Culture

Narathiwat City Museum

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model of traditional boat in Narathiwat City Museum

Opened in February 2018, the Narathiwat City Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์เมืองนราธิวาส) is a better than average local museum and anybody visiting Narathiwat city should take an hour to visit it. The staff will be surprised and very pleased to welcome non-Malay foreign travelers; and I’m not just assuming this, they told us when we showed up. Four wings on two floors of the old provincial hall cover the history, culture, and ecology… Read More

History

Kao Kuha Caves

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both Kao Kuha Caves

In ancient times, Indian merchants managed much of the trade in the parts of the Malay Peninsula that are now part of Thailand, including trans-shipment routes through Songkhla, and there were many Indian settlements. One of them was at the foot of Kao Kuha hill, between the ocean and Songkhla Lake, where two Hindu “cave” shrines were carved into an east-facing cliff. Evidence is scarce, but it’s assumed that they… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Flame Tree

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flame tree flowers

Thai Name – Haang-nok-yuung farang (หางนกยูงฝรั่ง)        Scientific Name – Delonix regia        Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)        Other English Names – Flamboyant, Royal poinciana        Flowering Season – April-June        Native to Thailand – No        Typical Height – 6-12 meters        Not only are flame trees one of the world’s most beautiful flowering trees, the individual flowers, which look sort of like orchids, are also strikingly beautiful.… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Pink Shower Tree

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pink shower tree flower

Thai Name – Gan-la-pa-pruek (กัลปพฤกษ์), Ga-la-pruek (กาลพฤกษ์)       Scientific Name – Cassia bakeriana       Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)       Other English Names – Wishing tree, Pink cassia       Flowering Season – February-April       Native to Thailand – Yes       Typical Height – 6-12 meters       Although the flowers are almost completely different, the pink shower tree is quite closely related to the golden shower tree and both are very showy with long lasting blooms. These open… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Calabura

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calabura tree flower

Thai Name – Da-cope farang (ตะขบฝรั่ง)       Scientific Name – Muntingia calabura       Family Name – Muntingiaceae       Other English Names – Strawberry tree, jam tree, Singapore cherry       Flowering Season – Year-round, but less in the cool season       Native to Thailand –No       Typical Height – 5-12 meters       One of the most understated flowering trees in Thailand, you could easily walk past a flowering calabura and not notice the small (1.5-2cm) solitary white flowers.… Read More

History

English Translation of the Ramkhamhaeng Inscription

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Ramkhamhaen inscription

My father was named Sri Indraditya, my mother was named Nang Suang, and my elder brother was named Ban Muang. There were five of us born from the same womb: three boys and two girls. My eldest brother died when he was still a child. When I was nineteen years old, Khun Sam Chon, the ruler of Mae Sot, came to raid Tak. My father went to fight Khun Sam… Read More

History

About the Ramkhamhaeng Inscription

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illustration of script from the Ramkhamhaen inscription

The Ramkhamhaeng Inscription, aka Sukhothai Inscription One, was found in 1833 by Prince Mongkut, the future King Rama IV, while he was still a monk. He found it in the area where most historians assume that the royal palace once stood. The inscription is a squat four-sided pillar rather than the typical slab shape and is 114.5cm tall with each side 35.5cm wide. The first and second sides have 35 lines… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Burma Padauk

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Burma padauk tree flowers and a bee

Thai Name – Bpra-duu (ประดู่)       Scientific Name – Pterocarpus macrocarpus       Family Name – Fabaceae (Leguminosae)       Flowering Season – March-April       Native to Thailand – Yes       Typical Height – 15-30 meters       The Burma padauk goes from completely green to full of small (about 1.5 centimeters wide) yellow flowers overnight; and reverts back to all green again just as quickly after only a few days in bloom. The flowers turn into distinctive disc-shaped… Read More

Buddhism

The Culla-Paduma Jataka

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mural painting of Bodhisatta's wife pushing him off the cliff from the Culla-Paduma Jataka in ubosot of Wat Thung Si Muang

One of the Buddha’s disciples, while out on a morning alms round, saw a woman so beautiful that he fell in love at first sight. After returning to the monastery, his obsession with her made him depressed and ill and he could no longer concentrate on his studies or meditation. The Buddha told him that he should stop thinking about her and then to remind the disciples that all women… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ku Chaiyaphum Khmer Ruin

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Prang Ku Chaiyaphum Khmer ruin

The Bayon-style Prang Ku Chaiyaphum (ปรางค์กู่ ชัยภูมิ) is the most complete Khmer ruin in the province, and a major point of pride for the capital city. It decorates the street signs, the festival honoring it lasts three days, and it’s the city’s main (essentially only) tourist attraction. It was built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219) as a Mahayana Buddhist temple for one of the 102 arogayasala (hospitals) that he… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Ban Nong Ranya Khmer Ruin

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Buddha and goddess statues inside Ku Ban Nong Ranya Khmer ruin

No original structures from Ku Ban Nong Ranya (กู่บ้านหนองร้านหญ้า) remain, but in 2017 locals took the old blocks (mostly laterite, but a few sandstone) that had been scattered around the area and stacked them up into four short walls on a concrete base. It’s not a restoration, but it was done in spirit of a Khmer sanctuary. The interior of this shrine holds a Buddha image and a local goddess… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Non Thaen Phra Khmer Ruin

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Vishnu and dvarapala statues in shrine at Non Thaen Phra Khmer ruin

There are no ancient structures left at Non Thaen Phra (โนนแท่นพระ) anymore, just a few dozen scattered blocks, mostly laterite, laying around in the dirt plus a few sandstone carvings; and you probably can’t see the later. In or around 1914 a hunter chasing a deer found a Buddha image in the forest here. Later locals uncovered many more ancient artifacts, such as statues, pedestals, pottery, stone grinders, and a… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ku Ban Nong Faek Khmer Ruin

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woman praying in front of main sanctuary of Prang Ku Ban Nong Faek Khmer ruin

Prang Ku Ban Nong Faek (ปรางค์กู่บ้านหนองแฝก) was built by King Jayavarman VII (r. 1181-1219) as a Mahayana Buddhist temple for one of the 102 hospitals (arogayasala) he opened across the empire. All of the structures – the main sanctuary, gopura, library, and enclosure – are built of laterite, with only door and window frames being of sandstone. While none of the structures are complete and the tower is gone, after… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Daeng Khmer Ruin

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south side of Ku Daeng Khmer ruin

Ku Daeng (กู่แดง) is a single brick prang with a rather unusual design: it’s cross-shaped with open doorways on all four sides and has a nearly three-meter tall base. The prang collapsed completely, but the laterite base, with stairs on all four sides and deeply redented corners, survived mostly intact. The base’s modern modification is that locals filled in the eastern steps to make a solid wall as a spot… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prasat Ban Tan Khmer Ruin

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blocks of rubble at Prang Ban Tan Khmer ruin

Prasat Ban Tan (ปราสาทบ้านตาล) is a completely collapsed single tower built of sandstone, probably on a laterite base. Its history is unknown, but it could be from the 11th-century, the same time as Phimai. Although it had fallen down on its own, locals say that its current state of total ruin is due to looters pulling down what still stood when they were looking for valuables. One of the things… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Sop Namman Khmer Ruin

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yoni at Sop Namman Khmer ruin

Sop Namman (สบน้ำมัน) sits under a giant mango tree far from any village or paved road and it’s the small adventure required to get there, rather than what you find that makes a visit fun. Judging by the large (1.3 x 1.3 meters square) yoni still there, it could have been a fairly large sanctuary. But, other than this, all that remains are 33 scattered sandstone blocks. Nothing is known… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Ku Ban Hua Sa Khmer Ruin

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blocks of Ku Ban Hua Sa Khmer ruin

In Thailand there are many Khmer ruins inside villages, but Ku Ban Hua Sa (กู่บ้านหัวสระ) is the first I have visited that is literally in someone’s backyard. Although rather than an actual ruin, it’s just a gathering of various sandstone and laterite blocks, some for building walls and others carved for decorative trim. A few carvings in better condition were removed by the Fine Arts Department for safe keeping. A… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Wat Boon Khmer Ruin

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laterite blocks at Wat Boon

Wat Boon (วัดบูรณ์) is known locally for its old (possibly Lan Chang era) brick stupa, which is now covered by a modern one. But, before the Lao came there was a Khmer temple of unknown era and design on this site. There are no Khmer structures remaining, just a few blocks, almost all laterite, which you barely notice since they’re used to line walkways next to the ubosot and stupa.… Read More

Khmer Ruins

Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang Khmer Ruin

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Prang Ku Kaeng Sanam Nang (ปรางค์กู่แก้งสนามนาง) was, and kind of still is, a single laterite tower of unknown age. The original temple toppled completely and there was no attempt at reconstruction. What stands now are laterite and sandstone blocks stacked to make three walls for a Buddha image shrine. It’s now open to the north, but the original almost certainly would have faced east, and there’s a doorway to the… Read More

Nature

Flowering Trees of Thailand – Silver Trumpet Tree

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silver trumpet tree flowers

Thai Name – Lueang Breedeeyatawn (เหลืองปรีดียาธร) Scientific Name – Tabebuia aurea (some organizations use Tabebuia caraiba or Tabebuia argentea) Family Name – Bignoniaceae Other English Names – Caribbean trumpet tree Flowering Season – February-April Native to Thailand – No Typical Height – 3-8 meters When a silver trumpet tree is in full bloom the yellow flowers can entirely cover the tree’s crown. From a distance it can look like a… Read More