A Travellerspoint blog

November 2014

Thai Temple Wat Mahabut & Mae Nak Shrine

sunny 36 °C

Thailand is known well for its beautiful and marvellous beaches and islands as well as other natural wonders including its rich history which include the royal dynasty that rule the country until today. The temple or wat in Thailand are distinctively Thai where at one glance, one would able to tell confidently that it is for sure a Thai temple. So, what is it that made Wat Mahabut in Bangkok steeply different from other temples in Thailand? If you have not heard of Wat Mahabut, well its time to check out this Thai temple when you are in Bangkok. The temple is located along the Phra Khanong canal and accessible by road on On Nut Road Soi 7. Wat Mahabut is special on its own because this temple is associated to the legendary Mae Nak, a spirit of a Thai lady, wife and mother of an unborn child, who was said to have lived at one of the wooden house along the Phra Khanong canal. The story of Mae Nak according to sources started with Nak, a beautiful lady who was married to Maak. Maak was an army officer and was sent to the war during the 1800s. While Maak was away at the war field, Nak was pregnant with Maak's child. While Maak was still away at war, she was to deliver her first child but suffered from complications which in the end led to her death along with her baby. She was so in love with Mak and her first baby that she would not want to leave peacefully to the other world. Instead her spirit and that of her baby lingered around in the wooden house along the Phra Khanong canal which she stayed with Maak after their marriage. Maak returned from the war one fine day and was rowing on a sampan back to his home at Phra Khanong canal, happily reunited with his beloved Nak and his first child. Maak did not have knowledge of what has happened while he was away and that the Nak and the baby he embraced were actually their spirits. The villagers who were aware of what happened to Nak and the baby noticed how Mak thought both were still alive and their attempt to advise Maak to accept the reality were greeted with angry tones. Nak in wanting to ward off such attempts by the villagers in telling Maak the truth killed those who did so. Maak soon came to his senses and began to see what actually happened. One day, while Nak was preparing food, she accidentally dropped a lime on the floor and with her ghost power, she stretched her arm to reach the lime. She did not realised that Maak has returned home from elsewhere and that Maak saw with his own eyes of what happened. He was so afraid that he ran away but was chased after by Nak. He managed to reached at Wat Mahabut to seek help. Nak, being a spirit of the other world would not be able to enter the sacred wat and she shouted for Maak to go back home with her but failed to convinced him. She started to get very angry and caused chaos throughout the village. A ghostbuster was called in to the temple to capture the spirit of Mae Nak in which he successfully did and the spirit was contained in a jar which was then thrown into the canal. Years later, someone found the jar and accidentally released the Mae nak's spirit while opening up the jar. Later, it was told that a monk by the name of Luang Phu Thor, was called in to calm the spirit of Mae Nak where he dug up the grave of Mae Nak and with his skilful meditation power, he managed to overpower Mae Nak's angry spirit and place her to where she supposed to belong to. The legendary ghost of Mae Nak was retold to the people through a Thai blockbuster movie Nang Nak, which was a hit in Thailand in 1999 and a sequel to this movie was released in 2013 on Songkran holiday which was yet another blockbuster hit under the name of Phi Maak Phra Khanong. Getting to the Wat Mahabut off On Nut Road Soi 7, the narrow lane (soi) no.7 was lined with multiple shops patronised by fortune tellers for those who wanted to seek for informations about their life journey ahead. The shops were located on the left of the lane heading towards Wat Mahabut. Reaching the compound of Wat Mahabut, the Mae Nak shrine was located towards the far right of the Phra Khanong canal. There were 2 entrance to the shrine in which the main entrance was fronting the Phra Khanong canal. To access to the main entrance, there was an altar placed on the riverbanks for those who wanted to offer prayers before stepping into Mae Nak shrine. Along the Phra Khanong canal, there were several houses being built on the riverbanks and Mae Nak and Maak were said to be living at one of those houses along the Phra Khanong riverbanks. From the main entrance, walking towards the shrine, there was a section before the main hall of the shrine which placed some portraits of Mae Nak drawn by artists fitted into different frame sizes with some garlands decorating these portraits frames. At the main hall, there was an area on the left in which those who wanted to seek blessings or wishes from Mae Nak can purchase several items available as offerings. The main shrine also had several portraits of Mae Nak and a sculpture of Mae Nak and her baby. There were also woman clothes covered with transparent plastics and also an altar. It was said that those who visited Mae Nak shrine in particular women would seek to have a safe passage should they deliver their baby and while men seeking to avoid serving in the military would be here to have their wish fulfilled. The Mae Nak shrine remained one of the very mysterious place in Bangkok and though no one could say for sure whether such characters or persons existed or otherwise, majority of Thais never disputed the story of Mae Nak and Maak. It is still a place worth a short visit if you are in Bangkok for work or holiday.

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The signboard to Wat Mahabut at On Nut Road, Bangkok

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The On Nut Road Soi 7 signboard where Wat Mahabut is located

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Wat Mahabut

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Wat Mahabut

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The altar on the Phra Khanong riverbanks before the main entrance to Mae Nak shrine

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Some of the houses on the Phra Khanong riverbanks where Mae Nak and Maak were believed to be living in one of those houses

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Some of Mae Nak portraits before the main hall of her shrine

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Visitors offering prayers at the main hall of Mae Nak shrine

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Items offered for prayers to Mae Nak

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The main hall of Mae Nak shrine

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A fortune teller at Wat Mahabut

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A fortune teller shop at Wat Mahabut

Posted by kidd27 04:42 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Loy Krathong in Bangkok

overcast 32 °C

Thailand is a country that always fascinates me since I was young and never failed to impress me even now. The word Amazing Thailand used to describe this kingdom by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in promoting the country to the world fits in just right. The country is so rich in its culture including the several interesting and unique festivals celebrated in such way that bring everyone not only the Thais but as well as foreigners and travellers to come together and enjoy themselves in embracing these festivals indulging in activities organised by the TAT and local governments throughout the many provinces in Thailand. Apart from the infamous Songkran festival where people indulge in water splashing among themselves, other important Thai festival celebrated by locals and foreigners include Loy Krathong Festival (now known as River Festival where this is celebrated as a sign of thanks giving to the River Water Goddess, who helped Thais in many ways in which water has benefited them in their daily life as well as to asked for forgiveness for any wrongdoings that has resulted from the rapid developments of Thailand today. The Loy Krathong Festival is celebrated in several ways such as releasing beautifully and creatively decorated float which include placing of candles on the float and lighting them before it is being released onto the river. Couple revellers of Loy Krathong Festival will offer prayers in thanking the River Goddess and asking for forgiveness together before the nice and interesting float and would then released it to the river. The float basically is made from banana leaves and the banana tree branch and decorated with flower and other decorations made from the banana leaves and paper to enhance the design of the float. in Chiang Mai, Loy Krathong also known as Yee Peng, a Lanna festival is celebrated with the release of a stretchable lantern made from paper of which the lantern would be pulled up to its maximum length before the candle placed in the middle on the base of the lantern being light up. The heat from the candle will fill up the lantern with the air needed for it to float in the air. I had opportunity to try out the Yee Peng Lantern while celebrating the new year in Chiang Mai back in 2012 which was phenomenal in Chiang Mai during each and every new year. For Loy Kratong Festival , other than releasing the flower float into the river, it is also celebrated with decorated boats which would then cruise and paraded to revellers. As I did the walking tour through the Old Bangkok or Rattanakosin area, I saw several of such boats when I was at the Phra Sumen Fort, where the boats were docked at the riverbanks of Chao Phraya river. Over here at Phra Sumen Fort, Loy Krathong Festival is synonym to this historic area as revellers would come together in huge numbers to release floats into the Chao Phraya river in celebrating the unique festival every year. As for me, I celebrated Loy Krathong this year at the Si Phraya Pier along the Chao Phraya river, next to the River City Mall, which is a boarding pier for those who purchase the dinner cruise. This was not a major celebration points throughout Bangkok but was good enough to have a moderate celebration as it also means it was less crowded since it was not being a designated Bangkok-wide Loy Krathong Festival celebration point. As in most areas where people would gather to celebrate this river festival, there would be many flower float vendors around the area and it was overwhelmed to see so many nice and marvellous floats available. And due to the huge varieties of flower floats sold, it just put one in a difficult position in choosing one to purchase. Apart from the candle, fireworks can also be added to the float to add some flavour to the overall decoration of the flower floats. The wind can be rather detrimental in the lighting up of the candle of the flower float so it can be quite a challenging tasks. But whether the candles being lit up or otherwise, it would still be released to the river as the most important part of the celebration was to offer thanksgiving and ask for forgiveness from the Water Goddess. Because Si Phraya pier is a busy pier with frequent boat stops, it was difficult for the flower float to drift far but again, this should not be a disappointing effort as the ultimate objective was to release the flower float that symbolised the thanksgiving celebration of Loy Krathong.

SOME VENDORS OF THE LOY KRATHONG FLOWER FLOATS AT SI PHRAYA PIER, BANGKOK

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Si Phraya Pier located next to River City Mall accessible through the Chao Phraya river boat from Sathorn Pier

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The night scene opposite Si Phraya Pier, Bangkok

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My Loy Krathong Flower Float

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My Loy Krathong Flower Float released to Chao Phraya River, Bangkok

Posted by kidd27 06:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Maeklong Railway Market & Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Two Interesting and Distinctive Markets in Samut Songkhram Province, Thailand

sunny 36 °C

So, this trip to Bangkok and surrounding provinces brought me to some new places as well as some of which I had been to in the past including Wat Pho, Wat Arun and Erawan Shrine in Bangkok as well as Damnoen Saduak Floating Market in Samut Songkhram province. My recent travel to Chonburi province in which Pattaya and Ko Larn of which the two fun and exciting beach and island holiday retreat has to offer brought me to another new place, Ko Si Chang which was a trip that helped to understand a little piece of the past history of Thailand under the rule of King Chulalongkorn while in Samut Songkhram, previous visit to Damnoen Saduak did not include the railway track fresh market known as Maeklong Railway Market. And this recent trip provide opportunity to access and see for myself how this market be so different or possibly unseen elsewhere in the world. The Maeklong Railway Market obtained such a name because the fresh market, which has vendors or traders that deal in all kinds of daily food necessities including varieties of vegetables, fruits, fish, meat, seafood produce, as well as dry foodstuff and packaged food items operated from both sides of the railway track that runs from the not far away Maeklong Railway station about 100 metres distance from each side between the market and the railway station. Both the fresh market and the Maeklong station were separated from each other by the road that cuts through the railway tracks which required manual closure by railway staff when the train passes through. One side of the market was actually the rear of row of shops that involved in range of other business activities other than fresh market items. So, while walking along the railway market which stretched about few hundred metres along the railway track for tour before arrival of the train, you can get out from the market through those shop back alleys and stroll along the shops instead just for short kind of exploration of the surrounding area within the market. Both sides of the market with the traders having their items being place just inches away from the railway track and apart from their own trading space, they also set up the market stall covers that shelter the rain and sun which would require to be temporarily taken down when the train passes through the railway track. People who wanted to witness this amazing and unseen market would get themselves prepared by choosing the best spots along both sides of the market and having their camera ready to snap the best shots. The first train that arrived at Maeklong Railway station is 0945 and people could be seen descended to the market an hour before that in which the market would get crowded by then with the spectators. The surrounding of the Maeklong Railway market itself was also interesting and a walk around the town brought my attention to some nice old shops that occupied some parts of Maeklong town. Since I arrived early before most tourists get to the railway market, I get to indulge in a simple yet satisfying dish, the "khao man gai" or chicken rice, which consisted of a plate of greasy rice cooked from the chicken fats topped with several chopped steamed chicken and cucumber, which was simply delicious. The chicken rice treat was completed with aromatic traditional thai coffee or "gafae boran" finishing off with a refreshing thai tea. The chicken rice shop at this Maeklong Railway Market occupy one of the edge of the old shops not far from the railway station. Some distance away from Maeklong Railway market is where Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is located. I had been to this market prior to this Maeklong trip, but decided to experience it once again after few years lapsed as my main objective was to try out some of the food I missed there such as the special boat noodle. The market just never stop getting busy with boats jammed up the canal at the main pier where passengers board the boat to start their boat tour. Over at this main pier of the canal, there were boats that docked along some spots on the pier which also have restaurants with the kitchen operated from the docked boat, most notably the one that sells boat noodles. So, if you had done the boat tour before and found yourself yet again for second time at this canal market, your best option if not to do the boating tour for second time is to grab a seat at one of the restaurant in particular the one beside the pier and canal and order a bowl of noodles from the boat to fill-up your crave, which I did. Another special food that should be considered is the sticky rice with mango, which is one of the best Thai dessert. Other shops operated on the pier include souvenirs and range of other consumer products. Most of the vendors who paddle on the canal at Damnoen Saduak canal involve fruits traders while there were also those involve in food trading including the boat noodle and other Thai food. As you cruise along the canal, there were houses along the canal that also involve in trading of variety of items including souvenirs and range of other products which associated to the province of Samut Songkhram or just any items that can be special or distinctive.

SOME OLD SHOPS AROUND THE MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET

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The road that separated the fresh market (on the left) & the Maeklong Railway Station (on the right). Notice the manual gate barrier which required to be pulled down to block traffic when the train pass through

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The Maeklong Railway Station

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A coffee and coconut vendor at the edge of the railway gate within the Maeklong Railway Station

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The entrance to the Maeklong Railway Market

FRESH MARKET TRADERS ON BOTH SIDE OF THE RAILWAY TRACK @ MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET
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FRESH FOOD AND OTHER MARKET ITEMS @ MAEKLONG RAILWAY MARKET
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Chicken rice, coffee and tea for breakfast at an old shop @ Maeklong Railway Market

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A view of row of old shops from the shop where I had chicken rice and coffee for breakfast @ Maeklong Railway Market

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The Maeklong Railway Station ticket booth

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A sign post at Maeklong Railway Station

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The market stall covers set up by the vendors at Maeklong Railway Market to shelter from hot sun and rain

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Vendors pulling down the market cover preparing for the on-coming train that passes through the Maeklong Railway market

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Everyone gets ready for the on-coming train at Maeklong Railway Market

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The train approaching at the Maeklong Railway Market

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The emerging train at Maeklong Railway Market

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The train just inches away from me at Maeklong Railway Market

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The train after passed through me at Maeklong Railway Market

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Vendors re-set up the market cover after the train passed through @ Maeklong Railway Market

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A welcome arch at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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The busy canal at the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market main pier

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Boat vendors at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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A souvenir and art vendor at the pier of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Some of the shops/house along the canal of Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Tourists enjoying themselves at Damnoen Saduak FLoating Market

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A bowl of boat noodle at Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

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Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Samut Songkhram, Thailand

Posted by kidd27 19:13 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Ko Si Chang & Bang Saen

overcast 30 °C

Ko Si Chang (Si Chang Island) is located in the province of Chonburi, not far from Bangkok. Surely, what most people or travellers would remember most about Chonburi province would definitely be Pattaya beach, an entertainment beach city located to the east of Bangkok, capital of Thailand. Pattaya, just like its southern counterpart, Phuket, Pattaya has long enjoyed the ever popular destination choice of those who travelled to Thailand not only for its beach but also for a diverse choice of both international and thai food as well as great number of seafood restaurants with variety of choices, huge shopping options and full range of entertainment choices. There are so many activities to fill up one's stay in Pattaya such as swimming at the beach, shopping at Central Festival and Pattaya Floating Market, get entertained with the ladyboy show at Alcazar, having seafood at Jomtien beach, visiting the Mini Siam, a park displaying replicas of many landmark buildings within Thailand and the world, visit the Sanctuary of Truth, an awesome Thai temple made from wood without the use of single nails to seal the wooden structure and go party all night long at the Walking Street, all of which I had done during my few visits to Pattaya. For this trip to Chonburi province, I travelled to Ko Si Chang, a small island off the mainland which requires ferry crossing from the Si Racha pier. The travel time on ferry from Si Racha pier to Ko Si Chang takes about 45 minutes which costs THB50 one way. There is an option when it comes to trip to Ko Si Chang. I stayed over one night at the island which I thought was not necessary simply because when the sun sets down, there isn't really much to do over at Ko Si Chang. So, the best choice is to do the trip to Ko Si Chang for a day trip travelling the earliest time possible and returned to Si Racha over the last ferry trip. But, its up to the individual. As for me, there can still be some activity to cheer up the night like having dinner over at some of the restaurants scattered around the island's main street, the Asdang Road. This is also a chance to have chats with the locals and get to know more about Ko Si Chang. Ko Si Chang was considered a royal island during the reign of King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn) where he ordered the construction of a summer palace on this island but was later abandoned when the French invaded the island before the palace was completed. What actually inspired King Chulalongkorn to built a palace in Ko Si Chang because his father King Rama IV (King Mongkut) travelled to this island frequently and noticed of the long life of people of Ko Si Chang. Before the construction of the palace took place, children of King Chulalongkorn, Prince Maha Vajiravudh and Prince Asdang Vejavudh and wife, Queen Saovabha Pongsri all fell ill and were sent to Ko Si Chang's lodge to recuperate from their illness in which they did. So King Chulalongkorn decided to built a summer palace at Ko Si Chang but was abandoned due to French assault on the island. The construction of the palace was then shifted to Bangkok in which the Vimanmek Mansion is located now. The site of which the supposed to be the ground of King Chulalongkorn's summer palace in Ko Si Chang has been preserved and maintained by the management of Chulalongkorn University with some new buildings and structure being constructed while the old ones being restored and renovated extensively for purpose of turning the palace ground and the structures including the old mansions together with the new structures to be a museum known as Chudhadhuj Rajthan Palace Museum. Some of the notable structures, buildings and mansions in this museum worth to take note include the King Rama V Memorial, with the statue of the king displayed for purpose of paying respect before touring the museum, the Asdangkanimit Temple Chedi-top Ordination Hall, the Stone Bell, which was said to create a bell sound when objects thrown at the big rocks, Phongsri Mansion, Vadhana Mansion, the garden of Summer Palace, Asdang Bridge and the Wooden House by the sea, where a coffee house is located for purpose of relaxing and chatting after a tour of the summer palace museum. The whole palace museum ground was covered with trees and lush greenery landscapes and beautifully, marvellously and proudly sits on the hilly area fronting the sea of Ko Si Chang. This is one of the major travel site and should not be missed when travel to Ko Si Chang. Other interesting spots on Ko Si Chang include the Chom Khao Kard, where visitors can get to view the ocean from this hill side viewpoint similar to that of the Promthep Cape in Phuket. The ocean view from Chom Khao Kard was simply magnificent and the cool sea breeze was so fresh and soothing. Another not to be missed place in Ko Si Chang is the Chinese temple which is located on the hill top with the main temple hall for worshipping purpose was at one of the cave area within the hill where the temple structure being built. This cave area of the Chinese temple is where a Father Spirit of a rock which transformed into a human shape face was located. Visitors of the temple can either reached the peak of the temple by walking the 500 steps staircase or to get a funicular train ride up the hill. The view from the temple's peak overlooking the villages at Ko Si Chang was just marvellous. Over in Ko Si Chang, it was believed that King Chulalongkorn has written on a rock which was placed on the ground of a football field according to the tuk-tuk driver that drove me around the island for a short tour but exactly how true was it, I cannot be sure. Of course when in Ko Si Chang, the seafood shall not be missed for simple reason, its inexpensive and definitely its fresh since its so close to the sea! One of the seafood restaurant not far from Charlie's Bungalow where I stayed name Pee Noi Seafood served some good seafood options. A detour to Bang Saen city for lunch on return to Bangkok from Ko Si Chang, was simply a right decision as the seafood in particular the steamed crab was just so good and the meat fresh and juicy. There are many stalls located along the beach of Bang Saen which is a very popular beach retreat city for Bangkok folks and surrounding provinces. This is also a city famous for the Bang Saen Speed Festival featuring the international race circuit competitions drawing car racers from around the world. It is quite a good place for relaxing and indulge in sun bathing and swimming. Just like any beach in Thailand, there are beach chairs and umbrellas being set up for purpose of unwind and food dining. These are mostly set up by food stall owners and they charged for the chairs even if you do not order any food or drinks. The Thai government under the temporary military rule is trying to curb on such operators possibly due to tourists complaints that they were hogging the beach meant for free access. In fact, actions had been taken and the government are targeting beaches which frequented heavily by foreign travellers such as Pattaya, Phuket and Hua Hin. Other than the beach, another major attraction in Bang Saen is the Nha Ja Sa Tai Jue Shrine, a massive Chinese temple with extensive decorations depicting the dragon and possibly one of the biggest and most beautiful Chinese temple in Thailand.

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The ticket booth for ferry ride from Si Racha pier to Ko Si Chang in Chonburi province

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The ferry from Si Racha pier to Ko Si Chang

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The ferry cruising in the middle of the sea from Si Racha pier to Ko Si Chang

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The pier at Ko Si Chang

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A pillar signage at the pier in Ko Si Chang

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Accommodation in Ko Si Chang

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Seafood platter Ko Si Chang style at Pee Noi Seafood

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The map of the Chudhadhuj Rajthan Palace Museum

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The King Chulalongkorn statue at the Chudhadhuj Rajthan Palace Museum, Ko Si Chang

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The palace garden at the Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The lush greenery surrounding the Chudhadhuj Palace Museum compound

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The signage to Asdangkhanimit Temple from the King Chulalongkorn statue

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The staircase to Asdangkhanimit Temple

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The forested area before reaching Asdangkhanimit Temple at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The Asdangkhanimit Temple structure

THE INTERIOR OF ASDANDKHANIMIT TEMPLE
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The external view of Asdangkhanimit Temple

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This way to Bell Stone and a Pagoda

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The Stone Bell and Pagoda at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum, Ko Si Chang

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The well-paved pedestrian walkways at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The Phongsri Mansion

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The Phongsri Mansion from afar

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The statue of King Chulalongkorn and his 3 children at Phongsri Mansion

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Potrait of Queen Saovabha Phongsri at Phongsri Mansion

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Potrait of King Rama VI (King Vajiravudh) at Phongsri Mansion

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A replica of Phongsri Mansion

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The Vadhana Mansion at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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A plaque at Vadhana Mansion

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The ground floor of Vadhana Mansion

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The upper floor of Vadhana Mansion with multiple rooms

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One of upper floor room at Vadhana Mansion

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A balcony of the Vadhana Mansion

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A view of the outside landscape from Vadhana Mansion upper floor

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The Wooden House by the sea at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The interior of Wooden House by the sea at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The sea view from The Wooden House at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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A distance signage near the Asdang Bridge at Chudhadhuj Palace Museum

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The Asdang Bridge from afar

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The signage and huge signboard at Chom Khao Kard or the Viewpoint

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Chom Khao Kard with breathtaking sea view at Ko Si Chang

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The Chinese Temple @ Ko Si Chang

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The funicular train to the Chinese Temple at Ko Si Chang

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The view of villages and sea while riding on the funicular train to the Chinese Temple at ko Si Chang

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The Chinese Temple interiors at Ko Si Chang

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The view from the peak of Chinese Temple at Ko Si Chang

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The entrance to the cave temple at Chinese Temple @ Ko Si Chang

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The cave opening at Chinese Temple @ Ko Si Chang

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The Father Spirit transformed from a rock at the cave of Chinese Temple @ Ko Si Chang

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The rock with written inscription said to be that of King Chulalongkorn @ Ko Si Chang

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Reaching Bang Saen city from Si Racha

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A crumbling boat at Band Saen beach

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A welcome signage at Bang Saen beach

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Delicious steam crab for lunch at Bang Saen beach

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Relaxing at Bang Saen beach

THE NHA JA SA TAI JUE SHRINE AT BANG SAEN, CHONBURI PROVINCE

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Posted by kidd27 22:40 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Discover Bangkok Through River Cruise & Walking Tours

overcast 30 °C

Bangkok is a city that never sleeps and is an amazing city with loads of activities that suit each and everyone who travels to this "unseen" city for any sorts of purposes. Almost all the backpackers and other tourists and travellers alike would have stop over in Bangkok, arriving from several other points of travel destinations before they hop again to another city of their choice. So, yes, Bangkok never stop receiving people from around the world every day, week, month and year because not only it is a strategic city within South East Asia but also due to its unique cultures, its distinctive food, its beautiful wats (temples), its rich history, marvellous islands and beaches and loads of shopping choices. Bangkok indeed deserve much more attention than just a short trip or short transit destinations. There are many things to do in Bangkok and it possibly may take up to several days for one to fully discover what Bangkok has in store and how interesting this city could be. I have previously blog about Bangkok but this one covers about my recent travel to this amazing capital of Thailand covering some visits to places that I had visited before as well as some new discovery through combination of cruise on the Chao Phraya river as well as through walking on foot over the Old Bangkok area. Of course Bangkok is a well known megalopolis for its wide shopping varieties and its historic buildings and temples as well as its good choice of tasty food. Over the recent travel to Bangkok, I visited some of the tourist spots which include the shrine and wats (temples), landmark buildings and structures, sample some delicious Thai food, visiting markets including the railway and floating market in Samut Songkhram province. I started off with the Erawan Shrine over at the Ratchaprasong District. This shrine is where the Four Face Golden Brahman statue is located within the open space area sandwiched between the Erawan Boutique Mall and the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. According to history, the shrine existed after which incidents of multiple deaths that happened during the construction of Erawan Hotel (now known as Grand Hyatt Erawan) led to the exodus of construction workers from the construction site of the hotel. The owner of the hotel then placed the Four Face Buddha at the location where the current Erawan Shrine is located to quashed the incidents of deaths at the construction site as it was believed that the hotel construction works had caused disturbances to the spirits that lived within the area where the hotel building was being built. It was not known why the shrine was named as Erawan as Erawan is the Hindu god with Three Elephant Head. Visitors to Erawan Shrine would usually offer prayers to the Four Face Golden Brahman statue by praying over the 4 sides of the statue offering joss sticks and flower garlands on each of the 4 sides. There is also a traditional Thai dancers performing within the shrine boundary on certain schedules. Even if one is not a Hindu, this temple still worth a visit to check out the beautiful Brahman statue which had over-gone some reconstruction over the years, the most remembered one was when it was damaged by a mentally unsound man years ago. The Ratchaphrasong District is one of the famous tourists hotspots which covers the few well-known shopping malls including the Central Chidlom, Central Embassy, the latest upmarket mall in Bangkok which connects to Central Chidlom within the mall, the Mercury Ville mall, Gaysorn, Amarin Plaza and Central World shopping mall and some 5 star hotels including Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, Four Seasons Hotel and Peninsula Plaza. Further up from here would be the Siam Paragon, Siam Square and Siam Centre, which all can be reached through the overhead pedestrian walking bridge.

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The Erawan Shrine

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The Thai traditional dancers at the Erawan Shrine

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The Erawan Shrine from the BTS Central World Skywalk or the Ratchaprasong Skywalk

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The signboard at the overhead of BTS Central World Skywalk

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A map of the Ratchaprasong District at BTS Central World Skywalk

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The view at the BTS Central World Skywalk

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The Central World Shopping Mall from the BTS Central World Skywalk

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Gaysorn Shopping Mall opposite Erawan Shrine @ Ratchaprasong District

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The Erawan Boutique Mall just next to Erawan Shrine @ Ratchaprasong District

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The signboard at the front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel @ Ratchaprasong District

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The Peninsula Plaza @ Ratchaprasong District

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Central Chidlom @ Ratchaprasong District

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Central Embassy Mall which connected to Central Chidlom @ Ratchaprasong District

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The walkway from Central Embassy to Central Chidlom @ Ratchaprasong District

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The Amarin Plaza @ Ratchaprasong District

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The Mercury Ville opposite Central Chidlom

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The Siam Paragon Shopping Mall & Siam Centre

Cruising through the Chao Phraya river was another interesting activity that can be done in Bangkok and it gets even more excitement combinining the cruise by getting down to explore some of the Bangkok tourist spots, temples, buildings and landmarks. The point to start the Chao Phraya river cruise is by the BTS Skytrain, getting down at the Saphan Taksin station. At this station, you would require to walk few metres away from the station towards the Sathorn pier to board the boat from the pier to the destinations in which the boat would stops. The best way to explore is through the orange flag boat that charges THB15 flat fare. There is also a tourist boat which has blue flag which offer unlimited rides. I board the orange flag boat and paid THB15 while cruising the Chao Phraya river and get down at the Tha Tian pier.Some of the interesting buildings on the banks of Chao Phraya river include the Peninsula Hotel, Millennium Hilton Hotel, Baan Chao Phraya Hotel, the Memorial Bridge, the latest edition of Bangkok's tourist spot, The Yodpiman River Walk, which is the latest tourist hang-out in its notable yellow colour building and King Rama VIII Bridge. From Tha Tien pier, I walked over to the Wat Pho, one of the many awesome and nice temples in Bangkok and Thailand. Wat Pho is famous for its massage school where you can learn the traditional thai massage and also get some affordable massage. The temple is also well known for the massive size of the Sleeping Golden Buddha statue. The temple has several chedis which are distinctive in its design and architecture and beautiful Golden Buddha statue placed in the viharn (sermon hall). This is one of the most amazing temple in Bangkok which should never be missed if you are in Thailand. From the Tha Tian pier, I get over to another interesting Thai temple, the Wat Arun or Temple of the Dawn through short cruise over to the opposite of Tha Tian pier with a THB3 fare. The boat only ply the route from Tha Tian to Wat Arun also known as Wat Pho-Wat Arun boat service. This is really one of the amazing temple in Bangkok and Thailand and the name of the temple itself really did matched its reputation. The temple's chedi was what made Wat Arun being so special as it overlook the Chao Phraya river in such marvellous position and this is where one you witness the rising of the sun as well as when the sun sets down. There are 2 levels which visitors can reached at the chedi and the stairs to get to each level are very steep at approximately over 80 degrees. It can be very scary when I watched up the staircase to climb up the steps. Eventually, I brave myself and managed to reached the second level of the chedi and that was rewarding as the view from here was just stunning.

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The Sathorn Pier

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Boat schedule at Sathorn Pier

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On board the Chao Phraya Boat

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The boat cruising out from Sathorn Pier

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The Peninsula Hotel

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A wooden boat of the Mandarin Oriental Bangkok cruising the Chao Phraya river

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The Millennium Hilton Hotel @ Chao Phraya river

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Baan Chao Phraya Hotel

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The Yodpiman River Walk

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The Memorial Bridge @ Chao Phraya river

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The Tha Tian Pier

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Shops at the exit & entrance of Tha Tian Pier

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A map of the Wat Pho for the River Festival or Loy Krathong 2014

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The entrance ticket to Wat Pho

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One of the entrance gate to Wat Pho

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One of the ubosot at Wat Pho

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A rakhang or bell at Wat Pho

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The temple building where the Reclining Buddha is located

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The signboard @ Wat Pho to indicate on the location of Rclining Buddha statue

THE IMAGES OF RECLINING BUDDHA @ WAT PHO

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THE INTERIOR OF WAT PHO & SURROUNDINGS

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The sala (pavilion) overlooking the chedis @ Wat Pho

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One of the chedi @ Wat Pho

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Another chedi @ Wat Pho

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A replica of Wat Pho

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One of the ubosot @ Wat Pho

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The Buddha statue inside one of the ubosot @ Wat Pho

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The viharn @ Wat Pho

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The Golden Buddha in the viharn @ Wat Pho

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The multiple Buddha statues @ Wat Pho

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The surroundings of Wat Pho

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The Wat Pho-Wat Arun boat

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The interior of the Wat Pho-Wat Arun boat

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The Tha Tian pier for short boat ride to Wat Arun

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A view of Wat Arun from the boat

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Wat Arun from Tha Tian pier

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Arriving at Wat Arun pier from Tha Tian pier

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The main gate to Wat Arun

IMAGES OF THE SEVERAL CHEDI @ WAT ARUN

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CLOSE VIEW ON ARCHITECTURAL DESIGN OF WAT PHO

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PANAROMIC VIEWS FROM THE TOP OF CHEDI @ WAT ARUN

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Descending from the chedi @ Wat Arun

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Ascending the chedi @ Wat Arun

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The Buddha statue at the base of the chedi of Wat Arun

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The ubosot and sala at Wat Arun

Continuing the Chao Phraya river cruise, I stopped over at the Phra Athit pier to cover the walking tours within the Old Bangkok area. This tour started from the Phra Sumen Fort, which is just a short walk towards the left after exiting from Phra Athit pier.There are rows of old shops dotted the road along the Phra Athit road just opposite the Phra Sumen Fort and its interesting to see such shops still being preserved after so many years. The fort is located within the frontage of Chao Phra river with a sala or small pavilion on its left. Within the fort, there is a square between the fort and Chao Phraya river.Many activities including the Loy Krathong being stage at the Phra Sumen Fort. As Thailand was celebrating the Loy Krathong festival, now renamed the River Festival, a celebration advocated to the Spirit or God of The River, there were sightings of some beautifully decorated boats docked along the river which also oversees the King Rama VIII Bridge. From Phra Sumen Fort, I walked to the most beloved street of Bangkok dedicated to the backpackers, the Khao San Road where most of backpackers descended to before disembarking to other destinations within Thailand or elsewhere neighbouring the country. Khao San Road comes lively when the sun sets down with travellers and tourists filled up the many choice of restaurants, pubs and bars while street and food vendors plying their trade and shop owners start to gear up their sales. Its interesting to stroll along the street to see how Bangkok can be so bizarrely attractive that such a massive volume of travellers would have glued to this Thai capital. And this is only Khao San Road in Bangkok. The neighbouring street of Khao San Road, the Soi Rambuttri enjoys similar attention as its compatriot and has many choice of restaurants, pubs and bars and travel agents dotted the street. From Khao San Road and Soi Rambuttri, I walked on to the Wat Bowonniwetwiharn located on the Phra Sumen Road. The temple's chedi is what supposedly made this temple special and is similar to the Wat Chedi Pathom in Nakon Pathom, which I had written about it in the Kanchanaburi blog. The design of the chedi and its surrounding architecture are very close to that of Wat Chedi Pathom. The chedi of Wat Bowonniwetwiharn has a upper base level surrounded by sections of small Buddha statues placed in the glass panel.

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The King Rama VIII Bridge @ Chao Phraya river

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Exiting the Phra Athit pier

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The Phra Sumen Fort

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Side view of Phra Sumen Fort

OLD SHOPS ALONG PHRA ATHIT ROAD OPPOSITE THE PHRA SUMEN FORT

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Nicely decorated boat docked at Chao Phraya river in front of Phra Sumen Fort

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Rama VIII Bridge from Phra Sumen Fort

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A pavilion at the Phra Sumen Fort Square

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The Soi Rambuttri just next to Khao San Road

OVERVIEW OF SOI RAMBUTTRI AT DAYTIME
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OVERVIEW OF KHAO SAN ROAD AT DAY TIME
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From Wat Bowonniwetwiharn, my walking tour continued from Phra Sumen Road to Dinso Road, in which old shops can also be seen located along this road. One of the thing to note over here at Dinso Road is that, I could see there are several shops that deal with the Thai national and the Royal flags, so I presumed that this is the street with vendors of Thai and Thai Royal flags. Dinso Road is also where the Democracy Monument is located. As I walked and crossed the road within the huge roundabout of the Democracy Monument, I found out that this place is also known as the Zero Kilometre Marker, which means this is the area which marks the start of the road distance from Bangkok to the Northernmost of Thailand in Mae Sai District in Chiang Rai Province and Southern Thailand in Sadao District in Songkhla Province. Around the Democracy Monument also known as the Ratchadamnoen Avenue some nice restaurant joints here deserved to have some time spent just to enjoy the trafic flow and people that walk along the area. Another landmark at Dinso Road is the Bangkok Metropolitan City Hall, a rectangular shaped building in light grey colour. Walking further up from the City Hall is where Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing are located. Wat Suthat gained its popularity possibly due to the massive swing located just in front of the temple entrance. Inside the boundary of the temple, it is surrounded by multiple small Buddha statues placed within the roofed squared sections that covered each sides of the temple boundary wall. The main Buddha statue is a huge golden sculpture placed within the viharn (sermon hall).

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The Golden Buddha at the viharn of Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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The ubosot at Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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The interior of Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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The exterior of Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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The chedi @ Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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The base at the chedi of Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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Another view of the base of the chedi @ Wat Bowonniwetwiharn

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Old shops along Dinso Road, Old Bangkok

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Dinso Road signboard

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Shops selling Thai and Royal flags @ Dinso Road, Old Bangkok

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The Democracy Monument @ Old Bangkok

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Bangkok City Hall @ Dinso Road, Old Bangkok

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OLD SHOPS ALONG DINSO ROAD @ OLD BANGKOK

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The Giant Swing at Wat Suthat

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Front view of Wat Suthat

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The Golden Buddha inside the viharn of Wat Suthat

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Side view of Wat Suthat

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General view of Wat Suthat

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Returning to Democracy Monument from Wat Suthat

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Bangkok City Hall

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Baan Dinso Hostel @ Dinso Road, old Bangkok

From Wat Suthat and the Giant Swing, I turned back and walk towards the City Hall again walking through Dinso Road once more to get to Wat Saket at the Golden Mount. While walking along the Democracy Monument to gain access to Wat Saket, I came across Baan Dinso, a nice boutique hostel at the corner of Dinso Road between the Democracy Monument and City Hall. From here, I walked further up and came across the Rachadamnoen Klang Avenue, where there is a small park known as King Rama III Park fronting the Wat Ratchanadda and the Loha Prasat, another marvellous temple and landmark in Bangkok. The King Rama III park has a main pavilion and several other smaller pavilions within the park area and also housed the King Rama III statue. Just beside the park is another fort similar to the Phra Sumen Fort but this one is slightly lower and possibly smaller known as the Mahakan Fort. Wat Ratchanadda and the Loha Prasat (also known as the metal castle) are visibly clear within the Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue and both the temple and the prasat standing proud and awesome from the sights at the avenue. The Loha Prasat is located within the Wat Ratchanadda and is distinctive due to its black coloured roof carved in the Thai traditional temple design with corridors on each of the 5 levels of the structure. Within each level, there are narrow walkways within the squared area of each level linking to the corridors which the outside view can be seen from these corridors. Within the narrow walkways on each level there are walls in between in which several other wall opening that allow access to each section of the prasat within the same level. At the lower levels, Buddha sculpture also being placed at designated sections of the corridors. The view from the upper levels of the prasat was beautiful overlooking some breathtaking view. The structure of the Loha Prasat being built with each level larger than the other beginning from the ground level with largest size.

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The Rachadamneon Klang Avenue @ King Rama III Park

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The King Rama III statue at the Rachadamnoen Klang Avenue

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The King Rama III Park that overlook the Loha Prasat

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The Loha Prasat @ Wat Ratchanadda

THE INTERIOR OF LOHA PRASAT

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Outside view from corridors of Loha Prasat

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Close view of Loha Prasat

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Walking to Wat Saket @ Golden Mount from Loha Prasat

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Some of the old shop along the road leading to Wat Saket

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This way up to Wat Saket @ Golden Mount

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The staircase leading up to Wat Saket @ Golden Mount

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The bells and gong at Wat Saket, Golden Mount

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Another set of staircase leading up to Wat Saket

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Bird eye's view from Wat Saket @ Golden Mount

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Interior of Wat Saket

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The interior of Wat Saket

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The chedi of Wat Saket

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A view of Wat Saket from the base

Moving from Wat Ratchanadda and Loha Prasat, crossing the road to the opposite of these 2 structures and then a turn to the left after about 500 metres of walk crossing the bridge and then another left turn is where the Golden Mount is located. Over at this Golden Mount, another special Bangkok must see, the Wat Saket is located. There are over 300 steps on the staircase leading up to the Wat Saket at Golden Mount which considered as slightly tiny in size, so its easy to bypass some of the while hiking up. On the base of the Wat Saket are several black coloured bells hung on the sides of the base and a giant size "gong". The entrance to the temple is located on a higher level than its base and while walking up to the entrance the breathtaking view can be enjoyed all the way up to the entrance. Within Wat Saket itself, there are 2 levels, ground and 1st with the temple's chedi located on the 1st level. On the ground level, on the centre of the temple, a chedi like golden sculpture with Buddha statue are being placed. The main entrance of the ground level are where the golden and emerald Buddha structures being located. There is also a small Reclining Buddha structure on the ground level. Over at the 1st level is where the chedi is located and the view from here is simply stunning. Walking back to the Phra Athit pier, I came across the King Phrajadhipok Museum, which is light green coloured building and stand within the corner of the Democracy Monument near the Phan Fa Leelard Pier. Though I did not step into the museum I thought it is worth a visit and spend some time to check out the history of King Phrajadhipok during his reign as Thai King. Probably, I will find some time to be back again for a visit next time and hopefully that can be concluded. From Phra Athit pier, I board the orange flag boat back to Sathorn pier to get to the Asiatique The Rivefront, where a free boat ride from Sathorn pier and The Asiatique can be boarded. It takes less than 10 minutes to reach Asiatique from Sathorn pier. Asiatique Riverfront is said to be a replacement to the now closed Suan Lum Night Bazaar over at the Lumpini Park. The design of shops and food outets as well as retaurant and bars are very similar to that of those in Suan Lum night bazaar. The differences between Asiatique and Suan Lum night bazaar are visibly clear with the fact that the former has the privilege of access to the Chao Phraya river view while the latter was without and of course due to its recent establishment, the market on its whole looks very contemporary and clean while it also offer al-fresco and fine dining style of restaurants, bistro and pubs. Yet, it also blends the middle market dining style of food joints suitable for those who are in the backpacking mode of travel. The retails shops offer variety of items from souvenirs, clothings, men and women accessories, including bags, shoes handbags, watches, electronic and electric gadgets, telecommunication items and other lifestyle goods. So, yes, Asiatique offers many interesting stuffs for everyone including the children with the gigantic Ferris wheel where family or couple could take a ride for a view of the Chao Phraya river. If you really spend some time to walk on the road of Bangkok in particular the Ratanakosin area known as Old Bangkok, this can be very rewarding while the cruise on Chao Phraya river is awesome to start off with to gain access to the Old Bangkok walking tour.

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The Mahakan Fort at Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue

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King Prajadhipok Museum at Ratchadamnoen Klang Avenue

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The Zero KM Marker at Democracy Monument

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One of the restaurant at the Democracy Monument huge roundabout

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Road signs along the Phra Sumen Road @ Old Bangkok

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Boarding the boat from Phra Athit Pier to Sathorn Pier

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From Sathorn pier, board the free boat service to Asiatique Riverfront

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The boat from Sathorn pier to Asiatique

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Arriving at Asiatique from Sathorn Pier

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Asiatique entrance fronting Chao Phraya River

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The Ferris Wheel @ Asiatique

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Decorative statues depicting the old days of Bangkok @ Asitique

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An anchor decorative statue at Asiatique

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Old Post Box statue at Asitique

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A clock tower and elephants structures at Asiatique

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Replica of old train at Asiatique

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An old house at the edge of Asiatique

Posted by kidd27 04:26 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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