Thursday, 31 December 2015

Bangkok Light of Happiness

Bangkok Light of Happiness

There is a spectacular light display on the square between City Hall of Bangkok 1 and Wat Suthat วัดสุทัศน์ / Giant Swing เสาชิงช้า from Dec 30 to Jan 30.






There are 5 million LED and it cost 39 million Baht:
http://englishnews.thaipbs.or.th/bangkok-deputy-governor-defends-spending-on-new-year-illumination
http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/810624/ombudsman-probes-bma-new-year-light-extravaganza
There are reports about irreglular spending of the money, and comments there are better used for 39 million Baht,
but I like it!

Wat Suthat and Giant Swing:


All around Sanam Luang and elsewhere, trees are decorated with lights as well:


Thanks to a Thai friend for sending me pictures, otherwise I would not have known in time. 

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

Monday, 28 December 2015

Le Khao Gop cave in Trang province

Le Khao Gop cave in Trang province
ถ้ำเลเขากอบ จ.ตรัง อ.เภอห้วยยอด

7.7937528,99.5722544 = 7°47'37.5"N 99°34'20.1"E
9.0 km by road east of Huay Yot railway station. Buses from Trang to Phuket or Krabi pass, but will not stop. Van 8579 to Ao Dong อ่าวดง would pass, but van to Huay Yot was earlier so I took van from Trang to Huay Yot (30 THB, 9:58-10:35), then mocy to cave (80 THB, 10:58-11:15). Cave is 950 m south of Phetkasem road = hwy 4 at km 1073 (that's the same Phetkasem that starts at Wongwian Yai in Bangkok, then passes Hua Hin and goes to the Malaysian border). View of entrance from hwy:



Nice lamp posts along the way:





These boats cost 300 Baht per tour (11:46-12:24) and can carry up to 5 passengers plus 2 oarsmen. They follow the river that flows through the cave. I invited a Thai friend I met the day before and he brought two friends, so we were 4 passengers.



Inside the cave, most of the boat ride you lie on your back because ceiling is low. Then a stop where you go on land (here still low ceiling, have to bend down most of the walk).









Stalactite that looks like an elephant, passing underneath brings luck:



This stalagmite looks like a penis, and there is a หินตาหินยาย somewhere (grandfather grandmother stone, probably penis and vagina shaped like those in Koh Samui), I learnt after visiting:





Back into the boat for what's called a ride along the backbone of a dragon. This is not for the claustrophobic.



Boat is hitting walls on both sides, oarsmen move boast by pushing from ceiling. My legs on the right, my friend's head in the middle. Water dripping from ceiling.


  
Glad to see daylight and get back on solid ground!



Judging by map, you can walk around the mountain that contains the cave. Quality articles about the cave:
http://blog.malaysia-asia.my/2011/05/khao-kop-cave-in-trang-thailand.html 
http://www.trang-travel.com/KhaoKopCave.htm
http://adventure.tourismthailand.org/eng/cave-exploring/tham-le-khao-kop 
https://th.wikipedia.org/wiki/ถ้ำเลเขากอบ

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

Saturday, 26 December 2015

Lesser known fruit (2)

Lesser known fruit (2)

(part 1 here http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2014/11/some-lesser-known-fruits.html

Sweet Tamarind, Pithecellobium_dulce, Makham thet มะขามเทศ. The เทศ tâyt in several names of fruit means [to be] foreign ; non-Thai. The pod is white at first, then turns pink. Can be stored for some days in fridge. 1/2 kg for 60 Baht. Better to buy as shown in picture than peeled, the peeled don't keep as long. Pleasant sweet taste.



Peeled sugar cane (bags in front, light yellow) อ้อยหวาน. Bite on the pieces to make the juice come out, then spit out the fibres. Pleasant sweet, one bag 20 Baht (about 1 kg?).



Lotus บัว. Fresh cuts ooze out sticky liquid, do not touch! Usually sold bundles of 5-10 for 20 Baht. Keeps some day, then turns brown and dries out. Lower part from left to right: peel off the green outer part (not edible). The white inner part can be eaten directly when small, but bigger ones have a green leave inside which is bitter (either remove or swallow without biting on it). Pleasant nutty taste.
More pictures: http://frynn.com/บัวหลวง/



Indian gooseberry Phyllanthus emblica, in Thai ma kham pom มะขามป้อม. The juice (on the right, with sugar and honey) was ok. The pure fruit (on the left, I bought a bag of 10 fruit at Klong Toey market for 20 Baht) are horrible
(hard, bitter). I ate 2, then threw away the remaining.




Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

Thursday, 24 December 2015

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my readers

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to my readers

Quiz: where were these pictures taken? All in Bangkok. Solutions in one week.

Location A:
Central World (largest Christmas tree in South-East Asia)



Location B: 
bridge over Sathorn/Narathiwat Ratchanakarin crossing



Location C: Future Park Rangsit



Location D: (that's an easy one, so everyone can have a feeling of success)



Location E (light show, I captured the brightest moment):
Q House Lumpini / LH Bank at Rama 4 / Sathorn crossing


Location F: Ibis Sathorn hotel



End of quiz. Robinson in Trang:



for fun:


from: https://www.facebook.com/1673484516268255/photos/a.1673495399600500.1073741828.1673484516268255/1677248082558565/?type=3
https://teespring.com/oh-chemis-tree-EU

Don't put Christmas lights on your palm tree!
 
source: internet

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC except external pictures

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

Seacon War of Steel Battle of Thailand

Seacon War of Steel Battle of Thailand 10-20 Dec 2015

I learnt of this event from newspaper and just managed to squeeze a visit into my schedule. ChristianPFC disapproves of sport with engines or animals, but a robot fight is ok by my standards. The first in Thailand, 300,000 Baht prize.

from: http://www.seaconsquare.com/index.php/news/detail/1255

Today's fights (updated after each fight):


Free entry, and there were just enough seats for everyone. On the sides of the arena, you can see 4 red hammers that move up and down, 4 circular saws (black slits, aluminium box outside), and one pit (about 5 cm deep, white rim).



Starts on time (15:00), but there is a lot of talk for introduction (15 minutes) and between moderator and teams before each fight (actually, most of the time was talking, not fighting):


Then teams place their robot (max. 30 kg) on start patch:


and fight begins (3 minutes or until one cannot move for 10 seconds. If no winner, 3 minutes for repair, then next round). Robots are remote controlled by their team. This one got unlucky and got immobilized by red hammer:


Most work by either lifting their opponent so it can't move any more or have a rapidly rotating metal bar (in red, not rotating in the picture below) as weapon (sparks and debris flies around when hit). This had his wheel damaged:


The last fight (already 16:45 and not 17:30 as scheduled).


It ended spectacular: the red got damaged and had a short circuit (?) that evolved copious amounts of white fog that filled the entire arena:


Conclusion:
A welcome change from my usual boring routine (a temple here, a museum there, a boy yet somewhere else), but not really worth the travel (bus from Sathorn to On Nut, songtheo to Seacon Square, total from my room to stage about 100 minutes)

Barely escaped thefts and robberies are now becoming so frequent, only worth a footnote:

On the songtheo, I almost had 500 Baht stolen. I have the habit of taking the fare out of my wallet while still on the songtheo to make payment faster (not necessary here because Seacon Square is the last stop and many get off there), this time too early (about 10 minutes). I was sitting, and while my wallet was open to take 20 Baht note out, I thought that every one who has an interest and is standing (songtheo was full) can take a look and see my wallet is full of bank notes (compare the attempted robbery at Hua Lampong where I notice the elder tried to look into my wallet when I made 200 Baht advance payment). Shortly after putting my wallet back in my pocket (right upper thigh), a man squeezes in to my right. When I walk, I feel my wallet with every step, and when I sit, I put my hand on my thigh, with little finger touching wallet through fabric. I notice more movement on my right side than can be explained by driving and road conditions. I see his bag is over the gap between our legs and his right hand is under the bag, in my pocket! I put my hand fully on my wallet and he withdraws his hand and takes out his mobile (from his left pocket). Later in Seacon Square, I check: 500 Baht note pokes out by 2 cm. There were no 1000 notes in my wallet, but how did he get the 500 and not smaller ones? Just by chance?

I really should get a second wallet for small spendings throughout the day, whereas ATM and other cards and larger amounts of money are in another wallet.

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC except first picture

Monday, 21 December 2015

Long and short place names in Thailand

Long and short place names in Thailand

The full name of Bangkok is the longest place name of the world:

กรุงเทพมหานคร อมรรัตนโกสินทร์ มหินทรายุธยา มหาดิลกภพ นพรัตนราชธานีบูรีรมย์ อุดมราชนิเวศน์มหาสถาน อมรพิมานอวตารสถิต สักกะทัตติยวิษณุกรรมประสิทธิ์

Krungthepmahanakhon Amonrattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilokphop Noppharatratchathaniburirom Udomratchaniwetmahasathan Amonphimanawatansathit Sakkathattiyawitsanukamprasit

The name, composed of Pali and Sanskrit root words, translates as:

City of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Vishvakarman at Indra's behest.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bangkok#Name 

The full name is written in front of Bangkok City Hall 1 (City Hall 2 is a modern building in Din Daeng area), opposite Wat Suthat วัดสุทัศ and Giant Swing เสาชิงช้า, with explanation in English and Thai on the sides and name in Braille below on stainless steel plates:



Longest province names are (Numbers in brackets are key strokes on keyboard, changing upper case/lower case not counted. If you count pencil strokes numbers would be equal or slightly higher.)
Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya พระนครศรีอยุธยา (15)
(full name of Ayutthaya province)
Prachuap Khiri Khan ประจวบคีรีขันธ์ (15)
Nakhon Si Thammarat นครศรีธรรมราช (13)
Ubon Ratchathani อุบลราชธานี (11)
Nong Bua Lam Phu หนองบัวลำภู (11)
Amnat Charoen อำนาจเจริญ (10)

Shortest province and district names by key strokes are
(number of key strokes)->(number of sounds)
2->3 Phon พล district in Khon Kaen province 
อำเภอพล จังหวัดขอนแก่น
2->3 Khong คง district in Nakon Ratchasima province 
อำเภอคง จังหวัดนครราชสีมา
2->3 Pong ปง district in Loei province
3->3 Loei เลย province จังหวัดเลย
3->2 Li discrict ลี้ in Lamphun province อำเภอลี้ จังหวัดลำพูน
Shortest by sound [líː] (IPA International Phonetic Alphabet).

If you go down to sub-district and village, there are many more, here just two I found in real life or on the internet by chance:
2->2 Zaa ซา village in Huay Yot district in Trang Province บ้านซา อ.ห้วยยอด จ.ตรัง
2->2 Mueang Na เมืองนะ subdistrict in Chiang Dao district in Chiang Mai province
2->2 Saa สา in Nan province

For such short names, on buses and trains Mueang is added in front of the name: Mueang Phon เมืองพล, Mueang Khong เมืองคง, Mueang Loei เมืองเลย.

Sometimes place names are abbreviated by either taking just the first part of the name:
Ubon Ratchathani -> Ubon, Udon Thani -> Udon,

Omitting syllables:
Phitsanulok -> Philok พิษณุโลก -> พิโลก (town and province)
Ratchaburi -> Ratburi ราชบุรี ราด-ชะ-บุ-รี -> ราด-บุ-รี
Phetchaburi -> Phetchburi เพชรบุรี เพ็ด-ชะ-บุ-รี -> เพ็ด-บุ-รี
Sankhaburi -> Sanburi สรรคบุรี -> สรรบุรี (district in Chainat provice)
Kanthararom -> Kantharom

Replacing syllable with number that sounds similar:
Paet Rio แปดริ้ว -> 8rio 8ริ้ว (alternative name of Chachoengsao town)
Pinklao ปิ่นเกล้า -> Pin9 ปิ่น9 (Area in Bangkok Noi district บางกอกน้อย, West of Pinklao bridge)

Using IATA airport code:
BKK for Bangkok, CNX for Chiang Mai, SNO for Sakon Nakon;
I sometimes use PTY for Pattaya town and just found it’s IATA for Tocumen International Airport in Panama already

Railway stations in Thailand have 3 letter abbreviations in English or 2 letter abbreviations in Thai.

or beginning letters:
Grung Thep Mahanakorn -> GTM กรุงเทพมหานคร -> กทม

More about names of Thai towns: http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2015/05/names-of-towns-in-thailand-buri-nakorn.html 

Side note: After the lost war, core-Germany was reorganized into federal states (Bundesland) which led to absurd names like Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, Rheinland-Pfalz, Sachsen-Anhalt, Schleswig-Holstein. 

update: short place names: บ้านรี ลี้ ค้อ

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC

Saturday, 19 December 2015

Thai Waterworks Discovery Museum

Thai Waterworks Discovery Museum
พิพิธภัณฑ์แห่งการเรียนรู้การประปาไทย

on the grounds of Metropolitan Waterworks Authority Samsen
โรงงานผลิตน้ำสามเสน - การประปานครหลวง

Main entrance on Rama VI road ถนน พระราม 6
13.7734854,100.5302665 = 13°46'24.6"N 100°31'49.0"E
850 m walk from Sam Saen railway station; bus stop โรงกลั่นประปา with bus 44, 67, 536 is right in front of it.



18.11.2015 Train from Hua Lampong to Sam Saen, then walk. Arrive at the museum 12:00 and inquire at security. Security guard phones someone who speaks English and will show me around (I was the only visitor). Leave ID at security and get visitor badge.

Near entrance, visible from main road: old electric connection tower (empty apart from insulators and a shrine), Phra Mae Thorani พระแม่ธรณี shrine on white bridge over pond. Phra Mae Thorani is in the logo of Metropolitan Waterworks Authority.

 

old pumping station:



old sedimentation tanks:



old alum storage and mixing building:



Some very nice industrial architecture, I spotted this building when driving past on train, now I know where it belongs to:












different colors correspond to different functions of the valves (insert):
 


I learn that water comes through a canal from Chao Phraya from Nonthaburi, water further south has too much salt from sea.

At the end, visit to laboratory and selfie drinking tap water that comes from this plant. Leave 13:30. Recommended if you are interested in science and architecture!

Part of my end-of-year-museum-marathon to make the most of my Muse Pass: http://christianpfc.blogspot.com/2015/08/muse-pass-2015.html

Copyright 2015 ChristianPFC