Thanon Tanao is a street that still has the old Bangkok flair – and the nice thing is, it’s just a short distance away from the backpacker district of Khaosan Road, so it’s easy to get there and makes for a great Bangkok sightseeing walk.
One thing that is worthwhile visiting there is the “Tiger Shrine” or “Tiger God Shrine”, locally known as Chao Poh Seua (Jao Paw Sue). It is open every day between 6am till 5pm. When you walk in, you immediately get surrounded by a thick cloud of incense smoke, and you see people walking around carrying big bunches of incense sticks and praying.
This is a Taoist shrine, not a Buddhist shrine, and many of the people here are either Chinese or their families have Chinese ancestors – but Thai people come to pray here too. Thai-Chinese come here to pray for power, prestige and healthy pregnancy. (Many Chinese families still prefer boys over girls). They make offerings of pork rashers, eggs, oil, sticky rice and sugar tigers.
This shrine is dedicated to the Chinese tiger guardian spirit and the God of the North Stars. You can see their image on the centre of the main altar.
When you walk Thanon Tanao street further south, you find lots of nineteenth-century shophouses made out of wood. Here you can buy lots of traditional Thai foods that can’t be found elsewhere.
Many of these shophouses have been owned by families who practice their craft since many generations. Not everything is will match your taste here – there are rather exotic thinmgs like pig brain soup and so on – but it is still interesting and fascinating to explore this part of Bangkok.
You also can find many religious shops here that sell Buddha images and so on.
And there’s a temple called Wat Mahannapharam Worawihan too, where to ancient Buddha statues are located.
The temple was build in the reign of King Rama the third by Prince Udom Rattanarasri. The architectural style is a mixture of Thai and Chinese influences. The Ubosot has a Chinese rooftop – it is typically less decorated than the Thai ones. Other elements are from different periods of Thai history, including Ayutthaya and Sukhotai.
It’s nice to go sightseeing in a relaxed way in the area.
Photocredits: http://www.flickr.com/photos/nobythai/4583462321/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerrypops/201758926/, http://www.flickr.com/photos/wheresvasan/4377483655/