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Breakfast in Bangkok @ Siam: Clinton Street Baking Company

This is definitely one of my favorite new American breakfast places in Bangkok: Clinton Street Baking Company. It’s located on the ground floor of the Siam Paragon shopping mall. The pancakes are wicked. So are the eggs.

I’m a real snob when it comes to ingredients of a simple breakfast, particularly eggs. And here’s my verdict: these eggs leave nothing to be desired.

I had the Farmer’s Plate: Soft scrambled eggs, farmhouse cheddar, rosemary soft paddies, and herb-roasted tomatoes with sourdough-toast. Now I’m a city kid, but if this is what farmers eat, I wanna be a farmer.

We also had their blueberry pancakes with warm maple butter. Usually when you order pancakes with maple syrup, they’re always stingy with the maple syrup. Here, they give you a big jug of maple syrup, more than even an unreasonable person like me could ask for. Cause if you have pancakes, the last thing you want to be is reasonable. Pure indulgence.

The staff was friendly, polite and attentive.

When you order a pot of tea, they will even offer to refill it for free with hot water. Which is uncommon for a restaurant in a high-end shopping mall like the Siam Paragon, and it made me like them all the more.

Check out their Facebook page or their website.

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Bangkok’s Cocks

BangkokCockFighters

You can often see these little cages with roosters in Bangkok – they are mostly held by people eager to have them compete in a cockfight. And yes, betting is always involved. However, the nice thing about that sometimes you wake up to the sound of roosters – in the middle of downtown Bangkok, where the last thing you expect to hear is that “village sound” 🙂

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The Old Man And The Plastic Bags

Every once in a while you come across someone who just looks like a person who had an interesting life story.

How about this old Asian man with his thick white hair andhis long white beard?

old Asian man in Bangkok

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Transfer from Bangkok To Pattaya

Looking for Transfer from Bangkok to Pattaya?

1 to 3 people:

  • private, air-conditioned luxury Sedan (with driver) (see pictures below)
  • pick up at your hotel in Bangkok
  • drop off at any place you want in Pattaya
  • includes all tollway fees, gasoline and surcharges

Price: 1500 Baht

Up to 8 people:

  • private, air-conditioned van (with driver)
  • pick up at your hotel in Bangkok
  • drop off at any place you want in Pattaya
  • includes all tollway fees, gasoline and surcharges
  • up to 7 people (same price)

Price: 2500 Baht

There are many companies that offer a transfer from Bangkok to Pattaya, and you will sure be able to find something cheaper if you look a bit more.

The cheapest way to go to Pattaya fast is to simply get on a public van from Victory Monument. A one-way ride costs just around 120 Baht per person – but keep in mind that the vans are very crowded and they have fixed drop-off points, so if you value convenience it’s better to book a private transfer from Bangkok to Pattaya.

The transfer takes around 1,5 to 2 hours.

Here pictures of a typical luxury sedan that can carry up to three passengers (1500 Baht for the transfer from Bangkok to Phuket):

Toyota Camry ToyotaCamry3 ToyotaCamry4 ToyotaCamry

(prices & conditions as of April 2013)

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Why Public Transportation Is The Best Way To Move Around Bangkok

We always recommend our clients to move around Bangkok by skytrain or subway if possible instead of taking a taxi. Even though taxis are very cheap in Bangkok. The reason? Well, look for yourself:

Bangkok Traffic Jam

Being stuck in traffic for hours is nothing unusual at all in this metropolis of more than 11 million people (and way too many cars). If you ever get caught up in one of the infamous Bangkok traffic jams, simply mentally reframe it as an meditation, or an exercise in patience and to keep a good emotional state even in potentially annoying situations 🙂

 

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Wat Po Temple

The Wat Po (วัดโพธิ์) temple in Bangkok, which also houses the reclining Buddha, is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Bangkok, and with good reason. It’s a large temple compound with many things to see and discover.

This temple is actually older than Bangkok itself – however, it used to be a very small temple and got upgraded and expanded over time.

You’ll see many interesting things when you walk around the compound, like these skillfully designed doors which are entrances to buildings of the Wat Po.

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abundantly decorated door in the Wat Po temple

And here’s a detail of these door paintings:

Wat Po door decoration detail

There are plenty of stone statues to be found also.

Chinese stone statue at Wat Po

The most popular statues are these giant Chinese door guardians:

Giant stone guardian at Wat Po

 

What’s funny about these Chinese giant door guardians is that they weren’t really made for this temple. Instead, Chinese vessels used them as ballast on the way from China to Thailand. There was a lot of trade going on between these two nations hundreds of years ago, and the Chinese bought plenty of things from the Thai people, so when the ships went from Thailand back to China, they were heavy and fully loaded. But when they went from China to Thailand, the merchandise was not heavy enough, and the ships needed some ballast – so they simply used these stone statues to make their ships heavier. Why the Chinese didn’t seem to value these statues isn’t known though.

But maybe even more interesting are these statues of Thai hermits (called ruessi datton in Thai) which practice traditional Thai massage. After all, this is the most popular place to get an authentic Thai massage (also known as nuad boran in Thai), and there is a school for those who want to study Thai massage that offers both introductory courses which you can complete within a week, and more advanced long-term courses.

Thai hermits practicing Thai massage at Wat Po

These Thai hermits used to live in mountains and forests of Thailand long ago and practice meditation, and it’s believed that they used Thai massage and a kind of Thai yoga to keep physically fit and to balance out the hardships of sitting motionless for long periods of time in meditation.

hermit practicing Thai yoga at Wat Po temple

There are also books about the meanings and supposed effects of each Thai massage posture, but they aren’t very detailed, and this isn’t as well-researched as the Indian yoga.

Then there are stupas on the compound, some which contain remains of previous Kings of Bangkok.

Stupas at the Wat Po temple   Stupas on the compounds of the Wat Po temple

There’s also a long row of Buddha statues in the subduing mara pose, which is probably the most popular Buddha posture in Thailand.

line of Buddha statues in subduing mara pose at Wat Po temple

There are actually more than a thousand Buddha statues on the compound of the Wat Po temple.

Buddha statue at Wat Po

And there is a Buddha statue where he is protected by seven serpent heads. According to the stories, the seven-headed serpent protected him from rain during his meditation – although I guess a seven-headed serpent could protect him from many other things as well 😉

Buddha with seven serpent heads protecting him

These shiny golden temple roofs gables with it’s colorful mosaic mirror decoration is quite spectacular when hit by sunlight, or even more – when shone on by strong lights at night, glistering majestically in the darkness.

colorful shining roofs at wat po temple

This Buddha statue represents peace, if you look at it you can see that it looks as if he is trying to stop something – and indeed, he is. He’s telling members of a family to stop fighting and quarreling.

Buddha statues at Wat Po temple in "stop fighting" gesture

And, there are cats too 😉

a cat chilling at Wat Po

 

So if you like to visit the Wat Po temple in Bangkok as part of your Bangkok sightseeing activities, you can come here on your own, or if you want to learn a bit more about what the things you’ll see mean and the stories behind them, and how they fit into Thai culture and society and religion, you can hire a private tour guide or book a Bangkok day tour.

By the way – the term Wat Po temple is kind of redundant, because wat is the Thai word for temple – but it’s common to use that name in English anyway, so it’s fine to use it.

As many things in Thailand, there’s a long name for this temple too, which is Wat Phra Chettuphon Wimon Mangkhlaram Ratchaworamahawihan (วัดพระเชตุพนวิมลมังคลารามราชวรมหาวิหา), but almost no one calls it that way. However, Wat Phra Chettuphon is quite a common expression still, and if you get on a taxi to get to Wat Po, and the driver doesn’t understand where you wanna go to, you can still try to say Wat Phra Chettuphon.

Keep in mind that this is a huge temple compound, around 80,000 square meters, so you can take your time to walk around and explore – but it’s best to avoid the hot hours of midday if you plan on doing so.

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The Reclining Buddha in Bangkok’s Wat Po Temple

This is one of the absolute must-see attractions in Bangkok.

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The famous reclining Buddha in Bangkok is located in the Wat Po temple. It’s so big that it’s really challenging to take a full-length picture of him – after all, fitting 43 meters in a single indoor-photograph is a bit challenging, and the only possible angle to accomplish this herculean task is when you’re standing at his feet.

Reclining Buddha Wat Po

Speaking of his feet, they are interesting to look at too. Intricate designs made from mother of pearl inlays that represent 108 auspicious characteristics of the Buddha.

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So when you go on a Bangkok sightseeing tour, just make sure to visit the Wat Po too – and keep in mind that when you enter the hall where the reclining Buddha is located, you gotta take off your shoes. You might want to bring a pair of socks, because on busy days so many tourists from all over the world walk around the hall that it can be quite stinky from all those sweaty feet, which is a shame, because if you manage to come here when there aren’t that many folks around, it’s a beautifully serene and peaceful atmosphere.

There are also plenty of smaller Buddha statues located around the large reclining Buddha, in different poses.

Reclining BuddhaWatPo (1)

This posture represents how the Buddha remained calm and kept his meditative state of mind even when both outer distractions where attempting to break his concentration. It’s in fact one of the most popular postures of the Buddha in Thailand. It’s also known as the Bhumisparsha posture, or Subduing Mara.

Mara is the leader of the demons, and he tries to unsettle the Buddha with all the tricks, destractions and weapons he has at his disposal.

While Mara let’s his army of demons proclaim his powers, Mara then demands that the Buddha proofs that he indeed is enlightened. How does Buddha respond to this? By simply touching the earth, upon which Mother Earth proclaims: “I am his witness.” That’s good enough for Mara, who then takes flight with his army of demons.

 

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And this one is of course a miniature version of the reclining Buddha:

RecliningBuddhaWatPo (3)

And if you are wondering what the reclining Buddha posture means, here is an explanation:

Many people think that it represents the Buddha “dying” (passing over into nirvana), but this is a mix up with a similar posture where his right arm is lying next to the body.

So this reclining Buddha image, where his head is rested on his right arm, simply represents that the Buddha is resting.

The story behind this is that there was a giant, called Asurindarahu, who didn’t want to bow before the Buddha, because he doubted his greatness. The Buddha simply enlarged his body many times, until he was much larger than the giant Asurindarahu, and kept laying there in this relaxed manner. Asurindarahu then accepted that the Buddha was indeed great and powerful, and bowed before him.

Keep in mind that stories like these are used as teaching vehicles. This one could represent a certain kind of humility towards spiritual teachers. There are some people who have a very high, and sometimes inflate, sense of self-importance. All these big shots who walk around and think they are better than others, and they might think that others don’t have anything to teach them or that they can’t learn anything from Buddhism since they’re already so great and awesome. So this effortless kind of demonstration of the greatness of the Buddha kind of represents that there is a different kind of greatness – and although I personally don’t believe this story to have happened this way, I think it’s a story that for a long time served as a good teaching tool to transmit knowledge and cultural values.

 

 

 

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Thomas Fuller has recently published a piece titled 36 Hours in Bangkok. Among the things he recommends are:

  • have dinner at The Siam hotel (and enjoy a river cruise ride)
  • visit Khao San Road at night (and check the Blues Bar)
  • visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market
  • eat Som Tum at Or Tor Kor market
  • get an affordable massage at The Touch (300 Baht for 1 hour foot massage)
  • go for an Afternoon Tea in the Mandarin Oriental hotel (1,471 baht for two)
  • visit Sky Bar at the Lebua State Tower
  • visit David Thompson’s NAHM restaurant for authentic, high-class Thai food
  • eat a Durian
  • visit the Golden Mount temple
  • go crazy shopping in Pratunam
  • watch a movie at the fancy Cineplex cinema in Siam Paragon (and get the luxurious blue ribbon seats)

But what we liked most about Fuller’s article is what he wrote about our favorite city on earth:

But if there is one reason visitors return again and again to Bangkok, it is the people. The anonymity and daily grind of urban life is slowly wearing away at the legendary Thai smile. Yet Bangkok remains one of the friendliest cities on the planet, still infused with the Thai village traditions of hospitality and graciousness.

Who wouldn’t want to agree with this? 🙂

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Bangkok Market Spotting: Puppets on a string

Puppet Bangkok Market

Thai people have some interesting puppets, and puppetry has for a long time been a popular form of entertainment in Thailand. With the advent of TV, cinema and radio however its popularity declined – until puppet master Joe Louis helped to advance it, and the now legendary Joe Louis puppet theatre in Bangkok is still doing daily shows.

We spotted these old puppets at the Or Tor Kor market in Bangkok, which is mainly a market for fresh produce and foods, but you also find a section where they sell all kinds of merchandise, including these two little fellas 🙂

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Rattanakosin Biking Route

Believe it or not – but you can go sightseeing in Bangkok by bicycle. There are several Bangkok cycling tour companies that offer different themed tours for tourists, or you can just rent a cheap bike yourself and following along the Rattanakosin Biking Route, which will bring you around the historic city center of Bangkok.

You can click on the image below for an enlarged version of the Rattanakosin Biking Route map.

Rattanakosin Biking Route Bangkok

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