Tuesday, 21 July 2020

TAT launches first Amazing Thailand eBook of all destinations, special interest activities and maps nationwide

The Tourism Authority of Thailand has compiled more than 200 of its amazing destination brochures, leaflets, books, maps, and media covering all aspects of Thai tourism into one easily-searchable eBook platform to make it easy for visitors to find their place and activity of interest.



The Amazing Thailand eBook allows both domestic and foreign tourists an easy one-stop opportunity to explore all 77 provinces as well as Emerging Provinces, Top Destinations, Special Interest activities and Thai culinary locations including 12 Tourist Maps and guidebooks.

Designed both as an app and website, the Thai-English guidebook can be accessed via smartphone and tablets with clear categorisation for searching and downloading the information.

Tablet and smartphone users can either scan the QR code or visit the App Store for Apple iPhone users and Google Play for Android users. Then, type the word 'amazingthailandebook' (no space between the letters). The application can be downloaded for immediate use or accessed via the website www.amazingthailandebook.com.

Special kiosks with the QR code have also been placed at the TAT offices at the Head Office building, Suvarnabhumi and Don Mueang International Airports.

For further information, please check out https://www.amazingthailandebook.com

Monday, 20 July 2020

Thai Folk Tales: The Water Elephant



"Do not follow that little stream," said the hermit, "true, there are some very fine mushrooms to be found along it banks. But it is not safe for young people like you to wander about there."

"But, Uncle," answered Noi Sawang, "my grandfather went there only last month and brought back some magnificent mushrooms and he never spoke of any danger; why can't my wife and I go there too?

Noi Sawang was a young farmer from the village at the foot of the mountain. He was twenty-two years of age, and his wife, Bua Kieng, was only seventeen. They had been married but a month. The padi-planting season was over, and they had come up the mountain to search for mushrooms, some to sell, some to flavour their curry. The old hermit dwelt in a small cave at the mouth of the little streamlet where Sawang's grandfather had reported the existence of a specially tasty species of mushroom. The hermit had lived there for thirty years and was known throughout the country-side as the greatest authority on all matters relating to the mountain.

"Your grandfather is a very old man my lad," said the hermit. "He must be nearly eighty. He ran very little risk. There is a water elephant living near that stream. It is a tiny creature, no larger than a rat, but formed exactly like a full-sized tusker. It has a lovely black, glossy skin, and little white ivory tusks. I saw it once, and it seemed to me be the most beautiful creature I had ever beheld. But I was safe enough. I am old, very old, and your grandfather is even older than I. The water elephant takes no interest in aged people like us. It seeks only the souls of young people, to stay with it and keep it company in the forest, for it has no mate and no companions of its own kind, and often feels lonely. Last year two boy scouts came here to search for orchids. I warned them, as I am warning you, but they would not heed me. They went far along the stream, and collected hundreds of wonderful orchids, When they came back, they told me they seen no sign of any water elephant, but only a week later one of them died quietly in his sleep. I am certain that the water elephant either cast its shadow on him or else used its tiny tusks to stab his footprint in the sand at the side of the stream: in either case, he was doomed to die. Hearken to my words, and seek for your mushrooms in some other place."

Sawang was a well-educated young fellow. He had passed the Matayom Four examination, and his mind was full of modern learning and up-to-date ideas. It seemed to him ridiculous to talk about an elephant the size of a rat, which could kill people by casting its shadow over them, or by stabbing their footprints with its tusk. He answered the old hermit politely, thanking him for his advice, but saying that he and his wife were ready to take the risk, and would take good care to keep well away from the water elephant and its shadow, should they chance to run across it.

So off they went along the little stream, laughing and singing. Soon their baskets were full of fine, succulent mushrooms. Then Sawang saw a huge purple orchid, high up on a forest tree. "Sit here on this mossy bank, little wife," he said, "and wait for me. I will climb up and pick that orchid. I know a farang who will pay me at least thirty bahts for it."

In a few minutes, Sawang was high up among the branches of the tree. He got his orchid, and then espied another on a higher bough. In the end, clambering from branch to branch, he collected five fine orchids. When he came down again, he found that Bua Kieng, tired of waiting so long, had fallen asleep on her mossy couch.

"Wake up. Wake up!" cried he, "We have at least two hundred bahts worth of mushrooms and orchids! What a good thing it was that we did not let the old hermit scare us away with his stories about the water elephant. Of course, no such creature exists."

Soon they reached the hermit's cave, and Sawang said to the old man: "Uncle, it was good of you to warn us about the water elephant; but, as you see, it did not injure either of us: so we are among the lucky ones, and maybe we will come here again in a week or so to collect more mushrooms and to climb the trees for orchids."

Then Bua Kieng said to the hermit: "Uncle, 1 feel sleepy after walking so far. Let me lie down on the bamboo floor of your cave and doze for a few minutes." So saying, she lay down on the floor, using her arm as a pillow, and was soon fast asleep. Ten minutes later. Sawang called to her to get up, as they must go back home, to avoid being overtaken by darkness. She did not move. He shook her. She lay still, quite still. Then Sawang began to feel afraid. He felt her hands. They were cold. She had stopped breathing. She was dead.

Sawang knelt by her side, weeping: "Uncle, Uncle," he wailed, "I was mad not to listen to your warning. The water elephant must have come while 1 was up that tree collecting orchids. The tiny, cruel water elephant has stolen her from me, and taken her to wander in the forest and cheer him up, along with the boy scout you told me about. I was mad, mad."

Next day. Sawang returned with some of his friends, and they carried back the body of his little wife to the village and cremated it. And Sawang went back to live in his parent's house, a desolate, lonely young widower.

Days and weeks passed by, but Sawang did not forget. His heart was filled with feelings of rage against the elephant, and he longed to be revenged upon the tiny animal which had stolen away his wife. At last he determined to kill it. He took his old flintlock gun, loaded it, and set forth for the mountain. When he reached the hermit's cave, the old man sought to dissuade him from going any further.

"You cannot shoot the water elephant," he said, "others have tried and failed - and they did not all return alive."

"Never mind." answered Sawang, "I will do my best to kill the devilish little creature, to avenge the death of my wife and the boy scout. 1 can at least have a shot at it, if I should chance to meet with it. As for myself, I do not care what happens to me. I have lost all interest in life."

So once again he set forth along the fateful streamlet, until he came to the place where he had left his wife sleeping on the former occasion, while he searched for orchids. Then he called out in a loud voice:- "Water elephant, come forth!

Let me see you, wicked, cruel little beast, you who steal young people's souls to keep you company in your cursed forest. Come forth, and let me see you. I am not afraid of you. Come forth!"

There was a high, rocky boulder a few yards away from where Sawang stood. As he uttered these words, the little water elephant appeared on top of the boulder. It flapped its tiny ears, and swished its little tail, exactly like a full-sized elephant. Then it lifted its trunk as though in salutation.

Sawang raised his gun. But he felt unable to shoot.

As he stood there, pointing his gun at the water elephant, he felt all the rage and hatred in his heart melting away, and in their place he was filled with love and affection for the tiny, beautiful creature. He flung his gun to the ground and knelt down with outstretched arms.

"Water elephant!" he cried out, "lovely, beautiful, kind-hearted little water elephant, I do not want to hurt you. I only want you to let me join my little wife, and wander forever with you in your lonely forest. Cast your shadow upon me, I beseech you and let me stay here with you and my wife, and the boy scout. Have pity on me, and grant my request.

The rays of the setting sun shone through the trees and cast the shadow of the little elephant upon Sawang's face as he uttered these words. Then he cried out:- "Water elephant, I will remain kneeling here until you are ready to take me. Do not make me wait too long."

When night came on, and Sawang did not return, the old hermit took his lantern and went into the forest to search for him. There, by the side of the stream, he found him kneeling dead. The water elephant had heard his petition.

by William Alfred Rae Wood (aka Lotus) from 'Tales from Thailand" 1962

Thursday, 14 May 2020

WIN THAILAND HOLIDAY

It’s a double celebration this year! Tourism Authority of Thailand and Thai Airways International are Celebrating 60th Anniversary.



We’d like to invite you to join our celebration and you can enter to ‘Win Thailand Holiday Now and travel later’

👉 WIN THAILAND HOLIDAY
https://amazingthailand.com.au/thailandweek/competition

One good thing about being stuck at home is that getting out into the big wide world will seem so sweet. If escaping to Thailand is on your wish list, here's your chance to win a trip to tantalising Thailand, or win a stay at a luxury hotel in the mesmerising hotspots of Phuket, Samui, Krabi or Bangkok.

👉 14 PRIZES I TOTAL VALUE OF $17,000+
https://amazingthailand.com.au/thailandweek/competition

Monday, 13 January 2020

Banyan Tree Bangkok - Reach for the Skygarden

Skygarden

Bangkok is a city overflowing with amazing quality accommodation and dining options. The choice can be overwhelming, but some properties just keep shining through. One such beacon is iconic The Banyan Tree, located in the upmarket Sathon district.

The 61-floor, 5-star all-suite hotel has recently completed upgrades to its signature Saffron offering which includes the acclaimed fine dining venue and Sky Garden on the 52nd floor.

Whether dining inside or out, the unobstructed view is spectacular right across the city and provides the perfect location to enjoy their Award-winning contemporary Thai cuisine which includes such stand-out dishes as seared Tasmanian salmon with crisp pork crackling and a spicy citrus dressing, banana blossom salad with perfectly grilled and marinated prawns served with a coconut dressing and fried banana flowers.

Resident guests can further enjoy the newly upgraded products of Serenity Club, located on the very top floors. These expansive suites also afford exclusive access to the 19th floor Club Lounge with complimentary happy hour, buffet breakfast, laundry as well as express check-in and out among other benefits.

Two Bedroom Suite

The pick of the rooms is certainly the Two Bedroom Suite with space for up to four guests, making it perfect for either families or good friends. Rollaway beds can even be added and each bedroom enjoys its own ensuite bathroom and comes with a rain shower, and jumbo bathtubs.

The Banyan Tree Bangkok also offers outstanding event and meeting spaces as well as the Spa with such signature treatments as the Thai Blossom Romance and Tropical Rainmist for a total mind and body experience.

The Banyan Tree Bangkok is rated 4.5/5 by TripAdvisor.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

Memories of wild animals in Thailand


Reliving the distant memories of a childhood in Thailand, fast-forwarding two decades to the memories of revisiting the place I was born and then snapping forward another two decades into today's experiences, I am left wondering what happened to the wild animals of Thailand.

Monkey training on Koh Samui 

On my journeys into Thailand and rediscovering the memories of my youth, I often wondered of the wild animals that once roamed freely throughout dense jungles of the kingdom; tigers, black panthers and spotted leopards, deer, snakes, birds, monkeys and the myriad of insect life.  Elephants and buffaloes for hundreds of years have been enslaved to the greater human needs but the more exotic animals I suspect, based upon the length of teeth and related ferocity, have been hunted out of existence as farming and urbanisation took over once pristine jungles.

Certainly, there are still snakes of all sorts as there are birds. Of insect, reptilian, amphibian and fish life forms, one only needs to visit any of Thailand's thousands of fresh food markets and street vendors to know what has befallen the populations of wildlife...  As there are mouths to feed, there are uncountable recipes for any of the above and more unmentioned animals.  One thing for sure though, most Thais don't like snakes and give them a wide berth should any be encountered.  By the very nature of snakes and Thai peoples' disdain of them, it could be said that their future in the wild is assured.

Of monkeys, I am not so sure of their existence in the wild except to say they still remain in the small town of Lopburi, just north of Bangkok.  There, outside the railway station is a large statue of a monkey, attesting to that very fact that this is where monkeys live. Pulling up at the railway station, one can be greeted by the "oh so usual sight" of people leaning on or squatting along a concrete wall and wooden picket fence, while interspersed between them will be any number of monkeys...Person, monkey, person, person, monkey, person, monkey, monkey, person...

Other than that, I recalled that monkeys abound in Koh Samui and the island's large coconut industry.  To find out if that was still the case, I decided to venture to the Gulf of Siam and explore Koh Samui.

Arriving at the airport aboard a domestic Thai Airways flight, I was greeted by the slap of extreme humidity that instantly replaced the gentler embrace of the airconditioned aeroplane's interior during my brief flight from Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport to the island.  Outside of the airport and on the way to my hotel, I totally forgot about monkeys and the once-thriving coconut industry as I became concerned about my own existence in the face of a barrage of motorcycles, racing shuttle buses, cars and trucks all vying for the same strip of concrete which lines the entire island.

Not a coconut could be seen being delivered...where there used to be an island industry of coconuts, many of the lands used for that have now been turned into resorts, urban complexes and shopping centres.  The industry has been sidelined in favour of the tourist dollar.  So too have the monkeys of Samui been sidelined.  Where before there used to be a laid back island lifestyle of gentlefolk and monkeys going about the toils of gathering coconuts for a living, Koh Samui's monkeys are so few now, relegated to performing shows of agricultural history.

Waking up early on the last morning of my stay at the island, I heard what sounded like a monkey calling out.  Further off in the distance, I heard another return the call.  Yawning, I thought I might have been imagining things as surely they were birds of some sort...   

Tuesday, 16 July 2019

The Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House (bangkok.com)

Jim Thompson, an American who was born Greenville, Delaware, in 1906 practiced architect prior to World War 11, he volunteered for service in the U.S. Army, campaigned in Europe, and came to Asia as part of the force that planned to liberate Thailand. However, the war ended before the operation. He arrived in Bangkok a short time later as a military intelligence officer attached to the O.S.S. After leaving the service, he decided to return and live in Thailand permanently.

The hand weaving of silk, a long neglected cottage industry, captured Jim Thompson's attention, and he devoted himself to reviving the craft. Highly gifted as a designer and textile colorist, he contributed substantially to the industry's growth and to the worldwide recognition accorded to Thai silk. He gained further known through the construction of this house combining six teak buildings which represented the best of traditional Thai architecture. Most of the houses were at least two centuries old and were easily dismantled and brought to the present site, some from as far away as the old capital of Ayudhya.


In his quest for authenticity, Jim Thompson adhered to the customs of the early builders in most respects. The houses were elevated a full story above the ground, a practical Thai precaution to avoid flooding during the rainy season, and the roof tiles were fired in Ayudhya employing a design common centuries ago but rarely used today. The red paint on the outside walls is a preservative commonly found on many old Thai buildings. The chandeliers were electrified as a concession to modern convenience, but even they belong to a past era, having come from 18th and 19th century Bangkok palaces.

Jim Thompson at home with his silk. His disappearance remains a mystery to this day.

All the traditional religious procedures were followed during construction of the house, and on a date in the spring of 1959, decreed as being auspicious by astrologers, Jim Thompson moved in. The house and the art collection soon became such a point of interest that he decided to open it to the public with proceeds donated to Thai charities and to projects directed at the preservation of Thailand's rich cultural heritage.

On March 27th 1967, Jim Thompson disappeared while on a visit to the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Not a single clue has turned up in the ensuing years as to what might have happened to him. His famous Thai house, however, remains as a lasting reminder of his creative ability and his deep love of Thailand. In 1976, the Thai Court appointed administrator for the property of Jim Thompson received permission from government ministries of the Kingdom of Thailand to legally establish the James H W Thompson Foundation.

By virtue of its presence and the dictates of its charter the Foundation is committed to the preservation of Thailand's rich artistic and cultural heritage. The foundation supports a wide variety of research, publication and seminar projects in furtherance of this aim. All these activities require funds, and the James H W Thompson Foundation welcomes any contributions.

==

Open everyday from 9 AM - 6PM
Last tour begins at 4:30 PM
Jim Thompson House and Museum
opposite The National Stadium (BTS exit 1)
6 Soi Kaseman 2
Rama I Road, Bangkok
Tel: 02-216-7368

Thursday, 7 March 2019

My 'Jackie O' Moment

by Kerrin Trenorden

I'm at dinner with a group of amazing ladies from Melbourne, at one of the most beautiful hotels I have stayed in, the SALA Hotel Phuket. I overhear one of them speaking about something they referred to as ‘Their Jackie O Moment’.

She was explaining to other members of our group, how during her afternoon free, she was laying on her sunbed in her private pool villa under the massive sunhat that was supplied in the room, she had to stop and appreciate that this was as close as she was going to get to a life like Jackie O – her Jackie O moment.



This comment made me stop and think about all the ‘pinch me experiences’ I have had on trips to Thailand. Experiences that I would not be able to have or really afford in other countries I have travelled to. It also made me realise that this feeling is my favourite thing about this country – the realisation that anyone can indulge in a moment of luxury for a fraction of the price at home or other destinations.

With Australia’s strong dollar and the amazing deals on offer to travellers, Thailand gives us the ability to stay in a top level room at a beautiful hotel in a better area for your family/honeymoon/boys or girls weekend away. You can also enjoy $3.00 cocktails, a $30.00 seafood buffet dinner after your hour-long $10.00 massage – and this is before I even mention the shopping!

Thailand’s ability to allow travellers to experience what I am referring to as ‘affordable luxury’ is why I believe that everyone should visit Thailand once in their life. I strongly believe that everyone deserves the chance to have their own Jackie O moment………



Backtracking a bit – what has been my Jackie O moment you ask? I have been lucky enough to have many! Most of them in Thailand and all quite different but that is a story for another time!

Below had to be in the top 5 however with thanks to SALA Phuket!
For those wanting their own Jackie O moment, it's time to contact your local travel agent or visit www.thaiairways.com.au

Chiang Dao: Elephants, ferns and crispy grasshoppers





Just an hour north of Chiang Mai is the community of Chiang Dao, a gateway to trekking in the mountains and a hub for elephant camps. Chiang Dao is where the rice field meet the jungle and home to a weekly market full of ethnic charm. Villagers from miles around head for Chiang Dao every Tuesday to shop for essentials and trade their home grown harvests.

The market stretches for a kilometre through the main street. Most vendors are selling fabrics or fried food, like deep fried bananas or spicy fish cakes (todd man pla). My favourite patch is a shady corner where charming old ladies sell rare forest foods from deeper in the hills. Tree ferns and wild greens are easy to find, but keep a close eye out for wasp larvae, river crabs, edible orchids and crunchy fried grasshoppers.





In the cooler months, the roads leading into Chiang Dao are thick with roadside stalls selling Khao Lam, sticky rice stuffed into bamboo sections. Red beans and mushrooms with wild herbs are used to add flavour to the rice, and the bamboo pieces are roasted over hot coals so the contents inside steam themselves to completion.



Most tourists to Chiang Dao get as far as the elephant camps and then head home to Chiang Mai, but some head deeper into the hills and spend a few nights in bamboo guesthouses. It's much cooler after dark than down in Chiang Mai, and you need to rug up a little. Mist often fills the valleys in the first light, until the sun comes out to brighten the jungle.

As a guest of some hill tribes or a day visit from Chiang Mai the charms of Chiang Dao are worth your time. You'll need a break from the temples and fancy night market eats of Chiang Mai anyway.

Like these images? You can join a photo tour with Ewen Bell and take your own.