S: Southeast Asia - Thailand/Cambodia 2008
FC: Southeast Asia Thailand/Cambodia | January 2008 | Photographs by C. Sprague
1: Bangkok | Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, meaning "city of angels." Bangkok is by far the most densely populated city in Thailand with about 9 million people. Bangkok was originally a small trading post on the west bank of the lower Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom. It became the capital city in 1768 following the death of King Taksin when the capital was moved to the east bank of the river by Rama I. Today, Bangkok is one of the most important commercial centers in South East Asia and a gateway and principal destination for many visitors. It has more than 400 richly decorated temples, some of the biggest shopping centers in Asia, and six universities. Its numerous canals, some of which are home to floating markets, give Bangkok the name "Venice of the East."
2: Tao Maha Brahma Tao Maha Brahma or Brahma god is the great creator god of the supreme gods in Hindu belief alongside Shiva and Vishnu. Brahma has four faces and eight arms. In his hands are a mirror, a mace, a discus, a rosary, a walking stick, a spoon, a water pot and Vedic scripture. As a benign god, Brahma is believed to be able to fulfill wishes of people who come to pray before him.
3: The Golden Mount Wat Saket is a Buddhist temple (Wat) in Bangkok. The Golden mountain (Phu Khao Thong) is a steep hill inside the Wat Saket compound. It is not a natural outcrop, but an artificial hill. Under King Rama IV, a small Chedi was built on the hilltop. This smaller structure was finished under King Rama V (1853–1910), when a Buddha relic from India was housed in the Chedi.
4: The Grand Palace The Grand Palace is a complex of buildings in Bangkok, Thailand. It served as the official residence of the Kings of Thailand from the 18th century onwards. Construction of the Palace began in 1782, during the reign of King Rama I, when he moved the capital across the river from Thonburi to Bangkok.
7: Wat Pho Wat Pho is a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It is located directly adjacent to the Grand Palace. Known also as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, it is also considered the birthplace of traditional Thai massage
8: Chao Phraya River The Chao Phraya is a major river in Thailand that empties into the Gulf of Thailand. Truly, the River of Kings - as King Rama I named it - is the lifeblood of Bangkok. And not just because of this rich history. Around 50,000 people still use its ferries to get to each day. Slow barges bearing cargo coast upstream. Kids still frolic in the russet-brown water. Wooden shacks, mottled by the elements, still lurch over the water. | Food offerings made to the River
10: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Day in and day out from about 8 a.m. to about 11 a.m. the Floating Market is routinely crowded with hundrreds of vendors and purchasers floating in their small rowing boats selling and buying or exchanging their goods. What they purchase are particularly food, fruit and vegetable which mostly brought from their own orchards.
14: Life & Temples along the River
16: Patpong Patpong is an entertainment district in Bangkok, Thailand, catering mainly, though not exclusively, to foreign tourists and expatriates. While Patpong is internationally known as a red light district at the heart of Bangkok's sex industry, it is in fact only one of numerous red-light districts some catering primarily to Thai men and some others, like Patpong, catering primarily to foreigners. | Carnival Nightclub in Nana Plaza, home of the "Ladyboys" | For the low price of 500 THB (appx $!5) autographed Go-Go Panties with a degrading picture next to a urinal makes a great souvenir!
17: Ayutthaya Ayutthaya is the capital of Ayutthaya province in Thailand. Located in the valley of the Chao Phraya River. The city was founded in 1350 by King U Thong, who went there to escape a smallpox outbreak in Lop Buri and proclaimed it the capital of his kingdom, often referred to as the Ayutthaya kingdom or Siam. In 1767, the city was destroyed by the Burmese army, resulting in the collapse of the kingdom. The Ayutthaya historical park is the ruins of the former capital of the Kingdom of Siam. It is the site of mass murder, rape and enslavement of Siamese people and destruction of the Ayutthaya city, its art and buildings by the Burmese in 1767, which is recognized internationally as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
20: A squat toilet is a toilet used by squatting, rather than sitting. There are several types, but they all consist essentially of a hole in the ground.
22: Doi Mae Salong Doi Mae Salong was originally settled by indigenous hilltribe groups and more recently by Yunnanese settlers who fled China's Communist Revolution. This outpost was once opium country but is now home to Thailand's premier Oolong tea production. | Chiang Rai Province
24: Mae Sai Mae Sai is the northernmost district of Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. The town of Mae Sai is a major border crossing between Thailand and Burma. Asian Highway Network AH2 crosses the Mae Sai River to the town Tachileik in Burma.
25: Mae Fah Luang Garden
28: Mekong River The Mekong is a river that runs through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. It is the world's 10th-longest river and the 7th-longest in Asia. Its estimated length is 3,050 miles. The Mekong basin is one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. Only the Amazon boasts a higher level of biodiversity.
29: Burma | Laos | Thailand | The Golden Triangle
31: Siem Reap is the capital city of Siem Reap Province in northwestern Cambodia, and is the gateway to Angkor region. It has colonial and Chinese-style architecture in the Old French Quarter, and around the Old Market. In the city, there are traditional Apsara dance performances, craft shops, silk farms, rice-paddy countryside, fishing villages and a bird sanctuary near the Tonle Sap Lake. The name Siem Reap means the 'Flat Defeat of Siam' — today’s Thailand — and refers to the centuries-old conflict between the Siamese and Khmer peoples. This name was baptized by King Ang Chan (1516-1566) as “Siem Reap”, meaning “the flat defeat of Siam” (Cambodians call Siam or Thailand “Siem”). It was because of the victory over the Thais which King Ang Chan counter-attacked, and shot Prince Ong dead on an elephant’s back, and routed the Thais and captured no less than 10,000 Thai troops. | Siem Reap, Cambodia
32: Sunrise over Siem Reap
33: Angkor Wat Angkor Wat is a temple complex at Angkor, Cambodia, built for the king Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and capital city. As the best-preserved temple at the site, it is the only one to have remained a significant religious centre since its foundation – first Hindu, dedicated to the god Vishnu, then Buddhist. It is the world's largest religious building. The temple is at the top of the high classical style of Khmer architecture. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and it is the country's prime attraction for visitors.
36: Ta Prohm
38: Phuket, which is approximately the size of Singapore, is Thailand’s largest island. The island is connected to mainland Thailand by two bridges. It is situated off the west coast of Thailand in the Andaman Sea. Phuket formerly derived its wealth from tin and rubber, and enjoyed a rich and colorful history. The island was on one of the major trading routes between India and China, and was frequently mentioned in foreign ship logs of Portuguese, French, Dutch and English traders. The region now derives much of its income from tourism. The Phi Phi Islands are located in Thailand, between the large island of Phuket and the western Andaman Sea coast of the mainland. The islands are administratively part of Krabi province. Ko Phi Phi Don is the largest island of the group, and is the only island with permanent inhabitants, although the beaches of the second largest island, Ko Phi Phi Lee, are visited by many people as well. The islands came to worldwide prominence when Ko Phi Phi Leh was used as a location for the 2000 British-American film The Beach. | Phuket & the Phi Phi Islands
39: Monkey Cave Temple, Phang Nga, Phuket Island
41: Phang Nga Bay Hongs A hong is a chamber in a karst island’s interior, cave-like but roofless, round in shape, with high vertical walls. The dense vegetation paints every surface green. Trees sprout from the cliffs, their roots looking like they might tire of gripping the rock at any moment. Water erosion has sculpted – and is still sculpting – the rock into logic-defying formations that appear to defy gravity. It’s all like a frozen lava lamp, but far more hypnotic.
47: Thai Cuisine Thai cuisine is the national cuisine of Thailand. Blending elements of several Southeast Asian traditions, Thai cooking places emphasis on lightly prepared dishes with strong aromatic components. The spiciness of Thai cuisine is well known. As with other Asian cuisines, balance, detail and variety are of great significance to Thai chefs. Thai food is known for its balance of three to four fundamental taste senses in each dish or the overall meal: sour, sweet, salty, and sometimes bitter.
53: Signs. Signs. Everywhere there're signs!