Sunday, June 26, 2016

day dreaming of wat arun

Welcome to Bangkok!

These pictures are from 2013 when we spent four weeks in Thailand during our winter vacation. Why am I just blogging about it now? Well, for two reasons mainly.

First, I "found" these pictures a few months ago. My old computer they were stored on died and could not be revived. I was hopeful some photos of my dad were lurking on it, so we worked hard to power it up. We were finally successful. While I found only a few photos of my father, I found a bunch of our travels that I had completely forgotten about because I thought they were long lost. Lesson learned: save your photos in more than one place people. These photos from Wat Arun in Bangkok stole my heart when I got to look at them again. So I thought: why not share them? They are beautiful.

The second reason? While no tickets have been bought yet, we will likely be spending one week of our four week winter vacation in Thailand next year. Sean is itching to climb those limestone crags in Railay, and I know we will have a stop over in Bangkok. Its markets and temples are just too good to pass up, even if our stay will only be one week. The other three weeks of winter vacation? I think I will keep you in suspense about that until things are solidified. However, if things turn out the way I am hoping, let's just say it will certainly be an epic adventure!

Now, onto this gorgeous temple.

Wat Arun is also known as the Temple of the Dawn. It's intricate and colorful spires immediately catch the attention of anyone who is nearby it along the river side. My absolute favorite time to be at the wat is sunset. We cruised past the temple twice on the river at sunset and actually spent one sunset at the temple too. I can think of no words to describe how truly spectacular this temple is when golden light bathes it.

As I knew nothing of this history of this temple, here is a brief excerpt from its webpage:
Wat Arun was envisioned by King Taksin in 1768. It is believed that after fighting his way out of Ayutthaya, which was taken over by a Burmese army at the time, he arrived at this temple just as dawn was breaking. He later had the temple renovated and renamed it Wat Chaeng, the Temple of the Dawn. It used to be the home of the Emerald Buddha, before the capital and Palace was moved to the other side of the river. This can now be seen at the Grand Palace.
The central prang was extended during the reign of Rama III (between 1824 and 1851), and is now one of the most visited sites in Thailand. It was also Rama III who added the decoration of the spires with porcelain, so that they glimmer in the sunshine.
As I have visited Ayutthaya, it is not surprising to me that after leaving that beautiful place with its temples and ruins, this place was built and inspired by it. 

I always think that I am done with Thailand, and I even gave my husband a hard time when he suggested we visit it over part of our break because we have spent months of our lives in Thailand, but then all I have to do is revisit these old photos and remember the markets and iced coffees and tropical paradises and I am sold. 

So I hope next January I can show you new pictures of Wat Arun. Who knows? Maybe I'll try and capture it at sunrise instead of sunset. 

Yeah, I don't think I'll mind going back! 

Sunday, June 5, 2016

a cat cafe in Kyoto

Has this ever happened to you? You find yourself walking down the street in Japan, hungry as can be on your way to a ramen house, when you spot a cat cafe and decide you just have to pop in for a bit... or, more like 40 minutes? I'm sure it's happened to someone else! It certainly happened to us.

After walking up the mountain behind the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto, we wandered through the day market on our way to a ramen house that caught our attention as our train pulled into the station. We were maybe 100 feet away from the ramen house when Sean spotted a sign that said: CAT CAFE, and then lunch just had to be put on hold so we could play with these adorable cats.

This cat cafe was different from the one I visited in Taipei. In Taipei, the cat cafe is a restaurant. There are tables and drinks and food. There, you just pay for whatever you end up ordering. In this cat cafe, however, there was really no cafe at all. The only drinks were canned soda or bottled tea, and we paid by the minute. Essentially, the owners charged in 20-minute chunks. 

We still had a great time, and besides, we had our heart set on having ramen for lunch. My favorite cat was Bob. He warmed up to me the most. I tried to take a selfie with him, but failed pretty badly. We still enjoyed each other's company.