Monthly Archives: August 2006

Wat Ketkaram

Wat Ketkaram, Chiang Mai

Year of the Dog: For people born in this year, they should pay respect to the chedi at Ket Kaeo Chulamanee. Unfortunately this temple is in Heaven and so is a little difficult to drive there. Fortunately for us, in 1428 A.D., a replica of this temple was built in Chiang Mai. It is actually quite an interesting temple to wander around even though it is not in the Lonely Planet. If you want to go there, you will find it on the east bank of the Ping River. If you look closely at the above photograph, you can see that the top part is slightly askew. This is because the builders didn’t want to show any disrespect to the original version by having this chedi point straight up to Heaven. In the temple grounds there is also an interesting museum of local artifacts which the monks have collected over the years. Another fascinating feature in the temple grounds is this ubosot pictured below. Look at those intricate carvings on the door and the front of the building. Very unusual. If you are ever in Chiang Mai, make an effort to visit this temple. Certainly you should come here if you were born in the Year of the Dog. Thai people believe that your spirit will reside in the chedi representing the year of your birth. So, you should try and visit the temple to pay respects before you die!

The True name of Ban Gkok

Hello !

Just after I came to the L.O.S., my wife, being Thai, often surprised me with the pronunciation of certain place names. This prompted me to enquire as to which one was the longest. She rattled off, what seemed like five minutes of Thai prattle, and then said; “…that’s Khrung Thep (กรุงเทพ )!”

“Oh,OK. Great!”, I said in sheepish reply. I had NO idea what she was refering to, or if she was pulling my leg! “What the devil is ‘Khrung Thep”? I pleaded. Then she explained that it was the Thai name for Bangkok, which she also said was originally, Ban Gkok.

So, being an avid researcher, I went looking. Many travellers won’t know this, naturally, and I have discovered also, that MANY Thais don’t, either!

As you can see, from the following quote, I am certainly glad that Thais understand the name Bangkok! Fancy getting in a Taxi, or going to a Travel agent in a foreign country, and asking to go to: I quote:

” – กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยามหาดิลก ภพนพรัตน์ ราชธานีบุรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์ มหาสถาน อมรพิมาน อวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยะ วิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์ ”

In the official English romanisation, this is certified as the longest place name in the world in the Guinness book of records. It’s pronounced something like:

Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit ”

… click on above link to Into Asia!


Happy pronouncing!


My Ah-ha! Moments

Perhaps it’s because I flied solo a lot more during my latest trip home now that my mom (sick) and my friends (work) are no longer available as my sidekick, and that I am older and can drink more than one beer before passing out drunk, I just suddenly realize a few simple things in life of a Bangkokian I never noticed before.

Here goes my “Ah-ha!” moments and survival tips about taxi cabs, pedestrians, love affair with food, and nightlife in Bangkok.



Cabs that have “Available” sign (Wang – or empty) lit up in the window doesn’t necessarily means that they are actually available. Many cabs would leave the light on eventhough they have passengers. Laziness or forgetfulness on the cabbies’ part? Either way, it’ll leave you feel like a jackass hailing a cab that wouldn’t stop.

Dude! What are you doing in my cab??

This is not New York or London where you can hail a cab, get in, tell them where you want to go, and they’ll take you. In Bangkok, you hail a cab, open the door and ask the cabbie if he would take you to your destination. If he says yes, you get. If not, close the door and hail another cab.

Oh yes, Thai cabbies can say no. Not quite what the government had in mind when they wanted all the cabs “modernized” to meter system. The meters were installed in cabs to regulate the pricing of fares and so that the cabs will take you anywhere you want. Before this, you have to haggle with the cabbie and they can tell you that they don’t want to go where you’re going. Now, you may have the regulated fare but the cabbies can still refuse to go to your destination. Why that is? Apparently, the longer time spent sitting in traffic–usually related to distance you want to travel–the less money the cabbie would make during that time. So, you’ll find yourself in a pickle trying to get a cab to take you to Central Chidlom from the Grand Palace during rush hour.

Cabbies wait for no man…

…just before 9 a.m. and again before 3 p.m. unless you’re on their way to turn in their cars or they are independent (which is quite rare). You’ll see empty cabs zooming right past you, empty and all. Those times are like the shift change in taxi driving world. The cabbies rush back to their respective cab companies to turn in their cars or they get fined if they’re late. Understandable. Only when you’re not in a rush to get somewhere yourself.

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Wat Phra That Hariphunchai


Wat Phra That Hariphunchai, Lamphun Province

Year of the Rooster:
Lamphun is a small town about 28 kms southeast of Chiang Mai. One of the highlights of the town is this stunning chedi at Wat Phra That Haripunchai. Does it look familiar to you? You may recognize some of the features in the above picture if you have ever been to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep in Chiang Mai. That temple was in fact based on this one in Lamphun. The 46 metre high chedi, which contains a hair of the Lord Buddha, dates back to the 9th Century. According to legend, the Buddha once visited the town near here on his alms round. He correctly predicted that a man would in the future build a town on that spot and call it Harinphunchai Nakhon. Of interest in this temple is a large bronze gong which is claimed to be the biggest of its kind in the world. There is also an old wooden library (see below) which is built on a high brick pedestal. Thai people believe that this temple is one of the holiest in the country. It is also an important pilgrimage site for people born in the Year of the Rooster.


Thai Student Video Blogs

Video blogs

Sriwittayapaknam School in Samut Prakan has always taken the lead in Internet technology among the schools in Thailand. The Nation newspaper called the Internet project a “powerhouse” when it comes to website creation. The Bangkok Post went a step further and commented  that the school has “the largest and most comprehensive web site of all the schools in Thailand.”

Now the students at the school have started recording their own video blogs and publishing them on the Internet. For those of you who are at an intermediate level of learning Thai might be interested in tuning your ear to some “real” Thai spoken by today’s Thai youth. About five video blogs are recorded every day.