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One World in One Lifetime

Archive for March, 2010

Hey, Hey

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 20, 2010

March 13, 2010

All Pictures

harvesting salt

The Market on the Tracks or Too Many Monkeys jumping in my Boat

Mark planned this trip. He loves to feed animals. I was more interested in going to Mae Klong and riding on the oldest train tracks in Thailand.

The icing on the cake came while watching an episode of No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain. The episode was on Thailand. It wasn’t far into the show when I realized that Anthony went where we were heading. Here is part of the show. Hopefully it’s still on Youtube when you read this entry. If not, you can watch it on Amazon.

On the show he takes a bus or car to Samut Sakhon, but we took the 10Baht train. We did not eat at the train station so I don’t know if the soup he ate was as great as he said it was. But from what I saw, it looks like the standard Thai soup you can get anywhere. It’s like the Thai equivalent of corn flakes.

Be my friend, monkey!

Hey, Hey

Getting to this place was a bit hard. No one seemed to understand what we wanted. Even when we were within a few yards of the place where we could see monkeys, the people we ask were completely clueless and couldn’t give us directions.

I think it might have something to do with the fact that, while feeding monkeys might be a novelty to Mark, John, and me, it was an odd thing to do for them. Maybe it would be similar to some Thai tourist walking up to you and asking you where he could, feed the squirrels. “Why would you want to do that?”

Once we found the temple though, it was no problem getting to the monkeys. The boaters saw our bags of bananas and knew what we wanted. The monkeys knew what was up too. They jumped on our boat and took all the bananas they could stuff in their little mouths and hands… and hand-like feet.

No trains coming right now.

On the Tracks

To leave this town we went to the Mae Klong Railway Station. This is where the local market is set up right on the tracks. To them it doesn’t seem so bad that the train comes through quite infrequently. You walk on the tracks to move around and see what you want to buy. When the train passes by, everyone packs up and everything is moved out of the way.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Samut Sakhon
(สมุทรสาคร)

How to get there:

  • 13°32’46.4″N 100°16’35.6″E

From Bangkok

  • Go to Wongwian Yai Train Station
  • Go all the way to the last stop.
    • The train is pretty old and there is no a/c.
    • You should try to sit on the side of the train opposite the sun. This makes a huge difference!

Download:

Cost:

  • Tickets cost 10THB for foreigners
  • free for Thais.

Hours:

Notes:

  • Plan your trip and take careful note of the time.
  • The trains do not run very often and the last train is very early in the evening.

Amphawa
(อัมพวา)

How to get there:

  • 13°25’36.2″N 99°57’10.3″E

Take a cab.

Oops –

  • The plan was to take the train to Samut Sakhon’s Mahachai Railway Station then take the ferry across the river.
  • Then take the Ban Laem Railway train down to Mae Klong.

But the two train systems aren’t in-sync. If we waited for the train to Mae Klong, we wouldn’t make it in time to get the last train home. So we took a taxi to Amphawa for lunch.

Map:


Mae Klong Railway Station

How to get there:

  • 13°24’27.4″N 99°59’53.1″E

From Mahachai Station,

  • go to the ferry (5THB) and cross the river
  • get on the Ban Laem Train (10THB).
    • The ride is 1 hour. But check the schedule before you go.
    • The trains are not in-sync.

Cost:

Hours

Notes:

  • This is the semi-famous train station next to the market on the tracks. They don’t really sell anything a tourist would care for, but that is only because it’s not really a tourist town.
  • When on the train, the engineer might let you stand at the front next to him to take pictures. Ask nicely.
  • If you are going to use public transportation, you should know that you can walk to the ferry from Machachai Railway station. Stop anyone who isn’t a tuk-tuk driver and ask for directions. You can also use the google map below for help. Just click on the map and scroll down the list of icons or use “ctrl F” and click on “Mae Klong Railway Station”.

Monkeys at
Prince of Chumphon Shrine 
(ศาลเจ้าพ่อกรมหลวงชุมพร)
(Kromluang Chumporn Khet Udomsak Shrine)

How to get there:

  • 13°21’43.8″N 100°01’21.4″E

From the Mae Klong Railway Station you can take a taxi or a songtow to a place where you can see and feed monkeys. There are two main spots.

We were advised to go to the one in this flier, Prince of chumphon Shrine. The lady who gave us the advice said that we would see way more monkeys there.

If you go to the place in the flier, you will be dropped off by a temple next to a big street market. You should go behind the temple near the water.

Most likely someone will ask you if you want a boat ride to see some monkeys. If you carry a bag of bananas like we did, everyone will know what you plan to do. We paid 200THB for half an hour of boating for the 3 of us.

We didn’t go very far. In fact if you walk down the road that the temple is on in the direction away from the market and towards the town, you will pass a bridge. This is where the boat took us. You can just stand on the road or on the bridge and find monkeys to feed.

Address:

Mu 7 Tambon Hat Sai Ri

Hours:

  • Hey, monkeys don’t sleep!

Notes:

  • Watch out. Some monkeys can get aggressive. Luckily they are tiny little monsters and were scared of a little yelling.

Map:

Posted in Amphawa, Mae Klong, Mahachai, Mueang Samut Songkhram, Samut Songkhram, Thailand | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

Dry Bones

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 14, 2010

March 12, 2010

All Pictures

Red Shirt protesters

A Red Shirt Riot

The Red Shirts are a political group in Thailand. They are the people; the working class. They feel that they are being treated unjustly, so they protest. In the past their protested have been met with violence on behalf of the police who do not think twice about shooting protesters. So now, to prevent blood shed, they have organized. They tell the police weeks in advance when they will protest, where, and for what reason.

The Yellow Shirts are their opposition. They seem to have more power which is no surprise since they have more money. The Yellow Shirts are more able to get the attention of the powers that be mainly because most of them are the powers that be. In November of 2008 they took over the airport and shut it down.

For the most part, protests are tame and no reason to cause alarm. But every once in a while things do get out of control. Because of this potential, Mark and I were given the day off during the Red Shirts protest. We were planning to go to Old Siam, but then decided it would be best to get out of Bangkok.

…And Taryn is back. She took a trip to Laos, but now she’s back in Thailand for a little while before she heads to the states.

Ayutthaya fun!

Tuk-tuking around

The first thing we did when we got to Ayutthaya was find a place to eat. After lunch we walked out to the street and found a tuk-tuk. Ayutthaya is not overly touristy, so the tuk-tuk drivers don’t ask for 200THB for a 5 minute ride. Instead they charge 10THB per person.

I don’t remember where we asked him to take us, but that doesn’t matter; he didn’t take us there. Because Ayutthaya is not heavily bombarded by non-Thai tourists, the tuk-tuk drivers don’t speak English very well. Most of them carry postcards and maps. They will hand you the post card or map and you point to where you want to go.

How did this happen?

Our first stop was Wat Mahathat. Most of the temples in this town cost 50THB to get in. Walking through this old city, I felt like I was in a movie. I couldn’t stop taking pictures. Everything looked so beautiful.

But it was dreadfully hot, so we stopped for some Thai iced coffee at a restaurant across the street. While we sat next to a fan and sipped our drinks we decided on where we would go next.

posing

Are there any the tuk-tuks with a/c?

We hired a tuk-tuk driver for the rest of the day. It was 600THB for 3 people. For most stops, it’s easy to find another tuk-tuk. But for some stops, there were no tuk-tuks to be found. It was really hot and after a while I prefered riding around in the tuk-tuk with the breeze blowing on my back to walking around the astonishing ruins. The first place he took us was Wat Phra Si Sanphet (วัดพระศรีสรรเพชญ์).

Great, another dying Buddha…

The next stop was a Wat Lokayasutha. This was a very sad stop. Not many tourists come here. There were some little stalls where people were trying to sell things, but there was no one to buy.

I can’t help but think that those people need to pack up and move to a more popular Wat. They would make more money.

Fun Fact: The Buddha statues in the reclining position, like in the photo above, depicts Buddha on his death bed.

These are real human bones.

You can touch him, if you like…

Then we went to St. Joseph’s church in the Portuguese Settlement. That’s where we found the old bones. It was eerie looking at so many dead people; their graves open and exposed. Then some random guy walked into the church. He kept telling us to look outside.

We were still looking around inside. We wanted to know who these people were and why they died. We walked around the inside reading signs on the wall and hanging from the ceiling. But the strange man, who spoke very little English wanted us to look at something outside, in the front.

So we walked outside to see what was so interesting. But there was nothing there; just some holes and signs with no writing. “Who is this guy and why won’t he leave us alone?”

What’s so interesting out here?

We went back in to have a closer look at the bones in the glass case. The guy came up to the display and pulled open the drawer. Inside were more bones. He picked one up and handed it to us. I wanted to hold it, but was a bit creeped out. Tayrn took one and posed for a picture.

The guy wouldn’t go away. He told us that there are more bones, Japanese bones, outside in the back. We went back there and he led us to the water. He pointed to a temple across the river. We were willing to walk around the backyard of this church, but we didn’t want to go anywhere with him.

He started to mumble some unintelligible things; more stuff about bones. But seeing more than 50 skeletons when you are used to seeing none has a way of sicken a person, even for just a bit. We didn’t want to see any more. It was time to go and try to forget about death. We thanked him for trying to tell us about whatever he was trying to tell us about. We  really only understood about 20% of what he said.

He said his goodbyes too, then mumbled, “40 Baht.”

Us – What?

Guy – 40 Baht. *mumbling*

We walked away.

This annoying guy followed us around. We didn’t understand much of what he said. We didn’t ask him for anything. Then he demanded that we pay him. We walked away, got into our tuk-tuk, and left him there. This seemed to amuse the tuk-tuk driver.

Wat Chai Wattanaram

Oh, one more, please!

The highlight of the trip was a visit to Wat Chai Wattanaram (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม). We almost didn’t go. When we got back into the tuk-tuk we were going to ask to be taken to the bus station, but everyone forgot. So the tuk-tuk driver just took us to a nice temple on the way back to the bus stop. As we passed it we all gasped.

If you really want to make the friends you left back at home super jealous, go to this temple. Take tons of pictures. Stay for sunset. They will all hate you when they see your photos.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Ayutthaya
(พระนครศรีอยุธยา)

How to get there:

  • 14°21’23.9″N 100°34’58.9″E

There are two main ways to get to Ayutthaya, by bus or by train.

  • By train –
  • By Bus
    • For me, since I live in northern Bangkok, it was easier to go to Mochit Bus Terminal (หมอชิตสอง).
    • The ticket cost 50THB and the ride took 1.5 hours.

Websites:

Phone:

  • 0 3533 5304 (Ayutthaya Bus Terminal)

Notes:

  • How ever you try to pronounce the name, “Ayutthaya” no one will have a clue as to what you are trying to say.
  • The main historical city is on an island.
  • You can walk around or save time by getting atuk-tuk.
    • Get a price you are comfortable with and destinations worked out before you get in the tuk-tuk.
    • Many tuk-tuk drivers will have laminated maps with trip plans in English.

Maps:


Wat Lang Ka
(วัดลังกา)

How to get there:

  • 14°21’29.3″N 100°34’30.7″E

It’s not too far from the bus stop. It’s between Naresuan Ally and Ho Rattanachai and along a canal.

Website:

Cost: 

  • Free

Hours: 

  • Always available

Notes:

  • No one knows when this temple was built.

Wat Maha That
(วัดมหาธาตุ) 

How to get there:

  • +14° 21′ 25.39″, +100° 34′ 4.05″

This temple is in the north-east corner of Rama Public Park along Naresuan Ally west of Wat Lang Ka.

Website:

Cost: 

  • 50 THB

Hours: 

  • 7:30 – 18:30

Notes:


Phra Mongkhon Bophit

How to get there:

  • +14° 21′ 17.83″, +100° 33′ 27.13″

This temple is west of Rama Park.

Website:

Cost: 

  • Free

Hours: 

  • Normal Temple Hours (sorry that’s the best information I can find)

Wat Lokkayasutharam

How to get there:

  • +14° 21′ 20.15″, +100° 33′ 9.99″

It’s west of Phra Mongkhon Bophit, right across the street. But you might have to go around the block.

Website:

Cost:

  •  Free

Hours: 

  • Always available

Dominican Church of San Petro

How to get there:

  • +14° 20′ 3.29″, +100° 34′ 29.86″

It is not on the island. It’s south of the island and across the river from the Japanese settlement.

Website:

Cost: 

  • Free

Hours: 

  • It seems to always be open, but I’m not completely sure.

Notes:

  • I think you can open the draws and look at the artifacts. At least there is no one there to tell you not to do that.

Wat Chai Wattanaram
(วัดไชยวัฒนาราม)

How to get there:

  • +14° 20′ 37.27″, +100° 32′ 29.88″

This temple is not on the island. It is west of the island across the river from Queen Sirikit Palace.

Website:

Cost: 

  • 50THB

Hours: 

  • 8:00 – 18:00

Notes:

  • Do not skip this. You must see it!

The Skeleton left from the Hopewell Project
(โครงการโฮปเวลล์)

How to get there:

Just head towards the old airport or go up north. Below are some buses you can take. As you drive by look out of the left window. For some parts it runs parallel to Vibhavadi Rangsit Road.

Buses: 29, 59, 510, 513

Notes:

  • This is what is left behind from a now defunct  project to link the Don Muang Airport (old airport) to downtown Bangkok. For many reasons it was never finished and will never be finished. Some have called it the Stonehenge of Thailand.
  • It is not in Ayutthaya, but you will see if you travel between Ayutthaya and Bangkok by bus.

Map:


Posted in Ayutthaya, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Jim Thompson’s House

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 14, 2010

March 8, 2010

All Pictures

looking at turtles

He Went for a Walk and Vanished

Jim Thompson was an American and ex-soldier who lived in Thailand back in the 60’s. He got married shortly before the war, but was divorced before moving to Thailand.

He help boost the silk industry and was quite an interior decorator. He would go to temples here in Thailand and ask the monks for their old religious relics.

According to the tour guide, the monks were more than happy to give them the old things of the temple. Apparently, Thais do not like to keep old things, but religious relics cannot just be thrown out. So Jim Thompson, was doing them a favor by taking the stuff off their hands?

(I know. It doesn’t make much sense to  me either. But his house was filled with old Buddhist paintings and headless Buddha statues.)

inside the house

The most interesting part about Jim Thompson’s life is the fact that he mysteriously disappeared one day. He and some friends took a trip to PahangMalaysia. One evening he decided to take a walk in the Cameron Highlands and was never seen again.

There is a lot of speculation as to what happened to him. He might have been murdered by a jealous silk industry competitor. He might have felt his life was in danger and with the help of the FBI, went into hiding. He might have been kidnapped and murdered. He might have been killed accidentally and then buried by the murderer out of fear of being caught.

The FBI theory isn’t too crazy. During the second world war Thompson worked for the Office of Strategic Services, which would later be replaced by the CIA. But, there is no proof of this.

He was most likely not just eaten by a tiger since no remains or clothing of his were found. Tigers tend not to eat bones, shoes, or clothing. But what actually happened to him, no one knows for sure. Those that claim to know, have no real evidence to back up their stories.

There are several books written by people who claim to have some insight on the case. Some say they have some ground breaking information. From the reviews that I’ve read on these books, they all know nothing and just want to sell books. Most of them end with, “… I know what happened, but revealing such information might put me or other innocent parties at risk.”

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

The Jim Thompson House Museum

How to get there:

  • 13°44’57.1″N 100°31’42.2″E

By BTS –

  • Go to National Stadium BST Station.
  • Take any exit opposite to the stadium then head west.
  • Turn right on Soi Kasemsan 2 and walk to the end of the street.
  • Use this map for directions.

Address:

Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok

Phone:

  • (662) 216-7368

Website

Cost:

Hours:

  • everyday 9:00 to 17:00

Videos:

Notes

Map:

Posted in Bangkok, Pathum Wan, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Touch Buddha’s Heart

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 7, 2010

March 6, 2010

All Pictures

3 headed elephant

A Full Day

Mark put this trip together. We saw a lot of stuff in one day. We were originally going to take cabs, boats, songtows, motorbike taxis, etc. But, one of our weekenders brought a car and a chauffeur. At first I was a little worried. The driver managed to get lost just getting to Krung Thonburi BTS Station. But he turned out to be a true professional, and a great time was had by all.

Eating breakfast at the floating market

Green For No Reason

Because we had to wait a long time for the driver to get unlost, I was very hungry when we finally got to the floating market. The market had very delicious food for very low prices in a very colorful atmosphere. John did the translating when it was time to order food.

I had a wonderfully tasty duck noodle dish. The noodles were green for no reason at all. It was great.

Do you want to go inside a 3 headed elephant?

3 Heads are Better

After eating we went to see a 3-headed elephant. There was a beautiful garden on the grounds, but the best stuff was inside the elephant. You must leave your shoes on a rack outside before entering the elephant.

You can take pictures inside, but you cannot take pictures on the first level. I’m not sure why because this was the most boring level. Though, I would have liked to get a photo of the statues in the middle. There are tons of better stuff to snap pictures of on the second and third floors.

See Ya Later

The next stop was to watch gators. This one was a lot better than I expected. I thought it would be completely lame, but it was fun. The elephant show was good. I loved to watch the elephants.

It was a little sad seeing the elephants begging for food. The trainers also didn’t seem to know how to position the elephants so during the elephant painting portion, they lost some of the audience’s attention.

Visitors of the park can walk about feeding various animals. I fed a hippo mainly because I’ve never fed a hippo before. It was fun. I saw lady pay for a chicken and try to feed it to a lion. The lion sniffed it and walked away. Maybe he was full. Come early if you want to feed the lions.

a Buddha with heart

Straight to the Heart

This Buddha was huge! Here we entered Buddha and walked around in his body. Hell was in his feet and heaven was in his head. While we were still inside Buddha one of the monks turned the lights off. That was our cue to leave. On the way out I saw some crazy looking slot machines. It gave me a vague fortune reading.

Golden Pee

Last stop was to the most expensive bathroom in all of Thailand. When we arrived there was a camera crew filming. I don’t know what for, for what channel, or when and where to watch it. It’ll probably be in Thai anyway.

Filming in the john

We all went “number one”. It didn’t feel like a million-baht pee; just a regular pee.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.
  • Never eat female horseshoe crabs in Thailand. The roe of the horseshoe crab has tetrodotoxin (TTX) which is toxic to humans. It makes people very sick and some people have even died as a result.

Bang Namphueng floating market
(
ตลาดน้ำบางน้ำผึ้ง)

How to get there:

by bus –

  • Take bus No. 138 (Chatuchak – Phra Pradaeng), No. 140 (Victory Monument – Suk Sawat Express Way), No. 506 (Pak Kret – Phra Pradaeng), or bus No. 82 (Sanam Luang – Phra Pradaeng).

Address:

Bang Namphueng, Phra Pradaeng, Samut Prakan 10130

Phone:

  • 0 1171 4930,
  • 0 2819 6762,
  • 0-3731-2282,
  • 0-3731-2284

Cost:

  • Free to enter

Hours:

  • Sat & Sun 8:30 -14:00

Notes:

  • The food here is great.
  • There are lots of bright colors and many photo-opts.
  • To catch a cab after visiting the market, get a motorbike taxi to the river ferry near a local temple. Cabs are easier to find on the other side, so I’ve heard.

Erawan Museum
(พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ)

How to get there:

  • 13°37’41.9″N 100°35’19.2″E
  • Take a cab.
    • When you get near the museum, you will see it! Make sure the cabbie drives slowly.
    • The sign for the turn is right at the turn.
  • bus – number 25, 102, 142, 365, 507, 508, 511, 536
  • Click here for map and info.

Address:

99/9 Moo 1 Bangmuangmai Samut Prakan, Thailand 10270

Phone:

  • 0-2380-035

Website

Cost & Hours:

  • To go inside the elephant -100THB; open everyday 8:00–17:00
  • Just the park — 50THB ; open everyday 8:00–18:00

Crocodile Farm And Zoo
(ฟาร์มจระเข้)

How to get there:

  • 13°34’20.8″N 100°35’52.4″E
  • Take a cab, bur, or click here for directions.

Address:

555 Moo 7 Taiban Road, Taiban Sub-District, Amphur Muang, Samutprakarn, Thailand

Phone:

  • +66 2 703 4891-5
  • 703 5144-8

Cost:

  • 300THB

Hours:

  • everyday 7:00 – 18:00

Notes:

  • You might want to skip eating at the restaurant in the park. We saw a huge rat running around in the kitchen when we were there. Unfortunately, we had already eaten.
  • It’s an okay place for kids and non-kids.

Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang
(วัดบางพลีใหญ่กลาง)

How to get there:

  • 13°36’30.6″N 100°42’17.2″E
  • Take another cab or bus.

Address:

Moo 8 Ban Klong Samrong Fang Nuea, Tambon Bang Phli Yai, Amphoe Bang Phli, Samut Prakan, 10540

ชื่อ: วัดบางพลีใหญ่กลาง
ที่ตั้ง: ม. 8 บ้านคลองสำโรงฝั่งเหนือ ตำบลบางพลีใหญ่ อำเภอบางพลี สมุทรปราการ 10540

Here are some maps that might be helpful.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • open everyday at normal, non-specified temple hours

Notes:

  • This is a huge reclining Buddha.
  • You can go inside Buddha and see his heart.
  • You can even put money on his heart if that’s the sort of thing you’re into…

Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai
(วัดบางพลีใหญ่ใน)

How to get there:

  • 13°36’16.8″N 100°42’40.3″E
  • Once again, take a cab.
  • It’s not far from Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang. If it’s not too hot, you can even walk.

Here is a map.

Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai.JPG

Address:

Bangphli Yai
Bang Phli, Samut Prakan 10540, Thailand

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 8:00 -17:00

Notes:

  • There is actually a very revered statue of Buddha at this temple.
    • It was built a long time ago to help the Thai people to remember the great battle won over the Burmese.
  • But we didn’t see the Buddha. We went to see the temple’s bathroom.

Map:


Posted in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Oy!

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 7, 2010

March 4, 2010

All Pictures

Thai Boxing

At first I didn’t want to see any Muay Thai matches. I’m not a big fan of violence, especially needless violence done for the entertainment of others. But Muay Thai is a part of Thai culture and I’m here to learn about Thai culture. So I went with Mark and Taryn to see a fight.

Thai Boxing

It wasn’t quite what I expected. There was an image in my head of two blood thirsty men wailing on and kicking each other in the face relentlessly; not stopping until blood poured out of one or the other’s head like a faucet.  Maybe one or two fighters would cheat and try to get in a few cheap punches. Curses and insults would be yelled out at the fighter from their opponents’ fans. In the worst case scenario, one coach might sneak poison into the water bottle of the other fighter.

Boxing fans

But the  boxers were very cordial to each other. They fought with the attitude of two good friends playing chess. In one match the blue fighter swung a hard punch to hit his red opponent. He missed because the red boxer ducked just in time to avoid the blow.  The force of the missed punched cause the blue fighter to swing around. The quick thinking red opponent use the opportunity to get in a good kick to the blue fighter’s back. The blue guy staggered for a moment. When he caught his balance again, he motioned to the red boxer, “That was a good one!”

After each fight and some rounds, Taryn noticed that they seemed to be joking with each other. My guess is that they probably all train together and have been doing so for years. They might have all been friends and fighting comrades since childhood.

a photo from the concession stand

For the record, there was only one bloody nose. The boxer managed to stop the bleeding and was able to get on with the fight.

The most entertaining part of a Muay Thai match is the coaches and trainers… and whatever fan or passerby that wanted to animatedly give his or her two cents.

All Pictures


Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Silom
(สีลม)

How to get there:

Website

Notes:

  • Silom is a street that goes through the tourist area of Bangkok, one of the many districts in Bangkok.
  • If you walk the length Silom street, you will find all the backpackers in Bangkok, well most of them at least.
  • Along Silom road there are many swanky shops and hotels.
  • The hostels are on intersecting streets and alleys.

Oriental Pier (N1)

How to get there:

  • 13°43’15.4″N 100°30’46.5″E

From the  Chao Phraya River (แม่น้ำเจ้าพระยา) –

  • Take a boat and ask for N1.

From Silom Street –

  • Head west to the end of the street.
  • When you come to the end of the street make a right on Charoen Krung (ถนนเจริญกรุง). This would mean that you are now heading northish.
  • Walk past Assumption College.
  • Then turn left on Soi Charoen Krung 40. It is the first street that goes all the way to the river.

Phone:

  • 02-623-6001-3

Website

Downloads:

  • Map1
  • Map2 Stops and tourist attractions
  • Map3 Tourist Ferry Map
  • Map4 the best ferry map you’ll find

Cost:

  • Very cheap. Normally about 12-30THB for a ride.

Hours:

  • about 04:30 – 21:30 everyday depending on the stop
  • Timetable

Notes:

  • Riding the ferry is a very cheap and easy way to go short distances near central Bangkok.
  • It’s not that great, however, during rush hour or for very long distances.

Phra Sumen Fort
(Pom Pra Sumen)

How to get there:

  • 13°45’50.4″N 100°29’44.5″E

By boat –

  • Go to Phra Athit (N13) Pier.
  • Head straight to Thanon Phra Athit (street)
  • then take a left.

Address: 

Thanon Phra Athit
Chana Songkhram, Bangkok 10200

Cost:

  • Free.
  • You cannot enter the fort. You can only look at it from the outside.

Hours:

  • Always available. You cannot enter the fort. You can only look at it from the outside.

Notes:

  • This fort was built back in 1783 during the reign of King Rama I.
  • There isn’t much to do here but walk by and look at it, since it seems to be closed to the public.

Muay Thai
(Thai Boxing)
(มวยไทย)

How to get there:

There are many stadiums in which to view Muay Thai. We went to Rajadamnern Stadium (สนามมวยราชดำเนิน), but if we were patient we could had seen a fight for free.

Here is a list of the Stadiums and their websites (if any):

Address: For Rajadamnern Stadium

Rajadamnern Nok Rd.
Pompab Satroo pai
Bangkok 10200 Thailand

Phone:

  • 66 (0) 2281 4205,
  • 66 (0) 2280 1084

Website

e-mail: info@rajadamnern.com

Cost:

  • 1,000 (3rd class) – 2,000 (ring-side) THB

Hours:

  • M, W, Th 18:30-23:00
  • Su 17:00 – 20:00 & 20:30 – 0:00

Notes:

  • When you go to buy tickets, if you’re not getting free ones, someone will tell you that the price is double because tonight is the championship match. They might also say that tonight is the last fight of the season. This is utter nonsense. There is always some match going on. Besides what do you care whether you see a champion fight or some semi-pro sparring?
  • There are some travel agencies that will sell you tickets for the 1,000 (3rd class) – 2,000 (ring-side) THB. If you cannot find any of them* then go to the Holiday Inn on Silom and buy your tickets there. It is more expensive, but for the same price as being cheated, you get a free limo ride to stadium and then back to the Holiday Inn.
  • Personally I prefer to watch the kids fight. There is almost no blood when kids fight.

*We found one completely accidentally when we got lost and I have no idea where it is.

Map:


Posted in Bangkok, Bangrak, Thailand | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Taryn in Thailand

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 5, 2010

March 2-4, 2010

All Pictures

Taryn!

Taryn’s In Town

I met Taryn while living in South Korea. We both worked for SMOE. I left after two years in Korea (one year after I met Taryn) to explore other countries; Taryn left after a year and a half. We both enjoyed our time in Korea and at SMOE. Taryn has joined me on several trips in the past and she has a blog of her own. She is the author of Taryn In Korea.

Mark and I went to the airport on Monday night to pick her up. The next day we decided to go to the beach. Ko Samed was the ideal location. It was a nice beach that wasn’t too far from Bangkok. I had to go in to work for a meeting Thursday morning so I had to be back in 2 days.

Before we left Mark had to go in to work for his meeting. After Mark’s meeting we went to the Ekkamai Bus Terminal and made our way east.

Mark is not too sure about this songtow ride

All 6

When we got to the Rayong Bus Terminal, I expected to get a blue songtow to the ferry. We walk to the songtow across the street near the bus terminal, but it had no driver. There was a mass confusion with herds of people wanting to take us to the ferry.

There was a group of Ukrainian women that was on our bus also trying to move through the crowds of taxi drivers and tuk-tukists. We figured that both our groups would get a better deal if we teamed up.

One guy, let’s call him Mr. Pickup, wanted to take all 6 of us and our luggage in the back of his not-converted-into-a-songtow-truck. Songtows have benches to sit on and bars to hold on to when the truck hits a bump. There was no way we would all fit, and even if we could, there was no way I was going to ride down the road at top speed in the back of some guy’s unsafe pickup.

I kept asking about the songtow to the ferry. That would be the only type of vehicle that would take all 6 of us. In an effort to show us what a great deal he was giving us, Mr. Pickup walked us over to where the blue songtow I wanted would have been parked had I come earlier.

He managed to talk himself down from 250THB per person to 20THB, when he saw that we weren’t interested in a pickup truck ride. He just didn’t understand that it wasn’t about the money. His truck was uncomfortable and unsafe.

Once at the songtow stop, he pointed to the clock. I think Mr. Pickup wanted to tell us that the songtow stopped running at 18:30. But his little plan backfired, because that’s when I saw a whole row of parked songtows. We walked up to them and I ask one guy if his songtow goes to Ban Phe.

Mr. Songtow told me that the songtow I wanted stopped running, but he would take me and my friends to the ferry for 50THB each. We all agreed and climbed into his songtow. Mr. Pickup just stood there, powerless to get us back.

A boat all to ourselves and 3 Ukrainian women.

A Cheaper Faster Ferry Ride

We got to the dock only to find out that we were too late for the regular ferries too. So we had to charter a boat. This involve picking either a fast or slow boat, picking a dock, and negotiating a price. We (Mark, Taryn, and I), could have done this in about 2 minutes. We had no idea in which hotel we would be staying, so we would have picked a slow boat to a dock on the southern end of the island. The the Ukrainian ladies wanted a fast boat, but they wanted a very cheap price.

I’m not sure what their deal was because they thought that everything was too expensive. They even thought that a 20-baht pickup ride was “too expensive” even though I told them that 20THB was the standard rate for the ride. But, for some reason they weren’t interested in a slow boat that was cheaper. Taryn and I felt that there were too many “cooks in the kitchen” so we left Mark to handle things with the ladies while we got some snacks. In the end we got a slow boat for 1,000THB split between 6 people, to the main dock, Nadan Pier.

Ko Samet fire twirler

We figured that the ladies were really into bargains, so once on the island we followed them to their hotel on Saikaew beach. We were hoping to get a really good deal, but when we saw the prices we knew why they needed to save up all their cash. We weren’t willing to pay that much for a one night hotel and we moved on. We found another place, nearish to a beach. We unpack, changed, and went for dinner and saw a fire show.

Beach with ATM

The next day was filled with early morning swimming and breakfast. After which we grew tired of the current beach and wanted to see other beaches. We packed up all our stuff and checked out of our room. We found one of the green trucks used as public transportation around the island, and asked him to take us to a secluded beach and an ATM.

I’ll Just Avoid Them

Once at our new beach, Sang Thian Beach, we swam some more and then had lunch. As usual I cut the bottom of my foot on some rocks. The water was mostly rock free and I thought that I would just stay away from them. But curiosity got the best of me when Mark told me that the fish stay close to the rocks. I swam over there, and stepped on a sharp rock. It was completely avoidable because I do own swimming shoes. I was just too lazy to unpack them.

Goodbye Ko Samet

Going Back

I noticed that boats came and went right from the beach where we had lunch. When it was time to go we didn’t have to go to a pier; we could just order a boat right there. We took  a speed boat back to the mainland. It was a very bumpy experience.

the famous blue songtow!

This time we were able to catch the blue songtow and take it to the Rayong Bus Terminal. From there we all went back to Bangkok.

All Pictures


 

Thailand
(ราชอาณาจักรไทย)
(Ratcha Anachak Thai)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane, boat, bus, or train.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to Thailand. But, you will need a visa to stay longer than 1 month or if you been to Thailand for at least 3 months already in the past 12 months.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the Thai embassy in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Downloads:

Videos:

Notes:

  • Do not say anything negative about the king or anyone in the Royal family. And definitely do not write anything bad about the king or royal family. This offence could land you in jail. You don’t want to go to Thai jail.
  • Don’t use the city ferries in Bangkok during the peak hours. They fill those things past capacity and sometimes they sink. Use them during non-peak hours when they are not crowded.

Rayong
(ระยอง)

How to get there:

  • 12°41’02.0″N 101°16’25.4″E

By bus –

  • You can get a bus from either Ekkamai Bus Terminal or Mochit Bus Terminal.
  • It should cost between 146THB or 155THB depending on which bus terminal you use.
  • I think buses leave from the Ekkamai station more frequently, though I couldn’t find a bus schedule for this route and cannot prove it.
  • Either way it is about a 2.5 hour ride.
  • The Rayong Bus Terminal is the very last stop. Don’t get off at the Rayong Bus Terminal 2.

Address:

Soi Sun Kankha Sai 2, Sukhumvit Rd, Noen Phra, Mueang Rayong, Rayong, 21000

Notes:

  • If you are planning to go on to Koh Samet, I would recommend that you get to this bus terminal between 8:00 and 18:00, to get a cheap songtow to the ferry. Otherwise you will have to haggle with an over zealous driver who thinks that you are made of money.
  • Then once you get to the ferry, you’ll have to haggle with the ferry guy too since it’s after hours.

Ban Phe

How to get there:

  • 12°37’45.2″N 101°26’25.8″E

Songtow –

  • If you haven’t gotten to Rayong too late or too early, between 8:00 and 18:00, you will be able to take a blue songtow to the ferry.
  • This option will cost 20THB per person.
  • Just ask at the ticket counter at the Rayong Bus Terminal, where to catch the songtow.
  • If the 20baht songtow has stopped running or not yet started, you can negotiate a ride with a cab or another songtow driver.
  • It’ll be cheaper if you have a group of people.
  • Most likely some of the people on your bus from Bangkok will be headed to the ferry like you are. Ask them where they’re going while on the bus and figure out a price you are all willing to pay.
    • We had a group of 6 and we paid 50THB per person for the ride to the ferry.

Website

Downloads:


Ko Samet
(Ko Samed)
(เกาะเสม็ด)

How to get there:

  • 12°33’30.4″N 101°27’04.6″E

Ferry from Ban Phe

  • If you get a slow/cheaper boat the ride will take 30 minutes.
  • A fast/more expensive boat will take 15 minutes.
  • The cost will depend on the time of day, how many people in your group, the speed of the boat, which company you use and mostly, your negotiation skills.
  • During the hours of 8:00 ~ 17:00 there seems to be many ferry companies with fixed prices taking tourist to and from the island. After hours, haggle, haggle, haggle!

Notes:

  • If you are taking the ferry to Koh Samed it is better to go between 8:00 and 18:00 or you might get swindled.
  • Once on the island there are green trucks that are used as public transportation.
    • I don’t know when they start or stop running.

Map:

Posted in Ban Phe, Ko Samed, Rayong | Tagged: , , , , , | 1 Comment »

No Time For Jeepneys

Posted by Heliocentrism on March 1, 2010

February 25, 2010

All Pictures

Our horse hates pictures

Lungsod ng Maynila (Manila)

We had a very long layover between Guam and Bangkok; about 10 hours. So, since Mark and I are Americans and don’t need a visa to roam around the Philippines, we decided to venture out into Manila. We looked Manila up on wikipedia.org and thought that we could see the most stuff by just going to Intramuros. Manila was a nice city.

Our driver loves pictures though

It was very hot and the heat made us feel very tired. Riding around in a horse-drawn carriage was a relief but it was not without its drawbacks. Our horse farted a lot!

The next time we go to the Philippines, I hope we get to go to Cebu. Maybe we’ll have time to ride in a jeepney and we can see the dancing prisoners. Here’s a sample to hold you, blog reader, until then.

Okay, This is actually Mark being searched at a mall in Manila, but you get the point.

Worst Airport Ever!

I hated the Manila airport. Rather than rant on about it, I think it is easier for me to put my annoyances in list form and in no particular order.

  1. Constant frisking. – Anytime you go from one area to another, you get a pat down.
  2. Lack of decent bathrooms. – Prepare to wait in line.
  3. Lack of decent restaurants. – There are only 2 food shops. The food is bad and overpriced. They both close around 19:00, one ran out of food before that.
  4. Lack of internet. – Free wireless internet only works in one spot; near the Mabuhay Lounge. The free computers available do not actually work.
  5. Constant Announcements in 3 languages. – There is no way to sleep with all that noise.
  6. No Public transportation access. – You have to take a cab or drive there yourself.
  7. Not much to do while you wait for your flight. 
  8. Not a lot of space.

All Pictures


 

The Philippines
(Repúblika ng Pilipinas)

How to get there:

  • You can enter by plane or boat.
  • Most citizens from many countries do not need to get a visa before going to The Philippines.
  • People of most nationalities will get a 30-day visa at the port of entry.
  • To be completely sure, check with the embassy of the Philippines in your country.

Phone:

Website:

Notes:

  • There is an airport fee you must pay to enter the airport in Manila. This only applies to people flying from Manila to somewhere else, not people coming into Manila or non-travelers picking up or dropping off a traveler.

Fort Santiago
(Fuerte de Santiago)
(Moog ng Santiago)

How to get there:

  • 14°35’41.9″N 120°58’10.0″E

Take a taxi.

It is in the area of Manila called Intramuros. Intramuros is an old walled city build by the Spanish. Actually, built for Miguel López de Legazpi. Remember him? He first stopped off in Guam.

Address:

Gen Luna St
Intramuros Manila, Luzon 1002
Philippines

Phone:

  • 63 2 527 1572

Cost:

Notes:

  • In Fort Santiago there is a small chapel, “Our Lady of Guadalupe“, many picnic areas, a new WWII Bamboo park, prisons, and other stuff.
  • The main attraction is the Rizal Shrine. Dedicated to preserving the memory of the Philippine hero, José Rizal. This shrine holds many of his writings, collections, and quotes. There is a retelling of his last moments alive through statues and eerie metal foot steps that lead to the place where he was executed.
    • He was arrested in Spain for his plans of rebellion against the Spanish government and thrown in jail in Barcelona. He was later sent back to Manila were he would stand trial and be shot.

Manila Cathedral

How to get there:

  • 14°35’29.2″N 120°58’25.3″E
  • It is within walking distance of Fort Santiago on Postigo (street).

Address:

Cabildo cor. Beaterio, Intramuros,
Manila, Philippines 1002

Phone:

  • (632) 5273093,
  • 5271796,
  • 5273889,
  • 5283876

Website

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • 7:30 – 0:30 Tourist are asked to respect church services.

Notes:

  • This church has been destroyed and rebuilt so many times; I wouldn’t bore you with the history.
  • There is a replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta in the cathedral. Other than the replica, the place is quite forgettable.
  • Right outside the church is where we found a horse and buggy to take us around. The ride cost 250PHP per person per half hour.

San Agustin Museum/ Church and Convent

How to get there:

  • 14°35’19.6″N 120°58’29.8″E

From Manila Cathedral –

  • Head south-south east for two blocks.
  • The church is on the corner of Gen. Luna and Real.

Cost:

  • 100PHP

Hours:

  • Everyday 8:00-12:00 & 13:00-18:00

Notes:

  • This place is great. It’s filled with lots of historical information; not just about the church, but about Manila and the Philippines.
  • Unfortunately most of the great stuff are put in rooms where cameras aren’t allowed.
  • If you want to learn about Spanish explores, check this place out!

Baluartillo de San Jose

How to get there:

  • 14°35’11.2″N 120°58’30.1″E
  • It’s near the corner of Sta. Lucia and Victoria, but towards the western end of Victoria.

Cost:

  • Free

Hours:

  • Always available

Notes:

  • This place was once the headquarters for Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
  • It was destroyed by the Japanese during their invasion of Manila.

Baluarte de San Diego

How to get there:

  • 14°35’07.5″N 120°58’32.0″E

It’s on the corner of Muralla and Sta. Lucia.

Website

Cost:

Notes:

  • This was built by a Jesuit priest name Antonio Sedeño.
  • According to our horse cart driver, it was later used as a place to keep prisoners, then a place where many Japanese soldiers committed harakiri.
  • Now it serves as a wedding garden. Romantic huh?

Ninoy Aquino International Airport
(Paliparang Pandaigdig ng Ninoy Aquino)

How to get there:

  • 14°30’43.8″N 121°00’59.2″E
  • Take a cab.
  • The cab driver will ask you which terminal you want, so figure that out before you flag down a taxi.
  • There is only one airport in Manila and it has 3 terminals. Some cabbies seem to think that there 3 airports named, terminal 1, terminal 2, and terminal 3.

Phone:

  • General Information Tel: 833-1180
  • International Flights: Tel 832-1961
  • Domestic Flights: Tel 818-6757 or 831-1395

Website:

Cost:

  • 750PHP or 16.50USD Airport User’s Charge

Notes:

  • Don’t exchange your pesos before paying your 750PHP Airport User’s Charge.
  • You can use pesos or US dollars (16.50USD).
  • Be ready to be constantly frisked.
  • The Manila Airport is one of the worst airports I’ve ever visited. It’s too small, old, and there’s nothing to do. To make things worse, the free wireless internet only works in one spot; near the Mabuhay Lounge.
  • Don’t come here hungry. The “restaurants” here tend to run out of food.
    • It’s mostly microwaved food in the first place.
  • Bring a good book, but don’t expect any quietness. They make announcements every 5 minutes; first in English then in Tagalog, then in some other language.
    • The amount of announcements you hear, you would think you were in a huge airport!

Map:

Posted in Intramuros, Manila, Philippines, The | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
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