ubud @ Bali. It's consider a tourist attraction where you can find markets there. We reached Luang Prabang at around 4.30pm and checked in. Our Guesthouse is in the center of Luang Prabang, nearby to the morning and night market. Without further ado, we walked up to the Phu Si temple (located on the Phousi Hill) to see sunset (Entrance fee per person is Kip20,000). Sunset time is aound 5.30pm~6pm. 
View of Luang Prabang from the hill.


Nowadays, *click* is anytime. So fast reaction is necessary. Haha..
Dinner time!! The most exciting moment we'd been waiting. Walked down (out) from the temple, you may start hunting for your foods and drinks (perhaps souvenirs too) in the night market. Please find this alley (as below) for dinner. There are variety of options, including Kip15,000 for a bowl of foods excluding the roasted meats (you can take as much as you want, but don't waste food ya!). 
I strongly recommend you guys to try their fruit shakes. There are many stalls arranged in a row. Look at their displays!! Hehe I like Avocado. One cup to share is not enough, we bought again the 2nd cup, this lady was so happy to see me went back again haha.
There are tables & chairs in front of the stalls. You may sit down to enjoy your drinks.
Souvenirs. Most are handmade.

The night market close at 9pm. Not only night market actually, most shops close at around 9~10pm. Healthy lifestyle they have? Please sleep early so that you can wake up early to see the most sacred tradition in Laos — Buddhist Monk Alms Giving Ceremony @ 5.30am (beginning from the main street of Luang Prabang to the side street). If you wish to give offerings to the monks, remember to buy your offerings such as foods (rice, fresh fruits, traditional sweet snacks) in advance.
The purpose of the ceremony is for the Buddhist monks to make merit and collect food for their meal of a day. For those who give offerings, their shoulders, chests and legs must be covered in modest clothing as a sign of respect. When offering, attendees have to kneel down and remain at a suitable distance from the monks. Female attendees must keep their head lower than the monks when offering and are not allowed to talk to or touch the monks at any time. Photographs may be taken from a distance and camera flash should be turned off.

After the ceremony, we straight heading to their morning market & eat breakfast. All are reachable by walking, very convenient.
One of the local transport - Tuk Tuk. Price is around Kip30,000 (3 persons) per trip.
The Luang Prabang day trip begins with boat departing from Mekong River. It's a 2-hour-journey, first arriving at Pak Ou Cave. Basically are some Buddha statues and worshipping inside. The view from top of the cave down to the shore is quite beautiful :)
Boy, I know you are actually feeling cold **grin** come, we share jacket :) (thanks for bringing along 你真貼心! )
We made it a short visit as our minds are all about whiskey & waterfall haha, thus Whiskey Village be the next station. Variety of whiskey available for you to try and purchase: Snake whiskey, scorpion whiskey, insect whiskey, rice whiskey (known as Lao-Lao), etc.
Rice wine whiskey (above) itself is further categorized into 3 types : White rice wine whiskey (15% alcohol content), red rice wine whiskey (15%) and transparent rice wine whiskey with 55% alcohol content. All of us bought their rice wine whiskey. The rice wine whiskey is made from the fermented sticky rice and whiskey leaves. Personally I prefer white rice wine whiskey as it tastes a bit sweet, not bitter & not strong at all. Prices (without cover) are Kip30,000 (2nd row from top), Kip20,000 (3rd row) & Kip15,000 (smallest size, front row on table) depending on which size you choose.

Here comes the destination we'd been waiting for : Kuangsi Waterfall Park!! Kuangsi waterfall ranked the 1st as must-visit-spot in Trip Advisor (oh, a lot of tourists with bikini there too). Entrance fee is Kip20,000 per person, definitely worth it!! We bought some snacks to have a small picnic there haha.
Due to the reach in Calcium Carbonate, the color of the water will turn either turquoise or blue depending on the temperature & sunlight. Stunning! Very stunning!! Swim lover can even play diving!
Apart from the Hmong Village @ Phonsavanh, we visited Hmong Tribal Village @ Luang Prabang. The Hmong Village at Luang Prabang is better than Phonsavanh in the sense of living and handicraft stalls are everywhere in the village. Do support them for their crafts :)
Besides, we experienced the process of making thread from cotton using their traditional wood machine. They are so brilliant. I am removing cotton seed while he is making thread using the seedless cotton :
At night (last night in Luang Prabang), we continued shopping at the night market and loitered around. 
It was an early sleep and rise again. Before departing back to Vientiane, we had our breakfast @ the roadside along Luang Prabang main road. It was Monday, so the street was slightly busy with traffic. Not hustle & bustle, but still a pleasant morning :) The porridge is seriously yummy!

This time, Vang Vieng is not in our list of Laos Trip as the time is not permitted. However, on our way back to Vientiane city (8 hours), we stopped by a restaurant near the Vang Vieng river shore to have our lunch. The view is really ..... AMAZING!! For those who like water activities, Vang Vieng is a must-place for you!
Last day in Laos (Vientiane) was completely free and easy. I don't have any food recommendations to provide as personally I think the foods there are just okay, enough to fill the stomach (only I realize we are having so so much delicious foods here in Malaysia!!) Ohya, most of the food portion there are quite big, some can even be shared by two persons. Try to look at the food served before you order.

By the way, although I couldn't find the cheese row & ice-cream (same stall located in Vientiane night market) recommended to me, but those who had eaten, all of my colleagues like it so much *big thumbs* and strongly recommend (so so sad as the time was too rush for me to get one, sobss...).
Unlike Bali, Laos airport does not require any airport tax to be paid before leaving. Overall I'm very satisfied with this Laos Trip. Never know it can be so fun and meaningful. All thanks to Calanthe Art Cafe especially those who did researches at the back; not to forget our Laos local tour guide Mr.Vong (Phonsavanh) & Mr.Chansay (Luang Prabang) too!
Our group photo in front of the guesthouse before leaving.
Sôhk Dee Deuh, it means Goodbye & Take Care.

It's really a marvelous trip! Cost per person is around RM1,800 for 6 days (flight ticket + accommodation + transportation + foods & drinks + other spending such as souvenir, etc + tips to local tour guides).

KHORP JAI !! (*^_^*)