Bike your way around Thailand in Muang Boran

Muang Boran or Ancient Siam, known to be the world’s largest museum, is one my favorite places in Thailand. I always recommend this place to friends and tourists who have limited time to spend in Bangkok because it offers a glimpse of what Thailand has to offer; from the golden temples, ruins of Ayutthaya, floating market, reclining Buddha, to the monkey temple up in a hill. Muang Boran is a vast land of over 200 acres in the shape of Thailand where miniatures of historical and tourist attractions are located at their exact spot in the country.

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I visited the Ancient City last weekend with my friend Pat who was on a 2-day transit from Kathmandu to Manila. It was my second visit since 2011 when I took my mom there. So much have changed since then, including a hefty entrance fee of THB700 (21USD) as compared to the THB400 fee before. But since I have a work permit, I was able to get the Thai rate which is only THB350. The fee includes the bike rental but if you don’t know how to bike, you can also take the tram.

How to get there
Depending on where you are in Bangkok, the best and most convenient way for me is to take the BTS to the last station Bearing. From there you can take the taxi which will cost about THB250 (8USD). This will work best if you travel in a group and share the cost. Otherwise you can take the bus but since I haven’t tried this option, it’s better you check their website.


I was in awe at this Ancient City that the first time I went there I just savored the feeling without ever thinking where it is coming from. But last weekend I am able to reflect some of the reasons why I will never have enough of it.

Communing with nature
I am a nature lover and living in metropolitan Bangkok makes my heart yearn for green things, lakes and cool breeze. Some tourist destinations make me feel exhausted at the end of the day but Muang Boran is such a stress-reliever. Imagine lying on a grass with a cool wind kissing your cheeks! And cycling is a good de-stressor, and with a pinch of yoga oh I just had an awesome Sunday. Here’s a photo of me trying to do the crow pose and another photo in the office showing my progress 5 days after, yeehaaa!

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Stunning historical structures
For someone like me who fancy anything old or vintage, much more ruins, Ancient Siam offers stunning architectural structures which bring century-old stories in it. You will also be amazed at how intricate the designs are which reflect Thais’ stellar craftsmanship.

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Beautiful gardens
There are several gardens around Ancient Siam which come in different styles. Some have fountains, human-sized figurines, hanging plants and various ornamental and flowering plants.

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Local food and cultural experience
It was during lunch at the floating market where we contemplated that Muang Boran does not just offer a taste of local food but also offers a cultural experience. And since I believe that a cultural experience is something we acquire on a personal basis, you have to get there to experience it yourself.

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It is needless to say that Muang Boran or Ancient Siam with its grandiose beauty will make every photography enthusiast salivate.

If you want to visit the Ancient City and you’ve got some questions feel free to drop a comment.

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Take a bow with grace

Women in India“It feels painful right now, but I can take a bow with grace.”

At the height of a political tension, I got a very emotional email from a young woman MP. I admire her because she chose to lose and be consistent with what she stands for instead of turning herself into an opportunist who jumps off to where she can find shield and greener pasture. A woman who explicitly speaks about contentious topics easily becomes vulnerable particularly in a male dominated society.

Someone told me I am married to my work and that I talk about it anywhere even on Facebook. He expressed his annoyance on some of my posts where I rant about how conventional media is shaping women’s mindset, making them feel that being inferior and martyr is the way to show their love for a man is true.

Is it okay to say I understand his irritation because he is a man? I am not sure if saying so doesn’t make me stereotypical. What I know for sure is that the depth at which men view women as subordinates is too deep I don’t think I will ever witness the end of women’s fight for basic human rights ending in my lifetime. Awareness alone is not enough to change a man –or a woman’s—long held beliefs of gender roles and cultural norms which are the main culprit of gender violence. It requires a man’s recognition that something is wrong in our society and make the effort to confront his cemented mindset of gender roles; I understand this is not easy. It also stems from a woman’s recognition of her value and rights, and learn to stand up for what she deserves; I understand this is not easy too.

It feels odd why I have to explain to him why I post so much about feminism –I could have just said that men like you who prefer to keep a blind eye is the reason why I do what I do — but I did explain.

A colleague once asked me, “How do we really end violence against women?” I can imagine thousands of answers sprouting in my head like mushrooms that suddenly transformed into a web where one is interlinked to the other. I chose a simple answer, “It must start in the family.”

Children conceive the pillars of their consciousness at home. Unfortunately the case is often where young boys see how their father dominates in the family and young girls see how their mother accepts their inferior role. Then they go to school and read textbooks filled with gender biases and immerse themselves in a society that reaffirms this set up.

Gender violence and inequality have several facets and faces and I understand the importance of tailoring our subject on what people can relate. I have diverse friends on Facebook of which many of them are empowered women. Still, I post if only to keep the idea floating. Who knows it can provoke someone into evaluating his/her preconceived notions around these issues?

I know a lot of women who lost their confidence after a breakup. They start to question their value thinking it is not enough for a man to continue loving her. They carry this feeling of inadequacy without realizing it manifests in how they view themselves, how they relate to others, how they work and in general how they live. Some women are so weak the only way they restore their self-affirmation is to get the man back by pleasing him. Submissiveness is never a genuine act of love because if we cannot see our own worth, we can never learn how to truly value other’s worth.

How women handle a relationship is carried over marriage and what she imparts to her children. I cannot be so idealistic as to think I can change the world. But I am hoping to extend my message in whatever ways I can that our value lies within us, not on how we are treated by a man. We should not allow men’s intimidation –be it in a relationship, in school, at work– to hinder us from reaching our fullest potential. As long as we allow a man to affect us and paralyze our morale, our gender will always be looked upon as weak and incapacitated.

Women India

I believe in the ripple effect and I understand that the principal individuals we can influence are those around us. I cannot inculcate any insights to women –or men– I could not reach out. I don’t know if my writings make any difference although my mom once told me someone who is not even my Facebook friend but who gets to read some of my public posts said it inspired her. After all, this is what matters most right? Making a difference on how one person feels about herself/himself is more than enough.

I may be married to my work but this is only because what I do is not just a means to earn a living, it has become my calling, my vocation. A colleague told me that I have this personality appeal that makes people to want to talk to me, which perhaps she noticed when a lot of our colleagues would comfortably email me. Somehow I managed to bestow myself with the license to be a certified confidante for longer than I can remember. In fact our school principal before has warned me that if I continue to be like this – a sponge – I will face the problem of not being able to deal with my own emotional turmoil. She was right.

Despite my own emotional struggles and burnout, I rise each day and keep going. I always remind myself that my adversities are nothing more than the suffering faced by other women; those women whose tongue were cut and electrified in Iraq during Saddam Hussein’s time; women who experienced genital mutilation in Africa; women who were raped, trafficked; the cases of violence are enormous. I rise because it takes one woman to inspire another. And like what the woman parliamentarian had said, we must take each bow with grace.

Illuminate

I love the meaning of your name, illuminate. When you told me what your name means, I imagined a candle illuminating its light in a dark room; a ray of sunlight illuminating a gloomy dawn. Thank you for being just that in my life.

Sunrise in Kathmandu, Nepal

I still remember the first time we met. It was my first trip to your country and I was anxious because it was also my first trip alone abroad. I saw you holding a paper with my name on it, surveying the crowd to look for that stranger you were tasked to pick up. When our eyes crossed, there was an instinctive recognition. We both smiled.

Introvert as I am, I find it hard to talk to people I just met. But with you, I felt that connection instantly. You were so kind enough to make me feel at home. You never hesitated to provide me assistance and even toured me around Thamel despite your tiresome day.

Even if we are far apart and seldom see each other, I see you as a good friend. I travel a lot and meet people from diverse walks of life. But you are among those who made a mark in me. It is because I can see in you depth and maturity, characters that stand out from the superficiality of the many people I have encountered.

I want to let you know how I admire you for choosing a career that you love and enjoy doing. I know people who only wish to be a doctor, engineer or lawyer for the social status it gives them –which I see as delusional status– yet they are neither happy doing it nor find meaning in it. I also know people who chose a simple yet more fulfilling life. I even have a friend who let go of a Fulbright scholarship and chose to stay in the Philippines to help the farmers.

If I can divide myself into two, I will let my other half do what you are doing right now and work in the hospitality industry. Not everyone is lucky enough to find out what it is that makes them feel alive at a young age. Yet you had easily discovered your passion and have started to trek that path. I know sooner that I’d thought, you will make your dreams a reality.

The last time we were together, I took this photo. I hope like sunrise, you will continue to be a light to other people; let your heart illuminate and brighten the lives of those you will serve.