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Archive for the ‘Thailand’ Category

Chiangmai

9 – 12 Dec 2005: Chiangmai, Thailand

Guess what? I am going back to Thailand for our annual offsite again. Fortunately, this year, the destination is up north in Chiang Mai. JL is unable to join me as she was advised not to traveling during her early pregnancy.

Lotus Hotel Pang Suan Kaew 

We stayed at a decent Lotus Hotel, which was situated in a large complex together with the shopping plaza. The structure of this hotel reminded much of our Singapore Marina Mandarin Hotel.
 
 

Elephant Camp 

On Sunday, we made a trip, amidst the lush tropical jungle and meandering river, to an elephant camp.

The highlight of the trip is an-hour elephant ride over the hills, into the lush jungle and across the river…

In the late afternoon, I explored beyond the hotel and visited a few temples. 

Wat Phra Singh

This temple was built inside the old city walls at a time when Chiang Mai was the capital of the northern Lanna Kingdom.  Built in the 14th century, Wat Phra Singh  is a teak temple soaring “wings” on the ends of the eaves and lavish carved wood and decoration. “Singh” is a mythical lion-like animal.

 

Wat Chiang Man

Wat Chiang Man  is the first Buddhist temple built in 1297 inside the old city of Chiang Mai. The Chedi Chang Lom or the “Elephant Chedi” is the oldest construction within the temple complex. The square base is supported by 15 life-sized brick-and-stucco elephants carrying the building on their backs.  

 

 

 

Wat Lok Molee

Wat Lok Molee is another old temple built around 1527. It is said that the ashes of several royal members of the Mengrai dynasty were placed in this temple. There is a large chedi with a beautiful Buddha image. 

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14 Dec 2004: Bangkok, Thailand

I first got to know Onawee (“Onn”) while working on a Bangkok assignment in Jan 2001. Four years later, I am excited to meet up with Onawee again. This time, we are bringing our families togther too.  

Baan Klang Nam (Address: 288 Rama III, Soi 14, Yannawa, south of Silom, Bangkok )

Onn arranged to meet at the Baan Klang Nam Restaurants, a clapboard house located right on the Chao Phraya River. Here, you get the authentic Thai food – Tom yum goong, Phat Thai (rice noodles pan fried with fish sauce), green curry, traditional Thai fish cake… you name it, they will have it on their menu. 

  

Temple of the Dawn 

This is my second trip to the Temple of the Dawn. Coincidentally, Onn brought me to this temple on my first visit in 2001. And I remembered not seeing much as we had arrived too late in the evening. Known as Wat Arun locally, the Temple of the Dawn consists of a massive elongated prang (Khmer-style tower), surrounded by four other smaller prangs.

The prangs are decorated by bits of porcelain, a hallmark of the reign of King Rama III.

 

It is possible to walk up the (steep) stairs of the main prang. From here, you get a reasonable view of the Chao Phraya river.

 

Despite its name (coming from Aruna, the Indian God of the Dawn), the best views and photos of Wat Arun are in the evening with the sun setting behind it.

It was great seeing Onn and her family again. Thank you for being such a nice host… 

  

The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok 

We are staying at the The Westin Grande Sukhumvit, Bangkok on this trip. Situated in the heart of Bangkok’s prime shopping Sukhumvit street, we spent the night shopping along the street. Our favourite way to calm our tired legs (after shopping) was going for foot reflexology at the basement of Robinson Sukhumvit. As they always touted: “Only 250 baht for one hour…Cheap! Cheap!”.

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10 – 13 Dec 2004: Rose Garden, Bangkok, Thailand

This year’s destination for my company’s off-site is at the Rose Garden – an enchanting, tropical park on the bank of the idyllic Tha Chin River, about 30 km outside Bangkok city. This 60-acres garden has beautiful lawns, small lake, rose gardens and a decent hotel with swimming pool.

 

Among the lush tropical gardens and immaculately manicured lawns stood a godness statue…

 

The Rose Garden is not only famous for its roses, but grow a lot of orchids too. 

 

Rice Barge Cruise 

In the olden times, a barge or a flat-bottomed boat, is used to transport heavy goods along the river. Today, we rode on a rice barge to cruise the Tha Chine River

 

The cruise ended at a huge market that sold almost everything from fresh fruits, herbs, all kinds of sweet snacks, toys and even Buddha statues. 

 

We passed by the beautiful Wat Rai Khing and took a quick snap here…

 

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7 – 9 Sep 2003: Bangkok, Thailand

Yes, we are going back to Thailand  for our third wedding anniversary. The theme for this trip is SPA.

Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok

Situated on the river banks, the Royal Orchid Sheraton Bangkok is a superb hotel with first-class service in this land of thousand smiles. Each room has a commanding view of Chao Phraya, a major river which runs through the capital of Thailand.

Wat Pho

The spa theme rendered the need to visit the Wat Pho, the birthplace of traditional Thai massage. Built in the 16th century during the Ayutthaya period and subsequently re-constructured by King Rama I & III, Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. The temple is famous for its gigantic, impressive gold-plated reclining Buddha statue and having the largest collection of Buddha images in Thailand. There are many Chedis or stupas of varying sizes around the temple, along with rock gardens and a wide array of different types of statues.

Wat Pho is also Thailand’s first university and center for traditional Thai masage. Inscribed on stone in the walls of Wat Pho are the history about the Thai massage dating back to the reign of King Rama III. You can also get a traditional massage here (for THB 250 an hour) at the Thai Traditional Massage School. Expect no frill or pampering luxury, it is OK to just wear your T-shirt and jeans throughout the massage. The skillful masseurs here are trained to perform the true-blue Thai massage.

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Phuket

6 – 8 Sep 2002: Phuket, Thailand

We departed from Changi Airport on Silk Air MI 752 at 8.55 am. In lesss than 2 hours, we reached Phuket and the taxi ride to JW Marriott Phuket Resort and Spa added another 15 min to the whole journey. JL and I have picked this Thailand’s largest island to spend our 2nd wedding anniversary together. Approximately the size of Singapore, Phuket is mostly mountainous area which stretched from north to the south, along the Andaman Sea of southern Thailand

Elephant Trekking

After lunch, we hopped onto a jeep that brought us into the jungle where the elephant camp was located. The elephant ride on the hill was very slow and we were rocking left to right like a sleeping child. But the view overlooking the Chalong Bay was very refreshing. After the ride, we watched the elephant show and fed bananas to them.   

 

In the evening, we took the hotel free shuttle to Phuket Town for dinner and night market shopping

Island Hopping

Any trip to Phuket would be incomplete without going for an island hopper trip. Phuket has many islands to the southeast. People from all over the world come here for snorkelling in the bay or just sit back and relax on the famous beaches. After donning the life jackets, the speedboat brought us into the beautiful, crystal blue ocean. About 13 km away from the pier is the Bamboo Island, a small island with blending white sand and beautiful crystal clear water. A ideal location for snorkeling or just relaxing on the beach.   

   

The bird’s nest farming is a thriving industry here as bird’s nests are abundant in Phuket and its surrounding provinces. Thousands of swiftlets built their nests in some of these caves. The broth made from the bird’s saliva holding the nest together is a highly prized Chinese delicacy. Our speedboat cut off the engine to allow closer view of these caves.

   

The Monkey Beach is a another beautiful beach with white soft sand where jungle clad limestone cliffs tower above. We did not disembark on this island as most of us on the boat were not keen to have the monkeys coming to us for food. We were warned that these monkeys could get quite aggressive when they are hungry.

   

The highlight of this trip is still the Maya Beach, the location where Hollywood movie “The Beach” starring Leonardo Di Caprio, was filmed. It was easy to comprehend why the Maya Beach was choose for the movie. This place has a stunning beautiful bay surrounded by steep limestone cliffs with crystal clear emerald green water. On our boat was a lady from Iran, dressed in traditional abaya with full head and face covered (imagined undert the blazing hot sun). She could not resist the temptation and jumped into the water in her black abaya!

      

JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa   

One great place we enjoyed tremendously was (surprisingly) the hotel. Located in Phuket’s untouched, unspoiled Mai Khao Beach, JW Marriott Phuket Resort & Spa is likened to an oasis or paradise; away from the hustle and bustle Patong or touristy areas. Knowing that this was our wedding anniversary trip, the hotel specially upgraded our room to a suite room, right next to the beach.  What a nice gesture!

Tropical island breeze, coconut trees and white sandy beach… could not havbe a more perfect location.

The well-furnished room with tropical touch in classic Thai traditions…   

   

Besides the lush tropical landscaped gardens and lily ponds, the hotel also has a great pool to cool off…

   

 

As we were strolling along the Mai Khao Beach, we chanced upon these advertisement for “beach massage”.

It was something new that we were keen to try out; but we were not in the mood of lying down on these green groundsheets, tinted with sand grains. “Can do it in the hotel?” we asked.

“No, cannot. Hotel says cannot,” they shook their heads. Obviously, Marriott has certain policy and rules to protect its spa services (at probably three or five times the price).

We were about to walk away when they whispered to us: “But at night, can… outside your room. Secret, OK?”

“OK,” we promised. After dark, we had a great Thai massage at the pavilion, just outside our room.

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14 – 19 Jan 2001: Bangkok, Thailand

Thailand has always a special place in my heart. She was the first country which I flew into for my overseas mililtary training. After I took on my first regional job, they sent me on a ten-day assignment in Southern Thailand. Fourteen days ago, I joined a new company and guess the destination of my first project? Yes, you are absolutely right: THAILAND!    

 

The Land of Thousand Smiles

Thailand is truly a land of thousand smiles. Each person whom I met or work with is so amicable and always so willing to lend a helping hand (despite the language barrier). Here is my friend Onrawee, a Thai Chinese, who worked on my first assignment in Bangkok. Onrawee speaks good English and has just offered to show me Bangkok when I return to Bangkok again in the following month. 

And here is Jim’s shop in Time Square Building which I frequently visit to pick up a few household items for my new home. Language is a barrier but Jim dissolved them with her gentle smile and demure nodding. Plus, she always ends the powerful assurance with: No problem, I will give you discount. That makes closing of deal much easier.

 

14 Feb 2001: Bangkok, Thailand

Here’s another memorable photo of Jamie, Monique and me at a buffet dinner in JW Marriott Bangkok. It was Valentine’s Day and we were the three married souls “stuck in Bangkok” without our Valentine’s. We picked our brains and a great idea rang: We will celebrate our threesome Valentine’s Day with a heartfill to our stomach. And we did have a great time together. Most of the time, we were mocking at Jamie’s Bangkok experience so far – he freaked out at lunch when he discovered two ants crawling on the pineapple holding the pineapple fried rice. On another occasion, I introduced durian to him and he ungratefully swore that the King of Fruit was smelling worse than rotting banana. Boy, how I enjoy these moments with Jamie!

  

17 Feb 2001: Bangkok, Thailand

What a wonderful coincidence. My ex-colleagues, Mun Wai and Jun Fong just finished their assigment in Bangkok. At my invitation, these bachelors agreed to extended their stay and bunked in with me at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. Our Saturday morning began on a BTS Skytrain ride to the Mon Chit Station. Yes, the starting point is the Chatuchak Market.

  

Chatuchak Weekend Market

There are many markets throughout Bangkok. Undisputed, Chatuchak Weekend Market is the king of them all. With an area of 35 acres filling up with more than 15 000 shops and stalls, the scale of this market is amazing! And you can spend hours after hours scavenging the wide range of products on bargain sales  – household accessories, handicrafts, religious artifacts, art, antiques, live animals, books, music, clothes, food, plants and flowers and many more! Maps are handed out to guide you on the various sections, segregated by the types of goods sold. But the best way to enjoy shopping in this disorientating market place is to discard that map and wander along the narrow alleys wherever takes your fancy. A word of advice: buy what you like on the first visit; for you are unlikely to locate back the same shop once you leave them.  

  

Taking a rest in front of the shrine of the Four-Faced Budhha. The Four-Faced Buddha literally has four faces. Starting in a clockwise direction, the faces represents the Face of Peace and Health, the Face of Good Fortune, the Face of Good Relationships and lastly Face of Protection against evils. Worshippers offer garlands of marigold flowers, lotus, candles and incense sticks to the Four-Faced Budhha at the 4 corners in a clockwise direction. Often, an urn of holy water  is placed at the  corner of the Shrine for the devotees to sprinkle the water over their heads and shoulders.

 

After lunch, Onrawee made her guest appearance as the city tour guide for today! There are so many unique temples and palaces in Bangkok, she said, you will surely enjoy them.

Grand Palace  

The Grand Palace is the official residence of the Kings of Thailand since the 18th century. King Rama I constructed the Palace in 1782, after he moved the Thai capital across the Chao Phraya River from Thonburi to Bangkok. The present King Bhumibol Adulyadej no longer resides here. So the Grand Palace is usually used only for occasional ceremonial purposes. The Thai people love their kings and it is strictly a taboo to talk bad about the royals in the public.

  

Democracy Monument

We could not help but notice this attractive monument in the centre of Bangkok. The Democracy Monument occupies a traffic circle of a main road intersection. It was erected to commemorate the 24 June 1932 coup. That was the year when the People’s Party and the military faction successfully staged a coup that brought the 150-year-old Thai monarchy came to an end. 

 

Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha

Wat Pho is made famous by the huge Reclining Buddha statue it houses. It is the largest Wat in Bangkok, rebuilt by King Rama I when he moved the capital back to Bangkok.  Wat Pho has more than 1,000 Buddha images and massive collection of 91 Chedis of varying sizes in its compound.

  

 

  

Wat Pho is also famous as Thailand’s first university and center for traditional Thai masage. The massage techniques were inscribed on stone in the walls of Wat Pho, as well as depicted through the weather-beaten statues. If you truly want to experience authentic traditional Thai massage, I strongly recommend this place.

  

  

Wat Arun, Temple of the Dawn  

Better known as the Temple of the Dawn, Wat Arun is one of the most published images of Bangkok. The main temple is a massive elongated prang and is surrounded by four other smaller prangs. If you walk up the stairs of the main prang, you will be rewarded by the beautiful view of the Chao Phraya river. Unfortunately, we arrived here at dusk. Although there was litle time left to explore the compound, the setting sun did provide a great backdrop of the temple in the evening.

  

  

 

2 Mar 2001: Bangkok, Thailand

On my last day in Bangkok, Sukit brought us to a Chinese restaurant. Nugan Lee Lang Suan is probably one of the best-kept secret eateries in Bangkok. The street is very pleasant without much traffic gridlock. Despite the dining ambience and cooking facility, the food is surprising very good.

From left (below): Park, Parithon, Sukit and Kwon Chai  

And I brought home with me enchanting memories of scrumptious food…the wonderful anecdotes which I could repeat over and over again… the exquisite and charming wats and palace. And lastly, countless Thai people armed with bountiful smiles. What more could I ask in return?

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26 Jan 2000: River Kwai @ Kanchanaburi, Thailand

 Kanchanaburi

Kanchanaburi is about 155 kilometers west of Bangkok and this town is best known as the site of the notorious “Death Railway” and the “Bridge over the River Kwai”.

Kanchanaburi is located at the point where the Kwai Noi and Kwai Yai River meet to form the Mae-Klong River.  After Singapore surrendered during the World War II in 1942, the Japanese sent the prisoners of war here to construct a bridge over the River Kwai to carry a new railway line that leads to Burma.

This famous bridge  is often referred to as the Death Railway as it was estimated that 16,000 war prisoners and 49,000 impressed labourers died from disease, maltreatment and accidents, during the construction of the bridge that spans across the Kwai Yai River. 

Wat Nua, a temple in Kanchanaburi

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