Sunday 14 June 2015

Thailand ….. Kingdom of Buddhism, Culture, Food & more….

04th & 05th Apr, Kochi – Chennai – Bangkok:
This was the beginning of our journey to Thailand. We flew from Kochi to Bangkok via Chennai (Madras). 05th night we flew out of Chennai and on 06th early morning we were at Bangkok Airport.

06th Apr, Bangkok - Chiang Mai:

After immigration clearance we waited for our next flight to Chiang Mai, a historical town of Northern Thailand. By 06th noon we were in our hotel. We were due for a rest. We took a nap after a refreshing shower (it was so.... soothing) . Later in the evening we went for a stroll.
Chiang Mai was the capital of Northern Lanna kingdom which was established in the 12th century. At 18th Century when Burmese conquered Northern Lanna Kingdom and went on to conquer Siam (Thai) Kingdom which was ruled from Ayutthaya (yes named after Rama’s Capital Ayodhya). Thai army reunited south of Ayutthaya , at present day  Bangkok and chased Burmese out. Thus uniting Thailand into the present form single Thai Kingdom.

Chiang Mai’s Old town where our hotel is situated is an old forted town with moat around the fort. Though the fort is collapsed at many areas, we can still see the ruins around the old town. Tomorrow we are planning to explore the old town.

Outside the northern gate area is the night food street where the carts will be placed in the evening and the street will be turned into a big food street. So tonight we had our dinner there.

07th Apr, Chiang Mai:

Today we explored the old city of Chiang Mai and its temples. I think Photos can explain more than my writings, so I am posting some important ones.

These are not real Buddhist monks but on wax....looks so real

It's on our way back we found this School, Yupparaj Wittayalai School, does that remind something to you .... yes it's the same “Yuvaraj Vidyalaya School”!!

08th Apr, Chiang Mai:

Today we enjoyed a walk to China town, which is in the east of the old town. Close to the China Town is the oldest & the biggest market of Chiang Mai called Talat Warorot. Near to this market is the Talat Tonlamyai market too, it’s an whole sale flower market. Talat means market.  From there we walked to the Night market area, but as it was early we were just able to see the vendors putting up their stalls. The Night market starts from 1800Hrs till midnight. So we decided to come back the next day to visit the night market area. Walked further to Pantip Plaza, its mainly an electronic mall but they have much bigger mall with the same name at Bangkok.
Does this remind something???

China Town Entrance.

Flowers  placed on top of the ice cubes.

Chinese Temple.

09th Apr, Chiang Mai:

Today was our last day at Chiang Mai, so we decided to take it easy. Had a late breakfast and by evening we set out to visit the night market. Number of people visiting were much less than the night markets we had seen at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap in Cambodia. Anyway, we strolled through and by 1900Hrs it was downpour with very strong wind. We ran into a food court and had supper, by 2100Hrs the rain & wind subsided. So we walked back to our hotel and the night walk was much cooler than before.

10th Apr, Chiang Mai - Lampang:

Today morning after breakfast we said bye to our hotel, it was a good  hotel at a calm location. Hired a Songthaew to the bus station. The charge was 40 Bath per person. it’s a min van with sides open as given in the below picture.
The Executive AC minibus of Green bus company, which we wanted to take  was full, so we took a non Ac bus to Lampang. It was something like Government Buses with open window, though the seats were cushioned still a bit hard to sit on. Bus went to Lampang via Lamphun. Ride took us about  2.5 hour . We reached Lampang by 1330Hrs. Our resort was of  Lanna (Northern Thai) style wooden house, we had a colonial suite a spacious room with a day room and a bed room with wooden floors. The resort is close to river Mae Wang.
By 1630Hrs we walked to the town on the other side of the river and had a look at the big Lanna Style house called Baan Sao Nak, it was once owned by “kun-yung” equivalent to a “Lady” in England.  This house was built in 1895 and  it stands on a 116 square teak pillars. Structure itself is worth seeing.
Baan Soa Nak.

Governor's Palace.

11th Apr, Lampang:

Today was a leisure day for  us at Lampang, evening we spent our time in Saturday market. This weekend market is on the Talad Gao road. Here the road will be closed by 1700Hrs for vehicles and the carts will be placed with different items like food, crafts, clothes etc.
Saturday Market.

12th Apr, Lampnag – Sukhothai:

Today was the beginning of Songakaran (New Year) festival of Thailand, so the buses will be full and hence we decided to leave early by 0800hrs. As per our plan we reached the bus station in time but managed to get the tickets only for the 1100hrs bus. Still the bus was not in time , it came only by 1145hrs and left by 1200hrs. The drive was really very slow, though the roads were good and empty. So they decided to bye-pass “Old Sukhothai” is were we should get off (our hotel is located here) and got off at New Sukhothai bus station at around 1615Hrs. Caught a Songthaew to old Sukhothai. Reached  hotel by 1700hrs. 
Songthaew from Bus station to Old Sukhothai.

Being festival time we could see lots of people throwing water around. While travelling on Songthaew, we even got splashed with water twice.

Water throwing on the way.

13th Apr, Sukhothai:

Today we got up very early and went to see the Old Sukhothai Historical Town as we had to be back in the hotel for 2 reasons. Travel company has informed us to come to their office before noon so that they can tell us if the bus tickets to Ayutthaya will be available for 15th   or not. Being Songkran all buses were fully booked. Secondly the water throwing function of Thai new year Songkran will be “officially” starting from 13th noon on wards, so we thought it is better to be back in the hotel prior to that.

Historical park of Sukhothai is about 2 minutes by walk from our hotel. Sukhothai (means rising happiness) was part of Khmer (Cambodian) empire till 1238, when two Thai rulers Pho Khun Pha Muang and Pha Khun Bang Klang Hao decided to unite and form a new Thai Kingdom. This dynasty lasted for about 200 Years. Most famous Thai ruler of this Dynasty was King Ramkhamhaeng
Statue of Ramkhamhaeng
 and during his time Thai language and script developed. During his rule, kingdom was greater than present day Thailand. Later in 1438 Sukhothai was absorbed into Ayutthaya.

In the Sukhothai Historical park one can see lots of temples with “Chedi” (Stupa Spires), some of them are similar to the Sinhalies (Srilankan) Bell shaped Stupa construction, shows the Srilankan connection in bringing Buddhism here in Thailand. But Wat Si Sawai dating the 12th 0r 13th Century is similar to Khmer Temples with 3 Khmer style towers (but very smaller). In fact having seen Angkor and the majesty of Khmer construction, temples at Sukhothai looks so smaller…..but it's worth seeing. 

We were back before  noon after walking for around 5 hours in the History Park. Very soon we went to the bus ticket booking office and managed to get the 0730Hrs bus for 15th April. Had a quick lunch, by that time water throwing, spraying etc started. 

14th  Apr, Sukhothai:

Toady morning again we went to visit few other temples which are outside the History Park. By 1100Hrs water throwing / fighting has started again and by 1630Hrs water fighting was stopped and a procession of floats by different clubs started . We could see in each float a lady dressed up like a queen. One of the floats was designed in the shape of a Dragon where you can see the  Queen sitting on a pig and more, all in all we had a wonderful time.

15th Apr, Sukhothai – Ayutthaya:

Don’t get confused with the name…….you heard it right… it’s Ayutthaya. The city was the capital of the kingdom of Siam (Thailand was then Known), named after the capital of the Kingdom of Rama. Siamese king named themselves as Rama I, II …. Ayutthaya was their capital till Burmese attacked in 1767 and ransacked the city completely. Thais reunited further south and chased Burmese back and they made a new capital further south, much protected from the reach of enemies and now it’s known as Bangkok.

Bus ride from Sukhothai to Ayutthaya was 6 Hours and the buses were plying between Sukhothai & Bangkok , on the way they  would be disembarking  passengers in the highway close to Ayutthaya. We started  by 0730Hrs. Ticket price was 351 Thai Baht (THB) per person. Bus was very good with welcome snacks on board. It even had a toilet  same type as the flight washroom. By 1000hrs we were stopped at a comfort station, as our ticket had a coupon for food upon giving the coupon, food was served. 1030Hrs we started again and by 1330 Hrs we were off at Ayutthaya. Caught a taxi to our hotel in Ayutthaya, taxi cost was around 200 THB.

Reached our hotel and soon we checked in. As we were tired, decided to take the evening easy so just had a walk to the close by night market and purchased food for the night.

Our bus to Ayutthaya.

Interior of the bus.

16th Apr, Ayutthaya:

Today was our day to explore the Ayutthaya historical town. Ayutthaya, officially known as Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya, means Royal City Sri Ayutthaya, named after the Indian city of Ayodhya  the Capital city of Rama of Ramayana. Ayutthaya is having lot of ruins of Old Royal  heritage, its impossible to cover all, so we selected the important ones. Following are the few photos.

One of the classic photos of Ayutthaya taken by my daughter Olivia!!!

Buddhas head in the root.

Sun was in its full strength and we were dead tired by noon when we finished the round.

17th Apr, Ayutthaya:

Today we decided to go to Bang Pa In, a place where the Retreat  Palace of  Kings of Thailand is situated. After breakfast we took a tuck-tuck to Ayutthaya Railway station, caught 0830 Train to Bangkok. Next station was Bang Pa In.
Our Tuck-Tuck from Hotel to Ayutthaya Rail Station.

Ayutthaya Rail Station.
Ayutthaya Platform #2

Arrival of our Train.

Inside the Train.

Bang Pa-In Rail Station.

From there we caught 3 Motor Cycle Taxi to Bang Pa In Place at 20THB each. It was 100THB per person to enter the palace. There are  many  palaces  in different styles,  like  European,  Chinese etc……even replica of  Tiber Bridge in Rome. Really  funny  architecture by Thai Kings. Worth visiting.

Following are few Photos:

Wearing Sarong to enter Palace.

Chinese style Palace.

By 1130Hr we completed the visit, caught Tuck-Tuck back to Bang Pa In Train station. And later took  train back to Ayutthaya. As we had time we thought of visiting  the floating Market and then back to the hotel.

Floating Market

Having food at Floating Market.

When we reached back home Jeeda, our hostess had kept a birthday cake and a card on my table…as today was my birthday. Very thoughtful of her…..and that made my whole day soooooo….. special.

18th Apr, Ayutthaya – Kanchanaburi:

Today morning after our breakfast we said bye to Ayutthaya. We took an AC mini-van from Ayutthaya to Kanchanaburi. Van picked us from Hotel by 0900hrs, a couple too joined us from another hotel. We reached Kanchanaburi by 1115Hrs. Our room was not ready by then, so we had to wait at the lobby of the Resort and by 1230Hrs we checked in.

Evening we had a walk to the Death Railway bridge (bridge over River Kwai). Rail line from Kanchanaburi to North is known as death railway. During Second world war, Japanese army used the Prisoners of War (POW) to build a rail line from Kanchanburi to north, as to connect Thailand with Burma. This helped them to carry troops and artillery equipment s to Burma to support the Japanese army march towards India. Almost 100,000 people including POW were killed….and  thus the railway line came to be know as the “Death Railway”. This bridge over Kawi River was part of it.
Death Railway Bridge.

Olivia & me on the Bridge.

19th Apr, Kanchanaburi:

Today morning we rested and by 1330Hrs we went to visit the Tiger Temple, which is about 40Kms from Kanchanaburi. We hired a Tuck-Tuck and by 1500hrs we were there, entry charge was  about 600THB/person. Inside we get a chance to touch and take photos with live Tigers of different sizes. Though we have seen tigers, but never  felt and touched any of them and so this was the first experience in our life.
Olivia with Tiger.

It's me !!!

20th Apr, Kanchanaburi:

Today after breakfast we decided to go to town for sightseeing. Main visits were Allied War Cemetery which contains tombs of 6982 Allied soldiers, who were POW and worked as bonded labourers in the death railway. There is plaque of Indian soldiers.  
In memory of Indian Soldiers who fought.

II World War Memorial

Another interesting place was Burma-Thailand Death Railway Museum. In the Museum we were able to see in detail the death railway construction and suffering of the people during the construction & war.

21st Apr, Kanchanaburi – Bangkok:

Today morning we departed from Kanchanaburi, our mini bus to Bangkok was at 1000Hrs. It was a 3 Hour drive, by 1315Hrs we were dropped off at Khao San Road and by 1330Hrs we were in our hotel. After freshening up by 1530Hr we started exploring Bangkok. Some photos are given below with details.
Buddhist Monk Novice.

Victory Memorial.

22nd Apr, Bangkok:

Today we planned to visit “Ancient Siam”.We were told it’s a park showcasing the Ancient Architecture of Siam (Old Thailand).  So even being a bit  far away from the center of Bangkok, we made our way to see it. We took  BTS (Bangkok Sky Train) to the last stop called Bearing. From the BTS Bearing station to Ancient Saim there is a free pick up at 1000hrs, so as we were there in time they picked us up and we reached the park by 1115Hrs. Entry fee was 700 THB /person for foreigners. The park is huge and so there was a Tram tour at 1300Hrs. We were there early so we took a golf cart ride for an hour. It was costing 300 THB /Hour. A map too was given to move around. Ancient Saim is a recreation of Old Thai architecture and temples from Sukothai, Ayutthaya etc. After enjoying the sightseeing we handed over the Golf cart and was all set for the Tram tour . We still had time so after having refreshment, we boarded the tram. It took 2 hours to cover the Park. By 1500Hrs we were back and caught a free drop service to Bearing BTS station. Got off at Ratchatewi BTS station and went for shopping.

Sightseeing in a Golf Cart.

Tram for sightseeing.

Now regarding the visit to “ Ancient Siam” ….. is it worth visiting. In my opinion I think if you have seen the ancient cities like Sukhothai & Ayutthaya then it’s not worth visiting. But if you have not seen these Heritage cities, then you will like it and Ancient Siam will give you a good outlook of Thai culture & Architecture.

23rd Apr, Bangkok:

Today was our day to visit Bangkok’s Origin; The Grand Palace and the Dusit Palace park. Entry fee to the Grand Palace is 500 THB /person which includes the same day free entry into Dusit Palace Park too. Park include sights like Vimanmek Mansion, Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall & Ananta Smakhom Thorne Hall. So after finishing with Grand Palace in order to save time we took a Tuck-Tuck drive to the Dusit Palace Park. You will require one complete day to cover these magnificent sights. After enjoying a long day we made our way back to the hotel by a ferry ride.
Grand Palace Compound wall.

Main section of Grand Palace.
Temple inside the Grand Palace Compound.
Vimanmek Mansion, part of Dusit Palace Complex.

Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.

Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. Note the European style palace in Thailand!!!

Part of Dusit Palace complex.

24th Apr, Bangkok:

Today we visited Wat Pho where the reclining Buddha statue is present, which is just opposite of Grand Palace. Then we took  a ferry to China town, mainly for shopping and I really enjoyed shopping there.  

Wat Pho.

Reclining Buddha.

25th Apr, Bangkok:

Today we went to an other marketing area called Chatu Chak. It was a bit far away from our place, so took a taxi to Phaya Thai BTS (Bangkok Sky Train) to Northern most point Mo Chit. It’s just walking distance from the BTS station and it’s one of the best place to shop. The market is open only on weekends (Fri, Sat & Sunday); so if you are at Bangkok on weekend then I strongly recommend you to visit the market. Note that the market is huge, but there are sectors marked on basis of items sold. It is better to note the sectors you wanted to visit first and later you can cover up the other sectors as per time. This visit can give you what you need and in short I could say that it’s worth a visit; mainly because I made my husband’s pocket empty ……………So if you wish the same………….then look no further, just go ahead.

26th Apr, Bangkok – Chennai:

Today was our last day in Bangkok & in Thailand. 3 weeks trip coming to an end. Our flight was at 1903Hrs. So we checked out by noon, had lunch and waited till 1515Hrs then took a taxi to Airport. It took almost one hour. We completed all formalities quickly but our flight was delayed by an hour and half. By the time we reached Chennai it was 2230Hrs. Checked into an Airport hotel we had booked.

27th Apr, Chennai – Kochi:

Last day of our trip, a three week long…..but like all good things this also has to come to an end. Back home at last.

I thank Trip advisor forum for giving such immense information while planning my trip and I am thankful to Sanjeev too from Hyderabad, India whom I came to know through Trip advisor while digging Thailand itinerary. His information had been so helpful to me. He & his lovely wife had even visited us at Kochi thus forming our communication into a family friendship.

Above anything, like all our previous trips, I would like to thank my Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ for making our trip so enjoyable, for protecting us, providing surprising helps from unexpected corners especially during Thai New year (Songkaran) days when getting tickets for buses were extremely difficult.......a joyful trip indeed and time just flew by!!!!!

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