Sunday, August 23, 2009

Morakot cave, Trang

One of the most impressive trips to Thailand was my second time there back in 2001, which was the first time in Southern Thailand. We went by train from Bangkok till Trang, and the only thing which really impressed me about this provincial town at that time was the delicious cake, a special kind of local soft biscuit. While that cake is still a "must" every time I come to the south, even more impressive was the coast of Trang province.

We did a day trip from the town Trang to the coast, and there entered a small boat for a snorkeling tour. Maybe as it fitting with the tides, the first stop was at Ko Muk (เกาะมุก), where we swam into a cave hardly visible from the outside. The cave, named Morakot cave (ถ้ำมรกต), is partially so narrow we nearly had to dive to avoid hitting our heads on the stone. Clearly nothing for someone scared in dark narrow places. When the cave opens again, one is at a lagoon inside the island surrounded by high cliffs, with a nice sandy beach.Too bad that cheap underwater camera we bought made only very low-quality photos, so all I can show here are the views from the boat.

After that cave the tour continued to two other places which had some nice corals and fish, it had a simple lunch on boat, and I was kind of an attraction since I was the only foreigner among the maybe 20 Thai taking the tour with us. Thus after returning in evening I had to pose with a large Thai family in front of the boat, and I never knew why they needed me on their memory photo. Anyway, the underwater sights together with the impressive steep karst islands made it quite a memorable trip, even though the underwater sight were soon thereafter outshined by those around Ko Tarutao. But that will be another posting.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Surat Thani night market

When I checked through my photos from last year I noticed the one to he right as a quite good one I simply needed to share. It shows the temple Wat Sai (วัดไทร) located in the center of the town Surat Thani. But - actually apart from this view the temple isn't anything special, the large open place is often used as a parking lot, and I haven't been able to check the inside of the bot if it has any special murals or Buddha statues.

So in order to be able to show this photo, I instead write on the night market of Surat Thani, which is held every evening in the small side street in front of the temple. Like all markets it is always busy, and since it has predominately food stalls offering meals as well as diverse snacks every time I am in the town we go there at least once, usually having Pad Thai at the corner to Na Mueang road. Also the book store from where I shot the night view belongs to a distant relative, so we always have to pass there as well to say hello.

It is of course only a small night market, just 200 meter long, nothing compared with the huge one in Chiang Mai, but on the other hand it is much more authentic as there are hardly any foreigners to be seen there.

For some additional photos, take a look at Camille's review of this market on his Samui info and weather blog.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wat Boromratcha Kanchanaphisek

StairwayWat Boromratcha Kanchanaphik (วัดบรมราชากาญจนาภิเษกอนุสรณ์) is a newly built Chinese temple in Bang Bua Thong district, Nonthaburi, northwest of Bangkok. It is also commonly named Wat Mangkhon 2 (วัดมังกร 2), as it is related to the Wat Mangkhon (Dragon temple) in Chinatown.

It is a huge temple complex, which merges together elements from Chinese, Buddhist and also Hindu temples. It is the most lavishly decorated temple I've visited in Thailand. When entering the temple, one first sees the Chinese parts - lions next to the stairway, several statues which look like monks but unlike the normal ones seen in Buddhist temples. Next come the pavilions with several statues of Chinese gods, and all the wall and even the roof painted with many religious symbols.

Buddhas and MonksThe next building is the main hall, in which it has the three Buddha statues, and when we went there also had monks chanting their sermons.And of course all the things it has in every other Buddhist temple, people lighting incense stick or donating flowers, rubbing gold leaves and placing coins on stone balls spread around this main hall.

In the behind it has a two-stored building, with a small part of it closed since it is used by the monks themselves, probably as their living quarters. But the two main rooms offer even more interesting views. On the ground floor it has some small Buddha statues in middle, but the real attraction is the wall, which is completely covered with thousands of small Buddha statues. In the second floor it has the already mentioned Hindu parts, a multi-handed statue - but I don't know which of the many Hindu gods it shows.

Buddha wallAltogether I strolled around there for one hour, and took lots of photos of the many details within the temple - even simple things like the balconies of the walkways have ornaments, and without repeating each is different from the next. Or small figures on the roofs, simply heaven for a photographer, only sometimes needed more zoom to catch the best views. I have uploaded an album of my photos to flickr because there are simply too many to show them all in this posting.