A Travellerspoint blog

Explore Vientiane

sunny 36 °C

I was back to Vientiane after over 7 years when I first came to this Laos capital during the Indochina adventure travelling on the road between Laos, Vietnam and Thailand. It can be described as one of the very memorable road journey to date for me visiting many of the distinctive tourist spots, historical temples, ancient palaces & buildings, beautiful natural landscapes, culture experience, people of colourful backgrounds, local food and many more unforgettable encounters. During the first trip to Vientiane, I landed at the capital's Wattay Airport and I remembered encountering difficulty in getting transport to the city centre, not because of non availability of transport option but more of the issue on the cost of getting there. Yes, the transportation expenses can be very expensive,which has been warned over the information from the web but sometimes, things can be different depending on circumstances, so as I thought. When I arrived at the Wattay airport 7 years ago, there was very little option available. Only private taxi (which I presumed to be operating legally & illegally) was there to have if there was one. Many of the travellers were seen either being picked up on prior arrangement or they have transport from their place of stay that provide such services to the hotels. In the end I was left with no other choice but to board the private taxi which was first being told I had to pay for USD 25 for a less than 3 km journey. After some negotiations with the taxi driver, he agreed to lowered down the fare to THB 200. I was dropped off along the main road of Setthathirath upon arrival at the city. Today, I sighted an airport shuttle bus at the Vientiane Bus Station at Talat Sao Mall. Information made available on the web was it was launched in January 2018 and costing 15,000 kip from the airport to the Vientiane bus station and vice versa. Being very new to Vientiane and without a map on hand during the first visit 7 years ago, I wandered through along the road and found a restaurant operated by a Japanese man,if I remembered correctly. He provided some information on place to stay and I was told about the adjacent Francois Ngin street, which has some budget guest house available along the street suitable for backpackers such as me. As I walked to Francois Ngin, the street looked very much like a backpacker street such as Bangkok's Khao San road or Ho Chi Minh city's Bui Vien, De Tham & Pham Ngu Lao street. I found a good deal in Mixay Paradise Hotel just opposite the temple known as Wat Mixay, which I think must be how the hotel got its name from. For about THB 450 a night, it was considered a valuable stay for a private room facility. During that time of travel, there was a festival, which I think was the Ok Phansa, celebrating the end of Khao Phansa, a culture festival where I wrote before several times being celebrated on a massive way. I recalled there was a huge night market along Fa Ngum road overlooking the Mekong River during the festival celebration. I was not sure if the night market was a permanent one or otherwise at that particular time because during the recent visit the night market seemed to have moved further down to an open space near Chou Anouvong Park, which was yet to be constructed during my first visit at the end of 2010. During the day time, there was a boat racing festival when I was in Vientiane 7 years ago, possibly the highlight of the OK Phansa Festival.

KING CHAO ANUVONG STATUE @ CHOU ANUVONG PARK, VIENTIANE
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PHA THAT LUANG
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PATUXAY
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A HUGE RECLINING BUDDHA SCULPTURE @ XIENG KHUAN BUDDHA PARK
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THE NAMPHOU PARK @ VIENTIANE
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THE VIENTIANE CENTRAL BUS STATION LOCATED ADJACENT TO THE TALAD SAO MALL
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Today, back to Vientiane after 7 years,some changes include the Namphou Park or the Water Fountain Park offering visitors some of the most contemporary dining & unwind experience. Some of the more expensive food joints and beer bars are found here while the surroundings of it also saw few bistro and cafe as well as more luxury hotels were set up to spur up the place for a kind of touristy flavour. Talad Sao Market is also one of the modern mall of Lao standard and offer consumer goods such as handbags, watches, silk clothing, textiles, gold& jewellery as well as money changer service. The best way to explore the sights in Vientiane can be done through either walking or cycling and I opted the former which offer though an exhausted & uncomfortable due to the searing hot weather travel option but nevertheless a good & healthy way to explore the small city on foot. For this trip to Vientiane, the journey on road started in Bangkok by the Nakonchai Air bus before crossing the Friendship Bridge 1 to reached the final destination at the Laos capital.

Chou Anouvong Park
Today, there seemed to have few developments that changed the city landscape of Vientiane most notably at the Mekong RIver area, where Chou Anouvong Park being already constructed,though construction was still on-going on parts of the riverside section. The park was located just behind the Presidential Palace on Setthathirath Road while the park location was on Fa Ngum Road. Chou Anouvong Park was a quite sizeable park built to accommodate the needs of Vientiane residents and travellers on free access to engage in social, leisure and physical activities. People can be seen wandering through each nook & corner of the park, strolling with family members or friends, doing some physical activities such as dancing, jogging brief walk or cycling, enjoying the Mekong river view. There were few fixed gym equipment available too on a section of the park. Since the night market was located within the park, people also converged into the area in the evening to shop at the night market. Adjacent and parallel to Fa Ngum Road was the Don Chan Road, closer towards the Mekong River. This road will be closed to traffic after 5.30 pm for public to walk, jog and cycle along the road freely and safely. Of course Chou Anouvong obtained its name from the last king of the ancient Lao Kingdom, during the Lane Xang (pronounced Lan Chang or million elephants) period. It was built in memory of King Chou Anouvong contribution in defending Laos first from invasion from the Burmese forces (Myanmar) and later the Thai invasion. The Chao Anouvong statue was the most significantly distinctive during night time with bright lighting shining the standing king statue.

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Presidential Palace
As mentioned above, Presidential Palace was located not distance away from Chou Anouvong Park. Quite similar to the Ho Chi Minh City's version of president's palace, the Vientiane Presidential Palace was a smaller version as compared to its counterpart in Vietnam. You will definitely not missed this palatial building which also located very close to 2 other major tourist sights, the Wat Si Saket & Ho Phra Keaw.

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Wat Si Saket
This can be described as one of the very precious and ancient temple still existed for all of us to visit and have very close view. Much of the temple structure has been very much intact and conserved. The main temple structure of the ubosot built in the middle of the wat boundary surrounded by a rectangular shape wall with each section of the wall with multiple built in holes placed with small Buddha sculptures. There were another 2 layer of concrete steps adjoining the walls where larger Buddha effigies were placed on the 2 steps. Those who admire ancient buildings and have great interest in old structural decorations and architectures will definitely do not want to missed Wat Si Saket in having such opportunity to admire those interests before their eyes.

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Ho Phra Keaw
This is yet another ancient temple turned into a museum which had been extensively conserved to maintained the original structure of the temple. Many items associated to the Lao ancient temple were on display and no photographs allowed inside the main museum building. The best thing to do other than viewing the ancient temple collections was to have a close look and admire the temple ancient Lao architecture design on the temple windows, doors,walls and the ceilings as well as the exterior roofs. Ho Phra Keaw was surrounded by a small garden with a spacious walkway leading to the temple building which was built higher from the ground with a staircase leading up to the entrance to the temple.

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Wat Si Muang
Wat Si Muang is one of the more contemporary temple in Vientiane and it serves as one of the most important temple for Vientiane residents and devotees during major religious festival. During my visit people were seen thronging to the temple for "bot" (Thai for making merit & seeking forgiveness). Wat Si Muang was somewhat of distinctive temple where there were 2 sections within the main temple building. The first section upon entrance, there were 3 Buddha structure on sitting position located at the far end of the temple with open spaces in between where devotees sitting on the floor performing prayers in separate groups with each group led by a monk. On the 2nd section, there were multiple Buddha structures in various sizes places on the far end of the temple. Visitors can also perform individual prayers in this section of the temple. The structure of Wat Si Muang can be described as deep in Lao traditional design adapting into the contemporary temple structure of Laos today.

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Patuxay
Patuxay was one of the most outstanding arch structure and you know you are in Vientiane when you see Patuxay. Located in the heart of Vientiane at the end of the Lane Xang intersection road, the arch was surrounded by a sizeable park with access from both end one from Lane Xang Road and the other from Kaysone Avenue. From Kaysone Avenue visitors were greeted with 2 fountain pools the first one before a vehicle parking section and the 2nd after the vehicle parking section. Access to the top level of the arch led to a breathtaking view of Vientiane city and this is a definite must visit when in Vientiane.

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Pha That Luang
Pha That Luang is a very distinguished temple in Vientiane with the shiny golden massive chedi. Just behind Wat Pha That Luang, there was a huge open area similar to the one in Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi with a gigantic flag pole. The Laos national flag was seen flagging proudly on the towering flag pole. The chedi of Pha That Luang was the most significant structure over at this famous temple well known among tourists around the world and locals alike. The chedi structure was awesomely beautiful surrounded by rectangular wall with each section of the wall with covered roof. The walkways in between the chedi and the rectangular walls were landscapes with grass turf. There were 4 Buddha structure on each of the rectangular base of the chedi. The chediof Wat Pha That Luang definitely be tagged as one of the must visit and not to be missed while in Vientiane with the great view of the immense chedi structure. There was a Boddi tree and also a Reclining Buddha sculpture seen within the Wat Pha That Luang area.

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THE BODDHI TREE & THE WIDE OPEN SQUARE @ WAT PHA THAT LUANG
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The Buddha Park
Located nearest to the border between Laos and Thailand, the Buddha Park also known as Xieng Khuan can be easily accessible through the public Green Bus No.14 serving the Vientiane Bus Station at Talad Sao Mall to the Laos border checkpoint at the the Friendship Bridge 1 with overland border crossing to Thailand via Nong Khai province. The bus will stop at the Buddha Park which was the last destination for the No.14 bus. This offers the most convenient and budget way to get to the park from Vientiane capital with just 6,000 kip per way on a comfortable air-conditioned bus sponsored by Japan. The Buddha Park offers the many interesting way to discover the secret and beauty of the many structures and sculptures within the park. The most distinguished discovery in the park would be the gigantic Reclining Buddha structure and the massive pumpkin shape structure with multi-level inside the structure housing various Buddha and other religious sculptures in it. The final access was the top level open area with the middle area stands a triangular tree shape pole. This was my second visit to Buddha Park and I would say this is never a place to be left out while you landed in Vientiane.

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Try out some local food
Laos offer some very savoury food in particular the soup noodle. The Lao people has very deep interests in preparing good bowl soup noodle. Though it may not be as good as the Vietnamese "pho", I think the noodle dish in Laos can be described as delicious and worth the money spend on each of the bowl. One of the new soup noodle dish discovered during this Vientiane trip was the "khao piak". The noodles in "khao piak" are thicker than any other noodle dish and also comes with mixture of add-on such as pork balls, roast pork, beansprouts, cilantro and onions. A generous portions of fresh mix vegetables, leaves, mints & kaffir lime also being given on a plate which was to be all mix into the soup of the noodle or eaten fresh directly. Other than "khao piak" there were many selections of french baguette known as "banh mi" in Vietnam also available in many street stall bazaar around the Vientiane Bus Station."Pho" yet another Vietnamese popular soup noodle was also widely available in Vientiane and worth to try it out.

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Posted by kidd27 08:40 Archived in Laos Comments (0)

Rayong Old Town

A walk down memory lane on Thanon Yomjinda

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Most people would land on Rayong province in Thailand for island getaways on the Gulf of Thailand, the most famous among island lovers being Koh Samed. Rayong province actually offers more than just island retreat if you want to discover more about this eastern Thai province. Situated adjacent to the popular and nearest to Bangkok weekend beach holiday destination, the Chonburi province, Rayong province is also known among the Thais as a destination for tropical fruits among the most sought after including the durians, rambutan, mangosteen, langsat, longkong and salak to name a few. If you are not from South East Asia or perhaps some of the Asian nations, you may not have heard of some of the name of fruits mentioned. So, maybe spending time to explore more of Rayong would be a good idea after a tiring island vacation. But other than discovering what these fruits taste like, Rayong province offer yet another secret to be discover, which I believe many people even the Thais have not come to know about or appreciate such old gems. Just like the earlier discovery story I wrote about of the old town of Chanthaburi @ Chanthaboon Waterfront Community (Rim Nam Chanthaboon), Rayong province also offer yet another surprise package right at the downtown of Rayong city. Just like Chanthaburi province, Rayong city has its own version of old town which ironically dated back to the same time of establishment as that of Chanthaburi. The 2 city within the eastern province of Thailand offers quite similar story of history which revolves around the history of King Taksin.

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As King Taksin and his troop retreated to Rayong and onwards to Chanthaburi during the war with the Burmese, both provinces experienced developments with the arrival of more people ever since the arrival of King Taksin The Great and people under his commandments. Today what can be seen at the old town in Rayong and Chanthaburi were what being first developed during the King Taksin era. Much has changed with the vast developments that shape both provinces into the current situation which was definitely a far cry from ancient days. What need to be taken into serious attention and definite action by the authorities in charge is to ensure that such invaluable treasure and gems created as a result from the developments from the old generations era, need to be preserved and be here for good for many more years to come. Else, such national gems and treasures will only be in history books or informations available from other sources such as internet, magazines or pamphlets.

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Rayong old town is located along the road by the name of Yomjinda or Thanon Yomjinda. Just like Chanthaburi old town, Thanon Yomjinda was a road that was dotted with old shop houses which today what can be witness from a stroll along it were mostly still well preserved. Most the old historic structures were turned into coffee house, bakery, cafes, bistros, restaurants, guest house and even a museum was found here. The museum building itself was a unique structure, preserved from a few unit of old shop houses painted in dark brown, there were even items from the those dated as far as maybe over 100 years old and many other historic household items and photographs on display within the museum. The museum was said to be dated as far as 1921, which originally was a home to a government official within high ranking profile. The structure was turned into a museum in 2007. Another surprise encounter while touring Thanon Yomjinda was the discovery of the old cinema by the name of Da Vinci Studio. The old cinema consisted of a few row of old shop houses with its entrance door painted in red with yellow coloured signage while a poster of a movie was placed on the wall just next to the entrance.

RAYONG OLD TOWN MUSEUM
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RAYONG OLD TOWN CINEMA
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Strolling down this old lane of Thanon Yomjinda definitely brings back those good old time memories and worth some time to discover what it has to offer in terms of old building architecture and the beauty of it.

Posted by kidd27 08:01 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest in Chanthaburi province

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Before this trip to Chanthaburi, I had previously been to one of the largest mangrove forest in Satun province in southern Thailand in the Andaman Sea. It was one of the valuable experience as I toured the mangrove forest on a motorised boat cruising through the huge lake surrounded by the mangrove trees. I had the opportunity to take a close view of the mangrove trees, mountains on the background of the mangrove forest, enjoying the calm lake, witnessing few species of birds flying around the mangrove area and observing the peaceful yet breathtaking natural surroundings. Over here at Chanthaburi province in the eastern Thailand overseeing the Gulf of Thailand, is where yet another huge mangrove forest is located.

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While the Satun mangrove forest was without a walking trails to get extremely close view on the mangrove trees and what were beneath the trees,over at Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest, wooden walkways were built for visitors to trek through a sizeable section of the mangrove forest on the range of Kung Krabaen Mountain. At the entrance to the Kung Krabaen nature trail, there was an orientation about how the Kung Krabean Bay of which the Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest was located came into existence through natural developments which resulted from the erosion of 2 mountains, the Kung Krabaen Mountain and Amphawa Mountain. The strong currents over the years then pushed the sands from the Amphawa Mountain towards Kung Krabaen Mountain. When sea level drop after thousands of years, the bay at Kung Krabaen Mountain was transformed into oval shape (This can be seen from a outlook point at the edge of Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest trails). After many years, the strong currents had pushed mud clay and sands towards Kung Krabaen Bay which formed a long strip where the Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest is located.

A MAP OF THE KUNG KRABAEN MANGROVE FOREST TRAIL
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A PHOTO SHOWING HOW KUNG KRABEAN BAY WHERE THE KUNG KRABEAN MANGROVE FOREST WAS LOCATED WAS DEVELOPED
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A WALKING TOUR AROUND THE KUNG KRABaEN MANGROVE FOREST TRAIL & ITS NATURAL SURROUNDINGS
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Trekking through the mangrove forest was a breeze with a good condition wooden walkways. As I entered the starting point of the walking trails of the forest, the area was filled with massive mangrove trees with the outgrown roots seen on both sides of the walkways. The area was quiet and peaceful during the time of my visit which was a weekday. The grave number of mangrove trees covered the forest extensively, making it comfortable to walk on the shady conditions. On some stretch of the walkways, mangrove trees were seen cutting through the wooden walkways. Perhaps,to save each and every mangrove trees at Kung Krabean Mangrove Forest, a very minimal number of trees were being cut down which is really the most appreciative ways to keep the ecosystem at Kung Krabean Mangrove Forest at its best level. Mangrove forest is a natural developments that created a safety net towards danger of sea erosions due to strong sea currents, in particular the tsunami phenomenon.

MORE LANDSCAPES OF KUNG KRABAEN MANGROVE FOREST
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The highlight of the Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest is the view of the coastal area from the forest which best point to take a clear look is through the viewpoint wooden tower. Its worth the effort to climb up the viewpoint tower to take a good view of the oval shape of the Kung Krabaen Bay and the mangrove forest trails along the bay. It was also mentioned in the information board at Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest that due to extensive study and efforts in protecting the forest, dugongs were seen returning to Kung Krabaen Bay after many years of disappearance. There was a pier located near to the viewpoint tower which kayak can be hired for leisure cruise out to the coastal area for another view of the mangrove forest and surrounding areas adjacent to the sea. This Kung Krabaen Mangrove Forest trip was yet another enriching experience which allow one to understand on the importance in maintaining balance between economic developments and the natural surroundings to ensure that humans can live in harmony with nature for many more years ahead. I think the Thai government and provincial authorities had done a good job in such efforts.

ITS A MASSIVE MANGROVE FOREST AT KUNG KRABAEN BAY
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A VIEW OF KUNG KRABAEN BAY WITH MASSIVE MANGROVE FOREST SURROUNDING THE OVAL SHAPE BAY
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A MAP ON THE LOCATION I STAND WHICH OVERLOOKS THE KUNG KRABAEN BAY
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DUGONGS WERE SAID TO BE RETURNING TO KUNG KRABEAN BAY AFTERS YEARS OF ABSENCE
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THE VIEWPOINT TOWER AND A GOODVIEW OF THE OVAL SHAPE KUNG KRABAEN BAY SURROUNDED BY MASSIVE MANGROVE FOREST OVERLOOKING THE COASTAL AREA
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Posted by kidd27 08:36 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

Chanthaburi Old Town @ Chanthaboon Waterfront Community

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Chanthaburi province is located on the east of Thailand and sandwiched between 2 other more popular province in the Gulf of Thailand, Rayong and Trat province. Due to its 2 other counterparts piers which allow access to nice, beautiful,pristine islands such as Koh Samed in Rayong and Koh Chang and Koh Kood in Trat, Chanthaburi province is always being bypassed by the Thais as well as other foreign visitors. Yet Chanthanburi also known as Chan is a true gems worth to be discovered. Among the Thais, Chanthaburi is a place where those who love gem accessories or gem collectors would flocked to during weekends to seek some good bargains from gem traders downtown in Chanthaburi city. The gems trading taking action in Chanthaburi also known as Gems Market is centred in a section just next to the Chanthaburi Old Town otherwise known as the Chanthaboon Waterfront Community. Why the old part of the city was named as it is I believed stemmed from its developments that focused along the river banks in Chanthaburi city. And to create a more contemporary settings and feel to this almost forgotten gems and secret life of Chanthaburi province, the name Chantaboon Waterfront Community came into action to draw serious attention from visitors from Thailand as well as those from foreign land. Chanthaburi Old Town is unlike any other old town in Thailand such as those found in Phuket, Bangkok or Songkhla because the Chanthaboon version of old town dated back to a far more old life of the Thais as can be seen from the structures of shop houses within the old section of the province. The good point to start a walking tour of Chanthaboon Old Town is from the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception,which is dubbed as a largest church is Thailand as well as most beautiful within the country. It was said that there was another large minority in Chanthaburi of Vietnamese descendent apart from the Chinese and this was why a huge church such as the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception was present in Chanthaburi catering to the religious belief of such minority community. I was very impressed with the beauty and serenity of the church structure which was coated in grey and milky paints with its distinctive architecture and its surrounding landscapes. The church building appeared contemporary combined with its traditional style of construction similar to those found in European continents. The church was surrounded by a school and some old wooden and new modern homes. Right at the front of the church is a sizeable concourse area catering to important church assemblies or religious events with a breathtaking view of the cathedral. On the centre at the starting point of the cathedral concourse was the sculpture of Virgin Mary with standing position on the top of a black marble structure within a small water fountain area. Well, I had no doubt that the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception of Chanthaburi is definitely the most beautiful and largest church in Thailand.

THE BEST POINT TO START THE CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY WALKING TOUR IS FROM THE CATHEDRAL OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
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THE BEAUTIFUL CATHEDRAL OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION @ CHATHABURI OLD TOWN @ CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY
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From the cathedral, the Chanthaboon Old Town walking tour continues toward the small bridge that spans across the river of which where the old town was located. The Chanthaboon Waterfront Community @ Chanthaburi Old Town which stands the test against time is a precious gems that seriously worth the time to explore. What was left today for people to appreciate and for Thais especially the locals in Chanthaburi to be proud of is not massive but still,it is an old town that must be treasured,maintained and kept. The action on the old town centred along the Sukhaphiban Road with some old wooden shops and shop houses as well as historic pre war shop houses dotted along this main road of the old town.

A SLOW WALK AROUND CHANTHABURI OLD TOWN ON A RAINY DAY DISCOVERING SOME OF THE MOST BEST KEPT OLD SECRET OF CHANTABURI
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Life in the Chantaburi Old Town can be slow unlike other parts of the city which depicting the way of life of the people in Chanthaburi in the old days. It was raining during the time of my visit to the old town but this has added to the excitement in taking a slow walk along the small road on the Chantaboon community sightseeing and taking close look on the old structures of the town. The old wooden and pre war shop houses were in fact gravely old some of which in dilapidated conditions. Some of the structures were being preserved,renovated and reconstructed and definitely created a refreshed feel as well as enabled these old historic buildings to be maintained for future generations to understand the history of the province as well as that of Thailand.

MORE OF THE BEAUTY OF OLD BUILDINGS ALONG SUKHAPHIBAN ROAD AT CHANTHABURI OLD TOWN
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Some of the enterprising building owners have either rented out their premise for purpose of turning it into coffee house, cafes, bakery and pastry shops, guest house and restaurants or even managed such outlets by themselves. This is one of the ways of how such historic structures in Chanthaboon could be preserved through the remake, refurbishment and touch up on the old structures to appeal to the taste and like as well as comfort of visitors to such outlets. You can actually take a break after a tiring walk along the old town at some of the cafe enjoying coffees or teas with some desserts while admiring the nature surroundings along the river which the cafes are located.

THE WINNER OF ALL CONSERVATION EFFORTS @ CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY @ BAAN LUANG RAJAMAITRI HISTORIC INN
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The local snacks that should not be missed out when touring the Chanthaboon Waterfront Community is the kanom khai or the oval shaped cake made from egg and sugar that dated back during the ancient Thai period. Also should not be left out to savour is the good old days Thai ice cream known as the Rocket Ice Cream. There was a shop specialised in this ice cream well known to Thais during their childhood days whom are in the age from late 30s onwards I was informed.Take note on the well arranged metal ice cream storage container placed just outside the shop with variety of delicious flavours to choose from available from each containers.

KANOM KHAI & LOCAL SNACKS ON SALE AT CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY
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SOME OF THE CAFES & GUESTHOUSE AT CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY & TAKE A SIP OF COFFEE OF COFFEE OR TEA ENJOYING THE SERENE RIVER VIEW FLOWING THROUGH THE OLD TOWN
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One of the best preserved building in the Chanthaboon Waterfront Community @ Chanthaburi Old Town is non other than the Baan Luang Rajamaitri Historic Inn. From the name by itself, you would have know that these row of old shop houses had been turned into a guest house catering to the needs of those who admired old buildings and wanted to experience the slow life within the old town community of present modern world of Chanthaburi. The fact that I was not staying over in this beautifully preserved historic pre war shop houses and there was no one available to seek permission from for further photo taking and building tour, I was only able to snapped some pics from the external of the buildings as well as the ground floor of the historic inn. The floor and the staircase in Baan Luang Rajamaitri maintained its well preserved wooden structure with some old furniture, photographs of the original building owner and some antiques on display. Baan Luang Rajamaitri is located right at the start of the Chanthaboon Waterfront Community if you come from the city area. Not too far from Baan Luang Rajamaitri located on the peak of the higher ground from the base of the old town was the Wat Bot Muang which was said to be built based on Khmer architecture with Indian styled murals. Wat Bot Muang was one of the oldest temple in Chanthaburi province. Due to the large Chinese descendent that resided in Chanthaburi, there were also few Chinese temples seen built within the Chanthaburi Old Town.

CHINESE SHRINES & WAT BOT WITHIN CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY
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WAT BOT
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While Baan Luang Rajamaitri was located at the start of the old town, the Gems Market where trading of precious gems were active during the weekends was located at the other end of the old town near the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception. You can take a walk to the Gems Market and checkout some of the very colourful precious gems on sale in the area which most shops were shut during weekdays. The Chanthaboon Waterfront Community @ Chanthaburi Old Town is worth to spend some time to explore, admiring the serenity of the township of the past, savouring some local snacks over coffee or tea and enjoying the breathtaking river view and appreciating & have a close look on some of the old pre war shop houses & structures. This is definitely a must do while you are here in Chanthaburi city.

TALAD PLOY (GEMS MARKET) @ CHANTHABURI OLD TOWN
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Posted by kidd27 09:24 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

The City of Chanthaburi Province

The Moon City of Thailand

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Chanthaburi province also known as Chan (pronounced Jan by Thais which translated as Moon in English) located on the eastern of Thailand may not be a well known province among travellers to this Land of Amazing. But what this often oversighted Thai eastern province not only adventure seekers like you and me, tourists and travellers but also the Thais themselves may sprung up a whole lot of surprises. The top best kept secret of Chanthaburi is not its natural wonders such as beaches and waterfalls (Chanthaburi is located on the eastern coast of the Thailand Gulf or Siam Gulf) but is the almost forgotten old city of Chanthaburi @ Chantaboon Waterfront Community. Chanthaburi also known as Chan to the Thais is often being bypassed by visitors seeking for a far more exciting island getaways such as Koh Samed in Rayong province and Koh Kood and Koh Chang in Trat province is indeed a gems well open for everyone to explore. The province located between Rayong and Trat is actually rich in history and formed the very early of the Thai history under the reigned of King Taksin the Great. A brief background of King Taksin where he was the son to a Chinese father and a Thai mother known to have defended Thailand (Siam during the ancient Thai era) from the Burmese (now Myanmar) invasion. His defensive and combative combined with good attacking war strategy had successfully drove away the Burmese army from Thai soil in Ayutthaya. But it was never an easy tasks for King Taksin in his victorious war against the Burmese. King Taksin and his troops initially had retreated to Chanthaburi province, (a Siam province with the most Chinese immigrants in the ancient Thai period) during their war with the Burmese. It was during his time in Chanthaburi where he was able to reorganised and consolidated his armies and the people to fight away the invading Burmese. Unfortunately there was a coup against King Taksin thereafter which brought about his execution. Some sources mentioned he managed to escaped the execution and passed away later. As a recognition of his great contribution in saving the country from foreign assault, the Thai government was said to have honoured him as King Taksin the Great in 1981.

KING TAKSIN SHRINE UNDERGOING RENOVATION WORKS
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THE INTERIOR OF KING TAKSIN SHRINE @ CHNTHABURI CITY
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Today,in Chanthaburi province, at the centre of the city stands the King Taksin Shrine which was in remembrance of his invaluable effort in maintaining the independent status of Thailand. King Taksin Shrine was undergoing some renovation works during my visit and the shrine was located just right in front of the entrance to Taksin Marine Army Camp as well as next to the City Pillar Shrine. The City Pillar Shrine was built in 1981 during which Thai government honoured King Taksin as The Great, which actually was built to protect Chanthaburi province from any misadventures. In fact, during King Taksin's reign a similar city shrine was said to had been built under the order of the King. The external structure of Chanthaburi's City Pillar Shrine has very similar architecture style of a Thai wat (temple) but the shrine actually housed a Chinese Taoist God structure on the main altar. Both the City Pillar Shrine and King Taksin Shrine allow for visitors to pay homage and seek for a better, healthy and harmony life in accordance to the visitors beliefs.

THE INTERIOR & EXTERIOR OF CITY PILLAR SHIRNE OF CHANTHABURI
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As I took a stroll in Chanthaburi city, I found one of the secret life of the city that brought one back to the past life of the people in this Thai eastern province. Much of the stories and history of the community has already been forgotten as a result of the vast developments in the other provinces in Thailand. Though Chanthaburi has yet to see any major developments that shaped it into a busy city, the heart of the city which centred along the river and have transformed Chanthaburi city to its present day structure known today as the Chanthaburi Old Town is worth to be given a serious relook not just by Thais but people from all across the world interested in such precious gems. If not being taken seriously by the TAT (Thailand Tourism Authority) or Thai government in preserving the structures in this old section of Chan city, perhaps such a highly invaluable history as well as tourism products would just only be known through books, magazines or online stories. Nevertheless, my observations was that Chanthaburi Old Town will stand the test of time. Some of the owners and the concerned group of people within the old town community have taken full effort to ensure that Chanthaburi Old Town is here to stay and here for good for many more years forthcoming. Some old shop houses had been turned into well refurbished and reconstructed into hotels, cafes, restaurants and bakery shops. Good signs of old town preservation and hopefully that will draw in more people to sightseeing within the old town, relax over some coffees and try out local snacks. Its indeed a slow life of the past in Thailand and I think most people will appreciate it the Chan way of life. I definitely treasure such a gems that has been long waiting to be discovered.

CHANTHABURI OLD TOWN @ CHANTHABOON WATERFRONT COMMUNITY
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Another land mark of Chanthaburi is the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception which I think is yet another pride of the residents of Chanthaburi with the beautiful and elegant architecture design which could easily be mistaken for its location in one of the European continent country. The cathedral here in Chanthaburi was said to be the largest and probably the most beautiful church built in Thailand. Due to the sizeable Thais of Vietnamese descendants found in Chanthaburi, the church was built to cater to these community's religious needs.

THE CATHEDRAL OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
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On the other side of Chanthaburi city, it appeared to have some western style bistros that sprung up along the city, a sign of more visitors are landing in this busy weekend province when gem traders were in actions while gem collectors stroll the Gem Market in search of good bargains which otherwise would be rather quiet and peaceful. Yes, Gems is yet another bustling industry just adjacent to the city Old Town section where many shops will be opened during the weekends to cater to the trading of precious gems in particular diamonds. I was told that the action only takes place on weekends while the Gems Market section seemed to be deserted on any other weekdays. When I took a stroll along the Gems Market alsoknown as Talad Ploy in Thai, it was eerily quiet though there were some shops that opened for business while also seen plying the trade were some mobile gem traders on the side of the streets.

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There was indeed a huge Thais of Chinese decent in Chanthaburi and some of the signs of Chinese influence in the city including the CIty Pillar Shrine which housed a Chinese God, some Chinese temples in the Old Town section as well as the infamous noodles being sold in big and small packages along shops and market stalls within the city. And yes,one of the must eat when in Chanthaburi is the "yen ta fo" a type of soup noodle dyed with pinkish additive. Because Chanthaburi is located close to the coastal area, you can have a bowl of yen ta fo with real crab meat added with fish balls, fish cake and prawn fritters. The Chanthaburi main market is located within the Nam Phu (water fountain) also known as Nam Phu Market. Items available in the market including fresh produce such as vegetables, meat and fish and the signature deep fry durian chips and other dry seafood snacks. Chanthaburi and neighbouring Rayong province are well known for its durian ochards as well as other tropical fruits and therefore, durian chips is one of the very popular snacks and gift items for people travelling from other province or country. And as I stated above, Chanthaburi being a coastal city, seafood is vastly available including in the form of dry seafood snacks. So, if you visit Chanthaburi,durian chips and seafood snacks are definitely a must have on the lists. Within the Nam Phu market area also where the night market is located and there are so many street food and local snacks to choose from strolling along the market after sunset. Other than street foods other items including the usual fresh market products also seen sold at the night market.

TALAD NAM PHU (NAM PHU OR WATER FOUNTAIN MARKET IN CHANTHABURI
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TALAD NAM PHU NIGHT MARKET @ CHANTABURI
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SAVOUR A BOWL OF CRAB YEN TA FO WHEN IN CHANTHABURI
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Posted by kidd27 08:41 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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