Page 3 of Kuan Yin Travel Blog Posts

Asia » Singapore » Toa Payoh April 3rd 2018

If you have been following along, you know that I like Singapore. I like Singapore a lot, to the point where I’ve visited Singapore just about every year since 2007. Over time, I’ve developed a bit of a routine: the first morning in Singapore I usually walk down South Bridge Road past the mosque and the Hindu temple, to Nanyang Old Coffee, for an iced coffee and a slice of pandan cake. Then I skip to the next block and visit the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple, where I drop a few coins into the offering box in front of the Buddha dedicated to my birth day. I’ll wander through the little stalls that line Sago Street, and stop into the Chinatown Visitor Centre. At some point during my stay I’ll walk along the river, visit Merlion ... read more
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple
door guard

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok February 12th 2018

The BTS (Bangkok Transport System) Skytrain cuts right through the heart of downtown Bangkok, making it a very convenient and efficient way to get around. Merchants were pretty quick to figure this out, and big shopping malls sprouted up along the Skytrain path. Early on, retailers placed a god or goddess on the premises of their buildings, believing that the presence of a deity would bring good luck and prosperity. And, they figured, when people came to the shrine they just might buy something, too.Judging by the sheer magnitude of retail exuberance found along this street, it looks like they were right. There are six – count ‘em six – shrines along this section of Ploen Chit Road, in the shadow of the Skytrain. While I didn’t visit them all, there are some kind of interesting ... read more
Erawan Shrine2
Erawan Shrine3
Erawan Shrine4

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok January 30th 2018

“Why did you come here?” A young Thai woman asked me that during a tour of the Phya Thai Palace. In fact, she asked me that twice during the tour. “Not many people come here; even Thai people don’t come here.” It’s a shame, really, that more people don’t come to the Palace – not to be confused with the Grand Palace, where the press of sweaty tourists can try one’s patience. It certainly tried mine; I split off from the crowd before I even got on the ferry to go upriver. The Phya Thai Palace has some interesting stories, and the buildings and grounds are beautiful. Getting here isn’t that hard, though it takes some perseverance. The directions I had said to take the Skytrain to the Victory Monument, go past the Queen Sirkit Children’s ... read more
bird palace
Thewarat Saphoarom Hall
hall ceiling

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok January 15th 2018

I like small museums, the more off-beat and quirky the better. Small museums are easier to navigate and usually aren’t very crowded. I visited a couple of museums like this in Bangkok, but first, the boat ride. I had taken the commuter ferry up the Chao Phraya River when I visited Wat Arun and Wat Pho. The commuter ferny is undoubtedly the quickest, easiest and least expensive way of going up-river. But I hadn’t taken one of the water taxis that ply the canals, or khlongs, of the city. One of the other bloggers on this site suggested I check it out (thanks, Siewch!) and it sounded like a fun experience. Make no mistake; taking a water taxi is most definitely not a leisurely boat ride down a lazy river. This is a fast, efficient way ... read more
water taxi
water taxi3
Bangkokian Museum front porch

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok December 29th 2017

Willie Wonka had his Golden Ticket. I got to see the Gold Buddha. In a country that has a plethora of temples and Buddha statues, the “minor temple” Wat Traimit stands out for the gold Buddha ensconced within it. Nobody knows for sure who had the statue made, or exactly when. The style is from the 13th or 14th century, and best guess is that it was installed in the city of Ayutthaya around 1403. During this time, Thailand and Burma took turns declaring war on each other, and invading each other’s borders. At some point, the gold Buddha was covered in plaster and bits of colored glass, probably to keep it from being stolen by Burmese invaders. The secret of the gold Buddha was kept, and eventually the gold was forgotten. Ayutthaya was destroyed by ... read more
from a distance
front of Wat Traimit
gold Buddha2

Asia » Thailand » Central Thailand » Bangkok December 25th 2017

I have this vision of Jim Thompson that embodies just about everything I think of when I think of Southeast Asia: interesting, exotic, and more than a little mysterious. A few facts are incontrovertible: He was born in 1906, and attended Princeton. He was a working architect in New York, and then became director of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. In 1941, he abruptly quit his job and joined the Delaware National Guard. He was married, but about six months after the wedding, the military sent him overseas. The marriage did not survive the war. During World War Two he was recruited into the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor of the CIA, and served in Southeast Asia. When the war ended, he was assigned to the American Legation in Thailand. He liked Thailand, and ... read more
Thompson house
house shrine

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku July 17th 2017

Just a few more short takes from Tokyo Lolita No, it’s not what you think. Lolita refers to a particular fashion look that some young women in Japan wear. Far from being blatantly sexy, these women dress very demurely, in full skirts with voluminous petticoats and high-necked blouses. They often wear a big bow in their hair, or sometimes a lace cap. Think of a Victorian Alice in Wonderland. This is about looking sweet and cute. As is true of fashion for young women everywhere, there is a lot of money involved in being a Lolita girl. First is the outfit itself. This is not some obscure, cobbled together look. I visited one department store that had six whole floors (!) of Lolita fashion. The one small section of the store not devoted to Lolita was ... read more
Lolita fashion
Sunday antique market
Van Gogh copy of Hiroshiga

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku July 10th 2017

Just a few short notes from the city formerly known as Edo: Free Hugs As I came out of the subway at Shibuya, I saw this couple with a hand-drawn sign that said “Free Hugs.” Now, Shibuya Station is huge, with three metro lines and two train lines all converging here. Above ground is the famous (or infamous) “Shibuya Scramble” a pedestrian street crossing reputed to be the busiest crossing in the world. I watched them for a while, and they really were hugging people. Not asking for money, not trying to get anyone to sign a petition, just giving free hugs. Intrigued, I went and asked them about their sign. Turned out the young man was Japanese, and all his life he had been very shy. He was determined to fix this, and he figured ... read more
Ali and Oskar
Godzilla at the Hotel Gracery

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Shinjuku June 24th 2017

In which I learn the difference between a katana and a tachi. You wouldn’t expect to find a museum devoted to Samurai in the Kabukicho section of Shinjuku, but there it is. Kabukicho is a loud, brash area of narrow streets, with lots of bars, gaming arcades, and, um, “hostess clubs.” Music videos play at top volume on immense LED screens, and the noise from the speakers blaring promos for the latest boy band can be a bit overwhelming. When I found myself standing under a statue of a giant gorilla, I certainly figured I was in the wrong place, but a helpful security guard pointed me in the right direction, and the museum turned out to be just a few steps away. I’ve always had a kind of vague, romanticized vision of samurai as heroic, ... read more

Asia » Japan » Tokyo » Asakusa June 10th 2017

I like food (well, duh! Who doesn’t?) But one of the many things I value about travel is getting a chance to taste and see food that either I’m unfamiliar with, or that I don’t get a chance to eat at home. Tokyo gave me opportunities for both. The Fake You have probably seen fake food, made of plastic, displayed outside of restaurants in order to lure you in. When I found that there was a whole street in Tokyo dedicated to shops that sold this sort of fake food, I knew I had to go look. The street is Kappabashi-dori, located in the Asakusa neighborhood – not too far from Senso-ji Temple. As I was standing on the corner, looking at a map and trying to get my bearings, a gentleman came up and asked ... read more
watermelon - about $49 each
dekopan  about $10 each

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