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Old 25th November 2012, 16:48   #106
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Default Re: Thailand | Third Time

Before we can set off for the Floating Market, there's the small issue of settling about how much to pay for the boat ride.

2000 baht per person.

Huh? That's going to total up to more than we have spent on transport for the last 6 days. Thanks, but no thanks. We are going back, may the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market keep floating without us.

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Okay, okay, you pay 1000 baht. No elephant ride.

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We didn't want an elephat ride in the first place. Our kids know what elephants look like, they've ridden elephants plenty of times back where they come from. Elephant rides attract people from countries where no elephants exist. We troop back to the van and hop in together. I have a pretty good idea the driver is not going to be happy about this. He isn't.

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We leave behind us the driver and the ticket issuing fellows squabbling among themselves in Thai. In 2 minutes, he's back.

How much you want to pay?

2000 baht.

That eez what that man say. 2000 baht per person. Why you not pay?

No, 2000 baht. For everybody.

No, no, no, no, no, no...
went the driver.

Fine, you said no, we said no, let's go back to Bangkok.

The driver isn't going to give up yet. After a couple of trips back and forth between us and the ticket fellows, we finally settle for 3000 baht. For everybody.

Time to board the boats...

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...and take the trip to the market along the narrow canals.

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Old 25th November 2012, 23:02   #107
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Quote:
Damnoen Saduak is the most popular floating market in Thailand, great for photo opportunities...
...the canal scene in The Man with the Golden Gun was filmed there.
The boats we take are motorized "long-tail" boats, also known in these parts as "James Bond" boats.
Quote:
...the sole defining characteristic is a secondhand car or truck engine. This engine is invariably mounted on an inboard turret-like pole which can rotate through 180 degrees, allowing steering by thrust vectoring. The propeller is mounted directly on the driveshaft with no additional gearing or transmission. Usually the engine also swivels up and down to provide a "neutral gear" where the propeller does not contact the water. The driveshaft must be extended by several metres of metal rod to properly position the propeller, giving the boat its name and distinct appearance.
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The engines are fascinating to look at, with substantial customization done on most of them. Enjoy a close look at some...
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Old 26th November 2012, 17:48   #108
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Default Re: Thailand | Third Time

Enjoy the sights and colours of the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market. We thought it is slightly reminiscent of the Dal Lake.

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On the way to the market are these residential houses along the canal network
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Floating shopkeepers. The traditional hat she is wearing is not preferred by the younger generation
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The red fruits are Rose Apples - deliciously sweet and large fruits that I haven't eaten in India. The closest we have here is what we know in the eastern parts of India as jamrul (জামরুল ). Rarely found in the northern parts of India, where it is identified as safed jamun.
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Hats galore for protection from the sun - however, the weather in the end of October was pleasant enough, and our boat did have a shade overhead, so we didn't need them

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Brave people - an LPG cylinder and a wok full of boiling oil on a rocking boat is not my idea of safe practices
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Chinese lanterns for sale
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Last edited by SS-Traveller : 26th November 2012 at 17:53.
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Old 26th November 2012, 22:45   #109
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Default Re: Thailand | Third Time

An interesting query I received via PM, so I suppose the BHPian doesn't want to reveal himself in the open forum. But here's the query:
Quote:
Three of us (college friends,all guys, 23 year olds) are going to Thailand from 21st Dec to 27th Dec. We have a lot of time, but are planning to be on a shoe string budget. The plan is to reach BKK airport at 00:05 on the 21st and then take a bus to Pattaya. And stay there for 3 nights and come to BKK and stay there for the other 3. We booked our tickets yesterday just out of no where, so now I need to figure out the finer details. I wanted to do Krabi, Chang Mai or Phuket but I dont think we can accomodate another air ticket in our tiny budget. We have no bookings so far except the Indigo tickets. We have no agenda, and i will appreciate any advice you give us. Hotels, to do, not to go, food, tourist attractions, places in the 200-250 km radius which are worth a bus ride, etc.
My response:
End-December every year, almost every form of transport & accommodation becomes more expensive in Thailand, and shoe-string budgets can inflate to tow-rope sizes at times. However, there are a lot of off-beat non-touristy places one can head to, like Hua Hin, Phang Nga, Chiang Rai or Ayutthaya, which are less likely to burn a hole in the budget-conscious traveller's pocket.

Buses and trains are of course the best bet in terms of low cost travel, but time taken is longer. Car rental agencies are usually wary of 23-year-old folks wanting to rent cars, and tend to either offer higher rates or refuse outright. During the period in question, even the online discounts are not available, and rack rates are offered.

Priorities for a 23-year-old group of college friends travelling in Thailand would be different compared to older people travelling with family, so it might be a good idea for similarly-aged members to define what they might consider to be important, before some idea can be put forward. As for me, being able to sit in a shack on an empty beach and staring out to sea for a whole afternoon is a priority - which might cause a 23-y-o to go . So let's hear about what the younger generation really wants to do in Thailand.
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Old 29th November 2012, 10:26   #110
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Default Re: Thailand | Third Time

Quote:
Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
An interesting query I received via PM, so I suppose the BHPian doesn't want to reveal himself in the open forum. But here's the query:
.
I can give some advice to you folks:

Since, you are planning to stay for 7 days, you should cut short your trip to Pattaya, and stay there for 1 night (which is enough to explore every corner of the city).

If you are looking at some good party time - you must check out the Full-Moon party at Koh-Phangan. To get to the island of koh Phangan you can book bus+boat tickets from Bangkok. Check out the website www.lomprayah.com , they provide the end to end service upto Koh Phangan. The dates of the party can be found at http://www.fullmoonpartykohphangan.com/schedule_dates/. Look for accomodation on the Ban-Tai beach (it is about 3-4 kms from the main party beach). Recommended place to stay - Liberty bungalow (easy on the pocket, and right on the beach)

If you want to visit Phuket or Chiangmai. You can get a bus from 2 terminals in Bangkok. (Mo-Chit for Chiangmai) (Sai Tai Mai for Phuket). The buses are very comfortable. Tickets cost between THB 400.00 - 800.00 . Try to catch the night bus, so that you can reach your destination early in the morning. (Phuket and Chiangmai are approx. 12 hours away by bus from Bangkok). Plenty of accomodations available at both places. walk into smaller hotels/guest houses for cheaper rate.

For travelling locally at any of the destinations, just hire a motorbike/moped.

Besides, during this time of the year, Pattaya/Phuket/Chiangmai tend to get very crowded and expensive. The rates of hotels, transport, etc. shoots up like crazy. It's become a more commercial tourist place, rather than a vacation spot.

(just my advice. the final plan will depend on your preferences).. have a great trip..Cheers!
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Old 29th November 2012, 20:45   #111
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Default Re: Thailand | Third Time

@SS,
Thailand in general is much cleaner than India. But how environmentally aware are they? In your pictures I see plastic carrybags all over the place. But the river surface seems free of these.

Regards
Sutripta
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Old 2nd December 2012, 09:58   #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutripta View Post
Thailand in general is much cleaner than India. But how environmentally aware are they? In your pictures I see plastic carrybags all over the place. But the river surface seems free of these.
Now this is an interesting question you have raised. My observations:
  • Anything and everything in Thailand is sold accompanied by a polybag. Fruits, groceries, food from the roadside stalls, even juices.
  • Yet, the citizens' consciousness (and conscience) about waste disposal in proper places is exemplary.
  • There are absolutely NO polybags swirling around on the roads, either in the cities or on highways, draped across bushes or floating in the drains, rivers and canals. In fact, there was no garbage dumped unceremoniously at any corner, wherever we've travelled.
  • Trash bins are located strategically all over the footpaths, and are cleaned every day! Sanitation workers come in trucks - sparkling clean trucks and uniforms! - to remove the garbage late in the night.
  • I am not sure about the methods used for disposal/recycling of the plastics used and discarded, but one thing I am sure about is that they certainly use a lot more plastic/polybags in Bangkok than we use (or used to use before the ban came into place) in Delhi.
  • Thais are, IMO, one of the most fastidious people when it comes to cleanliness. Once their street markets (whether night market or otherwise) wind up, they clean the street where they had set up stalls, with water, broom and soap!
I am sure there are big lessons to be learnt for non-Thai people. Europe/US banned plastics, India is trying hard to, but Thailand uses plastics like there's no tomorrow - but are yet to show the negative effects of it. I wonder how they manage it.

Edit: Sorry about the travelogue being held up. Will post up the rest in the next couple of days.

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Old 4th December 2012, 09:53   #113
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It's 27th October afternoon, and we are on are way to see the Grand Palace in the heart of Bangkok.

Quote:
Quote:
The Grand Palace (Phra Borom Maha Ratcha Wang) is a complex of buildings at the heart of Bangkok, Thailand. The palace has been the official residence of the Kings of Siam (and later Thailand) since 1782. The king, his court and his royal government were based on the grounds of the palace until 1925. The present monarch, King Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX), currently resides at Chitralada Palace, but the Grand Palace is still used for official events. Several royal ceremonies and state functions are held within the walls of the palace every year.

Construction of the palace began on 6 May 1782, at the order of King Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke (Rama I), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, when he moved the capital city from Thonburi to Bangkok. Throughout successive reigns, many new buildings and structures were added, especially during the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). By 1925 the king, the Royal Family and the government were no longer permanently settled at the palace, and had moved to other residences. After the abolition of absolute monarchy in 1932 all government agencies completely moved out of the palace.

In shape, the palace complex is roughly rectangular and has a combined area of 218,400 square metres (2,351,000 sq ft), surrounded by four walls. It is situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya River at the heart of the Rattanakosin Island, today in the Phra Nakhon District. The Grand Palace is bordered by Sanam Luang and Na Phra Lan Road to the north, Maharaj Road to the west, Sanamchai Road to the east and Thai Wang Road to the south.

Rather than being a single structure, the Grand Palace is made up of numerous buildings, halls, pavilions set around open lawns, gardens and courtyards. Its asymmetry and eclectic styles are due to its organic development, with additions and rebuilding being made by successive reigning kings over 200 years of history. It is divided into several quarters: the Temple of the Emerald Buddha; the Outer Court, with many public buildings; the Middle Court, including the Phra Maha Monthian Buildings, the Phra Maha Prasat Buildings and the Chakri Maha Prasat Buildings; the Inner Court and the Siwalai Gardens quarter. The Grand Palace is currently partially open to the public as a museum, however it remains a working palace as several royal offices are still situated inside. The palace is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand.
Source
Quote:
Wat Phra Kaew or the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (officially known as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram) is regarded as the most important Buddhist temple in Thailand. Located in the historic centre of Bangkok, within the grounds of the Grand Palace, it enshrines Phra Kaew Morakot (the Emerald Buddha), the highly revered Buddha image meticulously carved from a single block of jade.

The Emerald Buddha (Phra Putta Maha Mani Ratana Patimakorn) is a Buddha image in the meditating position in the style of the Lanna school of the north, dating from the 15th century AD.

Raised high on a series of platforms, no one is allowed near the Emerald Buddha except HM the King. A seasonal cloak, changed three times a year to correspond to the summer, winter, and rainy season covers the statue. A very important ritual, the changing of the robes is performed only by the King to bring good fortune to the country during each season. The temple of Emerald Buddha is beautifully decorated and has a great sense of peace about it.

A guide is on duty from 10:00 to 14:00 and Personal Audio Guide (PAG) is available in English, French, German, Japanese, Mandarin Russian, and Spanish. Remember that 'wats' (temples) are sacred places and you must dress appropriately. No shorts, slippers, sandals, or revealing tops, otherwise you simply won't be allowed in. There's also a facility that offers proper trouser wear rental should you need it. Remember the temple closes early (15:30) so don't arrive too late!

Source
Entrance fee is 600THB per head (Thais get in free), and one can rent the audio guide for another fee (IIRC 200THB) after depositing one's passport at the counter as security.

The first glimpse of the Grand Palace and the entrance

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Old 4th December 2012, 10:14   #114
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The buildings inside the palace are majestic. Some of them would not fit into a single frame, but my camera lets me shoot a panoramic view, stitching together multiple frames all by itself.

The only problem is when someone suddenly walks across the frame while I am taking the pic. We get a "sliced man" as a result!

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Old 4th December 2012, 10:29   #115
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The Grand Palace is certainly impressive in bright gold and red and blue, glittering in the afternoon sun.

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The Temple of the Emerald Buddha
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Old 4th December 2012, 13:46   #116
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The Grand Palace is of course a visual delight. One goes a little berserk with clicking and videographing everything in sight.

Here's more from the Grand Palace

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Not that anyone really steals shoes here as frequently as they do in the temples of India...
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Offerings of food and incense to the Lord Buddha
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The King's actual residence. No entry allowed to tourists here.
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Palace guards marching past
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Interesting shape that the trees are pruned into
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The next best thing to do if you haven't met the Buckingham Palace Guards - or even if you have!
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Heck, we even thought this was one more architecturally interesting building worth visiting, until we noticed the little white board with blue lettering! Well, truth be told, some of us made a need-based visit only.
Thailand | Third Time-palace-20.jpg
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Old 5th December 2012, 10:02   #117
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Palace visit completed, we run out of time. And the kids are hungry. But the driver still wants us to visit one more place.

The series of government buildings in Bangkok are all well-maintained, and we enjoy the drive through comparatively traffic-free areas. But where are we going?
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The Viman Mek Mansion
Quote:
The Vimanmek Mansion is a former royal palace in Bangkok, Thailand. It is also known as Vimanmek Palace. It is located in the Dusit Palace complex, nearby Dusit Zoo in Dusit district.

In 1897 King Rama V paid a royal visit to Europe visiting many of the Royal Palaces. Upon his return he purchased orchards and paddy fields between Padung Krungkasem Canal and Samsen Canal for the construction of a royal garden which he named ďthe Dusit GardenĒ - see Dusit Palace for more on the palace area.

Vimanmek Palace was constructed in 1900 by having the Munthatu Rattanaroj Residence in Chuthathuj Rachathan at Ko Sichang, Chonburi, dismantled and reassembled in Dusit Garden as the first permanent residence in the garden. Not a single nail was used during its construction. The interior decoration fuses Europeís neoclassical style with traditional Thai motifs and architecture, and early 20th Century modernization.

The celebration for the completion of the 72 room Vimanmek Palace was held on March 27, 1901. It was used as a royal palace by King Rama V for five years until the completion of Amphorn Satharn Villa in 1906. In 1932, Vimanmek Palace was used only as a storage place of the Bureau of the Royal Household.

In 1982 Queen Sirikit asked permission of King Rama IX to renovate Vimanmek Palace for use as a museum to commemorate King Rama V by displaying his photographs, personal art and handicrafts, and to serve as a showcase of the Thai national heritage. The palace is now a major tourist attraction and is the world's largest golden teakwood mansion. Many of the gifts and treasures that King Chulalongkorn collected on his European trip are now displayed in the museum.

Visitors to the palace should be aware that "appropriate address" is required for entry. This means a collared shirt (short-sleeves are OK) and trousers - no shorts, ripped jeans or T-shirts. Appropriate attire (a sarong basically) can be purchased if need be when you get there. All cameras and phones must be left in lockers (you will pass through a scanner on the way in) and shoes must be removed also. There is a fee for the lockers. Admittance is by guided tour which are in Thai or English.

From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vimanmek_Mansion
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Our driver, however, is desperate to pick up his coupon for 5 litres of fuel, and we end up travelling half-way across town to visit this place...
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All taxis end a tour by bringing tour groups to Gems Gallery for the sake of collecting the coupons. To prevent taxi-drivers from collecting coupons by bringing fake visitors and making repeated visits with the same tour group, the people at GG have now got wiser, and ask where we are from, and whether this is our first time at GG. Photography inside is strictly prohibited, but the huge showroom with its sparkling display is very eye-catching, especially for the ladies! There's also a workshop which visitors are made to walk through, with artisans in the process of manufacturing jewellery at various stages.

Prices are high, and you can bargain as you please - for base metal jewellery and semi-precious stones, one can beat prices down to less than half (obviously that is not the case for gold or silver).
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Old 5th December 2012, 10:44   #118
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The last evening of our trip is already here. It's been a few days spent with the family, accompanied by great fun, food and friends. Not to mention the seafood. But then we discovered this fantastic little restaurant which serves up excellent steaks at reasonable prices.

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Never mind that they failed their English spelling test
, but still...
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...there's pork steak for 79THB...

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...with iced tea that's the best I've ever had.

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This is where you'll find the restaurant: http://www.mbk-center.co.th/en/cms/detail.php?id=364 , http://www.farangfriendly.com/bangko...eak-mbk-center


And late in the evening, on the way back to the hotel, we discover this shop on the verge of downing his shutters.
Thailand | Third Time-27evening-6.jpg

The fluently-Thai-speaking Sardarji owner has lived in Bangkok for over 20 years, and somehow took a great liking to us. In the end we bought a load of T-shirts, and silk dresses for the ladies, at prices which were highly discounted.
Thailand | Third Time-27evening-5.jpg

You'll find this shop at the corner of Soi 13 Petchaburi, on the main road in Pratunam, at the end of which is located the Best Western Mayfair Hotel.
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Old 5th December 2012, 13:02   #119
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Originally Posted by SS-Traveller View Post
The fluently-Thai-speaking Sardarji owner has lived in Bangkok for over 20 years, and somehow took a great liking to us. In the end we bought a load of T-shirts, and silk dresses for the ladies, at prices which were highly discounted.
You'll find this shop at the corner of Soi 13 Petchaburi, on the main road in Pratunam, at the end of which is located the Best Western Mayfair Hotel.
When I used to live there, I was amazed by their presence in the textile / tailoring business. There are a lot of these establishments throughout Sukumvit road, especially around Soi Nana area
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Old 5th December 2012, 13:14   #120
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Originally Posted by vb-san View Post
When I used to live there, I was amazed by their presence in the textile / tailoring business. There are a lot of these establishments throughout Sukumvit road, especially around Soi Nana area
+1

And to add they are extremely fluent in the local language, atleast the few I met were quite!
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