2551-04-16

"Water Festival" Songkran Festival 2008


Songkran is a Thai traditional New Year which starts on April 13 every year and lasts for 3 days. Songkran festival on April 13 is Maha Songkran Day or the day to mark the end of the old year, April 14 is Wan Nao which is the day after and April 15 is Wan Thaloeng Sok which the New Year begins. At this time, people from the rural areas who are working in the city usually return home to celebrate the festival. Thus, when the time come, Bangkok temporarily turns into a deserted city.

Songkran is a Thai word which means "move" or "change place" as it is the day when the sun changes its position in the zodiac. It is also known as the "Water Festival" as people believe that water will wash away bad luck.
The Songkran tradition is recognized as a valuable custom for the Thai community, society and religions. The value for family is to provide the opportunity for family members to gather in order to express their respects to the elders by pouring scented water onto the hands of their parents and grandparents and to present them gifts including making merits to dedicate the result to their ancestors. The elders in return wish the youngsters good luck and prosperity.
The values for community is to provide the opportunity to create unity in the community such as to jointly acquire merits, to meet each other and to enjoy the entertaining events. And for the society value is to create concern upon environment with cooperation such as to clean houses, temples, public places and official buildings. Thais value the religion bye means of merits acquisition, offerings alms to monks, Dhamma Practice, listening to sermon and monks-bathing.

In the afternoon, after performing a bathing rite for Buddha images and the monks, the celebrants both young and old, joyfully splash water oon each other. The most-talked about celebration takes place in the northern province of Chiang Mai where Songkran is celebrated from April 13 to 15. During this period, people from all parts of the country flock there to enjoy the water festival, to watch the Miss Songkran Contest and the beautiful parades.

Thailand's most celebrated festival is the Songkran Festival. It starts April 13 and lasts between 3 and 10 days, depending on where you are in Thailand. The word Songkran is from the Sanskrit meaning the beginning of a new Solar Year, but nowadays Thailand celebrates the New Year on 31 December.

The Thai people celebrate this festival with water. Everyone gets soaking wet and since it is the hottest season of the year, the custom is quite refreshing. Songkran is a Public Spring Cleaning Day, supported by the religious belief that anything old and useless must be thrown away or it will bring bad luck to the owner.

During the afternoon of the 13th, Buddha images are bathed as part of the ceremony. Young people pour scented water into the hands of elders and parents as a mark of respect while seeking the blessing of the older people. In ancient days, old people were actually given a bath and clothed in new apparel presented by the young folks as a token of respect for the New Year.

Until recently Thailand was almost entirely an agricultural society and this has been a perfect time to take break from the business of earning a living. The rice harvest is in, and replanting has to await the coming of the rains.

It is an old belief that the Nagas or mythical serpents brought on rain by spouting water from the seas. The more they spouted, the more rain there would be. So, one might believe that the Songkran customs of throwing water is actually a rain-making idea, but it seems that the Thais don't really bother about way they celebrate Songkran - they just do it for having a great time!

We hope you enjoy the pictures we have taken.

JOIN IN THE FUN AND BE PREPARED TO GET WET? VERY WET WET! chok dee pii mai!
(Thai for Happy New Year).














2551-04-12

Tips For Travelling In Bangkok

The King, the Queen and the Royal family are highly respected by Thai people. Visitors should show respect to them. For example By, stand still when national anthem is played . Or not criticizing members of the royal family

Buddhism

- Buddhist monks are forbidden to touch or be touched by a woman, or to accept anything from the hand of one. If a woman has to give anything to a monk, she first hands it to a man, or put it on a plate provided. - Wats or temples are open to all visitors. Only the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Pho, Wat Benchama Bophit, and Wat Arun charge admission fees (to cover restoration costs).

- Each Buddha image, regardless of its size or condition represents the Buddha. Thus, visitors should never climb onto one to take a photograph or do anything, which might indicate a lack of respect.
- Visitors should dress neatly in all religious shrines. They should never go topless, or in shorts, hot pants or other unsuitable attire. In the Temple of the Emerald Buddha women are also forbidden to wear sleeveless shirt.

- It is acceptable to wear shoes when walking around the compound of a Buddhist temple, but not inside the chapel where the principal Buddha image is kept.

- Visitors to a Thai wat (temple) do not step on the doorsill, as tradition holds that a soul resides there.

- Visitors may photograph monks, wats, images, and Buddhist ceremonies, unless it is noted.

Thai tradition

- "Wai" is a prayer-like gesture with palms pressed together and it is how Thai people greet. Generally a younger person wais an elder, who returns it.- Thais regard the head as the highest part of the body, literally and figuratively. Therefore, touching people on their head is considered rude. In contrast, feet are considered the most degraded part of the body. Thus, using feet to point something to someone is regarded very rude for Thai people. - Thai people do not display affection between men and women in public. It is accepted in Bangkok where most people are westernized. But in rural area where traditional standards of social behavior are still strictly upheld, it is unsuitable to openly express the affection.
Traveling in Bangkok

- Visitors are advised to use the hotel taxi service at their hotel if they do not know their way around or cannot speak the local language.

- Only use registered travel agents service. - Going to Floating market should be done early in the morning, for example, Talingchan Floating Market opens from 7 o'clock in the morning (on Saturdays and Sundays).

- Check for open and closing time of your destination before you go. Some place close early, some place are closed in a particuly day.- Do not litter. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration is now strictly enforcing the law in an effort to keep the city clean and healthy. The fine (maximum 2,000 baht) will be imposed on a person who spits, discards cigarette stubs, or drops rubbish in public areas.

- Take sun block and a hat or cap when walking in the sun in the afternoon.

Interesting Tips

- The Thai Baht (THB) is the standard unit of currency in Thailand (1Baht = 100 satangs). Banknotes are issued in denominations of 20, 50, 100, 500, and 1,000 Baht while coins of 25 and 50 satangs, 1, 5, and 10 Baht face value are circulation. Money exchange can be done at Bangkok International Airport and other ports of entry, some hotels, foreign exchange booths operated by Thai commercial banks in tourist areas, and main branches of Thai commercial banks.

- Visitors needing assistance relating to safety, unethical practices, or other matters, please call the Tourist Assistance Centre immediately (Tel: 281 -5051, 282-8129) or contact the Tourist Police (Tel: 678-6800- 9 or 1699).

- Beware of unauthorized people who offer their services as guides. Tourism information service centers are: The Bangkok Tourism Division on Phra Athit road under the PinKlao Bridge, Phone.0-2225-7612 , and there are information booths throughout Thailand. The Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s counters for all tourist information. The TAT's counters are located in the Arrival Hall of the Bangkok International Airport; at Terminal 1 Tel: 0-2523-8972-3, or at Terminal 2 Tel: 0-2535-2669 from 08.00 to 24.00 hrs; at the main office on Ratchadamnoen Nok Avenue Tel: 0-2281 -0422 during working hours of 08.30 to 16.30 hrs.

- Penalties for drug offences are very severe in Thailand; do not get yourself involved with drugs.

- Foreign nationals visiting Thailand must possess valid passports or accepted travel documents and appropriate visas before entering the country. Visitors from certain countries are permitted to stay up to 15 days without visas, provided they possess tickets confirming departure within 15 days, while visitors from several other countries are allowed to apply for tourists visas at all ports of entry. Transit visas are granted for up to 30 days and tourist visas for up 60 days. Non-immigrant, diplomatic and official visas are valid for up to 90 days.

2551-04-08

THE STARTING POINT OF THAI DEMOCRACY

Venue: The People's Spike, Dusit District.
Located by Rama V’s royal statue in the Royal Plaza, the spike marks the point where the evolutionary group calling themselve “Khana Rat” (meaning “The People”) read their declaration to overturn absolute monarchy and began democracy in Thailand. The inscription on the spike reads “Hereby the People have originated the Constitution for the development of the country at dawn on June 24th.”
The People’ spike is a historical piece of evidence of Thailand political development since June 1932. The group led by Phraya Phahon Phonphayuhasena gather here with all light and heavy artillery before moving to take into their custody several dignitaries sush as the regent, some members of the royal family, and cabinet members. They took control of Bangkok and seized power from Rama VII, who was staying at Klai Kangwon Palace in Hua Hin at the time. They declared thr democratic ideals for the nation. However, it was actually decades later when the Thais fully appreciated the meaning of this word.
The People's Spike, Dusit District.
Address:
Ground at the side of the Statute of King Rama V Dusit Sub-District Dusit District Bangkok 10300 Bus: 70,72 Air-con Bus: 3 Opening Hours: Daily 24 hrs.
Admission Free: Free AdmissionParking:In front of Amphorn Garden
Nearby Attractions: Anantasamakom Throne Hall Dusit Zoo Parliament House Parus-sakkawan Palace Royal Thai Army Museum Royal Turf Club Statute of King Rama V Vimanmek Mansion Museum

The Sikh Temple admist Bangkok China Town

Venue: Guru Tawan, Phra Nakhon District
The grand building at the heart of Phahurat is the spiritual and religious center of the Sikh Thais. The word “Guru Tawan” means the way to ‘guru’ which signifies the ten founders of the Sikh religion including Guru-Khrunt Sahib, the Sikh scriptures.The six storied building is topped with a golden dome. The congregation hall for religious function is located on the 4th floor. The international school is on the 5th . The highest floor houses the scripture archives and reading hall.
A familiar sight at this sacred place is the congregation of the Sikh men with long beard in turbans, and the women in traditional Indian costume with had shawls, praying and listening to the teaching fromthe scriptures. For a non-Sikh,such a serene atmosphere seems surreal but impressive. Although the Guru Tawan is open to all. Visitors should conduct themselves in arespecful manner as appropriate to a religious place.

Touring Little India to Experience the Indian Ways In this narrow lane of 300 meters long by Chakaphet Rd. Next to The ATM Phahurat Store (under demolition after a fire) nestles the area known as Little India. The sense and the smell permeating from this side street foretells its existence. Passers-by also provide a good backdrop of the area. The atmosphere invokes curiosity. The merchandise on display along the lane is quite interesting. There are strange-looking desserts, snacks, instant noodles, sari materials, embroidered fabrics, wrist-rings encrusted with colr mirrors, Indian slippers, incense sticks, myrrh, and other dedication objects believed to appease god and goddesses. All are imported from India. A stop by this area will convince visitors thatit is actually as interesting as the nearby Chinatown

CHALERM KRUNG THEATRE
Address:
66 Charoenkrung Road Wang Burapa Phirom Sub-District Pra Nakhon districtBangkok 10200
Phone: (662)222-1854 222-0434 /225-8757 Fax: (662)221-2631
Bus: 1,3,8,10,25,42,43,48,53,73 Air-con Bus: 3,25,73,501,506,508,Mb.1
Opening Hours: Daily 10 am - 6 pm Admission: Free Admission
Parking: In the Temple compound
Nearby Attractions: Central Dept. Store,Merry King Dept.Store

2551-04-06

Getting around Bangkok

Bus
Public buses are plentiful and cheap, with a minimum fare of 6 baht to most destinations within metropolitan Bangkok. Air-conditioned buses have minimum and maximum fares of 10 and 22 baht, respectively. Air-conditioned micro-buses charge a flat fare of 25 baht all routes.

TAXI
Taxis cruising city streets are metred. They charge a minimum of 35 baht for the first 3 kilometres, and approximately 5 baht per kilometre thereafter. Make sure you have change, as taxi drivers often dont! Passengers must pay tolls in the case of using an expressway.

TUK-TUKS
These three-wheeled open-air motorised taxis are popular for short journeys. Fares must be bargained in advance. Minimum fares, for journeys of up to 3 kilometres, are approximately 30 baht.

BTS Sky Trains
BTS sky trains ply along Sukhumvit, Silom and Phahonyothin roads. The routes connect Bangkoks leading hotels and major shopping areas such as Siam Square, Silom, Ratchaprasong and Chatuchak Weekend Market. The fare ranges from 10-40 baht according to the distance.

Subway (Metro)
The city's subway system, or MRT, connects many of the top tourist attractions with the accommodation areas, markets, and the business district. Fares range from 14 to 36 baht. The trains run from 6 a.m. to midnight, daily.

BoatTaxis
that are even more unusual, though equally convenient, are the river taxis that ply the Chao Phraya River. Some are just cross river ferries, but others serve the many landing stages on both banks and cover a route that goes up as far as the northern suburb of Nonthaburi.

How to get there

Suvarnabhumi Airport is accessible by 5 routes.
> from the north via the new Bangkok-Chon Buri Highway, an 8-lane elevated highway
> from the northwest via a 6-lane road links to the Rom Klao elevated highway and King Kaew Flyover
> from the South via a 4-lane road links the airport to Bang Na-Trat highway
> from the northeast via a 4-lane road connecting to Onnuj Road Road
> from the west via a 4-lane road linking King Kaew Road

PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION SERVICES
Airport Shuttle Buses – Free of Charge Airport Shuttle Buses operate between the Passenger Terminal Complex and the Public Transportation Centre, where limousines and public buses are parked.The Airport Shuttle Bus service serves points of interest in Suvarnabhumi Airportby 2 routes (Ordinary and Express), providing Free of Charge services for passengers and staff on duty at the airport. The routes are serviced by low-floor typed Bus powered by NGV (natural gas).PARKING Private cars can be parked at the parking building after dropping off passengers at the 4th floor of the terminal complex. Pick-up points are on the 2nd floor. Parking garages are fully automated.

TAXIS
Taxis drop off passengers at the 4th floor of the terminal complex and leave the area immediately.
For arriving passengers, there is a Taxi Stand on Level 1 of the Passenger Terminal Complex. To maintain between 20 to 25 taxis at all times, supervisors will radio for taxis.

Public taxis will charge a 50 baht service fee on top of the metre charge for the transfer from either the passenger terminal or remote taxi ranks.

ASIA TRAVEL'S PRIVATE AIRPORT TRANSFER SERVICE

CAR RENTAL SERVICE
Two categories of car rental services providers operate at Suvarnabhumi Airport — well-known international brands and a local operator

The Car Rental Centre is located at the Public Transportation Centre. To rent a car, contact the car rental service counter at the arrival hall and take the Airport Shuttle Bus (express route) from the MTB to pick up the car at Car Rental Centre. After use, the car is dropped off at the Car Rental Centre.

AIRPORT EXPRESS SERVICE
Airport express service will be operating between the airport, hotels and various important places in Bangkok and the suburbs.

Pick up area: at the arrival (level 2) outer curb Drop off area: at the departure (Level 4) outer curb

Public air-conditioned bus services are available on six routes.

Group 1
Bangkok and Neighbouring area to Suvarnabhumi AirportDeparture from the Bus Terminal at the public transportation centreThere are 6 routes.
1. Number 549 SA. – Minburi

2. Number 550 SA. – Happy Land
3. Number 551 SA.– Victory Monument (Express Way)
4. Number 552 SA.– On Nuch BTS station
5. Number 553 SA. – Samut Prakan
6. Number 554 SA. – Bangkok International Airport(Express Way )

Group 2
Public bus services between Bangkok and tourist destination spots

All bus services operating along these routes will drop off airport passengers at the Public Transportation Centre.

Trains by the State Railway of Thailand will be in service between Suvarnabhumi Airport and major places in Bangkok and the suburbs.

Suvarnabhumi Airport City Rail Link
Construction of a 28-km overhead city rail link between downtown Bangkok and the airport is underway. Travelling time between the airport and the city centre will take only 15 minutes. Scheduled to be completed in December 2007, the electric train service will connect Suvarnabhumi Airport with city air terminals along the East rail track serving eight city air terminals: Phayathai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan/Asoke, Ramkamhaeng, Huamak, Bantubchang, Ladkrabung and Suvarnabhumi.

PRIVATE BUSES
Private Buses are required to stand by at the bus parking lots at the Public Transportation Centre. Pick up area: at the Arrival (level 1) inner curb Park condition: only if passengers are waiting at the spot Drop off area: at the departure (Level 4) outer curb

Attractions and Places of Interest

With many interesting attractions and places of interest in and around Bangkok, visitors can have a variety of " do-it-yourself " day trips to keep your holidays fun-filled and enjoyable.

OLD TOWN - CHINATOWN
In the old Bangkok town are located the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, two universities and several ministries. It is from this side of the Chao Phraya River that one takes a boat to visit the Temple of Dawn and the floating market

Chinatown is situated to the southeast of the old town . The gold shop street and the Temple of the Gold Buddha are located here.

PINKLAO
A bridge was built across the Chao Phraya River near the Grand Palace in 1973. It was named Pin Klao in memory of the last but one deputy king, whose palace was nearby. Now the area on the western side of the river has become one of the most newly developed areas in Bangkok with several department stores, many restaurants and nightlife establishments.

RATCHADAPHISEK
Ratchadaphisek is the name of the new sections of the inner ring road of Bangkok but is usually used to refer to the short section between the Lat Phrao intersection and the Rama IX Road intersection. This section is being developed into a new commercial district containing several big department stores, office buildings, hotels and a large number of restaurants, A little way off the road is Thailand Cultural Centre, where shows and exhibitions are held from time to time.

RAMKHAMHAENG
When Ramkhamhaeng University was founded on Bangkok's eastern outskirts as Thailand's first open university in 1970, the area was rather remote and underdeveloped. However, as the university's yearly enrolments increased rapidly to 100,000, the area soon became a new satellite city of Bangkok with ever-increasing shop-houses, apartment buildings, restaurants, cinema houses, department stores, hotels and places of entertainment.

SIAM -RATCHADAMRI
This is one of the biggest and busiest shopping districts in Bangkok. A huge commercial complex, including a 62-storey World Trade Centre opposite Ratchadamri Arcade, is partly completed. Located in the area are several large department stores, shopping arcades, cinema theatres, and countless smaller shops. So you can satisfy all your needs if you stay in one of over a dozen first-class hotels in the area.
The Pratunam Market next to the Indra Arcade, is worth visiting if you want to broaden your field of vision. It is also the market of garments for export.

SUKHUMWIT-NEW PHETBURI
In the section from the Soi Nana crossroads to Soi Sukhumwit 21 (Asok Intersection), there are many shops catering to foreign tourists, where jewellery, leather goods, ready-made garments and souvenirs are sold and tailoring, car rent and other service are offered. Inside the lanes (soi) off the road, there are numerous fashionable residences, hotels, apartment houses, and some really good restaurants.

To the north of Sukhumwit Road is the extension of Phetburi Road which does not have many pedestrians in the daytime. After dark, however, the long street is brightened with colourful neon signs and enlivened by people going out to enjoy themselves in dozens of entertainment Places along the street.

SILOM-SURAWONG
This district has transformed in half a century from paddy fields into the most important business and financial centre of Bangkok . Today, from end to end, these two parallel streets are full of big blocks of multistory buildings, in which are banks, finance firms, insurance companies, export-import houses, hotels, airlines offices, restaurants, shopping arcades, department stores, and entertainment establishments.

A small area in this district known as Patpong, is famous for various kinds of entertainment--wine, beer, music, dancing, etc.

Bang Lamphu
A shopping area once frequented solely by local people has become a popular place for tourists. This area offers various inexpensive items, especially ready made clothes, handbags, men's and lady's shoes, cosmetics and curios. Bargaining is recommended.

Weekend Market at Chatuchak Park
This large open public ground covers approximately 35 acres opposite the Northern Bus Station on Phahonyothin Road. Known as Suan Chatuchak, it hosts the popular Weekend Market where people buy and sell a thousand local products. Items range from exotic fresh fruits, vegetables, handicrafts, dress materials, clothing shoes, toys, domestic utensils and pets. There is a particularly fine section for plants.

Weekend Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7.00 a.m. - p.m. 6.00