Monthly Archives: August 2009

Thai Website: Seven Wonders of Thailand

Thailand has many natural and man-made wonders that are worthing visiting if you are on holiday in Thailand. Some of these are well-known to tourists while others are more off the beaten path. If you have ever been to any of these “wonders” then we would like you to help vote for what you think should be the “wonder of the year”. Votes are automatically updated every day and the competition will finish at the end of the year. If you have never been to Thailand before, then this is a great opportunity to see what other people see as the best of what Thailand has to offer. All of the “wonders” on the website have been nominated by visitors to the website. This is another of our non-commercial websites in the Paknam Web Network. You won’t find any advertising as it is one of our hobby sites that we set up with no intention to make any money.


Then and Now in Samut Prakan

A good way to explore an area is by using Google Earth. I have personally discovered some interesting places by analysing satellite images. So, I was really pleased to hear that Google had updated the satellite images for a large part of Samut Prakan Province. This gives me an opportunity now to write a “then and now” piece comparing images between 2002 and 2009. This first one is the old Paknam Prison in 2002. The inmates had already been moved out by this time though the bulldozers hadn’t come in yet to pull down the buildings.

This second image shows what it looks like now. As you can see all of the buildings have now been removed. The plan was to start building a 139 meter high tower on this plot of land. The foundation stone ceremony was conducted back in 2007 but all they have done since is build the car park and a few paths.

This next image from 2002 shows the area around the newly constructed giant three-headed elephant at The Erawan Museum. It is about 50 meters high which is the equivalent of a 15 storey building. At that time, it dominated the landscape.

Things have changed dramatically for the elephant. As you can see from this picture it is now penned in by the Kanchanapisek Outer Ring Road. It still stands tall but it has more competition now.

This is the waterfront in Paknam at the City Hall in 2002. When this image was taken they had just started to extend the waterfront. The lawn and trees had been bulldozed and you can see at the bottom of the picture they had already made the first extension out over the water.

This is how the waterfront looks now. Although it is nice to have more space, it really doesn’t look finished and is more of a concrete monstrosity than a rest area. I miss the shade from the trees.

This is Khun Samut Chin temple. As you can see, back in 2002 it was already cut off from the mainland due to land erosion. To the north of the temple you can just work see a raised wooden walkway which is the only access.

In 2009 the temple is still surrounded by the sea but there has been some major changes. For a start there is now a more permanent concrete walkway to the mainland. There is also a stone wall around the circumference of the temple and the breakwater to the south of the temple has been extended.

This is a stretch of the Old Sukhumwit Road which is running along the coastline of the Gulf of Thailand. North is to the right of this picture and that is the direction where you will find the newly built Suvarnabhumi Airport.

This is what it looks like this year. They have been constructing a 15 kilometer long drainage canal from the area around the airport to the Gulf of Thailand. What they are building here is a pumping station that will force the water over an aqueduct, 12 meters above Sukhumwit Road, and out into the Gulf. Visit to view our various maps and satellite images of the area.

Highway Robbery in Thailand

Today I received an email forward that is doing the rounds in Thailand at the moment. It shows some “highway robbers” in action in Thailand. The lady who took these pictures was annoyed with being pulled over and decided to document her experience. Don’t ask me how she got away with taking these pictures. Maybe because so many people were being pulled over.

This actually happened to me a few years back when I was going down the highway in the middle of no-where. They were literally pulling everyone over for speeding though they had no speed camera to back up their claim. They apparently tried the same trick with this woman saying that she was driving too fast. She told them that it was impossible as her twenty year old car wasn’t capable of going faster than 80 km/ph.

The policeman than walked around the car looking for some other reason to fine her. He then spotted that her rear license plate was missing. She explained to him that it had fallen off recently and hadn’t put it back on yet. She showed him the plate in the back of the car. But, he told her it would be a 200 baht fine that she could pay immediately.

When she was lining up with other people who were also waiting to pay fines, she noticed that there were two kinds of tickets being issued. The above book shows a home-made version made with a stamp. You can see one of these home-made tickets at the bottom of the third picture. There is a drivers license on top of it. She said that the fines were ranging from 200 to 1,000 baht depending on how much you argued and how you behaved.

This final picture that she took shows that there was also a real ticket book which they would sometimes use. Maybe this one was for people who argued too much and had to pay the full price. As you can see, these photographs are dated November 2008. Of course, not all policemen are corrupt. I am not sure what the statistics are, but I have been stopped four times by Thai policemen and only one of them didn’t ask for a bribe first.

How to cook… Stir Fried Asparagus and Mushrooms

Stir Fried Asparagus and Mushrooms is a good accompanying dish that you can have with a curry. In Thai it is called “phat aetsaparakat gup het hom”. It is not spicy and is simple to cook. In the ingredients pictured below, you can see shiitake mushrooms, two garlic cloves and chopped asparagus.

Pepare the asparagus first by taking off the outer skin and washing them. Dip them briefly into boiling water and then into cold water. If you are using dry shiitake mushrooms then you need to soak them in water first until soft. If you are using fresh mushrooms like us, you just need to trim them and wash in water. Heat some oil in a wok and add the crushed garlic, frying until golden brown. Next add the mushrooms. Stir for a minute or so and then add quarter of a cup of chicken stock, half a tablespoon of light soy sauce and a tablespoon of oyster sauce. Now add the asparagus. To thicken the sauce, add some tapioca flour that has already been mixed with some water. Give it a good stir and then remove from the heat. Come back to next week for another Thai Food Blog.

Tay Krachaat Festival

One of the major Chinese festivals held during the year is “tay krachaat”. It is not restricted to a particular day but it has to take place before the start of “Sart Chin” which this year is in early September. I attended the annual Tay Krachaat Festival at the Thamma Katanyoo Foundation in Ban Pu Mai sub-district of Samut Prakan on Sunday. The Ruam Kuson Foundation in Taiban held theirs two days later. It is difficult to translate the name of this festival into English. However, “krachaat” is a kind of wicker basket or large container. The word “tay” means “to pour”. So, I guess you could translate this as the “Emptying of the Wicker Basket Festival”. In reality it is a kind of Chinese Philanthropy Festival. Local Chinese business people and private individuals donated a large amount of money to buy several hundred tons of rice to be distributed to the poor people in the district.

The ceremony was due to start at 3 p.m. I am glad I turned up early as there must have been at least three thousand people there already. They all had wooden tickets and were sitting in long rows under a large tented area. I guess many of them would have been there for several hours already in order to be at the front of the queues. When I arrived, a Chinese God was being transported around the area on a chair which was attached to three poles. A Chinese lay man, in front of the chair was in a kind of trance and was handing out small food items, presumably on behalf of the Chinese god. He was also blessing people with sacred water. From here they went on to various other shrines around the temple complex.

Behind the main area where the crowd was waiting, about a hundred round tables had been set up for a feast. There was a lot of food that included fish, pork, fowl, vegetable, fruits and sweetmeats. At first I thought this had been set up for the poor people to eat a meal. However, it soon became obvious that this was the normal practice of the Chinese to offer food to dead ancestors. Some people were going around with incense sticks and placing these in the food on each of the tables. Surrounding this area were also many gold and silver paper decorations. Once the food had been offered to the ancestors the paper was all collected up and then burned in a large fire.

All this time, the local poor people were waiting patiently in the heat. But, it wasn’t over yet. First there had to be speeches and the official opening ceremony led by Mr. Surachai Kanasa, the deputy governor of Samut Prakan, who turned up late. Then it was time for the distribution of the rice bags. There were many volunteers on duty as well as security guards who were all helping to make sure everything went smoothly. People came forward with their tickets and were then each given two bags of rice. There was potential for riots and chaos but the distribution was done in a calm manner. Announcements were made often that there would be enough rice for everyone and that there was no need to panic. In the end, there was more than enough and they had to then work out what to do with the remainder.

I have posted more pictures of the Chinese Shrine and this event in the Samut Prakan Forums. I have also posted a video in the Paknam Video Blogs. Visit our website at to explore a typical province in Thailand.