Monthly Archives: December 2007

Making Good Luck for New Year

Buddha’s Footprint at Wat Phra Phuttabat in Saraburi Province

Over recent years, it has become increasingly popular for people to see in the new year by making merit at nine sacred temples within one day. Why nine temples? Well, the number nine is considered an auspicious number by Thai people. Not to be outdone, I decided to visit nine temples around Thailand today. Although these sacred temples are spread all over Thailand I didn’t need to travel very far. All I had to do was drive to the Ancient City in Samut Prakan which has some beautiful reproductions of these temples. To Thai people, it doesn’t matter if these Buddha images are the real items or not – they will give any Buddha image the proper respect that it deserves.

Wat Phumin in Nan Province

One of the most beautiful buildings at Ancient City is the Mondop that houses the Footprint of the Lord Buddha. You can find this at Wat Phra Phuttabat in Saraburi Province. The original is even larger and well worth a visit if you are passing through Saraburion your way to Lop Buri. I quite often stop here to pay my respects if I am traveling north. The temple is also famous for the Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival in July.

These four large gilded Buddha images from Wat Phumin are among my favouites at the Ancient City. They are just as beautiful as the real thing in Nan which I visited during my Northern Thailand trip last year. The Buddha images are sitting back to back with their right hands pointing to the ground calling on the Earth to witness the victory over Mara.

Wat Chong Kham, Lampang

The Ancient City doesn’t only have reproductions. Some buildings have been rescued from demolition. It also has buildings based on historical records. A classic example is one of the palaces of Ayutthaya which was burned to the ground by the Burmese in 1767. I like it how you can visit buildings from different historical periods and also different geographical areas.

Wihan Lan Chang

Ancient City is open every day. The price for foreigners is 300 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. If you have a work permit then you will be able to go in at the Thai price of 100 baht. The park is really worth the entrance fee as there is so much to see and do. Take your time and have lunch in the floating market. The New Year festival runs until 1st January 2008. It will be repeated during Songkran in mid-April. Well worth a visit if you don’t have time to visit all these temples during your visit to Thailand. I will tell you later about the nine sacred temples of Bangkok and also of Ayutthaya.

Happy New Year from the team at!

Top 10 Thai Photos for 2007

Kate Moss in Thailand

It is time again to reveal the Top 10 Thai Photos over at our sister blog I will first give you the run down month by month and then finish with the Top 10.

January: The most popular photo of this month was of “Kate Moss in Thailand”. She was having a rocky relationship with her boyfriend who got arrested for fighting with a taxi driver.

February: A new “Thai Ladyboy Band” was formed called ‘Venus Flytrap’. Thai actress Chotiros Suriyawong was also causing a stir with her revealing dress at the Thai version of the Oscars.

March: Farung Yuthithum was crowned Miss Thailand Universe 2007. Oliver Jufer was back in Court for his lese majeste charge. He was sentenced to ten years but was later pardoned by the King.

April: Two Siamese twins were successfully separated during an operation. Paradorn and Natalie announced the plans for their wedding.

May: Farung Yuthithum was back in the news with her entrance into the Miss Universe 2007 competition. Back in thailand, Thanyarat Jirapatpakorn won the Miss Tiffany’s Universe transsexual beauty pageant.

June: Briton Alexander Winstone was arrested for blackmailing Tescos. In Ayutthaya, three tonnes of narcotics was burned.

July: The craze for the Jatukam Ramathep amulets reached a peak during this month. Contestents for Miss Thailand World 2007 visited locations around Thailand.

August: The 24th World University Games took place in Bangkok.

September: A plane crashed in Phuket killing 90 passengers and crew.

October: Christopher Paul Neil, known internationally as the “swirly guy” put Thailand on the map again as a haven for pedophiles.

November: Tanyarat Jirapatpakon was crowned as Miss International Queen 2007 in the transsexual beauty pageant.

December: At the end of the year, Thai people celebrated the birthday of H.M. The King and the Trooping of the Colours.

Thai Ladyboy Band

And here is the Top 10 for the most popular Thai photos for 2007:

(1) Kate Moss in Thailand
(2) Christopher Paul Neil
(3) Thai Ladyboy Band
(4) Chotiros Suriyawong
(5) Natalie Glebova
(6) Tanyarat Jirapatpakon
(7) Miss Thailand Universe 2007
(8) Thai Lottery
(9) Miss International Queen 2007
(10) Jatukam Ramathep Amulets

To see the full Top 100 list, please click here.

Don Wai Market

I am really happy that the Kanchanapisek Outer Ringroad has been finished. It now allows us to easily explore tourist attractions around the perimeter of Bangkok quickly and easily. So, last weekend I set off on a day trip to Nakhon Pathom, to the West of Bangkok. My destination was Don Wai Market. Some people call this a floating market. However, strictly speaking, it is a market on the banks of the Nakhon Chaisi River. If you come looking for a Damnoern Saduak Floating Market or even a Amphawa Floating Market then you will be disappointed. You won’t see many vendors selling their products on little boats. But, they all have their own attributes which makes them special. I personally enjoyed Don Wai Market and will certainly be going again.

Don Wai Market has been around for over a hundred years. However, it is only recently that it has started to become popular with daytrippers from Bangkok. From my own home, it only took 45 minutes which makes it almost a local source of good food. And I think that is why so many people go there at the weekend. The market was originally famous for the boiled ducks, but now there is a much greater variety of food. Not just curries and snacks, but also Thai sweets. Judging by all the pictures on display, a lot of celebrities and politicians also come to this market.

It is best to go to this market as early as you can in order to beat not only the heat but the crowds as well. It opens at 6 a.m. I arrived at 9 a.m. as I dropped in at Wat Rai Khing first to pay my respects to the highly revered Buddha image. They have a popular fair here in April. The temple is also famous for the fish sanctuary where you can buy bread to feed the fish. It is possible to catch a boat from here to Don Wai Market for only 60 baht. However, as I was early, it looked like they were waiting for enough people to make the journey worthwhile. As you can see from this picture, there weren’t that many people at the market when I first arrived. However, when I left at midday it was so crowded with people it took forever to move through the crowds. By that time I couldn’t wait to escape.

Tourists weren’t going to the market just to buy food. They were going to eat at one of the many floating markets that lined the river. In fact, there are so many of these restaurants that as you walk along the market you don’t get a clear view of the river. However, you do get fine views when you sit down to eat. Just don’t go too late in the morning. Maybe best to come here for a brunch. I was tempted to buy a lot of food to take home. Unfortunately, I had more places to visit on that day and so didn’t think it was a good idea to buy too much fresh food that might go off in a hot car. Tomorrow, I will tell you about my boat trip on the Nakhon Chaisi River.

To get to Don Wai Market is quite easy. I took the Outer Ring (Highway 9) from Samut Prakan. I then turned onto Highway 4 which is signposted Nakhon Pathom. Shortly after the Rose Garden you need to turn right onto Highway 3316. However, as you cannot do a direct turn here, you have to continue as far as the bridge over Nakhon Chaisi River and U-Turn under the bridge. Make sure you keep left for this. You will see a bigger sign for Wat Rai Khing rather than for the market. Keep going until you reach the market on the left. You cannot miss it nor the crowds. Make sure that you arrive early if you want to park a car. This costs 20 baht. There is more than one place to park. Just keep driving along the road.

Continued: Boat Trip on Nakhon Chaisi River

Thai Miniature Candy

When I was younger, I used to make miniature models from marzipan which could then be eaten. If you have been to Thailand then you may have seen the Thai version of marzipan. These candies are very glossy and use very bright colours. In Thai it is called khanom look chup. As you can see from this picture, they often make miniature vegetables – chili being a popular choice. They also do miniature animals. This is made by mixing mung beans with coconut milk and sugar. It is then cooked on a low heat until it becomes dry and you are able to mold it. After the sculpture is done, it is pinned to some foam with a tooth pick so that it can now be painted. To get the glossy effect, this is then dipped into a mixture of agar powder, sugar and jasmine water. This is a gelling agent. The sculpture is dipped into this solution at least three times to make a firm out layer. At this stall, a selection will cost you 40 baht which is about US$1.

So this is Christmas

Christmas at Sriwittayapaknam School in Thailand

I have a Christmas tree. I have presents under it.

I have been baking my little hiney off for the past few weeks for friends. AND their dogs.

In about 12 hours from now, I will start my preparation for Christmas dinner of horseradish and garlic crusted prime rib and wild mushroom sauce, mashed potatoes, candied carrots, and creamed pearl onions. We are having a few “orphans” over for the feast and packing one to-go box for our Sheriff’s deputy friend on patrol on Christmas night.

This little Thai Buddhist is running around in her Santa/Elf hat, spreading holiday cheers to everybody!

And no, I don’t celebrate Christmas just because I live in the U.S. I have been celebrating Christmas as long as I remember.

“They celebrate Christmas in Thailand? I didn’t know that!”

Well, yes and no.

Yes, in a sense that the stores are all decked out with the commercial Christmas themes. Snow flakes. Snow men. Santa Claus. Elves. Christmas trees all lit up. The same images are all over the TV.

It’s not just for the holidays, you see. The lights are already up in the most parts of the country to celebrate the King’s birthday. It goes with the seasons.

And no, in a sense that only certain corners of the country will be celebrating the real Christmas, the birth of Jesus. Not everyone tuning in to the tubes would know the true meaning of Christmas. All they know is that it involves snow and this white bearded guy in the red suit.

And yes, Thai people do give each other gifts. But it’s for New Year, not Christmas. To welcome the new year, you get new things, that was I was told. You wake up on New Year’s day and you’d go to your grandparents for a blessing. Then you can open your new stuff.

So Christmas, the gift giving part of it, is just like New Year for Thais. Just a week earlier!

I grew up in a household that celebrate Christmas as a family tradition. We got Christmas presents from Santa on Christmas morning. And those were the only presents to be opened that day. The rest of the presents did not come from Santa but instead from friends and relatives, and therefore they would be opened on New Year’s Day.

My mom always put up the plastic tree they brought back from their years in the U.S. She has boxes of ornaments and lights for us to put in the tree. We had our stockings hung up on the wall by the tree since we didn’t have a chimney. My mom would put one extra stocking up for whoever my best dolly friend was that year.

This was where we would put deliver our letters to Santa two week before Christmas. “Because it takes two weeks for international airmail, dear,” was the explanation.

And my parents could come up with some good answers to our young, inquisitive minds.

How did Santa get into our house if we don’t have a chimney? My genius dad walked me to our kitchen and pointed at the exhaust vent.

If “Christmas Tree” is a pine tree, why doesn’t it look like any of the “pine trees” (Ton Son) surrounding our house? My mom said because our Christmas tree came from America, a cold and snowy place, so it needs to be thicker and has more “fur” to keep warm.

If the reindeer came from the North Pole, aren’t they hot in this weather? They shed their fur and lost their weight to accommodate the climate. Many animals do that, like “Eskimo dogs” shedding when the snow melts and camels losing their humps after many days without water.

Oh, there was an answer to everything! And all of them stirred our imagination and curiosity even more. My parents always encouraged learning. Starting a Christmas tradition is one way of doing that.

Funny that we never asked how reindeer fly. But then again, our imagination overruled a lot of the scientific facts. We believed in both magic AND science. So if Santa uses magic to squeeze through the vent leading into our house, who were we to argue.

Christmas music was played through the house. We would be coming home already singing carols learned from our schools. My brothers went to a Christian college and I to a Catholic girl school.

So we do know the story of Christmas. We just didn’t associate the holiday with the religious significance. To us, Christmas will always be our family tradition, more than anything else.

That is why I will always love Christmas. It reminds me of my childhood and my home.

Here in America, it is easy to get all wrapped up in Christmas. One would think that being married to an American would fuel the festivity in the household.


My hubby, the all-American white boy, doesn’t really do Christmas. Not a religious person to begin with, he believes that Christmas shouldn’t be just one time of the year where you do something special for your family and friends. It should be everyday of the year. I agree with him on that.

But he’s on board with me doing special things for everyone on Christmas anyway. My justification? It’s the Thai’s “New Year, New Stuff” tradition, just a week earlier.

The meaning of the holidays is still the same to me: a time where the world comes together to celebrate family, love, and friendship. Sure, we can do this any other day of the year. I can buy my friend a present any time I think of them.

But hey, since everyone where I live decides that December 25th would be the day to be extra special, I’m just going to roll with that. 🙂

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, everyone!