This is the last post I am going to transfer from LuxePaint and it is official. LuxePaint is done. Euthanised… Departed…
So I posted a mini haul from my trip to Thailand a few months ago (post link here). I wrote about the entire trip on LuxePaint. So this is that post transferred here (I guess I am no more just a beauty blogger now 😛 ).
I was selected by the School of Industrial Technology, USM (Universiti Sains Malaysia – this is just how it’s written regardless of language; for the sake of clarity it is University of Science Malaysia), representing the Division of Food Technology to participate in the Northeastern Agricultural Fair organised by the Faculty of Agriculture, UBU (Ubon Ratchathani University). They invited us to join in the fair to highlight significant developments in research and innovations in agricultural science and technology. It also featured meetings, dialogs, exhibitions and also cultural exchange in the form of a cultural night.
A little bit of background information; Ubon Ratchathani is a northeastern province in Thailand. It is also the eastern most province of Thailand, bordering Laos and Cambodia. The entire trip was all paid for. I only took some extra cash for some frivolous shopping.
The entire trip was simply amazing! Ubon isn’t exactly a state often visited by tourists and so people there seemed like they were just going on with their daily lives. The entire vibe didn’t seem much different from Malaysia. Except perhaps Malaysia has a lot more trees and empty lands are usually filled with plants. Malaysia is also a tad bit cleaner.
However, people are just friendlier there. Everyone smiles, everyone is polite and the moment they realise you are a foreigner (which they often don’t), they seem to go out of their way to help you. No matter that I was this huge dark skinned guy (Thai people are East Asians and so tanned skin tone is as dark most as people go).
The other thing that fascinated me about Thailand is how transgender people are so well integrated into the society. My personal opinion, in terms of acceptance of trans-people into the community, is inclusiveness. Integration is key; if a community is nothing more than merely a fraction of society, then they cease to be oppressed/shunned due to the sole fact that differences are obsolete. The fair itself had transwomen (transmen are a little more difficult to pinpoint) who worked towards organising the event. Since the fair was organised by the university it leads me to believe these women have, to a certain level, good positions in the university.
Enough of me blabbering away! Here are some shots from my trip!
Take off!!! Here’s how we traveled. We took a rental van that dropped us of at the Hat Yai International Airport. Yes, Malaysia borders Thailand and the state I live in, i.e. Penang, is one of the northern states in Malaysia. It is just a few hours drive away from Hat Yai. From Hat Yai we took a flight to Bangkok and from Bangkok another flight to Ubon Ratchathani. We flew via Nok Air. The trip was relatively pleasant considering we flew economy.
Don Mueang Airport. I felt like I was in the big city! Hahaha! Since its renovation in 2013, it has taken on a fresh new look. I loved it there! This was where I purchased my Wet n Wild Mocha-licious lipstick that I have been looking for for AGES.
This isn’t my first trip to Thailand. I traveled to Hat Yai in 2013 for a joint seminar and got a taste of this. The Samurai pork burger. Obviously I rushed to McDonalds at Don Mueang Airport to rekindle this little love affair. No offense to my Muslim friends and readers but I do love pork. McDonalds Malaysia serves only halal (kosher) food. In Thailand, however, they love their pork and evidently McDonalds Thailand is not kosher. This time around it wasn’t as delicious as I remembered it to be. However, I did notice that one could order a side of bacon strips which I did. I love bacon, enough said.
I probably should have included a disclaimer that this post may trigger cravings!
We arrived to this wonderful comfort! It was the U Place @ Ubon Ratchathani University. Couldn’t have asked for more! 😀 Apologies for the messy bed and stuff on the floor. My temporary roomie and I had obviously made ourselves at home.
Hey there! I was already munching away! My hair was horrible throughout the trip. Do ignore that!
Breakfast on the first day at U-Place. They make this absolutely delicious sunny side up egg dish with bits of bacon, ham and minced pork, topped off with chives. Oh my, was this some wonderful breakfast!
Oh yes, it of course did not end there! This is the Vietnamese pork bun with sweet minced pork nestled in a very simple roll. If you have ever had charsiew bun, it is somewhat similar except that charsiew tends to be a little more wet and much sweeter! The seasoning and the sweet-savoury balance of this bun was perfection! Ooof! I miss you pork bun!
The lobby of the U-Place.
So we were taken to the university (Ubon Ratchathani University) where the fair was in full swing. It was quite a large, festive, one which was crowded with throngs of people! I managed a few shots of the sights at the fair and sharing a few interesting ones. The Food Technology Department of the Faculty of Agriculture had it’s own booth and they featured some of their research and products from their research.
They take their agriculture very seriously. So there was a huge site of sunflower plantation! The sunflowers grow bigger than a human head (I am a little sheltered so forgive me if I seem a little over zealous at the sight of large sunflowers 😛 )! Lovely field, filled with pops of sunshine coloured flowers!
So after the fair, as I mentioned earlier, we were asked to prepare a cultural performance. So I put together (with the help of my fellow colleagues on the trip) a dance routine featuring the three main ethnic groups in Malaysia; the Malays, the Chinese, and the Indians. We also featured ourselves in our traditional outfits. I wore this Indian ensemble of a jippa (the top) and vesti tunde (the bottom half and the shawl). The performance went well.
Ah Thailand 7-Eleven. I would be addicted to all the wonderful things available in Thailand 7-Eleven! After the performance we took a little stroll out of the campus grounds to a stretch of shops adjacent from the main gate of the university. We obviously stopped by at a 7-Eleven. Some of my best finds (throughout the trip) were the flavoured yoghurt and the pork burgers. I also loved the rice cracker treats with seaweed and pork floss! Ah heaven! I am such a meat eater!!!
More food! Hahaha! This is a street snack. It is like the thinnest crepe that is topped with sweetened coconut cream and flavoured coconut shavings. They are formed into this shape while still hot and when they cool down, they become crispy! Very reminiscent of kuih kapit (Malaysians would know this) minus the coconut cream and coconut shavings.
Ubon isn’t really a province that is well known for tourist attractions, however, there is a festival it is well known for; the Candle Festival. It is a grand celebration with parades, dancers, music and floats! The sculpture you see behind me is carved out of candle wax! Yes, candle wax! There’s even a Wikipedia page with a short entry about the festival (link here). Every year a new sculpture is carved for the festival at this scale no less! And this is but one float!
The other spot we visited was the Wat Phra That Nong Bua. The highlight of this temple is that the gold and white chedi (stupa, i.e. dome structure), loosely resembles the Mahabodhi stupa in Bodhgaya, India. Absolutely beautiful! This visit was very spiritual in nature for me. I prayed for my family, my ancestors, and for my odissi.
The inner sanctum of the stupa. Just absolutely gorgeous!
Words to worship which I initially thought was in Sanskrit but is apparently a particular ancient language collectively known as Parkrit. This in particular is Pali which was the language of the earliest extant literature of Buddhism. I was in a state of absolute peace in that temple.
This was a building behind the main stupa. It seemed like a meditation hall of sorts.
The inside of the hall. You can see two little boys doing some work pinning cloth to the raised platform there. There were also two French tourists there (not in picture); perhaps the only other tourists I came across in Ubon. They too were mesmerised. They mumbled what sounded like, “si magnifique!” and I echoed in agreement by nodding my head with a resounding, SI MAGNIFIQUE!
We had dinner at this place called Smile Pub and Restaurant. It was a restaurant/bar with a very relaxed vibe to it. I do frequently patronise similar places here in Penang, so I was right at home. There was live music with a live band. The singer was belting out ballads in Thai. At one point however, she started singing, with no forewarning, the Doraemon title song! I was a huge Doraemon fan which was a Japanese manga comic book series. It was later made to an animated TV series that aired in Malaysia. My colleagues and I (who were huge Doraemon fans themselves) sang along!
On my final night I noticed this picture on the wall of U-Place lobby. It was of the Wat Phra That Nong Bua!
After saying goodbye to Ubon and two flights later we hopped onto this! Our ride from Hat Yai Airport to the travel agent where we were to board the van back to Penang. Funny enough, what we thought was going to be a brief ride on this open concept vehicle took about 40 minutes! I had sand in my mouth! 😮
So that ended a wonderful trip to Thailand!
I hope you enjoyed this journey with me!
Thank you so much for reading guys!