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Travel Magazine

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FC: THAILAND | THAILAND | ARRIVED 20 APR 2012 | The country of the thousand smiles.

1: Thailand is lucky, it has the looks, the temperament and the attractions to capture the world's imagination for an exotic escape. It is mysterious and confounding but approachable and inviting. Hospitality is a genuine art, crafted by a culture that takes pride in putting people at ease. The celestial world is a close confidant in this Buddhist nation, where religious devotion is a colorful and ubiquitous spectacle. Gleaming temples and golden Buddhas frame both the rural and modern landscape with exuberance. No matter what draws you to the country first, a Thai meal will keep you hooked. Adored around the world, Thai cuisine expresses fundamental aspects of Thai culture: it is generous and warm, outgoing and nuanced, refreshing and relaxed.

2: During rush hour in Bangkok, we needed to get across town and only the youngest motorcycle driver with the smallest bike would take us. We could hardly fit, and the other drivers cheered as we took off. We tore through traffic, and misses elicited only half smiles from our driver.

4: LONG-TAIL BOAT RIDE We never get tired of the long-tail boat ride through the Khlong Bangkok Noi. We cherish every minute of it. We feel the charm of simplicity. Along the way, there are kids playing in the water,granddads checking out the scene from a wooden porch, monks cleaning temple grounds. There are also maa kah (store vendors) selling all kinds of things from their boats, and house-wives preparing diner.

6: Khlong Bangkok Noi. Glimpses of Bangkok's past can be seen along the scenic Nonthaburi canals Khlong Bangkok Noi and Khlong Bangkok Yai.

8: Bangkok is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep. It was a small trading post near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River during the Ayutthaya Kingdom in the 15th century. It eventually grew in size and became the site of two capital cities: Thonburi in 1768 and Rattanakosin in 1782. Due to its strategic location in Southeast Asia, Siam (later Thailand) acted as a buffer state between French and British colonial powers. Bangkok gained a reputation as an independent, dynamic, and influential city. Today, Bangkok is not only the political, social, and economic centre of Thailand, but plays a leading role in trade, commerce, culture, the arts, education, healthcare and transport for the Indochina region.

14: Wat Prha Kaew | BANGKOK

17: Wat Phra Kaew, aso known as the temple of the Emerald Buddha. It is the colloquial name of the vast, fairytale compound that also includes the former residence of the Thai monarch, the Grand Palace. Housed in a fantastically decorated both, and guarded by pairs of yaksha (mythical giants), the emerald Buddha is the temple's primary attraction.

18: The main building is the central ubosoth, which houses the statue of Emerald Buddha. The legendary history of this Buddha image is traced to India, five centuries after the Lord Buddha attained Nirvana, till it was finally enshrined in Bangkok at the Wat Phra Kaew temple in 1782 during Rama I's reign (1782–1809). This marked the beginning and raise of the Chakri Dynasty of the present Kingdom of Thailand (the present head of the dynasty is King Rama IX.)

20: Recently restored Buddhist murals line the interior walls of the boht, and the murals of the Ramakian (the Thai version of the Indian epic the Ramayana) line the inside walls of the temple. compound.

28: Maeklong Market On the train tracks. Train moves through and over the market 4 times a day!

33: Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Boats are piled high with tropical fruit and vegetables, fresh, ready-to-drink coconut juice and local food cooked from floating kitchens located right on the boat.

34: Well on the tourist trail after the Bond films, the trip to the famous floating market at Damnoen Saduak is still worth doing. Totally chaotic, small 'klongs' or canals are filled with small flat boats jockeying for position, expertly paddled by mature ladies ready to stop and bargain at a moment's notice. It's colourful, noisy, totally touristy but great fun.

50: Bangkok - Chiang Mai The 13 hours train between Bangkok and Chiang Mai is an experience. Tiny aisles are lined with bunks separated by blue curtains that flap in the breeze. A Thai woman patters between carriages, selling orange juice and Beer Chang. Stations with pink flowers and dogs sleeping on the platform zip by, hour after hour.

52: Patara Elephant Farm | Chiang Mai

61: Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep (built 1386 onward) High in the hills above Chiang Mai is Doi Suthep temple, a spectacular shrine commissioned by King Kuena, ruler of Chiang Mai from 1367-88. According to an old legend, the king was persuaded to build the temple when the monk Sumana presented him with a bone relic of the historical Buddha. The king searched far and wide for a suitable spot to build the temple, but none could be found. Finally, he resolved to let fate decide its location, and he tied the relic to the back of an elephant and set it loose. For days the elephant stomped through the jungle, shadowed by the king's men, until it reached the mountaintop of Doi Suthep. The elephant made a good choice because the king readily agreed to the spot. Construction began 1386 and was completed within a few years

64: Chez Annabelle We had a lovely stay at Dreamcatchers B&B. We took a break from the noise and excitement of the city and slip into an oasis of tranquility, just 15 minutes from downtown Chiang Mai. The pool was a great way to cool off and relax in the heat.

65: Chiang Mai to Chiang Ria

66: What Rong Khun

70: The Long Necks Long, long ago, the headman of the tribe had a dream in which he was told that a tiger was going to kill one of the much-loved children in the village - a child that had been born on a Wednesday. As his own child had been born on a Wednesday and as tigers kill their victims by first breaking their necks, he there and then decreed that all children born on a Wednesday should wear heavy brass rings round their necks.

76: Thawan Duchanee Larger-than-life Thai artist Thawan Duchanee is one of the foremost representatives of Thai and Asian art. His penchant for traditional Asian motifs and styles and his flamboyant personality have earned him popularity and renown as one of the leading lights of the international art scene.

79: Laos Boarder ---------------- Myanmar Boarder

81: Siam Niramit Fore over seven centuries, Siam has been home of diverse cultures; a cross-road where civilization meet. Journey back to the history and be stunned by glorious cultures that become the roots of the distinctive Thai ways of life.

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