Thursday 31 January 2008

Goodbye to January

It's that time of the month again,

January was nice this year, lots of sunshine and not too much rain. As a resident of Samui, I sometimes don't mind a bit of rain at all, it keeps everything green and is good for the water balance on the island. As a tourist, visiting Samui, it may be different, you probably prefer straight blue skies 24/24!

In general, January was good though. We, my family, had a lovely holiday with our trip to Isaan. It was very nice to meet my wife's friends and experience their hospitality and see a different part of Thailand. It was also an unexpected pleasure to be able to drive home in a new car!

Let's look forward to February and that this may bring us lots of good weather.


31st January, 2008

Today's weather;

This morning shows big clouds moving along in the sky driven forward by strong winds. There's still plenty of blue in the sky. Current temp is 27.5C.

Yesterday was dry and warm with a max temp of 28.8C.


Wednesday 30 January 2008

30th January, 2008

Today's weather;

It's a fairly blue sky with patches of white clouds in it. Current temp at 7 am is 27.2C.

Yesterday was a sunny and warm day and we all got sun burned in the pool at World Resort during the IDC. Max temp reached 29C.


Tuesday 29 January 2008

29th January, 2008

Today's weather;

There's a blue sky with a thin layer of clouds. Current temp at 7 am is 27C.

Yesterday was a dry and warm day with lots of sunshine and a max temp of 28.5C.


Monday 28 January 2008

Ban Chiang National Museum

Ban Chiang National Museum,

Has been on the UNESCO world heritage list since 1992. Ban Chiang is the most modern and well maintained museum I've ever visited in Thailand so far.
Having said that, it took us a bit of reasoning with the staff at the entrance gate, to get me in at Thai rates, as already discussed during our visit to Phi Mai on our way to Udon Thani.

Ban Chiang is located very near the highway and from Korat to Khon Kaen/Udon Thani and is definitely worthwhile stopping at. The museum itself consists of only one building, but this building hosts plenty of artifacts. There's loads of information on the web to be found on Ban Chiang, including on the website of the University of Pennsylvania museum.

The archeological site of Ban Chiang is important evidence of a prehistoric population that settled in Southeast Asia more than 5.000 years ago. The population was culturally developed, as well as sociologically and technologically advanced.

The site of this early agricultural community, with also of metal production and use, was continuously occupied for about 3.800 years. Artifacts, including implements and ornaments of bronze and iron, as well as pottery with sophisticated and unique designs, attest to the advanced culture of this prehistoric settlement.

In addition to it's academic value, the Ban Chiang archeological site is also important because of the local community's participation in preservation efforts. Laws were enacted to protect the site, and a museum was established to disseminate information about it. Because of it's importance, the Royal Thai Government requested the World Heritage Commitee of Unesco to register the archeological site of Ban Chiang as a World Heritage Site. In 1992 Ban Chiang was listed as World Heritage Site Number 359, following registration criteria;

It represents a rare and unique monument or it attest to a tradition or civilization that is either active or already extinct.

Outside of the museum are a couple of souvenir shops that sell copies of the pottery, found at the archeological sites. It's beautifully designed and well worth picking up some items. They also sell T-shirts which spell 'Ban Chaing', which I discovered upon arrival home!

As already mentioned before, if in the neighbourhood, try to visit it.

Unfortunately, some of the artifacts have already gone missing, but an investigation led to retrieval of the artifacts and they may be returned to Thailand, as reported in The Nation today;

The Fine Arts Department has sought an investigation to establish if stolen artifacts uncovered following a crackdown in the United States belonged to the ancient Ban Chiang period.

Published on January 28, 2008

US authorities raided four museums in southern California last week, breaking an illegal network smuggling the items into the US.

The department wants the artefacts returned to the King-dom if they were found to be from Ban Chiang, the oldest known civilisation in the King-dom, which dates back to 1,000 BC.
Fine Arts Department director Kriangkrai Sampatchalit wanted clear proof about the artefacts. "We would ask Unesco's International Council of Museums to check whether they are genuine objects. If they are real we would provide historical evidence to prove they belong to Thailand," he said by phone yesterday.

Dozens of US federal agents descended on the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Pasa-dena's Pacific Asia Museum, Bowers Museum in Santa Ana and Mingei International Museum in San Diego.

The raids marked the first public move in a five-year undercover probe of the alleged smuggling network, The Los Angeles Time reported on Friday.

The detailed warrants gave agents broad authority to search the museums' galleries, offices, storage areas and computer archives.

They were looking for objects and records related to the primary targets of the investigation: an alleged art smuggler, Robert Olson, and the owner of a Los Angeles Asian art gallery, Jonathan Markell.

Markell's Silk Roads Gallery on La Brea Avenue was also raided.
No arrests were made, but legal experts say the surprise search warrants suggest prosecutors are collecting the final elements to seek criminal indictments against Markell and Olson, the paper said.

Many objects come from the ancient civilisation of Ban Chiang, which occupied northeastern Thailand from 1000 BC to 200 AD.

"The original location where the Ban Chiang culture was discovered was named a World Heritage Site in 1992 and is considered the most important pre-historic settlement yet discovered in Southeast Asia," the search warrants said.

The warrants allege that the Ban Chiang objects are probably looted because they were first excavated by archaeologists in 1967, six years after Thailand banned the export of antiquities.
The Thai government never gave permission for the contested antiquities to leave the country.
Moreover, importing such objects into the US after 1979 was a violation of the US National Stolen Property Act and the Archaeological Resource Protection Act, the warrants state.
Other objects named in the warrants came from Burma, from which the US has banned imports since 2003, and China, which has strict export laws governing its antiquities.

The investigation began in 2003, when the undercover agent with the National Park Service posed as a buyer and began purchasing allegedly looted art from Olson, according to the warrants. Olson, the warrants say, specialises in Native American and Thai antiquities.
Olson allegedly told the agent he had been importing objects from Ban Chiang since the 1980s and had never received a permit from the Thai government. He said he got objects "as they were being dug up" and knew it was illegal to ship them out of the country, the warrants say.
The smuggled antiquities were affixed with "Made in Thailand" labels, and sometimes painted over to make them look to US customs officials like modern replicas, Olson allegedly told the agent.

Mayuree Sukyingcharoenwong

Los Angeles Times
The Nation

28th January, 2008

Today's weather;

There's a fair bit of clouds this morning but also plenty of blue patches. Temp at 7 am was already 27.8C.

Yesterday saw a fair bit of rain in the morning but in the afternoon it heated up very much with a max temp of 28.8C only, but it felt a lot warmer!


Sunday 27 January 2008

27th January, 2008

Today's weather;

It's clouded this morning and at 7 am it was raining, current temp is 27.8C.

Yesterday was a warm day with sun and clouds battling it out and a max temp of 29.3C.

Am gearing up for my next IDC, which is about to start tomorrow, updates will be available at my dive blog on an irregular, regular base.

Last night we went out and had dinner at Zazen again and enjoyed a lovely dinner in great atmosphere. Highly recommended.


Saturday 26 January 2008

26th January, 2008

Today's weather;

There are bits of blue and the sun peeks through occasionally but in general it's fairly cloudy. Current temp at 7 am was 27.5C.

Yesterday was a nice day until 4 am when it started to rain which continued until about 9 pm. Max temp reached reached 29.5C.


Friday 25 January 2008

Blessing of the new car

Today our new car got blessed by a monk.

Not just any monk, but the main monk of Wat Chaweng. Father and Mother in law came along and our own small family.

Blessing of new cars or motorbike or new houses is taken very seriously in Thailand and monks are always involved.

Here's the monk painting blessings on the roof of the car, which are for good luck.

This is how the painting looks like. It's done with a talcum powder in water solution. Monks sit at designated areas in their temples the whole day to complete such blessing.

Together with 4 Buddha amulets and a small Monk statue we should be fine.

As if this wasn't enough, we also stopped at Grandma's house to get her blessing as well, since the elderly are very well respected by Thais and having her bless the car is another good luck charm.


25th January, 2008

Today's weather;

It's partly cloudy this morning with a current temp at 7 am of 27C.

Yesterday was a nice and sunny day, no rain and a max temp of 29.8C.


Thursday 24 January 2008

24th January, 2008

Today's weather;

A very blue sky with a temp at 7 am of 25C.

Yesterday was nice although there was a shower around 4 pm. Max temp reached 28.7C.


Tuesday 22 January 2008

23rd January, 2008

Today's weather;

There are a few clouds here and there but mainly a blue sky is reigning with a temp at 7 am of 27.4 C.

Yesterday was the first day since we left Samui on 11th January, that we saw clouds again! Sure enough at midnight it rained for about an hour and my wife had a fair of laundry outside! It was also Full Moon party time again on Koh Phangan, so the dwellers got wet.

Yesterday's max temp reached 29.3C.


Back home!

We're back home.

We had a bit of a relaxed morning, since we booked a space on the 11 am ferry to Samui and still almost managed to show up too late for the reservation!

Anyway, we're back home and we're all glad to be back home again, although we all tremendously enjoyed this holiday/trip.

There will still be a few stories coming up from our trip but one thing I'd like to show you is the collection of Thai Buddhist amulets I bought during this trip. Somehow I managed to buy some 20 Buddha amulets plus a box set. Some we bought double, like the box set, to give to relatives or to my Father in law.
Thai Buddhist amulets are immensely popular amongst the Thai people and sometimes amazing prices are paid, just have a look here.
My own collection is growing in the meantime! I already posted about amulets when we visited Nakhon Si Thammarat last year and actually witnessed how the amulets were made.
Buddhist Amulets are another interesting aspect of daily life in Thailand which I'm still exploring myself, so in due time, I hope I will be able to tell you more about them but in the meantime, enjoy the links.

22nd January, 2008

Today's weather in Surat Thani;

It's foggy like there's no tomorrow, we're on the 14th floor of our Surat Thani city hotel (well, outskirts of Surat) and can't see the road. The sun is coming on hard though and soon the fog will disappear. At 7 am the temp is 22 C.

Yesterday was a long day's driving, we started at 9 in Bangkok and traffic was slow there, it took almost an hour to cover the 6 or 7 km's to the expressway.
From there on we had a blue sky all the way down to Surat Thani, 700 km's! We got to Surat around 5.30 am.

Tomorrow we will be back to the regularly scheduled program, folks. Daily updates from the Samui weather and some more stories from our travels, lots of beautiful temple reviews coming up.

Hope you enjoyed my travel tales a bit.


Monday 21 January 2008

21st January, 2008 Bangkok

Today's weather;

A blue sky reigns over Bangkok and it's already 23C at 7 am.

Yesterday we left Korat and before we hit the road, we went to see a statue of Thao Suranaree or Ya Moh.

She's a well known woman, all over Thailand and famous for her heroic battles to save the city of Korat.

On the way to Bangkok we passed an amazing Farm, Farm Chokchai.

It's rather amazing since Thais are not really well known for drinking milk, but not only do these folks at Chockchai have a diary farm, they promote it really well.

Next to the highway are two merchandise outlets and you can buy all kinds of milk, like yogurt etc in different shops. They also have s steakhouse and camping and you know it. A tour of the farm takes 2 and a half hours, for which we unfortunately didn't have time, next time!

If on the road around Saraburi, stop and visit!

In Bangkok we stayed another night at the excellent Legacy Suites again.

Today we're on the road for Surat Thani city and tomorrow over to Samui, back home!


Sunday 20 January 2008

20th January, 2008 Nakohn Ratchasima/Korat

Today's weather;

It's another blue sky, as we had throughout our travels sofar. Current temp at 7 am in Korat is 18.4C. We're on our way to Bangkok in a moment, so stay posted for more updates of our travels since Tuesday we'll be back home again and back to our regularly scheduled program.


Saturday 19 January 2008

Day 9, on the road again, from Sakhon Nakhon to Korat, going home

Day 9, on the road again, from Sakhon Nakhon to Korat, going home

Two days ago (already!) was a busy day and we started early. After a bleak breakfast at the Karin hotel in Udon (we had to change hotels since we checked out of the nice hotel and that was solidly booked for a week) we headed off to the Ford outlet to pick up our new car. Unfortunately I didn’t have any internet access yesterday, so here’s my update now.

With a bit of sadness in our hearts we said goodbye to out Ranger Hi Rider and waited for the new Everest to show up.

At 9.09 am my wife drove out of the garage and everybody was happy. All of a sudden we have plenty of space in the car, in the backseats and for our luggage.

We continued on to Sakhon Nakhon and on the way and in Sakhon we visited various temples and a museum, which I will all introduce to you at a later time.
Sakhon is a nice city and we had some lovely dinner last night at a Suki Lao place.

Today we got back to Korat, on the way back home again.

First we were off to see the King’s Palace which he uses whenever he’s in Isaan and we were lucky once more, that Kob and Chot know so many people around here and we were allowed to see the actual palace together with one of the people who works there and who allowed us to take pictures of the actual house/palace, another privilege. Pix soon to come!

Than we were off to Khon Kaen through the mountains, a very nice drive and on to Korat again. This time we checked in to the Sabai hotel, not easy to find but well worth it. Another great tip by Kob and Chot!

Catch you later.


Thursday 17 January 2008

Another, unexpected day we stay at Udon Thani.

Another, unexpected day we stay at Udon Thani.

First of all, there was no update this morning since the hotels internet service was down.
It was chilly though, this morning but very sunny and it soon warmed up. Mornings in the North East of Thailand bring about cold weather, like 15C.

Here's a view from our hotel room. We had breakfast and left to visit some relatives of Chot.
A short while afterwards we visited the main Ford dealership in Udon Thani. Here's where our not so planned extra day in Udon took shape.
Since Chot and Kob work as insurance brokers for cars and motorbikes, they know the major car dealers in the region very well. My wife and me have been talking for a long time already about upgrading our car from the current Ford Ranger to a Ford Everest. We still have to pay 8 more months before our current car is ours.
However! Chot and Kob and my wife were under cahoots and have been talking since a few days about the possibility of getting an Everest for us, so today we went to Ford in Udon to see what can be arranged. I was reckoning with a 10 or 15% chance of us leaving with a new car but guess what............ Yep, right, tomorrow we will pick up a brand new Ford Everest. Without any papers at hand, they gave us a very good deal , thanks to Chot talking to the owner and we got a return value for our current car that exceeded my expectation.
Tomorrow at 9.09 am we're supposed to drive out of the Ford shop in Udon with our new car!
Normally in Thailand one needs to look for a 'good day' to pick up a new car or house or you name it, sometimes having to wait weeks on an end, but surprise, surprise, tomorrow is by all parties involved considered a good day, even by my wife and my Father in law, so we can actually leave tomorrow with the new car. How convenient!
Watch out for pix of the old and new car tomorrow, same place, same time!
Since we didn't leave the Ford place until 2.30 pm, we decided to stay in Udon for one more night rather than driving to Sakhon Nakhon, where Chot and Kob live, a 2 hour drive and than come back in the morning again.
For all the George's, Rob's and Thomas', at last you guys will be able to stretch your legs in the back seat. It will be also a very convenient car for when my parents come to visit us next month in February, with lots of leg space in the back seats!
Stay tuned,

Wednesday 16 January 2008

Day 6; trip to Vientiane, Lao PDR.

Day 6; trip to Vientiane, Lao PDR.
Today started with breakfast at the hotel after which we left for Nong Khai, a small Town located at the border with Lao PDR (People’s Democratic Republic).

After a 30 minute trip, having arrived in Nong Khai, we needed to wait for about an hour for the official papers for our Thai friends that allowed them entry to Lao. Nong Khai seems like a real nice and tidy place, especially between 8 and 9 am.

A consistent theme seems to be a Naga (snake like creature), which is to be found at the entrance of the city and in the city itself at this roundabout.

Building next to That Luang, Vientiane

After we got to the Thai - Lao border, both countries were always divided by the Mekong river but fairly recently they are now connected by the Thai - Lao friendship bridge, which we crossed into Lao.
At the border it was organized chaos, first I had to get a Visa for Lao, at the cost of 1.500,-Baht, which took about half an hour to obtain and than we were on the road to Vientiane, pronounced by the Thais as something similar to Vieng Chan.
Immediately after crossing the border and taking a right turn to Vientiane, you notice that life has a different pace. The speed limit is 50 km on a simple road and nobody dares to drive any faster. There are less cars and some of the cars around are of decent age and there are plenty of motorbikes.

Vientiane is a relatively small city, although it’s Lao’s capital city, but it’s nicely spread out with fairly big and wide roads and boulevards.

First we went to visit Pha That Luang, which is a famous and probably the biggest temple complex in Vientiane. Unfortunately it's hard to get good information about all the places we visited, since there was nothing available in any way that explained the things we looked at.

After that we went to Ho Phrae Keo. We got there just before noon and it’s closed between noon and 1 pm , just like the Sisaket museum, opposite Ho Phra Keaw, so beware.
Ho Prae Keo was built in 1565 a.d. by the great King Xaise Thatirath, the Lao Lanexan Kingdom.
It housed the Emerald Buddha which now can be found in Bangkok, Thailand within the grounds of the Grand Palace at the Wat Phra Kaew.

We went for an excellent lunch, at Khambang Lao Food, a place in a side street off the boulevard along the Mekong river. We had some delicious dishes, amongst other two of these grilled Mekong river fishes, grilled beef tongue, Laab muu and a great salad.

Of course, as part of the lunch we had some Beer Lao, one of the better beers in the region, which is now also widely available in Samui.

After the lunch we were off to the Sisaket museum again, where there are more than 6000 Buddha images on the premises. Some of them very old and beautifully sculptured.

Here are some of the 6.000 Buddha images, the couples in the background each depicting a man and a woman.

Our guide took us than to a market, which I sat out, since our son was asleep and I stayed with the children at the car.
This was our last stop within the Vientiane city limits and we continued on, back to the border, where it was time for some tax free shopping. A bottle of Port wine and Black Jim in the van later, it turned out that Chot and Kob purchased a 4 liter bottle of Red Label (Johnny Walker) and the driver than decided to stock up the car with another dozen of cheap whiskies, which he sells off after getting back home in Nong Khai.

Back in Nong Khai, we went and visited the very well known Wat (= Temple) Po Chai. This Wat houses a very famous Golden Buddha statue, the Luang Po Pra Sai which attracts pilgrims from all over Thailand.
We bought a couple of Buddha amulet’s in the Temple, something I more frequently do when traveling around and visiting local Temples. During a long time I thought that if you saw one Temple, you saw them all, but recently I find myself more intrigued by the various Temples all over Thailand (whenever I’m near one) and like to visit them and find out what makes them special. They also play a very important part in daily Thai life, so I’m kind of loosing my religion if it comes down to Temples.

On the way back to our hotel in Udon, we also made a stop in Tan Bo, were a former colleague of my wife now lives and she cooked dinner for us.

All in all a very busy but interesting and enjoyable day.

Don't forget to use my Camille's Samui hotel recommendation blog and my Camille's Thailand hotel recommendation blog for all your hotel bookings on Koh Samui and around Thailand. By doing so, you will support my blog. Thanks folks!


16 January, 2008

Today's weather in Udon Thani;

It's a beautiful blue sky with the sun starting to heat things up since at 7 am it's only 15.8C.

Yesterday was a lovely day with sunshine all day long.

We just completed breakfast and are about to get on our way to Nong Khai, at the Thai - Lao border where a mini bus is waiting for us to carry us through Lao (Vientiane) for the day.

Catch you later,


Tuesday 15 January 2008

Patchanee Restaurant, Udon Thani

Patchanee Restaurant, Udon Thani

After having hooked up with Kob, my wife’s friend , Chot, her husband and Plae, their daughter who’s just slightly younger than our daughter, we checked into the hotel and after some playing around in the hotels pool, it was time to head the showers and get ready for some food.

They took us to the Patchanee restaurant, inside Udon and it turned out to be a good choice. There is a nice outside garden, overlooking a lake and two air conditioned wings. The place looked also very busy, which is always a good sign.

The food we had was very good, like the Kai Pad Met Mamuang pictured here.

The Puu Cha (deep fried, stuffed crab) was also very good. We also had Puu pong curry (crab with curry powder), Tom Ka Kai (chicken coconut soup), some Som Tam nand Hor Mok Plaa.

A good choice, thanks to Kob and Chot.

After that, my wife had to get her daily dose of shopping malls, so we went to the local Robinson dept store. After that, it was direction hotel and sleep. Tomorrow will be an early day!


Day 5, arrival at Udon Thani.

Day 5, arrival at Udon Thani.

Today no early weather report, since the internet connection in the Korat hotel wasn’t on until noon!

We left Korat this morning around 10 am and our hotel was next to the road leading up to Udon Thani, so that was easy.

We didn’t get to see a lot of Korat but here’s a picture from our hotel room, so you get an impression of the size of the city, it is rather big.

Today’s trip wasn’t as uneventful as the other days. We first arranged for a stop at Phi Mai Historical park, near Korat, which we found without too many problems, however, once we arrived there that’s when trouble started. In Thailand it’s fairly common that national parks and the like have two layer pricing, so did Phi Mai.

However, there are also rules that if you have a work permit and pay tax as a foreigner, you’re supposed to get the same price as Thais. The extra charge is usually 4 to 10 (!) times as much as Thais. Here they charged 4 times as much, not really a lot in all fairness, but they didn’t want to budge down on accepting my tax card. This kind of racist attitude in my opinion, doesn’t go down too well with me, so I decided not to pay at all and leave again, which led to a bit of an argument with my wife. We solved this however and next time this kind of attitude occurs, I’ll ask for the cashiers name and possibly their superiors name as well and tell them that I’ll report this to the TAT (Tourist Authority of Thailand). This may sound silly maybe to some of my readers, but it seems to work if enough folks complain, since the TAT just reduced all National Park fees nationwide by 50%! They decided to do this because they had received too many complaints about high entrance fees and not enough service and quality in return.
We’ll see, most of the time I do get the Thai price, so I hope that we don’t get too many situations over this and enough of my little rant!

This wasn’t enough however, since I was also stopped for speeding. From what I understood from the police officer, I was not supposed to drive faster than 110 km per hour however I did 119! The signs however said 90 is the max, so somewhere, something may have gotten lost in translation. What didn’t get lost in translation was that Thai people normally pay 400 Baht and I, as a Farang (=Westerner) would get away with just 200 Baht. Nice try Mr. police officer but a friend of us, who visited Kob, my wife’s friend, about three weeks ago got stopped and it cost her only 100 Baht! Ah well.

We made a little side tour to the Ubonrat Dam, near Korat on the way and had some lunch there.

During the whole trip through Isaan, we noticed how dry and brown everything was, up until we got closer to the Dam, the nearer we got to the Dam, the greener it turned out.

After the visit to the Dam we headed towards Udon Thani where we met Kob, my wife’s friend.

We checked into a lovely hotel, the Nakha Buri hotel, just outside Udon, on the way to tomorrow’s destination, the Thai – Lao friendship bridge, with at the other side of the bridge; Vientiane! Stay tuned for more!


Monday 14 January 2008

Nakhon Ratchasima or Korat

Nakhon Ratchasima or Korat

Is our current stop over. Korat is the port to Isaan and currently world famous in Thailand for just having organised a very successful 24th SEA games during which Thailand won heaps of gold medals.

It was a fairly eventful drive from Bangkok to Korat and we were lucky to quickly make it out of Bangkok, leaving at 10 am helped as well, when the morning traffic peaks eased down.

We had a bit of a problem finding suitable accommodation in Korat but finally ended up at the Rachaphruk Grand Hotel, conveniently located opposite the road that leads to Kohn Kaen and Udon Thani tomorrow.

Unfortunately not too much to tell about Korat, since we checked into the hotel around 3pm and went on to visit the local zoo, only to find out that this was located some 20 kilometers away and closed at 5 pm, so instead we went to the local shopping mall, conveniently called 'The Mall' and ate at Fuji and shopped a bit more!

Today, when we were cruising the city, we noticed heavily armed police forces standing around the city, but this was due to a bomb that went off yesterday at a local politicians house or office.

Tomorrow as already mentioned, we'll be off to Udon Thani and the next day we're planning to visit Vientiane, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Laos, something I'm really looking forward to, so keep your eyes posted.


The Ancient City or Muang Boran, Samut Prakan.

The Ancient City or Muang Boran, Samut Prakan.

Yesterday saw us visiting three museums! One of them was the 'Ancient City' or Muang Boran!The other being the Erawan Museum or Chang Erawan. It's a 29 meter high, three headed Elephant or including the building a mere 43.6 meters and at last the Thai Naval Museum, both also located in Samut Prakan.

The Ancient City is located within 10 Kilometres of the Chang Erawan and is laid out over 800 Rai or 320 acres.
It's shaped in the form of Thailand and it has currently 116 downscaled monuments from all over Thailand on it's premises and more to come.
The monuments are about a third or quarter of the original size of the monuments. They're also located within the park in the direct vicinity where they would be located in Thailand itself.

You can enter the park by car or rent bicycles or golf carts. All over the place are restaurants conveniently located and shops to buy local products.

There are too many nice places to look at but one of them is a small 'Floating Market' as the original can be found in the North of Bangkok.

Here's a scaled version of a temple located in the North of Thailand, Wat Chong Kahm in Lampang.
My wife loved the place and wants to come back and spend more time here. She thought that people who live in Bangkok went to the 'local restaurants' on the premises to feel at home and stay in touch with the home city/province.
It's a very relaxed park and again, well worthwhile visiting.

Erawan Museum, Samut Prakan

Yesterday saw us visiting three museums!

One of them was the Erawan Museum or Chang Erawan. It's a 29 meter high, three headed Elephant or including the building a mere 43.6 meters!

The other being the 'Ancient City' or Muang Boran and at last the Thai Naval Museum, both also located in Samut Prakan.

Chang Erawan and the Ancient city in Samut Prakan are owned by the same people.

It's a massive construction, as can be seen above, about a hundred meters away from the Elephant. It's located at the Sukhumvit Road, coming from Bangkok direction Pattaya, the 'old road' to Pattaya. It's located in Samut Prakan, a province and city by it's own rights, directly located next to Bangkok.

There are only three heads displayed, but it should be 33 heads, just to make things a bit easier, they only make 3 heads, as can be seen above. The weight of the heads alone is 100 tons.

There are three floors inside the Elephant, the lower one being a museum or the Underworld (Naga world), the ground floor one being the belly, as seen here, which is beautifully decorated (Human World) and the top one, the head, is decorated with tempera paintings depicting the solar system (Tavatimsa Heaven).

This hall is a fantastic view with the ceiling having western stained glass featuring the world map and zodiacs.

The main hall is decorated with pieces from broken or complete cups, ranging in price from a couple of Bath to a couple of thousand baht per cup! Here you can clearly see the spoons they used for decoration!

This picture shows the various cups used to decorate the walls.

Have a read through the various links, this place is a definite must, I found it very impressing and it's located within an hour of Bangkok downtown (Sukhumvit area).


14th January, 2008

Today's weather in Bangkok;

There's overcast and at 7 am it's 25.3C in Bangkok.

Yesterday was a nice and sunny day in the 30 tees.

We had a lovely dinner at Bei Otto in Sukhumvit Soi 20 with Crispin, who's tremendously enjoying himself being a free man again! The food was very German and very good, we had a 'Grossmutter' style poultry dish for two with Goose, Duck and Turkey, baked potatoes and Brussel Sprouts.
The previous day we had dinner at Bella Napoli Italian restaurant in Soi 31, also very recommendable, their pasta dishes come in a pot covered with a thin pizza dough layer.

Today we will continue our travels to Nakhon Ratchasima or possibly better known as Korat.


Sunday 13 January 2008

13th January, 2008

Today's weather in Bangkok,

A straight blue sky with a current temp at 7 am of 24.5C.

Yesterday was a warm and sunny day with a max temp into the 30 tees.


Saturday 12 January 2008

Second day, the Big Mango; Bangkok

The second day of our trip brought us into Bangkok.

After an early start this morning, out of Prachuap Khirikhan, we headed first for Cha'am, for breakfast, which was just under an hour away.
How much we liked Prachuap, how disappointing the hotel was, the aircon was leaking in such a way that the whole area in front of the bathroom was drenched with water, which was rather not very safe and enjoyable with the kids.

Cha'am is very near to Hua Hin and I like the feel of Cha'am, although we just had breakfast there, definitely a place to look closer into. Just for the record, Cha'am is a beach resort, popular with both Thais and Westerners.

Around noon we entered Bangkok and it took us a while to find our way to Legacy Suites in Sukhumvit, Soi 29, with all the one ways, no right turns allowed and other traffic rules around Sukhumvit, but we managed at last.

The day followed up as predicted yesterday, with lots of shopping at Siam Paragon an upscale shopping mall and Central Chitlom. At Paragon it would have been nice to visit the Aquarium at Siam Ocean World but we just didn't have the time.

Tomorrow we're off to Samut Prakan and the three headed Elephant or Chang Erawan, so keep your eyes posted!


12th January, 2008

Today's weather in Prachuap Khirikhan;

A blue sky is shaping up and right now at 7 am the temp is 24C.

Yesterday was a very sunny day and rather warm, max temp was in the lower 30tees.


Friday 11 January 2008

First day, arrived at Prachuap Khirikhan

The first day of our trip.

Today we left at 7 am for the car ferry in Nathon where we had a reservation waiting for us, which proved to be very helpful, since all the buses for the main land are on this ferry as well, so it was pretty jam packed in the car parking area.

The ferry trip was rather uneventful, as was the trip over to Prachuap Khirikhan, our first stop over of this trip. We try not to travel too much each day, so the children aren’t stuck in the car all day. It looks like today may have been one of the longer days.

Coming from the South, just before you reach Prachuap, Thailand has its smallest passage with just a few kilometers between the coast at one side and Myanmar at the other side.
There’s also nearby a point where the two coasts are just a few kilometers apart from each other

Prachuap is a lovely, sleepy little town which won us over immediately, which we reached by 3 pm. Very quickly we found a hotel, the Had Thong Hotel, where we got a Jr. Suite for just 1.100,-Baht per night.

During the Ayudhaya period (1350-1767), the town was known as Muang Bang Nang Rom, a small fishing village, this was later changed during the early 1900 to Prachuap Khirikhan meaning ‘A town among Mountain Chains’. There are some lovely views here and great beaches to be found in this province.

After having checked in to the hotel, we decided for a small tour to see what was up here and we discovered ‘Ao Manao’ or Lemon Bay. Funnily enough, this bay is located smack in the middle of a Thai Air Force base, but it’s accessible for non Navy personal and has a lots of charms inside it’s premises. First of all a couple of beautiful bays but also a lot of green with some pleasant, unexpected attractions. The picture above is 'Ao Manao' just before sunset.

Here;s another bay at the Air Force base. All in all a worthwhile place to visit with plenty of things to see, besides just hanging out at the beach.

The Air Force likes to show their heroes and this is one of them, in front of the Air Force museum on the base. Very heroic! It almost looks like a surfer but he's actually standing on a propeller blade.

Some old and outdated planes are on display throughout the whole base, which is right up my ally and me and the kids had a great time getting shots of all the various planes.

there’s also a monkey conservation program as well, for the Duskar Langur monkeys and they were all over the place, running around or sitting in trees and minding their own business.

Here's a bunch of them sitting in a tree and eating and chatting away. The kids just loved it!

There's also an Air Force museum, as already mentioned, which was closed unfortunately and just overall, it all has a great quiet and relaxed feel to it and we felt straight away at home. The interesting thing is however, that all the time you’re in this Air Force base. Very interesting!

After having checked the Lemon Bay and the various sights at the base, we returned to downtown Prachuap and had something to eat in a local restaurant.
Prachuap hosts a very nice and cozy ‘boulevard’ where again, everything is very relaxed and easy going. The restaurant we ate at was called Ma-Prow (coconut) and had some good food, Fried fish and squid, pork with veggies and glass noodles with curry powder and crab meat (pad Bunsen pong curry puu). It was a tad bit expensive for being located at the beach/boulevard I guess, but it was good nonetheless.

All in all a very nice and relaxed place, Prachuap Khirikhan and I can highly recommend stopping by if you happen to be in the hood.

Tomorrow we’re off to Bangkok. We will try to get an early start, since it’s children’s day tomorrow (only in Thailand?) and we want to maximize our time in Bangkok, since we only have two days there. This pretty much means shopping tomorrow at the various shopping malls Bangkok hosts, like Central Chitlom, Siam Paragon and who knows how many other ones the missus comes up with ;-)


11th January, 2008

Today's weather;

It looks like there's some good amount of overcast and it's fairly warm this morning, over 25C at around 6.30 am.

I'm early today since at 7 am we'll leave for the ferry to the mainland, we're off for the next 2 weeks on a trip by car to Isaan, to visit a school friend of my wife who lives in Nakon Sakhon.

We're planning on driving not much more than 3 to 400 km's per day to take it easy on the kids.

Prachuap Kirikan, Bangkok, Korat, Udon Thani and Vientaine in Laos are on the program.

Hope you'll enjoy my trip reports but I can't promise internet access every day!

Yesterday it was warm and sunny with a max temp that must've broken 30C!


Thursday 10 January 2008

10th January, 2008

Today's weather;

It's a very, very blue sky this morning with a beaming sun in it! Max temp at 7 am was 25C.

Yesterday it was mostly overcast but dry with a max temp of 29C.


Wednesday 9 January 2008

9th January, 2007

Today's weather;

Overcast with small pockets of blue and sunshine in it. Current temp at 7 am is 24.4C.

Yesterday was nice and sunny in the morning with overcast moving in but dry in the afternoon. Max temp reached 28.8C.


Tuesday 8 January 2008

8th January, 2008

Today's weather;

A blue sky with lots of clouds in it, especially over the ocean. Current temp at 7 am is 27C.

Yesterday was nice and warm again but in the early evening there was a bit if rain again. Max temp reached 28.7C.

We also went to Nathon yesterday and had a very nice lunch at 'About art & Cafe' again.


Monday 7 January 2008

7th January, 2008

Today's weather;

The sun is trying to break through a rather cloudy sky. Current temp at 7 am was 24.7C.

Yesterday was another nice and sunny day with a max temp of 28.9C although it started to rain a bit in the evening, around 8 pm, but just for a short while.


Sunday 6 January 2008

Clok Lana, Isaan food, Plai Laem

Clok Lana, Isaan food in Plai Laem.

They're almost our neighbours and they serve some awesome Isaan food. Isaan is amongst the poorest part of Thailand and therefor Isaan people migrated all over Thailand, to do the 'dirty' jobs, the other Thais don't like to do and with them they brought their excellent food. Isaan food can be found all over Thailand on pretty much every corner. To find good and well cooked Isaan food, you gotta be lucky and that's what we are with Clok Lana. Pee Nee, the cook, is from Isaan and she cooks awesome.

This is the view of the shop, where today was marked by a special occasion, to celebrate the beginning of the year some Monks were invited for a ceremony and food was served.

Here's a front view of the shop, nothing special but it's great to know for us that they're just a few 100 meters away from our door! This looks like a typical Thai road restaurant, as you can find dozens on each road all over Thailand.

One of the great things they have is BBQ'ed chicken (Kai Yang) or BBQ'ed pork chops (Muu Yang) and BBQ'ed catfish (Plaa Duuk Yang). I prefer the chicken which is served with a very nice spicy sauce (Naam Chim Teaw).

For the event loads of food was cooked, here on view, waiting to be eaten by the participants of the ceremony. Amongst other, Kao Niaow (Sticky Rice), Tom Cruangnai (a soup of intestines, very yummy), Naam Tok, Laab and various sweets.

Here's Pee Nee in action with the 'Clok', the big brown bowl in the middle, what's the shop is named after, that's used for making Papaya salad or the famous Som Tam.

As always, with every ceremony in Thailand, some Monks were invited as well and they chanted for over an hour before the food could be attacked.

When in Plai Laem, and you're hungry and in for some adventurous and spicy food, check out Clok Lana. If you plan to visit Wat Plai Laem and after leaving it on the main road, take a left and after a slight curve in the road, it's after about 400 meters on your right hand, pretty much opposite a road taking off to the left. Easy, isn't it?