Category Archives: Thailand photos

Bangkok Skyline

We had an old-fashioned, rip-roarin’ thunderstorm claw its way through Yeosu earlier today, a nice respite from the bland, misty weather of late. It brought some brief, but heavy rain and cooled things down a bit, though it did nothing to relieve the miserable, high humidity. This is probably the worst time of year to be in Yeosu, July and most of August.

The storm brought back memories of Bangkok and some of the heavy rains that occasionally hit the city. In my previous post, Nai and I left Nongkhai, headed for the City of Angels. We checked into the same hotel, Silom City, that I had stayed at during the first part of my vacation. I had booked a room for 3 nights, unsure if we wanted to stay in the same area for the remainder of our time in Bangkok. The room we had was similar to the one I had earlier, with the same view out the window.

We decided not to change hotels, so I asked the front desk if we could book the room for another 4 nights. They said the basic rooms were full, but they could move us into a deluxe room for about the same price, if I’d want to forego breakfast. Sure, I thought, why not. Well, the 8th-floor view from the new room was incredible. We had a small balcony with a floor-to-ceiling view of the Silom area skyline, one of the best views of Bangkok I’ve ever had. I stayed at the Baiyoke Sky Hotel way back in 2004, in a room on the 65th floor or so. That, of course, had a fantastic view, but this one ran a close second. Here are a few shots.

Bangkok at night
Bangkok at Night
Bangkok at night
Bangkok at Night
Sunset over Bangkok
Sunset Over Bangkok

Several of the tallest skyscrapers in Bangkok are in this area. Here are a couple of (not very successful) panoramic shots.

Panorama of Silom Area
Panorama of Silom Area
Panoramic of Silom area
Panoramic of Silom Area

Anyway, I certainly recommend the Silom City Hotel, especially if you can get a deluxe corner room.

That about wraps up my posts from my recent vacation. Stay tuned for some other stuff later, though I’m not sure what!

Another Nongkhai Attraction

Just one more thing about Nongkhai before I do a Bangkok post. Another small attraction in this laid back, small town is the wall around Wat Si Chom Chuen (I think that’s the name of the temple, though I could be wrong.) Lining at least one section of the wall are murals (stucco) with scenes of traditional, daily Thai life. They’re quite interesting and well-done. Now, it’s possible that there may be more of these around the other walls, but I didn’t get a chance to explore them all. I’ll leave that for next time or for you to do.

Here’s the temple in question; it’s just across the street from the Danish Baker restaurant. You can see a few of the murals by the motorbike in the lower right corner.

Nongkhai temple
Nongkhai Temple

Here, then, are some of the murals. I didn’t get all of them, so, if you’re ever in Nongkhai, try to check them out.

Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural
Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural
Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural
Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural
Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural
Nongkhai mural
Nongkhai Mural

So, that evening, Nai and I set out for Bangkok on the overnight train. There were some impressive clouds building up near the train station, but they eventually drifted into Laos. Here’s a shot I took and converted to an HDR photo, just playing around–probably with not that much success. It’s fun trying, though.

Storm coming
Storm Coming

I’ll soon do a final post of my most recent visit to Bangkok, including some beautiful (I hope) night shots of the skyline.

Two Riverfront Parks-Nongkhai and Vientiane

Both Nongkhai, Thailand, and Vientiane, Laos, have nice riverfront parks along the Mekong. Whereas Nongkhai’s park is more of a walkway, Vientiane’s is a large park and walkway, and is frenetic with activities, in contrast to the sedateness of Nongkhai.

I like the quiet of Nongkhai. It’s a small town that shuts down about 11 p.m., except for a handful of mostly expat bars near the river. I’m sure there are other venues that Thai people frequent later at night, but I’ve never been to any of them, except for a hotel karaoke now and then. The river walk reflects that quiet. Here’s a shot I took of it a few years back, to give you some perspective.

Nap time at Nongkhai river park
Nap Time

New to this walkway and off to the right are some added items of whimsy that I found amusing–lawn ornaments. Here are a few of the new denizens of Nongkhai’s river walk. There are several more, but I don’t want to spoil your fun should you ever get there.

Lawn ornaments in Nongkhai river walk
River Walk Whimsy
Lawn ornaments at Nongkhai river walk
River Park Whimsy
Lawn ornaments at Nongkhai river park
River Park Whimsy
Lawn ornaments at Nongkhai river park
River Park Whimsy
Lawn ornaments at Nongkhai river park
River Park Whimsy
Lawn ornaments at Nongkkhai river park
River Park Whimsy

Here’s a fella I found who was caught between a rock and a hard place, between two dragons. Hey, guy, are you another lawn ornament?

Nai at Nongkhai river park
Caught Between a Rock and a Hard Place

In contrast to the Nongkhai walk, the Vientiane River Park is busy, busy with activity during the evenings. Here’s a short video showing a small slice of the action along the Mekong–aerobics classes, the night market, kids doing tricks on bikes and skateboards, and families out for a stroll. For once, it wasn’t raining.

Vientiane, Laos, Mekong River Park from Ron Anderson on Vimeo.

Whichever city you visit, be sure to take some time to amble along the Mekong. I’m sure you’ll enjoy yourself.

Rainy South East Asia

There’s been boatloads of rain here in Vientiane the last few days, and more is in the forecast. The Internet connection has been spotty, at best, and I also spent a few days in Nai’s village, where there is no Internet. So, I haven’t been able to post in a while. Here’s what’s been going on.

First, here’s a bit better look at the Sri Maha Mariamman temple near Soi 20. It was fairly crowded and difficult to find a good position for a shot, due also to the heavy traffic in the area.

Sri Maha Mariamman temple
Sri Maha Mariamman
Sri Maha Mariamman temple
Sri Maha Mariamman

Here are a few more shots of the Soi 20 street food area. The Islamic Mosque can be seen in the first one, to the right side of the photo.

Soi 20 in Bangkok
Soi 20

Lots of fruit to be found on Soi 20.

Fruit Market
Fruit Market
Fruit Market
Fruit Market

So, I had a lot of time to kill before catching the overnight train to Nongkhai. Mainly, I did a lot of walking around the Silom Road area, and I hit some of the big malls near Siam Square. First, here’s a shot of the spirit house outside of the hotel. I find these little shrines quite interesting and there’s thousands of them in Bangkok. This excellent article says that they are houses for invisible helpful spirits. Most of them are fascinating and beautiful.

Spirit House
Spirit House

Here’s a couple shots along Silom Road. One is a dragon statue not too far up the road from the hotel, and the other is a shot of a new building framed by the sky train.

Dragon Statue
Dragon Statue
Bangkok Skyline
Bangkok Skyline

I bought a couple of books in the Siam Paragon mall, a really upscale shopping area. How upscale? Wanna buy a car? Take a gander at these that you can find there.

Rolls Royce Dealer
Rolls Royce Dealer
Maserati Dealer
Maserati Dealer

This one’s a Lotus.

Lotus Dealer
Lotus Dealer

Finally caught the overnighter to Nongkhai. It departs at 8:00 p.m. and is supposed to arrive at 7:45 the next morning. The last few times I’ve taken it, it’s been almost two hours late arriving, so I asked Nai to meet me around 10 o’clock. Unfortunately, I guess, it was only half an hour late, so I had a bit of time on my hands until Nai got there. Started reading a book, but I also noticed the station crew giving a good scrubdown to the cars.

Cleaning the train
A Clean Machine

Nai got there around 9:30 and we stayed a few days in Nongkhai, then went into Laos and to his village outside of Vientiane. I’ll have a future post about that, hopefully in a couple of days. More later.

Greetings from Thailand

Yes, I’m currently in Bangkok, Thailand starting my three-weeks vacation. I got here on Friday after an uneventful flight from Incheon Airport, leaving behind a dreary, overcast Yeosu. It’s beautiful here this morning, and I’d like to stay longer, but I’m leaving on the overnight train to Nongkhai, Thailand, there to meet up with my friend Nai. Here’s a view from my hotel window taken just a short time ago. I couldn’t get a better shot because the windows don’t open. If there were a fire, I wouldn’t be able to escape out the window, but that wouldn’t make much difference–I’m on the 7th floor.

View from hotel room
View from Silom City Hotel

I usually stay in the Sukhumvit area, but decided to stay in the Silom district. I’m at the Silom City Hotel, which isn’t too bad. Certainly, it’s not a five- or even a four-star venue, but it’s location is its big selling point, and the staff are very friendly and helpful. Right around the corner is one of Bangkok’s excellent street food districts on Soi 20. Loads of delicious, cheap Thai food are yours for the taking.

Here are a few shots of the area, but I neglected to take any photos of the food. This is one of the typical vendors along the soi.

Food vendor
Food vendor

Once the rains come, which do so with regularity this time of year, everyone covers up or gets under an umbrella.

Soi 20 Rain
Soi 20 Rain

I met up with one of my colleagues from the university, Mike from near Toronto, Canada. He arrived here a day earlier and left for Nongkhai and Laos last night on the train. There’s a good chance I’ll run into him up there eventually. He also stayed at the Silom City Hotel, so we hung out together the last couple of days. Here’s a shot of him on Soi 20 at night. In the background is a famous Hindu shrine in the area, and farther back is a Christian hospital, I think. I like the juxtaposition of the two religions. Behind us, up the Soi, is a mosque, which just further emphasizes the religious mingling of mostly Buddhist Bangkok.

Mike at Soi 20
Mike at Soi 20

We also spent a little time at Lumphini Park on Friday evening. Here’s mike relaxing on a bench at the park.

Mike at Lumphini Park
Mike at Lumphini Park

It’s getting close to check-out time at the hotel, so I’d better wrap this up. The train doesn’t leave until 8 p.m., so I’ve got several hours to kill. I’ll take a walk down Soi 20 to get some better shots than the few I’ve already taken, and I’ll take a short walk over to the Hindu shrine for some more photos. I’ll probably do some book shopping at Siam Paragon mall and take a look around at the Mahboonkrong (MBK) mall. If time allows, I’ll do my usual thing and go dining at the Bourbon Street Restaurant.

I’ll have many more posts to make and photos to share, I hope. So, watch for more later.

Laos-Thailand Trip Report: Nong Khai

So, if you read my previous posts about Wat Traimit and Bangkok, you probably know that I took the overnight train to Nong Khai, in northeast Thailand, just across the Mekong River from Laos. If I recall, this train used to run, more or less, on time; perhaps it was late, but usually no more than 30 minutes or so. However, the last couple of times I’ve taken it, it’s been 2 HOURS late pulling into Nong Khai. It departs from Bangkok’s Hualamphong Station at 8:30 p.m., but this trip, it didn’t pull into Nong Khai until 10:30 a.m. Hmmm, don’t know why it was so late, but perhaps the railway authorities were being cautious and slowed the train down because of possible damage done to the tracks due to the widespread flooding a few weeks before.

Anyway, I made it to Nong Khai OK and was met at the station by Nai. We checked into the Pantawee Hotel and stayed a few days there. The Pantawee had hung some new, attractive lanterns in the trees at the hotel since I’d last been there. I don’t know if they’ll be permanent decorations or if they were only seasonal, but they added a nice ambience to the property.

Pantawee Hotel Lantersn, Nong Khai, Thailand
Christmas Lanterns at Pantawee Hotel

Detracting from the usual peaceful ambience, however, was street construction going on right in front of the hotel. I usually like to sit at the outdoor patio in the morning to eat breakfast or just have a cup of coffee or two. The extreme noise and dust made it impossible to enjoy a quiet morning outside; sitting inside wasn’t too bad, though, and, occasionally work would halt for a short while, with the temporary silence standing in sharp contrast to the noise.

Nong Khai Street Construction
Street construction in front of the Pantawee Hotel

Another peaceful spot in Nong Khai is the promenade along the Mekong River. It’s quite pleasant to take a stroll, to sit in the shade of one of the gazebos, or to eat in one of the many restaurants. We usually have lunch and/or supper along here. Below are a few food photos of tom yam (tohm yahm), a spicy and sour soup, with fish, and fried rice with chicken. Nai and I shared the tom yam, and I had the fried rice. Both were delicious and cheap.

Tom Yam Thai Soup
Tom yam with fish
Thai Fried Rice with Chicken
Thai fried rice with chicken

You could also take a short excursion on the Mekong. Below are a couple of photos of boating leisure. The first was taken in Nong Khai and the second was taken last summer in Yeosu, looking down from the Dolsan Bridge. Which one would you prefer? I like both of them.

Taking a boat ride on the Mekong River
Taking a boat ride on the Mekong River
Lazy Day Fishing in Yeosu, South Korea
Lazy Day Fishing in Yeosu, South Korea

Probably the biggest highlight of the whole vacation was the chance to attend a live concert of Isaan music. Nai and I did just that on the evening of December 23rd. We enjoyed a 3 to 3 1/2 hour concert featuring traditional and modern Isaan music. Isaan is a region of northeast Thailand that features various aspects of Lao and Thai culture, including language, music and cuisine. I didn’t take any photos, but I did take about 50 minutes of video with my point-and-shoot camera. (I didn’t take the big DSLR with me on this trip.) The area in front of the stage was too crowded to get close, and I was handholding the camera in low light, so the videos aren’t all that great. But, I’m going to try to piece together the best bits into one video and get it posted here eventually. So, tune in for that and for a few photos of my visit to Laos. More later.

Wat Traimit

As I indicated in the previous Chinatown post, I did have enough time to tour Wat Traimit, one of the big attractions of Chinatown. According to the link on that post, the Golden Buddha in Traimit is the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image, weighing in at 5.5 tons and standing 15 feet tall (although the image is seated). So, at today’s gold prices, the image is worth quite a few millions of dollars!

Wat Traimit Buddha
Wat Traimit Buddha

There’s also an interesting history of the 13th century statue, a history involving deception and discovery. Again, check out the link to read about the image.

Here’s another smaller Buddha image that’s near the Golden Buddha.

Wat Traimit Small Buddha Statue
Wat Traimit Small Buddha Statue

There’s also a detailed history of Chinatown located in a second-floor exhibition, which shows 3D life-sized scenes of daily living and which also includes a scale model of Chinatown as it looked in the mid 1950s or so. This was the only photo I got of the exhibition, since most museums and similar places don’t allow you to take photos. I didn’t see any signs forbidding it, but I didn’t want to offend anyone. At the final exhibit, the scale model of Chinatown, I saw someone else taking a shot, so I figured it was ok and took the one below. As with all the photos taken this vacation trip, I had only my pocket point-and-shoot with me. It’s a good camera, but it doesn’t do too well in dark lighting, so I had to crank up the ISO to capture this shot. In post-processing, I removed most of the digital noise that’s usually present with high ISO settings, but in doing so, the image lost some of its sharpness, as you can see in the photo below. I’ll have to bring along my small tripod next time.

Wat Traimit Chinatown Exhibit
Wat Traimit Chinatown Exhibit

And, of course, here are a few shots of the exterior of the wat. As you can see, Thailand’s revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej is honored everywhere.

Wat Traimit exterior
Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit Bell
Wat Traimit Bell
Wat Traimit 3D Mosaic
Wat Traimit 3D Mosaic

This one is looking up to the spire from a position close to one of the outside walls.

Wat Traimit
Wat Traimit

Directly next door to Wat Traimit is a smaller temple, sort of an annex. Here’s a detail shot of the roof of that area.

Wat Traimit annex
Wat Traimit annex roof detail

Also next to Traimit is a boys’ school (well, I didn’t see any girls, so I assume it’s a boys’ school). At the entrance to the school is a statue of a scholar (again, I assume) from days gone by. Here are the kids during what appears to be recess.

Boys' school next to Wat Traimit.
Boys' School recess

And the scholar.

Boys' school statue
Boys' school scholar statue.

Finally, I did have some time to go to the Siam Paragon shopping mall to buy some reading material. They usually have some kind of display outside the center, and this year’s set-up featured an Alice in Wonderland motif. (Pretty girls not included) Quite colorful.

Siam Paragon display
Alice in Wonderland at Siam Paragon shopping center

OK, that’s about it for the Bangkok portion of the trip. It feels like I’ve kind of over-saturated the blog with too many photos of the trip already, so I’ll just post a few more from Nong Khai and Laos a bit later. In the meantime, I’ll process the new Expo 2012 photos I took this past Saturday and get those up soon. More later.

Laos-Thailand Trip Report: Bangkok’s Chinatown

In all my previous visits to Bangkok, I’d never visited Chinatown, except for a crazy tuk-tuk ride on my way to another area several years ago. I’ve read and heard that this section of Bangkok is one of the city’s most interesting and fascinating to visit. Here’s what Lonely Planet has to say about it:

“Bangkok’s Chinatown is the urban explorer’s equivalent of the Amazon Basin. The highlights here are a rather complicated web of tiny alleyways, crowded markets and delicious street stalls. Unlike other Chinatowns around the world, Bangkok’s is defiantly ungentrified, and getting lost in it is probably the best thing that could happen to you. The neighbourhood dates back to 1782 and relatively little has changed since then. You can still catch conversations in various Chinese dialects, buy Chinese herbal cures or taste Chinese dishes not available elsewhere in Thailand. Getting in and out of Chinatown is hindered by horrendous traffic but the area is a brief walk from Hualamphong Metro station.”

Although my time in Bangkok was very limited this trip, I decided to take a brief excursion to the Chinatown area, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be able to see it in depth. I had several hours to kill before I hopped aboard the overnight express to Nong Khai, so I dropped off my big bag at the luggage holding room at Hualamphong Railway Station and made the short walk (15 minutes) to Chinatown.

It’s easy to find the main road, Yaowarat–just look for the large gate marking the beginning of the area.

One of Chinatown’s main attractions is Wat Traimit, which is a short walk from the gate (I took the shot of the gate from the top of Traimit). It was on the right hand side of the road as I was walking down Yaowarat.

I wasn’t sure how much time I was going to spend browsing around the area, so I decided to visit the temple on the way back, if I had time.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have all that much time to spend in Chinatown, with its many shops, side streets and vendors’ stalls. It was extremely busy and crowded with shoppers and tourists, and walking was quite slow, although it’s probably faster than driving. Motor bikes would probably be the fastest way of traveling through the dense mass of traffic.

It’s a very popular place to buy gold, gems and other jewelry, but it appeared that, in the short time I spent there, you could buy just about anything you might be looking for. Here are a few items that caught my attention.

Traditional clothing.

Tassels

Fruit and vegetables.

Stuffed crab, anyone? Chinatown is renowned for it’s nighttime outdoor eating venues. Unfortunately, by nightfall I’d be on the train to Nong Khai. The next time I’m in Bangkok, I definitely want to visit this area at night.

Oh, and did I hear you say that you need a barber’s chair?

So, just about anything you need or want, you can probably find it here.

Yes, I did return to Wat Traimit and took the tour of the temple area. This post is getting rather long, so I’ll save the wat for next time. More later.

Final Vacation Photos

Here are a few more photos from my recent trip to Laos and Thailand. This is one of my favorite views of Bangkok, looking into the Silom area and taken from the statue of King Rama VI in Lumphini Park. I probably should have tried to take a panoramic shot to give a better sense of the beautiful skyline that surrounds the park, but this small sample will have to suffice for now. Maybe next time.

After a few days in Bangkok, it was on to Phuket and Patong Beach. We spent a week there, lazing away the days on the beach while getting a sunburn and enjoying the nightlife. I’m always tempted to try the para gliding offered at the beach, but the price seems too steep (about $20) for the short ride (about 2 1/2 minutes). It’s kind of fun, though, to watch people taking off and landing.

The beach is usually crowded, but it’s not too bad to sit under an umbrella and read a book or “people watch.” You can’t see the lifeguard station in this shot, but at least one or two people had to be rescued every day due to the strong undercurrent in this area. The guards kept warning people out of the restricted area, but there were always a few people who ignored the warnings or accidentally strayed into the red zone. Fortunately, no one drowned.

Near day’s end.

Ok, that wraps up my vacation shots. I’ll try to get some Yeosu photos up soon, although this week sees the beginning of a 3-week kids’ camp and next week marks the start of a week long camp for children of faculty members, so I’ll be quite a bit busier than I have been.

Two Sides of the Mekong

I stayed a few short days in both Nong Khai, Thailand, and Vientiane, Laos. I mainly hung out along the Mekong River, and both cities have built up their respective riverbanks.

Nong Khai hasn’t changed all that much in the year since I’d last been there. It’s a pleasant walk along the river, where you can duck into one of the small shelters, out of the hot sun, and take a nap if you’d like.

There are also any number of small, open-air restaurants. Go in, sit by a fan and grab a snack or a meal. Here, Nai and I prepare to chow down. I’m the fella without glasses. Oh, sorry about that. You’ll just have to guess which one of the handsome guys is yours truly.

I forget what Nai ordered, but I got shrimp pad thai (first photo below) and spring rolls. Yummmmm.

You can also eat dinner ON the river by taking the dinner cruise boat, located at the end of the river walkway. It’s not too expensive and it’s worth it, in my opinion. Nong Khai is very colorful from the middle of the Mekong. One of my favorite sights is the Big Buddha that sits on top of one of the temples, contemplating the river and gazing into Laos.

This particular evening, the sun was close to setting and the golden light it cast really bought out the colors along the river bank.

Let’s take a look into Laos, shall we?

Not too much to see except temples and lots of vegetation. But, then again, it’s not Vientiane. You have to go about 20 kilometers upstream, as the river flows, to get to the capital city. In the past, the river was lined with small restaurants, merely chairs and grills set up to serve diners, but it was a nice spot to watch the sun go down over Thailand. Here’s a shot of one of our favorite spots from days gone by (actually, from December, 2009).

Here’s another one from the same time from the fourth floor location of the Bor Pen Nyang bar. However, this one shows some of the dramatic changes that would be made to the riverside. The image below it gives a broader look at the construction that was still ongoing in June of 2010.

The result of all that work is a very pleasant riverside park, one that Laotians can be very proud of. Gone from that area are all the old dining areas (they’ve moved farther down the river), but there’s a very nice walkway, play areas for the kids and lots of greenery. Here’s another view from almost exactly the same location from the Bor Pen Nyang. The park stretches nearly to the large, white Don Chan Palace hotel in the background, and I believe work is still being done on the section near there.

The two shots below were taken around 6 p.m. on a Saturday, so the place was fairly crowded with families, couples, singles and even a few monks, all out enjoying a stroll or riding their bicycles in the cooling evening breeze.

So, yeah, it’s a nice park and a welcome addition to Vientiane. I kinda miss the small eateries, but they can still be found if you look for them. Sitting on the river, sipping an ice-cold Beer Lao or another beverage of your choice and watching the sun go down over the Mekong is also still possible and a memorable experience.

That’s it for now. I’ll get some more photos up later of Bangkok and Phuket, so stay tuned.