Monthly Archives: February 2008

Sanam Chan Palace

I have visted Nakhon Pathom three or four times, and on every trip I usually just visit the giant Phra Pathom Chedi. It is true that it is impressive, but then so is the nearby Phra Ratchawang Sanam Chan Palace with its unique mixture of Thai, English Tudor and French architectural styles. I suppose my only excuse for not visiting before is that it isn’t in the Lonely Planet. But then, I guess we should stop blindly following these guidebooks and go off exploring on our own. Sanam Chan Palace was built back in 1907 by command of King Rama VI when he was still the Crown Prince. He used it later whenever he was travelling in this region. Other members of the royal family also lived here at various times. Some of the important buildings built around the 800 rai plot of land are Phiman Pathom, Phirom Phakdi, Wachari Romaya and Samakkhi Mukkhamat.

The grounds of the palace are next to Silapakorn University. When I was there, there were quite a few students wandering around the gardens having their pictures taken at various locations. One popular viewpoint was this statue of Ya Le, the king’s favourite dog that always accompanied him. Unfortuantely he was shot dead one day and the king built this memorial in front of the Chali Mongkhon Asana building. Notice the turret of the building behind that makes it look a bit like a French castle. The exposed wooden beams on the other side, in the top picture, give it a Tudor look.

Other than the students, there weren’t that many people wandering around. I almost had the place to myself. I am not too sure but I got the impression that you can explore the grounds of the palace for free. I had difficulty in finding the main entrance and endeda up arriving through a back gate. The security guard there didn’t say anything. The buildings are all spread out and many of them are now a kind of museum housing artifacts and contemporary photographs. The first one I went in, pictured above, I was asked for my ticket. I told her honestly that I had come in the side entrance and asked her where I could buy the ticket. She pointed to a location on the far side of the park. But she let me in anyway. I eventually found the ticket booth. The prices were written plainly in English that foreigners were 50 baht and Thai people 30 baht. I have no problems with the two price system when they are honest enough to clearly show how much the Thai people are paying. I greeted the lady politely in Thai and for some reason asked her how much the ticket was. Straight away she said “30 baht” which somewhat surprised me. I wasn’t even going to ask if I could have the Thai price as the difference was minimal. But, that was nice of her to do that.

I had an enjoyable time wandering around the gardens and exploring some of the private residences of the royal family. There is also a traditional Thai house to explore. The main building, Phiman Pathom, is pictured above and is connected by a raised walkway to a more tradionally Thai temple like building. You are not allowed to take pictures inside and you also have to leave bags and shoes outside in lockers. But it is worth looking around in order to get a glimpse of the lifestyle of the Thai royal family in the past. You can even sneak a look into their bathroom and bedroom. There was no tour and minimal signs explaining what you were looking at. However, it was nice that we could proceed at our own pace. Around the back of this building are a collection of Land Rovers and Chevrolet vehicles used when H.M. The King and other members of royal family used visited various royal projects around the country.

The palace is open Tuesday to Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You will find it a short distance West of the chedi. Visit our sister website to locate the palace on the satellite map. is a member of the internationally acclaimed Paknam Web Network. All of these sites are family friendly and have no mention of the bar scene or the seedier side of Thailand. We presently have about 50 websites in the network with new ones being added every month. Some of the sites include,,,,,,, and If you have a blog about Thailand, then you are welcome to submit it to our blogroll at

Lunchtime Thai Menu 08

Green Chicken Curry (gaeng khiao wan gai)

We are now onto Week 8 of our Friday Lunchtime Thai Menu. If you have just joined us, we are trying to buy a meal every Friday for four people that will only cost us not much more than $3. Sounds impossible? Not if you live in Thailand. Thai Street Food is both cheap and delicious. The first dish on our menu today is a classic example. It is a chicken green curry which is among the favourites of many foreign tourists. Believe it or not, this dish only cost 20 baht and tasted just as good as from a restaurant.

I often cook green or red curry at home as it is quite simple. I also like making up my own recipe for this but here is the traditional method of cooking. First add the green curry paste to the pan of hot oil. You can buy this ready made down at the market. When it becomes fragrant, gradually add the coconut milk. If you are Western you will now be asking for exact measurements. But, in Thai cooking you use your gut feeling. Keep stirring until a green oil surfaces to the top. Next add the sliced chicken. You could also use beef or pork. Remember, Thai people don’t use knives so everything has to be pre-cut to bite size. At the same time you should add the kaffir lime leaves. These should be torn just before adding so that the fragrance is released immediately. Once it is cooked through, transfer to a pot. Add the remaining coconut milk and season with sugar and fish sauce. Bring it back to the boil. Now add the eggplants that have been quartered. Sometimes the pea eggplants are added but I find these too hard. I usually add frozen garden variety peas instead. Once the eggplant is cooked, add sweet basil leaves and the red chilies. Now it is ready to eat!

Fried Chicken with Basil Leaves (gai pad gra-prow)

This is a favourite among Thai people and is often bought in shops as a one dish meal topped with a fried egg. I think the minced pork version is more common, though this chicken one is just as good. When you buy as a meal with rice it will cost about 25 baht. You might need to add an extra 5 baht for the fried egg. As we bought without rice it cost us only 20 baht. This can be a very spicy dish so you might like to say “pet noi” which will result in the cook not using so many chillies. The ones used in this dish are the small variety and can be very hot. A small handful is used. In Thai these are called “prik kee noo” which translates as mouse dropping chili. To cook, use a mortar and pestle to ground the chilies and garlic. Then add to hot oil until fragrant. Add the chicken and stir until done. Season with fish sauce and sugar. Some recipes add oyster sauce too. Now add the holy basil which gives it a very distinctive taste. Also add a sliced spur chili. It is now ready to eat.

Salad (salad khaek)

I guess we will have to start blaming you, our readers, for not allowing us to have balanced meals on Fridays. I would have much preferred to have a stir fried vegetable dish with the above. But, we are not allowed to repeat and are trying our best to come up with unique menus each week. This next one is called “salat khaek” which could be translated as Indian style salad. Though I think only because mayonnaise is not used for the dressing. Here they use a spicy peanut dressing similar to the one used for the satay pork dish. In this picture you can also just see some white bean curd which was actually quite nice. They sell these in plastic bags by the side of the road for only 20 baht.

Coconut Jelly Dessert (wun gati)

I don’t normally eat Thai desserts as I find them too sweet. But it is alright once a week in the interest of research for this series of blogs. This first one is a hardened version of my all time favourite “khanom tuay”. The lady selling this one comes during the day ringing her bell. If I can catch her I will share some pictures with you. This version is called “wun gati” which is a coconut jelly. The green colouring is natural and comes from the pandanus leaf which is often used in desserts.

Grated Coconut Pudding (kanom sod sai)

This is one of those surprise desserts that you buy wrapped in a banana leaf. You will need to ask what is inside unless you like lucky dip! This one is called “khanom sod sai” though sometimes you might hear it being called “khanom sai sai”. The brown filling in this one is shredded coconut though you will sometimes find alternatives. The pudding is sticky rice with a topping of coconut cream and rice flour. This is then wrapped in a banana leaf and put in a steamer for about ten minutes. Four of these cost about 10 baht so it is worth experimenting.

I hope you enjoyed looking at our meal as much as we enjoyed eating it. Come back next Friday to see what we will eat next. In the meantime, please browse some of my most popular Thai Food Blogs.

Phra Pathom Chedi

Despite its closeness to Bangkok, the city of Nakhon Pathom is often neglected by tourists. This is a shame because of the historical importance of the city. Nakhon Pathom is not only one of the oldest cities in Thailand, but it also marks the spot where Buddhism was first officially introduced into the Kingdom. The original pagoda is believed to date back over 1,500 years. In those days, the Gulf of Thailand reached as far north as Nakhon Pathom. Indian traders arrived in their ships and settled in this area. The introduction of Buddhism came via King Asoka who sent two missionaries to this land around 269 BC. Historians believe that it is this area that was known as Suvarnabhumi and that Nakhon Pathom could have been the capital. Suvarnabhumi means “Golden Land” and is the official name of the new international airport East of Bangkok.

There is a legend that recounts the building of the original stupa. It is very similar to the Greek legend of Oedipus. Court astrologers predicted that the new-born son of the King would one day kill him. Unable to kill her own son, the Queen had the baby abandoned in a forest where it was discovered by an old woman. He was given the name of Phya Pan. Later in his life he became a great warrior for the king of Ratchaburi. During a dispute that led to an armed conflict, Phya Pan led his soldiers into battle on elephant-back. His father recognized him just before he was then killed by his own son. Phya Pan then entered the capital triumphant and claimed the Queen as his wife, which was the tradition at the time. He was devastated when he found out the truth. He consulted the monks about what he could do to amend for these great sins. He was told to build a great stupa that would reach as high as a dove could fly. The original stupa, or chedi, was 39 metres high. A replica can be seen today in the southeast corner.

The town surrounding the Buddhist monument was eventually abandoned after the rivers dried up and the trading ships moved elsewhere. The jungle then cut off the area to the outside world and it became forgotten. It was then “re-discovered” by the future King Mongkut (King Rama IV) who at that time was a monk. When he later became a king, he commanded for the pagoda to be rebuilt. In 1853 A.D. a giant chedi was built to enshrine the original pagoda. Unfortunately this one collapsed during a violent rainstorm. It then had to be rebuilt and wasn’t completed until 1870 A.D. during the reign of King Rama V. By this time the height of the chedi was 120.45 metres high making it the tallest Buddhist monument in the world. A record that still stands. The diameter of the base is 233.50 metres. The chedi is solid and houses the relics of the Lord Buddha. The chedi was restored and improved upon during the next reign. The temple then became the royal chapel for King Rama VI. His ashes are interred in the base of the standing Buddha on the north side of the chedi.

Nakhon Pathom is only 56 kilometres West of Bangkok. It is easy to drive there along Highway 4. From Samut Prakan, it took me less than one hour to drive there early in the morning. There is no need for a map as the journey is simple and well sign-posted. You can, of course, also go there by bus from the Southern Bus Terminal or by Train from the Thonburi Station. At the weekend, there is a special train excursion that leaves Hualampong Station at 6.30 a.m. with stops at both Nakhon Pathom and Kanchanaburi further down the line. I was at the station when the train arrived at 7.40 a.m. Everyone rushed out as they had only 40 minutes to explore Phra Pathom Chedi before they had to get back on the train. You could take this tour if you like (only 100 baht) or arrange your own trip. I would suggest staying longer. There is more to see in the town. There are a few cheap but clean hotels near the station. I ate my breakfast in the market in this area and then walked the short distance to the chedi.

Even though it was still early the complex was open for visitors and worshipers. I entered from the north where you can see the large Standing Buddha. But, you can enter from other directions. If you are there early in the morning like me, then you might want to go around to the Southern entrance to get a better picture as the sun will be behind you (see top picture). When walking around a chedi or any Buddha monument, you should do so in a clockwise direction. This will bring you greater luck. I actually walked around three times in the end so hopefully I brought myself a lot of luck. The first round was at the base of the chedi. Then I went up the steps to walk around the gallery which was, of course, much quicker. I then walked through the cloisters surrounding the chedi to walk again around the circumference. Here you will find a total of 25 bells in little bell towers. If you ring them with a wooden mallet as you walk around then your luck will be heightened. On the outside of the cloisters you will find numerous Buddha images depicting different postures and gestures of the Buddha. Many of them I have never seen before. There are also chapels where you will find larger Buddha images such as the Reclining Buddha on the Westeren side.

In the temple grounds there is also a small museum. In total I was here for just over two hours as there was a lot to explore and learn about. In my library at home I have a large collection of guidebooks. I often take Lonely Planet with me as it is usually very comprehensive and has some good town maps. However, over recent years they have started to cut down on information on some of the smaller towns. Some have even been cut out altogether. Nakhon Pathom gets only a page for the entire province. So, instead I took with me the ever faithful Thailand Handbook by Carl Parkes which often has interesting information about tourist attractions which are lacking from some of the other guidebooks. He also had a handy map of the town and all the important monuments surrounding the chedi. I found it indispensable. Unfortunately it is now out of print so you will need to find a second-hand copy. I also took the Michelin Tourist Guide to Thailand as I often find it useful for planning road trips to places not in other guidebooks. Sadly that seems out of print too as I would love to buy the latest edition.

You will find other ideas for day trips and excursions from Bangkok at our sister site Also visit the Photo Album for more pictures that I took of this location.

Sticky Rice in Bamboo

When you are travelling, one of the highlights is always tasting the local specialties. Last weekend I was in Nakhon Pathom which is famous for khao lam – which is sticky rice cooked in a bamboo tube. There are different recipes. You can use either black or white sticky rice. Some will also have black beans. The white in this picture is egg custard. This dessert is flavoured with coconut milk. There is another version in Chonburi and I will show you the difference later.

When you buy them you usually have to say how many bamboo tubes you want. The classifier for this is “grabok”. They are usually 35 baht each or three for 100 baht. I bought a bundle of three and she threw in a thinner tube for free. It is so nice when they do this. Around some tourist attractions, some vendors get greedy when they see foreigners and will try and overcharge. After you have chosen which one, she will ask whether you want her to crack it open. Even if you are taking it home it is probably a good idea to get her to do this. You can see in the above picture that she has got the machete out and is chopping away. Make sure you stand back. I had one for lunch and it was so tasty that I went back to get another bundle. Not for myself, but for friends back home. Whenever I tell Thai people that I have been away for the weekend, the first thing they always ask is, what food did I bring back for them!

If you haven’t tried khao lam already, then do try the next time you get a chance. As well as Central Thailand, they have a version in the north.

Thai name: ข้าวหลาม​

How it really was to be in the so-called best high school in Thailand – edited

A week ago, I got an email from one guy asking if I would continue writing my blogs over here since they have helped him relaxed after spending all day long doing the thesis. He said that he would be waiting until my next blog would be written. I was just flattered! lol!! Well, I haven’t stopped writing here yet, just a little break coz I’m already in the university and there are piles of books waiting for me everyday hehe! Plus, I kinda was away from it for some time, I lost the rhythm I was having and as the consequence of using Spanish all the time, I had a feeling like my english was disappearing somehow.

So, I reread most of my old blogs to gain some inspirations. I ran into the really bad one of mine, how is it like to be in the best school?, which I received loads of negative comments and I don’t think I really described it like the way I really wanted to and the way I should have, now that I’m no longer there at Triam Udom Suksa School, I get to see what that school really gave me, did to me and influenced me in thousands of aspects. As who I am now, I am considering my ex-school from the point of view of somebody sitting outside of it but once, has been in it.

Triam Udom Suksa is really considered as one of the best high schools in Thailand for so many reasons. Not that they teach it all in English, it’s not international school. Nor that it has the food like in five-star restaurant in the cafeteria. Thai people have measured that from the results of those who graduated from there, where they could attend and what they could have become in the future. The exam to select the students to get in is the most difficult in the country, but it’s not a discrimination since there are also quotas for students with good marks, good eq and outstanding activities from all around the country. There are some studying right now in world’s best universities like Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, etc. The present Bangkok’s governor, Mr.Apirak Kosayotin, General Chaowalit Yongjaiyut, ex-prime minister, etc. did graduate from there. But not just those, the only Thai guy who has taken part in some of Hollywood animation’s movies like Moolan, for example, and some stars, some singers did graduate from here, too. But, in fact, it’s not only all about prestige or fame.

Triam Udom Suksa has been through a really long history the whole 70 years since it’s first established. The one who gave birth to this school was Mhom Luang Pin Malakul, who once was as important as those like Doctor Preedee Panomyong of Thammasart University, etc. He was minister of the ministry of education and later of the ministry of culture. UNESCO did give him a prize as an exemplary man with conscience of humanity and culture together with knowledges of social sciences. Furthermore, the very first buidings of school were once used as Japanese army’s basement during World WarII. Students had to run away with the uniform on and the teachers had to act like war’s spy with secret documents in their hands instead of textbooks to teach their students. There’s also a story saying that if we stayed late enough at night, we might be able to meet those Japanese soldiers working during the war time. Briefly, this school has shared its history with great men/women and great events.

After it all, what this school has been trying to do is to grow conscience in all the students’ hearts. Besides paying attention to our studies, we also have to grow up as a good person. The quote of the school has always been, “Gratitude is a sign of a good person.” Noone forgets that, seriously, eventhough we’ve graduated from there since a long time ago. What this school tries to teach us is to care about where we’re from, to care about the land that has given us all the oportunities, to study, to live and to grow. We shall not forget where we’re from eventhough right now loads are studying abroad and working abroad. We’ll always be Thai. We’ll always have to serve our country. Do no criticm about how country is going down. Do consider that the country is suffering and does need Thai people to help it stand up once again. Thailand has given us infinitely and it shouldn’t have difficulties just looking back and smile at it a little. Yes, it’s taught us to thank whoever has given us whatever, small or big or uncountable, it’s still something from someone. Whenver that one needs something, it’s time for us to give it back.
And why do they give really hard education the whole 3 years in school? So that their students could go well-prepared to serve their country. Studying in Chulalongkorn University or no, studying abroad or no, working in a government or no, nobody cares, all this school cares about is whatever part of the country or the world we’re choosing to be, are we doing alright? are we doing our best? besides happiness, are we sharing it to the others?

There are times that I cry my eyes out missing my family and my friends, also Thai food :p But besides making my own life the way I want it, never will I forget the duty. This duty is actually given since birth for all Thai people and it doesn’t mean it only stays with those from my old school, every single Thai has a duty to be responsable to Thailand. Never said it has to be huge, we don’t have to become Bush nor the UN’s secretary nor the EU’s leaders, just be responsable for whatever we’re doing coz even though we wear big-eyes to change our eye’s colours, we dye our hair, we choose to have loads of nationalities, our first would still forever be Thai and deep down inside, Thai will never leave us.