Asia, a land of wonders - these are my thoughts, experiences and travel tips from SE Asia

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thailand Wat Phra Samut Chedi temple

The temple named Wat Phra Samut Chedi (in Thai: พระสมุทรเจดีย์) is one of the attractions in Samut Prakan district of BangkokThe district is named after the temple Phra Samut Chedi, which was built 1827 to 1828 by king (Rama II) on an island in the Chao Phraya river. The name Phra Chedi Klang Nam means Chedi in the middle of the water. The island is now connected with the left river banks so it is not in the middle of the water now but there is a near by island.

Wat Phra Samul Chedi - Samut Prakan, Thailand

We did not find anything much to see there, except taking a few pictures around and marking "done" on our place to see or explore list. So we got a coffee from a near-by shop and continue the trip. Just near this temple there is a pier and the boat costs 3.50 BHT per person and it takes you to the other side of the river directly into a fresh market of Samut Prakan. 

This is just a regular big market place with meat and vegetables, baked food and sweets. Hard to find a restaurant that sells rice but we ran into a lot of noodle shops - finally end up having noodles for lunch - good noodles around here.

Fresh pineapple at the market
Boat on Chao Phraya river (Samut Prakan)
People watching thai series in the market
Temple (Wat) Phra Samut Chedi view from the parking lot
If you taking the time for a trip there I would recommend to have a few hundred meters detour and visit the Pak Khlong Bang Pla Kot Chinese Shrine which is near-by. 

I am not aware of any celebrations held here but if I know anything, the content of this post will be updated.

Be aware of the seasons in Thailand as there is a real possibility of floods especially during September - October. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Thailand Ayutthaya Wat Chaiwatthanaram วัดไชยวัฒนาราม

Updated flooding information as of October 2011

Ayutthaya along with Wat Chaiwatthanaram วัดไชยวัฒนาราม and surroundings are under water as heavy flooding covers many Thailand provinces. As of October 9th 2011, the highway police closed another section of Asia Highway, one of the main route to North of Thailand and Chai Nat after the water from Chao Phraya river started to flood the roads. Water is 40cm deep and more. 

For travel contact you can drop me a line at Contact page!

Ayutthaya is the old capital of Thailand. I check a bit on the city's history as I didn't knew a lot about it and it seems that city was founded around 1350. Throughout the centuries, the ideal location between China, India and the Malay Archipelago made Ayutthaya the trading capital of Asia and even the world. By 1700 Ayutthaya had become the largest city in the world with a total of 1 million inhabitants. Many international merchants set sail for Ayutthaya, from diverse regions as the Arab world, China, India, Japan, Portugal, the Netherlands and France. Merchants from Europe proclaimed Ayutthaya as the finest city they had ever seen. (Wiki helped on knowledge)

Since we were not at that time (300-400) years ago, we can just imagine how this city was. Certainly it doesn't seem as impressive as they said it was but is a great place to see ancient temples which are a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Our direction was precise and the destination was Ayutthaya - Wat Chaiwatthanaram temple (วัดไชยวัฒนาราม)  which is one of the most famous temple and a tourist attraction. Directly from the gate I was surprised by the fact that I had to pay 5 times the price that a thai national would pay so I thought "what a great start" but besides this everything was great. 

Wat Chaiwatthanaram admission fee for foreigners (me) 50 BHT and thai nationals 10 BHT
The temple has almost 400 years old and the temple's name literally means the Temple of long reign and glorious era - it was designed in Khmer style which was popular in that time. Wat Chaiwatthanaram was a royal temple where the king and his successors performed religious ceremonies. Princes and princess were cremated here.

Temple view from the entry gate

After the total destruction of the old capital (Thai: กรุงเก่า - Krung Kao) by the Burmese in 1767, from which Wat Chai Watthanaram was not spared, the temple was deserted. Theft, sale of bricks from the ruins and the beheading of the Buddha statues were common. Only in 1987 did the Thai Department of Fine Arts start restoring the site. In 1992 it was opened to the public. (Thanks again to Wiki)

Ayutthaya temple ruins

Also don't forget to check the weather as there is a high possibility of flooding in this area especially during the rainy season, I would say September and October.

Check this out: Your deal gate - daily special offers on electronics

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Erawan Museum - Thailand

One of the pleasant ways to spend a rainy Saturday in Bangkok is to go to a museum which we did a couple of week ago. We knew there are quite a few of them but we also know that the museums are not popular things for the inhabitants of this country - or at least this is what we concluded after many years spent here.

So, quickly jump into the car and destination was The Erawan Museum. The Thai name is พิพิธภัณฑ์ช้างเอราวัณ and this is a museum a few KM away from the city but on the Sukhumvit road - it is located in Samut Prakan, Thailand. The thing that made us noticed this museum is the giant three-headed elephant display. The three storeys inside the elephant contain antiquities and priceless collections of ancient and religious objects which belongs to K. Lek Viriyapant this being the museum owner as well.

The sculpture is made of bronze and it took about 10 years to complete it.

There are three separate floors which symbolise the universe and are designed in accordance with the three-tiered cosmology of the Hindu-Thai Buddhist concept of Tribhumi.

The first level, at the basement represents the underworld. There are many rare artefacts from furniture to ceramics and pottery along with descriptions which are quite interesting to read. Here the photos are not allowed.

The next level (ground level) is the human world, where the architecture reflects a harmonious blend of Eastern and Western art. The ceiling features a painted world map and a zodiac.

A narrow spiral staircase of about 160 stairs, if I'm not wrong, passing through the right hind leg of the elephant leads to Tavatimsa Heaven, deep inside the elephant's belly this being the most beautiful parts of the museum.

Don't forget to walk a few minutes through the garden near the Erawan museum which is quite great for taking a few photos.

As any place in Thailand, there are a few souvenir shops and food shops which came very much in handy! You can enjoy a small variety of original dishes including noodles and pad-thai as well as coffee or other beverages. I would recommend the pad-thai in this case.

I almost forgot, the map is right here: Google maps link to Erawan Museum, Bangkok