me Life and Times of the Fireflies: July 2017

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Travel Diary - Tiger Kingdom Phuket

There's lots to see and do in Thailand, but most tour guides or websites will tell you that there are 5 "must see" places to visit - The famous Phi Phi Islands tour, exploring Phang Nga Bay, the cultural FantaSea theme park, visiting the Big Buddha, and Elephant trekking. It's not a bad idea to avoid some of these and go in pursuit of the hidden (and less populated) gems of Thailand, because most of the time, these top 5  places are packed with tourists!

We opted not to visit Big Buddha because there was a little climbing of a mountain involved and nobody was interested in exerting too much energy while on vacation (well..except me) - plus it was extremely hot. And we knew straight up that we didn't want to do the elephant trekking or watch the famed Fantasea show because the kids had a bit of an issue with animals in captivity and using them for human entertainment, cos apparently, they also did some research ( who would've thought)!!!

I mention this because even after declining to do these two very popular tourist attractions because of the issues of animals, we still found ourselves at Tiger Kingdom! Tiger Kingdom was not something that came up while doing our research on Thailand, and was never on our list of things to do; but we found ourselves here during our first day tour of the island, and two of my kids were very eager to have an up close experience with the tiger cubs.

As is to be expected, the place was packed; so what we did was get ourselves a ticket/number with an estimated time of when it would be our turn, went for lunch to a nearby mall, and came back. By the time we returned, we could go straight in. The younger kids are only allowed to interact with the smaller cubs, while adults get to interact with the bigger cats. You have an option to get professional pics taken while interacting with the tigers, but I passed on this in an attempt to save a couple of bucks and I totally regret it now since I didn't have a proper camera with me and I'm a bit disappointed with how my pictures turned out.

I have always been in awe of these flame coloured big cats so it t was a little surreal being up close to these majestic animals! I only wish that the experience could've lasted a little longer. Everything is so fast paced because the place is so busy and there are long queues of people waiting their turn. There's good direction from staff as to what's allowed and what's not and they are hands on and alert in order to make the experience playful and not frightful - they are wild animals after all!

After my tiger encounter and spending a little time in the compound, I left feeling a little conflicted. It was amazing being able to see these animals up close, but it also felt so wrong seeing them in an enclosed environment when they were designed to be free. I also feel that of we were going to compromise on the whole animal encounters experience, then I would have rather chosen the elephant trekking, just because it's longer. Either way, I still feel conflicted regarding the whole thing.

On another note - after 2 days of sleeping and swimming and just plain chilling; I decided to put some effort into my appearance for my first day out in the form of tinted sunblock, some mascara and a bright coloured lipstick. This lasted for all of breakfast before it was completely melted off. Thailand is hot, people! Thailand is so very HOT!

My attempt at looking half decent





For more on our Thailand vacation, read :
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Travel Diary - Chalong Temple Phuket, Thailand

There are lots of different kind of travellers out there - those travelling on a budget, or travelling by private jet - First class, business class or economy. Then there's the backpackers, some who choose to work and travel simultaneously, young travellers, retired folk with an empty nest finally getting to see the world, people who have given up everything they own to truly find themselves through travelling, and the guy who packs a little suitcase and travels across continents just to sleep late, miss breakfast and sit by the poolside and relax (my husband).
And then you get the type of traveller who packs half their wardrobe, some make up and medicine, 5 pairs of shoes but only wears one, gym clothes that never makes it out of the suitcase, jackets...just in case...even though their destination is the desert. Camera. Back up camera. They research their destination from six months prior to leaving in order to familiarise themselves with all the must see locations at said destination.  Who is up at the crack of dawn in order to get an early start and cover as much ground as possible, and also annoyingly cheerful and overly enthusiastic about EVERYTHING.(In case it wasn't already obvious, this last paragraph was totally a description of me...give or take - I may have intentionally left out a few extras).
What I'm trying to say, is that everyone has a different idea and goal when it comes to travelling. For my husband; it is a time to unwind, relax and retreat from the stresses of work. For me, it is to immerse myself into the life, culture and history of the country I am visiting. So when we plan our vacations, there's often a compromise to be made, and we have to make sure that everyone gets the experience they are looking for.
I mentioned it before, but it's worth mentioning again, that had it not been for the tour company's incessant calls; we may never have left the hotel and we would've missed the best parts of Thailand! Lucky for us, we didn't; and our first proper excursion out of the hotel grounds was on day 3...after 2 days of sleeping late, missing breakfast and lounging by the pool ;-) We hired a vehicle; which turned out to be a very spacious mini van, with much needed air-conditioning, complimentary bottles of water and a tour guide. Surprisingly, it is cheaper to hire a vehicle of this sort for an entire day than it is to commute in the famous Thai Tuktuks!!
Originally we were just planning to go shopping, but since we had the help of a proper tour guide, we made our way to the most popular sights of the Island instead, the first of which was Chalong Temple.
Chalong Temple
You cannot visit Thailand and not visit one of their temples. It's like coming all the way to Cape Town and not going to see the iconic Table Mountain!
Buddhist temples are one of the most important and revered symbols of Thailand; partly because the majority of Thais are Buddhists, and partly because they are breathtakingly beautiful! In Phuket alone there are about 29 Buddhist temples; the biggest and most popular among tourists being Chalong Temple.


Inside, you can feast your eyes on elaborate artwork and paintings that adorn the walls and ceilings illustrating the life of Buddha, and the hallways are lined with several golden, life sized statues. The temple is quite busy during the day; filled with locals and travellers alike who have come either to pray, pay their respects, or learn something interesting about Buddhism.


Chalong Temple is a massive place made up of the main temple, as well as several smaller, equally beautiful buildings surrounding the main temple. It's made up of three floors, each housing interesting sculptures and artefacts.
On the very top floor you will be able to get a birds eye view of the entire place. The view from the top is pretty amazing and also a great photo opportunity...provided you don't mind the scorching heat or burning your feet on the hot floors! Some areas were a bit more populated with tourists than other, but the were several quieter spots where you could just enjoy your surroundings and soak it all in.
The ornate and intricate architecture is definitely a feast for the eyes! 

Not a bad pic courtesy of the Instagram husband! Redeemed himself after the Dubai desert disaster

My feet were burning like crazy...but I was determined to get a cute pic!

You need a good couple of hours to explore the place fully, but we only visited the main temple since we still wanted to cover other tourist places for the day. Outside of the temple, but still part of temple grounds, the road is lined with a market place selling food, drinks and trinkets...and lots of fresh coconuts!! 


Things to remember when visiting Buddhist Temples
  • Dress modestly. For women, this means shoulders must be covered and nothing above the knee; and men are supposed to wear long pants and nothing sleeveless. They did allow the men in with short though.
  • Take your shoes off before entering the temple.
  • Best times to go is early morning (if you are into waking up early) or late afternoon. It's not as hot and also not as busy.
  • Take a good camera. I didn't on this particular day and regretted it! Pictures turned out ok I think.
And that's it! Our time at Chalong Temple :-) Ending this post off with this gem of a family pic. Can you tell that I'm the only one into this whole tourist experience and excited to take pictures!? Haha
Thanks for reading!

Monday, 10 July 2017

Dressing up on Eid

When I was a child, there was a lot of fuss and excitement revolving around Eid, and dressing up on Eid day was something I always looked forward to. As I grew into my teens, and we listened out for any sightings of the moon; the first thing I'd do when I heard the takbeer, was smear my lips with my brightest lipstick while finishing up any last minute chores I had to do in the kitchen. Eid was a celebration, and dressing up in our finest was a big part of that celebration...but somewhere between then and now, the excitement to dress up has waned.
While most people worry about what to wear for Eid, I am always conflicted about whether I should dress up on Eid  day at all! As a woman and a mom, so much effort goes into making Eid say special for everyone else, and I feel like so much time gets spent in the kitchen that it makes dressing up feel a little pointless. I'm no glamour mamma, and the idea of prancing around the kitchen in heels is not very appealing to me! Seriously...I can't be in the kitchen and look decent at the same time. 
And then we have social media showing us images of these perfectly put together moms balancing their kids on their hips while also balancing on a fabulous pair of high heels...all while I'm running around like a headless chicken in either pyjamas, or a tights and hubby's oversized T-shirt (which, let's face it, also doubles up as pyjamas), dishevelled hair with the streaks of grey I never had a chance to cover up! Yeah, since becoming a mom, dressing up on Eid is not as exciting as it used to be.
But I have become determined to make Eid more exciting once again. I don't want to simplify a day that holds such great value in our faith; even if it means putting in a little extra effort to do so. I want to build a strong foundation of memories and traditions for our kids to hold on to and also pass on; and it all starts with what they see us do. I've also gotten a lot better at time management so that I am at least partially decent by the time the men get home from mosque and try and remain that way for a good portion of the day ;-)
For me it's more about holding onto tradition in a time where it's dying down in favour of pop culture. So as self-indulgent as an Eid outfit post may seem, added to that the narcissistic nature of social media; this is just here as a reminder in times when I feel conflicted, that days like these are meant to be celebrated...and dressing in our best is a big part of it.

Threw an open front Abaya over my outfit for the morning



Black velvet dress with embroidery detail : Woolworths
Black trouser (old) : Woolworths
Shoes (old) : Foschini
Open Abaya (old) : Dubai
Scarf : Riehana's Scarves
Earrings : H&M  Thailand
Pearl cluster ring : Thailand
Photographs : 2Cherries Photography
Thanks for reading!