A Travellerspoint blog

July 2018

The Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew

semi-overcast 33 °C

It was since 10 years ago I first came to Bangkok and I was just so impressed with this Land of Sawadee the day I landed in this capital of Thailand. The city itself was massive in size and I could see many tall buildings surrounding the landscape of this amazing Asean metropolis as I get close to the city arriving at the Suvarnabhumi Airport. I even wrote that Bangkok could even be a megalopolis judging from the traffic congestion level, the size of population which nears 10 million, the compact buildings landscapes and ever growing business and commerce opportunity including the growth of shopping malls within the city. For those who have been to Bangkok multiple times, there must have been one of those visits that you would found yourself in some of the most important & historical sights of Bangkok. Everyone will not want to miss the opportunity to get a close view on such valuable, precious & sometimes grand in nature which will provide not only good & nice photography sessions but will also enriched one's travel experience. In every places that we travel to, there will always be certain sights, buildings, towns, sculptures, structures and just about anything related to the history or legendary stories of the subject place we go to that could attracts the interest of people to visit. The attractions that such places attained was never overnight in most instances. Many of these consists of places that was built for many years and which have steep historical values that come of age.


The Grand Palace in Bangkok was one of such historical building in the capital of Thailand that has such a grave historical values throughout the over 230 years of its establishment. Grand Palace was constructed in 1782 and was the residence of the royal family during the reign of Chakri Dynasty. For any visit to Bangkok, there shall be at least 1 time that one should come & visit the Grand Palace. As the saying goes, you have never been to Bangkok if you never been to the Grand Palace. The palace was somewhat an identity to Bangkok specifically & Thailand on general. Because the Thai King was a symbol of unity, the head of the country & most respected institution in Thailand, naturally, the Grand Palace which was the official residence of the Thai royal family has also gained a status by itself as one of the most significant structures within the Thai capital.


The main structures of the Grand palace was impressive & beautiful with contemporary style in its overall architecture design. There were palace guards on duty seen within the main palace building and some other areas surrounding the palace ground. Apart from palace buildings that were in place on several different spots within the enlarged, gated palace ground in the Rattanakosin area or better known as Old Bangkok, just in front of Sanam Luang, there were also palace offices of where palace officials conduct their daily office work being located inside the palace ground. There were also some buildings which has been turned into museum to provide informations about the family hierarchy of the Chakri Dynasty which was the royal family under the command of King Rama 1 who oversaw the construction of The Grand Palace. Some of the most important royal ceremonies are being held at Grand Palace until today. There were also another building section which provide insights on the history & the initial structures of the adjacent Wat Phra Kaew, a royal religious temple which was initially carved out from wood.


Wat Phra Kaew lifts up to its status as a royal temple with its majestic & regal looking architecture design that combines a golden chedi with the stylish, diamond & gold plated like materials which formed the external structures of the ubosot. The ubosot building was where the Phra Kaew or Emerald Buddha structure being placed inside. It was said that the Emerald Buddha was originated in India, then was taken to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Ayutthaya, Chiang Rai and eventually, it settled in Bangkok in 1782 when the Grand Palace was being built. Visitors are subjected to strict dress code to Grand Palace & Wat Phra Kaew and those who intend to visit the sacred temple & the royal palace are expected to dress appropriately according to the temple & palace rules & regulations.


Posted by kidd27 08:38 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Tha Chalom, Samut Sakhon

sunny 34 °C

Samut Sakhon province is a central province in Thailand and its location on the estuaries between Chao Phraya river and Gulf of Thailand making it a strategic location being one of the closest fishing port to Bangkok. One of the biggest industry in Samut Sakhon is the seafood trade where it produced some of the fresh & quality seafood products and also being one of the important mass salt production. Other than seafood & salt products, it also has massive number of land turned into aquaculture farming producing some of biggest market of shrimps & fish for export from Thailand to other countries. Mahachai Market is one of the biggest fresh seafood market in Samut Sakhon province & a town well connected from Bangkok through the railway. Mahachai train station is also the connection station to the famous railway market at Maekhlong, which I have been to & experience the market before. While I have also previously visited the other version of Mahachai market known as Mahachai New Market in Rama 2 in the suburb of Bangkok. Over at this bigger version & being the original Mahachai Fresh Market, I was overwhelmed by the number of seafood products available here either fresh from the sea to those which have been dried, preserved or packed into packages. Almost complete seafood range including snacks were available for visitors to the Mahachai Market to choose from. From Mahachai, I was told there was another town across the Tha Chin (Chinese pier) river, well known for the few Thai temples & the famous Jao Mae Guan Im temple (Goddess of Guan Im). so I thought why not spend some time to discover the town since I was already close to it.



From Mahachai pier, the ferry crossing to the Tha Chalom pier cost THB 3 which other than human passengers, it also allows for those with motorbikes to be on board. Most of the passengers travelled to Mahachai from Tha Chalom to do errands and obtain their daily necessities as Mahachai is a bigger town with wide selections of daily needs that suits the demands from smaller community over at Tha Chalom. Tha Chalom is also the connecting train station town of where train passengers disembark at Mahachai station, hop into the ferry to cross to Tha Chalom to board the connecting train from either at Ban Laem train station or Tha Chalom station to reach the final destination at Maekhlong train station for those who intend to visit the Maekhlong Railway Market. Ban Laem train station was located near to the Thai temple with the huge Golden Buddha structure while Tha Chalom station was an open air station sandwiched between Wat Chong Lom & Jao Mae Guan Im temple.



Disembarking the ferry from Mahachai pier, there was a covered walkways with both sides of it lined with shops, mostly shut as it was not a weekend during my recent visit. Not sure if these shops were fully operational on weekends but noticed very few were open for business on this week day of which these were shops dealing with sale of canned mackerel fish in cartons with very inexpensive price. Samut Sakhon province is a central province in Thailand located very close to the sea while seafood is one of the main production of this province. So, it can be well understand on why there was such a good bargain of mackerel products on sale. There maybe well some local factory producing this nutritional canned fish.One of the owner was heard said that the canned fish was even meant for export to as far as Italy. As I walked out from the pier, I noticed a wall paintings of a trishaw with a driver on a section along the walkways. As soon as I was out from the covered area, there were lines of trishaw riders waiting to take customers to their intended destinations. The trishaw riders were mostly of elderly men, plying their trade to earn some very meagre income to supplement their daily needs. One of the trishaw rider shout out if I would like to go for a round tour ride to discover Tha Chalom town. As my reason to be at Tha Chalom was to explore this unknown town,I thought renting a trishaw to explore the town would be a good idea. The rate for 1 trishaw which basically could sit 2 person by Asian size costs THB 100 where the tour will take passengers to tour Tha Chalom to experience some of the old structures including the old Tha Chalom fresh market, Tha Chalom old school, few Chinese temples, distinctive green mansion owned by a rich family in Tha Chalom,Thai wats, Goddess of Guan Yin temple & Ban Laem train station.


The first sight was a small size Chinese temple said to be as old as over 100 years. During the Lunar New Year in January or February, the temple was said to be bustling with locals who thronged the temple to offer prayers. There were also activities arranged in conjunction with the festivity and the surroundings of the temples exterior were decorated with massive red lanterns, which brightened the town during night time. As the trishaw tour continued, "Loong" (a respected way to address elderly man) pointed to a dilapidated 2 storey structure with overgrown bushes that almost covered the building and its surroundings. According to Loong, the 2 storey structure which resembled an old English style bungalow home was formerly a Tha Chalom school back in the old days. Today,children no longer attending to this school as other bigger school complete with modern facilities were being built in town to cater to the needs of Tha Chalom school children. But, it would be good,if the local government could preserved the building,upkeep and improved the structure and turned into a museum for people to view would be a good idea since it has historic value to it. The building itself looked beautiful since it has a nostalgic feel to it and it will be worthwhile to maintained it as opposed to demolished it. Next to the abandoned school, there was yet another historic site, which was Tha Chalom old fresh market as explained by Loong.Today, the one storey semi-wooden structure has been turned into a warehouse.



As the tour continued, we arrived at a very distinctive palatial mansion which according to Loong was owned by a rich family of Tha Chalom whom the man and his wife had since passed away. The mansion was rather distinguished from other surrounding buildings due to its green paints. However,since it was a private property, only the buildings fronting the main road could be seen while the other parts of the mansion insidewhich was locked from outside cannot been viewed fully. Just opposite the mansion,there was a special walkways to the private pier for the family to board the boat to cross over to Mahachai town.


As we moved on, we encountered yet another Chinese temple.While the first stop was a rather small but compact yet beautiful & charming Chinese temple, this second one looked much more grand with its beautiful multi-tiered roof with dragon sculpture decorative. Just as compact and charming as the first Chinese temple, the presence of these temples were a testament that the Thai Chinese community plays a major role in charting the development,prosperity & the well being of the Tha Chalom community as a whole. There were also massive red lanterns seen decorating the ceilings of the temples while the main doors of the temple has 2 temple guardians being carved on them. A very creative act seen was a dragon effigy built from joss paper used commonly to offer prayers by burning them. Loong then headed towards another most important landmark in Tha Chalom. We arrived at the Wat Chong Lom which is the pillar of strength of Tha Chalom and the pride of the community here as can be seen from the overall structure of Wat Chong Lom. The temple is magnificent,splendid & beautiful both inside & outside of it. Standing proudly downtown of Tha Chalom, the temple was located just across from Jao Mae Guan Im Temple & Tha Chalom train station.



Jao Mae Guan Im temple has a unique standing Goddess of Guan Yin statue. Below the statue was a covered structure which a cave like atmosphere was built inside with some few other Goddess of Guan Yin seen decorating the surroundings of the inner structure. The main entrance of the structure meanwhile has an altar with Golden Guan Yin figure greeting visitors.Just outside the Guan Yin temple,was the Tha Chalom train station which has no proper structure of a train station. From the Tha Chalom train station, we then head on to Ban Laem, of which the train station to board the train to Maekhlong train market was located. For those who head to Maekhlong train market in particular curious tourists who want to experience a complete train transportation from Bangkok to Maekhlong, you will surely landed at Ban Laem to board a connecting train from Mahachai town. Ban Laem train station is a very small & old station but yet it was very well maintained, clean and provide passengers a nostalgic feel to it due to its still traditional structure and the station environment which was quiet located within the edge of the Tha Chalom town. Nearby the station, there was a huge golden Buddha structure accessible from the base with the staircase built to reach the Buddha structure. From Tha Chin, this structure can be sighted from Mahachai town. Towards the end of Tha Chalom tour, we passed by a big surprise, something that I believe I have yet to see it before, the wooden Thai temple. The temple was not open on the inside but I managed to get a glimpse of the external structure of the temple. It was a great wooden temple that I have never seen before and I admire it so much that I thought I will never get bored to look at it over & over again. Great architecture work and a wonderful masterpiece.







Posted by kidd27 07:12 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Mahachai Market, Tha Chalom, Talad Nam Tha Kha & Talad Phlu

overcast 34 °C

Bangkok is always the best city well positioned in Thailand to be connected to other destinations within the South East Asia. Apart from that, Bangkok also offers a good number of places to explore and there are just so many things to do, see & eat. Neighbouring Bangkok provinces include Samut Sakhon province of which the famous Mahachai Market, a huge & busy seafood market that offers no other than the most fresh sea products as well as Samut Songkhram province which is well known for the various floating markets such as Damnoen Saduak & Amphawa. There is also a lesser known floating market in Samut Songkhram and still a very localised floating market named Talad Nam Tha Kha. I have wrote about Mahachai New Market which was yet another version of seafood market located close to Bangkok city in suburb of Rama 2. As the name suggest, the Mahachai New Market was an extended version of the original seafood market of Mahachai Fresh Market in Samut Sakhon province. In terms of size & the seafood items available for sale, Mahachai Fresh Market offers tremendous number of items & shopping in Mahachai Fresh Market will definitely takes longer time due to the huge selection of items at this market. Mahachai Fresh Market is located very close to the Mahachai train station as well as the Mahachai pier making it one of the most strategically located town within Samut Sakhon province. Getting to Mahachai from Bangkok, the town can be reached by train from Wongwian Yai train station through the Wongwian Yai-Mahachai line also known as the commuter connecting several other towns within the line. From Mahachai train station, you could disembark to get to the Mahachai pier, where a short ferry across to Tha Chalom for a connecting train from Tha Chalom station or Ban Laem station to get to the famous train market, known as the Maekhlong Railway Market. I have also previously wrote about this railway market as I experienced it myself and such market was dubbed as one of the many amazing & unseen Thai travel experience.



Mahachai is located along the Tha Chin (Chinese pier) river and from Mahachai pier, the town is connected to another town across Tha Chin river, known as Tha Chalom. Tha Chalom is a unique old town in Samut Sakhon province with very close ethnic Thai Chinese connection being well established as can be witness from few Chinese temples & the famous Jao Mae Guan Im (Guan Yin Goddess) Shrine. Exploring Mahachai Fresh Market will be best done through walking around the stalls surrounded the main market area as well as the shops around the market place of which other than fresh seafood, there were also enormous selections of dry seafood, seafood snacks & street food to buy & enjoy. Mahachai also has many old shops dotting the town, just like in Maekhlong town and it was bustling with activities with many traders, locals & visitors flocking to the market & shops in the town to trade & doing shopping.





Since Tha Chalom was just across the Tha Chin river from Mahachai, I decided to check out the town and see what it has to offer to those who like to explore places. The short river crossing from Mahachai pier to Tha Chalom pier through the ferry which also transport those with motorbikes, cost THB 3. Once reaching the Tha Chalom pier, there were rows of shops on both side of the covered walkway exiting the pier & I noticed that, some of the shops with canned mackerel fish on display for sale with very low prices. Perhaps there were factories in Tha Chalom that produce canned mackerel fish for export as one of the shop owner was heard saying that the product was even exported to as far as Italy. But judging from the seafood market activity around Mahachai, I believe what was said could be just as true as it was. The canned fish were sold mainly in cartons for as low as THB 75 a carton. Another discovery while I was walking out from the Tha Chalom pier was a wall painting with the picture of a "samlor" (trishaw with its driver). Little did I know actually one of the things to do while in Tha Chalom was to experience the town with the samlor. It was a very interesting & distinctive way to discover Tha Chalom town with samlor visiting some of the Thai & Chinese temples, old buildings & landmarks including yet another train station at Ban Laem.





Samut Sakhon province was also known for its Dolphine & Whale Viewpoint & Fishermen Village. Access to the Dolphine & Whale Viewpoint, there were villages around with the main activity here among others was the many aquaculture farms seen within Samut Sakhon province. While there were huge rice fields in the North East of Thailand, in Samut Sakhon province, the main industry being the seafood produce and that was the reason on why many aquaculture farms producing fish & shrimps for export were developed around the villages in this Thai central province. One of the distinguished feature that can be experience while at the Dolphin Viewpoint in Samut Songkhram was walking through the red wooden bridge of which it connects visitors from one point to another to enable a close view on dolphins or whales swimming around the sea. I could see multiple moving objects around the viewpoint area from the bridge but could not ascertained if those were exactly dolphins or whales because the distance from the bridge to the objects were too distanced away. There were some resorts nearby within the sea village and also restaurant serving seafood around the viewpoint area. Before I came to explore Samut Sakhon province, all the above activities were not known to me and now I felt privileged to get to experience what was never known before about this central Thai province.



From Samut Sakhon province, I moved on to the neighbouring Samut Songkhram province, well known for its floating markets. If you are in Samut Songkhram, the main reasons were definitely to visit famous floating markets including Amphawa & Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in which this is must-do thing for those who travel to Bangkok. Since I had been to both markets which were now heavily inundated with visitors, I thought it would be a good idea to discover some of the less visited floating market and still being a very localised floating market. That being said, I headed to Talad Nam Tha Kha (Tha Kha Floating Market). This is a small scale floating market in Samut Songkhram province and it offers sort of authentic floating market experience for those who seek a less hectic, less commercialised environment or atmosphere. Surrounded by coconut plantations & village homes, Tha Kha Floating Market is exactly what those who love natural landscapes, quiet & peaceful as well as the real old days floating market experience were searching for. Unfortunately, the day that I arrived to visit & explore the market, it was not open. Though a little disappointed, I was not exactly deterred as I continue to walk around the market and check out the overall structure of this small yet compact floating market complete with wooden sampans, wooden bridges that connect both side of the markets, some food stalls with banner display on Thai food available and some dining places around the river banks as well as the shops between the walkways to the entrance of the floating market. Because Tha Kha Floating Market was surrounded by a massive coconut farms, one of the main food industry is the coconut sugar which was widely available within the villages in Tha Kha Floating Market. Surrounding the floating market, there were village homes with villages working mostly on coconut farms while there were also resorts, home stays, hotels and guesthouse to cater to local & foreign tourists accommodation needs when travelling to Tha Kha Floating Market as well Amphawa Floating Market. Since there were hotels & resorts around the village,some cafe & bakery shops have been set up as there were demand for such establishments with the increase of tourists to the area. As I exit Tha Kha Floating market,I came across a cafe, Sweet November and decided to try out is coffee & cakes. The cafe was a modern setup in the midst of a quiet & tranquil village.



Back to Bangkok, ironically, I found myself at Talad Phlu, another train station market of which it offers some of the best Thai street food and sweets if you take some time to discover the place. Talad Phlu literally means Phlu Market situated within Talad Phlu train station and within the Wongwian Yai-Mahachai train line with Talad Phlu being the 2nd station after Wongwian Yai station. I boarded the train from Talad Phlue station to get to Wongwian Yai station just to get some old train ride experience & get the excitement & the fun of such unique local travel experience. Within Talad Phlu train station, there were a number of Thai street food stalls dotted the area around the train station. A short walk out of the station, there were shops selling Thai sweets such as the "kanom chan" (literally translated as layered sweets), "kanom bueang" (crepe topped with coconut cream & shredded salted egg yolk) as well as "kanom gu chai", (a Teo chew style chive dumplings) and some famous plant-based beverages such as lotus root beverage. Another speciality of Talad Phlu was the said to be over 100 years restaurant serving the "mi krop" (crispy rice vermicelli) which legend has it that this dish was a King Rama V's favourite. There are also dozens of old shop houses scattered around Talad Phlu town making it worth to explore to check out the town. There is also a pier located at the edge of Talad Phlu town and motorised boats both passengers & private tourist chartered ones could be seen moving along the canals on both directions.



Posted by kidd27 07:05 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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