Archive for February, 2013

Will be taking a break from the Myanmar travel series for the time being ..let’s go makan-makan first !

We ran out of places to see in KL and decide that for this years’ Chinese new year get together, we will have it at A’Famosa Resort in Melaka. The major concern for the family was what about the meals while we were at the resort, anyway, we will cross the jambatan when we come to the jetty.  We drove from KL to Melaka at about 11+ a.m, and got caught in the jam and a 1 hour plus journey became an almost 3 hour journey , the initial plan was to drive down to Melaka for lunch and then head back to Simpang Ampat and checked into the Villa. But we got to know that there was a worrisome congestion in Melaka and decided not to take the trip and thus ended up having KFC for lunch for the first day of the year of the snake.

Fast forward  : check-in into the 4- bedroom Villa ( yes, the water in the swimming pool looked clean), the water heaters were working, there were enough beds and towel for everyone. Fast forward : got into the Water World , there was an overcast sky so the water at the canal/ pool was cold,  we had an exiting time sliding down the chutes at the water park. Fast forward : dinner time. After the earlier KFC lunch, we had to have a proper sit down Chinese meal mah, we found out that at the Cowboy Town ( which we are supposed to head to anyway) there was a Chinese restaurant ; Huang Di Chinese Restaurant

As it was Chinese new year, the a la carte menu was not available and we had no choice but to go for the set menu.

First up – yee sang. Huatt Ahh…Good Health Ahhhh..Prosperity Ahhh…All wishes come true Ahhh…The yee sang was rather nice, a good blend and balance of flavours and textures. Huatttt AHHH..yee sang

There were a few protest from the older kids about the sharkfin soup..and my (wise) 9 year old nephew solemnly said  to his parents that he will eat the soup because ‘ well, it is already dead anyway’.

Steamed Kampung chicken – this was surprisingly good. The meat was tender yet firm and succulent. I think this version was better than KFC.kg chicken

Steamed pomfret – this was so-so, the fish tasted a bit too fishy for my liking, I think this was probably due to the freshness level of the fish.steamed fish

Roast duck with mango – an interesting blend, I like roast duck and I like mango, I can’t say that the combination worked because to me the flavour didn’t jive, maybe it is because that the mango wasn’t ripe ( sweet enough) . The roast duck already tasted good, with or without the mangoduck

Glutinous rice parcels – these were a surprise, instead of coming in one big serving, the rice where individually wrapped in leaves. This was clever as it made the rice looked more inviting and the smaller portions create an illusion that there weren’t so much to finish. By the way, these tasted good too. we actually thought of taupau-ing some of these for breakfast the next day 😛parcels

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the good taste of the food as we did not expect that a restaurant at a theme park can serve good food..haha. The serving staff made a few mistakes  but the friendliness and the helpfulness more than made up for all the minor errors.P1020233

Huang Di Chinese Restaurant,
Cowboy Town, A’Famosa Resort,
Jalan Kemus, Simpang Ampat
78000 Alor Gajah, Melaka
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Walkabout around Bagan @ Myanmar Day 4

Posted: February 6, 2013 in Sights
Tags: ,

Our itinerary for our third and last day in Bagan was – have a look at the market place then walk to the jetty and take a ferry. Have lunch and then catch the 3:30pm bus to Mandalay.

After breakfast, we started our walk around Bagan, our two navigator Chunny and W.Hoong checking out the maps to make sure that we were on the right pathP1010708

Interesting window decorationP1010705

A grocery stall selling various goods : from onions to cigarettes, various sauces, dried food and of course the betel leavesP1010710

These two helpers were counting the betel leaves and stacking them into the basketsP1010711

A tea stall equivalent to our mamak stallP1010713

We arrived at the market and after a brief discussion, we agree to go our own ways to explore the market and meet back at the starting point in 30 minutes time. I walked with AhPhenggg..saw some clothing stuff, lacquer wares, groceries, then eh..saw something that caught my fancy – a wind chime..and then…a wood carving, and then lacquer wares..and we were later joined by Chunny..and we ended up at the stall for close to 1 hour…P1010712

After happily parting with our Kyats…we guiltily walked back to the starting point ( 30 minutes late) and err..thought of excuses for being late. We waited for a few minutes and couldn’t see W.H, after a few minutes WH joined us, excitedly telling us about the fish market and also offered us some kuihs that he brought at the stalls..and err..the only thing we  saw was the souvenir shop..

We continued our journey to the ferry station…and on the way, we saw a barrel over an open  fire, seeing our kaypor faces, one of the guys took a long stick and lifted the contents..ah..they were boiling tarP1010715

We walked past the fire stationP1010716

The local public transport..that ‘tyre’ seat looked rather comfyP1010717

Road making in progress..oh..so this was what the tar was for…this was very manual work…the ladies transport and spread the stones, then the steamroller run over that a few times to compact the surfaceP1010718

Peanuts being dried in front of a grocery shopP1010720

A clinicP1010722

Petrol kiosk , Ron 97 ? Ron 95 ?P1010723

Plastic bags free area…and Teapot condense milkP1010724

More interesting road signs ..the one on the left is about electrical safety , the others looked like religious related road signP1010725

A more modern grocery shop with the banners of familiar names : Lux, Pepsi, Colgate, Palmolive …P1010727

An interesting looking house..P1010728

Another beautiful looking house..P1010729

While our cameras were  busily clicking away  ,  the owner of the house came out to the gate ..OHH…is he going to chase us off ? But he was smiling and invited us into the compound of his house..and let us take photos around the house..in the picture below is  the open kitchen area and the kitchenP1010730

Mr Saw spoke good English..and we started to chitchat with him, and we were then introduced to his mother, his sister, wife and son….and then chairs were brought out and tea was served …then we were offered palm sugar and crispy peanuts in batter .. Here we were, 4 strangers from another country ..a bunch of  kaypors…and Mr Saw and his family welcomed us into his house and extend his kindness to us..and answered our unending questions patiently..P1010732

Grandmother and  grandson…P1010733WH asked Mr Saw for the name of the kuih that he brought at the marketplace earlier and the next moment we know, Mr Saw started to talk to his sister and then he asked us when are we leaving Bagan, then Mr Saw said that his sister will go now to buy the kuih and drop them  at the guesthouse later while we go on our walkabout.  We declined the kind offer , and Mr Saw said that it was no trouble, there is a stall that makes this very well, and being local, they can buy it cheaply… Woooww….can you believe the kindness and hospitality of this family  ? P1010734

We were deeply touched and yes, I believe that there is kindness in this world, there is good in this world………someone please pass me a tissue..

After a hearty lunch, we, I mean Osaka trotted to the next destination – Shwegugyi Temple.

Before climbing a flight of stairs leading  to the gate of the temple- we came to  a stone slab depicting the history of Shwegugyi Temple in both English and Burmese. The temple was built by King Alaungsithu in 1131 AD. The name Shwegugyi means ‘the golden cave’P1010584

On our left , we saw brick foundations and pits – this looked like an excavation site- but from a web search- this seemed to be the what was left of the former royal palace which was made from wood. Which explain why Shwegugyi is also known as ‘Nandow Oo Paya’ which mean the pagoda in front of the palace.P1010586

Along the steps, there were souvenirs stalls and in front of the temple gate there was a stall selling sand paintingP1010606

One of the figures at the entranceP1010588

Shwegugyi was said to be built within a period of 7 months and 7 days. One of Buddha image inside the main entrance of the templeP1010590

Another Buddha image at the passageways, the ‘effect’ of plastering of gold leaf was evident on the statueP1010592

You probably could see it more clearly with this close upP1010594

Shwegugyi is one of the few temples in Bagan where we could explore the upper floors of the temple- Yayy…we could see Thatbyinnyu temple from one of the windowsP1010596

Stairways to heaven ?P1010597

The top of the central block were adorned by stupas. These hallow stupas make  a good temporaly hideaway for us  from the hot Myanmar sunP1010598

Part of the crewIMG_3395

Is the sky bluer in Bagan ?P1010605

We got a good view of the temples of Bagan from the top of the temple. On the top left is Dhammayangyi- it was  evident from our view that it is the largest temple in Bagan !DSCN0001_2

W.Hoong requested that we view an Hindu temple for a change. We had expected the structure to be very different from the Buddhist temple- but the red bricked Nathlaung Kyaung temple looked just like the other Buddhist temples in Bagan. Sorry, I forgot to take a picture of the structure- you can have a look by clicking here

Extracted from http://www.ancientbagan.com/nathlaungkyaung-temple.htm : Nathlaung Kyaung means ‘Shrine Confining Nats or Spirits’, a reference to a purported time when King Anawratha tried to banish Nat worship in Bagan. He is said to have confiscated all non-Buddhist religious images including indigenous Myanmar nats and Hindu devas. Then he ordered to have placed them in this shrine as part of an effort to establish ‘pure’ Theravada Buddhism during his reign. The king eventually gave in to the cult and standardized the current roster of principal Burmese Nats by placing 37 chosen images at Shwezigon Pagoda. This is the only Hindu temple remaining in Bagan. It is said to have been built in 931 by King Taunghthugyi, more than a century before Theravada Buddhism came to Bagan, following the conquest of Thaton. In design it resembles the Pyu Leimyethna or four-sided shrines of Sri Keshtra.

An image of Lord Vishnu inside the temple.P1010610

At the time of our visit, restoration work by UNESCO was taking place at the temple.  Below is another image at the templeP1010608

From the temple dedicated to Lord Vishnu, we moved on to Gawdawpalin temple. On how do we decide which temple to see, what we did was -the day before, we did some reading from the guidebooks, printouts and also referring to a Bagan map- then discuss amongst the team what we would like to see or any special request or no opinion and do anything also can. Then before starting our trip for the day we would mention to our horse cart drivers what we would like to see ( or what we do not want to see) and then leave it to them to organize.

Back to Gawdawpalin …After walking passed the main gateway, we came to many shops along the walkway, the shops were selling things like sunglasses, perfumes and other ‘modern goods’. I am not sure are the target customers the locals or the foreign tourists ..P1010614

Gawdawpalin temple was built by King Narapatisithu –  the same King that built Sulamani temple.  But King Narapatisithu did not see the completion of the temple , his son Htilominlo completed the building of the temple in 1127. The temple is located at the bank of the Ayeryarwaddy River. In the picture below is one of the  Buddha image inside the templeP1010624

A closer look at one of the seated  ‘guardians’ . Cute !P1010629

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And last but not least a very different looking BuddhaP1010631

The temple had a very large compound and we spent a bit of time walking the grounds of the temple. The temple has two storeys and reaching a height of 180 feet, making it the second tallest temple in Bagan. Gawdawpalin was badly damaged by the 1975 earthquake and was reconstructed in the following years.P1010615

The guidebooks mentioned that Gawdawpalin Temple has three lower terraces and four upper terraces , and we spent quite sometime to confirm this because at certain angles the terraces are hidden and we couldn’t count the figures mentioned in the guidebook. This gave us more time to look at the structure and appreciate the beauty of Gawdawpalin.P1010623

Next, we headed towards the Ayeyarwady River and came to Bupaya Pagoda.P1010633

I was looking forward to have a look at Bupaya pagoda because the pumpkin or guord shaped ( Bu) temple would be different from the other temples that we have seen..but sayang loorrr..the temple was undergoing reconstruction and was covered in attap mats.. Bupaya had been rebuilt after original Pagoda was totally wrecked by the 1975 earthquake.P1010635

The shrine hallP1010642

This was the  first time in Bagan that I saw a Buddha image made from marbleP1010638

A view of the Ayeyarwady  the boats are for charter to view the sunsetP1010639

We were running late to catch the sunset ..and Osaka had probably suffered more whippings to speed him/her up. The other horse carts making their way to the lookout point to view the sunsetP1010643

Run Osaka run….P1010644

The lookout point..and the first time I saw such a large collection of tourist, there were a lot of stairs to climb..P1010645

The novices and their mentor are here to view the sunset too

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The setting sun and the stupas made an interesting view..P1010649

The ‘salted egg yoke’P1010656

After viewing the sunset , it was a steep climb down to mortal groundsP1010691

Not too soon..it was dinner time, we decided to try out Mann Sa Bai, which was a few minutes walk from our guest house ( the picture below was taken during daytime)P1010704The menu

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I ordered steam rice with vegetable for 800K . Steamed rice with meat cost 1500K. there were plenty of vegetables plus tofu. This was not too bad, only complain was the portion was rather big lorrrDSCN0014

AhPheng had fried vermicelli with vegetable for 800KDSCN0015

W.Hoong must be feeling hungry for he ordered the Myanmar buffet. There were some really spicy sauces with the buffetDSCN0009

After our meal, we were provided with desserts- thin palm sugar slices delicately wrapped in papers…these were slightly sourish and very nice..we finished the whole plate of palm sugar within a few minutes..somebody please stop us..DSCN0017

With our tummies filled with palm sugar..thus end our third day in beautiful Myanmar..