Category Archives: Chonburi

Khao Kheow Open Zoo

There are a number of zoos in and around Bangkok that are ideal destinations for people on holiday in Thailand with their children. One of the better zoos is Khao Kheow Open Zoo in Chonburi Province. It is about half way between Bangkok and Pattaya. The journey took us about 90 minutes and so it makes it an ideal day trip from either Bangkok or Pattaya. However, it is not easy to reach there by public transport so you might have to rent a car or hire a taxi for the day. But it is certainly worth the effort. I went there yesterday with Nong Grace and she had a really great time. She certainly wants to go back again.


In some ways Khao Kheow (sometimes spelled Khao Khiew) is similar to Safari World in Bangkok. It has all the regular animals that you would want to see such as giraffe, elephant, tiger, lion, chimpanzee, camel etc. It also allows you to get up close to these animals. There were many opportunities where you can feed the animals. Food was available for the animals at a very reasonable 20 baht a bunch. Like Safari World you can also drive through the park. However, at Khao Kheow you can get out of the car at most places and get quite close to the animals. You wouldn’t want to walk around the whole park as the animal exhibits alone cover an area of 400 acres.

If you don’t have a car you can always take a guided tram ride or rent a bicycle or even hire a golf cart for 300 baht for two hours. When we go again we might just do that. There are several places within the park where you can rent golf carts. We spent most of our time feeding the giraffes so next time we could park the car there first. Then when ready to explore more, we could go and rent a golf cart. The advantage of a golf cart is that you will see a lot more. Also, we were sometimes a bit lazy to keep getting out of the car to see all of the animals. Having said that, we did spend an incredible six hours at this zoo!

In the afternoon we went to see a Bird Show which was quite good but the parrot named “James Bond” didn’t always want to perform on cue. But, it was an enjoyable show for the youngsters. At the end of the show, Nong Grace wanted her picture taken with a parrot which only cost 20 baht. Nearby there was an adventure playground and a Children’s Zoo. Nong Grace spent several hours here playing and feeding the animals such as rabbits and goats. In fact I think we probably fed most of the animals at the zoo several times over. Luckily this wasn’t as expensive as at Safari World. Nong Grace wanted her picture taken with some of the animals such as tiger like she did at Sriracha Tiger Zoo. But, we didn’t see any opportunities for that which was a shame.

When we went to Safari World, the price of the tickets for foreigners was a really expensive 700 baht. This was mainly due to the shows. Nong Grace said she wants to go there again but I have told her it is too expensive. In contrast, Khao Kheow Open Zoo is far cheaper though obviously more challenging to get there. They have a two price system but the difference is very minimal. Thai adults are 70 baht and foreign adults 100 baht. Thai children 15 baht and foreign children 50 baht. Nong Grace is only four and they let her in for free. I then had to pay another 50 baht for taking my car into the zoo which was also very reasonable. As there wasn’t much difference between foreign and Thai price I didn’t bother to ask for local price. But they gave it to me anyway. It is nice when they do that without asking.

If you are a parent with children, you will probably find Khao Kheow Open Zoo much better if you have your own transport. This meant that Nong Grace didn’t have to walk around so much and we had a mobile base where we were able to keep drinks and snacks. The reason we ended up staying there six hours was probably because we drove around the zoo twice! Which is something you cannot do at Safari World. On the first round we skipped a few places which were too near to each other. Then saw these animals on the second round. We also went back to see some of her favourites like the giraffes and elephants. She also liked throwing cucumbers into the open mouth of the hippos. They apparently have a night safari here which might be worth investigating. I also noticed that they have a camping ground though I am not sure if that is mainly for schools.

You can see some of my other suggestions for Day Trips and Excursions from Bangkok over at Bangkok-Daytrips.com. Many more to come!

Sriracha Tiger Zoo

People often ask us for family friendly tourist attractions in Thailand where they can take their kids to have some fun. Sriracha Tiger Zoo is a great place for kids on holiday in Thailand. It can be done as either a day trip from Bangkok or as an excursion from Pattaya which is slightly closer. We drove down there this week to visit the zoo and it took us only 80 minutes from the Bangkok area. I took Nong Grace again as she enjoys visiting zoos and animal parks. Up to now, she has been quite nervous about getting close to any of the animals. However, for the first time, she wanted her picture taken with a tiger cub. This cost 150 baht for an instant picture in a nice frame. You can also take as many pictures as you like with your own camera. She even posed again later with two baby crocodiles for another 150 baht. She could have also posed with an orangutan, kangaroo, snake and even scorpions. But you have to draw the line when it costs 150 baht per picture.

The main feature of the zoo are the 200 Bengal tigers which can be seen at various locations. To their credit, the zoo has been able to maintain a successful breeding program for these tigers and so many of them were born at the zoo. In the Tiger Tunnel you can get quite close to the tigers. This picture was taken through the perspex glass and it came out quite well. Strangely, in this same enclosure was this African guy dressed in classic Tarzan gear. I am not sure what his purpose was as he was just sitting there smoking a cigarette. I guess when coach parties pass through he will get up and wrestle the tigers or something. In the same building there is a nursery where you can see one of the most remarkable sights at the zoo. This is the tiger cubs drinking the milk of a large mother pig. And then, in the neighbouring cage, there were piglets dressed in tiger skin shirts running around with a full grown tiger!

As well as observing the animals, there are also a number of shows that you can watch for no extra charge. Our first show was “Amazing Circus” which was a kind of Big Top show. It started with an act by an intelligent pig that was able to successfully sort coloured pegs into the correct coloured boxes. I guess this proves that pigs are not colour blind. Next came the highlight of the show with a performance by the large Bengal tigers. A word of warning before I continue. The tigers sat in a semi-circle with their backs to the audience at the start of the show. I would strongly suggest that you don’t sit in the front row as when they go to the toilet they can squirt backwards a couple of meters. The tigers did all the usual tricks such as jumping through hoops of fire and walking on their hind legs. It was certainly entertaining for the youngsters in the audience, but honestly, I am never that impressed with performances done with animals in Thailand. There are three of these shows per day at 11 a.m., 1.30 p.m. and 3.30 p.m.

From here we followed the crowds to the Elephant Show. This one wasn’t actually too bad. The tempo was quite fast and the elephants with their trainers kept running on from stage left and stage right. Although many of the tricks were the usual fare, the fast tempo managed to keep our attention and Nong Grace enjoyed the show. The highlight for her was the basketball match between two elephants. Take a look at this picture of one of the elephants doing a slam dunk! I have seen them playing football before but this was a first for basketball. The trainers also asked for two volunteers from the audience. They then laid down on the ground while two elephants walked over them several times. One of the elephants did the usual trick with its trunk by prodding the male volunteer in places he didn’t really want to be prodded. However, the young female elephant was the funniest. When it stepped over the volunteers, it lifted its hind leg as if it was just about to take a leak. There are three elephant shows per day at 11.40 a.m., 2.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m.

Our next show was the pig racing which I was actually looking forward to. I had heard about it before and just wanted to see what it was all about. This show started with an amazing pig that could do some really cool party tricks. Believe it or not, the pig could do simple arithmetic sums. To prove it wasn’t fixed, the audience were invited to call out numbers. The equation was then read out aloud in Thai, English and Chinese. The pig then picked up a marker with the correct number. After this came the pig racing. These were piglets that basically just ran from one end to the other. The second race was then their return trip. Not as exciting as I thought it would be. The show certainly has more potential. These shows are every half hour from 9 a.m. to 5.30 p.m.

In the building next to the pig racing is a place where you can feed the baby tiger cubs. A bottle of milk was a little expensive at 50 baht. However, Nong Grace really loved feeding the tiger cubs and I think it was her highlight. In fact, after we had finished walking around the zoo, we had to come back here for a second round. Nearby here we also saw deer, giraffes and a few other wild animals. There was also a section with dozens of rabbit that seemed to be suffering a bit from the heat. Again, Nong Grace enjoyed feeding them which fortunately only cost 10 baht this time for a bunch of long green beans. Nearby we went into an artificial cave to see the advertised Scorpion Queen who apparently is comfortable with scorpions covering her whole body. Though we didn’t see any action as she didn’t want to perform for just the two of us. But she said she would if we paid 150 baht. I declined her offer. On the map, there were a couple of places marked that Nong Grace wanted to visit. First was the pig swimming and second the ducks that apparently swam with the crocodiles. But, unfortunately both of these shows have been discontinued. Nong Grace said that maybe the crocodile ate the duck!

Our last show was the Crocodile Show. Our third in three weeks. All of these crocodile shows are much the same as each other. It usually involves sticking limbs – either hands or heads, into the mouth of a crocodile. What makes or breaks these shows is the personality of the performers. Our show had one lady and one man. The guy actually looked quite young and he hammed it up a bit which made his performance a bit funny. He slipped over a few times while trying to pull the crocodile out of the water which earned him some nervous laughter and applause from the audience. The show was alright if you haven’t seen that kind of thing before. It ended when an obvious stage plant came down and threw them a 20 baht note as a tip. No-one picked up on the hint so the cleaning lady was then told to throw some money too. Then other people started to tip them. There are seven crocodile shows per day.

Our last stop was the crocodile nursery. Here we saw hundreds of crocodile eggs in the incubators. Apparently they have an egg breaking festival in May where the public can help with the hatching of the eggs. Nong Grace then surprised me when she said she wanted to have her photograph taken with a baby crocodile. She was very nervous at first but was determined to do it. She had seen a photograph of her father posing with a big tiger and I guess she wanted to outdo him. So, she now had two framed pictures of her holding animals. Something to show her friends at school. On the way to the exit, we passed one more pen where we saw a tiger that seemed to be living happily with some dogs. Pretty unusual so it excited Nong Grace. But she was still disappointed that she hadn’t seen the duck with the crocodile.

As usual, there is a two price ticket system at the zoo. The foreigners price is 300 baht for adults and 200 baht for children. No sign of the Thai price which makes me presume that they are embarrassed about having two prices. I managed to get the Thai price of 120 baht by asking politely in Thai. Someone also told me that a work permit also does the trick. Nong Grace was free as she is less than 140 cms. But that sign is written in Thai and so I am not sure if that includes foreign children. The price for Thai children is 60 baht. To reach the zoo, just take the main highway from Bangkok towards Chonburi and then Pattaya. The zoo is in the Sriracha district. Big signs tell you when to turn off so it is quite simple.

Please visit Bangkok-Daytrips.com for more ideas for day trips and excursions from Bangkok.

Sand Stupas on the Beach

Sandchedi

In Thailand, like other countries in the region at this time of year, people are building sand stupas at their local temple in order to make merit. The people of Bangsaen in Chonburi have taken this to the next step. Every year, towards the end of Songkran, local residents take part in a chedi building competition on the local beach. The results are quite stunning and it is often hard to believe that they are really only made of sand. The contestants started building their sand chedis yesterday and many of them worked into the night in order to have them finished.

We drove down to Bangsaen this morning to look at the results. Chonburi is only an hour away and the beach about 14 kms further. I thought all of the water throwing had finished by now so I stupidly had my car cleaned at the local petrol station before we left. The car was covered in white powder which had dried hard. I suppose it was all wishful thinking because I didn’t want to get wet taking pictures of works of art. When we got down to the beachfront we were confronted with a traffic jam of pickup trucks and thousands of people throwing water. Of course there was no way we were going to park there so we had to drive further up the beach to a quieter spot and then we walked back along the beach. We were lucky not to get covered in wet paste but the car wasn’t so lucky.

Sandchedi

Bangsaen is a nice place to spend the day even if you don’t want to swim. At noon we drove to the northern end of the beach which was practically deserted. We sat down on beach chairs and ordered some lunch. We had tom yum kung and som tam with grilled chicken. The afternoon breeze made us feel sleepy and very relaxed. Before we left Bangsaen we drove to the top of Khao Sam Muk to see the beautiful view and also to see the monkeys. There were too many people so we didn’t stay for long. Driving back, we stopped briefly in Ang Sila which is a famous village for making objects out of granite. This is a good place to buy a mortar and pestle. As I have one already I bought two stone girls who were holding a jasmine garland and giving a wai. I thought they would look good by my front door. At less than $10 for the pair they were also good value for money.

Don’t forget to visit thaiphotoblogs.com over the next few days for some more pictures of today’s trip.

Breaking the Five Precepts

In the Christian religion, we have the Ten Commandments. Well, in Buddhism, they have much the same. For lay people they have to keep five precepts. Novice monks keep ten precepts. Adult monks have to keep 227 precepts! I will talk about some of those later. For the time being, I want to show you these pictures I took at Wang Saen Suk last weekend. These are the things that will happen to you if you break each of the five precepts. You have been warned!

(One): You must not kill (Two): You must not steal

(Three): You must not commit adultery (Four): You must not tell a lie

(Five): You must not take strong drinks

The final picture shows what will happen to you if you don’t give alms to the monks and keep the five precepts.

Buddhist Hell (and Heaven)

There is a temple near Bangsaen Beach which has a garden full of statues depicting what is supposed to be a Buddhist hell. The place is called Wang Saen Suk and is only 90 minutes away from Bangkok on the way to Pattaya. Some of the scenes depicted are pretty gruesome although there were plenty of families there. Actually, there was one poor boy who was a little scared because his mother had just shown him what happens to children that don’t listen to their parents (see picture above).

According to the book “Traibhumi Phra Ruang”, as soon as you die, you go to pay respects to Phya Yom (the Death king). Four celestial beings will check your records of good and bad deeds. All the good deeds you have done are recorded on a gold plate and the bad deeds you have done are recorded on a piece of dog skin. After a careful investigation, if you have done good, the Death King will send you to heaven to enjoy the fruit of your good deeds there. If you have committed sins, you will be punished.

Punishment in hell varies in ways and degrees of harshness according to the sins committed. Every form of punishment is a torture. Hell has a large number of pits; eight large ones with 16 attachments each. That makes 136 pits altogether. The one that is most commonly known is “avici”. This pit is at the bottom. However, even those who are sent here still have a chance to be reborn some day. Apart from these 136 pits, there is a special one called Loganta. It is pitch dark and extremely cold (unlike all the other pits which are extremely hot). Those who have hurt their parents or monks physically will go to this pit and will remain there until the end of the Buddhist era (until a new Buddha is born on earth).

The sign on the left says “Welcome to Hell!”. Once you pass this sign, you will see scenes showing sinners being boiled in copper cauldrons and others being torn to pieces by hell’s dogs. If you are curious to know what will happen to you in the afterlife if you perform certain bad deeds then come back tomorrow for the grisly details!

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Main Sources: “A Survey of Thai Arts and Architectural Attractions” published by Chulalongkorn University and information signs found at the temple.