Monthly Archives: March 2009

Wat Bang Kaphom in Samut Songkhram

I was on my way to the floating market at Amphawa the other week when I came across this interesting temple. On the outside it was deserted and very undistinguishable from any other temple that I had been to in Thailand. I almost passed it by but then a coach load of Thai tourists pulled into the small parking lot. They left their coach in single file and were led to a small wihan off to one side. My curiosity got the better of me and I decided to follow them. I am so glad that I did. Wat Bang Kaphom is located off Highway 325 between Samut Songkram and the Amphawa Floating Market. It is an old temple dating back to the Ayutthaya period. It is one of those places that should be in the Lonely Planet but isn’t.

The old building is dominated by a large Buddha Footprint in the center. It is unusual in that it has four distinct layers. There are four different footprints superimposed on each other. They are believed to date back to the Thonburi period and were once said to be covered in silver plating. The footprint at the lowest level is made from mother-of-pearl inlaid wood. What makes this room outstanding are the stucco reliefs found on the walls. Normally, temple walls are covered with mural paintings depicting episodes from the Buddha’s life. It is unusual to see this 3-D effect in a Thai temple, though I have seen many in India.

I wouldn’t suggest that you make a special trip to this temple, but it is a worthwhile stop on the way to the floating market. I have marked it for you on google maps. Visit our Samut Songkhram section of for more ideas for places to visit in this province. Don’t forget to also bookmark for all the latest festivals and events in Thailand. We have also started to put our notes together on a new website site about Amphawa Floating Market at All of these websites are part of the Paknam Web Network.

OTOP Festival In The City 2009

One of the most successful legacies of former prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra is the OTOP scheme. This stands for “One Tambon One Product”. In Thai, “tambon” translates as “sub-district” or group of villages. The idea was to encourage local entrepreneurs to produce quality products unique to their region. The government helped by marketing the products not only nationally but on the international stage too. OTOP products cover a large array of local products, including handicrafts, cotton and silk garments, pottery, fashion accessories, household items, and foods. After the military junta overthrew the government in 2006 they first cancelled this scheme. But, they later realised how much of a success it has been in stimulating the economy at the local level. It had not only created many jobs locally but also provided them places to sell their products.

In order to help stimulate the economy, the government have been holding OTOP Fairs all over the country. The latest and biggest, called OTOP Festival In The City 2009, has just started in Bangkok. The aim is to have 3,000 stores selling products from all around the country in the heart of the city. The event is taking place at major department stores along Sukhumwit Road from The Emporium all the way up to Siam Square. The main event takes place at the National Stadium, next to MBK, where they alone have an estimated 2,500 stores. They are selling things like handicraft, clothes, food and many other products which are locally produced. For foreign tourists and expats, this is a great way to experience the wealth and variety of Thai products in one location. The OTOP fair runs from now until April 4th.

The locations of the OTOP fairs are as follows:

1. National Stadium
Category: Handicrafts, Artifacts, Souvenirs, Food, Beverages, Clothes & Garment, Ware & Decoration, Herb Supplements

2. Maboonkrong Shopping Center: Dried Food, Beverages, Cosmetics and Herbal Products.

3. Siam Discovery Center: Clothes & Garment, Handicraft & Basketry

4. Siam Center: Fashion products: Clothes, Dress, Bags, and Accessories

5. Siam Paragon: Dried Foods, Beverages, Handicraft Ware and Ceramic ware, Basketry, Artificial Flowers, 9 gold plates, Silversmiths, Perl Gems, Black onyx Jewelry, Elaborated Eggshell, Jewelry products and Ornamentations, Gem Stones and Colored Gem Stones.

6. Central World: Souvenirs, Home Decors, Spa Products, Scented Candles, Dried Food, and Beverages, Handicrafts, Basketry, Artifacts, Miniatures, Khon Masks, Glassware, Bencharong ware, and Thai cloth

7. Amarin Plaza: Fashion, and Home Decors

8. The Emporium: Wooden Crafts, Artificial Flowers.

9. Benjasiri Park: Enjoy cultural performances from four regions “OTOP Villages from 4 Regions”

Many of the venues also have cultural shows and mini concerts from the late afternoon until evening. More information at our website.

Paknam Seafood and Trade Fair

If you live in Samut Prakan then you might be interested in the Paknam Seafood and Trade Fair. It is going on from now until Saturday 4th April 2009. It is taking place in the area in front of the city hall, alongside the river. They have a large stage set up for concerts during the evening with dining tables set up in front of it. Down one side are rows of food vendors. More than half the stalls in the city hall area are clothing and household goods. The rest are food. There are also rides for the kids like merry go round. If you are in the area then it is certainly worth visiting. It is open from late afternoon.

How to cook… Stir Fried Baby Kale and Pork

We seem to be doing a lot of stir-fried dishes recently. These are popular throughout Asia as they are both easy to cook and also to adapt according to what ingredients you have. Today we are cooking Stir Fired Baby Kale and Pork. In the picture below, you can see pork, garlic and baby kale. This is not as tough as the bigger version so you don’t need to discard so much of the stem.

To cook, fry the crushed garlic in your wok until golden brown. Next add the pork that has already been cut up into bite sized pieces. Finally comes the baby kale. Season with soy sauce, oyster sauce and some sugar if you insist. Make sure that you don’t overcook so that the kale is still a little crunchy. Come back next week to for another recipe that you can cook in a Thai kitchen. The archives for my Thai Food Blogs can be found at

Steam Train Trip to Ayutthaya

Today marks the 115th anniversary of the State Railway of Thailand. Every year, on March 26th, they mark this anniversary by arranging a trip on a steam train to Ayutthaya. There are not many opportunities these days to experience a journey aboard carriages pulled by a steam locomotive. Many of these engines are fast disappearing on the scrap heap. Luckily in Thailand a number of engines have been well preserved and are in good working order.

The train left Hua Lamphong Station in Bangkok this morning shortly after 8 a.m. There were many train spotters and photographers there to record this unique event. As the train puffed through the heart of Bangkok, black smoke billowing into the air, people stopped what they were doing to stand and gaze at this mesmerizing sight. Last year I rode on this train through Bangkok. However, this year I wanted to be one of these spectators by the side of the tracks as the train appeared around the corner. This year I waited at Bang Sue Station which is conveniently on the MRT underground line.

I guess I felt a bit like one of the Railway Children as I waited impatiently for the train to arrive. It was already five minutes late when I spotted the puffs of black smoke in the sky. The minutes dragged by until at last I saw the iron monster coming over the horizon. The front was decorated with yellow garlands and each side adorned proudly with Thai flags. There were two engines back to back. Locomotive 824 was taking the lead with Locomotive 850 due to lead on the return journey. Following behind were the passenger carriages with many people at the windows. Some waved as I took their picture.

I will be there again next year though this time I want to ride the train like last year. It is an amazing experience that you will never forget. I just don’t know how many more years that steam trains will be active in Thailand. If you would like to have advance notice of special trips like this and festivals in Thailand, then keep an eye on two of our websites where we post all the latest news and events. These are our forums at and the festival calendar at The train trips cost only 120 baht for the return trip to Ayutthaya. Once there you can join an optional tour of the city.