日本での一年間

August 30, 2011

Bangkok – Wat Arun

Filed under: abroad, Thailand, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 7:04 am

Just across the river from the Grand Palace and Wat Pho, is Wat Arun. (You can easily use a ferry to cross the river.) The Wat Arun temple is especially beautiful at sunset.

Wat Arun rises out of the river bank and turns a dazzling golden hue as the sun goes down.

Temple guards

Looking across the river towards the Temple of the Emerald Buddha from Wat Arun

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August 29, 2011

Bangkok Find: Reacting Trash Can

Inside the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, my friend and I found a a trash can with a video screen on it. And whenever you throw something into the bin, you can see your trash on the video screen. Kind of.

Inside the art and culture centre.

The trash can.

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August 28, 2011

Getting around Bangkok: River Ferries

Take the BTS skytrain to Saphan Taksin station and you can walk to the pier to hop on the Chao Phraya Express Boat. From there, several boats go up the river. Every 30 minutes, a tourist boat runs. It costs a little bit more, but it has announcements in English telling you where to get off to get to certain places.

Living on the river

Prow of the Chao Phraya Express Boat.

The pier. Tires prevent the boat and pier from colliding.

Another river boat

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August 27, 2011

Jim Thompson House, Bangkok

Filed under: abroad, Thailand, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 6:27 am

Jim Thompson was an American army officer who came to Thailand in 1945. He soon left the army and started a business selling Thai silks. His company’s silks were featured in the Rodgers and Hammerstein movie The King and I, making his company well-known and allowing business to prosper. Jim Thompson enjoyed antiques and collected many pieces to display in the house that he had built along the canal in Bangkok. Many of the antiques he collected were broken or incomplete. He believed in saving the treasured artifacts, but Thai people believed that such buying such broken objects was bad luck. And perhaps they were right because in 1967, while traveling in Maylasia, Jim Thompson disappeared and he was never to be found. His house on the canal is now a museum. You aren’t allowed to take pictures of much of the inside, so here are some pictures of the grounds.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson company store on the house grounds. The silk is not cheap, but it is quite lovely.

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August 26, 2011

Getting Around Bangkok: BTS

Filed under: abroad, Thailand, Trips — Tags: , , , , , , , , , , — myyearinjapan @ 2:02 am

Bangkok is famous for having terrible traffic. But the city is trying to do all it can to ease the lengendary traffic jams and make it easier to get around in Bangkok. The BTS Skytrain is a relatively new train system in Bangkok. There are currently only 2 lines, but with a connection to the airport rail ink, it’s a good way  for most tourists to get into the city. The BTS has a section on their website devoted to  tourist attractions that can be reached via the skytrain.

But my favorite thing about the skytrain was the following sign:

Please offer this seat to monks.

turnstile

Train arriving at the station

on the train

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August 25, 2011

Condoms at 7-eleven in Thailand

Thailand is pretty famous for having one of the most successful government-sponsored  STD prevention program is the world. And sure enough, when I walked into any 7-eleven convenience store, there were some condoms on display right at the front, available to purchase 24/7.

A Bangkok 7-eleven.

Condoms on display

August 24, 2011

Thai Food

I didn’t need to got o Thailand to find out that I like Thai food. And the food in Thailand did not disappoint. Here are some examples of food that I saw and food that I ate.

Of course, Pad Thai. My first meal in Thailand.

All the necessary condiments to adjust the flavor of your food. (clockwise from top left) Chili pepper flakes to add spicy kick, chili peppers in rice vinegar, sugar for sweetness, and nampla fish sauce.

Thai iced tea. It was so hot the whole time I was in Thailand. I couldn't imagine having hot tea. While walking around, I kept popping into 7-elevens to get water. I tried the green tea and was amazed at how sweet it is! In Japan, putting sugar in green tea is a big no-no.

Foi Thong

Foi Thong was what I brought back as a souvenir for my co-workers. Foi Thong means “Golden Threads.” Foi Thong is based off  of a Portuguese dessert and there are several similar dishes to Foi Thong found in places like Japan and Brazil.  A woman of mixed Portuguese and Japanese ancestry who lived in Thailand in the 17th century is credited with introducing the dessert in Thailand.

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August 15, 2011

Bangkok – Wat Pho

Not too far from Wat Phra Kaew, the temple of the Emerald Buddha, is Wat Pho, where the reclining Buddha resides. Wat Pho is the oldest and largest temple in Bangkok. It is also home to the country’s first public education institution.

The reclining Buddha. It is huge!

Close up to Buddha's head.

Praying at Wat Pho

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August 14, 2011

Bangkok – Temple of the Emerald Buddha

My first stop in Bangkok was the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew. Wat Phra Kaew was the Grand Palace and it is impressively ostentatious. Or, as my Thai friend described it, “This is why Thai people visit the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto and say ‘Eh, it’ s ok’,” instead of lavishing praise on it like many other people do. Don’t get me wrong, the Golden Pavilion is impressive compared to other Japanese temples, but it pales in comparison to Wat Phra Kaew. Construction began on the palace in 1782 and Thai Kings lived there (on and off, some choosing to live elsewhere) until 1946. But the palace is still used for ceremonies and other occasions.

If you visit Wat Phra Kaew, don’t forget to cover up. Bangkok may be sweltering hot, but this is a strict dress code on the temple grounds. You need close toed shoes, long pants or skirts, and a shirt with sleeves. You can rent clothes to cover up with from the office by the gate, but it would be easier and cheaper to just dress a little more conservatively than you might be tempted to in the Bangkok heat.

Wat Phra Kaew

Approaching the entrance.

Yaksha Demon guarding the palace

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August 9, 2011

Welcome to Bangkok. You ride tuk tuk?

After leaving Hong Kong, I headed straight for Bangkok.

As you walk around Bangkok, especially if you look foreign, you will constantly be offered tuk tuk rides.  A tuk tuk is an auto rickshaw. It’s a three-wheeled vehicle that has a roof but no proper doors. It is basically used like a mini taxi. Unlike a taxi, there is no set fare, so you might get a cheaper ride on a tuk tuk, but you might not. Also, there is no air-conditioning on a tuk tuk, which wasn’t so great in the Bangkok heat. Still, it’s something that I would recommend trying once.

Traveling by tuk tuk.

A tuk tuk waiting for a fare.

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