The attractive of Royal Barges

imagesaldfThe royal barges are slender, fantastically ornamented vessels used in ceremonial processions. The tradition dates back to the Ayuthaya era, when travel (for commoners and royals) was by boat. When not in use, the barges are on display at this Thonburi museum.

The most convenient way to get here is by motorcycle taxi from Phra Pin Klao Pier (ask the driver to go to reu·a prá têe nâng ). The museum is also an optional stop on long-tail boat trips through Thonburi’s canals.

Suphannahong, the king’s personal barge, is the most important of the six boats on display here. Made from a single piece of timber, it’s said to be the largest dugout in the world. The name means Golden Swan, and a huge swan head has been carved into the bow. Lesser barges feature bows that are carved into other Hindu-Buddhist mythological shapes such as the naga (mythical sea serpent) and garuda (Vishnu’s bird mount).

Historic photos help envision the grand processions in which the largest of the barges would require a rowing crew of 50 men, plus seven umbrella bearers, two helmsmen and two navigators, as well as a flagsman, rhythm keeper and chanter. Today, the royal barge procession is an infrequent occurrence, most recently performed in 2012 in honour of the king’s 85th birthday.

How to find Grand Palace in Bangkok

unduhan-28Also known as the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Phra Kaew is the colloquial name of the vast, fairy-tale compound that also includes the former residence of the Thai monarch, the Grand Palace.

This ground was consecrated in 1782, the first year of Bangkok rule, and is today Bangkok’s biggest tourist attraction and a pilgrimage destination for devout Buddhists and nationalists. The 94.5-hectare
grounds encompass more than 100 buildings that represent 200 years of royal history and architectural experimentation.

Housed in a fantastically decorated bòht (ordination hall), the Emerald Buddha is the temple’s primary attraction.

Except for an anteroom here and there, the buildings of the Grand Palace are now put to use by the king only for certain ceremonial occasions, such as Coronation Day, and are largely off-limits to visitors. Formerly, Thai kings housed their huge harems in the inner palace area, which was guarded by combat-trained female sentries. Outer palace buildings that visitors can view include Borombhiman Hall , a French-inspired structure that served as a residence for Rama VI (King Vajiravudh; r 1910–25). The building to the west is Amarindra Hall (open from Monday to Friday), originally a hall of justice and more recently, for coronation ceremonies, and the only palace building that tourists are generally allowed to enter. The largest of the palace buildings is the Chakri Mahaprasat , the Grand Palace Hall. Last is the Ratanakosin-style Dusit Hall , which initially served as a venue for royal audiences and later as a royal funerary hall.

Guides can be hired at the ticket kiosk; ignore offers from anyone outside. An audio guide can be rented for 200B for two hours.

Admission for the complex includes entrance to Dusit Palace Park , which includes Vimanmaek Teak Mansion and Abhisek Dusit Throne Hall.

Destination for shopping in Bangkok

unduhan-29Among the largest markets in the world, Chatuchak seems to unite everything buyable, from used vintage sneakers to baby squirrels. Plan to spend a full day here, as there’s plenty to see, do and buy. But come early, ideally around 10am, to beat the crowds and the heat.

There is an information centre and a bank with ATMs and foreign-exchange booths at the Chatuchak Park Office , near the northern end of the market’s Soi 1, Soi 2 and Soi 3. Schematic maps and toilets are located throughout the market.

Friday nights from around 8pm to midnight, several vendors, largely those selling clothing, accessories and food, open up shop in Chatuchak. There are a few vendors on weekday mornings, and a daily vegetable, plant and flower market opposite the market’s southern side. One section of the latter, known as the Or Tor Kor Market , sells fantastically gargantuan fruit and seafood, and has a decent food court as well.

Once you’re deep in the bowels of Chatuchak, it will seem like there is no order and no escape, but the market is arranged into relatively coherent sections. Use the clock tower as a handy landmark.

Antiques, Handicrafts & Souvenirs

Section 1 is the place to go for Buddha statues, old LPs and other random antiques. More secular arts and crafts, such as musical instruments and hill-tribe items can be found in Sections 25 and 26. Baan Sin Thai sells a mixture of kŏhn masks and old-school Thai toys, all of which make fun souvenirs, and Kitcharoen Dountri specialises in Thai musical instruments, including flutes, whistles, drums and CDs of classical Thai music. Other quirky gifts include the lifelike plastic Thai fruit and vegetables at Marché , or their scaled-down miniature counterparts nearby at Papachu .

Clothing & Accessories

Clothing dominates most of Chatuchak, starting in Section 8 and continuing through the even-numbered sections to 24. Sections 5 and 6 deal in used clothing for every Thai youth subculture, from punks to cowboys, while Soi 7, where it transects Sections 12 and 14, is heavy on the more underground hip-hop and skate fashions. Somewhat more sophisticated independent labels can be found in Sections 2 and 3, while tourist-sized clothes and textiles are in Sections 8 and 10.

For accessories, several shops in Sections 24 and 26, such as Orange Karen Silver , specialise in chunky silver jewellery and semiprecious uncut stones.

Eating & Drinking

Lots of Thai-style eating and snacking will stave off Chatuchak rage (cranky behaviour brought on by dehydration or hunger), and numerous food stalls set up shop between Sections 6 and 8. Long-standing standouts include Foontalop , an incredibly popular Isan restaurant; Café Ice , a Western-Thai fusion joint that does good, if overpriced, pàt tai (fried noodles) and tasty fruit shakes; Toh-Plue , which does all the Thai standards; and Saman Islam , a Thai-Muslim restaurant that serves a tasty chicken biriani. Viva 8 features a DJ and, when we stopped by, a chef making huge platters of paella. And as evening draws near, down a beer at Viva’s , a cafe-bar that features live music.

Housewares & Decor

The western edge of the market, particularly Sections 8 to 26, specialises in all manner of housewares, from cheap plastic buckets to expensive brass woks. This area is a particularly good place to stock up on inexpensive Thai ceramics, ranging from celadon to the traditional rooster-themed bowls from Lampang.

PL Bronze has a huge variety of stainless-steel flatware, and Ton-Tan deals in coconut- and sugar-palm-derived plates, bowls and other utensils.

Those looking to spice up the house should stop by Spice Boom , were you can find dried herbs and spices for both consumption and decoration. Other notable olfactory indulgences include the handmade soaps, lotions, salts and scrubs at D-narn , and the fragrant perfumes and essential oils at AnyaDharu Scent Library .

For less utilitarian goods, Section 7 is a virtual open-air gallery – we particularly liked Pariwat A-nantachina for Bangkok-themed murals. Several shops in Section 10, including Tuptim Shop , sell new and antique Burmese lacquerware. Meng features a dusty mish-mash of quirky antiques from both Thailand and Myanmar.


Possibly the most fun you’ll ever have window-shopping will be petting puppies and cuddling kittens in Sections 13 and 15. Soi 9 of the former features several shops that deal solely in clothing for pets. It’s also worth noting that this section has, in the past, been associated with the sale of illegal wildlife, although much of this trade has been driven underground.

Plants & Gardening

The interior perimeter of Sections 2 to 4 feature a huge variety of potted plants, flowers, herbs, fruits, and the accessories needed to maintain them. Many of these shops are also open on weekday afternoons.

Family adventure on the Greek island

Leaving a sodden British summer for a Greek island known as Micra Anglia – Little England – seemed like tempting fate, but worrying about the weather wasn’t necessary. Rugged Andros, the northernmost island in the Cyclades, owes its sobriquet to the Greek shipping clans who run their maritime empires from London, dispatch their offspring to British boarding schools, but have established members’ clubs, museums, and even a class system of sorts back home. These magnates have also kept tourism at bay: not wanting their homeland overrun by holidaymakers. So this large, lush island, only two hours from Athens, has stayed under the radar.

Those who do venture to Andros generally stick to the coast, scalloped with over 70 beaches, or the stately town of Chora, a cluster of neoclassical mansions jutting out to sea. Inland, the landscape is more evocative of the Scottish Highlands than the Cyclades: arched stone bridges and burbling brooks, valleys punctuated by medieval watchtowers, waterfalls spilling through chestnut forests.

“There’s amazing diversity hidden in the folds of the four mountain ranges,” says Olga Karayiannis, the driving force behind Andros Routes, a community initiative set up to clear and waymark the island’s 300km network of footpaths – for self-guided walking adventures. For centuries, these often stone-paved trails were the main routes of commerce, communication, and transportation between the island’s 84 villages. So far, Olga and her team of volunteers have opened up 20 (well-signposted) paths, including the Andros Route – a 100km-long trail from north to south, that usually takes walkers 10 days. The European Ramblers’ Association recently certified the Andros Route as one of Europe’s Leading Quality Trails.

“These paths were a forgotten resource,” says Olga. “We’ve revived the infrastructure, now we want to bring the benefits of sustainable tourism to Andros, especially to the remote villages that are being deserted.” These days, shipping is a globalised industry, and this has had knock-on effects on the local economy: the trade in silk and citrus fruits that once made Andros rich has died out. So Olga is encouraging locals to open pitstops along the routes where they can welcome ramblers, cooking them lunch, or selling them their produce.

where to stay in Athen city

What to do

Benaki Museum, Pireos Street
It would be criminal to come to Athens and miss the Acropolis but visitors who stick only to the city’s ancient past are missing out. Part of the excellent Benaki art and design museum, which sprawls across seven sites, the Pireos Street gallery is a forbidding pink cube in the warehouse district of Gazi that hosts some of Athens’ best contemporary art exhibitions. It is particularly popular on weekend evenings, when it closes at 10pm.
138 Pireos Street, Open Thurs-Sun 10am-8pm, Fri-Sat 10am-10pm. Admission €6

Athens Central Market
While London and Paris have converted their historic markets into tourist traps and shopping malls, Athens’ glorious Central Market is just as it’s been for decades. The sheer variety of fish and meat on sale in its grand, slippery-floored arcades is a sight in itself, but it’s also a good place to buy whole spices, cheese and olive oil. Four fine no-frills restaurants dole out tripe soup, supposedly a hangover cure.
Athinas Street, Mon-Sat 8am-6pm

Nikos Hadjikyriakos-Ghika Gallery
One of Greece’s most important 20th-century artists, Nikos Ghika was also a seriously minted scion of an aristocratic family (and a Rothschild by marriage) with exquisite taste in mid-century modern design. The artist’s grand art deco house at 3 Kriezotou Street, just off Syntagma Square, was reopened to the public two years ago, and contains the artist’s studio and apartment, plus a beautifully laid-out three-floor survey of mid-century Greek art and culture.

With more than 90 outdoor screens across the city during the hotter months (including September), open-air cinema is a key part of Athens’ cultural life. The best selection of films is arguably at historic Vox cinema in the Exarchia neighbourhood, which mainly screens arthouse films with subtitles. For the experience itself, however, it’s hard to beat the Thissio cinema, with its dramatic floodlit view of the Acropolis looming behind the screen.
Apostolou Pavlou 7, Tickets from €6, late April-late October

Athens is, as you’d expect, a great place to buy hard-to-find and often reasonably priced Greek designer goods. Try Plaka’s Forget Me Not (100 Andrianou Street) to hunt down products from the cheekily named Salty Bags, a Corfu-based startup making beautiful bags out of old sails. Over in Exarchia, Paul Sarz makes intriguingly spooky jewellery that looks part-Victorian, part-classical. For souvenirs that go beyond the usual tat, meanwhile, call +30 210 92 45 064 to book a visit to appointment-only design shop Greece is for Lovers, which sells such tongue-in-cheek mementos as marble ice lollies and Zeus-style lightning bolt paper knives.

If you visit in Bangkok then you need to visit in this place

Even if you’re wát-ed out, you should tackle the brisk ascent to the Golden Mount. Serpentine steps wind through an artificial hill shaded by gnarled trees, some of which are signed in English, and past graves and pictures of wealthy benefactors. At the peak, you’ll find a breezy 360-degree view of Bangkok’s most photogenic side.

The hill was created when a large stupa, under construction by Rama III (King Phranangklao; r 1824–51), collapsed because the soft soil beneath would not support it. The resulting mud-and-brick hill was left to sprout weeds until Rama IV (King Monkut; r 1851–68) built a small stupa on its crest. Rama V later added to the structure and housed a Buddha relic from India (given to him by the British government) in the stupa. The concrete walls were added during WWII to prevent the hill from eroding.

In November there’s a festival in the grounds that includes an enchanting candlelight procession up the Golden Mount.

The Brahmans once enjoyed a mystical position within the royal court, primarily in the coronation rituals. But after the 1932 revolution the Brahmans’ waning power was effectively terminated and the festival, including the swinging, was discontinued during the reign of Rama VII (King Prajadhipok; r 1925–35).

Alternative city guide in Durban

On the Indian Ocean coast of South Africa, 350 miles south-east of Johannesburg, Durban is a tourist destination that chimes with the subtropical overtures of Mozambique to the north: warm water, hot summers and a laid-back beachy ambience. Yet culturally it’s very much a South African city, albeit one often pigeonholed as the less sophisticated, beach-bum cousin to the tourist mecca of Cape Town.

The whole of KwaZulu-Natal province certainly has glorious beaches. You can surf your heart out along Durban’s Golden Mile – in water that won’t make your feet go numb within seconds, unlike the icy swells in Cape Town. But these days, beyond the sand and waves, the more comparisons that are made with its Western Cape sister city, the more substance Durban has.

It’s got a thriving craft food, beer and spirits scene, an internationally respected annual film festival, and a new homegrown musical movement (gqom – pronounced qwom) that has one aim: getting people on the dance floor. So infectious is the lo-fi sound of Durban’s underground that arecent UK compilation of gqom tracks has made its way into the playlists of hip Westerners hungry for a different beat. There are also attempts at cutting-edge city renewal: with the development of the Rivertown Precinct, Surf City is starting to rival Johannesburg’s urban regeneration thunder, too. Add in the steamy climate – with an average of 320 days’ sunshine a year – and it’s clear why some people are now looking east.

The city is well set up for large events, with many big international touring artists including it on their itineraries, along with major annual music awards such as theMTV Africa Music Awards (the Mamas). The United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2011 put the city on the map for the international development community, while its Playhouse Company and KwaZulu-Natal Philharmonic Orchestra add to Durban’s respectability.

Favorite food in Bangkok that You need to try it

On a hot day, Sanam Luang (Royal Field) is far from charming: a shadeless expanse of dying grass and concrete pavement ringed by flocks of pigeons and homeless people. Yet despite its shabby appearance, it has been at the centre of royal ceremony since Bangkok was founded.

Large funeral pyres are constructed here during elaborate, but infrequent, royal cremations, and explain the field’s alternate name, Thung Phra Men (Cremation Ground). The most recent cremation was a six-day, 300-million-baht ceremony for King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s sister, Princess Galyani Vadhana, in November, 2009; it took 11 months to prepare. Sanam Luang also draws the masses in December for the King’s Birthday (5 December), Constitution Day (10 December) and New Year.

Less dramatic events staged here include the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony, in which the king (or more recently, the crown prince) officially initiates the rice-growing season, an appropriate location given that Sanam Luang was used to grow rice for almost 100 years after the royals moved into Ko Ratanakosin. After the rains, the kite-flying season (mid-February to April) sees the air above filled with butterfly-shaped Thai kites. Matches are held between teams flying either a ‘male’ or ‘female’ kite in a particular territory; points are won if they can force a competitor into their zone.

The means of Wat Suthat

Other than being just plain huge and impressive, Wat Suthat also holds the highest royal temple grade. Inside the wí·hăhn (sanctuary for a Buddha sculpture) are intricate Jataka (stories of the Buddha) murals and the 8m-high Phra Si Sakayamuni , Thailand’s largest surviving Sukhothai-period bronze, cast in the former capital of Sukhothai in the 14th century. Today, the ashes of Rama VIII (King Ananda Mahidol; r 1935–46) are contained in the base of the image.

Behind the wí·hăhn, the bòht (ordination hall) is the largest of its kind in the country. To add to its list of ‘largests’, Wat Suthat holds the rank of Rachavoramahavihan, the highest royal temple grade. It also maintains a special place in the national religion because of its association with the Brahman priests who perform important ceremonies, such as the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in May. These priests also perform religious rites at two Hindu shrines near the wát – Dhevasathan on Th Din So, and the smaller Vishnu Shrine on Th Unakan.

Donations and a constant flow of tourists have proven profitable, and the statue is now housed in a new four-storey marble structure. The 2nd floor of the building is home to the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition , which has exhibits on how the statue was made, discovered and came to arrive at its current home, while the 3rd floor is home to the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center , a small but engaging museum with multimedia exhibits on the history of Bangkok’s Chinatown and its residents.

Sight seeing in Bangkok

The Erawan Shrine was originally built in 1956 as something of a last-ditch effort to end a string of misfortunes that occurred during the construction of a hotel, at that time known as the Erawan Hotel.

After several incidents ranging from injured construction workers to the sinking of a ship carrying marble for the hotel, a Brahmin priest was consulted. Since the hotel was to be named after the elephant escort of Indra in Hindu mythology, the priest determined that Erawan required a passenger, and suggested it be that of Lord Brahma. A statue was built and, lo and behold, the misfortunes miraculously ended.

Although the original Erawan Hotel was demolished in 1987, the shrine still exists, and today remains an important place of pilgrimage for Thais, particularly those in need of some material assistance. Those making a wish from the statue should ideally come between 7am and 8am, or 7pm and 8pm, and should offer a specific list of items that includes candles, incense, sugar cane or bananas, all of which are almost exclusively given in multiples of seven. Particularly popular are teak elephants, with money from the sale of these items donated to a charity run by the current hotel, the Grand Hyatt Erawan. And as the tourist brochures depict, it is also possible to charter a classical Thai dance, often done as a way of giving thanks if a wish is granted.

A bomb exploded near the shrine in August 2015, killing 20 and slightly damaging the shrine. It was repaired and reopened just two days later.

Hostory of Bangkok About Wat Arun

After the fall of Ayuthaya, King Taksin ceremoniously clinched control here on the site of a local shrine and established a royal palace and a temple to house the Emerald Buddha. The temple was renamed after the Indian god of dawn (Aruna) and in honour of the literal and symbolic founding of a new Ayuthaya.

At time of research, the spire of Wat Arun was closed until 2016 due to renovation. Visitors can enter the compound, but cannot climb the tower.

It wasn’t until the capital and the Emerald Buddha were moved to Bangkok that Wat Arun received its most prominent characteristic: the 82m-high þrahng (Khmer-style tower). The tower’s construction was started during the first half of the 19th century by Rama II and later completed by Rama III. Not apparent from a distance are the ornate floral mosaics made from broken, multihued Chinese porcelain, a common temple ornamentation in the early Ratanakosin period, when Chinese ships calling at the port of Bangkok discarded tonnes of old porcelain as ballast.

Also worth an inspection is the interior of the bòht . The main Buddha image is said to have been designed by Rama II (King Phraphutthaloetla Naphalai; r 1809–24) himself. The murals date from the reign of Rama V (King Chulalongkorn; r 1868–1910); particularly impressive is one that depicts Prince Siddhartha encountering examples of birth, old age, sickness and death outside his palace walls, an experience that led him to abandon the worldly life. The ashes of Rama II are interred in the base of the presiding Buddha image.

Bangkok about Golden Buddha

The attraction at Wat Traimit is undoubtedly the impressive 3m-tall, 5.5-tonne, solid-gold Buddha image , which gleams like, well, gold. Sculpted in the graceful Sukhothai style, the image was ‘discovered’ some 40 years ago beneath a stucco/plaster exterior, when it fell from a crane while being moved to a new building within the temple compound.

It has been theorised that the covering was added to protect it from marauding hordes, either during the late Sukhothai period or later in the Ayuthaya period when the city was under siege by the Burmese. The temple itself is said to date from the early 13th century.

Donations and a constant flow of tourists have proven profitable, and the statue is now housed in a new four-storey marble structure. The 2nd floor of the building is home to the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition , which has exhibits on how the statue was made, discovered and came to arrive at its current home, while the 3rd floor is home to the Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center , a small but engaging museum with multimedia exhibits on the history of Bangkok’s Chinatown and its residents.