Monday, December 27, 2010

Experimental Wind farms

The first blog posted here was on the stretch of salt farms between Samut Sakhon and Samut Songkhran provinces. This is a view from the restaurant I frequented when passing through.

In recent times, there are several wind turbines installed here. Quite a contrast seeing the new alongside the old. Renewable energy always catch my attention.

Another cluster of smaller turbines in the vicinity.

Unfortunately, I hardly see them spin whenever passing through! Seem they have yet to prove their usefulness over the traditional wind mills!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hua Hin Hills Vineyard

When I first came to know of vineyards in Thailand, my first reaction was "Wow, Thailand seems to have it all!" There are several vineyards in Khao Yai Valley, about 3 hrs drive north-east of Bangkok. But further south in Hua Hin area? You got to believe it, there is one around - Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, some 40KM west of Hua Hin.

Somebody marked the way there from Hua Hin on Google maps.

View Hua Hin Hills Vineyard in a larger map

Greeted by "The Sala", a restaurant perched on a hill top as one arrives.

The red potted plants add some color to the entrance, contrasting with the scenic backdrop.

I like the view of curve roof and high entrance into the restaurant.

Great view as one walks in.

Seating with open views to go with the food and wines.

Thai wine to go with Thai appetizers...

The property spreads over 560 acres!

A lovely afternoon here with a cool breeze...

Living the moments here..

Nice panoramic shots with my Sony Nex-5

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Monk initiation ceremony

It is customary for men in Thailand to spend a part of their life through the passage of monk hood. I've posted some of the processions seen before. This time I witnessed one as an invited guest. The son of my friend P'Piak was entering monk hood.

This is a joyous occasion.. witness the mood of the procession!

Arriving the temple mid-day for lunch - with swiftlets' condo in the backdrop.

Thai temples has their distinctive architecture - the roof in particular.

These tents roof over 100 tables i.e. more than 1000 guests!

Huge pots & big woks - food preparations for the banquet!

Of course, all my bird farming friends were there too.

P'Piak & family (less the son obviously) ...

After lunch, the procession arrived at the temple...

The new monk with hands clasped in prayer followed behind.

This lovely lass is dressed for the occasion.

Undue attention can be stressful too.

Well I won't mistaken such as wedding procession as I did before!

Giving way to ducks

Ducks are seen occasionally feeding along irrigation canals in rural areas. Normally they do not wander off to obstruct roads. This time I stopped to watch how farmers herd them up a truck.

They were driven off their feeding area..

... onto the roadside,

...then in to make shift holding pans leading up a gangway to be truck away - last journey perhaps!

It was time approaching Chinese New Year, I visited my friend whose family business is supplying braised ducks to restaurants. Guess this is how they ended up.

Demand peaks this time of the year, cooking round the clock for 2 days with a production line operation - overs 4,000!

So this is another glimpse into life in rural province.

Lessons of "self-sufficiency economy" - Part 1

During the last world economic recession, the export oriented economic sector was much affected. His Majesty the King has since advocate the country to follow a more resilient economic model of 'self-sufficiency'.

This message come to light again while I was on way to Keang Krachang National Park recently, came across this "Sufficiency Economy Learning Center". I soon discovered this is also a rehabilitation & reform center of drug offenders.

Open to public, this showcases various activity that can be promoted in rural communities.

Took me a while to realize this key shaped 'welcome' sign signifies the unlocking of knowledge within - how meaningful!

The entrance area has a number of mud huts, this is a barber shop service provided by inmates.

The other side is a coffee shop manned by inmates too.

Wall photos of the King & Queen in their younger active days.

Flower-shaped mud cup holders to place your coffee.

This is a meeting room

Another building in progress. Our guide - a reformed drug peddler still have six months remaining to serve before discharge.

Central to this theme is the use mud bricks, made of mud & grain husk mixture. Most impressive is their creative & artistic expressions.

Animal husbandry are pigs that generate cash income and its feces are fed to sealed tank to produce methane gas for cooking in the kitchen.

Mother pigs & piglets - she is huge!

Goats that provides milk too.

This tunnel like bamboo structure supports various creeping vegetables. One that I would duplicated in my farm.

There are numerous economic models here. I was more into a learning mood than taking photos. This place warrants a second visit and I shall feature them in future.

Finally this is the inmates quarters - another mud hut of course!

Beds for 20 here - far end is an open toilet shared by all.

This is truly an eye opener. What an excellent approach to combine drug offenders reform with 'self sufficiency economy'!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Wild elephants watching - Kuiburi National Park

On the way back towards Hua Hin after visiting Dan Sing Khong, I took a detour into KuiBuri National Park.

It was about 3pm in the afternoon. Lucky us, we met the ranger at the Park HQ who was about to lead a small convoy to watch wild elephants.

Our guide, Khun Somchai

This was an exciting time for me, may be with some anxiety. Seen many tame elephants at theme parks and Bangkok streets. Encounter with an wild elephant? My first experience!

He led us to another part of the park about 20km away.
The check point en route to the observation area.

We learned there are 168 elephants & more than 15 tigers in the wild here.
The waterhole is walking distance away and animals would come for a drink or a bath.

As we arrived, a group was watching a black bear perched on a tree top. Without the ranger's guidance, it would be hard to spot them!

We drove along dirt tracks with the ranger in radio contact with others elsewhere looking out for the elephants. After an hour, sometimes hap hazard about turns to rendezvous with other groups, we came back to the water hole where a male elephant was feeding.

If you are unprepared with binoculars, you may rent one from the park HQ.

A privilege few had vantage point.

Keeping a safe distance, we all watch in silence with respect to the animal.

Catching a last glimpse before departing.

I did wondered about personal safety as we wondered around in the wild. But I placed trust with the rangers escorting us. We also hear about their close encounters at times. The huts at the observation center were manned by rangers. They are armed in event of animal attacks during the night which did occurred in the past.