Daily Archives: September 11, 2005

The Sanctuary of Truth

I have mentioned before that Pattaya is not exactly my favourite beachside resort. Apart from the sleaziness, the beaches are not my idea of tropical white sand and palm trees. Better to head further south to Koh Samet and Koh Chang. However, there are some locations in Pattaya which have a more of a cultural flavour. So, at the weekend, I was determined to fill my day with some alternatives to sitting on the beach.

My first stop was the Sanctuary of Truth. This is another massive structure constructed by the late Khun Lek. You may remember me talking about The Erawan Museum the other day. This wooden palace was his second project and was started way back in 1981. It isn’t yet finished though it is already open to the public. The entrance fee is a steep 500 baht which I think is their way of keeping the number of visitors low. Luckily I was able to get in for free as I know the owners. I haven’t been here for about two years so a few things have changed. The first thing I noticed was a horse and buggy ride which takes you from the car park to the top of the hill. Secondly, the family pet dolphins had now been trained to perform in a show. I guess they are trying to give value for money to visitors.

The Sanctuary of Truth is a gigantic wooden building. Maybe the biggest in the world. It is 105 metres high and 100 metres long. This is equal to a 20 storey building. Just about every inch, inside and outside, is covered in rich wooden carvings depicting various eastern cultures and religions. As the building is still under construction, your tour guide will give you a hard hat to protect your head. But, there isn’t too much to worry about.

It is quite expensive to enter this place but it is well worth it. You will be richly rewarded. I must have taken nearly three hundred pictures here. There was plenty to look at in every direction you looked. Of secondary interest is the dolphin show. But, I didn’t linger to watch. I am not sure how you would get to the Sanctuary of Truth on your own. It is in northern Pattaya at the end of Soi Nakula 12. It is rather out of the way. However, I did see some tourists arrive on the back of a songtaew. So, I guess you can hire one to come out here.

This is another of those places under the category of “Unseen Thailand”. You won’t find it in any foreign guidebook.

Go to page 2 for some more pictures….

99 Things Not to Miss in Thailand – Part IV

The 99 Things Not to Miss in Thailand List from Thai Airways’ Sawasdee Magazine continues.

[ Part I ] [ Part II ] [ Part III ]

61. Seafood :: A plenty. Fresh. And cheap.

62. Ancient City (Muang Boran) :: A park in the shape of Thailand filled with more than 100 small-scale reproductions of the country’s important historic, religious, and royal sites. Some are resconstructions of structures that no longer exist.

63. Party…all the time! :: You know about Sanuk, Thai notion of fun and pleasure. (See #72) So we celebrate every occasion we can get from Chinese New Year to Christmas, birthday to funeral, when it rains to when there’s a drought. You name it!

64. Thai silk :: Traditional Thai silk. There’s nothing like it.

65. Isaan and Southern Cuisines :: The northeast (Isaan) and the south are not only well known for the hot weather but also the heat of their foods.

66. Takraw :: National sport which players handle a rattan ball with their feet, heads, knees and elbows. Sort of like Hacky-Sack. 2 styles to play. One is with players on each side of the net. Feet volleyball if you will. The other is scored more for your fancy moves to get the ball to the basket hanging high in the middle of the circle.

67. Thai folk music :: Luk Thung (Child of the Rice Field) music is kind of like American country music–songs about love and loss, harsh life, and other more risque topics, backed up by a throng of sequinned and plumed dancers. Moh-ram (Dance master) is lavishly costumed and more traditional–I’d say more like bluegrass. You’ll find those kind of music blaring in your taxi cabs or any Isaan restuarants. For a more rock n’ roll field, it’s the Plaeng Peua Cheevit–Songs for Life–very much true to the spirit of the 60s activist folk songs. You’ve read about Carabao on this blog before, and that’s their kind of music. The joint for that is at the Tawandaeng.

68. Chao Phraya Express Boat :: A quick way to get through town and what a view!

69. Bird Watching :: More than 900 species, people. That’s one-tenth of the world’s species!

71. Sea Kayaking :: Paddle through and explore the limestone caves of Krabi and Phuket in one of these.

72. Sanuk :: Sanuk, although literally means “fun”, is more than that. All night party is sanuk. Watching an action film is sanuk. Teasing your friend is sanuk. Laying out on the beach doing nothing can be sanuk. To quote the magazine, you feel it not when you laugh, but when you’ve developed this attitude, for better or worse, that things–including life itself–can’t be all that bad no matter what the situation.

73. Koh Hong, Phuket :: Hong means room, and this island has plenty of that…built in limestone. Koh Hong is an island jutting out of Phang-gna Bay near Phuket in Krabi. It has a network of collasped caves and stone formations, and beautiful beach.

74. Bangkok (and all its adjectives!) :: Sprawling, delicious, traditional, overdeveloped, exotic, golden, infuriating, astonishing, pungent, ultra-modern, creative, tropical, hectic, contemporary, surprising, stressful, frenetic, hip , steamy, cheap, refreshing, frantic, spicy, smiling, sublime, historic, regal, air-conditioned, urban, atmospheric, fast-paced, mad, graceful, riverine, farcical, crowded, surprising, hungry, cacophonous, sexy, dynamic, confusing and aromatic. And. Much. Much. More.

75. Nightlife :: Although the curfew is now oh-so-early, there are still a lot of action going on from DJ sets to live indie bands. More festivals and private parties are catching on.

76. The Emerald Buddha :: He’s small, green, and 500 years old. No, he ain’t Yoda. The Emerald Buddha is 66 cm. high. His cloak is changed three times a year according to the change of the seasons traditionally by the King, now by the Crown Prince.

77. Sukhothai :: The capital of the first Siamese Kingdom (mid 13th to late 14th century), Sukhothai once extended south to Nakhon Si Thammarat, east to Vientiane and west to Pagu. The city is 12 km. away from Bangkok and well restored.

78. Kanom Moh Kaeng :: Sweet custard steamed to perfection in a square tin that is Kanom Moh Kaeng can only comes out of the palm sugar captial of Thailand, Petchburi. This is a pit stop town for people on the way to and from Hua-Hin and Cha-Am.

79. Mekong River :: Cruise a few kilos of the 750 km. length of the Thai border on Mekong, veering into Laos for a bit, up in the north and northeast.

80. The King’s Birthday :: The best fireworks of the year is over Sanam Luang on the King’s birthday December 5. Not to mention that the entire city is all lit up all the way through New Year’s. Oh yes, it is also Father’s Day.

We’re almost there, folks. 19 more to go. I hope to get that in here tomorrow night. Given that I finish my homework AND baking cookies for my AIDS Walk fundraiser. 😉 See you then!