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Archive for the ‘Travel’ category

Mardi Himal Trek, Nepal

September 30th, 2019

From our 5-day trek to about 14,000 ft above the sea level for a clear view of Machapuchare Peak in Nepal back in March 2019.

While walking through different terrains and weather conditions was challenging at some point, our bodies and minds came back fully energized. We also gained new perspective from learning through seeing and talking with the various people on the trails about how management was done in such difficult landscape.

In April our studio was invited to visit our clients’ home in Belgium and our friends’ in The Netherlands. It was our first time traveling in Europe in spring so, in-between works and visits to museums, galleries, and markets, we found ourselves taking peaceful strolls in local botanical gardens and parks whenever we had a chance. Seeing the emergence of fresh leaves and blooming of flowers in mass was truly and positively refreshing after a long year of hard work.

Here are the nice gardens and parks we visited during our three-week stay:

Den Botaniek, Antwerp, Belgium
Kralingse Bos & Plas, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Trompenburg Tuinen & Arboretum, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Slot Zeist, Zeist, The Netherlands
Aalst Stadpark, Aalst, Belgium

Modernism in Phnom Penh

February 29th, 2016

Images from our short weekend trip to the mid-century modern Phnom Penh.
Khmer Architecture Tour

Around this time last year we were traveling in the Central part of Myanmar – from Mandalay to Bagan to Inle Lake. Hopping from town to town via different modes of transportation. We did, of course, flew in to Mandalay from Bangkok. The flight only takes two hours.

From Mandalay to Bagan, we decided to take a 10-hour slow (real slow) cruise down the Ayeyarwady River. The scenery, I find, was fresh and pure especially since we are from Thailand where it is getting more and more difficult to find a place untainted by over-development and the excessive use of cement. There, we saw hundreds of white and gold pagodas popping up in the skyline of just greenery and rice fields. However, taking a cruise in July was a bit cruel due to the heat. The month was a low season and there weren’t many cruise lines operating as well. Once in Bagan, it was biking everywhere. There were hundreds of trails we took to hop from one pagoda to the next.

From Bagan to Inle Lake we took an 8-hour bus ride. Most passengers on the bus from Bagan were tourists. Along the way we stopped from hamlet to hamlet to pick up more passengers who were mostly locals. Low plastic stools were added in the middle aisle so everyone could sit down. I don’t remember exactly if the stools were brought in by the passengers or were provided on the bus.

Unexpectedly, taking the bus was a nice choice because it drove through Myanmar Highlands, which was breathtaking. The air was clean and fresh – a sharp contrast from the arid Bagan. Some people got off in Kalaw to join a 4-5-day trek through the woods to Inle Lake. We didn’t know about this but we’ll definitely do it the next time we visit the region.

We returned to Mandalay on a 45-min flight. It was fine although I would have preferred a bus ride. It gave us some time to explore Mandalay. Besides the beautiful wooden temples, what we loved and not miss very much was the local foods. Wish I knew where to find Mandalay foods in Bangkok.

Hotel in Old Bagan: Aye Yar River View Resort
Hotel in Inle Lake: Myanmar Treasure Resort

From Sydney to Melbourne

June 12th, 2014

The weather was perfect when we visited the southeastern part of Australia earlier this June – a nice break from the unusually hot temperature in Bangkok this summer. For this two-week trip we spent a good number of days in Sydney then traveled eight hours by train to Melbourne. We were definitely in love with these Australian cities for their walkability. The marks of the past can also be seen throughout the cities as if to remind everyone that, in order to move forward gracefully, learning and understanding your past is an unavoidable step.

Even though there was so much to see and do in the cities, we were still able to find time to get out and visited several National Parks, such as, Blue Mountains, Port Stephens, The Otway and Great Ocean Road, and, lastly, The Grampians. The amazing diversities and richness of flora and fauna of Australia made us wish we had planned to stay longer.

Recommendation for tours from Melbourne:
Wildlife Tours Australia

Hong Kong

February 28th, 2014

Sharing some photos from our quick trip to Hong Kong last November. It was our second trip to the city after more than 20 years. I find Hong Kong is a culture-rich living city that constantly grows from its strong historical and artistic roots so beautifully. New and old are well mixed together. That’s probably why after each visit there is always something new to admire. Within this short visit, we also squeezed in a little day trip to Tai-O Village, a quiet fishing village known for its stilt houses and a laid-back atmosphere, in the western tip of Lantau Island. This was indeed a nice destination and an easy escape from always-so-busy Hong Kong and Kowloon.


August 9th, 2013

During the past few months our studio, as a part of ‘Cartesian Planning Lab,’ a design & research collaborative amalgamate, which includes urban planners, basic and applied researchers, design researchers, and designers, took on a design research project to study potentials/constraints as well as develop future scenarios and development directions for a small agricultural town in Central Thailand called, Chainat.

Being off the main path of railways and major highways Chainat is naturally embedded with laid-back, low-key charms of a rural life. With Chaophraya River cutting through from Nakhonsawan, a bigger, more developed province to the north where the river is formed, and mostly pristine river banks, the portion of Chaophraya River here is serene and rich with aquatic life. Because of its flat geography, there are also many rice fields. And, while most buildings in Chainat are no taller than two stories, we find the open sky here quite special, day and night.

It might seem as if it is suggested that Chainat is a perfect place to do nothing or lead a slow life. Inevitably, change and development cannot be avoided and compromises have to be made. We believe that future of a city is not to be pinpointed by any one individual but rather everyone within and around it. After several stays in Chainat and having been living in several fully-developed cities we have learnt that, like life, knowing what is worth preserving might be one of the most valuable lessons in development of a city or town.

Kumano Kodo

December 1st, 2012

This November we had an opportunity to travel to Japan to attend Good Design Award 2012 Ceremony in Tokyo. While in Japan, we decided to add a side trip, which included a memorable 4-day hiking trip on Kumado Kodo Pilgrimage Trails in Kii Prefecture. This was our first time being in the woods in Japan although we tend to stay near civilization throughout most of our hikes. Going back and forth between nature and civilization we were really impressed by the equally well-maintained and well-managed environment in both settings. Evidently, continuous efforts are put in to keep the nature pristine as well as the towns in order. With everything seems to be thought out in Japan there are always things we can learn from. Inspirations can be found everywhere. It indeed confirms our belief that good things do not happen by coincidence but rather accomplished.

During this trip we encountered many nice helpful people and places that made a lasting good impression on us, here are a few we would like to mention:

Blue Sky Guesthouse
A super clean, small guesthouse we spent one night at in Kumano Hongu. It had just been fully renovated due to damages by flooding a few years earlier. The owner of the guesthouse is an energetic young man who went out of his way to help us with our travel around the area since there are not many buses passing between the mountain towns.

Minakata Kumagusu Archives
After arriving in Tanabe City by chance since we missed the bus to our next planned destination, we decided to spend the night here. It turned out that the beautiful building we had been eyeing on the travel brochure is here! So, after a laid-back morning stroll the next day, we visited the archives. The archives include a new modern building, a house Minakata Kumagusu used to work and live in, his garden, and his favorite camphor tree. I may have seen a camphor tree before but never really paid much attention to it. This tree in particular is indeed special. I find its magnificent height sensorially ties all the buildings together as well as provides just enough shade for the open space beneath. Writing about it now makes me miss standing under it again already.

Moon Festival 2012 in Yaowarat

September 30th, 2012

The weather was good tonight when we visited Charoenchai Community to attend their third annual Chinese Moon Festival Ceremony. The community is located on a small alley within Yaowarat (Bangkok’s Chinatown) and has undergone some preservative movement triggered by the advent of Wat Mangkon Kamalawat Subway Station.

Although not as well-known as other Chinese communities in Bangkok, such as, Klong Thom (an important trade community for electrical equipment) or Nakhonkasem (an important trade community for mechanical equipment as well as musical instruments), Charoenchai is an important trade community for Chinese ceremonial offerings. Visiting the alley during business hours would bring a pretty sight of vivid color, gold-adorned ceremonial paper products, incense sticks, red candles, etc. As part of the preservation effort, the community is now housed a hundred-year-old house museum where visitors can see the interior of one of the row houses that characteristically lined the alley. And, lastly, the popular “blue-collar noodles,” where one can get filled up with a giant bowl of noodles for 30 baht, is also located near the entrance of the alley.

Right now it’s uncertain what development direction the new subway stop will bring to this community and Yaowarat district. At least now the community is taking the time to learn about its strengths and weaknesses and gradually coming to understand itself better in order to prepare them for the inevitable changes. Rather than letting itself being transformed by the outside factors only, this community is taking control in developing its own transformation.

Happy Chinese Moon Festival 2012!


May 18th, 2012

Some images from our 4-day vacation at Anantara Veli Resort & Spa in beautiful and sunny Republic of Maldives. The landscape there was definitely as awe-inspiring as we had heard. Whether it is because of the country’s strict environmental laws or tourism being one of the main industries, Maldives’ landscape is being kept sparkling clean and development minimal and ecological. In this more and more commercialized world, this seems to be a win-win situation for both nature and civilization.

Anantara Veli Resort & Spa Maldives

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