Planes, Trains, Automobiles and memorable destinations

Discussion in 'Thailand' started by Federicoita, Aug 26, 2012.

  1. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    I am kick starting a thread where we can post a collection of our memorable destinations outside Bangkok. Locations which would require planes, trains and automobiles to be reached. Let’s see how this develops.

    Travel by plane is ever so quick but travel by train, to me, is far more enjoyable. Having access to a vehicle provides the ultimate freedom.

    If you like these reports, please show your appreciation by clicking the "like" function at the end of each report.

    So far in this thread:

    Giorgio Federico
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  2. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    The Temple of the One Million Beer Bottle

    Wat Lan Khaud, located near Sisaket deep in the Isaan province, is a temple I never imagined would exist. When I was told what was special about it, I could not fathom what it would look like or how it could have been assembled.


    And what was so unusual about it? It is built from thousands of empty beer bottles.

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    I took the opportunity to visit this temple, which is approximately 400 kms from Bangkok, when some friends I was visiting in Ubon Rathchathani suggested it as part of a two day tour around their city. I had reached Ubon by plane on that occasion and we would be covering this tour by car.


    One aspect, which I found quite extraordinary at Wat Lan Khaud was that they had utilised the empty beer bottle for pretty much everything including the walls!


    "My advice to you is start drinking heavily" Bluto, Animal House


    Can you spot the broken bottle?

    To name the brand of the bottles, even if their labels have been removed, would be tantamount of free publicity but the usual brands (local and non local) were included. I would only add that the contrast provided by using green and brown bottles is quite striking and it does not seem to have lost any of the graciousness and exquisite balance that so many Thai temples are known for including a purpose built pond filled with some big fishes, which I had great fun feeding.

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    Another striking feature was the effect of the sun when it caught parts of the roof and perimeter walls including its balustrades also built with bottles.


    Apparently, the bottles do not lose their colours, provide good lighting and are also easy to clean.

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    If you would like to visit from Ubon but do not have your own transport, there is a reliable and long established business where you can hire a car and/or a driver too if required. Here are the details for the latter: this website will also provide other options on what to do around Ubon.


    Construction is still ongoing (I counted around 20 buildings within the complex). Therefore, will this one day be known as the Two million beer bottle temple?


    Wat Lan Khaud is near the small village of Khun Han, and the nearest city to the temple is Sisaket. That is roughly just short of two hours (each way) from Ubon by car. I stayed at the Tohsang hotel


    However, if you only intend to visit only the temple, you can take a train from Bangkok direct to Buriram or Sisaket which will be nearer.


    And here is a little tale to end this brief report with a feel good factor as credit is due to the local temple Ajarn San Kataboonyowho decided to use the bottles to build this temple as a way of clearing the surrounding country side which was littered with them. Allegedly, the estimate number of bottles used is well over one million.


    The eco-friendly construction has been taken to new levels as the mosaics related to the Buddha were achieved by re-using beer bottle cups.

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    To alcohol! The cause of – and solution – to all of life’s problems” Homer Simpson

    Lessons learnt from this experience "Never cry over spilt milk, it could have been beer!!"

    Giorgio Federico

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
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  3. LIH Prem
    Original Member

    LIH Prem Gold Member

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    nice post. thanks.
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  4. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    fantastic post. Next time I am over there, I will have this on my list of sights to see.
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  5. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Pha Taem National Park
    P.O. Box 5, Tambol Huay Pai,
    Khong Chiam district,
    Ubon Ratchathani Province 34220

    This is a National Park at the easternmost point of Thailand.

    Pha Taem is about 80 Kms from Ubon Ratchathani and you will need to drive to the east along the route no. 217 and then 2222 to Khong Chiam district town. Continue to the highway junction 2112 to Pha Taem National Park.


    They look vaguely like mushrooms but they are actually rocks

    One reason for venturing here is that it offers some breathtaking views of and the Laos mountains across by way of presenting you with sheer cliffs dropping down to the Mekong river.


    You can also view the Soi Sawan waterfalls, dramatic rock pillar formations and prehistoric rock paintings.
    The Local Authority tries to sell this as the point of the first sunrise in Thailand.

    There is a view point at the top of the cliff next to the visitors centre and, if you so wish, you can start from here a 4 Kms trail, which takes you along the cliff to the paintings.

    A word of warning, it is a much bigger place than you can imagine and you are advised to take a map at the visitors centre. The entrance fee was 200 baht. By the time we left it was getting dark but just enough time for one more photo.

    You will definitely need a car to reach this spot but it worth it. In 2011, the average fee to hire a car with a driver was 1,000 / 1,200 baht a day.

    Although it was possible to camp here, I decided to go back to my hotel in Ubon, the Tohsang.

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    and a good night sleep on a very comfortable bed

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    In preparation for my next post, let me share with you a little bit of music known as Isaan (or Issan or Esarn) entertainment. This, hopefully, will put you in the mood for where I will take you next...Saam Pan Bot.

    Tai Oratai: อีสานลำเพลิน, Isaan lam plern, 'Isaan Entertainment'

    Giorgio Federico

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
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  6. marcwint55

    marcwint55 Gold Member

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    I love isaan music. thanks for the post.
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  7. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Saam Pan Bot
    near Song Khon


    A word of caution; if someone tells you that this is the equivalent of Thailand's Grand Canyon, that may set your expectations a tad too high.

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    Instead just travel there with an open mind and then witness a very unusual jaw dropping lunar-like rock formation.

    The name Saam Pan Bot, I am told, stands for 3,000 holes and what makes this place spectacular is that while it is covered by the river for most of the year, the torrid Isaan heat will make the water retreat leaving the river bed exposed.

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    The time I visited was one mid afternoon in February 2010.

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    On arrival, I dismissed the idea of purchasing food or tee shirts from the local shop at the entrance leaving that option for my return.

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    We hired a boat and set off while I pretended to be Christopher Columbus on board of the Santa Maria and on a quest to discover the “New World”.

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    Just like my illustrious compatriot, my nautical considerations in terms of the number of degrees of longitude that separated this voyage from the "Moon" were much less than I had expected.

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    As a matter of fact, despite being equipped with enough bottles of water to quench the thirst of an entire football team for the entire duration of the premiership, it was not long until, in jubilation, I shouted “Terra Terra”. We had arrived.

    Please believe me when I tell you that walking on this exposed river bed will give you a feeling that you are walking on an alien planet. I had not been drinking but had E.T. tapped me on my shoulder asking if he could use my mobile to “Phone Home” I would not have been surprised at all.

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    Here you will see thousands of holes ranging from a few centimetres to more than a metre in size and the largest one could be a little pool.

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    No, my shoes are not that big!! As a matter of fact, forget the shoes I recommend wearing swimming trunks.

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    The river actually happens to be only a small tributary to the Mekong River.

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    Provided you have transport is not that difficult to reach but there will be challenges to be faced if you are without wheels.

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    From the Ubon ring road follow route 2050 almost to Kemmerat then take a right down route 2337 to the village of Song Khon and finally turn right at the T junction along route 2112 to Saam Pan Bot. This will be around 130 Kms from Ubon but a relatively comfortable ride, most of which is along the highway.

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    Is it me, or this rock looks like a reptile's head?
    "Hereby, I name you baby snake head bay"

    If someone advises you to get a bus from Ubon to a village called Song Khon, which is only 2 Kms away from your intended destination, don’t! Firstly, Song Khon is at least 7 Kms from Sam Pan Bot and secondly there is no bus taking you there. Thais do have a sense of humour and it includes optimistic sizes and never heard of public transport links.

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    However, I am told that there is a bus from Ubon to Kemmerat and from the latter, allegedly you may be able to reach Sam Pan Bot but I have not checked the veracity of this information.

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    Notwithstanding, do bear in mind that Saam Pan Bot is actually 4 Kms from the point where you can take the boat that will take you to explore the exposed river bed.

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    Okay, so it was not the Santa Maria but I had to call the boat something. Hey, that is the boat owner's phone number. Book him if you go. He could do with some business. You thought my shirt was interesting? What about his shorts?

    If you have made it to Ubon Ratchathani, then do not miss this experience.

    Giorgio Federico

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
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  8. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Isaan Food

    A few notes en route

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    Prior to the Isaan experience, a few years ago, this is what I may have eaten for breakfast, eggs, bread, coffee and cerals and I had no idea what to expect of what scenes I was going to witness.

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    After a while in Bangkok, it is possible, I am told, although it has not happened to me as yet, that one can become tired of Sukhumvit or Silom or Khao San Road or the various temples and a little occasional trip outside the capital can be a welcome change of scenery.


    Now, about that for a uniform?


    Some magicians have rabbits in their hats but in Isaan they have bags with delicious food in them!!

    At first, the proposition to visit a land locked area of Thailand, initially unaware that it bordered with Laos and Cambodia, did not immediately strike me with the urgency of rushing to my suitcase, throwing a few items in, changing my socks, tying up my shoe laces and rushing out of the door and onto the road eager to travel.


    However, despite some (to me) odd introductions with local food, my initial perception was not justified because, as I would gradually find out, Isaan (from the Sanskrit Ishan meaning north east direction) is a wonderful part of Thailand to visit and there was no need to compare it to any of the tropical beaches because that would be like comparing apple and oranges and there was no reason to do that as, despite the obvious differences, they are all fruit.

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    They grilled in a traditional way and there was a vast choice of food on display

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    The fact that it was land locked did not mean a lack a sea food though

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    And the simplest of dishes revealed unimaginable flavours

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    The relative isolation and underdevelopment of the area meant that Isaan is a good place to get a little off the beaten track and discover the Country’s agricultural roots and natural scenery.

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    and those came with flavoursome vegetables.

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    and in some places you could cook your own food...on the table.

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    In doing so, there were many opportunities to verify how much truth there is to people’s assertions that good food in Thailand is everywhere, sea, river, land, trees and the sky. Most of all is the taste of Isaan cooking that rarely fails to leave a lasting impression on the eater.

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    Thailand is truly a "Good Food" Nation and no one goes hungry here. Here is a noodle shop where you get to choose the type of noodles and then the topping to go with it.

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    Fish soups are remarkably tasty.

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    and fish is plentiful and awesome.

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    Isaan food is famous for being very spicy and pungent, seasoned with fresh herbs and fermented fish (plah rah) along with some of Thailand's spiciest salads. Morning glory...praise the Lord!

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    Size is not an issue and you can have your fish cooked just the way you like.

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    and when you feel a little peckish, you are never too far away from a couple of eggs and sausages...forget the chips!

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    for those into fruit, there is plenty of that too.

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    This particular post aims to offer just a brief pictorial showcase of some of the dishes that I enjoyed during my tour of Isaan and I sincerely hope that your table will welcome you with the same abundance that I found at mine.

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    Remember that wherever you go, you can expect to be welcomed with generous portions of smiles from the most genuine and good natured type of people.

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    You will be served like a Royal.

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    and everything will be Aroy Maak.

    Giorgio Federico

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    Last edited: Mar 14, 2014
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  9. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Ubon Ratchathani

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    At the very beginning of my Thai travels, I used to confuse Ubon with Udon (Thani) but a closer look at the map soon helped me regain my sense of geography.

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    This is a city with its own coloured history

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    Its unique culture and cuisine.
    The lotus is the emblem of Ubon.

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    For reasons which are not totally clear to me, a city which does not always feature prominently in Thai tourism.

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    Its eastern boundaries are taken care by the Mekong River and it provides a good platform base from which to launch your exploration into Laos and also Mukdahan. Things have not changed much here.

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    Wiki travel divides Isaan into three distinct areas, Northern, Central and Southern and it is the latter which is where Ubon is located.

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    A river runs through it, the Mun.

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    Birds can be released for good luck


    Sepag Raga or "Takraw" (twine and kick) a very popular game in Thailand.

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    In terms of temples, there is a higher density here compared to anywhere else in Thailand.

    Wat Sri Ubon Rattanaram (Wat Sri Thong)


    You can donate for many and varied projects to help the temples.


    There are a number of traditions to follow when wishing good fortunes for self and others.


    This solid wood is evidence of the local craftsmanship and very comfortable too!


    Agriculture, is said, makes for a hard mentality and the people of Isaan are also known for their hard playing and partying. This often translates into sanuk or fun.

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    The National Museum has a decent display of traditional clothing.

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    Ah, here comes my Cha Yen Manao (Iced Tea with Lemon)


    As you may have noticed from the earlier report regarding food, the local cuisine does not allow anything to go towaste.In addition to Thai dishes, Chinese and Vietnamese are also popular.

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    One of their great export is people. Travel anywhere in Thailand and you are bound to find representatives from this region in most popular tourist areas.


    Collecting money for local charities.

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    An outdoor Gym with a roof in the main local park.

    Notice the fans.

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    Isaan culture also includes Laotian culture and a mixture of the two is what forms Ubon culture. However, how will the internet influence the desires and ambitions of local young people?

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    Cost of living is a little cheaper here compared to Bangkok and one can often rent a nice little house for less than the rent of a small condo in the big metropolis. However, it pays to shop around first as not all condos are in good condition.

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    The people living here are for the majority local proud people and this makes the area safer because it is their home too.

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    The festive facade of a local school.

    A sunset by the Mun river.


    What else is there to justify coming here?
    Well, it's getting late now and for that you will have to wait for my next report.

    Giorgio Federico
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  10. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    The candle festival in Ubon Ratchathani


    If you are thinking of when to go, then it has to be during the full moon in the month of July.


    Why? Because this is when when the most famous Candle Festival is held.


    This will coincide with the Buddhist Lent.


    This is the time when you can witness and experience the unusual skills the local artisans possess in sculpting wax.


    It is quite extraordinary and it is an opportunity to showcase the people of Ubon too with a magnificent parade.


    It is a remarkable spectacle worth experiencing at least once in your life.


    The local craftsmen create an impressive range of large wax sculptures, which are carried as part of a couple of dozen floats.


    Local women will be dressed in lively and colourful local costumes and some dances will be enacted along the way.


    The day before the parade up to 30 main candle float submissions will be staged around Tung Sri Muang for visitors to see up close and take as many photographs as your heart desires.


    The level of artistry is high enough to warrant the definition of masterpiece.


    The parade will bring to the fore the graciousness and balance of Thai dancing.


    There wil be some Isaan music too of course.


    Of late, an international wax sculpture competition has been added with a number of teams coming to compete from Europe, Australia and other parts of Asia.


    The quality of competitors on display is very strong and to be the winner is prestigious and highly sought after.


    The parade showcases a myriad of colours and textures of textiles.


    The event is very popular and many visitors come and witness this fantastic festival.


    And when it is all done, you may want to think about coming again the following year too.


    "Moonlight is sculpture" Nathaniel Hawthorne


    Ubon at its best. Go Isaan?

    Giorgio Federico
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  11. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Near Ubon Ratchathani

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    We leave Ubon city late one morning heading for lunch outside the city.

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    I am feeling lazy and fail to take a note of the road name and number.However, I am not sure if this place has a road number. All I see is water with a view or is it the other way round?

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    We have arrived at our destination but I do not have a clue of where we are.

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    All I know is what I see and I am fascinated by this sight.

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    Today we will have lunch on a hut floating over the river.

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    It is a special feeling.

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    The photos tell the story.

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    No words should spoil this.

    Giorgio Federico

    p.s. If anyone recognises this place near Ubon, please enter the details.
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  12. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Anna Vana Resort & Spa
    189 Samrong Chaikhong Tai Road
    Mukdahan City Centre

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    After a late breakfast, we start our drive to a peaceful province located on the bank of the Mekong River, opposite Sawannakhet in Laos, Mukdahan.

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    The ancestors of the Mukdahan people migrated from Laos during the late Ayutthaya period. The province has always been an interesting mixture of cultures from various tribes since ancient times. It is also a major gateway to tourism in Laos and Vietnam.

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    If you are driving from Bangkok, take the Bangkok-Nakhon Ratchasima route then highway No. 207 via Prathai, Phutthaisong, Phayakkhaphumphisai, Suwannaphum and then highway No. 2169 via Sai Mun, Kut Chum and Loeng Nok Tha before turning into highway No.212 and to Mukdahan via Nikhom Kham Soi.

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    There is no direct train from Bangkok to Mukdahan. However, from Ubon there is a bus to Mukdahan. You can, of course also fly there.

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    It is a late misty afternoon when we arrive, which means we cannot have a clear view of the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.

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    We check in this resort, which boasts a rather imposing structure with 37 spacious and comfortable rooms.

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    After a quick shower, we visit the local Indo-China market, which is within walking distance and then we head back to our resort.

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    The gardens are nicely landscaped.

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    Our room has a lovely view of the landscaped gardens and the Mekong river.

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    The restaurant, as seen from our room, is part of the resort. At dinner time there was a pianist who took requests. A very relaxing stay on our way further up north.

    Giorgio Federico
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  13. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol (PMCCM) the 101 Chedi near Roi Et

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    PMCCM is located in Nong Phok district, 85 Kms from Roi Et.

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    You can go there by car via the 2nd highway from Bangkok to Nong Phok. The distance from Nong Phok to Ban Thasaard is 9 kilometres. When you are in Ban Thasaard turn left. Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol is 5 kilometres from here.

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    Most tourists come here on weekends and holidays.

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    As with any temple, before you enter, you must take off your hat and shoes.

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    The highlights of this place are Buddha relics brought from Sri Lanka.

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    The top of Chedi is 60 kilograms of gold Sa Vhet Tha Chut (white tiered umbrella of kingship). It is the one of the largest Chedis (pagodas) in the country. The Chedi is 101metres wide, 101 metres long and 101 metres high.

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    Around the Chedi is octagon Vihankod.

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    The Chedi was built on 101 rai (about 40 acres) piece of land. The number 101 symbolises the name of Roi-Et province.

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    The five-tiered Chedi containing Buddha’s relics is decorated with elaborate designs in a contemporary style, which is quite rare.

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    There are 500 bronze statues in Vihankod and 8 small Chedis around the Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol. The heights of small Chedis are 29 metres.

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    There are images of Buddha in the 1st-7th small Chedis. In the 8th small Chedi is Pra kaew Mor Ra Kod. PMCCM has six 6 floors. On the fourth floor is a viewpoint.

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    The First floor
    This is a multi-purpose place. The colors of this floor are pink and gold. There is a bronze statue of Loung Phu Sri Maha Vi Ro. The height of this bronze statue is 310 centimetres.

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    The Fourth floor
    Outside this floor is a view point. You can see Phu Khao Kiew on Phra Maha Chedi Chai Mongkol.

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    The Sixth floor
    The top of Chedi is 60 kilograms of gold Sa Vhet Tha Chut. In order to get there, you need to climb 119 stairs.

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    The outside surroundings benefit from well maintained gardens.

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    Donations are used towards a number of items including maintaining this splendid temple

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    Giorgio Federico
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  14. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Night Market Khon Kaen

    Relatively speaking the city of Khon Kaen is quite young as it was only established two hundred years ago.

    Nowadays it is the centre of the North East Region In Isaan boasting fine silk and a well known University. I had heard about its thriving night market and that is what I came to see.


    Pad Thai and omelette are easily available.


    Plenty of food and plenty of seating.


    There is room at the Inn...just about.


    Food of all kinds


    No one goes thirsty.


    Did he have a bad day at the office?


    Fried chicken, including feet.




    Bugs of any size and description.


    Fruit to go.


    I love this. Khao Chi is a kind of snack made by grilling or roasting left over rice over a charcoal fire. Two pieces will be plenty for me.


    More good stuff here.


    All the music you want on CDs for 100thb? Wow, that's an offer you can't refuse!!


    This is not eggs and sausages in a bun. What is it then? This is not eggs and sausages in a bun. What is it then?


    Flip-Flop galore.


    Something for aunty Doris?


    Shoeland in Thailand.


    If you are going out, you can pick up a little "paint" from here to colour the town in red.

    For those having a bad hair day a suggestion...a hair clip?


    Strawberries, a rare site In Thailand.


    For those who need "Time" or want to be "On time".


    More fruit to go.


    Meat on skewers.


    If you happen to be in Khon Kaen, then visit this night market. Well worth it.

    Giorgio Federico
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  15. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Vientiane – Laos


    If you fly here straight from Bangkok, you may be able to feel a sense of relaxation.


    This laid back small town is Vientiane.

    One of the most common way to come here is to do what I did that is, reach Nong Khai and then cross into Laos via the Thai-Lao friendship bridge. Alternatively, you can always parachute your self down town. The Queen in Great Britain did it for the Olympics opening ceremony, so copy her and do it in style.


    Or you can try to hire a local tuk tuk. Here is one in top conditions, straight from the workshop.


    Local honey is a must buy in Laos. As the saying goes "No Money No Honey".


    A Visa is available on arrival, bring a passport size photo.
    Full details here


    Getting around is reasonably easy although street signage could be better. The city centre can be covered on foot. Locals prefer a "motosai" and seem happy. Riding "motosai" strictly requires three passengers as a minimum.


    Patuxai (or Victory Gate) is Laotian version of the Parisian Arc de Triomphe. However, to be different, in Vientiane, they preferred a little pond in place of a round about.


    The concrete was donated by the US and was supposed to be used for the airport. Hence, its nickname “Vertical Highway” It sits at the end of a palm tree lined park.Thankfully, no airplanes take off from here.


    Entrance to a local temple. If you are a spiritual soul, do try it. If you are not a spiritual soul do try it anyway, it may do you some good.


    The main currency is the kip but some places will accept Thai baht. Life is reasonably cheap here. I thought this young boy was selling Pizza (Okay, I am Italian, beat me with a hammer if you must). Inside his makeshift bags was rice bread. It was "Thin and Crispy" but definetely not Pizza.


    Wat That Luang ransacked and renovated several times.


    The oldest standing temple in Vientiane is Si Saket. Not sure how much longer it will stand. Ergo, you'd better hurry.


    Snacks are all the rage in Vientiane. Wonderful things, which the locals eat all the time.


    The women in Vientiane are both fashionable and trendy and they sure have heart warming smiles.


    This is Vientiane's version of "Angry Birds"...until they get released, then they become just birds.

    Well, that's it for today.

    Giorgio Federico

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  16. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Sai- ngam

    I spent a day in Nakhon Ratchasima. I was told that this city has become very attractive to westerners and many have moved here. I am clear that this city, also known as Korat, is the gateway to Isaan. I am less clear as to why people would want to move here other than for the fact that it is cheaper than Bangkok and only three hours from the latter.


    However, my reasons for spending a night here was to rest before travelling approximately 60 kms from the city to view something quite interesting. First of all, I released some turtles in the water. Not sure if they could all swim, I selected one at random...


    ...I was told that releasing Turtles (or Turtel?!) will provide for "Long Life Living" and that was good enough for me. When I am 92, I will probably move at the same speed.


    I was told that a road to Sai-ngam passes through Phimai Irrigation Dam of Thung Samrit Irrigation Project. This is a dam built across Moon River. Sai-ngam is located on the bank of this river.


    This is home to Thailand's largest and oldest banyan tree, a 350-plus-year-old megaflorum spread over an island in a large reservoir.


    These are possibly the largest Banyan trees in Southeast Asia.


    The extensive system of interlocking branches and gnarled trunks makes the 'Beautiful Banyon' look like a small forest.


    The western name for a Banyan Tree is Golden Fig although it is also commonly known by its Latin name Ficus.

    "I think I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree" Joyce Kilmer

    The Banyan is very significant in Buddhism as the Buddha supposedly found enlightenment while sitting in the shade of a Banyan Tree.


    Since the event happened over 2,500 years ago no one knows for certain if this is true, or if the tree is just part of the symbolism of Buddhism.


    Often, as is the case with Sai-ngam, the new trunks stay connected to the parent so that you have one tree, one life, with many trunks, many branches, many lives. Fascinating don't you think?


    Thais have an extra special affinity for Banyans, as they also regard them as a favourite home for the spirits they think occupy just about everything.


    If you have ever noticed a banyan tree, it is intriguing. A fully grown tree as this is, is immense in size. Its foliage dense and the canopy extends all around like a wide green umbrella.


    The most distinct feature for me were the straggly prop roots which grow downwards like stilts towards the soil, supporting the tremendous growth of the trunk and branches.


    This particular tree is as much a part of our lives as the other things scattered around.

    There is an old tree over 350 years old, it is shown respect as a holy tree.


    There is a restaurant-shop-house on the opposite side, many local people use it as a rest area.


    Many hungry little people had the same idea as me.


    A little fish is alway agreeable with me.


    To the right, there is also another rest area which is made as the water side park.


    Sai-ngam is such a popular picnic spot among Thais that you'll find a large selection of food stalls adjacent to the tree's island home. Food is okay but it is the banyan tree that will deserve your full interest.


    "Friendship is like a sheltering tree" Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    Giorgio Federico

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  17. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Chock Chai Farm
    Farm Office
    K.M. 159-160 Moo 2 Friendship Highway,
    Nongnamdang, Pakchong,
    Nakhon Ratchasima 30130 Thailand
    Telephone: 044 328 485
    FAQ: 044 328 484

    If you have ever driven along the Friendship Highway on your way to Nakhon Ratchasima (also known as Korat) then you will have probably come across Farm Chokchai which is in the heart of cowboy country in Northeastern Thailand.


    Did I say cowboy country? I know that sounds strange as we are not in America. As a matter of fact, mention to anyone that you are going North of Bangkok and normally people tend to think of rice fields and buffaloes roaming the countryside. However, here, it is more like cowboys on horseback herding cows around large estates.


    Farm Chokchai was started by Chokchai Bulakul back in 1957. The farm began with beef cattle but later turned their attention to a dairy herd. Today the farm covers an area of 8,000 acres and has 5,000 head of cattle and real cowboys...see Khun Pecos Bill below, alas there is no "Yippy kie" from him more like sawasdee khrap!


    In recent years, the farm started their award-winning agro tours where people can learn about the running of a dairy farm.


    This also includes hands on experience of milking a cow, making ice cream, petting farm animals and watching a cowboy show and if you have kids this is a lovely little excursion to include in your travel plans.


    The farm is open from Tuesday to Sunday. During the week they only have two scheduled tours at 10.00 hrs. and 14.00 hrs. However, at the weekend they have six rounds starting at 09.00 hrs. and the last one at 15.00 hrs. When I visited, tickets cost 250 baht for adults and 125 baht for children. During the week it is slightly cheaper.

    Now, one good thing as this is one of these rare places where foreigners and Thais are charged the same price. Good practice and thumbs up. Phom chop khrap.


    Before setting off for the tour they will show you a short movie and I was immensely interested in this presentation.


    Then you are taken outside to see the Machinery Museum where you can see the original vehicles used at the farm. Then the next stop was the Milking Parlour.


    Apparently, the Friesian cows have a high yield of milk and so they are milked three times a day. The milking procedure is fully automated with enough room for 192 cows to be milked at the same time.


    Our tour guide gave us a demonstration on how the machines work and also how to milk the cows by hand.Oh, I was paying a lot of attention to her every word. As they say, the only good reason to ride a bull is to meet a nurse.


    If you are keen, you can change into some Wellington boosts and have a go at milking the cows...let me go and look for my nurse while you do that...back in five.


    We were next taken into the Dairy Plant. This is where they produce four milk products: milk, yoghurt, ice cream and milk toffee.


    Now, here is an interesting little fact, the brand name “Farm Chokchai” was sold some years ago so they call their milk products “Umm…milk” to which I thought “hmm...” but the cows apparently say "Moo". Go figure.


    During the trailer ride to tour the rest of the farm I loved it so much that I managed to regress to an estimated age of five, which is standard for me on such occasions.That's me with the white cap on standing up.


    Each tour was limited to 80 people due to the size of these trailers but if I could I would have had it all to myself!! A short while later, we reached a kind of Wild West Town. In a small arena, we were treated with some stunts where a horseback cowboy lassoed a cow. Another cowboy showed us tricks with a lasso and then one more impressed us with his dexterity with a gun. I am happy to report that no one got injured.


    Later, we had some free time to wander around. There were souvenir shops and shooting games to play.The petting zoo and animal show were cute. All in all a great place for the younger family members. They had smaller ponies here for the younger kids to try their hand at riding. In the petting zoo you could buy food to feed the animals. You could also give some milk to the baby calves.

    I am not sure if foreign tourists would find Farm Chokchai of interest as it isn’t what you see as “Traditional Thai”. However, the highlight of any stop here is the Chokchai Steakhouse which had the best steaks I have had in a long time. As I said earlier, milk is produced exclusively by Farm Chokchai Group under the Chokchai Farm Produce Co.,Ltd. It was established to be a part of the Farm Chokchai Agro Tour and provide visitors with information about how a dairy farm is run from the quality fresh milk to the process of turning the milk into dairy products. Therefore, although chips (and a baked potato?) were served with the steak, I skipped on the chips and the baked potato and had the milk instead.


    If you are on your way to Korat then it might be worth a brief stopover.

    I took to the life of a cowboy like a horse takes to oats.I also learnt that when you do not know much about something, it's better to keep your mouth shut and look stupid than open it and prove it. A cowboy is a man with guts and a horse. Sadly, I have neither, just the hat...yee haw.

    Giorgio Federico

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  18. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Khao Yai
    Khao Yai National Park 08 – 6092 6529
    For bookings you can try


    Following Chalk Chai farm the next stop was Khao Yai, Thailand’s second biggest national park.


    I planned a full day here and stayed at nearby Pak Chong as opposed to sojourning inside the park which is also possible for those who want to be at absolute one with nature.


    This is a very big place with over 2.165 square kilometres of open land.


    It is also a natural World Heritage site as designated by UNESCO World Heritage Committee (2005).


    and I enjoyed walking and the natural habitat in the Khao Yai Forest Complex and from this point of view I was completely satisfied.

    "Green is the prime color of the world, and that from which its loveliness arises."
    Pedro Calderon de la Barca

    Moving from one area to the other of the park was by car, which allowed for comfortable one hour walks from the various car parks.


    Some of the walks led to watching towers.


    Haew Suwat and Pha Kluai Mai waterfalls were a little dry but nevertheless attractive.


    It was a hot day when I visited and I had plenty of water and the useful umbrella, the latter, a habit which I have copied from the locals when tackling the hot tropical sun which is much fiercer than anything I have experienced in Europe.


    I felt that most of the walks were do-able but there were steps and uneven terrain to contend with


    especially when heading to some of the waterfalls.


    "Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better."
    Albert Einstein

    "All water has a perfect memory and is forever trying to get back to where it was."

    At one stage one of the monkeys along the road decided to jump on the car’s bonnet and enjoy a lift for nearly one kilometre after which she jumped off, which was just as well as she had developed a fascination with one of the windscreen wipers which I feared she may want to snap off.


    On the downside were a poorly equipped souvenir shop.


    and the common Thai practice of charging non-Thai nationals a premium fee over the standard entry fee but ten times the local rate? 400 baht in this instance vs 40 baht for locals, which I could not see any justification for.


    Marvelling at a wonderful landscape and, later ,at a sky full of stars from my nearby resort in the woods made me quickly forget all about the entry fee surcharge.


    Khao Yai will have something for you if you are into forest trails, wildlife, bird watching, bat caves, sky gazing (including the milky way), bicycling, rafting, canoeing and you can also stay inside the park for the night in a range of hostels, bungalows and dormitory as well as camping on at least two sites Pha Kluai Mai and Lam Takhong where you will be able to rent tents and camping equipment.


    "Earth laughs in flowers."
    Ralph Waldo Emerson

    Cheetah is still looking for Tarzan but he no longer lives here.


    "Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair."
    Khalil Gibran

    Giorgio Federico
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  19. Estelle Page

    Estelle Page Member

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    I think it the Million Beer Bottle temple looks fantastic taking over 25 years to build and is now an iconic piece of architecture! Creative ways of recycling can make for great pieces of art and architecture. Similar to this, I read a blog earlier on the Trash People by HA Schult, and it is a great message on the damage each of us is having on the environment and is also a brilliant example of what can be achieved through recycling!
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  20. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Dear Estelle,

    Thank you for what you posted here. Although, there is no specific motive to submit these little reports of mine other than to share travel experiences, it is good to see that they can unwittingly raise debate on important subjects such as the management of waste through recycling.


    From my point of view though, it is not part of my character to point an accusatory finger at the shortcomings we may see around us or in ourselves everyday. However, raising awareness may lead, for some people, to a degree of reflection and introspection, the latter may need to be brutal at times if it has to achieve honest self-appraisal. If we want to change anything, we must begin from ourselves and perhaps inspire others along the way by leading by example rather than apportioning blame, the latter being the easy option. That is my view of course and I would personally prefer for threads to remain apolitical and by the same token I respect your views too.
    Giorgio Federico
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  21. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Khao Yai national park area


    Please forgive me for stating the obvious. You see, I am a little slow with certain matters and it has taken me some time to fully understand how much Thais like themed arenas be those shopping malls, meeting areas or a mixture of the two with, of course, eating places thrown in.


    Please understand that I do not mean for my comments to be tantamount to any kind of denigration no matter how slight. They are simply observations and given that my mind works in a certain way, at times it takes me a little longer to compute and here I come to my point because visiting this place forced me to compute so much that my few remaining brain cells (most of them have been either dead or dormant for some time) initially went into short circuit.


    Here is the question I put to a very kind Thai friend who insisted driving all the way here to show me “Italy”. “Just a moment” I said on the phone while hurriedly taking a cotton bud and furiously cleaning the inner chamber of my ear which had been working just fine up to that point and then picking up the telephone receiver I asked again if I had heard correctly. Indeed we were going to drive north of Bangkok to see Italy, Tuscany to be precise.


    “I AM Italian” I said with the kindest and most understanding tone I could find “Why would I want to see Thailand?!”


    Well, there was no way I could dissuade this friend by saying “No” and therefore, I selected option two, activated the Universal translator and said “Chai khrap” or “Yes” to you and me.


    Palio to me is a bizarre and rather dangerous horse race they hold in the main Piazza del Campo in Siena but to this generous friend of mine who was doing the driving, Palio is a popular collection of shops with a selection of eateries, built to resemble an Italian Tuscan village. In addition, and I promised that I would keep this a secret, therefore, please do not tell anyone, they have some “Aroy” ice cream too.


    Very cute...the ice cream that is, what on earth did you have in mind?


    Luckily we took this journey during the week as apparently mayhem tends to reign at the weekends when hordes of people happen to descend on nearby natural park Khao Yai.


    Now, I am a little fussy when it comes to a few things but I could not find the strength to criticise my friend for driving here or for loving this place. That would have been most unkind on all counts.

    However, and please forgive my presumptions, I did not get it. I did not get as to why billions of baht would be spent in a place to make it look anything other than Thai. I did not get why, as an Italian, I would want to come “home” when visiting Thailand and while I was absorbed in this mental lucubration, I decided to have another ice cream and I sat, rather jovially, at one of the little squares while my friend shot a few photos.

    The ice cream was good, mind you and I enjoyed it with gusto unaware Juliet's balcony was just above me, alas, no sign of Juliet.


    It was then that it hit me "Have I lost my head what if I was not Italian?"


    What if I was Thai and dreamed to see a corner of Italy and dreamed of sitting in a peaceful square while enjoying ice –cream and listening to a “That’s Amore” tune played in the background?


    What if I was Thai and took photos at every possible corner pretending to be in Italy?


    That’s exactly what I did, I pretended to be visiting Italy!!


    And the result? Well, when I was finally able to dismount from my high horse called “Snobby”, once I remembered that when we smile the world smiles back to us, when I accepted the kind and generous gesture from my friend, then I returned to being humble and content.


    My friend said to me “It’s so beautiful. I cannot afford to go all the way to Europe to take a picture of something like this. The atmosphere is so relaxing and the wind so gentle. The boutiques are so lovely and the buildings so pleasant to look at.”


    “Kao jai khrap” I said nodding, which, I am reliably informed is the polite way of saying “I understand”

    So I hope you enjoyed the photos, they are from a corner of Thailand!!

    "Did my heart love 'til now? Forswear its sight. For I never saw true beauty 'til this night."From Romeo and Juliet...I found her at last...Giulietta.

    Giorgio Federico

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  22. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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    As usual, excellent reporting Khun Giorgio ... you do get around Thailand! ;)

    But for me, I'd rather listen to "Una Donna Per Amico", "Ma Come Fanno il Marinai", or any song by Adriano Celentano! :)
  23. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Khun Kalboz,

    Always a pleasure to see your comments and I am honoured with the compliments.

    For those readers/visitors who happen to visit this thread and are interested in music, "Una Donna Per Amico" (A woman as a friend) was the brainchild of the belated Lucio Battisti, who many of my generation hold dear with much affection. Words were provided by that poet-lyriscist Giulio Rapetti, in art Mogol.
    His lyrics are a good reason as to why it is worth learning Italian.
    Post a request here for a full translation of the song.


    After Battisti's death, Mogol went to write for another giant of the Italian's Musica Leggera, Adriano Celentano who once famously sang "Chi non lavora non fa' l'amore" (Who does not work does not make love) eventually famously adapted in Thailand as "No money no honey";):rolleyes: Okay, I made the last one up (beat me with a stick if you must) :D:p

    Giorgio Federico
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  24. Kalboz
    Original Member

    Kalboz Gold Member

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    You gotta a request for a full translation of the song. And another for "Ma Come Fanno il Marinai" by Lucio Dalla e Francesco de Gregori! Molto Gracie! Which sounds like one of Bertold Brecht theatrical songs, such as Alabama Song by the Doors.
  25. Federicoita

    Federicoita Silver Member

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    Sawasdee Khrap Khun Kalboz,
    A full translation of Una Donna Per Amico has been posted on your profile.
    Your other request is currently being vetted by the Ethics Committee.
    Their deliberation is awaited soon.
    Giorgio Federico
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