Thailand: Kayaking near Kabri

Waking up at Mr “Air’s” house caused a scramble for the two downstairs toilets and two shower rooms.  We were spoilt with Western toilets (good) but the shower was just a large container of cold water, with a dipper, which was used to splash water all over the place, including one’s own body.

After breakfast we were on our way again but just for a short ride to Krabi Town where we arrived around 09.00.  It was much too early to get our rooms at our next accommodation, Ben’s Guest House, or so my diary told me, so we left all of our belongings in a store room for later retrieval.  Then it was back into our mini-van for a 30 minute drive to a sea kayaking area.


I’d never been in a kayak before so this was going to be an interesting day!  I just hoped my camera would stay dry.  I guessed it wouldn’t matter if I fell in and got wet.  At least it would be one way of cooling off.  But my camera might not appreciate a swim so I put it in a zip lock plastic bag to be on the safe side.


It was in another stunning landscape surrounded by more of those Karst formations.


I was teamed up with John who had done some kayaking and, after donning life vest and listening to some basic instructions, we set off on calm waters in our red and yellow craft.


It was dead calm so the zip lock plastic bag was dispensed with and photos a plenty were taken.  Here, John is doing the same.


Milling around on our frequent stops.


It was a very easy paddle.


Quite leisurely actually!


More of the same.


We paddled up a steep sided gorge.


Mangroves formed an impenetrable thicket along the muddy banks.


We met an earlier group already heading back to the launching place.


On an open muddy section I spotted this mud skipper…


…along with this blue-legged crab.


Nearby was an orange clawed crab.


The whole exercise was most enjoyable.  It was very hot but being on and in the water made it all the more bearable.


Back to the hotel and reunited with our luggage, the afternoon was free.  I remembered to take a photo before we messed up the bed by having a papa nap.  I am a granddad now! And I had time to download my photos into my small computer.

We met up again at 15.00 to walk the short distance to the beach… going via a convenience store to buy some beer, soft drinks and nibbles to have on the beach while watching the sun set. “Stupid” left his SD card back in the hotel, didn’t I,  having been interrupted while downloading my photos.  I had my camera, just no SD card.  So no sunset photos.

The sun having set and the drinks finished we moved on to a restaurant where we had another wonderful Thai dinner.  I chose mixed seafood which was served in a whole fresh coconut.  Scrumptious!

Brian got chatting to a young German couple sitting just behind us.  Somehow or other the four of us ended up in a nearby, very noisy, bar where great conversation was had over another couple of beers. We eventually parted company and wandered back to the main street. It was virtually deserted since it was 01.45!  The plan was to walk back to our hotel but we missed the turn and ended up getting lost. What to do?  We eventually got a tuk tuk that took us back to the hotel.  We were just a little the worse for wear.

After dinner, Brian and I ventured into a show where 12-15 ‘Ladyboy’ performers strutted their stuff all tarted up and dressed most lavishly in bright colours and covered in sequins and feathers.  There was no expense spared in the amount of make-up used either.  It’s not the kind of show I’d go to at home but in a different country where you’re unlikely to be spotted by someone you know, well, anything goes.

Brian got chatting to a young German couple sitting just behind us.  Somehow or other the four of us ended up in a nearby, very noisy, bar where great conservation was had over another couple of beers.  We eventually parted company and wandered back to the main street.  It was virtually deserted since it was 01.45!  The plan was to walk back to our hotel but we missed the turn and ended up getting lost.  What to do?  We eventually got a tuk tuk that got us back to the hotel.  We were just a little the worse for wear.

And so ended 18th March, or rather began 19th March.  More anon.


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Thailand: to Mr “Air’s” Homestay near Krabi

We had a restful morning… we didn’t have to have our bags out until 11.00.

After another delicious, freshly prepared Thai meal for lunch we were ready to leave for a two and a half hour private mini-bus transfer to a one night’s home stay at Mr “Air’s” home near the town of Krabi.  This promised to be an interesting experience.


We’d been told that all the boys would be in one room together and the ladies would share another room.  And another experience to look forward to…the shower was just a large container of water and a dipper.  Perhaps, we thought, one night would be enough?


We four boys were ready for anything… well almost for anything!  It turned out that we had two rooms to share so we weren’t as crowded as we could have been.


We only had time to throw our bags in the door before we headed off on a guided walk around Mr “Air’s” spread out village.  It’s a Muslim village.

I knew not to go too close to these red ants… they pack quite a bite… so I used the tel lens on the camera to make them look much closer to me than they actually were.  Discretion is by far the better part of valour.


These pods belong to a tamarind tree, (Tamarindus indica).  The tree grows naturally in tropical Africa and is a monotypic taxon, meaning the genus Tamarindus has only one species.  The pods contain an edible pulp that is both bitter and sweet at the same time. This pulp is used widely in cuisines around the world.  It is also used in traditional medicine and as a metal polish.


These fruits belong to the cashew nut tree (Anacardium occidentale).  Once the green fleshy outer coat is removed the familiar shape of a cashew nut is more obvious.  The elongated stem above the fruit can be processed into a sweet, astringent fruit drink or distilled to make a liquor.  The green coating of the seed can be processed to yield substances that are used as lubricants and in paints.

The cashew tree originally comes from Brazil but the trees are now widely grown in Vietnam, Nigeria and India as a valuable crop.

The tree is very attractive. It produces beautiful rose-coloured scented flowers in panicles, followed by enticing red fruits before the nuts are produced. Cashew nuts are highly nutritious, containing high amounts of vitamin C and are excellent sources of calcium, iron and vitamin B1.


These fruits are called Rose Apples (Syzygium jambos).  It grows naturally in Southeast Asia and is cultivated widely elsewhere as an ornamental and fruit tree.  Interestingly, it belongs to the Eucalyptus family although it is often confused with being a member of the guava family.  The fruit is rich in vitamin C, has a texture similar to a nashi pear and is often eaten with spiced sugar.

The wood is dense and is used in the production of charcoal.  The tannins that can be extracted from the tree are showing interesting antimicrobial properties.  In some places it is used in traditional medicine.


We met this lady on our walk.  She was out collecting herbs for the evening meal.


Beautyberry (Callicarpa sp.) has eye-catching purple berries.  A wide-spread genus being found in east and south-east Asia, Australia, Madagascar, south-west North America and South America.  Tropical species are evergreen, whereas temperate species are deciduous.  The berries last on the plant well and are an important survival food for birds and some animals when more attractive alternatives are no longer available.  The highly astringent berries can be made into wine and jam.


Adenium obesum, variously called Mock Azalea, Kudu, Impala Lily and Desert Rose, depending on where it comes from, is native to the Sahel regions, south of the Sahara (from Mauritania and Senegal to Sudan), and tropical and sub-tropical eastern and southern Africa and Arabia.  The sap is used as an arrow poison throughout much of Africa and as a fish poison.


A double-flowered form of Adenium obesum.


A wild Ageratum species was growing as a weed on disturbed ground.


A rubber tree plantation.


Mr “Air” showed us how the trees were ‘tapped’ for their white latex.


The delicate white petals of Bauhinia sp.


At this accommodation everyone asked to help in the preparation of the evening meal. Much of the food we were to prepare was freshly picked from the garden.


We chopped and Mrs “Air”collected the prepared pieces to be cooked.


There was plenty of fresh food prepared and ready to cook.


…and more


…and even more.


These chillies went into a mortar and pastel.


The ground up chilli paste was a LITTLE warm!


And then dinner was cooked… thanks to Alif and Mrs “Air”. It was really good.

More anon


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Thailand: Khao Sok National Park Caves

After cruising through the stunningly beautiful karst formations that surround the dam, we were ready for the next part of the day’s adventure… a visit to some caves.


We were to get to the caves by riding on, or really gliding, across the still waters of the dam on a bamboo, ‘raft-like’, boat. Safety vests were to be worn on these craft!


These strange craft had there own small bay on the dam complete with floating chalets that can be hired for the night…. though that wasn’t our plan.


We waited at the landing stage for our turn… but there were not too many other tourists there that day which made it a pleasant place to be.

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Ready, set,go! One of the other groups we shared the dam with.

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It was all a bit of fun!


When we arrived at the caves and disembarked our bamboo rafts, we had to make a steep climb up to the mouth of the cave.  In this photo, I’m looking back to that entrance and the rickety bamboo handrail that gave a little confidence although not much support!


Most caves are rather wet places to explore with water dripping through the ceiling of the cave. Wonderful stalactites like this one are produced by the precipitation of minerals as the drips of water dissolve the limestone. Most stalactites are icicle shaped formations that hang from the ceiling and have have pointed tips. This one is a group of such forms.


Mineral formations in caves are, in the main, either stalactites and stalagmites. This is an example of a stalagmite, an upward-growing mound of mineral deposits that have precipitated from water dripping onto the floor of a cave. Although many stalagmites have rounded or flattened tips, this one has formed as a pillar on the cave floor.


Weird shapes and patterns were everywhere.


More stalactites hanging free from the ceiling as well as attached to the wall of the cave.


Iron oxides, dissolved with the limestone, left these stains as the moisture evaporated.


Filigree edges to some of the stalactites attached to the side walls of the cave. Further iside this cave, a column from above has joined up with the stalagmite that formed below it.


A fairy-land of crystals.


After exploring in the dimness of the caves, we came out into the bright light of day again to make our way down the steep slope back towards the water of the dam.


By the time we boarded our long tail boats for the ride back across the dam, it was 17.15 and we were looking forward to a cool drink and dinner after a good day out.


We’d obviously been very lucky with the weather. By 17.45 when we returned to our vehicle, dark clouds were forming and the water took on an ominous look.


The girls opted for some pretty amazing looking cocktails while we waited for dinner at a restaurant near to Morning Mist Resort.  We guys settled for a cold beer.


The stir-fried noodles were good too.


We capped the night off at another small bar where a fire-dancer performed.


And the girls made the most of some more fantastical cocktails!

It was nearly 23.00 by the time we got back to our rooms.  I un-stuffed the doona and used the covering as a sheet.  This time, I slept like a log.  More adventures anon.

Video on Vimeo: Khao Sok National Park, Lake Cheow Larn and Cave


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Thailand: Khao Sok National Park: Night Walk

After dark, about a dozen of us set off with a ranger on a walk into the darkness of the Khao Sok National Park.  We had been warned before hand, by our tour guide, that we should cover up, the full thing: long sleeves and trousers and to take repellent to guard against biting insects.  So, covered from head to toe, I was!  Our guide turned up in shorts, thongs and nothing else.  Mosquitoes?  No, there weren’t any mosquitoes!  The jungle is very dry and this was probably the reason for the lack of mosquitoes.  But I wasn’t dry…my shirt was wringing wet within minutes and remained so for the 2 hours of the walk! 


It was a good walk although not exciting.  We did see lots of spiders although some of them were hard to see on tree bark and on the ground.


Not sure what sort of spiders… but always wise not to get too close!


Up in the branches was a beautiful green snake with orange markings.


We watched him… he watched us.


I tried to get a decent shot of this little bird but he hid himself too well.


Some of us were interested… some not so much!


But the interest was aroused by this little ‘winged’ lizard or ‘flying dragon’.  They possess a gliding structure, or patagium, attached to specialised ribs which can be extended away from the body.  They can glide many metres from tree to tree.

There are about 40 kinds of these little lizards across south east Asia.  This little creature is Blanford’s Gliding Lizard, one of the largest of its type.  The male reaches 13 cm from snout to vent (not including the tail; the female 11 cm.  These tiny lizards inhabit lowland rainforest up to around 1200 metres elevation.


This tiny lizard dutifully displayed his brightly coloured orange throat pouch, also known as a dewlap or a gular flag.


A close up the delicate pattern of scales.  Males are identified by olive-grey mottling on the back and patagium, and females by transverse banding.  My guess is that this is a female.


Placed back on a trunk, the colouring of the scales is excellent camouflage helping it to blend in well with the dappled colours of the bark.  It almost looked like an aboriginal art work.  As they cling to tree trunks, they feed on ants and other tiny insects.


There was quite a lot of bamboo in the park.  The signs were in both Thai and English which was good.  They are set out in fairly ornate signage frames.

Thailand has 12 bamboo species with 41 varieties.  In Khao Sok National Park you can find 7 varieties on the park trails, including  Thyrosostachya siamensis also called Monastery Bamboo which is a tightly clumping bamboo that grows to 13 m high.  Bamboo grows very quickly like grass.   Elephants enjoy eating the young bamboo shoots.


A chameleon minding its own business until we interrupted its night hunting.


Another spider with large palps that look like another set of legs.

As I mentioned earlier, it was an interesting walk but not what you would call exciting!  And it was a VERY HUMID night with clothes clinging to skin in a most unpleasant way.

Back in our room the fan was set whirring and I climbed in under my flapping mosquito net. It was so hot I decided I would just lie on top of the bed and not bother with any covering.  This was a bad idea because I didn’t sleep well at all as I am used to something, even if only a sheet, over me.  Add to this, any two pieces of skin in contact with each other stuck together like two pieces of cling wrap.  The next morning in some respects, could not come quickly enough, a day when we would explore further into Khao Sok National Park. More of that anon.

A video of my time at Morning Mist Resort and Khao Sok National Park is included here:

Morning Mist Resort Vimeo address


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Thailand: Walk Near Morning Mist Resort

After our wander in the garden that surrounded Morning Mist Resort, Brian and I decided to go out into the nearby area for a bit of a look see.


Out on the road we crossed a small stream.  I’m sure it turns into a raging torrent during the monsoon season. Now it was just a string of placid pools.


Bougainvilleas were at their flamboyant best outside a local restaurant.


…a paler pink one.  Bougainvilleas come in so many different colours.  Originally they come from South America – from Brazil west to Peru and south to southern Argentina.  The colourful parts of the flower are NOT petals but coloured bracts.  The actual flowers are surrounded by the bracts and are usually white.  The sap can cause serious skin rashes.

The plant is named after the French Naval admiral and explorer Louis Antoine de Bougainville who circumnavigated the earth in the late 1700’s.  A botanist, Philibert Commerçon, who travelled with de Bougainville was the first person to describe the plant but was not necessarily the first European to see the plant.  The story goes that Commerçon’s lover accompanied him on the voyage but, as women were not allowed on board ship, she disguised herself as a man in order to make the journey.  This would make her the first woman to have circumnavigated the globe!


The Crown of Thorns (Euphorbia milii) is native to Madagascar.  It is thought that it was introduced into the Middle East in ancient times.  The common name alludes to the fact that it is suspected of having been the plant that was used to create Christ’s crown of thorns.


A close-up of a Euphorbia milii flower.  As with the Bougainvillea above, the colourful parts of the flower are NOT petals, but bracts.  The flowers are actually the minute structures at the centre of the surrounding bracts.


A colour variant of the Crown of Thorns.


Star Jasmine (Trachelospermum jasminoides) is a native of Japan, Korea, southern China and Vietnam.  A valuable perfume oil can be extracted from the very fragrant flowers.  This is used in high end perfumery.  Heavily diluted it is much used in Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai incenses.


unknown fruits.


an open pod of an unknown fruit.


Water Fern or Giant Salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is a native of south-eastern Brazil.  It is a free-floating fern that has the ability to multiply very rapidly.  It smothers and chokes slow moving bodies of water such as lakes and the like.  Although grown as an ornamental plant it often escapes and becomes an environmental weed.  It has been declared a noxious weed in many places.


unknown, but quite attractive, water weed.


A red Hibiscus.


A palm oil (Elaeis sp.) plantation.


Hanging Lobster Claw (Heliconia rostrata).

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This Pink Banana (Musa velutina) produces fruit that can be eaten but each of these bananas contains hard seeds.


Thunbergia grandiflora and a large pollinating bee with luminous wings!


A fan palm.

After this short exploration in the area, we wandered back to the resort for a meal and to get ready for a night walk in the National Park. More of that anon.


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Thailand: Morning Mist Resort

Our accommodation at the ‘Morning Mist Resort’ was at the edge of the Khao Sok National Park.


We were to stay in small cabins that are scattered around the complex.  As I dropped my bag in the room, Number 13, I noticed that there was no AC but there was a fan and mosquito nets were dangling above the beds.  Perhaps I could have a good night’s sleep!

I opted to do nothing in the afternoon except explore and enjoy the flowers in the natural tropical gardens that surround the resort.  How often, when travelling, do we drop our bags at the place where we’re to stay and not explore its surroundings?  We just go off to explore somewhere else.  Seems a waste to me.


The main entrance to the Morning Mist Resort, rather rustic, very tropical.


Red Passion-flower (Passiflora coccinea).  This plant is a native of the Amazon Basin but is widely grown in tropical regions.  The fruit is orange or yellow and good eating.


Butterfly bush (Turnera diffusa)


This Thunbergia grandiflora has many common names such as Blue Skyflower, Bengal Trumpet and Clockvine.  It is native to China, India, Nepal, Indochina and Burma.  Broken pieces of plant float down watercourses and establish easily.  The large flowers are followed by pods which eject seeds several metres on ripening.  It is a declared noxious weed in Queensland.  By the same token it has been given an Award of Garden Merit by the Royal Horticultural Society (UK).  A climbing plant, it can reach 20m in height.


The shrub Vinca (Kopsia fruticosa) occurs in India and on the Malay Peninsula.  It has important traditional medicinal properties and is used in treating sores and syphilis.


Ixora sp. come from Africa and Asia.


Costus babatus is a plant closely related to the gingers and heliconias.


The Blue Butterrfly Pea (Clitoria ternatea) is a widely grown annual vine.  It originally comes from Tropical Africa and South America.


Hanging Lobster-claw (Heliconia rostrata).


An especially long inflorescence on a Hanging Lobster-claw plant (Heliconia rostrata).


There are over a 1,000 species of Anthurium from tropical America.  Many more 1,000’s of cultivars have been bred from the original species.


A white-flowered member of the potato family (Solanum sp.).


There are approximately 40 species of water-lily (Nymphaea) widely spread throughout temperate and tropical regions of the world.


Sometimes called Spider Lily (Hymenocallis littoralis), this plant is very salt tolerant.

After this delightful, if hot, wander in the gardens, Brian and I went for a walk down the local road to see what we could find. More of that anon.


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Thailand : Train to Surat Thani

Our quicker than expected  journey to the Bangkok rail station resulted in us getting there with 2 hours to spare, which in turn, gave us time to check out the station shops.


A few snacks were bought which we hoped would ease the pain of what was ahead of us. We sat as a group on the floor of the large waiting area along with all the locals as we all awaited our various trains to arrive at their designated platforms.


There was a special cordoned off area set aside exclusively for monks.  Especially revered, the monks had ornately carved wooden chairs to sit on.  The monk in the front row had a nasal inhaler stuck up his nose.


Our smart looking train arrived and we were allowed to board over an hour before our due departure. We found our respective berths and settled in. There were three Intrepid groups all leaving Bangkok on the same train and we all ended up in the same carriage.


Our destination for this part of our journey was Surat Thani.  We left on time at 19.30 and slowly made our way through the suburbs of Bangkok.  By now it was dinner time and many of us had opted to have the set menu on the train rather than buy stuff at the station – far more exciting!  I chose chicken with cashews which came with a bowl of watery cabbage soup, rice and a red curry.  It turned out to be very tasty and a good choice.

Our 2nd class carriage was set out with longitudinal berths, one above the other.  Surprisingly, they were exceptionally comfy… ah! comfy.  I’ve been here too long already as I’ve just spelled comfy with the Thai “ph” instead of an “f”… that’s the second time as the first occurred in notes I wrote earlier!

Our conductor made up our beds with a sheet, pillow and blanket and we all turned in behind our brand new blue curtains by 21.30.  I was dreading what was ahead but must say that the carriages were closely coupled so there was no rocking backwards and forwards on stopping and starting.  I was in the top bunk so couldn’t even sense when we started from each stop until the train gained some considerable speed.  I couldn’t see out.  I slept for around 2 hour periods at a time so had a very much more restful sleep than I had anticipated.  Bed tea arrived early morning and at THB40 was a steal.

The train journey to Surat Thani gave me time to reflect on the group I was travelling with on the first part of this journey (I was to change groups half way through).

I was to share all the way with Brian Smith, an American from Colorado. A 46 y-o old, very easy-going American.  I guessed we’d get on pretty well together… and we did.

Twelve in the group, four guys, eight girls; all seemed to gell very well.. so far, so good.  I’m the oldest by 3 years, the youngest was just 18.  She was to have her 19th birthday later on during the trip.  We hail from Australia, Switzerland, Canada, the UK, and the States.  One of my fellow travellers is a garden tour guide!  She was born in the UK but now lives in the USA.  We have lots in common; ideas etc. to be explored over the following weeks.

Our guide to Singapore is Alif… not a Thai name I said, to which he agreed.  He said he was a ‘wok stir fry’ of Arabic, Thai and Chinese extraction.  A very likeable fellow in his mid to late 20’s, maybe into his early 30’s. How can you tell?!


We arrived at our destination, Surat Thani, on time at 07.30 and walked directly across the road and awaited breakfast in a local cafe.  I chose to have a couple of fried eggs, ham and two pieces of toast and a cappuccino…I’m a little bit tired of rice for every meal so far.  I’ll get back to the ‘Thai’ thing as time progresses and the options diminish.


After breakfast we boarded private mini-buses for the 90 minute drive out on the 401 highway to Khao Sok National Park.  Our accommodation was listed as the ‘Morning Mist Resort’ which is located on the edge of the park.  But more about that anon.


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Thailand: Bangkok : Wat Pho Temple b

There was yet much more to see and enjoy at the Wat Pho Buddhist Temple in Bangkok Officially it’s known as Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn, no wonder it has an easier to remember common name!

Wat Pho is associated with King Rama I who rebuilt the temple on a previous temple site. Construction began in 1788 and took over seven years to complete.  In 1932, King Rama III renovated and enlarged the temple complex.

The temple grounds contain 91 small stupas, four great stupas, called chedis, two tall belfries, a number of other buildings, pavilions, halls and gardens as well as the central shrine, the main hall used for performing Buddhist rituals, the most sacred building of the complex.


I understand that these bell like structures, called Phra Chedi Rai, contain the ashes of members of the royal family of Thailand. They are beautifully decorated.


Real flowers enhance the carved floral decorations.


There are approximately 1,000 Buddha statues in the various pavilions, some with bright shining new gilding and recently redecorated ‘cushions’.  The one on the left, by contrast, is need of a ‘shine up’! A constant maintenance program is required in the temple.


The black Buddha contrasts starkly with the newly gilded statues on either side.  The black Buddha has been lacquered in preparation for its new coat of gold leaf.

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The craftsman is preparing this statue for gilding.

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Spreading the lacquer also fills small imperfections and is applied with great care.


Some very different stone statues hold up a very tall, very heavy structure.


…and here it is!


Just before we leave Wat Pho, let’s take a closer look at some of those traditional roof decorations. They’re made up of tiny coloured mirror tiles.


I’ve heard it said that, if you only visit one temple during your time in Bangkok, this is the one… the architecture is fascinating and the decorations are indeed beautiful.

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After the Wat Pho temple visit finished there were a number of options to select from to fill in the rest of the afternoon.  I chose a tuk tuk drive through the busy streets to get me back to my hotel to chill out for the afternoon.

A shower was very welcome after wandering around in temperatures in the high 30’s with very high humidity.  Later, I ventured across the road and had a very relaxing massage.  I didn’t opt for a Thai massage as it bends and pulls your body into all sorts of unnatural positions. I’m a little bit too old to be bent double, who knows what may break!  But I‘m not too old to happily pay THB350 (about AUD14, plus a THB100 tip) to a masseuse for a relaxing oil massage.

Next, it was time to wash off some of that oil and be in the lobby ready to go to the train station for our 12 hour overnight train ride to our next destination – Surat Thani, about 700 km. away.  We were loaded into mini-vans and trundled off in the direction of the station, which wasn’t all that far away, but with Bangkok traffic as it is, it’s impossible to predict travelling times accurately.  As it turned out we made the trip in double quick time, notwithstanding the small, small accident we had along the way.  We bumped into the vehicle in front when it stopped suddenly.  Actually, the downward movement of our vehicle on stopping suddenly caused the contact.  Next to no damage with both drivers smiling when they got back into their respective vehicles.

I have added a short video of my time in Bangkok:


Our next destination was Surat Thani… more of that anon.


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Thailand: Bangkok : Wat Pho Temple a

After a very interesting cruise along one of Bangkok’s many klongs, we stepped ashore on Rattanakosin Island, which is directly south of the Grand Palace. We were to visit one of the many, many temples in Bangkok, the Wat Pho Temple.


Wat Pho is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples.  It existed even before King Rama I decided to establish Bangkok as Thailand’s capital.  In 1788, he began to rebuild the temple complex on an earlier temple site.  The marshy site had to be drained and filled before construction began.  Construction took over 7 years to complete.


In 1832, King Rama III began renovating and enlarging the Wat Pho temple complex.  It now covers an area of 10ha (22 acres).  This king was also responsible for turning the complex into a centre of learning, thereby creating Thailand’s first university.


I think you’ll find a wander here as fascinating and enjoyable as I did.  Some of the architecture and decorations are truly beautiful.


Entrances to temples are guarded by rather fearsome statues.  These are supposed to ward off evil spirits.  Usually, there is one on either side of the entrance.


A close up… carved in stone.  I’d be scared off!


Other statues are somewhat more benign.


Many of the small buildings are highly decorated.


A line of ornate swan-like necks support the roof beams.


Wat Pho is also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.  It’s official name is Wat Phra Chetuphon Vimolmangklararm Rajwaramahaviharn.  Little wonder it has a couple of easier to remember common names!

This reclining image of Buddha, 15m high and 46m (150 ft.) long, represents the entry of Buddha into Nirvana, the place all Buddhist’s aspire to, the place where all reincarnations end.  It’s one of the largest Buddha statues in Thailand…. so big that it is extremely difficult to photograph!  It’s brick core is covered and shaped with plaster, after which it was gilded.


A close up of the face of Wat Pho’s Reclining Buddha shows how the right arm of the Buddha partly supports the head with its tight golden curls.  The pillows are of pill box design and are richly encrusted with glass mosaics.

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The soles of the feet of the Buddha are quite unusual… I haven’t seen anything like this before.  Just the size is amazing… they are 3 m high and 4.5 m long!  The sole of each foot is divided into 108 ‘boxes’, each one displaying an auspicious Buddhist symbol… flowers, tigers, dancers, white elephants etc… although I don’t know what they mean.  In the centre of each sole is a circle representing an energy point, called a chakra.

A close up of another of those bearded statues guarding the temple rooms. Attention to detail in these stone sculptures is incredible.


Outside in a small garden… another less ornate, less forebidding,  statue.


Wat Pho was considered the first public university of Thailand teaching students in the fields of religion, science and literature through murals and sculptures.  These wall drawings show pressure points that are the basis of Thai massage techniques.  There are many more around the walls.

That tradition of learning continues here with a school for traditional medicine and massage which was established in 1955.  There are courses in Thai massage, well known in many countries now, as well as Thai medicine, pharmacy and midwifery.


This fellow looks more than a little intimidating but at the same time, somewhat jovial!


Nearby, another small temple building with a superb roof… and an open door.


Inside… a buddha seated on a pile of cushions.  Just one of the many shrines in this very large temple complex.  There’s still much to see here… so we’ll explore more anon!


All photographs copyright © DY  of  jtdytravels

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