Royal Grand Palace

BANGKOK DELIGHTS


BANGKOK DELIGHTS

In the United States you have The Big Apple aka New York city, well Thailand has its own little sweetness in The Big Mango ala Bangkok city! The reference to a fruit is suitable in the case of Bangkok, it is a delight when you have a taste of Bangkok lifestyle. Just like the “Mango,” it can be both sweet and sour depending on your personal experience. As the capital city of Thailand, Bangkok is not exactly what you may imagine it to be. Forget those movies like “Hangover 2”; it is a whole lot more than that. Well, you also do have to admit that behind every great city and as much as the Angel there is also the Devil to play, so watch your wallets, your belongings, and your pants!

Off course, the trademark of Bangkok is the traffic, both vehicular and human. Well, that is what you would expect in a country as big as Thailand where people from all directions of the globe come to get a taste of this “fruit”! Though there is no shortcomings of transportation in Bangkok, one can always rely on the speedy, noisy little tuk-tuks that sound like a buzzing mosquito in your ear but are really nifty at getting to where you want to go in a very short time. Please do bargain the price before you hop on!

The “Big Mango” is a throbbing and pulsating city of entertainment, sights, sounds and the vibe of any metropolitan city that never sleeps. On an all-time adrenaline high, Bangkok is best savored on a high-energy lifestyle. With attractions and entertainment that goes on well into the next morning, you had better have a six-pack of energy to boost!

Top 10 Destinations of Bangkok

A Romantic Dinner Cruise Down The Chao Phraya

 

Dinner Cruise

They say that there is no experience like floating down the mightiest river in Thailand, which is the Chao Phraya. Well, you can put that to the test with a sumptuous dinner to boot! Take a 3-hour
River Cruise with Dinner
in one of those fancy Dinner Cruise Ships that frequently ply the Chao Phraya in the evenings. Lights ablaze, romantic music blaring and tables laid out with rows and rows of food to entice you to a night of indulgence and drinks. We hope you will have your “sea-legs” with you after one too many drinks!

 

 

Make A Date With The Elephant



Erawan MuseumYes, you can make many dates with elephants in Thailand but this is one of the biggest in the world. None other than Erawan at the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan, it stands several hundred feet tall perched on the top of a dome, making it visible for miles around! The delight of this museum is the many ancient and priceless antiques on display as well as some of the most exquisite sculptures found in the 3-story building. The Thai people believe that Erawan, the Holy Elephant brings good fortune and wealth to those who venerate him …so if you are on a quest for a little bit of extra after spending on your holiday trip, no harm in giving this a try while you are here.

 

Make A Monkey Of Yourself At Safari World


Safari World

This is one of the largest open safari in Thailand where you can literally run wild! Watch the many animal performances, or take a ride out to the open Safari in
Safari World
where tigers, lions and other predators roam freely among the wildebeest. They are kept at bay from ripping each other apart by a series of fences. You will have the opportunity to present your most adorable looks and compete with the Orang Utan for the best picture!

 

 

 

Feel Like A Giant In Ancient City


Garden of The Gods Ancient City

This does not mean tromping around like Gulliver on his travels but rather a fun way to discover as much of Thailand in the shortest time possible.
Ancient City
is also located in Samut Prakan a half hour out of bustling Bangkok. An exercise for your feet and immersing yourself in the rich culture and traditions of Siam in the past to Thailand in the future can all be found in this mini city.

 

 

 

Dinner In The sky At Biyoke Sky Hotel



International Buffet at Baiyoke sky hotelGet a bird’s eye view of sprawling Bangkok and its spaghetti maze of streets and water canals from
Biyoke Sky Hotel
while stuffing it up at their renowned International Buffet. Once you are done with dinner, work off all that food in your tummy, head on over to the in-house Jazz Bar or Discotheque. Spend the rest of the night jiving away until your heart is contented.


Experience Venice Of The East With The Canal Cruise Of Bangkok



Bangkok Canal TourThink “O solo mio,” nope! The Canal Cruises of Bangkok are far more interesting. The canals or Klongs as they are known can bring you to the most obscured places in Bangkok seldom seen from the road or streets. These maze of waterways look like a break between jigsaw pieces on a board. Offering an insight into Bangkokian life it can be a revelation!

 

 

 

Feel Like a “King” for a Day In The Royal Grand Palace



The Royal Grand PalaceDiscover the opulence of Kingship in Thailand as you walk the
Royal Grand Palace
grounds. This is where big ceremonies such as the King and Queen’s birthday in Thailand is celebrated each tear as well as where Royal addresses are made to the Thai people. The temple within these grounds holds an allure to the richness of Thai culture and artisanship. Look for the wall mural that depicts the life of Kings past in Siam!

 

 

 

 

Pick Up A Helpful Skill In Massage At Wat Pho



Wat Pho The Reclining BuddhaThinking of how to do a massage for someone? Make your way to the Wat Pho Temple, which not only houses the largest reclining Buddha in Thailand but also the oldest Thai traditional massage school. Try your hand at learning where the body pressure points are in the massage school, you never know when it might come in handy. Alternatively, pay your respects in the Temple where the reclining Buddha is located. Do some merit to purify your soul by distributing coins into the row of bronze bowls.

 

 

 

 

Pedal Rather Than Walk Your Way Through Bangkok With The Cycling Tours Of Bangkok



bangkok-paradise2Too lazy to walk but do not mind a bicycle ride? You can always get someone else to do the peddling! A
bicycle tour in Bangkok
is one of the best ways to discover Bangkok. Visit such places like Chinatown or the lesser-known streets where there are plenty of little sightseeing gems to discover. Take a bicycle tour of Bangkok to exercise yourself after all the indulgence of great Thai food.

 

 

Get Cultured The Thai Way With The Cabaret Shows and Traditional Thai Shows



Siam NiramitrCabaret shows are a must see if you want a good laugh and to see the performances of the ever popular “Lady Boys” of Thailand. They are a very talented lot and their antics will keep you laughing from start to finish. If you want something more epic to feast your eyes and ears, make your way to
Siam Niramit,
which is the traditional and cultural show place of Bangkok.

Mysticism In The Garden Of The Gods


Ancient city tour Muang boranThailand is steeped in much mysticism and culture that relates to religion. This is significant in the many temples and places of worship in the country. Hinduism is a great influence in many of Thailand’s religious icons, traditions and culture. The Ramakien which is an epic story of the Gods and Deities was derived from the Ramayana and adapted to Thai beliefs. If you were to visit the temples in Bangkok City on a tour of Bangkok City Temples you will notice many statues and symbols of Hindu origin. Many of the religious personalities can be seen in the emblems of Government departments and company logos. There are also many shrines dedicated to the Hindu God Ganesh, which is the Elephant God or known in Thai as Papikanae and one of the oldest and most famous Hindu shrine dedicated to Ganesh is located in Silom in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

The Thai strongly believe that there is one God for each day of the week similarly there is one Buddha position for every day of the week. One great place to see an adaptation of these Gods in their full splendour is at Ancient City or better known as Muang Boran. Located in the district of Samut Prakan, half hours drive out of Bangkok city centre; it is the first creative project by the enterprising philanthropist Khun Lek Virayaphan. There are guided tours to Ancient City which is a half day tour that should not be missed while you are enjoying your holiday in Bangkok.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

This particular section in the Ancient City is known as Garden of The Gods. It might also interest you to know that there is an association between the names of the days in Thai to that of the names given to the Gods and the planets. The vast garden is beautifully maintained and the sculptures of the seven different Gods adorn various sections of the garden. One of the largest and most prominent sculptures is that of the God called Phra Athit the God of Light. He represents “Sunday” and is depicted sitting on an elaborate chariot drawn by seven sky horses and driven by Phra Arun. The name “Arun” means dawn and is similar to the famous Temple of Dawn called Wat Arun in Bangkok. Phra Athit is said to be influential, noble and distinguished. Another large sculpture is that of Phra Chan the God of the Moon who represents Monday. He can be seen astride a chariot driven by ten horses. One gets the impression that he is dignified, gentle and suave. Just to digress a little, it is believed that people born on various days are said to have these same characteristics of the Gods imparted to them. So make a note of which day you were born and see if the character of these Gods are similar to yours!

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

Tuesday is attributed to the God Phra Angkhan that is seen riding a huge water buffalo. His planet of influence is Mars and therefore is also known as the God of War. His characteristics are hot tempered, hard-working and controversial. You could adapt the saying of “blood, sweat and tears” to him. Many of these sculptures are very intricate in detail and provide a great insight into how the Thai people associate their lives with that of the prevailing Gods. Phra Budha (not the Buddha as we know it) rules over Wednesday. His dedicated planet is Mercury and is seated above a great elephant as his steed. He symbolizes wisdom, intellectual and communication. He is said to be wise and knowledgeable. In Thai culture, the elephant is also the symbol of wisdom and knowledge as well as bravery.

Garden of Gods
Garden of Gods

Moving on to Thursday, we have Pharutsabodhi. He can be seen riding a deer with huge antlers and carrying a writing slate. He also represents the planet Jupiter and is considered a heavenly seer and tutor to the Gods and Deities. It is also noted that Thursdays are dedicated to the teaching profession in Thailand. He represents knowledge, education and teaching.This next God is much sought after in terms of having children born on this particular day. This is the God Sukra who rides in on a hefty bull. Sukra is the ruler for Friday is a heavenly seer and also tutor of the Gods. However his atributes are wealth and a taste for the arts. The best of both worlds, money and talent!Last but not least is Phra Sao also known as Sani or in Hinduism as Shiva. His ruling planet is Saturn and he presides over Saturday. His steed is a tiger and people born under the influence of Saturn are known to be hot tempered as one of their traits! Phra Sao holds a trident in one hand and a bow in the other. Unfortunately he is also known as the God of Grief and those born on this day are also said to face a life of hardship, despair and grief. Enjoy the experience of a walking tour in Ancient City which comes highly recommended for the amazing things you can see that is not just the Garden of the Gods.

Garden of The Gods Ancient City
Garden of The Gods Ancient City

It can be said that the belief of astrology and religion go hand in hand in Thailand. Sometimes parents of newborn babies try to have their children born on an auspicious day under a particular diety so that their future will be bright and easy. For the tourist this means a host of great and interesting things and places to see! The Ancient City, where all these sculptures are located was also the site where HRH Queen Elizabeth II was given a great reception by HRH The King of Thailand when she visited Thailand in the 1970s. This is a place that should be included in your itinerary for sightseeing and tours in Bangkok. The experience of walking in the Garden of the Gods can be both fascinating and yet intimidating when one thinks of these Gods presiding over man in the world.

sanctuary of truth

Legacy Of The Sanctuary Of Truth In Pattaya


Sanctuary of Truth

As you approach the Sanctuary of Truth from a distance it is not unlike a formidable building very much like a castle created from dark drift wood with looming spires, pointy roofs and protruding structures. As you approach the gateway an archway sign says “Welcome to the Sanctuary of Truth“. The entrance is on higher ground and you can make your way down either by a pony carriage ride, a horse ride or just plain old walking down the many wooden steps from the Vantage Point that overlooks the Sanctuary and also the place where you can get some really nice eats at the outdoor café. A visit to the Sanctuary of Truth will reveal one man’s passion to bring to the world a legacy of not only beautiful sculptures but a philosophy for peace, humanity and piety.

Riding an elephant

The Sanctuary of Truth is located along a small peninsula in Pattaya. Nestled between the sea and a small wooded area it is fairly isolated and adds to the mystery of the place. This place is now included in most tour of Pattaya itineraries and not difficult to access. There are a lot of other activities included aside from just a visit to the Sanctuary and for those who are here to enjoy some instant fun there are many other activities and attractions at the Sanctuary of Truth. As you break out from the foliage surrounding the area, you will catch a closer glimpse of the Sanctuary and the imposing height of the building is the first thing you will notice. Also at first glance the wood used in the construction of the building is a dark grey interspersed with a motley green. This is the effect of chemicals used to preserve the wood from the ravages of the sea air. Before approaching the Sanctuary, you will be handed out construction helmets, a funny thing you might add but a necessity! The building is not quite finished, work is still on-going and if you ask any of the guides who will lead you around the building when it will be completed, the answer will always be “Never”! Though it is scheduled to be completed in 2025, in reality that would not be feasible as maintenance and upgrading has to be constant seemingly that everything is constructed out of wood including the nails. The building of the Sanctuary of Truth is a carpentry construction marvel, there are no iron nails or metal beams. Everything is based on wooden joinery using various forms of carpentry joints such as dove-tail joints, mortise and tenon and many others!

Sanctaury of Truth

A walking tour of the Sanctuary of Truth is accompanied by guides who speak various languages and will explain the many facets of the building, the history and vision of the originator. You may ask them any questions and they are well prepared with the answers! From the outside you will see the many carvings made from teak, iron wood and black wood carved in the images of deities, legendary figures, mythical creatures and religious icons. The first thing the guides will tell you is that the Sanctuary is not a temple though indication do point in that direction from the many carvings and seemingly alter-like items in the inner sections. The intricacies of the carvings are fabulously detailed and adorn the exterior of the building from the foundation all the way up to the spires. The influences in the carvings can be seen as Burmese, Thai, Chinese and Hindu. One can marvel at the amount of work it must have taken to produce these carvings and work-in-progress on other carvings can also be seen at the site. Most prominent on the exterior is the image of a four faced Buddha atop a carving of Erawan the Holy elephant which was earlier highlighted at another place in Samut Prakan called the Erawan Museum. The Sanctuary of Truth is the third and final concept by the founding creator Khun Lek Virayaphan who constructed two other places called Ancient City and Erawan Museum. Both of which are located in Bangkok and also worth a visit when you do the tours of Bangkok. The upper most spire stands a sculpture of Kalaki mounted on a horse that is depicted as the last Bodhisattvathat is to come in the future. In total there are four lesser spires for each corner of the building of North, South, East and West.

Sanctuary of TruthThe concept for the Sanctuary of Truth was based on an Eastern philosophy that human kind and civilization was achieved and nurtured through the ages with a series of religion, philosophy and truth. The four sections of the building represent Creation (Mother/Father), Foundation of Heaven and Earth(Earth, wind, fire, water), Life (Sun, moon, star) and Religion (China and Buddhism). These four sections radiate from the centre which is the core of the building of which a huge hollow column sits reaching all the way to the top in the inner sanctum. When you look up from the outside and see the four lower spires, the one on the east depicts a goddess with a book in hand.  This is symbolic of immortal knowledge garnered through learning and understanding.  The west spire depicts a goddess with a pigeon perched on one hand and a chafe of rice in the other which symbolizes peace and wealth through merits and good deeds. The North spire has a sculpture that depicts a Celestial being holding a lotus flower to symbolize religion which is the pillar of the world and the South spire depicts a Celestial being carrying a child and leading an elderly person to symbolize life which has been bestowed on human beings through sacrifice, love and sharing. If your neck is not already aching by now to crane and see all the details of these wonderful carvings there is more to come on the inside! It will take you a good half hour to walk around the outer perimeters of the building and that is to not stop and click away on your camera at all the lovely details in the carvings.

Sanctaury of Truth

The entrance way into the building are steps leading up to a podium and into the hall ways. Along the side of the entrance stairway it is embellished with carvings and sculptures on the walls, banisters and ceiling. You can run your fingers along the carvings and appreciate the finesse of the workmanship. The Sanctuary of Truth was also documented by the National Geographic Magazine team some years back and it is hoped that one day it will be recognized as a new wonder of the world.  The walkway leads up another few steps to the great hallway. Fronting the entrance is the great column flanked by four lesser gateways around the column. An interesting point to note is that you will notice one of the pillars wrapped with a pink sash. Incidentally, this wooden pillar is the foundation pillar for the Sanctuary and it is little known that the tree trunk used as this pillar is 600 years old. It is an old Thai belief that there is a spiritual existence for all old things and that they reside within these objects. Out of mere superstition or belief the ceremony to plant this particular pillar was symbolic to the meaning that this place is claimed for the use of the Sanctuary and to instill it as the Guardian of the building. True or not, that is a traditional belief and custom. The Thai people sometimes come here to offer small prayers and acknowledgement as well as to ask for favors from the entity that is believed to reside within the pillar. Just an interesting point to note while you are visiting!

Sanctuary of Truth

The center column has been constructed hollow on the inside. There are four doors and five steps leading up to the doors. The four doors symbolize a gateway of truth to the four doctrines of Buddhism. The Bud-sa-boke Pavilion represents the centre of the Universe and the cycle of life based on the five principles of obligation to truth, self-control, humbleness, compassion and merit in order to attain enlightenment. On one side of the column is an opportunity for you to take some great pictures on the seats prepared for visitors. You might want to consider this opportunity to take a great picture during your tour of the Sanctuary of Truth! The wood carved domed ceiling lets in the light and gives this central podium a surreal feel. Every inch of the interior is adorned with wooden carvings and murals of the finest quality. The West Hall is where you can see carvings of the four elements representing Heaven and Earth. The fluidity of the carvings is amazing and one wonders exactly how long it took just to carve these! The South Hall has loads of sculptures representing the Sun and Moon and the Stars. Celestial beings, Gods and Goddesses as well as lesser deities adorn this hall which symbolizes the cycle of life and how it influences the human being. It differentiates between man and creature and human consciousness in good and bad. The East Hall represents parents and parental love. Sculptures here represent the figures of father and mother, the endowment of unconditional love and creation of life through the parents. Parents are made to symbolize pure love, teachings of knowledge and character through the generations and obligations of virtue. The West Hall represents Taoism and Confucianism with the precept of the Bodhisattva in the sector of Mahayana Buddhism. This particular hall is more Chinese in flavor with the presence of figures such as Kuan Yin and other Chinese deities and celestial beings.

Sanctuary of Truth

A sightseeing and tour of the Sanctuary of Truth is best done with an open mind and an open heart. It is the effort of one man to leave behind a legacy that will in some way teach the future generations the importance of family values, religion and filial piety which he had found lacking in modern society. Each figure tells a story in the struggle of good and bad influences in the average human life and how the ideal way to enlightenment can be achieved. One does not need to be a Buddhist to understand this concept but to admire the handiworks of the talented wood carvers, the concept as a whole and the stories it tells. Every piece of carving, mural and paneling is a work of art that can be appreciated by those who visit the Sanctuary. One can never finish taking in all the wonders of this place completely in one day, after all it took them already almost 10 years or maybe a little more just to get to this stage! Things are constantly maintained, sculptures and carvings added which on the other hand makes you wonder is if there is just any more space to put another carving or statue. So while you are in Pattaya, do make it a point to at least visit this place once in your lifetime and appreciate the wonder of it all. To keep you entertained there are also many other activities and things to do at the Sanctuary of Truth that will keep you quite busy and amazed!

Erawan Museum

The First Series Of Three New World Wonders In Thailand – The Erawan Museum


The Erawan Museum

A fairly big proclamation one would think, but reserve some comments till you read the rest of the articles! You would not believe it that all three monuments have been visioned, financed and under the patronage of one individual that some may deem him to be either an eccentric billionaire or Thailand’s greatest benefactor. This is actually his second project in a series of three. The name Erawan Museum may not ring many bells as yet but a visit to this place will remain in your mind hopefully forever. This is also the reason why it is a “Must See” place when you visit Thailand and take a tour of Thailand.

There is no mistaking the sight of a behemoth 3-headed elephant sitting atop a roof as you approach from the road. You can actually see it from miles around. At first glance, one might think it is a temple of sorts, honoring the great Elephant God, Ganesh or locally known as “Papikanea”. It was not intended to be so but as the elephant is a symbol of a much revered animal, it comes as no surprise that eventually people do flock to this place to worship this huge effigy.  Located just 30 minutes from Bangkok city in the district of Samut Prakan, it is an easy drive. Plus the fact that you can’t really get lost when all you have to look for is this huge pachyderm figure once you get into Samut Prakan.

erawan1At the entrance of Erawan Museum not only are you greeted by a walled and gated property but also a sight of the elephant figure standing atop a domed roof under an elaborate crafted pastel pink building with a pavilion and intricately carved doorways. According to the history behind the creation of Erawan Museum, it was to be a place where the national treasures of Thailand such as old antiques and other collectibles were to be housed and appreciated with the main intention to prevent it from being sold away to the outside world and to symbolize the heart of the land where the national treasures and ancient heritage are the wealth and culture of the country.

 

 

Garden of The Gods Ancient City

Tickets to Erawan Museum can be purchased at the doorway entrance of you can book your tickets to Erawan Museum through a travel agent who will provide all the required transportation to make it easy for you. The museum (yes, a museum and not a temple) is located in 6 rai of land, so that means it is not only the museum but also a great sculpted garden, dining patio and loads of places for you to sit and enjoy the place. Entering the museum grounds opens a whole new world to the visitor. An understanding of the importance of the elephant to Thai culture and society where the pachyderm is revered is evident from the number of visitors who just come to venerate the holy elephant in the small shrine placed at the entrance and the front interior of the grounds. Here you can see a vendor selling joss sticks, flowers and lotus flowers for the worshippers to place at the alter which has a miniature version of the actual God Papikanea. It is believed that this Deity bestows good luck, wisdom, prosperity and benevolence hence the worshipping and most often than not, the asking of a fortune through the fortune sticks at the shrine. It is interesting to observe the rituals and some say that the results of one’s destiny holds true when asked in reverence and sincerity. Anyone can pay their respects at the alter but most of the visitors who do this are the local Thais. You can buy a lotus flower at the vendor stall to place into the moat around the museum later to ward off bad luck and bring in the new.

Sanctuary of TruthWalking towards the main building, you can place small gold leaf stickers on another statue of Papikanea at the pavilion which is the entrance to the second floor, the gold leaf is complimentary and available from the little box on the left of the pavilion, and this is so that you will have good fortune and prosperity.  A guide will direct you to the first level, which is a small stairway leading to the “basement” of the building known as the Suvarhnabhumi level or Underworld level. This was only recently opened on the 29th April 2012 and houses the precious collections of porcelain and antiques in Thailand dating  as old as the 1st reign of Thailand’s monarchy. This is the only collection available for viewing and salvaged by the owner himself Lek VirayaphantKhun Lek“, the creator of the museum. Here, you can see the various influences of artwork in the pottery through the ages of Thai culture and the most precious collection to date in Thailand. The next level is the 2nd floor also known as the Earth level, where you see beautiful and opulent sculptures of the human-world and a magnificent stained-glass dome. Each figure and mural has been meticulously hand-crafted revealing the different age of man in Eastern and Western influences, and the lessons of creation in relation to man’s existence. You can make your way up all the way into the

elephant body where inside is housed ancient relics of Buddhism and numerous images of Buddhas salvaged through a lifetime of collection. It is believed that this is where the Gods reside and symbolizes Heaven.  Everything in the building has taken a painstaking 10 years to complete. The figure of Erawan, the Elephant of the Universe stands 43 meters tall, crafted entirely out of bronze and weights 250 tons, lifted and anchored to the top of the dome by four pillars that form the foundation of the building. A truly amazing feat in itself. The elephant represents the idea of Airavata the Hindu holy elephant that was believed to be the trusty chariot bearer of the God Indra, of which the sculptures in the building are somewhat themed to this concept as well.

Outside the building, you can float your lotus flower in the moat and maybe offer a little prayer in your own words for luck and to wash away all bad karma. Take a walk along the garden grounds, there are many wonderful stone sculptures strategically located that makes great photo shots. Quench your hunger and thirst at the outdoor café that sits amidst shaded trees and a waterfall. The food is great and really cheap for a tourist designated area. Next to the café is a little museum dedicated to the owner which showcases his life. Some might find him a very interesting and yet simple person. If you were to see him on the streets before, he might just seem to be another ordinary Thai old gentleman but behind it all is a person with a benevolent vision and unfortunately did not live long enough to see the completion of his creations.

So make it a point to take a tour of Erawan Museum, there is a story to tell behind each sculpture and item on the grounds the moment you enter the gateway. Have an open mind and relish the fact that this is the legacy left behind by a simple man to educate and tell to the world the importance of preserving a country’s national treasures in the hope that it will instill lost traditions and culture back to the Thai new generation.

ThaiTourismGuide