Πέμπτη, 24 Νοεμβρίου 2011

THAILAND

AMAZING THAILAND

  

THE WORLD “THAI” MEANS “FREEDOM” IN THE THAI LANGUAGE. THE COUNTRY HAS BEEN INHABITED SINCE THE PALEOLITHIC PERIOD BUT ECONOMICALLY GREW BETWEEN 1985 AND 1995 DUE TO INDUSTRY AND TOURISM. IT FEATURES DESERTED GOLDEN BEACHES, RIVERS WITH LUSH VEGETATION, TROPICAL FORESTS, SPARKLING TEMPLES AND BUSTLING CITIES. THE AREAS OF BANGKOK, PATTAYA, RIVER KWAI, KO PHUKET AND KO SAMUI ARE ONE OF THE MOST FAVORITE WORLDWIDE TOURIST DESTINATIONS!


BANGKOK “THE CITY OF THE ANGELS”, IS THE LARGEST CITY AND THE CAPITAL OF THAILAND SINCE 1782. IT IS LOCATED ON THE DELTA OF THE CHAO PHRAYA RIVER WITH ITS THOUSANDS OF CANALS! YOU CAN AVOID THE CITY’S TRAFFIC IF YOU TRAVEL BY BOAT, WHICH IS MUCH MORE PLEASANT! BANGKOK IS A COSMOPOLITAN, CULTURAL, STEAMY METROPOLIS AND A SHOPPING HEAVEN FOR ALL THE TOURISTS! IT IS ALSO THE HOME FOR MORE THAN TEN MILLION SMILING PEOPLE! THE CAPITAL CITY HAS MANY TO OFFER. BIG TEMPLES, MANY MARKETS, LOTS OF RESTAURANTS AND A CHARMING RIVER SIDE NOT TO MENTION THE “WILD” NIGHTLIFE!


CHAO PHRAYA RIVER AND THE CANALS IS THE ORIGINAL SITE WHERE BANGKOK WAS FOUNDED BEFORE IT WAS MOVED ACROSS THE RIVER TO THE RATTANAKOSIN ISLAND. STILTED WOODEN HOMES, “FLOATING KITCHENS”, MOBILE SHOPS, COLONIAL MANSIONS AND BEAUTIFUL TEMPLES IS WHAT YOU WILL EXPERIENCE IN THE PICTURESQUE RIVERSIDE SCENERY. IT IS A MARVELOUS EXPERIENCE TO WITNESS A FEAST OR A FESTIVAL ON THE RIVER AND THE NARROW CANALS, WHICH WILL BE TRADITIONALLY DECORATED AND LIGHTED! LUXURY BOATS ARE CRUISING UP AND DOWN THE CHAO PHRAYA RIVER DAY AND NIGHT, OFFERING LUNCH OR DINNER AND A GREAT VIEW OF THE RIVER BANK’S SIGHTS.


THE TEMPLE OF DAWN (WAT ARUN) IS ALSO KNOWN AS WAT PHRA KAEW, IS LOCATED ON THE WEST BANK OF THE RIVER. IT WAS BUILT BETWEEN 1767-1782 AND IT TOOK ITS NAME BECAUSE THE KING TAKSIN ARRIVED HERE AT DAWN AFTER A WAR FIGHT. DURING THE RULING YEARS OF KING TAKSIN THE TEMPLE FLOURISHED BECAUSE IT WAS THE CHIEF TEMPLE. THE BEAUTY OF ITS ARCHITECTURE AND THE OUTSTANDING SPIRE OF OVER 70 METERS HIGH AND THE TINY PIECES OF COLORED GLASS AND CHINESE PORCELAIN WITH PRETTY PATTERNS, IS ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUS LANDMARKS OF THE COUNTRY. IT IS ABSOLUTELY STUNNING AT SUNSET AND WHEN LIT UP AT NIGHT! FROM ITS TALL SPIRE YOU CAN ENJOY A SPLENDID VIEW OF THE RIVER AND THE CITY.

THE GRAND PALACE WITH ITS SPLENDOR ARCHITECTURE AND ITS 61-ACRE COMPLEX IS CERTAINLY A MUST WHILE IN BANGKOK. IT WAS BUILT IN 1782, BY KING RAMA I AS THE ROYAL RESIDENCE AND THE SEAT OF GOVERNMENT. EVERY KING HAS ADDED TO THE GRAND PALACE, SO THE BUILDINGS ARE VARIED IN ARCHITECTURE, FROM THAI STYLE TO VICTORIAN. THERE IS A HIGH WHITE WALL AROUND THE COMPLEX IN WHICH WITHIN, IS THE OLD PALACE (OR THE GRAND PALACE) AND THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA. TODAY THE GRAND PALACE IS USED ONLY FOR ROYAL CEREMONIES AND THE

TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA (WAT PHRA KAEW) IS SAID TO BE THE MOST SACRED BUDDHIST TEMPLE OF THAILAND, ONE OF THE WONDERS OF THE WORLD! IT IS ADJOINED TO THE GRAND PALACE AND IT SERVES AS THE ROYAL TEMPLE WHERE THE KING PERFORMS RELIGIOUS DUTIES. THE STATUE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA IS OF A DARK GREEN COLOR OF JADE STONE. NO ONE IS ALLOWED TO TOUCH THE STATUE BUT THE KING! SO THE KING CHANGES THE CLOAK AROUND THE STATUE THREE TIMES A YEAR IN A CELEBRATION FOR GOOD FORTUNE IN THE COUNTRY. WAT PHO IS LOCATED NEXT TO THE GRAND PALACE AND IT HOUSES THE GIANT RECLINING BUDDHA COVERED IN GOLD LEAF! IT IS KNOWN AS THE BIRTHPLACE OF THE TRADITIONAL THAI MASSAGE SCHOOL AND IT IS THE OLDEST TEMPLE IN BANGKOK.
OUTSIDE THE GRAND PALACE ARE SITUATED MANY OTHER TEMPLES:

WAT TRAIMIT HOUSES A 3-METER TALL GOLDEN BUDDHA, THE WORLD’S LARGEST SOLID GOLD BUDDHA STATUE! THE TEMPLE IS LOCATED IN CHINA TOWN.

THE WAT BENJABOPHIT IS FAMOUS FOR ITS ELEGANT WHITE MARBLE FAÇADE AND IS OFTEN REFERRED AS THE MARBLE TEMPLE. THE NAME MEANS “TEMPLE OF THE FIFTH KING” AND IT IS LOCATED IN THE DUSIT DISTRICT OF BANGKOK WHICH IS THE NEW ROYAL CITY, ESTABLISHED AT THE BEGINNING OF THE 20TH CENTURY BY KING RAMA V. DUSIT MEANS “HEAVENLY GARDENS”.

THE AYUTTHAYA TEMPLES DESPITE THE FACT THAT THEY ARE NOWADAYS RUINED, THEIR REMAINING RETAIN A FEELING FROM THE FRENCH, PORTUGUESE, SPANISH, DUTCH AND PERSIAN INFLUENCE DUE TO THE DIPLOMATIC TIES OF THESE COUNTRIES DURING THE 14TH AND 18TH CENTURIES.

THE NATIONAL MUSEUM IS THE
BEST PLACE
TO STUDY THAI CULTURE. IT IS WITHIN WALKING DISTANCE FROM THE GRAND PALACE IT IS ONE OF THE LARGEST AND MOST COMPREHENSIVE MUSEUMS IN SOUTHEAST ASIA.


THERE ARE COUNTLESS “FLOATING MARKETS” THROUGHOUT THE COUNTRY. THESE COLORFULLY LIVELY MARKETS ARE PACKED WITH CANOES THAT ARE FILLED WITH FRESH FRUITS AND VEGETABLES. THE LOCALS ARE DOING BUSINESS FROM THEIR COLORFUL, NARROW, LONG BOATS. IT IS AN EXPERIENCE NOT TO BE MISSED!!! THE MOST FAMOUS OF THE FLOATING MARKETS IS DAMNOEN SADUAK, ABOUT 100 KLM SOUTHWEST OF BANGKOK AND THONBURI LOCATED WEST OF THE RIVER. THONBURI IS ALSO THE OLDEST PART OF THE CITY. EARLY IN THE MORNING IS THE BEST TIME TO VISIT A FLOATING MARKET.


PAK KHLONG FLOWER MARKET IS THE BIGGEST FRESH FLOWER MARKET OF THE CITY AND IT IS FULL OF COLOR AND AROMA!  

CHINATOWN (YAOWARAJ) IS ONE OF THE MOST DYNAMIC COMMERCIAL DISTRICT IN BANGKOK. THE 1.5 KM LONG STREET AND ITS MAZE OF SMALL STREETS ARE FILLED WITH SHOPS SELLING ALL SORT OF PRODUCTS, FROM GOLD JEWELRY  TO TRADITIONAL CHINESE EATERY, SEAFOOD AND MEDICINE!

IF YOU VISIT THE DUSIT ZOO YOU WILL ENJOY HIPPOPOTAMUS, CAMELS, RHINOCEROS, APES AND ROYAL WHITE ELEPHANTS.

THE ROSE GARDEN IS VERY CLOSE TO THE CITY AND IS A BIG GARDEN AREA WITH LAKES AND BRIDGES, A RESTAURANT, A SWIMMING POOL AND A THAI VILLAGE, WHERE PRESENTATIONS ARE GIVEN EVERY DAY OF TRADITIONAL THAI EVENTS, SUCH AS DANCES, MUSIC, MARTIAL ART AND WEDDING CEREMONIES.

RIVER KWAI IS ONE OF THAILAND’S FAVORITE DESTINATIONS. THE PROVINCE BOASTS BEAUTIFUL, NATURAL LANDSCAPE OF TROPICAL JUNGLES, RIVERS, STREAMS, WATERFALLS, VALLEYS AND CLIFFS,
A PLACE
THAT CALMS YOU WITH ITS BEAUTY! KANCHANABURI IS A LAND RICH IN HISTORY, AS HERE ARE LOCATED FAMOUS LANDMARKS AS THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI AND THE DEATH RAILWAY, BOTH PLAYED A SIGNIFICANT ROLE TO THE JAPANESE DURING THE WORLD WAR II. ALSO VISIT THE WAR MUSEUM AND THE TWO CEMETERIES.


PATTAYA IS LOCATED ON THE EAST COAST OF THE GULF OF THAILAND AND IT IS ASIA’S PREMIER BEACH DESTINATION. THE RELAXING TROPICAL AMBIENCE, THE PARKS, THE MUSEUMS, THE BOTANICAL GARDENS AND THE SPORTS THAT YOU CAN ENJOY, SUCH AS GOLF, FISHING, SCUBA-DIVING ETC, IS WHAT MAKES THE AREA FAMOUS AND FAVORITE. NATURE LOVERS WILL ALSO INTERESTED IN THE BIOLOGICAL RESEARCH CENTRE ON MARINE LIFE, A GARDEN WITH BUTTERFLIES AND OTHER TROPICAL INSECTS AND AN AQUARIUM WITH A BIG VARIETY OF FISH.

PHUKET IS THE COUNTRY’S LARGEST ISLAND IN THE ANDAMAN SEA. IT IS CONNECTED TO MAINLAND BY TWO BRIDGES BUT THE
BEST WAY
TO REACH THE ISLAND IS BY PLANE WHICH COVERS THE DISTANCE BETWEEN BANGKOK AND PHUKET IN A SHORT TIME AND MANY TIMES A DAY. KHAO RANG IS A HILL IN THE ISLAND THAT OFFERS A BEAUTIFUL VIEW OF THE CITY. PATONG IS THE ISLANDS BIGGEST BEACH, CURVED AND BEAUTIFUL BUT ALSO DANGEROUS DUE TO THE WINDS AND THE DEPTH OF THE WATERS. THE AREA OF PATONG IS FULL OF STREETS THAT ARE PACKED WITH SOUVENIR SHOPS, BARS, RESTAURANTS, TRAVEL AGENCIES, HOTELS AND MUCH MUCH MORE… THE VILLAGE OF PHUKET OFFERS NEARBY AREAS OF WATERFALLS AND FORESTS. THERE IS ALSO A TEMPLE, THE PHRA THONG TEMPLE, WITH A GOLDEN BUDDHA.


PHANG NGA BAY NATIONAL PARK OFFERS A SCENIC VIEW OF HUNDREDS OF LIMESTONE CLIFFS RISING OVER THE SEA WITH THICK VEGETATION ON THE TOP! ONE OF THEM IS KNOWN AS “THE JAMES BOND ISLAND” BECAUSE ONE OF THE FILMS OF THE FAMOUS JAMES BOND WAS FILMED HERE. THE WHOLE AREA IS REALLY IMPRESSIVE! IF YOU ARE A CAVES LOVER YOU CAN EXPLORE MANY OF THEM WITH A CANOE, DISCOVERING INTERIOR LAGOONS AND ENJOYING NATURE AT ITS BEST!





KRABI IS ANOTHER NATURAL BEAUTY ONLY A FEW HOURS FROM PHUKET. IT IS A PROVINCE WITH 160 KLM OF COASTLINE FILLED WITH COVES, WHITE BEACHES, CORAL REEFS, LIMESTONE FORMATIONS, AND MANGROVES, ALL WITHIN EASY REACH.

KO PHI PHI IS THE PARADISE ISLAND OF THAILAND, FEATURING CURVING BAYS, WHITE SAND BEACHES, GREEN SEAS, TROPICAL JUNGLE, SNIFF CLIFFS AND CAVES. ONE OF THESE CAVES, THE CAVE OF THE VIKINGS, HAS PREHISTORIC DRAWINGS OF SHIPS ON ITS WALLS. THERE’S A POINT IN THE ISLAND THAT NARROWS IN A FEW HUNDRED METERS WIDE, FORMING TWO OF THE MOST BEAUTIFUL BEACHES ON THE ISLAND, AO LO DALAM AND AO TON SAI!




KO SAMUI IS ANOTHER PARADISE ISLAND OF THAILAND! ANG THONG NATIONAL MARINE PARK IS AN ARCHIPELAGO OF ABOUT 40 SMALL ISLANDS WITH HIDDEN LAGOONS AND CAVES, WHITE-SAND BEACHES, LUSH VEGETATION AND LIMESTONE CLIFFS. THERE IS ALSO A NARROW CORAL REEF IN THE SOUTHWEST OF THE PARK. HIN LAT FALLS IS A BEAUTIFUL FALL COMING DOWN TO A POOL AND THERE’S ALSO A TEMPLE AT THE BASE OF THE FALLS. THE HARD THING TO DO IS TO FIND THEM!!!! YOU HAVE TO GET A BOAT FROM THE TOWN, WALK FOR ABOUT 4KM, HIKE FOR AN HOUR, CROSS STREAMS AND CLIMB OVER ROCKS…IF YOU ARE UP TO IT, THEN YOU’LL GET REGARDED BY THE LANDSCAPE AND THE WATERFALL. IN KO SAMUI ALSO IS LOCATED THE NA MUANG FALLS WHICH CAN BE REACHES ON FOOT AT LOW TIDE.

OF COURSE THAILAND IS A SHOPPING PARADISE. THEY EVEN HAVE NIGHT MARKETS THAT OPEN AT 22:00 O’CLOCK. YOU CAN SHOP TILL THE MORNING HOURS! CLOTHS, SHOES, SILK, COTTON, HANDMADE ITEMS, WOODEN ITEMS, SILVERWARE, JEWELRY, LEATHER, PORCELAIN, FRUITS, FISH ARE AMONGST THE THINGS YOU CAN BUY IN THAILAND. TAILORING IS VERY COMMON IN THAILAND AND VERY AFFORDABLE TOO!

THE BEST TIME TO VISIT THAILAND IS BETWEEN NOVEMBER AND FEBRUARY. IT IS THE TIME OF YEAR THAT RAINS THE LEAST AND IT IS NOT TOO HOT. IT IS ALSO THAILAND’S MAIN SEASON FOR FESTIVALS.

THAI FOOD IS WELL-KNOWN TO BE HOT AND SPICY, WITH RICE AS THE MAIN DISH. FISH IS ON THE EVERY-DAY DIETARY AS WELL. NICE, SPICY AND FRESH, SO ENJOY IT…AND DO NOT FORGET THE FRUITS…ALL KIND OF JUICY, TROPICAL, FRESH FRUITS!!!
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES-DIFFERENT CULTURES, SO BE CAREFUL ON LITTLE THINGS THAT ARE CONSIDERED RUDE IN THAILAND. DO NOT ENTER A THAI HOME OR TEMPLE WITH YOUR SHOES ON. YOU ARE PERMITTED TO SIT ON THE FLOOR IN A TEMPLE, ALWAYS FACING THE BUDDHA AND WITH YOUR FEET IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION (AS A GESTURE OF RESPECT). DO NOT TOUCH ANYONE ON THE HEAD NOT EVEN A BUDDHA’S STATUE. DO NOT POINT ON SOMEONE’S FEET. DO NOT CROSS YOUR LEGS IN FRONT OF ANYONE. ALWAYS SMILE AT PEOPLE, ESPECIALLY IF YOU WANT TO ASK THEM SOMETHING.

WHILE IN THAILAND DO NOT MISS THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXPERIENCE A WORLD FAMOUS THAI MASSAGE, RIDE THE TRADITIONAL STYLE TAXIS “TUK-TUK” (MAN DRIVEN KIND OF THREE-WHEELED CARRIAGES), ATTEND A MUAY THAI MATCH (KICKBOXING), WATCH A LADY-BOY SHOW (SPECTACULAR BEAUTIFUL FEMALE DANCERS THAT ARE ACTUALLY…MEN!) OR GO TO A “SEX SHOW” (POOR THAI YOUNG WOMEN DOING ALL KIND OF SICKENING SEX LINKING THINGS ON STAGE!) REALLY THIS SHOW IS FOR STRONG STOMACHS…IMAGINE THAT THE ONLY NORMAL ACT IN THIS KIND OF SHOWS IS A COUPLE MAKING LOVE IN FRONT OF EVERYONE…YOU HAVE TO ASK SOMEONE THAT KNOWS THE CITY TO GUIDE YOU TO THIS BARS BECAUSE IT IS “NOT LEGAL”! MANY THINGS IN THAILAND ARE “NOT LEGAL”! ESPECIALLY, BANGKOK’S NIGHTLIFE HAS A REPUTATION FOR BEING WILD…TAKE MY WORD ON IT…
YOU WILL NEED MANY TRIPS TO THAILAND TO FEEL THAT YOU HAVE TRULY GOT TO KNOW THIS AMAZING COUNTRY! AND CERTAINLY YOU WILL WANT TO RETURN AND EXPERIENCE MORE OF THE PEOPLE AND THEIR CULTURE. THEIR SMILING FACES WILL CALL YOU BACK TO THIS PARADISE OF THE ORIENT!

SO…ENJOY ALL THIS AMAZING COUNTRY HAS TO OFFER!...



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