Though it has already been a month and a few days since I came home, writing this post from my very own bedroom still feels surreal.
I left Nagoya on March 30 and arrived in Bangkok on the same day. March was my last month in Japan before moving back to Thailand, so I knew it would be a very busy month, but it ended up more hectic than expected. Especially when comparing it to fun-filled February, with post-thesis defense indulgence like NCT 127 official cafe event along with my and Jaehyun’s birthday and Doyoung’s birthday; unforgettable day trips with friends and one last long solo trip before graduation, all of which I want to write full posts about one day; and the generally relaxing atmosphere. Not that March was 100% stressful. There were happy moments and heartfelt farewells too, but in the last few weeks, a lot of things just went wrong despite my efforts to finish the pre-departure procedures early on and these exhausted me. I wish I could have spent more time in March traveling and relaxing, but since everything already happened the way it did, I want to record personal reflections and some of the memorable moments (both the good and the bad) during my last week in Japan here.
I shared some photos and parts of the stories about the last week on my Instagram already, but due to word limit, I didn’t get to write everything I wanted. I also held myself back from talking about certain things because I don’t want to be too ranty or cringey there. As weird as this may sound, I am actually not comfortable sharing some thoughts and feelings with acquaintances and some friends who are following me on IG. It is easier to express myself more on this blog, where most readers are close friends and people I have never met.
With that, I am warning you that this is a long-winded post and some parts of this post are very ranty and cringey. Musings and photos from Nagoya to Bangkok aside, here go many stories, even the most ranty and random ones, that I want to immortalize in one place.
In about a month and a half, 2020 will come to an end, but as we all know, the end of 2020 doesn’t mean the end of the hard times that come with COVID-19 and can continue even after a safe vaccine and a perfect cure are invented.
But I think hope is part of human nature and with the recent news about the possibly safe vaccine, I hope all this can be over in 2021. Hopefully within early-2021, though it seems unlikely… Still, I wish everyone who is reading this good health, happiness, and strength to get through the difficult situations.
This isn’t my usual kind of entry and I will get back to posting my travel stories and photos after this, but I want to share that I am unexpectedly back to studying in Japan again now. I went home during the semester break in February and didn’t think I would be able to fly back to Japan within 2020. The week before the journey was like a series of unfortunate events too… so I would like to record bits and pieces about the time I spent at home in Bangkok and my sudden return to Nagoya. It will be mostly ramblings, but to make it a bit more interesting, I will include the photos of the sky I took from home as well as a few more photos from my return trip to Nagoya.
Once a year, my family and I travel to the southern coastal province of Phang Nga. Though times are tough this year, we happened to schedule our trip in early-March, a couple of weeks before COVID-19 got worse in Thailand, and managed to upkeep this annual tradition during my temporary homecoming that currently has to be extended with no end in sight.
Apart from taking my grandma to see her relatives and former neighbors, we always watch the sunset at Thai Muang Beach, which is the neighborhood where my dad grew up, and travel to at least one place we haven’t been to in Phang Nga. This year, we visited the peaceful Khao Pilai Beach in Khok Kloi Subdistrict and revisited (after almost 20 years) Lampi Waterfall in Khao Lampi-Hat Thai Muang National Park.
I also brought my disposable camera on this trip and we were blessed with nice weather and beautiful sky every day. Without further ado, let’s see how Phang Nga looks on 35mm.
Few international travelers come to Bangkok Old Town area without visiting at least one or two temples and most travelers’ choices are probably the Grand Palace and Temple of Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), Temple of the Reclining Buddha (Wat Pho), or Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun). After all, these are considered the most iconic temples in Bangkok.
While I definitely find the three temples mentioned above stunning, they are undeniably very crowded and the admission fees are pricey for foreigners too. If you are fine with foregoing Bangkok’s most famous temples or are looking to add some off-the-beaten-track spots to your Bangkok Old Town walk, I have six alternatives, five of which are considered hidden gems even among Thai people. You pay nothing to enter most of these temples (and the admission fees for those that aren’t free are very cheap), but you will get to enjoy beautiful artistic details in a much more peaceful environment.
This art walk through under-the-radar temples happened only a few days after I flew home from Nagoya for the semester break in February, before the pandemic has become severe in Thailand. The plan is all thanks to my friend who works as a licensed tour guide (actually, she is the friend who planned our visit to the Museum of Floral Culture in Bangkok a few years back). My friend found this Thai article about the beautiful art at 11 royal temples in Bangkok and we thought it would be fun to choose some lesser known royal temples on the list to visit together. Also, there was something else I had been wanting to try for a while.
Let me introduce you to the #giftograph_film series, where I will be showing my film photography.
It isn’t that big, but it still kept me occupied for a few hours. It was a bit crowded when I visited, but it was still quite enchanting. Wat Rong Khun or the White Temple in Chiang Rai is one of the most interesting and beautiful temples I have ever been to and there is much about this heaven-like temple to appreciate.
You can tell from the entrance area that the White Temple isn’t your usual traditional temple. It is fused with contemporary art elements including pop culture and you will spot more once there.