Daily Archives: May 12, 2007

Songkran in Xi Shuang Ban Na – MengLa 云南西双版纳勐腊

After chatted with a Dai lady who worked in the Casino and hailed from JingHong, we realized that we have made a big mistake of coming too early. The SipSongPanNa Dai minorities celebrate SongKran for 3 days from 13 to 15 April with one activities for each day – (1) Boat race, (2) water splashing and (3) GanPai (trading of goods in market).

Day 3: 10 April 2007 Morning – Boten磨丁 (LA) > Mohan莫憨 (CN) > MengLa勐腊 (CN)

Rising early, we had breakfast at the same Fujian Eating shop. The young couple is already working and serving piping hot noodles. Do they ever sleep?

Negotiated with a Van driver (30 RMB)to take us from the Hotel instead of going on a Songthiaw (3 RMB each) from the main road, saving us the hassle of pulling along our luggage passing through buddy walkways. Considering that he has to stop to allow us to take phoo of the miles stone, it is worth the money. I have taken 3 photos the contrast the environs of the China and Laos immigrations.

Laos Side Chinese Side

Those who has travelled from Sadao (TH) to Bukit Kayu Hitam (MY) will notice the same differences. Similarly, from Johor Bahru (MY) to Singapore (SG).

The Chinese Immigration was rather surprised to see Chinese Malaysian able to speak Mandarin passing through this checkpoint. I gave one key chain with KL Twin tower backdrop to them as souvenir so that they will remember Malaixiya (Malaysia).

For readers residing outside Thailand, you can see my video clip on Chinese Immigration Officers in the morning flag rising ceremony (2:30 mins)in

There are freelance money changer around in Mohan. USD is at 7.6 to a RMB. As there are nothing in Mohan except some shop selling cheap Chinese goods, we hop on a bus to take us to MengLa. There is no direct bus to JingHong.

The 20 odd seater bus moved as soon as the bus is filled as I have read from other Internet resources. Barely moving for 6 KM, the muddy road become inpassable due to a vehicle being caught in the mud. Compounded by some queue cutting, the situation become intensely uncontrollable. We were stucked for at least one hour before the stalled vehicle was rescued and the traffic move again.

Road to MengLa becomes impassable due to heavy rain

Chatting with fellow passenger while waiting for the traffic to be cleared, we found out that it may be a good idea to stay one night at MengLa. The trip to Mengla took about 2.5 hours and we arrived just in time for lunch. We left our luggage at the bus station to go for lunch and look for suitable lodging.

MengLa Town
MengLa has one long main road.

LongPa Guest House at 60 RMB for 2 and 80 RMB for 3 persons. The guest house is clean and service is just OK. LongPa has another guest house in JingHong, our next stop.

龙八LongPa Guest Guest Poster about Water Festival Promotion Sales

Lunch at a Thai restaurant serving not-so-authetic Thai food. The restaurant is darked and the food served will put the owner out of business if it operates in Thailand.

There were not much choice in MengLa for food. Chinese food here is not what you will expect in KL, Singapore or HongKong, the southern Chinese cuisine. Dinner at one Chinese restaurant and left with much disappointment.

At Thai Restraurant Local crossing street

There weren’t much to see and do in MengLa. The oad is wide and pedestrian-friendly. Shops typical Chinese goods and clothings. I heard there is one Malaysian-ownd hotel but we did not try to located it.

3 of us has foot massage and another 2 had a whole body (thai or some other variations) massage. For foot massage, we are really pampered a group of teenager or ladies/guys in their early tweenty. Although not as painful (or effective?) as what we experienced in Thailand, the process is very elaborate and took up a lot of time and towels. I felt a bit of guilt seeing so much towels and waters wasted in the process.

When finished, we dropped by to see how our 2 friends are doing with the massage. They too are about to finish and the comments are that although the masseurs are small size, they are quite skillful and powerful.

Foot Massage Chinese Massage

Chinese central government has left XiShuangBanNa (SipSongPanNa)autonomous province relatively alone with little interferance. Families are allowed to have more than one child during the one-child policy period. I guess Central Government see no harm in having a bigger Dai population in YunNan.

Seeing a long leash and out of reach of BeiJing, some Han Chinese from other nearby provinces are moving into XSBN to make their fortune. Activities prohibited in Beijing are done in the open here. We can see people playing Mahjong (gambling) in the open air area, massage shops (prostitutes) lined a section of the the main street. With the 2 vices, I am sure corruption will be rampant. There are a lot of young people dressed in party outfits. It will be tough to observe the 5 Buddhist precepts with some many distractions!

It appears that XSBN is booming economically and socially?

Note: All photos have been duely uploaded.

Loha Prasat – The Metal Castle

Metal Castle

When I drive down Ratchadamnoen Klang Road towards the Democracy Monument, I often noticed this strange structure in the grounds of Wat Ratchanatdaram. It is marked on some tourists maps as simply “The Metal Castle”. Finally, the other day I decided I should go and take a closer look. It is really a remarkable structure. As the name suggests, it is indeed made of metal. King Rama III ordered construction of Loha Prasat in the early 19th Century in honour of his granddaughter, HRH Princess Somanas Vadhanawadi.

Metal castle

Entrance to the castle is free and you can climb up a spiral staircase to the roof. The building is 36 metres high and has 37 cast iron spires. Each spire represents the 37 Bodhipak khiyadhamma, the virtues leading to enlightenment. There are some fine views from the top of the surrounding landscape. You will notice that this area of Bangkok doesn’t have any skyscrapers so you can see quite far. Nearby I could see the Giant Swing at Wat Suthat and of course the Golden Mount at Wat Saket. This is another place that gives you panoramic views. It is also much higher.

King Rama III

The area in front of the temple has been developed by the Bangkok Administration. They have built a Thai style pavilion, gardens and also a statue in memory of King Rama III. Next door is the Mahakan Fortress which is one of only a few remaining forts in the city. If you are walking around this area then please be careful of the scam artists. I had one guy come up to me that said he was a teacher in the local temple. He spoke excellent English which is of course a giveaway. Most of the Thai English teachers I know cannot speak English! Anyway, he said that today was my good fortune because there was a free Thai boxing match at the nearby Lucky Buddha Temple. He even backed this up by pointing out the boxing match on a television being watched by two security guards. Of course, this televised match was actually at Lumphini Boxing Stadium and not a local temple. He asked me several times if I believed him or not. In the end I got bored with his lies and said that I didn’t believe him because I had seen his picture at BangkokScams.com. He quickly walked away.

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