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31 August, 2014

Secret Art Garden

Secret Art Garden Thailand

If you love all things art, craft and garden, the Secret Art Garden in Thailand is one of the places that you must-visit. It has been many years since I came across a very interesting place like this and a huge thanks goes to Tourism Thailand, who organised our exploration of outer Bangkok which brought us to visit this amazing place among many other places here in Khao Yai. 

The Secret Art Garden in Pak Chong was created by owner Surindr Sonthirati over 30 years ago when the land was a barren empty space. He painstakingly took his time and converted this plot of 10 acre land to become one of Thailand's hidden secrets - The Secret Art Garden. This of course was done with passion and love from him and his family. 

Secret Art Garden Korat
As you enter the place, these guys greet you
His objective was plain and simple, the share his passion of art and garden in one place here in Pakchong, Thailand. Over the years, Khun Surindr dedicated his effort in planting over 1000 trees while his wife and three children assisted in the art, crafts and decorations of the entire place. If you walk around the compound, you will be easily mesmerized by the little details that they pay attention too. 

For those into art, there are a number of art workshops and shops found here. Creative art using antiques are also displayed around the garden where all of the work is created by the family members. Walking over wooden bridges above man-made ponds takes you through a journey similar to Alice in Wonderland where cute garden clay dolls and other craft figurines are seen all over the premises which are un-noticed if you do not keep an eye out. This is also before you journey into another world of the secret garden here.

Entrance to the Secret Art Garden
Entrance to the Secret Art Garden
The secrets unfold as you slowly enter the main archway where a wooden sign hangs above the iron cast black gate. This is where the 'secret garden' is located and hidden from the naked eye. What you see outside the premises is the basic art and decoration where the full experience is found behind the iron cast doors.

Secret Art Garden Nakhon Ratchsima
Some of the beautiful and cute art decorations here
Surindr Sonthirati Secret Art Garden Owner
Owner Khun Surindr and his wife
As you go for the Secret Art Garden Tour, Khun Surindr will walk you through the many sections of his wonderland showing you the many different art styles and decorations he has collected and created over the decades. Some of them are very impressive as they are life-sized while many of them are too cute to miss. He has art in the form of paintings, plants, clay, mosaic, metal, stone and even the prized Petrified Wood where a huge life-sized elephant is made from it. 

A restaurant and cafe is available for anyone wanting to have an authentic Thai meal here while local Thai coffee and ice cream is also available at the cafe. Khun Surindr once used to run a 'stay program' at some of his showcase private cottages but he no longer offers this service. One of them is also called the Writers Cottage overlooking a beautiful landscaped pond where staying here is supposed to inspire you for your writing. He obtained the idea from a visit to the United States over 20 years ago and dreaming to own a cottage like this came true for him when he made his own private cottage here. 

Asking Khun Surindr, what inspired him for the Secret Art Garden, he calmly replied "It was my dream to have a secret garden, and now you're here in it". The businessman is semi-retired now and spends most of his time here entertaining and educating visitors about art and garden together with his wife and children. 

Thailand Secret Art Garden
Art created by flower pots and plants
Secret Art Garden Craft
Small sheep figurines laid on the grass
Along the tour here, you will also come across a Japanese themed house, a very English garden and also a unique rainforest garden. The tour lasts about an hour or so while Khun Surindr speaks good English too. I love the way he also uses some antiques to blend in with nature and his art. Very creative if you ask me. 

Most of all, it was the little sculptures that caught my attention as every where I went, there was something to spot, in the grass, on the trees, they are just about everywhere. For those wanting to participate in classes, you can do so by arranging with the owners. They offer clay pottery, painting and a few other art classes here. 

Writers Cottage Thailand
View from the Writers Cottage
Secret Art Garden Khaoyai
Some of the cute art spotted along the walk here
While I was overly impressed with this place, I took too many photos here therefore to see more beautiful pictures of the Secret Art Garden, see my Malaysia Asia Facebook Album

Secret Art Garden
99 Moo 9 Soi Tesabarn 28 Klangdong Pakchong
Nakhon Ratchsima, Thailand
Telephone: (66) 044993939-40 
Opening Times: 10.00am to 6.00pm
Opening Days: Open every day except Wed
Entrance Fee: 60 Baht

Secret Art Garden Map 


Located in a very quiet area of Pakchong in Nakhon Ratchsima, the Secret Art Garden is about two hours from Bangkok. This trip is also part of the Tourism Authority of Thailand's initiative to promote tourism products around outer Bangkok and Thailand. You can either self drive here or use a tour company service to get here. This place is also close to the Khao Yai area. Again, this place is highly recommended for anyone who loves art, craft and garden. 

Luxperience 2014 takes off in Sydney

Luxperience 2014 Sydney

This weekend, luxury travel specialists will descend on Sydney to explore the latest in luxury and experiential tourism at Luxperience 2014 - an event that brings together over 300 travel agents with over 250  tourism operators from around the globe for three days of serious networking.

Luxperience is the only global business exchange located in the Southern hemisphere dedicated to exploring the connection that exists between bespoke luxury and high-end experiential travel. The trade show has been 12 months in planning and, now in its third year, has experienced significant growth with exhibitors from as far afield as Bhutan, Mauritius, Tahiti, Dubai, Peru, India and the UK as well as increases in the Asia Pacific regions.

New Zealand has the greatest share of exhibitors, and has doubled its presence to 26 per cent of the total, closely followed by Asia, which is on a par with Australia at 25 per cent of share. 


Reflecting recent trends in the luxury tourism sector, there is also an increase in the number of adventure and experiential tour companies exhibiting, as more and more operators recognise that today’s high-end traveller wants a richer experience while on holiday.


“Our experiential exhibitors offer bespoke travel designers a choice of unique experiences in some of the most divine locations around the world; from ski safaris in the Swiss Alps, to trekking in the foothills of the Himalayas in Bhutan through to unique water based activities in Queenstown,” says CEO Lindy Andrews.


Buyers will be kept busy over the three-day event, with pre-scheduled appointments and access to exclusive social networking events, access to the LuxConnect Private Community and to initiatives such as the Corporate Connect Event, and ‘Thought Leaders Forum ’.

Malaysia at Luxperience 2014

First timer Bunga Raya Resort will be showcasing their unique luxury property which is based on Gaya Island, Sabah Borneo. They will be branded under Private Island & Beach Villas – For Couple and Family Land and Water Activities Food and Beverage Wine Cellar Spa & Salon Marine Ecology Research Centre.

Another Malaysian property will also be showcased there which is the luxurious Vivanta by TAJ Rebak Island Resort, located on a private island off Langkawi Island in Malaysia. Vivanta will be featured under the TAJ Group - Taj Hotels Resorts & Palaces which is one of the exhibitors at the event. 

Luxperience 2014
When: 31 Aug - 3 Sep 2014
Where: Sydney’s Pier 2/3, Sydney, Australia

Luxperience will be staged at Sydney’s Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay from 31 August to 3 September 2014 and other venues around Sydney. As the only bespoke travel exchange in Australasia Pacific it has become an essential forum for exhibitors, buyers and international media with an interest in luxury and experiential travel. Photos all from the Luxperience website. More information at Luxperience 2014

Shibuya Photo of the Week

Shibuya Photo Japan

Shibuya is my photo of the week. Having lived in Japan for almost 2 years in 1990, I visited one of my favourite places here - Shibuya in late 2012. Much has changed over the last 2 decades but the main attractions here is the Shibuya Junction, one of the most photographed places in Japan. Everyday during peak hours, thousands of people will crisscross this intersection from all angles and it is a sight to behold. 

Shibuya Crossing Photo Japan
The famous Shibuya Crossing 
Coming back to Shibuya brought back loads of memories where I used to come here on weekends to hang out at the local cafes and also check out the latest Japanese fashion back then. Now, Shibuya is known as one the top shopping areas in Japan where you can find all kinds of everything here. Main roads are dotted with shopping malls, department stores and specialty shops while the best part about Shibuya is exploring the inner roads to find the smaller niche shops which come in all kinds. 


With budget airline AirAsia X flying to Narita 4 times weekly, it is now easier for many to visit Tokyo. In May 2015, AirAsia X plans to fly daily here while now there are daily flights to Haneda airport via AirAsia X. While writing this article, I yearn to visit Japan again, mostly for the culture and food as even after staying here, I found the Japanese very intriguing. If you think it is expensive to visit Japan, let me assure you it is not. It is almost the same as going to Korea or even Shanghai. I hope you liked my Shibuya Photo of the week and if you have something to share about Shibuya, please feel free to comment. 
  

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