Thailand

Here are all the posts for Thailand. I visited Thailand as part of my southeast Asia trip. Other countries include: Singapore and Malaysia. I flew from Singapore to Thailand and then traveled overland through Malaysia back to Singapore.

Thailand Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from my trip to Thailand. Click any photo to see slideshow.

Thailand history

A unified Thai kingdom was established in the mid-14th century. Known as Siam until 1939, Thailand is the only Southeast Asian country never to have been taken over by a European power. A bloodless revolution in 1932 led to a constitutional monarchy. In alliance with Japan during World War II, Thailand became a US ally following the conflict.

Chao Phraya River in Bangkok

Chao Phraya RiverChao Phraya River in Bangkok. Take boats everywhere.

Bangkok Photos

Here are some of my favorite photos from Bangkok.

Watching Obama on Thai TV at midnight in

Watching ObamaWatching Obama on Thai TV at midnight in Nong Pru with Columbia classmate, Brian.

Bangkok, water

river ferry passengersBangkok is actually built upon a marsh. Klongs or canals define reclaimed land. I took a water taxi through some neighborhoods. Everyone lives on the water. The Chao Phraya provides transportation. In addition to normal water taxis, an organized ferry system acts much like a subway with scheduled stops and even express boats. Boats run both upstream/downstream and across river.

a Bangkok canal or klongLodging–P&R Residence Hotel provides friendly, clean and secure lodging near the Sheraton and Chao Phraya River.

Thailand travel

visiting friendsI hooked up with my friend and college classmate, Brian. We visited sites in Bangkok. He has a car and graciously took us on a tour west of Bangkok to Kanchanaburi Province. His sweetheart, Siripan is from Nong Pru. We stopped to visit Siripan’s friends who operate a fish farm. Then we visited her mother and brother who live on a farm. Nong Pruis a small town with one hotel.venerable ancestor As a day trip, we visited Tham Than Lot (Chaloem Rattanakosin) National Park and a wat at the top of the mountain. An unusual limestone bridge with several large holes in it is the highlight. There are also caves and waterfalls.

From Nom Pleu, we drove to Thong Pha Phum where we rented bungalows on the shore of Khao Laem Reservoir. It is quiet with lots of kingfishers and other birds. At dusk, fishermen make their way to fishing (more…)

Kanchanaburi

Wat Tham SuaDrove from Thong Pha Phum to Kanchanaburi. Visited Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. The museum and walk commemorate the deaths and suffering of Allied prisoners of war while building the Siam-Burma Railway (aka Death Railway) for the Japanese military.a room on the river

Also visited Muang Sing Historical Park, home to Khmer ruins from the 13th and 14th centuries. An earlier burial site is from the Bronze Age.

(more…)

ferry to Ko Samui

erry to Koh SamuiTaking ferry to Koh Samui for some beach time.

Bangkok to Ko Samui

ChinatownVisited the Grand Palace built in 1782. The Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha is very impressive in its architecture, craftsmanship and artistry. The golden chedi is also remarkable. Ate dinner in Chinatown for Chinese New Year. Had a good-bye seafood dinner beside the Chao Phraya River. It was sad to be leaving Brian and Siripan after spending so many fun days traveling together.

We took the Thai Railway Southern Line to Surat Thani. It took eight hours, (more…)

video update

Here’s my video update after three weeks of travel. I hope your bandwidth is better than mine at the Bunpa Internet Cafe.

Resting after kayak, snorkel, sun

relaxBeachResting after kayak, snorkel, sun. No Internet access here on Ko Tarutao.

to Ko Tarutao

speed boatGetting there. Left Ko Samui using the tourist highway, which is well-organized and convenient in Thailand. Destination: Tarutao National Park on the Andaman Sea, southwest Thailand. We bought tickets to Trang and assumed we could get from there to Pak Bara Pier where we could catch a ferry to the park.five hondas

A mini-van picked us up at out hotel at 6 a.m. and drove us to the other side of Ko Samui where we transferred to a large bus. The bus drove to the ferry pier and into the ferry. We disembarked at Don Sak, took the same bus to Surat Thani, took a tuk-tuk to the bus station and traveled by air-conditioned mini-van, arriving at Trang at 2:30 p.m., right on time. (more…)

Tarutao National Park

coralA marine park with multiple islands, the largest being Ko Tarutao, this is a great place to relax and kick back. We first stayed at Au Phante Malaca, where the ferry stops at the pier. Then we moved four kilometers to Ao Moelae. Both bungalows were spacious and comfortable. The one at Moelae was right on the beach. One day longtail boatswe took a longtail taxi boat to a coral site on the northestern side of the island; it was top-notch. Another day, we took kayaks along the sea cliffs and snorkeled among the rocks. Another day we hiked through the jungle to a beach and snorkeled there. The food isn’t fancy, but the overall experience is wonderful. A tropical paradise with few people and lots of fish, crabs, monkeys, birds and a few wild pigs.

on leaving Tarutao National Park

nature's designOn the way to Ko Tarutao National Park, I met a German who said he went to Ko Lipe, one of the islands, five years ago. He planned to stay five days, but stayed five weeks. He has visited every year since, but now stays two months. We stayed in a duplex bungalow on Ko Tarutao and met a young Swedish woman. Ao SunoShe said she had been “here” for five weeks. I asked if she meant in Thailand; she responded “here” as in that bungalow. It was her second year spending five weeks. I met a senior Belgian man with an inflatable kayak; he said he has been visiting these islands for twenty years.

By the end of six nights, I understood (more…)

Ko Lipe

Spent an afternoon at Ko Lipe. It is more laid-back and hip than Ko Samui–no tailors asking if you want a new suit (the kind with a tie and shirt, not a bathing suit). If you like the scene, there are plenty of restaurants, bars, dive shops and cute places to stay and hang out. Me, I really liked Ko Tarutao.

Island Hopping

Took a speedboat with five big Honda 225 outboards to Ko Lipe. Took a longtail to get on the island. Then took a long tail to get off the island to another speedboat to Pulau Langkawi where I went through immigration into Malaysia. The following day, I took a “Super Fast” Ferry to Georgetown, Pulau Penang

Women sweep

Women sweep
   leaves from road
White sun rises
Misty hills
Pink lanterns
   red and blue.

Thailand summary

For me, a highlight of my visit was seeing a friend from college days. As a bonus, I traveled with him in his car throughout western Thailand and visited his wife’s family. I visited temples and monasteries, mountain vistas, rivers, reservoirs and many popular tourist sites. The hustle, bustle and congestion of Bangkok and its river life were interesting.

Some observations:

Photographs of the king are everywhere. The king is now (more…)

Hellfire, photo

HellfireA Buddhist monk walks through Hellfire Pass. I visited Hellfire Pass Memorial Museum. The museum and this walk commemorate the deaths and suffering of Allied prisoners of war while building the Siam-Burma Railway (aka Death Railway) for the Japanese military. The name Hellfire comes from the glow of lanterns at night.Hellfire lamp

Bang Rajan, movie

Siamese fightersWatched the movie, Bang Rajan, subtitled The Legend of the Village Warriors. The movie, in Thai with English subtitles, tells the story of rural resistance to Burmese forces in 1765. Two separate armies of 100,000 each were dispatched to attack then Siamese capital, Ayutthaya. In American English, we would say it was a “B movie.” The historical context was interesting.

The Beach, a novel

train from BangkokI read a novel, The Beach by Alex Garland. I had previously seen the movie with Leonardo DiCaprio. It is an easy, fun read, good for a long airplane ride. What struck me is that I followed the same route from Bangkok to the islands. Train, pickup, ferry. The characterizations of the travelers were all too familiar.

Grand Palace, Bangkok, photo

photo opp

Grand Palace
fountain with lily