Monday, January 31, 2011

Wat Traimit & the Golden Buddha

At one end of Bangkok Chinatown (Yaowarat) is Wat Traimit with its 15 ft. Golden Buddha, claimed as the world largest weighing 5.5 tons (@ 83% pure gold) !

The Golden Buddha is housed in an altar atop this new chapel completed in 2010. Each morning tourist buses filled the temple car park by 9 a.m.

Believed to be cast in 13th century, imagine its worth at today's gold prices (US$43,045/Kg)!
Assuming it to be metric ton, works out to US$43,045 x 5,500 x 0.83
Wow! That is US$196,500,425. With gold prices on the rise against a weakening dollar, it will exceed the US$200 million mark in near future.

Of course gold is prominent everywhere within its compound. This pair of Buddha statutes in the front court caught my attention as I entered; one of Sukhothai style while the other with Indian features.

The temple is clad with white marble that adds an elegant contrast to gold. Couldn't wait to see the 'real suff' within.

There it is. Prayers led by a monk with devotees making their wishes behind.

Up close to the Golden Buddha.

And a little bit more.

That's as far as I can get with camera zoom.

Some historical background to the Golden Buddha:

Saturday, January 1, 2011

On the roads in Thailand

Some fun recollections of traveling around in Thailand

Truck space stretched to the limit!

Big job for a small truck.

Tire tube was her life jacket on the job collecting oysters on coastal shores.

Monkey business - trained monkeys pluck coconuts.

No seat belts?

Pet dog enjoying the breeze of the ride.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

National Parks of Thailand

National Parks are among my places of interest when I tour a country.

During my recent road tour to Northern Thailand, I came across numerous National Parks in addition to the several I've seen in the central and southern Thailand. It set me to wonder how many National Parks are around?

A quick search on Google to the National Parks of Thailand web-site reveals a surprising number - 148 in total! Wow, that's almost twice the number I first thought!

The Wikipedia count is slightly less but a mention of another 38 more in the pipeline. Whatever the case, it reflects a conscious effort to preserve the natural forests and its heritage of flora & fauna. Good work!

A glimpse of their distribution around the country:
Norther Thailand

North-east Thailand

Central Thailand

Southern Thailand

Official web-site of the National Parks link:

Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Asian Highway through Thailand

I was baffled for a while with these blue road signs A1, AH1 & AH2 while touring Thailand on road. I have seen AH1 signs in the east towards Poiphet over the Cambodian border. Around Petchaburi & Ratchaburi is the AH2. While the signs of AH1 & AH2 come together in the northern provinces.

Finally a friend told me it means the Asian Highway. Ah.. from there on it is easy to find out more. Map from Wikipedia.

It all make sense now!

AH1 starts all the way from Japan, through China, Vietnam, Cambodia to Thailand and turn north west towards India through Myanmar.

AH2 starts from Java, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and merges with AH1 in northern Thailand towards Myanmar, north east India and onwards to Central Asia.

So for those who enjoys motoring tours, its completeion is something to look forward to. The sections within Thailand are completed.

I am looking forward to the completion of the section to Seam Reap to visit Angkor Wat. I was told that a small section is yet to complete.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Songkhran - one year on

Updated 16th, April: Good to see the spirit of Songkhran returning to the streets of Bangkok with the government extending 2 more public holidays! A complete reversal to the tense atmosphere of confronting the protesters only days before!

This blog was started a year ago.. incidentally just after Songkhran festival, it was fun filled then. However, this time the mood was completely different. As I watched & followed the political events from afar, how the red shirts sentiment was whipped up by the ex-prime minister abroad. As his family left the country just before the show down, I saw a storm brewing.

There is also something I observed unique in Thai way of handling such explosive situation as events unfolded. There was so much tolerance by the authorities refraining from the use of force - the 'softly, softly' approach until the line of anarchy was crossed - first by storming of ASEAN summit at Pattaya followed by street violence in Bangkok.

Re-collection of photos from BangkokPost. Building up of the storm at Victory Monument by day...

.... and night

At the Democracy Monument ...

The calm before the storm. Is that the true face of Mr. T?

With so much energy on the ground, eruption was inevitable - especially the flame was constantly fanned.

Soldiers had to act tough eventually.

Good that the whole episode was short lived & the Govt. even provided transport to send them home.

Casualties was reported as 2 killed, shot by red shirts on motobike. They were Bangkok citizens who took law into their own hands - "enough is enough" of violence, beating back the protesters. In comparison roads accidents during the festive season claimed 272 over 5 days! (Updated to 373 in 7 days!)

It was unfortunate the country had to suffered this way.. but it could have been a lot worse. Somehow in spite of travel warnings by the Australian authorities, plane loads leaving for Bangkok were still full - as reported by media here in Melbourne. Guess the confidence rested in the swift restoration of order on the streets.

Thailand may appear unstable on the surface, there is actually inherently stability in the country. This is seen over the years even with a series of military coups, one after another since achieving Constitutional Monarchy in 1932. I am no political pundit, my simplistic view is even with these difficulties Thai society is pragmatic enough to forged ahead as the most prosperous Indo Chinese nations. My optimism remains.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Thailand at a crossroad

When I flew out of Suvarnabhumi Airport just over a month ago, little would I expect the PAD demonstrators would siege both airports and bring the country to its knees!

I always believe Thais are pragmatic people and would resolve their differences through compromises. What happen here?

Surmise to say stakes are simply too high with the power struggles behind the scene this time round.

How could protesters rallied for 6 months without having to work? Reportedly most are women folks from well to do middle class. Guess these well fed ladies are evident to that!

Police in full riot gear, less firearms. Under orders to use minimal force literally gave protesters a free hand. PAD reportedly has powerful backers!

I think it is a sad situation for Thailand so much being destroyed in a week that took the country so many years to achieve!

Tensions are raised to flash point level.. just hope senses return to those who pull the strings behind and put the country back on road to normalcy.

Updated 9th Dec 2008
OMG, it was over for now! Survanarbhumi operations back to normal. But the country is counting the costs and people responsible for the mess walked free - truly amazing!
Guess this unfortunate episode deterred many visitors returning in the near future.. but not me!

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bangkok street life

Bangkok is a big city of more than 10 millions. Being the main economic center, it drew people from all over the country to make a living here. As such it is a kaleidoscope of varied life on the streets. A sample of my snapshots... it's colors & contrasts, of lives that hums on daily.

Food vendors by the streets are common sights.

Vendors pedal their wares on streets with busy thoroughfare.

Tuk Tuk seems to confine to older parts of the city.

It's rambutan season.. a line up of reds: red taxi, motorbike & fruit vendor.

Art shop in basement of MBK Mall, artists at work.

Temples are also places to get an education - young monks enjoyed a round of ice-cream during breaks.

Chinatown offers interesting street scenes all day long.
Passerby at Chinese temple clasped her hand in prayer for a moment before moving on.

By evening, 2nd hand good vendors set up shop along Charoen Krung Road (Chinatown)

He has customer even before setting up shop

His specialty are bottle caps!

Man having a sumptuous noodle on side street. Me too.. just the table next.

How tired can one be? Slept on his vegeies!

For some who couldn't make it, a public bench beneath highway is home. His dream lady painted on a pole behind?