Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Sri Nakhon Khuean Khan Park: relax and enjoy the tranquility

We are not yet finished with exploring parks and gardens in Bangkok. Today we went to another jewel of natural habitat: The Sri Kakhon Khuen Khan park. The current King himself gave the park the garden. Although it looks on the map bigger at it actually is, the park is worth a stop. If you are on a organised bike tour you most probably make a visit here anyway, if not, mark it as a way point.

Located on the northern end of the small peninsula the Chao Phraya river forms here, it is open daily from 6am to 8pm and you don't need to buy a ticket. It is also a botanical garden, so expect a lot of signs explaining the plants you see. You can walk around or take a bike (a bike rental is right next to the entrance).

Enjoy the shadows of the huge trees, watch the lizards crawling trough the gras (they are harmless, just keep some distance) or climb up the birdwatching tower (better bring binoculars with you). Have a seat in the wooden pavilions and listen to the sound of nature just a few kilometers from the buzzing city. 

We didn't see a restaurants there, but you are allowed to bring your own food and drinks and have a picnic. Just clean the place afterwards. Toilets are available on the right when you enter the park.

Once you finished you can also visit the nearby Siamese Fighting Fish Gallery, unfortunately it's open only on weekends.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The rainwater people

It seems that the northeast and the north are the match-winners in Thailand. The red shirts like them because they are their people, and the "Democrats" make them so important that they want to pull their right to vote. So it seems decisions are made on the countryside.

In last weekends Bangkok Post Andrew Biggs wrote in his Sunday column about vote-buying and the people upcountry. He better had not done this. What followed was a shitstorm as we call it in German. In front Andrew Marshall, the out-of-country-but-still-knowing-it-all-journalist, and right next to him @forestmat who tweeted this gem: "can you check for me if he's spent time in a rural NE village, drinking rainwater, cooking on a charcoal fire?"

So I learned today that only if you had your cup of coffee made of rainwater and your pork steak made on a charcoal grill you are qualified to understand and analyse the Isan folks.

Here is the thing: As long as we refer to the people in North- and Northeast Thailand as countryside guys, Isan people, farmers or even worst "the uneducated", we discriminate them. They are as Thai as everyone else. Actually the fact that there is less education shows that the oh so smart Bangkokians aren't able to provide education in the whole country. And look whats graduating from the universities in the capital? Generation selfie. While at the same time Thailands best programmers and finest vets are educated in Khon Kaen.

All my friends in the Isan part of Thailand have nice houses, and yes they may drink rainwater because they built a sophisticated rainwater-recycling system that cleans the water and makes it drinkable. And yes, they use a charcoal grill, because that's how you do BBQ. Only the rice is done in the rice-cooker, and the cake got a warm-up in the microwave.

See, of course there are some very poor people on the countryside. And some very uneducated. But they are everywhere, in Bangkok, in Phuket, in Chang Mai, Ubon Ratchathami and Hat Yai. That's how the world is - different. Smart guys and stupid guys, eductated and not educated, with knowledge and without knowledge.

We should stop thinking what makes a differences between people living in different parts of Thailand and start thinking of what they have in common. It is more than some advocates of either side of politics may think.

Suan Luang Rama 9 Park - another jewel in Bangkok

Lumphini park is renown within the expat community as the best place for exercising and for tourists who want to spend some time in kind of fresh air and surrounded by green. But there are more parks in Bangkok, and the Suan Luang Rama IX park might be a bit outside but is worth a visit.

The area is huge, with a big lake and ten of thousands of flowers. It is a paradise for photographers but also for families, since you have so many opportunities to just sit down and have a picnic - either with your own food or some dishes you bought at the stalls.

Entry fee is 5 Baht for people and 10 baht for the car. The park opens every day at 5am and closes at 6pm.

From the parking lot behind Paradise Park shopping mall at Srinakarin road you just start walking. A walk around the lake get you to the main building that looks like a star trek assembly hall. It hosts a lot of pictures and information about the current King of Thailand, Rama IX or better know as King Bhumiphol.

The park is considered the biggest in Bangkok and the botanical gardening is outstanding. Lots of signs tell you the name of the plant, special places like the English garden give you some impressions of international garden architecture.

Find some impressions in pictures and video below.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Bang Nam Phueng Floating market

The jungle that's build through the sling of the Chao Phraya river and makes ut the green lung of Bangkok was unknown territory for me until last week. We heard about the Bangkok Tree house just across the river and wanted to see it with our own eyes. A nice small eco-friendly boutique hotel, build treehouse style but with all luxury you need. 

For those who think they stayed everywhere in BKK already, they missed this one propably. 

Studying Google maps while there I saw a floating market and we decided to take a mototaxi and check it out.  A good decision: The Bang Nam Phueng floating market is a hidden gem, at least for foreigners. We didnt see many Falang there although its a well designed, well maintained and well operated place. Of course the boats are gone and nothing is floating anymore, but that makes the market even better.  

You have Boss Coffee, a tiny coffee shop serving delicious coffee for 25 Baht, and offers a seat on the canal. You have restaurants there, small and big, a lot of very cheap but good food, plants, souvenirs etc. 

The market is open on the weekend from 7am to 2pm. Best time to come is early morning. From the Udom Suk BTS go to pier at Wat Bang Na Nok, it costs just 4 Baht to take the ferry and from there 15 Baht for the motocycle taxi.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Victory or not? The situation in Bangkok (3.12.2013, 12.30 pm)

While gambling is certainly a habit in Thailand you shouldn't do it on politics. Just because the outcome is so difficult to predict. Yesterday we had a record number of more then hundred injuries in clashes with the police, today we had more than a hundred roses offered to protesters by police while opening the gates to their HQ and the government house. There wasn't much of a storm, more a walk in. The CMD as they want to be called internationally declared victory, and they are right at least regarding to their goals announced yesterday: Seize Metro police and Government house.

But what happened to this other goal: getting rid of the government? It seems that Yingluck is playing an odd game. She is ready for negotiations, even for dissolving the parliament. But her first priority was to avoid any violence. Otherwise violent clashes would have given the wrong (third?) power arguments to intervene.  Also, with the upcoming celebrations of  Kings birthday, nobody wants to have protests in the capital.

What's now? This is kind of trending on twitter, at least around the political observers. Yingluck is still Prime Minister, just with an virtual office, while Suthep is ready to go into government house, but still as a visitor.

It seems there is a truce now for the next few days to celebrate Kings birthday. After that, we will see. The army seems to be keen to get both parties on the table to negotiate. Yingluck offers a lot, her political future, but also the risk of losing an election (not so likely). Suthep fears elections since he always lost, but knows that his utopia with only his unelected peoples committee as a government and no parties or elections at all will never happen.

For now, please enjoy the midnight sale in the shopping malls, celebrate Kings birthday on Thursday and wish his Majesty all the best, good health and a long life.