History

Tham Sam Rock Art

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wall of paintings at Tham Sam cave

A very unusual rock art site, Tham Sam cave (ถ้ำซำ) has a long wall covered with large paintings of people. These have no connection or resemblance to the many ancient cave paintings found around the region except that both are made with natural pigments – probably derived from tree sap. These consist entirely of red, white, and black and the lively results from the limited palate are a testament to… Read More

Temples

The Luang Por Phra Phut Buddha Image

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Luang Por Phra Phut Buddha image

A very ordinary Thai temple in most regards, and not high on the list of Phuket’s main tourist attractions, Wat Phra Thong (วัดพระทอง) is nevertheless a great detour for temple enthusiasts. People come to the “Temple of the Golden Buddha” (named by King Rama VI while he was still just a prince) to see its unique namesake Buddha image, which is usually called Luang Por Phra Phut (the “Emerging Buddha”)… Read More

Temples

Wat Khuat Mak Dhamma Siri

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Wat Khuat bottle temple's wihan and stupa

Wat Khuat Mak Dhamma Siri (วัดขวดมากธรรมศิริ) is the eighth “bottle temple” that I have found in Thailand. It’s quite large and the bottle decoration (mostly from beer and energy drinks) is used throughout the whole temple, not just on a few buildings. It’s definitely worth the trip. Almost always referred to as just Wat Khuat (วัดขวด), which means “Bottle Temple,” it’s less than an hour from both Hat Yai and… Read More

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

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