Aaron’s Blog

Photo of the Week: View from the Hammock

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View from the Hammock

Sometimes you just need to relax and enjoy all that the world has to offer and be thankful for what you have been given.  It’s so easy to get tied up with all of the little details of life, even when traveling, and it’s important to spend a little time reflecting on what really matters.  It’s easier to do this when you can sit in a hammock on a rooftop by your pool.

Cuz Phuket, it’s cheap! – The Phuket Night Market

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Inspecting Dresses

One of the great staples of Southeast Asia is the ever-prevalent night market.  This is where all of the vendors, after spending a day napping in a chair in their shops while tourists play at the beach, wake up and hawk their wares in consumergasm of hundreds of small stalls while the smells of street foods seep into every nook and cranny. It’s something that you’ll find all over the area, but the Phuket Night Market is a superlative version of this fixture.

A Myriad of ColorsThe market, which is especially happening on the weekends, is located in Phuket Town.  Just ask where you’re staying and they’ll be able to tell you how to get there.  There are hundreds of stalls arrayed into some unholy mixture of a shopping mall and a circus.  The white tent-like tops of the small stalls meet blue tarps covering the narrow aisles of the market.

There are a large assortment of different vendors there, though you will undoubtedly see many of the same items repeated at numerous different stalls (I’m looking at you “Ray Ban” sunglasses).  Still there is just a huge amount of stuff to look at here, and you’ll be hard pressed to leave there feeling like you haven’t gotten enough retail therapy.  Additionally, you can find some pretty fantastic deals in the murky depths of the market, though you’ll have to bargain to get them.  Read more

Phuket Beach: The Nudist Beach You Wish Wasn’t

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When one hears the term nude beach, images of perfectly cut, bustily appointed, olympic-athlete-meets-fashion-model perfection comes to mind.  Unfortunately, there is an inescapable phenomenon in the world of nudistry: the likelihood of an individual deciding to bare it all is inversely proportional to the number of people who would desire to see that person naked.  Of course, the one exception is where money and/or Hugh Hefner are involved, but as they are rarely present at most beaches, we will leave that for now.  Instead, what you find is a large number of nude sun worshipers that venture down to the tropical beaches to tan their already leathered hides to the point of cracking. This is what you will find on Phuket Beach.

First, let’s give the beach itself some credit, it is extremely beautiful.  White sand spread across a tropical landscape full of palm trees and hugging crystal clear blue water.  It is what you think of when you think of tropical beach.  The kind of beach that you keep on your desktop wallpaper in hopes that staring at it long enough might transport you there.  In that respect, Phuket beach is definitely a winner.

Where it loses is in the crowd of nudists that lays interspersed across the beach.  I should not that Phuket beach, along with all Thai beaches, is not intended to be a nudist beach.  It is actually rude in Thai culture to show that much skin. (How they justify that belief with what goes on in the ping pong shoes in Bangkok is a topic for another day).  However, Thailand makes a huge amount of money on tourism, so they want their tourists to be happy, and hold their tongues when some formerly-white-but-now-orange person decides to strip down.

So instead of seeing this:

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What you really see is closer to this:

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Welcome to Phuket.  Please, for all of our sakes, please keep it on.

Beautiful Crescents: The Islamic Arts Center

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Courtyard of the Islamic Museum

Malaysia is one of the bastions of Islam in the Asian world, and it is a heritage of which the people are most proud.  As a tribute to this tradition, the Islamic Arts Museum has gathered over 7,000 artifacts from throughout the Islamic world in order to show off the beauty of the art that the world’s second largest religion.   From the building itself to the vast collection, it is a display not to be missed.

Islamic MuseumUnlike the majority of the Islamic Arts displays that you may see in Europe, which focus primarily on the Islamic homelands in the middle east, this display complements those items with a large colleciton of artifacts from the Asian Islamic world. India, China, and Southeast Asia are well represented and it is nice to see this critical (and populous) part of the world get it’s fair share of the glory.

Among the items on display, a large number of Islamic books, including beautifully detailed copies of the Quran, are truly incredible.  It’s amazing to think of how much work and care went in to the crafting of a single copy.  If you think yourself pious for going to the occasional service, try spending a year or more to carefully reproduce your holy text.  It truly shows the dedication that the people had for their holy book.

Foyer of the Islamic MuseumBeyond this, there are a large number of rugs and other fabrics, pottery, jewelry, and other finery including all kinds of clothing from thorughout the Muslim world.  Add to this the impressive collection of arms and armor and you have several hours worth of treasures to explore.  Just don’t forget to marvel at one of the most impressive treasures – the museum itself.  It makes the whole experience enjoyable and puts you in the perfect mindset to enjoy the beauties on display.  Not to be missed.

Photo of the Week: Radiator Heaven

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Circuit Board Building

The back of a building in Kuala Lumpur looks more like a circuitboard rather than a residence, but the large assortment of air conditioning units makes for some great atmosphere.  Kuala Lumpur is a densely packed metropolis so there are often many people crammed into relatively modest building.  I suppose it’s just good they actually have air conditioning.

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