Archive for Thailand

Trat / Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2014 by Thim Kwai

Trat is a province capital and province in the southeast of Thailand, some 70km from the Thai/Cambodian border and some 300km from Bangkok. There is practically little or no reason for a tourist to visit Trat, for it has nothing particular to see. Nevertheless it’s a stopover for some who want to go to the islands of Mu Ko Chang Marine National Park, who’s most famous tourist destination is Ko Chang.

Pay a visit to the whole article on ‘Trat‘…

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Interactive Map of Thailand

Posted in Countries, Latest of Asienreisender, Maps with tags , , , on July 15, 2014 by Thim Kwai

An interactive map of Thailand.

Pay here a visit to the map: ‘Interactive Map of Thailand‘…

Map of Thailand

Map of Thailand by Asienreisender

For an enlarged, interactive ‘Map of Thailand‘ click the link.

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Asienreisender is completely non-commercial. You’ll find no adds on the website and it’s not following any other purpose than reporting independently.

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This blog receives tons of spam for every article published. If you want to write a comment on the subject you are highly welcome. Mere commercial advertisement are however treated as spam and deleted. Don’t waste your and my time – it’s useless to try to get backlinks on this blog.

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Noise Pollution in Southeast Asia

Posted in Health/Diseases, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , on March 13, 2014 by Thim Kwai

Among all the pollutants we are exposed to, noise pollution is certainly the most nerve-wrecking. Here a party, there a marriage, a funeral, a disco, karaoke, temple festival, a mosque, private house music, a fair, a building site, dog’s barking and howling at night, traffic, TV, radio, a workshop, a lawnmower, a truck’s engine running while the driver is anywhere around… everyday over hours, day for day, week for week, month for month – it never stops here. And the people of Southeast Asia don’t know any limits when it comes to noise pollution.

There is no privacy for the people here, they are not individualized. All is a common matter, mostly family matter. On the other hand there is no respect for public space or public concern. As they use the sidewalks in front of their houses as whatever they want, an extension of their homes or as a metal workshop, so they make a hell of a noise, pesting squaremiles with it, just for – well, for what? Just so…

What makes these miserable people so relentlessly noisy? Well, primitive people are noisy. That’s an observation many Westerners documented already centuries ago. Friedrich Gerstaecker describes an evening in a Javanese village, when he couldn’t stand the partying in the place where he had an overnight, but had to pack his belongings and to escape to the village’s edge to find some rest there. Franz Wilhelm Junghuhn depicts a village in which he came after days of hiking through Java and where he actually planned to rest for a few days. He left it early instead, for the locals had a three-days festival and the party noise was not to stand (Licht- und Schattenbilder aus dem Innern Java’s).

What was a nuisance in the 19th century or former times generally, is a monstrous pest in our days. Nowadays everybody can produce a hell of a noise with just a flasdisk and an integrated loudspeaker. Hours over hours over hours until deep into the night all kind of crap is blasted out now. Sometimes it starts already early in the morning, when the muezzin cries out his message (not seldom also mp3 based), Buddhists produce radio music, advertisements and long-lasting announcements via loudspeakers or the national anthem is played, accompanied by radio broadcasting. Or a neighbour can’t sleep and starts playing his favourit techno music, high volume, basses turned on maximum.

A great deal of the population is dull and literally retarded. They suffer inner emptiness. They don’t find any meaning in their lifes. They have no sense for what is good in life, no taste, have no values nor virtues. They suffer a very low IQ and have no morals. They can not love anything and they are not lovable. They are irresponsible and give a damn for the sake of others. Nobody ever cared for them, why should they care? Most people never ever read a book in their live, not even the lousy newspapers they have here. They watch TV of the lowest kind, not interested in anything of substance. The highest imaginable art for them is business, or better fraud. Cheating ranks high. Cheating and taking advantage of each other is common in families and among acquaintances. Gambling for money is a main passion. They live miserable lifes without any perspective. Lack of reason is replaced by superstition.

Deprivation plays a central role in it’s explanation, but it’s not only the material poverty what explains the misery. When people grow wealthy, what not seldom happens in booming Southeast Asia, they still remain dull. Deprivation is not simply material. Generation long deprivation is conserved in their heads and outlives wealth. Once wealthy, they want ever more and more. The dullness, the inner emptiness, the absense of anything what makes humans human, what creates a life what can be called somehow fullfilled, is replaced by superficial fun. Booze and noise are a central part of that. The seemingly happy people with their superficial friendliness and smiles cover a black hole behind the facade. Happy looking people are not necessarily happy. They have little control over their lives, they are uncertain and know extremely little about the world they live in. They suffer oppression, structural and open violence, physical threats, fraud, humiliations, and can do little about it. That’s scaring. Are they aware of that? Here and there it’s certainly dawning, but it’s not a nice feeling, though. But they can beat it down. Being noisy makes feeling powerfull. One can forget. At least for a short time. And then one can repeat it…

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Noise Pollution in Southeast Asia’. Read here the whole article on Noise Pollution.

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Thailand

Posted in Countries, Landscapes with tags , , , on February 14, 2014 by Thim Kwai

The number of annual arrivals in Thailand is really high. But, that does not mean that Thailand is generally overrun by tourists as Bali in Indonesia is, for example. It’s rather so, that the mass of the Tourists concentrates in certain touristic places. That’s (partially) Bangkok itself, Hua Hin or Phuket Island in the south, what is actually a special economic zone with a very high percentage of foreign investment, property and foreign inhabitants, it’s Pattaya (sin city) in east Thailand and the notorious touristic islands as Ko Samui, Ko Phangan, Ko Tao etc. Chiang Mai in the north is touristic as well. Other touristic destinations are much more moderate visited by tourists, and a great part of the country does not see many tourists at all.

The average tourist in 2012 spent ten days in Thailand and almost 140 $US per day.

Thailand received in 2013, despite the since October ongoing Bangkok demonstrations, 26.73 million tourist arrivals.

The leading visiting nationality is Chinese with 4.7 million visitors, followed by Malaysia (3 mill.) and Russia (1.7 mill.). The leading western visiting nationalities are Australia and Britain with a bit more than 900.000 each.

Besides, Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport is the biggest airport in Southeast Asia and as a central destination receives many arrivals of people who intend to spent also more time in neighbouring countries like Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam instead of Thailand only. However, they pass through it and are part of the statistics. The statistics also includes those who stay for longer in Thailand and do the ‘visa run’ to neighbouring countries. Every time someone is entering Thailand he/she is counted again.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Thailand’. Read here the whole article on Thailand.

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Crippled Tail Cats in Southeast Asia

Posted in Animals, Latest of Asienreisender with tags , , , , , , on February 12, 2014 by Thim Kwai

What’s remarkable about the cats in Southeast Asia is the fact, that many, in fact a wide majority of them have crippled tails. I have heared many contradictory stories about that. Some people say, kids play with them and break the tails. A Thai neighbour once told me, Thai People would break the tails of kittens for gaining good luck, particularly money [!]. That maybe happens sometimes, but it’s not explaining the phenomenon.

I saw that some cats were born with a crippled tail. It is a genetical defect of the spinal, called ‘brachyurie’. The tail is part of the cat’s backbone. The crippled tail can come together with other deformations of the spinal, and in some cases also with neurological deficiencies. A defect tail means a handicap for the cat because it needs the tail for maintaining it’s balance. A short or anyhow crippled tail is also insofar a problem as cats use their tails as a mean of communication. Brachyurie is not curable.

(…)

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Cats in Southeast Asia’. Read here the whole article on Cats in Southeast Asia.

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Bangkok

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Places with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 19, 2013 by Thim Kwai

So, the city has it’s attractions. Thailand has an interesting history, and a good deal of historical places in Bangkok are worth a visit. The historical city center is, as mentioned above, Rattanakosin Island. Near to touristic Khao San Road is the Grand Palace situated, dating back to the foundation time of modern Siam/Thailand in the years from 1782 on. Here are the three most representative Thai temples among the other 400 temples in the city. It’s Wat Phra Kaeo, which is housing the emerald Buddha, Wat Mahathat with a Buddhist ‘university’, and Wat Pho, the biggest and oldest temple in Bangkok with the reclining Buddha in it.

Between the Grand Palace and Khao San district there is the national museum which is the biggest in Southeast Asia, a national art gallery, the national theater and the national library. East and north of the Grand Palace stretches an area with a lot of historical buildings. Among them are as well many of these typical 19th and 20th century two storey shop houses. Most of them are still in use as what they always were: a shop downstairs, and housing for the shopkeeper family upstairs. In this area are also the giant swing, the city pillar shrine, an old fortress, the democracy monument and a number of old wats.

Another place worth to have a look at is Anantasamakhom Throne Hall, built in the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) before the First World War in a victorian style. Dusit park with it’s large green recreation area and a zoo inside offers a retreat from the hecticness of the megacity. The zoo is pretty big and gives an introduction into Thailand’s wildlife. In Dusit park also Vimanmek mansion is located, it’s said being the largest teak wood building in the world from about 1900.

Opposite the road at the Dusit Zoo is the house of parliament. Closeby is the government house and other government buildings.

Hualamphong railway station is an impressing building, and the history of Thailand’s railway is interesting itself. Everywhere around are old steam engine locomotives displayed. The first line opened in 1893 between Bangkok and Pak Nam at the seaside, being 25km long. In 1924 the southern railway line reached then still sleepy Hat Yai and triggered it’s boom.

A walk through Chinatown is a choice, or a walk over the amulet market between the grand palace and Thammasat University gives an idea how superstitious so many people are.

Visiting temples may be a pretty boring undertaken, but it’s rewarded by many interesting temple painting. Though it’s written in the guide books, that there were some of the finest temple paintings of the country in Bangkok, I was disappointed by what I saw. In Wat Po or Wat Borowinet the paintings are barely accessible (barred, one can not come close to most of them) and what I saw was severely faded out and needs defenitely a thorough restauration. The paintings I found in other parts of Thailand look partially much, much better, therefore most of them are clearly not of such a high artistic quality and rather painted in recent years.

There is also the famous Jim Thompson house, a traditional teak house what serves nowadays as a museum. Jim Thompson was one of the Westerners who made a remarkable career in Thailand by promoting Thai silk. He led an adventurous life, and his end is still obscure. He disappeared traceless on a short stroll in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia.

Another grand green part of the megacity is Lumphini Park. It’s a center for Bangkokians to do morning sports activities. No cars are allowed in here and there are lawns and bigger lakes inside. It’s possible to observe monitor lizards here, of whom not a small number life in the lakes and hideouts in the park and who lost their shyness of people.

Bangkok is also attractive for shoppers, as I pointed already out. Some of the biggest shopping malls of Southeast Asia are located here, and at some places one gets goods for wholesale prices or almost. Apart from Rattanakosin Island as the historical city center Bangkok actually doesn’t have a modern city center. The huge downtown area around Siam Square is considered as a shopping center. But Patpong district along Silom Road houses also a number of modern shopping centers, while Chinatown is a place where mostly typical Asian goods, usually foods, spices, clothes and much, much more is dealt with.

Thonburi, the place which marked the historical beginning of the megacity at the western banks of the Chao Phraya River, is no more that central, although still very crowded. Here are more house blocks situated, and furtherly to the west the city is still largely expanding, looking much shabbier than the city parts east of the river. The buildings are also far not as high west of the river.

In Thonburi lies also Thonburi railway station, a small station at the beginning of the old route to Burma. This line was built in World War II by the Japanese armee and became in a tragically way famous for a great number of prisoners of war and Asian people who were forced to built the ‘death railway’, and lost their lives due to the hardships. The best known part of the line is the famous ‘bridge over the River Kwai’ in Kanchanabury.

The highest concentration of Bangkoks 800 slums is in the south, near the city’s port. Verymost of the foreign visitors of the city never get a glance on them.

However, it’s actually not really worth to come to Bangkok for doing much sightseeing, except one is interested in culture, history or it’s peculiar nightlife. Patpong district, particularly the sideroads near Silom Road, change at sunset into one of the world’s most notorious redlight districts.

Elsewise Bangkok is rather a big hub for tourists and travellers into whole Southeast Asia, because it’s hosting the biggest airport in the world region and most flights from America, Europe, Japan and Australia and more and more other Asian countries arrive in Bangkok. From here on tourism finds it’s way to other places in Thailand and the neighbouring countries of Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Burma/Myanmar or even Indonesia.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Bangkok’. Read here the whole article on Bangkok.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender

Monsoon in Southeast Asia

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Miscellaneous with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 23, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Tourists tend to avoid Southeast Asia in the monsoon months, for many expect it being rainy every day and all-day. They fear mosquito-born diseases and floods.

Well, in fact it’s not all that bad. Rainy season can be a very rich and beautiful time in the tropes. There are many more animals active, it’s all green around and it’s considerably cooler than in most of the dry season.

Another positive aspect of the monsoon season is the lack of tourism; prices drop, places are not crowded, life is more relaxed.

Besides it’s not raining all-day long. It’s mostly rather raining for an hour or two, or there is a shower coming down, while it afterwards might be sunny again or cloudy only. In north Sumatra, let’s say Bukit Lawang or at Lake Toba, one can almost set the clock for the afternoon rain, what starts usually around four o’clock. There it comes mostly as heavy pouring and continues over many hours, sometimes over the whole night. Next morning it’s clear and sunny again. One can be very active over most of the day outdoors.

As a rule of thumb one can say as closer one approaches the equator, as more rain is to expect.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Monsoon in Southeast Asia’. Read here the whole article on Monsoon in Southeast Asia.

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Prasat Ta Muen / Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 17, 2013 by Thim Kwai

At a very remote spot in Thailand’s Surin Province at the very border to Cambodia are three small remains of Angkorean buildings to find. Coming from the next village in Thailand, Phanom Dong Rak, where the last bus stop is placed, a lonely road leads one some ten kilometers south into the jungle. The first site one reaches is Prasat Ta Muen, which looks like a chapel with an intact roof and a hall inside. (…) Few tourists make the way out to here. Prasat Ta Muen is truly a hidden pearl in the jungle.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Prasat Ta Muen’. Read the whole article on Prasat Ta Muen by Asienreisender.

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Phimai / Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 12, 2013 by Thim Kwai

In the heart of Phimai, a small town in Thailand’s northeastern Isan region, one of the most remarkable Angkorean cultural heritages outside Angkor itself is situated: Prasat Phimai. In 1936 it was set under protection by the Thai government and became step by step restaurated from the 1950s on. ‘Phimai Historical Park’ was opened in 1989.

Phimai town is a medieval Khmer foundation, became the first time fortificated in the 11th century and advanced to a spiritual center of the classical empire of Angkor. In the reign of king Jayavarman VII (1181-1206/1220 CE) the city walls and gates so far they remain now were constructed. The town’s name is derivated fro ‘Vimayapura’ or ‘Vimai’. The contemporary official name of the site is ‘Prasat Hin Phi Mai’.

Historical Phimai has a considerable size. The inner temple district is a rectangular of 83m to 74m, the middle district measures 272m to 220m and the surrounding town, which was formerly completely enclosed by the city wall, stretches over 665m to 1033m. Phimai must have been one of the most important cities in the Angkorean empire.

The central temple complex is not exactly aligned onto the north-south axis, but by 20 degree turned to southeast. It’s probably done to give it the direction facing to Angkor.

At the northern end of Phimai is a national museum placed, which displays a number of the site’s artefacts as lintels, Buddha images, nagas, pottery and jewellery.

Prasat Phimai is considered to be the most important Khmer monument in Thailand.

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This is only a part of the richly illustrated article ‘Phimai’. Read the whole article on Phimai by Asienreisender.

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Phanom Rung / Thailand

Posted in Latest of Asienreisender, Sights with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 9, 2013 by Thim Kwai

Situated on top of an extinct volcano at a height of 381m, Phanom Rung represents maybe the finest monument of the classical Angkor period which is situated in Thailand. It’s full name ‘Prasat hin Kaho Phanom Rung’ is translatable to ‘Palace of Stone on the Hill Rung’; ‘Phnom Rung’ in Khmer language means somewhat like ‘broad hill/mountain’.

The nearest bigger city is Buriram, some 50km north, from which it is possible to visit Phanom Rung in a day-trip by public bus. Phanom Rung itself is located in a mountainous, forested area, surrounded by small villages.

History

Early inscriptions (7th/8th century) indicate that there was a predecessing temple on the site, dating back to Chenla era.

Between the early 9th to the 13th century the area was ruled by the Mahidharapura dynasty. This Khmer vassal principality preserved a certain independence from the grand Angkor empire. A remarkable personality is prince Narendraditya, who was a trustworthy vassal of king Suryavarman II (1095-1150 CE, who built Angkor Wat). Both were relatives and Narendraditya fought repeatedly victorious for Suryavarman II in war. Later in his life Narendraditya retreated to spent the rest of his life as a yogi and guru in spirituality. His son Hiranya took over state’s power and the eleven inscriptions of Phanom Rung, who tell us this story, were made under Hiranya’s supervision. Onother king of the principality was Dharanindravarman II (1150-1160), ruling in the time after the death of Suryavarman II.

The Phanom Rung temple complex was built, probably in significant phases, between the early 10th and the late 12th century. In these almost 300 years it was undergoing changes and extensions; particularly in the reigns of king Narendraditya and Hiranya the temple got considerably extended.

Architecture

Phanomg Rung has a recommendation for sophisticated stoneworks who consist of sandstone and laterite. There is for instance a war elephant to see which is trampling down an enemy (war scenes in temples are always remarkable). The elephant might represent one of the earliest artworks of the Angkorean civilization.

Most of the other depictions show hindu gods as Vishnu and Shiva, the destroyer of ignorance and illusion, practicing asceticism. The site symbolizes Shiva’s home mount Kailas (in Tibet, close to the Indian and the Nepalese borders), which is considered a sacret mountain in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism. The eleven inscriptions in Phanom Rung therefore describe a regional organization of Angkor.

Phanom Rung monument was connected via a Khmer road with Prasat Hin Phimai (also in Thailand) and further on to Angkor city.

From the lower part of the site, where is nowadays the visitor center, long stairways lead steeply up to the temple district. The first bigger building, ‘Phlab Phla’ or the ‘white elephant house’, is supposed to have housed the former dressing rooms for the king and his company. From there a 160m long prosessional walkway, made of laterite and seamed with some seventy sandstone posts to the right and the left leads to the first naga bridge. The bridge symbolizes the transfer from the ordinary to the sacred world, and the sandstone nagas are pretty impressive. Another stairway leads to four basins, who are connected by another bridge to the actual temple.

Restauration of the site took place in the years between 1971-1988. In 1988 then Phanom Rung became declared one of Thailands ‘Historical Parks’. In 2005 it was suggested to the UNESCO as a ‘World Cultural Heritage’.

Situated on top of an extinct volcano at a height of 381m, Phanom Rung represents maybe the finest monument of the classical Angkor period which is situated in Thailand. It’s full name ‘Prasat hin Kaho Phanom Rung’ is translatable to ‘Palace of Stone on the Hill Rung’; ‘Phnom Rung’ in Khmer language means somewhat like ‘broad hill/mountain’.

The nearest bigger city is Buriram, some 50km north, from which it is possible to visit Phanom Rung in a day-trip by public bus. Phanom Rung itself is located in a mountainous, forested area, surrounded by small villages.

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This is only a part of the illustrated article ‘Phanom Rung’. Read the whole article on Phanom Rung.

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Check the list of recently published articles on a great variety of Southeast Asian themes. All of them are richly illustrated: Asienreisender