Saturday, November 10, 2018

5 Reasons To Visit Bangkok

The City of Angels is as exciting as it is diverse! Bangkok is a melting pot of striking fragrances, visual pleasures and happening lifestyle. The place offers a wide scope to  travelers to explore the hidden secrets of this land. Be it stunning holy places, fantastic fortresses, world-famed floating markets or vibrant nightlife, each of these eminent places in Bangkok has a unique fascinating story to tell. 
Here are the most loved and popular activities that the tourists who book flights to Bangkok must experience to make their Bangkok holidays enjoyable.

Vivacious Nightlife
Bangkok has a status for wild and exciting nightlife. As the sun fades, the traffic subsides and the mad rush of the city gets over, Bangkok turns into an unusual world with its electrifying and most happening nightlife. Bangkok's nightlife includes clubbing, excellent dining, bar flying, recreational pursuits and cultural shows. The city's nightlife is stress-free, secure and very pleasurable. One does not need to get dressed up and spend a huge amount of money to be a part of the hottest clubs in the city such as Route 66, Bed Supperclub, Glow Narcissus and Q Bar.
In addition, the superlative hotels are often excellent centers for nightclubs and discos that are quite cheap and tender very good ambiance. Pubs and bars are dotted all over the city out of which many are specialized in live music with lip smacking food. Such a pulsating nightlife of Bangkok is the main reason that the number of airlines offering cheap flights to Bangkok have increased in the past few years.
Historical Museums
Bangkok museums provide an interesting and enriching insight into the city's unique tradition and customs. The museums here display some of the most awe-inspiring and strangest leftovers of the past that narrate stories of the glorious culture of Thailand. Distinct from many museums around the globe, Bangkok's museums have inexpensive doorway fees. The most renowned museums such as Royal Barge Museum, Bangkok National Museum and The Ancient City have been drawing the history aficionados to book flights to Bangkok to travel through the city for experiencing its pleasurable sights.
Theme Parks
Bangkok theme parks are a fun way to fall apart from the usual walking and visiting the attractions. These theme parks have been really popular among the travelers booking flights to Bangkok. The amusement parks such as Bangkok Planetarium, Dream World, Siam Park and Mall Ngamwongwan Water & Playland offer all sorts of entertainment options for infants to teenagers. These amusement parks flaunt swimming pools, adventure rides, water sports, hobby classes and a range of restaurants offering yummy food.
Temples or "Wat"
The temples in Bangkok are an exclusive part of the capital's heart and essence and make travelers crave for cheap flights to Bangkok. The awe-inspiring designs and the dazzling beautification of the Bangkok temples make them stand out of all. Temples in Bangkok are inclined to be crowned with green and orange roof tiles, gold covers and thousands of multicolored glass mosaics. The majority of temples have a dominant Buddha emblem made up of brass or bronze, and a collection of diminutive sculptures of diverse designs. 
Wat Pho 
Most visited Bangkok temples including Wat Phra Kaeo, Wat Arun, Wat Suthat Thepwararam and Wat Pho have played fundamental roles in the expansion of Buddhism in Thailand.
Shopping Sprees
A holiday to Bangkok without shopping sounds unimaginable. Shopping in Bangkok thrills and delights shoppers from all over the world. From the glossy and towering shopping malls, to the chaos of its legendary energetic street bazaars, Bangkok offers all sorts of pleasures that one must incorporate while planning for holidays to Bangkok and booking air tickets for the same.
Moreover, the floating markets in Bangkok offer a wonderful opportunity to get glimpse of the local lifestyle and mesmerizing culture of the city. Damnoen Saduak, one of the largest and trendiest of all floating markets, attracts numerous travelers from the UK. The small markets including Tha Kha and Ampawa, proffer the more local flavors of this majestic place. 
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Edit: Russell  Pittock (11/11/2018)

Friday, November 2, 2018

The Best Shopping In Bangkok

The best shopping in Bangkok ranges from the best of the best at Siam Paragon to stalls at the many and varied street markets all over the city. Bangkok has a shopping experience for all budgets.
Pantip  Plaza

Pantip Plaza: 

Pantip Plaza is located in the Pratunam area of  Petchaburi Road. It has recently undergone a much needed face lift which has breathed new life into this five-floor  IT Mecca. It has the deserved reputation of being the best place to find all things electronic. Pantip houses the best selection of computers, laptops, notebooks, printers, cameras, tablets, software, DVD's, and all manner of electronic gadgets under one roof. Many of the outlets at Pantip offer some of the best prices to be found anywhere in Bangkok. Wholesale transactions are by far the best way to secure a low price. But if you are just looking for a good deal on your next laptop or digital camera this is definitely the place to come. Most prices can be negotiated. This is because there is so much competition from other outlets selling the same thing. So remember , it's always worth putting in some leg work to visit a few different dealers as prices can vary.  
          There are also lots of places at Pantip offering a repair service on various hardware. Most will inspect and appraise before giving you a quote for repair which allows you to decide whether a repair is a viable option. 
          Be warned that there are a number of counterfeit goods on offer, particularly when it comes to DVD's and computer software. Some traders will often offer you the chance to buy the "real thing" or take the discounted copied version. If you are worried about being caught out by knock off merchandise then head up to the fifth floor. This particular floor is given over entirely to IT City. All the goods here are 100% genuine and come with a makers warranty. The staff are friendly, helpful, and speak a modicum of English. 


          The MBK shopping mall is situated on the Pathumwan intersection, diagonally opposite the Siam Discovery Centre. Constructed in 1986, MBK has over 2000 shops spread out over 8 floors. 
You can find a whole range of different goods here such as fashion accessories, handbags, jewelry, clothing, furniture, and of course phones and all manner of electronics. It's difficult to say when would be the best time to visit MBK to avoid the crowds as it is always fairly busy. Weekends seem to be the busiest time so it's a good idea to go on a weekday or maybe leave your shopping trip until later in the day as MBK is always open until late.  
         The top floor is given over to entertainment and food. There is a cinema, video games arcade, and lots of well priced restaurants. 
         The way that the shops and stalls are set out is somewhat akin to a market but with much more organization and of course the added bonus of being able to do your shopping in air-conditioning.
The are lots of bargains to be had here, especially if you are prepared to haggle. Be aware of copied goods. Common sense would tell most people that they are not going to be able to purchase designer labelled goods for just a few hundred Baht.   Because things are quite tightly packed with lots of stalls selling the same type of goods, MBK can have a certain maze-like feel to it. If you spot something you are interested in, it can sometimes be difficult to find your way back to that particular outlet. Moving between floors can also be problematical if you can't locate the correct up or down escalator.

Siam Paragon: 

          Siam Paragon is without doubt Bangkok and Thailand's flagship shopping mall. It is located at 991, Rama I Road, Pathumwan. Open until 10pm every night, the Paragon can be accessed directly from Siam BTS station. This is where the high society come to spend their time and, of course, money. 
Siam  Paragon
The international designer name brands just roll off the tongue and are represented throughout this top-end establishment. Luxury items from Louis Vuitton, Prada, Versace, Burberry, Rolex, and Jimmy Choo, to name but a few, draw the well-heeled locals and high end tourists to the best known shopping venue in Bangkok. There is a food court on the ground floor to cater for all tastes and a 16 screen multiplex cinema on the very top floor. Siam Paragon is also home to Thailand's largest aquarium. For shoppers that are not prepared to undergo open wallet surgery, 
there are brands such as Gap, Paul Smith, H+M, etc, situated on the first floor. Lifestyle and leisure goods can be found on the second floor with names such as Sony, Samsung, etc, much in evidence. There is also a very good outlet for Asia Books. 
          Continuing in the best traditions of high society, there are also car showrooms where manufacturers like Lotus, Ferrari, Aston Martin, and BMW, showcase their latest makes and models. 
On the fourth floor you can find more restaurants and more electronic outlets. All the goods are, of course, 100% genuine which is reflected in the price. Designer items are usually displayed without price tags. But, as the saying goes, "If you have to ask how much it is, then you probably can't afford it."  

Chatuchak Weekend Market: 

          Chatuchak weekend market is definitely not a venue for the faint-hearted. This is one of Bangkok's hard core shopping experiences. The sprawling market is laid out on a 35-acre site almost next to Morchit BTS station. It can also be accessed by the MRT subway system. It is home to over 8,000 stalls and an estimated 200,000 shoppers swarm across the site over any one given weekend. It's not the sort of place where you can get in and get out of quickly as there is so much to see. Even if you arrive early, and this is highly recommended, the market will fill up behind you and you will be part of the great hustle and bustle that makes this place a mecca for bargain hunters and browsers alike. Anything and everything can be found somewhere at the now famous Chatuchak weekend market. The list of goods for sale is almost endless but includes primarily things such as antiques, books, pets, art, plants, food and beverage, furniture, ceramics, and clothes. It's a great place to try out your bargaining skills. You should exercise caution when purchasing things like antiques as the vendors are likely to tell you just about anything to make a sale. Factory seconds are much in evidence so check the quality of any potential purchases before parting with any cash as it can sometimes be difficult to negotiate a refund or return at a later date.
          If it is your first visit to Chatuchak then it can be difficult to find your way around, particularly when it gets crowded. So it may be a good idea to pick up a free map when you enter. Wear comfortable clothes and have a ready supply of drinking water. Take care of your valuables and beware of pickpockets. 

          As far as shopping venues go, this post has only just scratched the surface. There are times when it would appear that Bangkok is just one big market with things for sale at every turn. The term "Shop til you drop" could certainly be applied to Thailand's largest metropolis. Happy shopping!

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Friday, October 26, 2018

10 Lesser Known Facts About Thailand

1. Rainmaker King:
Some years ago the rice farmers of Thailand experienced a severe drought period. The king, who since many years had been involved in helping the rural population of Thailand invented a method to make rain, for which he also filed an international patent. Airplanes are used to shoot silver iodide chemicals into the clouds in specific ways, so that they are stimulated to rain. This method did proof successful.  
2. Mysterious Fireballs:
At a certain time of the year, a strange phenomenon occurs that hasn't been scientifically explained yet. Well, there were scientific theories, however, scientists  are still baffled by this phenomenon and unable to explain it properly. It's in the north-eastern part of Thailand, and the locals there have their own explanation for the mysterious fireballs that emerge from the Mekong river: they say these are fireballs from the legendary Naga serpent.
One time a TV team tried to uncover "the hoax" and said that the phenomenon was simply Cambodian soldiers shooting into the air. However, they quickly got proven wrong. There are records of this phenomenon occurring for hundreds of years, and It's kind of Thailand's version of the "Loch Ness monster".
3. Thai Bonsai:
Most people are aware of Japanese bonsai trees. But Thailand also has it's own tradition of miniature trees, which is called mai dat. Historic evidence shows that this tradition has been around  since the 13th century. Mai dat has it's own style - it's not as tiny as the Japanese bonsai, but rather often bigger. Also,  with Japanese bonsai the aim is usually to make the small tree look as natural as possible, mai dat is supposed to look particularly well-trimmed. It is the aim of the mai dat artist to create a tree which is made according to human shapes. Thailand is a country which used to be covered almost completely in forest and swampland - it was a tropical wilderness. Only in recent decades have the forests been cleared and turned into farms and cities. Thus, imitating nature is not what Thais consider beautiful.
4. Demigod-King:
It is a traditional Thai believe that the King is a human reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu. All kings of the present dynasty, since the 18th century, have been called "Rama" - the current King being Rama XI. Rama was the name of a halfgod from the Indian epic Ramayana, which has it's own Thai version, the Ramakien.
5. Can't Touch This (Monk):
It is forbidden for a  woman to touch a Buddhist monk. Some women feel offended by this or think that this is because woman are considered unworthy, but this is not the case. It's simply about avoiding to stir up feelings that wouldn't be appropriate for the monks.
6. Bangkok Tram:
There once was a tram in Bangkok. Nowadays, Bangkok is known for chronic traffic jams, and pretty much the only way to avoid being stuck in traffic is the ultra-modern skytrain (BTS) or the even newer subway (MRT). However, once upon a time, there was a tram running through Bangkok. The Tram network in Bangkok was established in 1894 and was closed  in 1968. Actually, even as early as 1888 there was a guy called Alfred John Loftus (Phraya Nithetcholthee) who operated a tramway line in Bangkok - drawn by horses! However, after a couple of changes of ownership, the horse-drawn wagons where replaced with electric wagons. New routes were opened and built, until in 1968 the last tramway in Bangkok was discontinued.
You can still see some of the railways in the area of Thanon Charoenkrung Soi 39.
7. Thai-Tomboys:
While almost everybody knows about the ladyboys in Thailand (and quiet a few men can tell stories of surprise when they found that the "woman" they were hitting on all night was actually not a woman at all), not so many people know that there are also a lot of tomboys: woman or girls who dress, act and look like men. Whole books have been written on Thai gender roles, and while some ladyboys and tomboys  feel that they are not treated equally, they are treated much more tolerantly than in probably any other country in the world. For example,  the case of a 15 year old boy who decided to be a ladyboy - and indeed dressed, spoke and behaved like a woman. However, his schoolmates never made fun, teased or bullied him about it. This being a remote village and not modern Bangkok, it speaks a lot of the tolerance of Thai people towards people who decide to "be different".

8. Red light: 
You don't have to stop at a red traffic light if you are turning left. 
9. Long Fingernails of Men:
This might be odd: but many (completely straight) men grow long fingernails. Most common is the nail of the small finger. Part of this is because in rural Thailand, long fingernails where indeed a sign of a certain social status: a farmer can't grow long fingernails, because they will simply break during the hard work on the fields. In fact, in Isaan (North-East Thailand) it is even believed that a long nail at the small finger is lucky. Apart from that, many men also say  that it is useful: it's easy to scratch yourself with a long fingernail, and sometimes  useful to open something.
10. White Is Beautiful:
While in the Northern hemisphere, many people would like a stronger tan and use every opportunity to lay in the sun and make their skin darker and more exotic, for Thai's, white and bright skin is beautiful. In fact, Thai's spend about 50 million US-Dollars a year on skin whitening products..
Article Source:
Edit (Russell Pittock: 27/10/2018)
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Monday, October 22, 2018

King Of Fruits In Thailand

The king of fruits in Thailand is the durian. This magnificent beast grows on trees that can be as high as forty meters. It is very difficult to find outside of South East Asia.   
The succulent prize is protected by a thick, thorny husk. 

The durian fruit of Thailand is famous the world over for two things and these two things could not be more different. On one hand, the flesh inside is soft and tastes like no other fruit you have ever tasted before. The British naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace describes the taste as something akin to "a rich custard,highly flavoured with almonds." 
          On the flip side of the fruit's amazing taste is it's strange smell. Let's be honest here. It absolutely stinks! Sulpher, rotting onions, bad eggs, even raw sewage have been likened to the durian's distinctive odour. 

The smell is so bad that durian is not permitted in closed public places and public transport. If you should ever take it home, then under no circumstances should it EVER be placed in the refrigerator. It will taint all the food within and the smell will stay for an eternity. 
          In defence of Thailand's king of fruits, it has some positive properties. It has a high vitamin B content and is also a good source of natural fibre. I'm given to understand that the seeds of the durian can be eaten when they are cooked. 
          Thailand holds an annual festival in Chantaburi in celebration of the durian. Nose pegs free on entrance! 
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Saturday, October 20, 2018

5 Reasons Why I'm Still In Thailand

Maybe the title for this post should be "Why I'm Still In Thailand After 18 Years". Anyway, lets move on.

 1: Food 

                    I have to say that my spice tolerance is not that high so when eating out I always have to add the instruction "Phet nit noi" (spicy a little bit) to my order. To be honest, some establishments just ignore this and I get the same as everyone else. Maybe in the West you might complain and send it back because it's not what you have ordered but in Thailand you just learn to roll with things like that. It can be frustrating when it happens but it's not the end of the world. Thailand offers some really tasty treats with the outlay of very little money. There is something for everyone here. From Thai curries to deep fried insects, the choice is endless.
Nam Tok Moo.
This is one of my favorite dishes. Grilled pork Thai style.

Som Tam or as some people refer to it "Papaya Pok Pok" This is at the outside edge of my spice tolerance. It's one of the dishes I can really only eat at home because my family know how I like it. Eating this outside could be a problem!

2: Weather 

So, I moaned like a drain about the rain in Bangkok in my last post but as I pointed out it's just a small price to pay for living in paradise. I certainly wouldn't swap it for the cold and damp of my native England. I don't miss the snow and ice one little bit. Also, I think that I have kept better general health while living in South East Asia. I can't remember the last time I had a cold or similar ailment. 

 3: Money  

                    I've never been that well off wherever I've been in the world. But I have always been able to get by. In Thailand it's been possible for me to get by and then some. The cost of living here is relatively low. I still have to budget my income from month to month but I have been able to live quite a comfortable lifestyle and most importantly I never have to go into debt or borrow money. I'm not part of the jet-set but I don't have to worry about money the same as I did in the UK. 

                                          4: The People 

          Thailand is known as "The land of smiles" and it's not difficult to see why. Everywhere you go, the people seem to be looking for an excuse to smile. Where I come from it is often the opposite. So it is a breath of fresh air to spend time around people who actually want to be happy and the ready smile of the Thai people is much in evidence. I find that being with this type of people gives my day a lift and the troubles that I think I have don't seem to be such a burden. It's true what they say about laughter being infectious. And so it is with the smiles, warmth and friendliness of these people.

 5: My Family 

          My Thai family are amazing people. They have stood by me for nearly 18 years now. My wife, Laong, is one of the hardest working people I have ever known. The usual set up for a Thai-farang relationship is that the farang takes care of his Thai wife and her family. Sure, I've done that whenever I have been able. But it seems that over the years my Thai family seem to have been taking care of me. They have asked me for nothing and given me everything in return. They support me in everything I do and provide a safety net when things go wrong. And believe me, things have gone wrong a few times.  

          Life is usually a series of peaks and troughs for most people. Living in Thailand, I have learned how to endure the troughs and enjoy the peaks when they come along. 
          So, here's to the next 18 years!
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