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Thailand

Ayutthaya

sunny 90 °F

Today we had an extensive temple tour. Ayutthaya served as Thailand's capital from the 14th to 18th centuries, when it ranked as one of the most magnificent cities of the world. It is located 54 mikes from Bangkok.

Another busy day being blessed by monks and visiting temples and pagodas, followed by watching the sunset on one of the very old temples just breathtaking......

Posted by djAsia2010 10:33 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Kanchanaburi

sunny 100 °F

This quiet city surrounded by rugged limestone peaks and rain forests is quiet something. Oh and a good opportunity to wear my walking boots of course, do not fancy having my feet bitten by a group of large red ants or anything else for that matter!!!! Kanchanaburi is most famous for WWII prisoner of war camp. I also took the chance to visit the Allied War Cemetery, built to commemorate the POW's who died building the Thai-Burmese railway, along with the Thai Burmese Railway Museum and of course I could not do all of that without experiencing a train ride on the Death Railway and taking a step back in time. Approximately 16,000 POW's died at this time, it was very sad walking through the cemetery and seeing early to mid twenties names on gravestones which died.

I walked along the unused Death Railway which was an experience I will never forget, backed up with the photos which I took. The train ride was very different to the trains in London and the UK in general. The train was vey old with character it had fans on the ceiling the toilet was an old low level squat toilet, a familiar sight to those of you that have travelled around Vietnam or certain parts of Thailand.

On a brighter note Kanchanaburi is also home to Tiger Temple where magnificent animals not just tigers are cared for by the monks. I was surprised upon arriving to walk though the gate to a whole new world, where I saw wild boars, bulls, pigs, lama's all strolling with each other not chained up or anything, that said I did not feel threatened or frighten at all, it was quiet a strange feeling actually, almost like I was In a dream as all the animals were very calm and good natured. Have to admit I was very disappointed to see the tigers chained up and that the temple had made it very commercial with the way they get people to line up for a photo with the large tigers for a vast amount, do not want to quote the fee as I would not be surprised if it went up again next month. Anyone who likes Tigers and wants a natural photo, no chains should visit Tiger Kingdom in Chaing Mai, maybe I was spoilt given I went there before visiting Tiger Temple, my experience in an enclosure with three unchained large tigers I will never forget.

This wonderful place is also home to the Erawan National Park waterfalls, just amazing each place I go in Thailand has something different and special to offer, the waterfalls, surrounded by jungle and local caves, just breathtaking. A truly relaxing day, just chilling out and watching the locals and Westerners all taking things in their stride.

Should you visit Kanchanaburi of course it is a must visit.

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Posted by djAsia2010 05:02 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Cambodia

Siem Reap

all seasons in one day 102 °F

How shocked was I to arrive at Siem Reap to see good roads, lined with rows of posh 4/5 star hotels. What with the media, this was certainly not what I was expecting at all. Maybe it is just Siem Reap which is like this, I guess I cannot make this judgement until I have explored more of Cambodia, which unfortunately on this trip I am unable to do so.

The above said I was glad to arrive and finally see Angkor Wat which is what I have waited to see for many years now. My hotel Tara Angkor was just amazing, with pool, spa, sauna, jacuzzi, bar, gift shop, free Internet what more could a person need. Of course me being me, I headed off to enquire about the spa treatments after a flight it seemed the only natural thing to do.

In the evening I took a walk to the main area of Siem Reap where I was greeted with Pub Street, you could have knocked me down with a feather another sight I was not expecting to see. That was very close to the busy night market which of course was worth a visit. Once I left the market I bummed into friends of mine, who said the world is not a small place, they have been travelling around Thailand for 4 months lucky things, it appears I have been one step ahead of them with my travel updates on my facebook page, how funny.

Now after getting up before the birds, 04:00am, I rise due to wanting to see the sunrise over Angkor Wat, I thought I was doing very well getting up at that time, when I leave my hotel to get the bus I realise that half of Siem Reap have the same idea. My first thought is that Angkor Wat had better be huge otherwise I will not get a good location to take any good photos, ok to those of you that had been before, given Siem Reap was not what I was expecting I was not going to presume anything. Yes it all worked out fine, my local guide told me not to worry he would make sure that I had a 6 star location to take my photos, of course I trusted him he was local. Oh and how right was he, we arrived in the dark and could hardly see anything other than the short distance we could see with our flash lights.

My guide informed me in the dark that I was in my 6 star location so get my camera ready, I was still not convinced when the sky started to change and I saw the amazing Angkor Wat, plus had the reflection in the lake, just breathtaking. A huge thanks to Sophy my guide who was outstanding and a real treasure, knew exactly where to take us and what we would want to photograph. Along with visiting Angkor Wat I also went to the following temples, Bayon within the walled city of Angkor Thom, Preah Khan and Ta Prohm, which is the temple in the jungle otherwise known as the Tomb Raider temple. Fantastic day visiting all the temples and taking photos. After such a long day, yes you guessed it a two-hour massage, followed by me falling into bed.

The rest of my time in Siem Reap was spent checking out the local food, going on a boat cruise, which was very different when out on the river we notice a motorboat with some some children inside, I noticed them waving and as with all the others in the boat thought how cute, we then started taking photos, when they got closer to us all of a sudden and started shouting $1, and it is then at that point that we all noticed the huge snake around this 5 year olds neck, OMG..... Some of the women started screaming, as the little boy was now right next to us, waving this huge snake at us. Not a good way to get any money from us as we all reside to one part of the boat and nearly fell into the water, trying to get away from the snake, then the 5 year old throw it to the bottom of the boat, realising we had all, lost the colour in our faces. The 5 year old and the other children were all very angry due to not getting a penny out of us, non of us felt brave enough in fear of the snake.

This finished with them following us down the river, waving their fists... just where did such children get so much anger at this age, just makes you realise how spoilt children of the same age are in the UK. Could you imagine sending your 5 year old out to earn money......

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Posted by djAsia2010 05:49 Archived in Cambodia Comments (0)

Thailand

Bangkok

sunny 100 °F

Once again I am again on my own, no in the busy and bustling Bangkok. The heat is intense the people walking around without a care in the world or so it seemed. Although some people find Thailand's capital a shock to the senses, but I for one found there is plenty to see and do for anyone who is prepared to put up with the heart and confusion of the traffic jams. Great shopping, I know I know, you thought I would have done enough in Vietnam, but I am a female after all..... magnificent temples, bustling markets, and nightlife with plenty of neon lights and blaring music 24hrs a day. A place which offers endless surprises.

For me the must see's in Bangkok are:

National Museum & The Grand Palace (Closed Mon & Tues)

  • The largest in South East Asia, offers an overview of Thai art and culture. The former Royal Residence, the palace is now only used for ceremonial occasions. Strict dress code is enforced (must cover knees and shoulders - you have been warned!!!)

Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha)

  • A richly ornate and highly stylized shrine to the Buddha (carved from a solid piece of green jasper)

Wat Arun

  • Historic, colorful and named for the Indian God of Dawn

Jim Thompson's House

  • A beautiful Thai-style house with a superb collection of art and furnishings. Guided tour included in admission price.

Experience local river life by taking a river taxi from Banglampoo Pier. You can take a boat all the way to the Shangri-la Hotel (or Saphan Taskin Bridge), at the end of Silom Road . Or you can charter your own longtail boat through small canals from Tien Pier.

For all you shopaholics out there see below:-

  • Silom Road (Great night market selling clothes, watch etc)
  • World Trade Centre, Siam Square and MBK (standard shopping empires, including a selection of cinema complexes and food halls)
  • Khao San Road (Stalls selling clothes, CD's, shoes, 2nd hand books, souvenirs and food, day & night)
  • Chatuchak Weekend Market (They have it all, unlike any other market!)

Must a motorbike taxi... just awesome

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Posted by djAsia2010 12:55 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Thailand

Chiang Mai

Yes back to Chiang Mai, this time for a weeks cookery course at the famous Chiang Mai Thai Cookery School run by Sompon Nabnian. Have to admit I was a little nervous to find that I had booked myself into such a high end cookery school, which upon my first day at the school finding out it has been featured in Lonely Plant, Rough Guide to name a few (what was I thinking...talk about put myself under pressure)!!! See my homemade dishes attached.

Day one was just amazing my two favourite Thai dishes, Tom Yam Goong (hot & sour prawn soup) and Phad Thai (Thai fried noodles) including another 4 dishes, over the course the week I cooked over 20 dishes...which I look forward to cooking for my family and friends, let's hope I will be able to get all the ingredients in the UK. The nice thing about the course is that they provide you with Western alternatives for food items which may be difficult to find back home. You are also provided with a book full of all the recipes including how to make the many different curry pastes from scratch.

The above also included an introduction to Thai herbs and spices and a local market tour.

Given I was doing the cookery course for a week, it also gave me another opportunity to explore more of Chiang Mai such as the following:

Wat Suan Dok

  • The walls of this 14th century temple hold colorful murals of the jataka tales. It also houses a 500 year old bronze Buddha image, one of Thailand;s largest metal Buddhas. The garden are a favorite for scenic sunset photos.

Doi Suthep

  • Chiang Mai's most famous temple is situated on a hill northwest of the city. There is a magnificent golden stupa at the top and from the outer courtyard you get a magnificent view of the Chiang Mai valley. At 18:00 you can hear the monks chanting.

Wat Chiang Man

  • Oldest temple in Chiang Mai, built by King Mengrai when he first founded the city. It houses two very important and venerated Buddha images - Phra Sila (a marble Buddha) and Phra Satang Man (a crystal Buddha).

Shopping

Famous night bazaar

  • Stalls begin to open around 17.00 until around 22.00. Selling everything from clothing to woodcarvings, Thai silk, silver (including fake Tiffany & Co jewellery), handicrafts, toys and all types of souvenirs. Bargaining is the name of the game.... everything has a price remember!

Wararot Market

  • Local market where you can find local Thai food and all sorts of things.

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Posted by djAsia2010 13:15 Archived in Thailand Comments (1)

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