Wai Kruu

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Before each bout Muay Thai fighters don the mongkon headband and perform a ceremonial dance called the wai kruu honouring their gym’s masters and teachers (kruu).

Traditionally it is not worn when entering the ring, only the fighter’s master should place it on his head and utter a quick blessing for good luck, after which the fighter performs the wai kruu. The mongkon is then taken off and usually placed on or near the corner post for luck.

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Samut Prakan

I recently went on a photowalk with the “Bangkok Photographers” Facebook group, the first one that I have been on for a while. Making the most of the BTS Skytrain line extension earlier this year, it was easy to get to Pak Nam station ( and free 🙂 ) and then a ferry across the river to the 200 year old Phra Samut Chedi and then a walk along a boardwalk through the mangroves to the old Phi Suea Samut naval fort.

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© 2019 Michael Nottingham

© 2019 Michael Nottingham

Back on the other side of the river stands the “white elephant’ Observation tower ….. finished ages ago but never opened !

The old fort was the next stop, it stands on a small island that once used to be nearer the middle of the river. Nowadays the river banks have moved so that the island is just a short distance from the west bank, but getting there still involves several flights of steps to reach a bridge. For a change, there is actually wheelchair access …..sort of, if you look at the pic above right. A 45 degree wheelchair ramp ? And some of the ramps had a step at the top too ….. Disabled access is not a high priority in Thai planning.

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Some of the doorways were definitely Hobbit sized !

© 2019 Michael Nottingham

 

All in all, a pleasant day out of Bangkok 🙂

How to get there ? The quickest and easiest way is by BTS, getting off at Pak Nam stationmap

Alternately you could catch the air-con bus #511 but it would probably be a slow trip !

Walk along the main road and then veer towards the river, the ferry pier is next to the fresh market (worth a look if you want to see what a Thai fresh market looks like ….anybody for frog ? ). 3.5 baht each way on the ferry, no admission fee to the Temple or the Fort/museum, although you will be required to sign in at the fort’s front gate.

You could also combine this with a visit to the Erawan Museum which you would pass on the way, and is between the Pu Chao and Chang Erawan stations. Just look for a giant three headed elephant, you cannot miss it ! More about that here from my visit a couple of years ago.

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Happy (Chinese) New Year

Here in Thailand there are 3 New Years to celebrate …the western one on January 1, the traditional Thai one at Songkran, and because of the large number of Thais with an ethnic Chinese background, the recent Chinese New Year. Although the latter is not an official public holiday that does not stop many shops and businesses pulling down the shutters and celebrating !

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What was a surprise to me when I visited Chinatown here in Bangkok for my first New Year was that despite the large Chinese descent population, there is not much in the way of organised parades. Some of the other cities in Thailand with smaller Chinese communities have bigger and better entertainment. Here they close off the main road and some side streets, but that is mainly for the benefit of HRH Princess Sirindhorn as she makes her way from one official venue to another during the day, and then after she has left the barricades are removed and the road becomes a big flea market.

There are some lion dances going on during the day but thats about it unless you are lucky enough to get within viewing distance of the 2 official stages which do have entertainment (and lots of speeches 😦 ) . In contrast, back home in Australia, Sydney used to have a big street parade even though it’s Chinatown and chinese community is smaller.

But never the less, as this is going to be my last Chinese New Year in Bangkok I went over to Chinatown to make the most of it.

Walking from the MRT at Hualamphong station, the first stop was Wat Traimit, home of the Golden Buddha. HRH Princess Sirindhorn always visits here in the early afternoon as part of her official CNY duties so the temple grounds are all decorated and spotless.

TIP for the Cheap Charlies …..the actual temple and the Golden Buddha itself are closed until after HRH has paid her respects, but then it is free admission for a change.

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Chinatown is full of temples, my favourite is Wat Mongkorn on Charoen Krung road but just wander off the main road and you will find one, that will probably be full of worshippers making merit over New Year.

(Click to see a bigger version of any pic)

 

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Welcome to the Year of the Pig

 

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Thailand Tourism Festival 2019@Lumphini Park

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Each year in late January a “Thailand Tourism Festival” is held in Lumphini park to highlight the different arts, crafts, foods and culture of the various regions of Thailand.

Although it is mainly aimed at potential domestic Thai tourists it is a chance for foreign tourists to get a glimpse and taste of the country……just don’t expect to see much signage or commentary in English 🙂

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Traditional “khaen” from Northeast Thailand/Laos.

I love the sound of this bamboo instrument, along with the phin. I’ve got absolutely no musical talent though 😦

If I remember right, this ladyboy show was in the Eastern Thailand section so they probably come from Pattaya.

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Well, one of them is a real girl, although not 100% natural

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Cosplay @ JapanFesta 2019

Yes, I know that I have been lazy with regards to this blog for a couple of months. After living here for 5 years I am a bit blase about life in the Big Mango, it was a struggle to find something new to photograph and write about. So it’s probably a good thing that I will be moving on in a few months, when my girlfriend and  I will be moving to rural Thailand, to her hometown in Ubon Ratchathani province to be exact.

But for now I made the resolve to brave this year’s worse than usual seasonal smog and get out and about more. Luckily on this past weekend there were two events on and the air quality improved somewhat, at least where I was headed. One of the events was the annual JapanFesta at CentralWorld shopping centre. Apart from lots of travel agents selling tours to Japan, lots of Japanese food and culture, it also attracts lots of cosplayers, and just as many photographers ……..

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I guess pretty girls in short skirts will usually do that 😉

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Of course, this being Thailand not all the “girls” are girls ….

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Most of them are 100% genuine females though, and quite happy to pose for the photographers. I guess you have to be a bit extroverted to wear some of their costumes !

(click to enlarge the photos)

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The other event on over the weekend was the Thailand Tourism Festival at Lumphini Park, something completely different ! Photos from that coming soon, I promise 🙂

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Red v Blue, in Black and White

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The champion kept his belt, with some help from his sak yant tattoos.

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