Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Silly Signs Part Nine

On a recent trip, we discovered that Thailand may have Singapore beat in the weird sign department. A couple of examples:

A sign for a bakery...I hear they have great homemade lemonade! Hehe.
Just don't ask the secret ingredient...

Right down the beach from the Pee Pee Bakery is this gem. Apparently people drink too much, and their judgment is so impaired that they eat at the Pee Pee Bakery and make out with the fishes. Seriously, people. Drink responsibly, or you might find yourself making out with a swordfish.
Please refrain from getting amorous with the marine life.

So it seems that Thailand has some pretty sweet signage, but Singapore's still holding its own. Check out this sign from Outram Park MRT station. Other places might be more silly than Singapore, but I think Singapore is holding the top spot for being BLUNT. In the U.S., this sign would probably say something a little more euphemistic, like "Don't talk to strangers," or "Never trust an adult you don't know," but here they just come out and say it- that guy is probably a creepy child molester.
Probably a molester. Also, probably makes out with fish.

But Thailand can be no-nonsense at times too. Apparently they take soliciting very seriously on some of the beaches, and post signs to prohibit it. I just love the image- NO WALKING AROUND WITH BASKETS!
I need to post one of these next to my front door.

Also from the "supposed to be serious but made me laugh anyway" category, the signs from Singapore's recent election. There were signs EVERYWHERE in the weeks leading up to polling day. No big deal, except that the signs has the symbols for the political parties, two of which were hilarious. Apparently the Singapore Democratic Party fancies itself a bit intergalactic, and chose the Starfleet insignia from Star Trek as their emblem. Seriously! Tell me this doesn't look the Star Trek logo!
Live long and prosper, SDP
Star Trek logo

The People's Action Party also opted for a fanciful emblem, going a little more superhuman than intergalactic. Does their logo remind you of anything? I kept thinking that the PAP's logo looked like it belonged on a superhero's leotard. Then I realized that I might be thinking that because I'd already SEEN it on a superhero's leotard! THE FLASH!
Looks perfect for a superhero, right?
The Flash has superhuman speed

Sometimes all the election stuff could get annoying, particularly because trucks drive around with bullhorns mounted on them, belting out messages about voting for so-and-so. But when the election stuff got to be a little much, I'd just look at the signs and imagine that the election was really a race between The Flash and Captain Kirk, and that made the whole thing a lot more fun. And now that I know that Singapore is governed by superheroes and Vulcans, I finally understand how they keep the crime rate so low!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Admiralty Park

Bryan and I recently sat down and made a list of things that we want to make sure to do before we move away from Singapore. The list includes the Singapore Art Museum (check!), Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research (tricky because it's only open during the day on weekdays), and lots of nature-y places that we haven't visited yet, like Admiralty Park!

On our day off work for Vesak Day, we decided to tackle something from the list, and after reading the NParks page on Admiralty Park, which claimed we might see OTTER, we picked that. Duh. It was nice for us, because we just walked to Jurong East MRT station, took the train to Woodlands, and then walked the short distance to the back entrance of Admiralty. Easy-peasy.
South entrance

The park was just thrumming with birdlife. We could her chirping and singing in the trees all around us, even before we'd ventured very far into the park. Of course, we were playing the lizard game too, so we were scouting for lizards as we were peering up into the trees to see if there were any unusual birds around.  We stopped near a small pond of lilypads to watch the birds for awhile. Bryan photographed a scaly-breasted munia in some tall grass while I watched the obnoxious mynas and cute little sunbirds in the trees.
Scaly-breasted munia
Female common iora, not being a cooperative subject for a photo!

The first part of the park was pretty manicured, like a town garden, but there's a path that follows a more natural area, and we took that path. It was peaceful in Admiralty and the whole time we were there, we only saw a handful of other people. In fact, we saw more monkeys than people! As we followed the path, we heard some crashing in the trees, and spotted a group of monkeys. They were obviously not as accustomed to people as the Bukit Timah monkeys, and looked warily at us. Most of them leaped away, and some of them jumped right into the stream. The trees were thick so it was difficult to observe them, but it was fun to listen to them catapulting into the water.
Shy monkey

At about the halfway-point of the circular trail, there's a small mangrove area. We stopped there for a few minutes, watching a collared kingfisher and a couple of fat mudskippers. It was neat to see the mangrove habitat, as there isn't a lot of mangrove left in Singapore, but Admiralty's mangrove was smaller and less impressive than the bigger mangrove areas at Sungei Buloh and Pulau Ubin.
Collared kingfisher

The sky was getting a little dark so we didn't linger long, pushing ahead to the next half of the trail. We'd only gone a few steps when Bryan stopped us. He'd made an excellent sighting- a green crested lizard, super high in a tree. I don't know how he managed to see it from so far away! He must have really been wanting to beat me at the lizard game.
Green crested lizard

The green crested lizard got us discussing the lizard game, which Bryan and I play pretty much every time we walk outside, often resulting in us pointing and shouting "THERE'S ONE!" and looking like fools to people who have no idea what we're doing. Usually whoever spots the most lizards by the end of the day wins, but as we walked along the trail that day, we agreed that whoever spots a snake trumps the winner of the lizard game. About 2 minutes after agreeing on the rule modification, we stopped along the trail, debating about putting away the camera, since the sky was looking more and more ominous. As we stood there, I glimpsed something a little off about a sapling next to us. "SNAAAKE!" It was just a little guy, a skinny painted bronzeback...but it was enough to win me the game! Bryan couldn't believe I'd gotten so lucky, but naturally I chalked it up to my mad wildlife-spotting skills. As we watched, the snake jumped out of the tree and slithered away through the tall grass. Bronzebacks of several varieties (painted, striped, elegant, red-necked) are common in Singapore so this wasn't a super unusual sighting, but snakes are always exciting for us.
The painted bronzeback is common and non-venomous

Just as the snake disappeared into the grass, the skies opened up and delivered the rain that had been threatened for the past hour. It was a torrential downpour. Bryan quickly tugged out our umbrellas and I stood sideways, holding both umbrellas to shield the camera as Bryan stowed it in the backpack. It took him about 30 seconds but by the time he was done, one side of me was soaked all the way through. The side facing away from the rain was still freakishly dry. But about a minute of walking into the rain solved that, and Bryan and I were both thoroughly drenched. Eventually we found shelter and sat out the worst of the storm with some laborers who'd been planting trees. It was one of the bigger storms I've ever been caught outside for, but it wasn't as bad as the storm we endured at Sungei Buloh.
Weathering the storm at Admiralty

When the rain died down a little, we headed out of the park and sloshed our way back to the MRT. I think we both felt a little defeated, going home early and soaking wet, but even so, it was a nice day off work! AND I won the game!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Singapore Art Museum

One Friday, Bryan and I decided it was probably about time we visited the Singapore Art Museum. Admission is free every Friday from 6 to 9 PM, so we thought that would be the best time. Before heading to the museum, we got some dinner at Chijmes, a funky historical building that's been converted into a hip hangout full of bars and restaurants. The 130-year old religious complex has been gazetted as a national monument. I don't know much else about the history, but we had dinner at one of the bar/restaurants, and they made delicious pad thai!
Stained glass window inside
More pretty stained glass

After dinner, we walked over to the Singapore Art Museum (called SAM by the artsy crowd). It felt funny just to stroll past the reception desk without paying an admission fee (FYI, admission is usually $10).
Bryan and SAM

The first exhibit we saw turned out to be one of my overall favorites. In a small room, the white walls were covered with black bungee cord, creating a power line feel, and there were two giant black sculptures in the middle of the floor. The sculptures were reminiscent of chess pieces, and Bryan and I both liked them a lot.
They were about 10 feet tall!

*Ahem* I don't know much about art. So my artistic opinion isn't very sophisticated and mostly consists of "I like that one," "I don't like that one," and "That one looks like a giant chess piece." Mostly I feel like a prat when I try to speak intelligently about art, since I don't know much about it. If you want me to say something coherent, ask me about literature or animals. Anyway, my apologies if you're big on art and don't feel that I fully appreciate the genius of some of the pieces in the SAM's collection.

The next thing we encountered was the moving image gallery, where a bunch of chaotic, bizarre films were showing. The overarching theme seemed to be deviance and sexuality. It was kind of awkward and we didn't hang around, scooting along to the next exhibit, by Filipino artist Louie Cordero. The placard on the wall said that the exhibit was inspired by a spate of killings in the Philippines, in which people were murdered after singing Frank Sinatra's My Way at karaoke bars. Bryan and I were a little skeptical of this seemingly outrageous claim- did that really happen?!- but a little digging revealed that this did apparently happen (see this NY Times article). The exhibit was very striking, full of neon colors and freaky fiberglass bodies, with karaoke renditions of "My Way" croaking out of a videoke machine in one corner.
Creepy shadow
Love the toilet brushes

We didn't stop to admire every piece. The next one that really drew my attention was a set of three pairs of angel wings created by a husband-and-wife pair, also Filipino. The wings were constructed out of an unusual medium: flip-flops! The flip-flops were used, collected from Singapore prisons.
The Aquilizan couple's wings

Apparently I'm drawn to the creations of Filipino artists, because the Heritage Tunnel, a piece by Briccio Santos from Manila, was one of my favorites in the whole museum. It was a circular bookshelf with mirrors mounted in the top and bottom so that when you peered up or down, it looked like the books went on forever- like a dream come true!
Endless library

As we climbed the stairs to the second floor, we began to encounter signs warning parents that the upcoming section of the museum might be inappropriate for children, as it contained graphic images. When we entered the room that we'd been warned about, it was immediately apparent why parents had been cautioned. The first thing we saw was a squirrel-skin garment of some sort, displayed on a dressmaker's dummy. I didn't like it. All those dead squirrels made me want to cry. When I realized that the two dummies next to it were wearing snakeskin and goatskin, it just made it worse. I turned around and was confronted by a series of images by Manit Sriwanichpoom. The photos were taken during unrest in Thailand and contained dead bodies, one of which was shown, very graphically, hanging from a tree. A smiling man next to the corpse was winding up to hit him with a folding chair. A crowd was watching, some laughing, and some looking positively horrified. As if all that weren't haunting enough, a creepy middle-aged man in a garish pink silk tuxedo was edited into the black-and-white photo. He was standing next to a neon pink shopping cart, and watching the horror with a smirk. The other photos were in a similar vein, all with "Mister Pink" edited in, and I found them both repulsive and captivating at the same time, perhaps for the first time understanding the expression "It was like a trainwreck - I couldn't look away." We didn't photograph the images but if you're interested in them or the artist, you can see more here.

Adjacent to the Mister Pink series was another provocative piece by Thai artist Vasan Sitthiket. The piece was called "Committing Suicide Culture: The Only Way Thai Farmers Escape Debt." The eerie mood of the room containing all these unsettling pieces was amplified by the fact that it contained another artist's (Suzann Victor, a Singaporean) piece which consisted of lightbulbs connected by cords to a bar that was rhythmically moving up and down. As they moved the bulbs clanked and jangled discordantly against mirrors placed on the ground, creating a jarring soundtrack to the already bizarre mood in the room.
Way out of debt

We were almost out of the eerie part of the museum, but there was one more freaky display. As I walked past a recess in the wall, I saw a painting of a man pointing. Instinctively I walked into the recess, which turned out to be a small hallway, and looked where he was pointing. The focus of his attention was another painting of the same man, this time putting a knife into his own mouth. Overall it was disturbing, but I liked the effect of using one painting to get you to notice another. I thought about how much I would freak out if I was spending the night in someone's house and got up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom and saw these paintings. Yikes. Unfortunately, I didn't take note of the artist's name.
Suitable decor for a haunted house

After all the creepy stuff, we entered a more low-key part of the museum. Some of the pieces there (like Nindityo Adipurnomo's "Hiding Rituals and the Mass Production II") were underwhelming, and I had a hard time understanding how they'd attained a spot in a museum. Bryan pointed out that the Singapore Art Museum features mostly art by Southeast Asian artists, and there are likely fewer artists in the developing countries around Singapore than in places like Europe or the U.S. Drawing from a smaller pool of talent might result in sometimes displaying somewhat unimpressive pieces alongside higher quality ones.

We left the second floor and went down the stairs, passing Heri Dono's Flying Angels along the way. The Flying Angels reminded Bryan of the flying monkeys from the Wizard of Oz, but made me think of characters out of something darker, like a Neil Gaiman novel.

Dono's Flying Angels

We zipped by an interesting piece by Malaysian artist Bayu Utomo Radjikin. It was interesting, as was the fact that the installation in the background appeared to be a bunch of boob-shaped beanbag chairs.
Lang Kacang

Indonesian artist Jompet Kuswidananto was behind one of my favorites of the evening, "Java's Machine: Phantasmagoria." The piece took up an entire room, and consisted of a ghostly army of soldiers (really just their clothes). Some of the soldiers were holding drums, and were motorized to strike the drums at seemingly random interval, which repeatedly startled me. There was also a movie projected on one wall, and the movement and loud noises created a multi-sensory experience.
Ghostly army

I also liked the adjacent exhibit, for which I do not have any information, except that it's supposed to be a statement on gender roles. The figures are all male and are wrapped in brocaded cloth. Mostly I liked them because, with the wires running out of the tops of their head, they made me think of (NERD ALERT) the cylons that powered the ships in Battlestar Galactica.

Bryan really liked this sculpture, by Singaporean Jason Lim.
Into the River I

And with that, we were done with our first trip to the Singapore Art Museum. I highly recommend going on a Friday night between 6 and 9, when admission is free. The museum is small enough that you can cover it in that time, and you can't beat a night out for free!!

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Singapore Books: A Tiger in the Kitchen

Chery Lu-Lien Tan is a Singapore native who moved to the U.S. to pursue an education and later, a career as a journalist. Like many other Singaporeans I've talked to who've moved away, she found that there was one thing she missed horribly, more than she'd ever imagined she would. The food. Singaporeans are pretty food-obsessed and when they find themselves transplanted into unfamiliar territory, with no access to chili crab, kaya toast, nasi goreng, roti, laksa, or pineapple tarts, it's apparently a pretty traumatizing experience. Tan forged ahead with her career, thinking often of the food of her homeland, but only eating it on occasion on trips back to S'pore, or when she found a New York restaurant owned by a Singaporean cooking up some of her old stand-bys. As she grew older though, she found herself thinking more of home, family, and the food of her childhood. She set out to learn the dishes she'd loved so much by spending time in the kitchen with her aunts, grandmother, mom, sister and cousins, and she wrote about the experience in A Tiger in the Kitchen. Over the course of a year, she made several trips home, learning to make bak-zhang, her grandmother's famous pineapple tarts (also a favorite of mine!), Teochew braised duck, chicken rice, and lots more. Of course, the quest was never all about the food, and although she did learn a lot about cooking, she learned even more about her family, her heritage, and ultimately herself.
It was strange to be an American in Singapore missing American food, reading about a Singaporean in America missing Singaporean food! I think that unique position made me especially empathetic with the author. It also inspired me to start thinking about the recipes I'd like to learn from my own family- like my mom's decadent baked macaroni and cheese, or my uncle's trash-can corn, or my great-aunt's homemade applesauce. The book was pretty good overall. I've definitely read better food memoirs (e.g. Julia Child's My Life in France), but this one was exciting because of its Singaporean perspective. I felt like I was rediscovering Singaporean food, as I've perhaps started to take it for granted in the past couple of years. As I turned the pages, I started to think of some of the things I've really come to appreciate here- tahu goreng, kacang pool, kaya toast, Chinese New Year cookies, bao. But beware! Reading it will make you hungry! I had to run out the door for a kaya waffle as soon as I read the last page!

This book was featured in a segment on NPR. Follow the link to hear the interview with the author, read more about the book, or to get her grandmother's coveted recipe for pineapple tarts.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Thailand Day Five: The Islands

The night before our last day in Thailand we'd worked out a deal with Ao Nang Travel and Tour company. We'd be picked up in the morning at our hotel and taken to the docks, where we'd depart for a tour of some of the nearby islands. We'd  snorkel, we'd have lunch, and at the end of it all, they'd put us on a ferry to Phuket, and once in Phuket someone from the company would take us to the airport. A lot of the time we like to avoid organized tours because they tend to be whirlwind affairs in which a group of people are herded from place to place all day. But sometimes the organized tours are so popular that it's difficult to see the same places without joining up with a group or paying a lot of money for a private tour. Anyway, it was kind of nice to surrender control to someone who promised to have us to the airport on time after a day of hanging out on beautiful islands. It definitely beat the heck out of haggling with taxi drivers for a ride to Phuket.

We enjoyed another feast-like breakfast at Ao Nang Villa before checking out and meeting our ride to the docks, where we hung around awhile before boarding a speedboat.
Longboats at the dock
Switching longboats

We boarded the speedboat, which idled for awhile before pulling up alongside a ferry, where a bunch more people joined us, filling up the little boat.
Ferries and speedboat

Once everyone had boarded the speedboat, our guide explained that we'd be making five stops at different islands throughout the day. We'd originally thought we were only making four stops but he said we were making an extra stop "especially for the ladies." Whatever that meant. Once he was done talking, the driver cranked up the power and we sped off. It was a crystal clear day, and we sped along with the wind in our hair for awhile before slowing to dock at our first stop, Tup Island.
Tup Island

 Tup was beautiful! As soon as the boat docked, I tugged my snorkeling stuff out of my backpack, walked down the beach, and swam out into the water. Bryan decided to walk around a bit and snap some photos. Underwater, everything was peaceful and blue. I don't think I've ever snorkeled in such clear water - even when I got into water over 15 feet deep, I could still see perfectly clearly all the way to the bottom. Just like at Ko Phi Phi, there were lots of sea cucumbers, but there was other stuff too: lionfish, brain coral, colorful anemones, and more. I was afraid I might be losing track of time out there in my own little world, hypnotized by the sparkling water, bright sea life, and the Darth Vader sound of my breathing through the snorkel. Sure enough, when I trudged back onto the beach it was almost time to go. Bryan looked about baked to death, but he'd had fun walking around with his camera.
At low tide, you can walk from Tup to another small island
If you look closely you can see my black hair and blue snorkel
View from Tup

After exploring the small island for awhile, everyone clambered back onto the speedboat for the short ride to the next stop, the intriguingly named Chicken Island. The guide kept saying that we'd soon see where the island got its name, but I couldn't help but laugh when he pointed triumphantly at an island that looked kind of like a turtle to me. After squinting and cocking my head to the side I saw a turkey. At least I was in the poultry family.
It's an island! It's a turtle! It's a turkey! It's a...chicken?
Random island we passed by. What a perfect day!

We didn't actually stop at Chicken, instead speeding along to Poda (I think. There were lots of unfamiliar Thai island names whizzing by my ears) to snorkel. Near the island, we all hopped out of the boat and into the clear water. It's weird when you can see straight down into the water from the boat, especially when there are a bunch of fish in the water that you're jumping into, and you can see them plain as day. The snorkeling off Poda was the best yet- there were tons of zebra fish, tang, long skinny fish that looked like pipes, latticed butterfly fish, sergeant fish, and more. My favorite were huge clams, some of them over a foot across. When I dove down close to them, they would hunch into themselves, literally "clamming up." It was a little disorienting to snorkel around the bases of the huge limestone structures that jut out of the water- there were all sorts of varying depths with nooks and crannies that made you feel like JAWS might pop up just around the next corner. Sadly we still don't have an underwater camera to document what was the coolest part of our day, but trust me: it was gorgeous.
Mask-marked faces
Snorkel spot

After all the snorkelers hauled ourselves back into the boat, we were off to another island. I definitely didn't catch the name of that one. We had about an hour on that island, and most people spent it soaking up sunshine and eating Cornetto ice cream cones purchased from one of the local kids selling them out of coolers they lugged around, or cobs of corn cooked on little makeshift grills on the beach.
Longboat snackbar

Instead of chilling on the beach, Bryan and I got our snorkel gear and went out into the water. Although this island wasn't far from the last place we'd snorkeled, there was new stuff under the waves. We saw tons and tons of spiky black sea urchins, and lots of gently waving anemones, some with clown fish peeking out. Some of the things we'd seen before were also there: clams, lionfish, sea cucumbers, etc. After about half an hour, we went onto shore to walk around. There was a little temple in the middle of the island, particularly scenic with the water as a backdrop.

After some time poking around on No-Name Island, we headed off for lunch at Railay Beach. Lunch was a buffet at a restaurant. I hesitantly reminded the tour leader that I'm vegetarian (I hate being an inconvenience about it) and he grinned and said "Vegetarians are the nicest people I know! They all have kind hearts," then he told Bryan and me to have a sit with two Indian guys on the tour, one of whom was also a vegetarian. They turned out to be interesting company. One had a daughter in Michigan and both had been to Singapore, so we chattered about the U.S. and Singapore over yummy vegetarian food. After lunch, Bryan and I walked to the end of the beach and I gave snorkeling a shot, but the water was murky there, so I just went for a swim instead. I swam out and around the end of a cliff and found a hidden little cove on the other side. It was beautiful and peaceful but I didn't linger long. Hidden away on the other side of the cliff as I was, I was afraid that Bryan might think I'd drowned. I headed back to shore and together we walked back to the boat, and zipped off to the next spot.
Riley at Railay : )
Unstable looking rock formation
Krusty Krab

*Ahem* This next paragraph is about the "surprise for the ladies" our guide had been talking about. You may want to skip it if you're reading with small children...or if you're uptight.

Our next stop was Phra Nang, the so-called "bonus" island, where we'd get the surprise for the ladies that our guide had been smiling about all day. When the boat came to a stop at the beach, he motioned for everyone to stay seated, and he said "This is the ladies' island. There is a temple here. It is called the princess temple. It is full do you say...I'm sorry, my English, I don't know the right English. It is full of dicks." (confused faces and raised eyebrows) "You know? Dicks?" he made a phallus shape with his hands "Dicks?" (a smattering of giggles) "The story is that a girl, a princess, came here. She had no boyfriend. There was a storm and she died. WITH NO BOYFRIEND. She died." He said this with a gravity that implied that to die with no boyfriend was the worst fate imaginable. "After she died, women started to bring her the dicks because she died with no boyfriend. For her. So she would not be lonely." I snorted and I was not the only one unable to contain myself. Giggles had progressed to guffaws. But he was done with the story, and everyone scrambled out of the boat to journey to the penis temple...I mean the princess temple.
Phra Nang

Before we made it to the cave housing the infamous temple, I spied something exciting. Macaques! The first ones we'd seen on our trip! They were trotting along a wall surrounding a fancy resort on the island. We were the only ones that had noticed them. People lying on the beach were oblivious to the monkeys romping around right behind their heads. As we watched, one brave male inched closer and closer to the people, singling out one girl sleeping on the beach (or, more accurately, singling out her ice cold beverage). With his target acquired, he scurried down a nearby tree trunk, snapped up the juice sitting next to her on the sand, and scampered back up the tree with the plastic cup clenched firmly between his teeth. Hilarious! We weren't the only ones to notice the little escapade, and the sleeping girl was awoken by gasps and laughter. When she sat up, she looked around, confused by all the people standing around her previously quiet beach spot. For a second she seemed to think they were all looking at her and she looked flustered. Her exasperation grew when she looked around and noticed her missing drink. Finally she looked above her, where the monkey sat, sticking his hand into her drink and then slurping the liquid off his hand, over and over.
The Great Monkey Caper

We stood and watched the monkeys a while longer, but the big excitement was over. However, just as we turned to walk away, something else exciting happened. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted something soaring through the clear blue sky overhead. A hornbill! It coasted to the limestone rock face, then perched there for a moment before flying off again, never giving Bryan a very good photo opportunity. While Bryan tried to photograph the hornbill, I also noticed a much smaller bluish-gray bird sharing a tree with some of the monkeys. So Bryan snapped a couple of photos of him too before we moved on.

Phra Nang had the most beautiful rock formations yet, and we admired the huge stalactites hanging off the cliff as we strolled down the beach.
Temple is in the cave on the bottom left

Directly adjacent to this arresting site is the strange temple we'd heard so much about. The princess temple is nestled snugly in a cave, with all the usual temple trappings- a small altar and some flowers. But you don't notice any of that, because you're too busy staring at the mountain of phalluses (phalli? when I started this blog, I never thought I'd be googling "plural of phallus." Anyway, turns out either phalluses or phalli is correct. Bet you didn't know that!)
At first glance, a normal temple. But at second glance, things get weird.
Yes, that is a mountain of penises
Can't make this stuff up.

But I gotta say - when I die, flowers will suffice. Really.
A less awkward offering

Anyway, after much snickering like a second grader, I went for a swim. I swam back into a quiet little lagoon, where tiny fish darted in and out of the shadows of rocks. Water trickled down from the cliffs rising around me, and the sun reflected off the water, creating a glittery effect. It was so uncomprehendingly, mind-bogglingly gorgeous. It felt magical, like someplace you'd read about in a CS Lewis book. My very own Narnia. Of course I have no photos because I swam there, but like much of this day, I really feel like photos do so little to convey the beauty.
Swimming to the lagoon

Eventually it was time to go back to the boat. From there it was kind of a travel blur. The speedboat raced along for awhile before sidling up next to a ferry. We climbed over the side of the smaller boat and onto the big ferry, where we got comfortable for the ride to Phuket. After a day in the sunshine, it was nice to sit in the cool lower deck of the ferry. We putted along for about 15 minutes when a commotion startled us out of our zoned out state. Everyone seemed to be running and I felt a moment of stabbing fear. Were we sinking or something?! Why was everyone running AWAY from the doors?! Then I heard a shout of "DOLPHINS!" and joined everyone else in racing  to the front of the boat. Bryan and I didn't catch much more than some dorsal fin, but it was exciting to see wild dolphins anyway! The rest of the ride was peaceful, and when we reached the Phuket ferry dock, we waited awhile for some of the people to clear out. We relaxed in our seats, watching the sea eagles fly overhead and periodically dive into the water for fish. When we finally got off the boat, we were ushered directly to a van that took us to the airport, about a 30-minute ride. Aside from worrying about the poor, carsick girl in the van with us, the ride was uneventful. We got to the airport  in plenty of time, changed out of our swimsuits, and ate some pad thai at a restaurant run by Thai Airways (accompanied by some super annoying children who were, literally, running and screaming through the place while their parents ignored them. I joined the legion of customers passive aggressively glaring until the parents seemed to catch on about 10 minutes later, and situated their hellions in front of a TV). The flight was on time and smooth, and we were snug in our beds by 2 AM and up at 7 AM to go to work!