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At Bangkok’s Temple of the Coffin

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Only a few steps from the sinful streets of Patpong in downtown Bangkok lies Wat Hua Lamphong. It’s known as the temple of the coffin.

Visitors to Hua Lamphong temple can earn merit by giving donations to sponsor coffins for the poor and homeless. The temple mixes Thai, Chinese and Indian rites. There are Buddhist shrines, you can pray through the joss sticks at a Chinese looking altar, and there’s a shrine to Ganesha, the Indian Elephant god.

The temple is also home to about a dozen cows and a cow shrine. People visiting the shrine write down a prayer and pray in front of an ornately decorated statue of two cows right next to the cow pen. Then the faithful buy some food for the cows and feed them. But even though the cows seem to lead a very privileged and sweet life at the temple, at least one source says that they’re only there to be sacrificed some time in the future.

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Written by Thorsten

June 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm

Central Embassy Mall in Bangkok

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Gucci, Prada and Paul Smith – they’re all at Bangkok’s newest luxury mall ‘Central Embassy‘. It opened on May 9, 2014 on Ploenchit Road – within walking distance to at least three similar high-class shopping malls. Though I’m not sure who needs yet another mall with stores for the super rich, the architecture is fascinating.

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Most of these pictures were taken simply looking up at the seven floors of the shopping center in its atriums. All in all, the space is vast – and that’s probably the biggest luxury in a crowded city like Bangkok.

And since Central Embassy isn’t a mall where they just play muzak, there were even some flautists and a string quartet taking care of the entertainment the day I was there.

Written by Thorsten

May 11, 2014 at 4:28 pm

Wat Pho through my eyes

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Wat Pho is one of the most-visited temples in Bangkok and it’s one of the most photographed. So when I returned to the temple last weekend, I deliberately tried to stay clear of the crowds as far as that was possible and explored some of the quieter corners of the complex.

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Written by Thorsten

August 21, 2012 at 6:25 pm

Thailand’s dusty treasures

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I like going to museums. But Thailand’s National Museum in Bangkok is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It’s like one of those fairy tale places that have fallen under a spell and are asleep for a hundred years.

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The museum is housed in a number of former palace building, but also comprises a Buddhist pagoda and some “newer” buildings from the 1960’s.

The strange thing is that hardly anyone in Bangkok seems to be aware of the National Museum. My taxi driver didn’t even know where it was and had to ask for directions on the way.

The museum is a very quiet place. Fallen out of time. There were hardly any other visitors at the museum the Sunday I was there. Almost the only life you saw were middle-aged Thai ladies placed in every exhibition room as museum guards – more softly snoozing than supervising the visitors.

The museum’s collection is eclectic. Everything from golden Buddhas to royal porcelain and a shell collection. From doll houses to the royal funeral chariots and a collection of shadow puppets.

All exhibits all seem a little dusty, like someone put the together fifty years ago and then forgot about them. But all in all very charming and just the place to go if you’re looking for a little quiet time in Bangkok.

Written by Thorsten

December 11, 2011 at 6:03 pm

Posted in asia, this and that, travel

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A mall for young designers

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Idea Market at Kamphaeng Phaet Subway station in BangkokI was ready to head back to my hotel after having walked around Chatuchak Weekend Market for the better part of the morning.

I was tired and looking forward to my hotel swimming pool, a nice cool drink and some relaxing music from my i-pod.

But when I got to the lower level at Kamphaeng Phet subway station, I was in for a surprise. And that surprise made me forget the pool, the drink and the music for another hour.

Idea Market at Bangkok's Kamphaeng Phet subway stationHere in this subway station was the entrance to an underground shopping mall. An Idea Market that is only open on weekends.

A mall especially for young designers

Some of the designers at Kamphaeng Phet already had their own shops where they sold their own lines of fashion, gifts or perfumes.

The Idea Market at Kamphaeng Phet Others, however, were just getting started and obviously couldn’t afford renting a store yet.

They had spread out their goods on the floor in front of them – pretty much like kids selling old toys at a flea market.

Some of these vendors were selling interesting stuff that they were making themselves on the spot: designer bags , jewelery, hand-sewn teddy bears or knit sweaters.

Young designers at the Idea Market at Bangkok's Kamphaeng Phet subway stationI never studied design at school, but I thought that some of those people at the Kamphaeng Phet Idea Market were pretty talented.

And the prices were very reasonable. I bought a pair of designer shorts at one men’s fashion store, which cost me the equivalent of four dollars. Can’t really complain about that…

Written by Thorsten

December 23, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Shopping at the world’s biggest market

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Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokI’ve been to Bangkok dozens of times – it’s the hub I always have to go through when I’m travelling to another Asian country on business.

But if I thought I’d seen all the major sights in Bangkok, I was proven wrong on this stay.

I finally managed to head out to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. So far, I’d always thought it would be too far out (way in the north of the city). But I guess I must have had things a little wrong.

Yes, the weekend market is on the outskirts of Bangkok, but the city’s new subway has a stop right in the center of the market.

Actually, you can choose between two different subway stops if you want to get to Chatuchak – that might give you an idea how big this weekend market is.

It’s billed as the world’s biggest market

You can reach Chatuchak Weekend Market by getting off the Chatuchak Park subway stop or by getting off at Kamphaeng Phet Station. I’d recommend the latter, because that lands you right near the market’s entrance gate one.

Map of Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokGate one is a good place to start because this is where you can pick up a market map. And believe me: if you don’t want to get lost or risk missing the best parts of this huge market, it’s a good idea to take one of those maps along.

Chatuchak is the only market I know that actually publishes a map. This market is really almost the size of a small city.

To make life on the shoppers a little easier, the market is subdivided into streets and 28 sections. In some sections, you’ll find t-shirts, in others handicrafts, pets or antiques.

There’s no way to say how many vendors sell at this market. I’ve seen numbers published from 10 000 to 15 000 stalls.

The selection is overwhelming

I think you should be able to find any product made in Thailand on this market. And at great prices.

Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokI couldn’t believe how cheap Thai souvenirs were at Chatuchak.

(Sorry if I’m beginning to sound like an info-mercial, but I was really overwhelmed by this place.)

Whether it was Thai silk, wood carvings, mother-of-pearl or porcelain – everything I saw here seemed much cheaper than at retail stores throughout the country.

I guess you pay something close to the retail price at Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Facts and figures

O.k. – after all the raving, here some fast facts for those among us who love numbers and figures: Chatuchak is supposedly number one in the world when it comes to weekend markets.

Other sources are a little more cautious and just say it’s “…one of the world’s largest weekend markets.”

Chatuchak covers some 28 acres and has over 200 000 visitors each Saturday and Sunday. The large majority of those visitors (approximately 70 %) are Thais.

Water lilies on sale at Chatuchak weekend market in BangkokSo you see that this isn’t your average  “let’s rip off the tourists-market”.

It’s a place where the Thais come to shop (which explains some of the sections of the market: furniture, plants, pets – I guess you wouldn’t carry any of that home in your backpack after an Asian vacation…

Oh, and two more interesting trivia: Chatuchak Weekend Market has its own little electric train that drives shoppers around the market for free.Miniature train at Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok

And – unlike markets in Europe or the US – it also has booths that offer foot massages for those who just can’t take another step.

Written by Thorsten

December 21, 2008 at 4:34 pm

Lifestyles of the rich – revisited

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It’s another rainy day on Phuket today, so what can you do but go to the mall? I went back to the shopping center where I’d gotten the facial massage the other day.

Maybe a little pampering would help save the day…

At the mall, I noticed that there was a second day spa right across from Takashi, where I’d gotten my first massage. Surprisingly, they were also from Tokyo, looked almost the same, and had almost the same kind of special offers.

Rivalling cosmetics clans? Feuding families? Estranged lovers gone out to really give it to each other in the business world?

Or is Tokyo just the place for day spas and facial massages?

This spa, HANAKO TOKYO, offered a facial massage at 300 Thai baht – about six Euros. And their offer even included a facial mask and a head and shoulder massage.

Cleansing, creaming and caressing

It’s hard to describe what the nice lady who was in charge of me did to my face. One reason is that I had my eyes closed most of the time. The other reason is that she didn’t explain what she did, she just went ahead and did what she felt necessary.

First, she spread some kind of cream on my face and massaged it in ever so gently. Next came moist, warm towels or washcloths, with which she covered and cleaned my face.

She put moist cotton swabs on my eyes and left them there. Then she took a spatula and applied a facial mask.

It smelled a little like apples and felt like cold Elmer’s glue on my skin.

When she’d covered my whole face, she used a fan to gently help dry the mask. The breeze felt very cool on my face. Every now and then, she then gently tapped her finger to my foreskin to see whether the mask had hardened yet.

It seemed to take longer than anticipated

She left me lying there for what felt like 10 or 15 minutes. Nothing happened and I was afraid I’d fall asleep.

You wouldn’t want to start snoring or drooling in a place like that…

At some point, the lady decided that my facial mask had dried enough and she began to peel it off like Saran wrap off a freshly cut peach.

The feeling was a little unusual but nice. All of a sudden, the skin on my face felt like it could breathe again.

I guess the nice lady then applied more creams, spread more lotions on my skin and gently removed them again with warm moist wash cloths. But I lost track of what she did.

Whatever it was, it was extremely pleasant and relaxing.

When I looked in the mirror after my treatment, I felt like ca. 1998.

Written by Thorsten

October 30, 2008 at 2:30 pm

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