Monthly Archives: July 2010

This Week in Thailand: 23-29 July 2010

This is a review of what happened in Thailand during the last week based on topics that I tweeted. You can follow me live for latest news about Thailand @RichardBarrow. I have also started a new version of my Bangkok Dangerous Map as there have been more bombs and demonstrations in Bangkok recently. Hopefully I won’t need to update it as much as my old map, which had 2.7 million views.

Weekend 23rd-25th July 2010

  • RT @suthichai China executes 13 Thai women for smuggling illegal drugs…Thai Rath headline this morning #
  • Charice has arrived in Thailand & will be singing at Siam Discovery tonight. Expect some crowds. #
  • 25 Chinese-made tanks, that the Thai army cannot afford to maintain any more, will be used as artificial reefs /BkkPost #
  • High HIV incidence for Thai men who have sex with men; many acquiring HIV in their early twenties #
  • Japan seeks detail on death of cameraman in Thai protests #
  • Thailand’s Massive Internet Censorship (Asia Sentinel) #
  • Tales from the kitchen of Thailand’s most gruesome baker (@CNNgo) #
  • Facebook & Twitter are being blamed by Thai Culture Ministry for poor language skills of students #
  • Record rainfall in July for Bangkok. 405.5mm so far this month compared to the average of 160mm /BkkPost #
  • I’m in Bang Phli for their first Candle Parade along Samrong Canal. #
  • Video clip of Candle Boat Parade now taking place in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan. #
  • Video clip at Wat Bang Phli Yai Klang of Wien Tien with the large candle. #
  • Picture of the 1 million Baht toilets at Wat Bang Phli Yai Nai, Samut Prakan. #
  • 16 year old Thai student arrested for holding banner “I saw dead people at Ratchaprasong” #
  • Photo Album for the Candle Boat Parade this morning in Bang Phli, Samut Prakan #
  • UK tourist paraded by cops alongside prostitutes in Thailand #
  • Former tennis star Paradorn to begin new career in motorcycle racing #
  • Domestic violence is rising in Thailand (Bangkok Post) #
  • New book “Franco-Siamese Crisis 1893” launched at Phra Chulachomklao Fort, (Nation) /via @MaewNam #
  • Miss Thailand World 2010 contestants grace Phuket (Phuket Gazette) #
  • Lucky Escape as Lift Plunges 10 Floors at the Welcome Jomtien Hotel in Pattaya #
  • Phuket Airport Luggage Theft: French tourist in prison #
  • A bomb has exploded at a bus stop near Ratchaprasong in Bangkok. At least 8 people have been injured, 2 critical. #
  • The bomb near Ratchaprasong, Bangkok exploded at 5:51 p.m. Minutes later news & pictures were spreading across Twitter. #
  • 200 red shirts rallied at Lumphini Park to show their unity & to defy the Thailand’s security act #
  • “Bomb wounds 9 in Bangkok on day of by-election” by @babyfishie (Washington Post) #
  • EC’s unofficial result: Dem’s Panich wins by-election with 96,480 votes, while Korkaew had 81,776 votes /BkkPost #
  • Breaking News: Bomb explosion at Big C Ratchadamri has claimed the life of Mr Thawatchai, aged 51 /via @js100radio #

Buddhist Holiday for Start of Khao Phansa: 26th-27th July 2010

  • 26th July: Today is the birthday of Thaksin Shinawatra. He was born in Chiang Mai Province in 1949. #
  • Today is Asalaha Bucha Day & I will be taking pictures of activities at Ancient Siam & The Erawan Museum #
  • The beautiful Tak Bat Dok Mai Festival in Saraburi is today & tomorrow. Two rounds: 10am & 2pm #
  • Although Monday & Tuesday are public holidays, all shopping malls in Bangkok & provinces are open as normal. #
  • Police don’t know who planted bomb as most CCTV cameras at Ratchaprasong are inoperative due to red-shirt rally /BkkPost #
  • A call for how travel warnings are established as they are often “devastating and unnecessary” #
  • Short video clip of Thai dancing at Ancient Siam this afternoon. #
  • Divisive ex-Thai leader marks birthday on Twitter (Washington Post) #
  • Family Mart & 7-Eleven won’t sell me beer tonight because of 2 day Buddhist holiday. But the mom & pop store will! #
  • In Pakistan, non-Muslims & tourists can get a permit to allow them to buy beer. Maybe they should do that in Thailand! #
  • Photo album & video from the Khao Phansa activities this afternoon at Ancient Siam in Samut Prakan #
  • RT @qandrew: On religious days in Thailand, licensed bars, clubs, restaurants & tax-paying shops don’t sell alcohol. Rest do. #
  • Protest march to UNESCO HQ 10am in opposition to Preah Vihear Temple registration as World Heritage by Cambodia /TANN #
  • More than 5 protesters at UNESCO. Will the police arrest the yellow shirts or will we see double standards again? #
  • Chamlong led activists to hand petition to UNESCO, opposing listing of Preah Vihear as World Heritage site /BkkPost #
  • PM met with PAD leader Panthep at Pitsanulok House 2 discuss Preah Vihear dispute. Kasit also joined. /via @Juarawee #
  • DSI will seek indictment of 26 red shirt terrorist suspects including Veera, Jatuporn & Weng /BkkPost #
  • Kids’ crash helmets selling like hot cakes in Phuket #
  • Chamlong demands gov’t push Cambodian forces, people from disputed area; will protest gov’t if it takes no action /TANN #
  • [iPhone Blog] Thai Flight Search Engine: A quick way to compare prices for flights inside Thailand using your iPho… #
  • Win a Thai Flight Search engine for the iPhone by posting a comment on my iPhone blog: #

Wedneday 28th July 2010:

  • PM Abhisit Vejjajiva vows to protect Thailand’s rights and interests for Preah Vihear (The Nation) #
  • The next long holiday weekend in Thailand is for the Queen’s Birthday 12th-15th August 2010. Book your travel plans now! #
  • 8 of the Top 15 websites in Thailand are social media and social networking sites /via @lekasina #
  • In Thailand there are 17.5 million Internet users which represents 26% of the population /via @lekasina #
  • 12 million mobile Internet users in Thailand. Facebook & Hi5 are in Top 5 websites accessed on a mobile /via @lekasina #
  • High-speed rail link considered for Bangkok to Rayong (1 hour) & later Chiang Mai (3 hours) /BkkPost #
  • 12,000 people signed up for TrueVision’s HDTV channels during the recent World Cup /BkkPost #
  • TrueVisions plans to remove more unpopular channels this year as new HDTV channels will need the space /BkkPost #
  • 1 new HDTV channel on TrueVisions uses resources of 3 regular channels. Translation = We want to charge more for less #
  • Constitution Court will begin to examine dissolution case of Democrat Party on 9 August /BkkPost #
  • The Case of the Disappearing Diamond Jewelery has been solved. Apparently the shop owner “miscounted”. #
  • 79 PAD leaders & supporters expected to report to police on Aug 29 over blockade of two airports in late 2008 /BkkPost #
  • Upload pictures and video from your iPhone straight to CNN iReport in this new app – #
  • Bangkok Governor says he’s humbled & inspired after receiving “Top City” award, despite recent riots #
  • Dengue has reached a five-year high in Thailand, with 41,136 cases & 38 deaths to 20 July #
  • Thai army to reinforce Cambodian border if needed (AP) #

Thursday 29th July 2010:

  • 29th July: Today is National Thai Language Day in Thailand #
  • Thailand’s largest canned fish producer has agreed a deal making it world’s largest seafood group #
  • Thai probe of foreign journalist deaths in Thailand called inadequate #
  • DSI has forwarded a case seeking indictment of 25, including Thaksin, on terrorism charges to the prosecutors /BkkPost #
  • Of the 22,004 websites on CAT, Google found 2,150 Thai sites containing malware /via @DavidQuine #
  • In Thailand unrest, journalists under fire (Committee to Protect Journalists) #
  • Indonesia overtakes Thailand in car sales (AP) #
  • PM cancels SOE in 6 out of 16 provinces: Ayutthaya, Nong Bua Lamphu, Chaiyaphum, Chon Buri, Mukdahan & Maha Sarakham /BkkPost #
  • I’m at a dinner party for members of the Samut Prakan Press Association. Quite a large crowd. Good food. Bad karaoke! #
  • In Samut Prakan we have 6 monthly newspapers and 3 cable TV stations. Others here are stringers for national TV & newspapers. #
  • Thai Protest at UNESCO in Bangkok is now occupying one lane of Sukhumwit Road /via @netphoto #
  • Protesters outside UNESCO are waiting World Heritage meeting result on Preah Vihear management plan expected tonight. #
  • Manager of 7-Eleven crashes her car into her own shop when she mistakes accelerator pedal for break #

You can follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for all the latest news about Thailand. I post about Thailand travel, food, festivals, major events and of course breaking news. Visit my Twitter Archives for everything that I have posted on Twitter over the past five months.

(Pictures by Getty Images and Richard Barrow)

Candle Festival in Thailand

Over the recent long holiday weekend in Thailand, we celebrated two important Buddhist holidays: Asarnha Bucha and Khao Phansa. The first takes place on the full moon day of the eighth lunar month. It commemorates the Buddha’s first sermon to his first five disciples. On this day people celebrate the Triple Gem. This represents the Buddha, his teaching and his disciples. The following day is the start of the three month long Buddhist Rains Retreat. In English it is sometimes called “Buddhist Lent” as some people vow to give up things such as alcohol or meat during this period.

Over the past few days, there have been many parades around the Kingdom of Thailand of large candles that are given to monks at the temples. The candles are large enough to stay alight for the entire Buddhist Rains Retreat. However, some are much larger than others and certainly more beautifully decorated. The best of these can be seen in the annual parades in cities in Isaan such as at Ubon Ratchathani. In Samut Prakan, we didn’t have such spectacular wax carvings, but we did have some candle processions on boats.

I think nearly every local community and temple had their own candle processions. Though in some temples local people went on their own to offer food and candles to the monks. In the picture above, local people are taking part in a procession around the main ordination hall three times in a clockwise direction. They then went inside to offer the candles, robes and dried food to the monks. I think I must have taken pictures at least half a dozen different candle parades for our online news magazine for Samut Prakan Province. For most of these events I posted live moblogs over at with pictures taken from my iPhone.

The next big festival in Thailand for us is for the Queen’s Birthday on 12th August. Expect to see early morning alms giving to hundreds of monks and fireworks in the evening. It is also a long weekend this year from 12-15 August 2010. You can read all about the latest news and events for Thailand by following me on Twitter @RichardBarrow.

This Week in Thailand: 16-22 July 2010

This is a review of what happened in Thailand during the last week based on topics that I tweeted. You can follow me live for latest news about Thailand @RichardBarrow.

Weekend 16th-18th July 2010

  • US names new Thailand envoy
  • Democrats, who are facing dissolution, held merit-making rituals to “shore up the party’s waning luck” /BkkPost
  • Lonely Planet declares it is safe to go to Bangkok “for now”
  • Thaksin’s supporters performed rituals to improve his luck while others held “counter-rituals” against him /BkkPost
  • Australian red-shirt protester ignores lawyer’s advice and refuses to plead guilty
  • NACC cannot decide on SMS case against PM Abhisit & Finance Minister Korn & orders additional investigation /BkkPost
  • Interpol sting nets 5000 World Cup gamblers in China, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand
  • Phuket: Ministry of Culture found inappropriate use of Buddha image in foreign owned restaurant
  • More than half of inmates in Thai prisons are drug offenders. In Mexico it’s 40%, Europe 10-20% & USA 10% /BkkPost
  • Thai Fact: The first banknote in Thailand was issued in 1902 / BkkPost
  • A fascinating first hand report of a Thai police interrogation of a drug suspect
  • Sukhumbhand (the @BangkokGovernor) is ready to mediate talks with Thaksin
  • Abac Poll: Over 80% of Thai students are proud of their country but less than 40% are proud of politicians /BkkPost
  • Washington Post: If Abhisit wants reconciliation he must end SOE & release red shirt leaders
  • Red Shirts re-enact the massacre at Rajprasong…
  • Has the “Sorry Thailand” video really been banned by the Thai government?

Monday 19th July 2010

  • Youtube video of “illegal” arrest of a red shirt protestor at Ratchaprasong “I came alone”
  • Police can arrest people for no reason if a group of 5 or more. Natee said he came alone & was wearing red as its Sunday
  • The @bangkokgovernor will go to New York on 25th July to pick up the Travel & Leisure Best City Award for Bangkok
  • Russian pianist makes brief appearance in court on child sexual abuse charge
  • PM Abhisit says he cannot see the reason to ban “Sorry, Thailand” from TV (The Nation)
  • Candles for the dead at Ratchaprasong – Reuters photos of red shirt protest tonight

Tuesday 20th July 2010

  • Live pic of 200 students taking part in “Wien Tien” at Wat Bang Na Nai.
  • Short video clip of “wine tien” at Wat Bang Na Nai by Thai students.
  • Parasitic Wasp Swarm Unleashed to Fight Pests in Thailand (National Geographic)
  • They’re more British births in Thailand than in any other country in the region /BkkPost
  • Last year more than 800,000 British tourists visited Thailand & about 50,000 British citizens live here /BkkPost
  • Thai PM instructs DSI to probe case of missing Bt5 mln diamond seized from Red Shirts /MCOT
  • Thai cabinet decides to lift the emergency decree in three provinces – Lampang, Sakon Nakhon and Roi-et /BkkPost
  • This week, 100’s of Thai workers will fly to Finland to work picking blueberries (The Nation)
  • The Ratchaprasong Intersection sign is back today. Photographer suspect it is new
  • More than 400 Indian couples fly to Thailand for their wedding ceremony
  • Six foreign tourists injured in lift plunge at The Color Living Hotel, Samrong. One serious.

Wednesday 21st July 2010

  • The Board of Censors yesterday defended its decision to ban the “Sorry, Thailand” commercial
  • The State of Emergency is still being enforced in Thailand in 16 provinces including Bangkok.
  • Interviewing Successful Thai Language Learner @AndrewBiggs by @WomenLearnThai
  • Sale of alcoholic drinks is prohibited in Constituency 6 in Bangkok from 6pm on Saturday to midnight on Sunday.
  • Lizards prime suspects in legless corpse case in Ayutthaya
  • Miss Thailand World contestants in Phuket for ‘training’
  • Confusion as Immigration orders cancellation of visa & black listing of Russian Composer BEFORE trial
  • Campaign Shows Lingering Divisions in Thailand (New York Times)
  • New York Times: Mr. Abhisit [is] arresting his opponents or silencing them with vigorous and widespread censorship.
  • Airport Link to start commercial operation August 23rd 2010 (MCOT)
  • Top 20 Thailand News Photos for 2010

Thursday 22nd July 2010

  • The Amazing Thailand Grand Sale starts today at QSCC for 4 days
  • Thai Divisions Shift to Voting Booth (Wall Street Journal)
  • Apichatpong Weerasethakul tells CNN about his big win and facing censors (CNN Video)
  • “Hangover 2” to take place in Thailand “…expect to see the dark side of the Thai sex tourism.”
  • I am on my way to the City Hall in Samut Prakan for the Candle Procession through town by local schools at 9.30 a.m.
  • The Candle Festival Parade getting ready to leave Samut Prakan City Hall.
  • Thai girl in traditional costume for Candle Parade in Samut Prakan.
  • Photo Album for the Candle Parade by local schools in Samut Prakan this morning
  • A reporter sues PM & CRES for attempted murder, saying he was shot at by a soldier in crackdown on red shirts /BkkPost
  • Pet Expo Thailand 2010 at Queen Sirikit Convention Center 22-25 July, 2010
  • Video of “BImm Bamm” from Mahler No. 3 (Thai premiere) conducted by @somtow
  • PAD Leader Sondhi withdraws all defamation cases against the red shirt leaders after 7 hrs of talks /TANN

You can follow me on Twitter @RichardBarrow for all the latest news about Thailand. I post about Thailand travel, food, festivals, major events and of course breaking news. Visit my Twitter Archives for everything that I have posted on Twitter over the past five months.

(Pictures by Reuters)

Birthdays in Thailand

As part of the celebrations for their birthday, many Thai Buddhists will go to their local temple to offer alms to a monk and to then receive a blessing in return. Monks are also often invited to mark other anniversaries. This week, my school celebrated 55 years and so twenty monks were invited. After a chanting session, the students and teachers then offered the monks dried food and other basic essentials like shampoo and toothpaste.

Bangkok Day Trips: Temple in the Sea

My Bangkok Day Trip for this week is two locations in Samut Prakan Province. Although you can still see the skyscrapers in Bangkok from these places, it is very unlikely that you will meet any other foreigner on this trip. However, be prepared to go off the beaten track a bit to an area where there are no roads or public transport. The day trip today is to Phra Chulalchomklao Fortress which protects the approach to the Chao Phraya River and Bangkok further upriver. The next stop is a temple which is surrounded by the sea at high tide due to land erosion. Click here for my map of the area.

It is possible to go to Phra Chulachomklao Fortress by public transport but the service is not very regular. From Phra Samut Chedi, there is a large songtaew and a bus that go to the fort. Obviously if you are driving it is much easier. I have marked the location on the map. Just follow the road to the end. The fort is on navy property so you will have to show some sort of identification at the checkpoint. But, it is free to enter the fort. There is a restaurant here as well alongside the river so you could easily spend 2-3 hours exploring the fort.

The main attraction here are the seven Armstrong guns which are still in good working order. The fortress was built in the 1890’s and the guns were fired only once in anger against the French in 1893. In addition to the guns, there is also a Navy ship that you are allowed to explore. From the bridge there are some fine views of the river and the Gulf of Thailand. If you are interested in nature then it is worthwhile to also explore the mangrove forest as there is an extensive boardwalk built above it. Near the car park with the vendors and in the mangroves you will probably see some monkeys that swim in the water hunting for food.

If you came by your own transport, then you need to drive back up Suksawat Road looking for a turning to Sakhla on your left. Alternatively, take a songtaew that is heading back to Phra Samut Chedi and nearly halfway get off at the turn-off for Sakhla. Wait for another songtaew going down this road. Halfway to Sakhla, you will see an archway across the road in the middle of no-where. A short distance later there is a bridge over a small river. Get off there and you will see on your right a pier where you can rent a boat. Tell them you want to go to Wat Khun Samut. The taxi boat will take about 10-15 minutes. Make sure that you get his number as you will need to ring him to pick you up!

I know this is a bit challenging but it is really worthwhile. You are now literally in the middle of nowhere and surrounded by shrimp farms. No roads at all. Walk south for about 30 minutes and you will reach a concrete walkway that will take you out into the sea. I have been here many times and I really love the place. The village chief also has homestay which is worth considering. We go here every year to volunteer teach in the local school. Many of the local people have moved their houses inland three or four times because of land erosion. The temple is the only building that is still standing. Out to sea you can spot the concrete water tanks at low tide and also the electricity poles that used to follow along the main road in town. Visit our website for more information and also our site for Samut Prakan at

I hope you enjoyed this Bangkok Day Trip. I am out every weekend looking for new attractions. You can follow me live on Twitter @RichardBarrow where I post pictures as I travel. Also check out my moblog at which I post from my iPhone as I travel. You will find news and links about my next trip on my website at