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Old 15th March 2012, 09:44   #16
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Default Phuket Aquarium (contd.)

Apart from fishes, there were other characters too...

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Hermit Crab
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I never knew Sea Horses are this tiny
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we saw some huge fish, the person on the frame can give you some perspective
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the aquarium had a tunnel, where you can see the marine life all around you
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We took some snaps there
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and elsewhere too
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There is a small eat-out in the aquarium. We took some juices/cold drinks from there. Also gave an vanilla ice cream to baby, it helps her to avoid motion sickness.
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We also picked up few small gifts from the souvenir shop.

Sun was blazing, but still I took couple of shots of the ocean.
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Satisfied, we traveled back.

However if you are on a tight timeline, this place can definitely given a miss - there are better places to watch marine life.
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Old 30th April 2012, 07:20   #17
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Default Leam Phrom Thep

Came back to the hotel in the afternoon, and studying the map decided to visit Leam Phrom Thep, when the Sun become less harsh. As you can see from the map, this place is in the southern tip of the Phuket island.
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The drive went through the winding roads through the hills, sometime having a view of the blue sea and the white beaches. We stopped enroute to Karon View Point and enjoyed the view.

View from the Karon View Point
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View from the Karon View Point
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The group
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The Car
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First view at Leam Phrom Thep, somebody is too engrossed in nature to look at the camera
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In Leam Phrom Thep, from the road, a little hiking takes to the southern tip. The daylight was fading quickly (we were little late to start), still me and my wife decided to go off the beaten path. We hurried through the path, to get into a opening, where I saw a spectacular sunset - I think this was the first time, when I saw the sun setting into the sea, and not hiding behind the clouds.
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In the view point, there were some monuments as well, excuse the quality, the light was too low.
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By the time, we reached back to the parking lot, it was dark. We headed back to the hotel.
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Old 1st May 2012, 06:56   #18
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Default Island Tours

The next day we were headed to the island tour. Compared to speedboat tour of 2500 baht per person as told by hotel, 1500 per person in a cruise looked tempting, I just booked that previous night. Only to discover later it could be easily bargained down to 1250.

Today I also realized, why the travelogues has to be written sooner than later. Even after raking my brain for past hour (aided by some google search), I am not able to recollect quite a few things of the tour. Which pier we have started our journey from? Remember three stops - Most probably Phi Phi Lay, Maya Beach, and Phi Phi Don, but not too sure. So feel free to correct me.

The minibus came to hotel around 8:00 to pick us up. On the way they picked up another two groups and we head to the pier. By the time we reached the cruise was almost full and we had to sit scattered in different tables.

At the first destination the cruise anchored in some distance within the sea, we were transferred to the long tail boats and taken to the island (Phi Phi Lay?). The snorkels and glasses were given by the operators. We tried swimming and snorkeling. The clear blue water and colorful fishes made the show enjoyable.

In the cruise - lower deck
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... and snorkeling
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Enjoying the beach
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The pier
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Long tail boats
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Our cruise anchored in the mid sea
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:14   #19
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Default Island Tours (Contd.)

After an hours time we returned to the cruise and started our journey. The lunch was served in the cruise itself, and it was a decent spread. And after spending an hour in the water, we were hungry and savored the food.

After lunch we spent some time in the middle deck in the sun.
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Clicked around few pictures (first two through the shaded glass of the lower deck)
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We reached Maya Beach and cruise anchors. All were given option of snorkeling near the anchoring point or go by longtail boats to the Maya beach and swim there. We chose the later.
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Not sure why she was crying, most probably because she was forced out of the water.
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Good bye Maya beach
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Old 1st May 2012, 07:41   #20
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Default Island Tour (Contd.)

The view all around is beautiful.
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On the way we passed by the Viking Caves.
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Few more shots of the surrounding.
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And then we reached the Phi Phi Don. There is 20 Baht per person entry fee in the island. The pier is at the waist portion and in that area the island is so narrow, that walking to the other side of the island takes only 2 minutes. In the Tsunami they had waves from both the sides, and entire portion was razed.

We went to the other side, saw people doing parasailing, and made a mental note of doing that.
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Went through the market with narrow lanes.
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Saw a nice hotel - may be if we come back anytime, think of staying there
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Now it's time to return
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We checked the upper deck too
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Some more random shots
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Approaching Phuket
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We reached back, and all the minibuses are ready to go, except hours. We idle out half an hour, before our minibus comes in. We travel back to hotel.

Evening went out for a walk, and booked another car for next day. For the car booking they ask for the passport to be deposited, in absence of that you can keep 10000 Baht as a deposit. We booked the car from outside and it costed 1000 Baht, while first day it was charged 1200 Baht.

By the way, looking at the flood condition (Ayuthaya cancelled, and may be few other spots in Bangkok), we decided to extend a day in Phuket, and changed the hotel bookings - cancelling a day in Bangkok, increasing a day in Phuket and the flight booking.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 05:50   #21
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Default Big Buddha

Today is 4th November, 4th day into our trip. We wake up in the morning and have the complimentary breakfast. Before finishing the breakfast, one guy from car rental company came into the hotel and dropped the car.

Finishing the breakfast, we head out to our first destination, the Big Buddha. It is built on a hilltop (Nakkerd Hills) facing Phang Nga bay (back towards Anadaman see). The 45 m high white statue is visible from most of the southern part of Phuket. The construction was still going on.

The first view from the car parking lot
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You enter through a hall, where prayers are offered
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The flight of stairs to climb, adorned by different sizes of bell
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At the base of the Buddha
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There is another golden color statue, much smaller in comparison. This one is complete.
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Flower in the earthen pot in front of the golden statue.
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There are other small sculptures around.
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The view from the top was also nice.
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You can get few more information on The Phuket Big Buddha | Jamie's Phuket.

The style of Buddha statue was based on Gandhara style. Different styles of Buddha images have been explained with illustration in there. Here are the text excerpts:

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We head out to Chalong temple next.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 06:18   #22
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Default Wat Chalong

Chalong temple, or Wat Chalong, is a large temple complex with many temples inside it.
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In one of them wedding or post wedding prayers were going on. There were loud firecracker bursting in designated brick structures. This was unique to this temple, haven't seen it anywhere else, as typically the buddhist temples are very quiet.
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The statues, most probably of the head monks of the temple at earlier times.
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Didn't lose the opportunity of framing through the balcony ornamentation
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This temple has three floors.
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The ground floor is full of golden statues of Buddha in different postures.
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First floor had a marble statue.
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Second floor housed a crystal.
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The second floor also had open terrace area, from where you can have lovely capture of other temples.
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And it was no surprise that the Big Buddha will be visible from here too.
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The side entrance gate of this temple.
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Again another framing opportunity.
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One more temple in the complex
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And one more
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The car. This time also I got the same car Toyota Yaris :( , only different in color.
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We were tired in the hot sun, and decided to give Wat Karon a skip.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 06:40   #23
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Default Patong beach

Previous evening when we went for a walk/car booking, we were amazed by the variety of the sea foods on offer, and they have live lobsters/crabs on display. So we decided try it out for lunch.

Lunch is much quieter affair, the glitz is absence. Anyway we had our orders, the food was so fascinating, forgot to click the pictures before eating. Here are two shots of the shells.
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After lunch, we drove to Patong beach, most famous/crowded beach in Phuket. Most of the water sports are available here. We decided to try the parasailing and jet-skiing.
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Both was my first experience. For parasailing, they tie the parachute with a motor boat and once it starts, you run for few steps, and it drags it up in the air. Reminded me of the kite flying experience in the childhood. While I was in a safety harness, there was one person who was flying in tandem without harness, and controlling the direction of the chute. In the midway, I realized I was holding on too tight to the ropes, may be from fear; remembered the safety harness, and let go the fear and hold it nicely and started enjoying the flight.

The jetski ride was much more bumpier than I thought, also the controlling is also difficult. Need to practice few more times to perfect it I guess

Though it was costly, after experiencing it, we felt it was worth it. Father-in-law also tried the Jet Ski. My parents refrained from any of the adventures.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 07:02   #24
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Default Good bye Phuket, Welcome Bangkok

5th November: Our stay in Phuket is coming to an end. After breakfast, me and wife went out to return the car. While coming back we checked few of the roadside shops, and decided to postpone the shopping, if any, to Bangkok. We were so near to Karon beach, but didn't get time to visit it, so we took a longer walk back to hotel via the Karon beach.

We took some snaps of our hotel. It was really a nice stay. Each floor is stepped back a little and those open areas it has different plants to give a green feeling. It also had a swimming pool at the upper deck and Jacuzzi below, we didn't get a chance to check those out. Same for the massage.

The hotel
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Jacuzzi pool
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Outside sitting area of the restaurant
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Rest of the time went in packing, getting ready and getting our daughter ready. We booked hotel drop off service to the airport.

This is the flight we took.
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Looking out of window, small and quiet airport.
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Taxiing out of Phuket International Airport
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The short flight was uneventful.

We crossed over from Phuket island to mainland thailand
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From Suvarnabhumi airport, we had to wait for bigger taxi, as we were 5 person, and for extra person they do not run on meter, and to Sukhumvit road charge was 750 Baht. We reached our hotel Citadine. The two bed room suite was cramped. And with immediate comparison with the Phuket one, depressed me a lot.

We freshened up, went out for dinner, came back and slept.
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Old 2nd May 2012, 07:19   #25
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Default Re: Amazing Thailand

Good One Arindam !!
Nice to read your travelogue after couple of years !!
Not yet complete reading, will read the remaining after office hours.

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Old 4th May 2012, 07:53   #26
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Default Bangkok city sightseeing

6th Nov was kept for Bangkok city sightseeing. The flood information was difficult to get, but as northern side was having higher water level, took Chatuchak market out of the list, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and Wat Arun made into it.

We had not booked any guided tour as these places were near by, and thought would be able to do it with public transport. However being a group of 5, normal taxis were not sufficient for us. We checked with a local shop, and took a bus to Grand Palace.

The bus dropped us little further up from the Palace, we asked one of the hawker for the direction, and were not able to converse due to language barrier. In the meanwhile another lady came in and started talking in English - and also told that the palace will be closed now, and open in two hours, why don't you take this time and visit some gems factory. Lonely Planet book already mentioned this type of scam, so we ignored her advise, thanked her for the direction and walked to the Grand Palace. On the way, we saw some administrative buildings.

If I recall correctly, this one was the supreme court
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And this was one ministry, most probably finance
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It was a hot and sunny day, and we had to one gate to another to find the correct entry gate and was almost tired even before entering the Grand Palace complex.

The ticket for Grand Palace was quite expensive (and for Thai nationals it was nominal), however the palace complex was nice. The brochure, identified all the building and/or sculptures; and I kept it for noble intention of putting those information in this travelogue. But alas, I am writing this when I am in US for a office work and that brochure and some of the books we bought from there about history of the palace is back at home. So just enjoy the pics without much information.

This was the exhibit number 1 in that brochure. Most probably a Garuda statue
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There was nice fresco's along the outer corridor of the palace.
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Other buildings
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It had model of Angkor Wat temple of Cambodia
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One of the pillars
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One of the star attraction of the Grand Palace is the Temple of Emerald Buddha.
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I was missing my SLR and the tele-zoom, when I took this. If you can see despite the glitters of gold the idol actually is of green stone - not Emerald (though it is called so), but Jade.
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After this we took a rest, in one of the areas like this.
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Old 5th May 2012, 06:04   #27
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Default Grand Palace (Contd.)

The Grand Palace compound contained various other buildings, but most of them are out of bound for visitors, and one can see just from out side.

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People offering their prayers
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Temple of Emerald Buddha from far
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Smaller ornamental structures
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Long court-yards
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IIRC, current royal residence
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Guard in front of the royal residence
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Few more buildings in the outer portion
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Parting shot
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Old 5th May 2012, 07:11   #28
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Default Wat Pho & Wat Arun

The next destination was Wat Pho, or temple of reclining Buddha. This temple complex is just behind the Grand Palace complex, but one needs to traverse through one and half side of the place complex through the road out side.

The road by the side of Palace complex runs parallel to Cho Praya river, and the pavements are occupied by the hawkers and/or small shops. We made our way through them. This is the first place where we saw the flood water coming in, though it was not even ankle dip.

The entrance and ticket counter
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The map and information about the temple complex
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We enter the building 1 housing the reclining buddha, and catch the first glimpse - even after reading in all the places it is huge, I was still amazed by the size of it.

The head between the pillars.
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This is the only angle from where the entire idol can be shot. You can get an idea of the size from the people in the photograph.
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The foot had 'mother of pearl' inlays.
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After spending sufficient time there, we moved to other temples. Entering the complex of temple 8, you can see the small group of pillars.
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Notice the guards having European hats
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More pillars
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A well deserved rest
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Ornamental doorways
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Idol in one of the side temples
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More pillars
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Roof ornaments
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Another side temple
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IIRC, this is inside main chapel (marked 8 in the map)
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Random shot in the complex
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Though I had plans to see Wat Arun, there was no time left to go there. Wat Arun is just across the Cho Praya river. The river is almost overflowing.
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Zooming into Wat Arun. It has distinctive Khmer-style architecture.
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The river front had a small green park, where the locals were enjoying the evening.

We had tough time to understand from where we can get the bus to return to Sukhumvit Road where our hotel is located.

After reaching hotel it was time to plan for the next day. Previous night one of the tour operator gave a very gloomy picture, however this time the tour operator (attached with the hotel) told me that they have day tour to Floating Market, Bridge on the river Kwai and Tiger Temple, though it will be hectic we opted for the same.

Aftter booking the tour and making the payment, I came across a taxi, who were willing to take us to the same tour in much lesser amount

Last edited by arindamray : 5th May 2012 at 07:15.
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Old 6th May 2012, 07:09   #29
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Default Floating Market

It was 7th November, the last day of our vacation, next day was just for flying back. Though back then, we had hardly had time to give that thought, as we were hurriedly getting ready for our tour. We had been picked-up in minibuses, and came to a central location. There the passengers were shuffled and given different color stickers depending on what kind of tour they are going to half-day/full-day/two-days and destination being covered.

The bus went through the Bangkok city for some time and then took the highway, we were in the floating market, if I am not mistaken, in 2 hours.
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Here the items are sold in the boats from the canals.
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There are shops in the ground too.
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Some tropical fruits.
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Then we were taken for a boat ride through the canals.
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However the ride was not too good, as I felt the canal water was murky (may be due to flood).
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The boat took us to a different place from where we boarded. We get down from the boat, and our buses were already waiting there. We board the bus, but not before capturing this nice buddhist temple.
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Old 6th May 2012, 07:39   #30
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Default Bridge on the River Kwai

We head towards our next destination - the Bridge on the River Kwai. In between, the bus stops for lunch. The lunch was ordered by the travel agent in total and was shared by the tourists. If any item was over, it was not replenished, felt that the operator could have done better, with the amount of money they charged. By the time we finished our lunch and it was almost time to start, and our daughter was yet to eat. We had to keep the bus waiting for sometime (and me and wife had little altercation on this ).

We reached the Bridge and the Sun god was in his full fury. We took a walk along the bridge to cross and come back. There is also a toy train, which does that - but we spent too much time to locate the ticket counter, and also the running time of the train is uncertain, depend on the filling up the passenger.

The first sight of the bridge
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Information on it
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Toy train approaching
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View of the river
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Buddha statue, visible after crossing the bridge
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Floating restaurant on the river
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A shell from the war time
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View of the bridge from the other side
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The internet search will reveal some interesting tidbits, and one of the most interesting fact, the river was not Kwai, rather a tributary of it. After the movie was famous, thais renamed the river small Kwai and the original one as big Kwai. Also the spelling would be correct if it is Kwae (pronounced like Quay), rather than Kwai (which means buffalo in Thai).
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