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    New Years 2018: Hua Hin Rambles

    My New Years 2018 rambles were in many parts: (1) Around the Beach, (2) Wat Huai Sai Tai, (3) Wat , (4) Doi Thap Chang, (5) Monsoon Winery, (6) Wat Nong Tung. . . each has its own section below:

    AROUND THE BEACH

    The Thai university where I work was closed for a few days over the western New Year, so we headed off to Hua Hin, a beach town 2 1/2 hours drive from our home in Nonthaburi. Our view of Hua Hin town from up he coast a few miles away.

     

    Hua Hin is located along a coastal shelf on the northwest of the Gulf of Thailand (Siam).

     

    I enjoy walking along an unpaved road from where we stay . . . to see what I can see . . . and photograph.

     

    The Gulf of Thailand is warm, even at this time of year.

     

    There normally isn't any surf to speak of, but storms to the south stirred things up a bit.

     

    I am attracted to these wave splashes . . . photographing them . . . stopping them in a moment of refreshment.  I wasn't the only one attracted to the wave splashes that morning.

     

    A local young person showed up to play dare with the arriving waves.

     

    The siblings showed up . . . very photogenic!

     

    A few hundred meters away from where we stay . . . an old original farm.

     

    I photograph this old spirit house every time I go to Hua Hin, which is often.

     

    I am perpetually fascinated by this spirit house and its contents and details:

     

    Although it seems abandoned, there are small signs of it being attended to.

     

    A small history of devotional attention.

     

    I am not sure if this has become a place for discarding ineffective spiritual paraphernalia . . . or is an active spirit house . . .

     

    These were all there in there last photo I took two years ago.

     

    I left my old favorite spirit house behind for a long walk a round the area.

     

    My walks around the area yields lots of interesting things to think about . . . and look at . . .

     

    A large leaf drying on the road . . .

     

    The drying leaf (above) is from this plant . . . a tropical climber.

     

    This used to be little store a family owned.  I do not know what happened to them . . . perhaps they were squatters.

     

    The area behind where we stay is often wet and swampy, especially at the end of the rainy season.

     

    The wet ground brings flowering plants and butterflies.

     

    Butterflies are very difficult to photograph because they are always moving . . . or do not cooperate when they are still.  This one would not open its beautiful wings!

     

    Many and varied beautiful flowers were out on this first day of the year.

     

    Beautiful and delicate.

     

    Bougainvillea.

     

    My favorite.

     

    Red puffs and new seed pods . . .

     

    Dried bud.

     

    Pretty and very tiny.

     

    Classic Thai orchids.

     

    Not a black and white photo . .  a moldy white wall with snail tracks . . .

    WAT HUAI SAI TAI

    I can see this Wat from where we stay on the beach, and I have seen buildings go up here over the years, but I had not revisited it in over 10 years.

     

    I always liked the architecture of this particular Wat . . . so ornate, yet balanced and dignified.

     

    Wat Huai Sai Thai was actually three Wats in one: The traditional Thai Wat, a Chinese Buddhist Temple, and a Shrine to a famous Monk, Luongpor Thonsuk.  The Chinese Temple had a wonderful Guanyin statue.

     

    I went in the temple, made a donation, and took up this plate of offerings and ceremonial items to honor Guanyin.  There are cons to drop at each Buddha statue, oil to add to the lamps, incense to light, garlands and pearls to adorn Guanyin and candles to light.  All of these have a particular place and order.  I knew most of them, but there were two very helpful lady attendants who showed me what goes where and when.

     

    Many small altars lined the room around the large Guanyin statue.

     

    A sitting Happy Buddha.

     

    I left my garland here, on the sandalwood Guanyin.

     

    I love these fortunetelling machines you sometimes see in Chinese temples.  I could not quite figure out how this one worked, so I didn't put in any money.

     

    The Chinese temple (foreground) was one of many small buildings on the Wat grounds.

     

    I walked along a path lined with stone balls to another glassed in room full of golden Buddhas.

     

    Standing Buddha images along the glass Buddha hall.

     

    A glass room full of fantastically beautiful Buddha images.

     

    Remarkable beauty.

     

    I wanted to go in for close-up photos, but it was locked.  I had to shoot through the dirty windows.

     

    Photographing through a window is not always a bad thing . . . the reflections of the frangipani trees help this image.

     

    I felt a strong attraction to this particular Buddha image. I saw over a hundred Buddha images on this day, but this one 'spoke' to me.  I will return here to meditate.

     

    The third part of the Wat was devoted to a new temple structure in honor of the great revered monk Luongpor Thonsuk. A silver elephant under construction stood out front.

     

    An extraordinary structure.

     

    Remarkable detail and artistry.

     

    Scattered here and there around the temple structure, up in the sacred woods, were pieces of previous altars, the discarded spiritual paraphernalia.

     

    There were many, many beautiful Buddha images inside the old monk's temple.

     

    Encrusted with small squares of gold ceremonially pressed on by the throngs of pilgrims.

     

    The interior was lined with Buddha images surrounding the giant, colossus . . . (folded leg visable in the foreground!)

     

    The image of Luongpor Thongsuk was five stories tall!  I only had my 85mm lens with me, so I was unable to get the whole giant statue in one frame!

     

    I walked up the stairs and then around each floor in turn.

     

    The views from the upper floors were fantastic.

     

    A view to a monks cottage over the silver elephant.

     

    Looking from the temple out beyond the Wat to a typical Thai rural scene in this part of Thailand.

     

    This is a NEW temple.  Buddhism in Thailand is a living, current practice.

     

    A nice display of donated ceremonial drums . . .

     

    . . . and a beautiful gong.  It was so quiet and peaceful that even I dared not to strike it!

     

    On the top floor the walls were adorned with these murals from the Buddhist Jottika Tales.  Three more:

    Pictorial lessons of the life of the Buddha Gotama.

     

    I could have stayed here all day . . . just looking out of each window.

     

    I reluctantly left . . . as I always do, asking myself, "Why don't I stay?"

    A RURAL WAT

    I continued up and away from the coast on a hot hazy morning on small rural roads.

     

    Driving up into the hills I spotted a Thai Wat at its the base.

     

    It was before lunch and three monks were having the last meal of their day.

     

    This part of the Wat was an open sided shed structure.

     

    It appeared as if there had been a big event recently, by the look of these piles of ceremonial objects.

     

    Steep stairs led to a hilltop Buddha image . . . I decided to walk up for the view . . . and to respect the big Buddha there.

     

    It was worth the many steps up.

     

    The view from the top did not disappoint.  The Wat below was wonderful and, try as I might, I could not find the name of this Wat, not is it on a map.

     

    Above the hilltop Buddha, a mandala.

     

    Another area of the Wat had a marvelous white Buddha image and a shed containing many interesting offerings.

     

    These dress offerings are a 'new' feature for me, or I have just not noticed them in the past (which I doubt).  I do not know the significance.

     

    A living Wat, recently visited by the reverent.

     

    A spirit house type offering plate . . . the ancestors . . . and some make-up . . . just in case.

     

    More offerings of all kinds.

     

    A revered spirit tree wrapped in devotional colors.

    MONSOON VALLEY Vineyards

     Further to the west, and up into the valleys of the foothills, we came to the Monsoon Valley Vineyards.

     

    No, this is not France . . . this is Thailand.

     

    In addition to the vineyards, there is an attractive lodge with a fine dining cafe set up against the hills.

     

    After lunch we walked out into the stunning view . . . .

     

    I do not know how the tropical seasons in Thailand effect the growing of grapes, but these seem to be near harvesting.

     

    We had a very nice long walk through the vineyards on a 'cool' January day in Thailand.

     

    The have done a fine job of making the grounds around the vineyards interesting.  A nice place to spend an afternoon dining and walking.

     

    They were growing several grape varieties, these requiring hanging.

     

    A pleasant valley scene.

     

    The parking lot security guards were a lot of fun . . . typical Thai friendliness.

     

    The vineyard looks healthy and productive.  I didn't taste the wine, but my wife said it was 'good.'

     

    Beautiful grapes.  Plump!

     

    We greatly enjoyed our mid-day visit to the Monsoon Valley Vineyards.  IN th distance, on a hilltop, is a golden chedi shining in the sunlight . . . . I think I will go over there and see what it is . . . .

    GOLDEN HILLTOP CHEDI

     

    I noticed this golden hilltop chedi from the vineyard across the valley and went looking for the access road . . . found it. 

     

    The dirt road up to the Wat below the golden chedi was lined with Buddha images.

     

    There were several small structures housing large Buddha images along a hillside path.  Big cobra steps!

     

    I liked this Wat very much.  It was modest, isolated, and had grand views of the Hua Hin hills.

     

    The valley below: vineyards, orchards, field crops.

     

    I walked the many steps up to the golden chedi.

     

    So beautiful from below, but I had no idea what awaited me when I arrived on the top . . .

     

    Leave your monkeymind behind, Ye who enter!  The real suffering doesn't show.

     

    The golden chedi itself was ringed with highly individual Buddha images and elephant bas reliefs.

     

    Each of the Buddha images seemed to have been made by a different person/artisan, so individual were they.

     

    This particular Buddha image struck an amazing resemblance to a cartoon character from The Simpsons.

     

    Magnificent 'naive art.'

     

    I wondered if a group of monks might have made these . . . or the financial donors.

     

    Such a serene place.

     

    I walked around the golden chedi several times, each time noticing more and more . . .

     

    Revered monks astride the chedi entrance.

     

    It wasn't until my third time around the golden chedi that I realized there was a chamber inside.  Most chedis I have visited do not have access to the interior.  Let's see what's inside . . .

     

    What I found inside was astonishing!

     

    There was only very low indirect light inside.  I was glad I had on a f1.2 lens.

     

    A marvel.

     

    The inner chamber was full of Buddha images of all kinds.

     

    The unevenly plastered walls were covered with an orange-golden paint . . . a perfect atmospheric backdrop to the exquisite Buddha images.

     

    Gold leaf applied to revered Buddha images.  Some of the images faced the open doors . . . making photography easier.

     

    Without a doubt, my favorite photograph of a day  . . . in a day of many wonderful images.  Amazing color and light.  A profoundly spiritual space.

     

    The walls themselves were a thing of beauty in the magic light.

     

    I experiences such a strong reawakening of Wonder in that hilltop place.

     

    I walked around and around inside the circle of the chedi in a Vipasana walking meditation.

     

    Colorful chamber Bikkus.

     

    The chamber attendants/Bikkus.

     

    I thought I was alone in the golden chedi until I heard the sound of sweeping.  A nun from the Wat keeping things neat and tidy.

     

    There was a chedi within the larger chedi.  I didn't bring my wide angle lens and a tripod . . . but I might go back one day.

     

    Yes, thanks for the reminder . . . hold back the river of Mara's temptations to be pulled from The Now.

     

    I spent over an hour in the chamber . . . I believe . . . because I lost track of time . . . and left.

     

    I exited passed the old monk and the Buddha, found a sala and ate the lunch I had in my pack, and went to the car and drove back toward the coast.

    A RURAL WAT

    Driving back along a small rural road, I spotted a Wat under construction.

     

    I am very interested in Wat construction, having been involved in building a Wat myself.

     

    It is going to be a very pleasant place when it is completed.  I will try and make a point to visit here in the future.

     

    I went inside through an open door behind the main Buddha image.

     

    The main altar was already more or less complete.

     

    Very powerful Buddhas here . . .

     

    Back outside, I stopped to admire and pay respect to this Buddha image next to a small shrine/spirit house.

     

    The shrine/spirit house was much older than the new Wat and was there for the older part of the temple grounds . . . which I was to explore next.  More dress offerings . . .

     

    The old wooden Wat structure had these large rain water collection jugs outside.

     

    The altar in the old Wat . . . I wonder if they will move these devotional items over to the new Wat when it is completed . . .

     

    A rural Wat in an agricultural village would have water buffalo heads, no?

     

    I had a wonderful day . . . I hope he rest of the year will be as spiritually illuminating as the first day of the year . . . . . if . . .

     

    It will be a good year if the MonkeyMind is disbanded through clear insight meditation.

    Happy New Year.

    The State of Thai Drag Racing

    Every December the Bangkok Drag Avenue hosts the "Souped Up Thailand" race.  It's the biggest drag racing event of the year. I went this year (2017) and was very impressed with the level of technical sophistication .

    Yes . . . there is drag  racing in Thailand.  Real 1/4 mile drag racing on real drag strips.  I know, I have had drag cars here and been involved in setting up a drag strip to near world standard.  This is the view down the racing surface at Bangkok Drag Avenue . . . from the bar.

     

    "Drag Racing is not a sport, it's a disease,' I used to say.  Yes, this is a blown HEMI dragster . . . in Thailand.

     

    Adjusting the valve lash on a blown big block Chevy . . . in Thailand.  I never thought I'd see the day!

     

    Another dragster, this time powered by a turbocharged Toyota 1UZ V8 running alcohol.  The state of Thai drag racing is very high.  Ingenuity everywhere, and outstanding workmanship.

     

    Some excellent welds on these headers and turbo piping.

     

    This is a Toyota 2JZ straight six cylinder engine originally found in a Supra.  Amazing headers!

     

    The same 2JZ dragster showing the turbo set-up.  This dragster ran a 6.61 in the quarter mile on alcohol using an air-shifted 7-speed transmission.  Very good performance from 220 cubic inches!

     

    A lot of sophisticated race parts are imported from the USA.

     

    Another turbocharged Toyota V8.  Many home-made parts visible.  Very creative.

     

    Very high quality preparation on this 1UZ V8.  Turbocharged with NitrusOxide (NOS).  260 cubic inches, runs low 7 second elapse times.  Pretty good!

     

    Drag racing is a very social sport: you wait around with your friends for your turn on the race track . . . the same anywhere.

     

    There were a number of world class 'pro stock' type race cars present.

     

    A beautiful Toyota Celica . . . .

     

    Incredibly good carbon fibre work on this 2JZ-powered Celica.

     

    A 4 cylinder Honda engine in a Honda 2000 sports car.  Classified "Pro 4."  More beautiful workmanship.  Interestingly, the trend is to have the exhaust exit through the hood . . . simpler for race-only cars.

     

    A carbon fibre hood with exhaust . . . race car porn!

     

    The ubiquitous Toyota 2JZ, bedrock of drag racing and hot street cars all over Asia.  Only 3.0L, but very capable of  900hp++ if prepared correctly.

     

    The single most popular, and common, combination for drag racing is the Nissan Cifero with a turbocharged Toyota 2JZ engine.

     

    There were many 4-cylinder cars in several different classes.

     

    Yes, a front wheel drive drag car . . .  with very sticky drag slicks.

     

    Some of the 4-cylinder front wheel drive cars were very fast.

     

    More automotive porn . . . gold plated valve cover.  Nice.

     

    Another tidy race 4-cylinder.  That cylindrical device on the left is an ice water to air intercooler to cool the hot turbocharger air.

     

    I love the detailing on this red Honda.

     

    But by far the most impressive machinery at the Thai drags are the diesel pick-up trucks . . . literally the fastest in the world!

     

    These amazing carbon fibre diesel trucks run in the low 7 second range . . . with a twin turbocharged diesel on NOS.

     

    Study this photo for a moment . . . .  yes  . . . . those are twin and compounded turbos on this Isuzu diesel.

     

    Very clever.  They rev these at the line to crazy RPMs for diesels and then just fly down the track . . . strangely quiet from the two turbos.

     

    A Thai diesel drag racer awaiting the call.

     

    There are two diesel truck classes.  This truck falls into a class that requires stock chassis and body (any trans) . . . and the use of only one 'standard-size' turbo.  Still, they run in the high 8 second ET range.  WOW!

     

    A smaller, single turbo race diesel.

     

    A couple of race officials waiting out the heat at mid-day.  Most of the actual racing (time trials, at this race) happens at night.

     

    And so . . . we drag race.  I had a great day, made a few new friends, and caught up with some old racers.

    A Bangkok Day: Family Friends' Son Becomes a Monk

    The son of family friends decided to enter the monkhood at Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, a very sacred Wat where many former Thai Kings were ordained.

    All the accoutrements for the ceremonial cutting of the hair are laid out in advance.

     

    A special moment with your family there to support you.

     

    Family and friends take turns snipping the young man's hair.

     

    He is not formally a monk yet, so it's OK for a woman to touch him.

     

    A wonderful experience for this young man.

     

    It is both a solemn time and a fun and joyous time.

     

    All your school friends and family come to celebrate your Big Day!

     

    The monk with whom you will study, has the honor of shaving the head of the young nan.

     

    As the monk shaves the boy's head, the proud parents look on.

     

    The old monk has done this before!

     

    The shaved hair is saved.

     

    Finishing up.

     

    The eyebrows are shaved as well.

     

    After the head shaving . . . the saved hair.

     

    At last . . . the follower of the Buddha is revealed!

     

    Looking like a new person!

     

    Off through the beautiful Wat to the ordination ceremony.

     

    Three times walking around the big temple.

     

    Wat Bowonniwet Vihara is a very famous and revered Wat.  Our young monk will have a wonderful spiritual experience here.

     

     Wat Bowonniwet Vihara golden chedi under repair.

     

    A serene place.

     

    A very well-maintained, and well-supported ancient Wat.

     

    Temple. Monk. Stairs.

     

    Buddha.  Window.

     

    Wat. Monk. Door.

     

    The living areas of the monks.

     

    Monks personal stuff.

     

    Around the Wat.

     

    Such a beautiful place to study Buddhism.  Lucky boy!

     

    An altar among the monks houses.

     

    Yes, even in a Wat there are mundane chores that need tending.

     

    Monks quarters.

     

    There is a world outside the Wat . . . or so it seems.

     

    A cat's life in the Wat.

     

    And so, we left the young man on his spiritual journey.  We will check in once in a while for support . . .

    Chachoengsao: A Daytrip East of Bangkok

    Although the city/region of Chachoengsao is not far from Bangkok, I had never visited this part of Thailand in the 20+ years I have lived here.

     

    PART ONE: A RURAL ANCIENT MARKET

    Our first stop, based on a roadside sign, was to the Chachoengsao Ancient Market.

     

    The market is on a klong system which has many old houses alongside.

     

    This very photogenic fisherman and his dog appeared as if from nowhere . . .

     

    My friend John Stiles went with me on this ramble . . . and took this photo of me enjoying myself and my new Fuji X-T2 camera.

     

    82 years old and a regular betel-nut user . . . she was very glad to chat with us while she visited her friend next door.

     

    Next door was the old woman's 'home' -- a hovel along the klong.  Abject poverty.

     

    The market is opened only on week-ends, but we were there on a Monday, and glad of it.  The old wooden structures built on stilts over the klong made a picturesque environment.

     

    Lanterns from last years' Chinese New Years still festooned the old market.

     

    A klong boatman, Chachoengsao.

     

    The old market looked like it had seen better days: here an old stage for ceremonies and performances.

     

    Although the market was closed, some of the vendors live permanently at the site.  This man sold lunch to the local residents.

     

    Taking an order.

     

    Life along the klong . . . at lunchtime.

     

    A fisherman and his dog.  We did not see him catch any fish . . . he said there weren't very many to catch, when asked.

     

    The old weathered wood and sharp light made for some nice 'minimalist' photos.

     

    Light, shadow, texture . . . a bridge.

     

    There was some aquaculture along the klongs . . . frog farming.

     

    And, as always, the ubiquitous spirit houses.

     

    The doors of the closed market shops were in themselves things of beauty.

     

    We walked around for several hours finding an endless number of interesting things to photograph.

     

    Sun behind a lantern.

     

    Signs of coordinated development: the market was lined with these very attractive street lights.

     

    I bought a leather pouch for my sunglasses and the seller put my name on it with these old tools.

     

    A wall in the leather shop with framed photos of the owner's wife's parents.  Very touching.

     

    The leathergoods shop had these for sale, but I could not figure out what they were for.

     

    There were a number of empty, abandoned houses.

     

    A lovely morning spent along the old klongs of rural Thailand.

     

    I could have stayed all day in this peaceful place . . but we moved on up the road.

     

    PART TWO: A RURAL WAT

    We set the GPS to the town and headed up the road . . . and missed our turn and instead discovered this wonderful Wat.

     

    This Wat was a long way from any village or town . . . a very peaceful place.

     

    The Wat was at the beginning phase of erecting a colossal Buddha image.  It was interesting to see the rebar mesh getting ready to be plastered.

     

    A beautiful rural wat under a giant sky.  We are all so small in the scheme of things . . . if there is a scheme.

     

    PART THREE: A CHACHOENGSAO NEIGBORHOOD WAT

    We got a little lost in the small lanes the GPS decided to send us on . . . until we spotted a giant Buddha up between the trees . . and followed an ally to where we thought it might be . . . it wasn't the 'right' Wat, but it was very interesting in its own right.

     

    It was an interesting old wat that backed up to a klong . . . a klong that separated us from the giant Buddha we spotted from the road.  We decided to walk and see if there was a bridge . . .

     

    Our walk took us through a cemetery next door to a school.

     

    The school kids found us very interesting.

     

    My first thought was . . . this is what happens if you let your granddaughter choose your crypt color . . . you get a pink crypt!

     

    I asked John if he thought someone had busted into these crypts . . . or busted out?  He said he didn't want to think about that.

     

    I speculated that a family had gone 'upscale' with their ancestor burials . . . meaning they came into some money, or moved from the area, and wanted to move the Dearly Departed to a new grave site.  I hope I'm right.

     

    We didn't find a bridge over to the giant Buddha, but we did find some beautiful scenes.

     

    There was no way through the swamp to the other side.

     

    So, John and I decided to get in my truck and see if we couldn't find the giant Buddha.

     

    PART FOUR: CHINESE CULTURAL CENTER

    At last!  We found the Chinese Cultural Center . . . just opened last year . . . and brand spanking new.  Beautiful!

     

    We paid a small donation and a guide took us around to the various altars and showed us the ropes.

     

    Gorgeous colossal statuary.

     

    I was especially excited about this temple because I am a follower and admirer of my old buddy Ji Gong, the idiosyncratic Chinese monk who was a defender of the weak against injustice.

     

    Ji Gong, my old buddy. (Ask me why I always say 'my old buddy' when I mention Ji Gong next time we meet.)

     

    My old buddy, Ji Gong.

     

    I went into the Ji Gong shrine at the base of the giant statue and paid my respects.

     

    Showing respect to my old buddy, Ji Gong.

     

    The guide showing John the proper ceremonial details.

     

    I go to many Chinese religious temples in Bangkok, but this was not an old temple as I as used to . . . it was brand new!

     

    Fascinating images inside the shrines.

     

    Temple Buddhas.

     

    The back of a temple Buddha.  John and I placed a square of gold onto several Buddhas here . . . they were included in the cost of the donation.

     

    After showing respect at the shrines, our guide instructed us to ring the big bell . . .

     

    . . . and bang the big drum, each three times.  We duly complied.

     

    After we completed the proper ceremonies at the giant statues, they gave us some free ice water and said we were free to explore the temple buildings on our own.

     

    And my-o-my!  The temple interiors were fantastical.  Enjoy the following photos!

     

    After wandering around for some time in these fantastic temple interiors we both realized we were hungry and decided to head into the old Chinese quarter of Chachoengsao along the river.

     

    I paid my last respects to my old buddy Ji Gong and we were on our way again.

     

    PART FIVE: THE OLD CHINESE QUARTER OF CHACHOENGSAO

    We drove into the old Chinese quarter and looked for a place to park.  The architecture reminds me a lot of Penang, Malaysia.

     

    My current old school 'muscle car' project in mid-modification (V8, shortened, narrowed chassis, tubbed, big-braked, and custom-painted) on the streets of Chachoengsao.

     

    We found a nice noodle shop for our first course . . . .

     

    After a quick snack, we headed out on a walk around this fascinating old town.  Here, the 100+ year old town market.

     

    The old city market interior . . . still in use.

     

    There were just too may photographic subjects to cover . .  we were just a couple street shooters snapping on the run.

     

    The light in the old market spaces was marvelous.

     

    At some point in the past these old shops must have been very successful, being located next to the town market.

     

    The oldest shops in the city.

     

    Some of these old shops are still in use by traders.

     

    We stopped for fresh fruit juice smoothies.  I had a carrot and apple one.

     

    There is a growing obesity problem in Thailand (pun intended).  It's no wonder . . . look at the chip and snack wholesaler's shop.

     

    These well-worn shop doors were things of beauty.

     

    The shopkeepers here told us that this shop had been operated by their family for over 100 years.

     

    We stopped in at this riverfront restaurant for a full Thai meal that couldn't be beat. Ate way too much, but was happy.

     

    Your intrepid photographer out and about . . . and getting ready to have a wonderful meal.

     

    Before our meal arrived, I took the liberty to look around the old atmospheric wooden building.

     

    The restaurant interior was amazing . . . and very artfully done.

     

    An interior wall at the restaurant.

     

    The view from our diner table!

     

    After our big late lunch we went out walking again . . . what did we see? More food!

     

    The vendors were all busy getting ready for the evening rush.

     

    We asked this shopkeeper how long he had been sitting there . . . he said, "62 years."

     

    Tai street food is delicious . . . but we were already too full.

     

    We walked around a working town . . . an iceman packing his product with help.

     

    An old shop house in the city center of Chachoengsao, Thailand.

     

    Chachoengsao riverfront.

     

    Such a beautiful place . . . but time to leave this part of town . .  we still have a famous Wat and Buddha to see.

     

    PART SIX: Wat Sathorn Wararam Worawihan

    Wat Sothonwararam is located near the river in another part of Chachoengsao.  It is one of the most famous Buddhist temples in the world, and is also possibly the largest Buddhist temple in the world.  The temple has the ‘Luangpho Phuttha Sothon,’ the revered Buddha image.

     

    One of the most beautiful, and unique Buddhist Wats I have seen in Thailand.

     

    Many golden salas surround the Wat.

     

    The Wat is under royal patronage.  Here: a photo of the new King of Thailand.

     

    We had come to see the famous Buddha likeness inside, but, alas, we were too late . . . it closed at 5:00pm.  What to do now?  Let's go see some bats!

     

    PART SEVEN: A BAT TEMPLE

    John read online that there was a Buddhist temple on the way back to Bangkok that had a mass flight of fruit bats from it's trees every evening and if we hurried we could see it.  So we went on some very small rural roads and arrived just as it turned dark.  A beautiful Wat . . . I took photos of the Buddhas first.

     

    Very old and revered Buddha images.

     

    More revered Buddha images at the bat Wat.

     

    The trees were hung with hundreds of very large fruit bats!

     

    The bats flew around so fast, and it was getting so dark, that it was almost impossible to photograph them . . . but I managed this one shot I like.

    John and I had a wonderful day trip out of Bangkok.  We left at 6:30am and returned to Bangkok at 8:30pm.  What a day!

    Phaya Thai Palace and Throne Room

    My friend John and I decided to go out photo rambling in Bangkok and end up at the Saxophone Pub, our favorite music venue.  I took a look at GoogleMaps to see what was in walking and saw the Phaya Thai Palace and Throne Room. What are those?  Only a 10 minute walk.  Let's go see.

     

    It was a beautiful, not too oppressively hot, late afternoon at Victory Monument when we arrived.

     

    We walked along a broad busy avenue, lined with street vendors of all kinds.

     

    When I say 'all kinds of street vendors' I mean all kinds.

     

    We arrived at the Throne Hall and were surprised by a sweet, turn-of-the-last-century carpentry treasure of a building: The Throne Hall.

     

    A closer view yielded a strange light from within the Throne Hall!

     

    It seems we had arrived only hours before what looked like a fashion show was to begin.  There was furious activity by a crew to get the show ready for that evening . . . testing the lights and count.

     

    Such a beautiful space.

     

    The chairs were all lined up ready for the evening's affair . . . whatever it was going to be.

     

    There was a beautiful old cafe, The Cafe de Norasingha, built in 1912 and has remained exactly as it was then.  A bit of old Viena right in Bangkok.

     

    Located behind the Throne Hall and cafe was the old Phaya Thai Palace, the 'country' home of the Thai King, Rama VI.

     

    The old palace has had several lives since Rama VI, including military barracks, and a hospital, although we could not tell if it was still a hospital or not as there was no sign of life about.

     

    We wandered around the empty interior of the old palace and were amazed by the light, color, and shadow.

     

    Classical European statuary could be found throughout the palace and gardens, a popular decoration at the time.

     

    Over 100 years old and still beautiful.

     

    There were several wonderful stairwells.

     

    There was a beautiful cottage on a klong (canal) in the rear of the palace.

     

    While out back photographing this beautiful cottage, I saw something move near my feet . . . .

     

    Oh My! A four foot Asian water lizard!

     

    The sun goes down fast in the tropics, and the moods inside the old Rama VI Palace changed too.

     

    I have to say it got a little spooky in there . . . . with nobody around.

     

    As it grew darker outside, the light through the windows cast wonderful light into the interior.

     

    The old marble floors glowed with colorful reflections in the gloom.

     

    A few lights were turned on in the passageways between the building making for wonderful geometric photos.

     

    Amber lighting on the old royal doors . . .

     

    We were getting thirsty and hungry, so we left the Palace and Throne hall in the last of the blue light.

     

    View of the Throne Hall (foreground) and Phaya Thai Palace (behind) at night.

     

    We walked back along Ratchawithi Road toward Saxophone Pub, enjoying the photographic opportunities offered by the night food hawkers.

     

    A tourist or perhaps a local expat buying hot corn from a street vendor.

     

    Arriving at the Saxophone Jazz and Blues Pub, Victory Monument, Bangkok, Thailand.