Archive for the ‘bangkok’ Category

Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

Pictures from Din Daeng, Ratchawithi Road, Bangkok, Thailand, at about 11:30 am, 18 May 2010

IMG 0114 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

View of smoke from top of apartment building

On Friday May 14, I spent the night in my apartment complex about 30 meters from Din Daeng area near Victory Monument in Bangkok, Thailand.  There were a series of explosions that sounded like homemade fireworks rather than bombs but never the less spooked me out.  I heard shattering glass, shots, and also saw soldiers patrolling the neighborhood.  My instinct was to sleep on the floor and crawl around when explosions sounded.  In the morning I packed a bag to go to work, in far away Pinklao.  When I went downstairs, a camera man (I happen to know him) in the area instructed me to run from the area as a sniper was shooting from an unknown building.  I left and didn’t return until the morning of the 18th of May, 2010 when a few friends and I decided to go back to our apartment to grab our essential items like passports, money, etc.

Din Daeng intersection

Din Daeng intersection

Din Daeng Intersection

Din Daeng Intersection

IMG 0085 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

IMG 0086 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

Extinguishing fire in building next to Bangkok Bank, Din Daeng

din daeng bangkok thailand

IMG 0098 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

The whole situation felt like a ground zero after a pretty large explosion and the putrid smoke was highly irritating.  The building next to the Bangkok Bank was being extinguished by firefighters as people looked on.  Motorcycle taxi’s were still transporting people around and probably making a fortune in the eerie area.  Though personally didn’t feel in danger, it was a situation that looked like something could go down.

IMG 0117 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

An eerie place to be under the Din Daeng highway

I ducked down Ratchawithi Soi 2 to see what was going on.  A few men were scrouched in the corner with a pair of binoculars and smoking cigarettes.  They informed me that there were army snipers waiting in the three big surrounding buildings, Century Park Hotel, Rajaparop Tower Mansion, and a building under construction.  They said that the snipers were waiting for a few “wanted” men, hiding under the bridge or other objects.  That put a quick shiver down my spine and I decided not to hang around for too long.  The men motioned to have a quick peek and then to leave, which I did, not actually seeing much.

IMG 0120 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

Hiding under the bridge

IMG 0123 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

Snipers in the building above

This is the peek I took in an attempt to see the snipers in the buildings.

IMG 0061 Ground Zero in Bangkok, Din Daeng, 18 May 2010

It was quite sad to see Din Daeng in turmoil and tense, a place I had grown to love.  One of my favorite som tam carts religiously set up every night right at the intersection which is now in rambles.  The places my friends and I use to freely walk, eat great food, and joke around, is now an unstable territory of destruciton.

My friends and I are all safe and sound, staying in areas away from the centralized violence now.  In most of Bangkok, life is almost completely normal.  It’s still easy to walk outside, eat a mess of street food, shop at the local market, and very safely walk around on the streets.  Life is still normal in a lot of Bangkok, without any reason for concern or worry.

Not sure how the situation will continue in Bangkok, Thailand, but I along with others, pray and hope that a negotiation can be made to  resolve this conflict with peace.

-Migration Mark

Amphawa Floating Market: The Ultimate Bouyant Utopia

Monday, May 17th, 2010

Amphawa Floating Market is a Thai amusement park thrill ride for the stomach, eye sight, and all other human organs.  The brilliant array of sounds, smells, tastes, and sights, are a mind rushing and energizing display of Thai culture at it’s finest.  In the world of Bangkok that so caters to the Western tourist, Amphawa is still very much a local Thai oriented market.  It can be a relief to know that everything displayed is not just a show to please foreigners, but more to enthrall Bangkok residents on a weekend outing.

amphawa floating market thailand

What It Is:

The sleepy canal in the town of Samut Songkhram, Thailand, is revved into full gear on the weekends to become the utopian Amphawa Floating Market.  It is dotted with boutiques selling clothes, restaurants serving eloquent treats, woks producing unworldly aromas, and people baby stepping from stall to stall, following their noses or lust of shopping.  Floating in the canal are numerous wooden boats all weighted down with food and produce, propane tanks, and all other cooking accessories necessary for a self sufficient boat bobbing eatery.  Each boat owner proudly specializes in their own particular Thai food and delivers an immaculate dish right off the wake.  Browsing the colorful and artistic scene of helter-skelter is like being part of a modern ready-made piece of artwork or a drama that was well rehearsed.

amphawa floating market thailand

amphawa floating market Amphawa Floating Market: The Ultimate Bouyant Utopia

What to Eat:

The food quality along with the vibrant ambiance is more than enough to be considered a 3 Star Michelin heaven.  Sitting on bleachers similar to a baseball game among the chaos of fans, the scene is comfortable to order must eat Thai foods like hoy tod, pad thai (15 BHT), som tam (15 BHT), guay teow noodles (15 BHT), and a selection of perfectly roasted seafood.  I awarded myself with a winning plate of tender lip licking squid (100 BHT).  The accompanying sauce was an outstanding combination of lime, chili, and garlic, that dressed the squid in an exciting flavor and made me gasp and uncontrollably groan with “awwwwwww!”

squid amphawa floating market

amphawa floating market thailand

Interesting Observation:

One of the most interesting things to watch at Amphawa Floating Market is the movement of food and money from boat vendor to server, then to customers, and vice versa.  The boaters who happen to be jammed in the middle or on the outer edges of the heavenly floating blob are forced to use a lengthy bamboo pole with a plate attached to the end.  This genius pole and plate device is used to deliver food as well as bring back the earnings.

amphawa market floating Amphawa Floating Market: The Ultimate Bouyant Utopia

amphawa night market Amphawa Floating Market: The Ultimate Bouyant Utopia

By the way, don’t forget to sing a bone chilling, window breaking, karaoke track at one of the stations set up along the canal to the hundreds of unfortunate listeners.  I can say one thing, if the food wasn’t so good, the singers would be in a lot more trouble.

karaoke amphawa floating market Amphawa Floating Market: The Ultimate Bouyant Utopia

Information about Amphawa Floating Market

Open: Friday, Saturday and Sunday, from around 12.00 noon to 8.00 pm

Getting There: The market is located about 1.5 hours away from Bangkok in Samut Songkhram Province.  The easiest way to get there is to organzie the excursion with a Thai friend who has transportation.  If that is not possible, a taxi or van can be hired for about 1000 or 1500 BHT to take your group there and wait on you.  Not too bad of a price when you divide the cost.  Lastly, it is possible to take a public van from around Victory Monument in Bangkok to the town of Samut Songkhram, and then walk and ask around to find the floating market.

-Migration Mark

Sippin on Saliva: Bird’s Nest Soup

Friday, May 14th, 2010

Name: Bird’s Nest Soup (Rang Nok)

Location: Yaowarat Chinatown in Bangkok, Thailand

Cost: 200 THB (6.21 USD) for the cheapest bowl

bird's nest soup bangkok thailand

bird's nest soup bangkok thailand

bird's nest soup bangkok

It’s not everyday that you get to recline on yellow sofas surrounded by jars of illuminated spit, get spoiled by your waitress, and sip on the finest Swift saliva.  Well, actually, we got the cheapest bowl possible, but it was still a great foodie experience.  Swift nest’s are formed by the birds regurgitating their spit and letting it harden.  Depending on the quality, bird’s nest can fetch anywhere from about $5 to $1000 per bowl.   After eating over 100 Thai foods, bird’s nest soup was actually dreadfully plain.  However, if the purposed health benefits like curing lungs, boosting blood circulation, rejuvenating the skin, warding off tuberculosis, helping people recover from giving birth, and not to mention it’s aphrodisiac effects, the lack of flavor is hardly to complain about, right???  The waitress cracked a raw egg into our soup, splashed in a hint of honey, and told us to eat it with the small water chestnuts provided.  Yes, this is by far the most I’ve paid per bite of food in Bangkok, and, No, I probably won’t buy it again, but it was a high society experience that left me feeling like a culinary pro!

-Migration Mark

Exciting and Attractive People Playing: The Real Songkran Festival in Thailand

Tuesday, April 6th, 2010

The Songkran Festival in Thailand (traditional Thai New Years) is the biggest and most sought after holiday on the Thai calendar.  Songkran is usually thought of as a few inebriated day of throwing buckets of water and shooting water guns where everyone is a target.  However, with 66 million Thai inhabitants, there must be a bigger picture, so I turned to 27 of my Thai students to get a more local picture of what characterizes Songkran.

Tallying the results and analyzing the trends I came up with a single sentence that I think sums up what the Songkran Festival is for many Thai people.  Songkran is a long holiday to spend time being happy and excited with family and friends, respecting elders, going to the temple, playing with water, and eating seafood. Below are the results with what I think are the most interesting answers, followed by the highest number of responses.   I will let the interviews speak for themselves and hope you enjoy!

Songkran Festival Thailand

photo courtesy of Takeaway

“Best Holiday in Thailand” – 18 of 27 Students think that the Songkran Festival is the best holiday in Thailand.

1.  What is the first thought that comes to mind when you think of “Songkran”?

exciting and attractive people playing, water wet laugh, funny wet enjoy, water (5), happy (2), exciting (2), visit my family (2), water funny, water festival, water in Silom, water and friends, water and people, hot, fantastic, exciting water, happy relaxation, don’t work, long holiday, time to relax

2.  Do you mostly spend time with family or friends?

family (18), both (5), friends (4),

3.  What is the Songkran Festival for you?

a time for me to get wet, enjoy people in Thailand, it’s time for family, go out and eat at some restaurants, meet my family (10), play water with my friends (4), have a party with my family (3), a time relax (3), drink, a time that I go to my house, a time to see movies

4.  What kind of food does your family usually eat for Songkran?

Thai food (my grandma cooks for everyone!), ice drinks, ice cream, Thai food and perhaps some alcohol, seafood (12), Chinese food (3),  pizza (2), many kinds of soup (2), seafood- crab/shrimp/squid, Issan food, grilled seafood, roasted chicken, tomyum gung, same food as usual, suki yaki, noodles, som tam

5.  What is your favorite thing about Songkran?

i’m soaked, everyone is happy, put the water with water gun to people, shooting water guns and eating seafood, playing water (6), visiting my family (2), playing water with friends (2), stay home and play games, going everywhere in Bangkok, walk on Khao San road, go to the temple, meet new people, going back home enjoying the long weekend, go out with friends, holiday to relax

6.  Do you or your family have any traditions?

build sand castle at temple (old Thai tradition), go to the temple (17), anoint parents and grandparents (5), anoint Buddha (4), give foods to monks (2), go to grandmothers house on first day (2), stay at home and make dinner, talk to each other, go to the beach, drink wine with my family, visit relatives, make merit, have lunch together, go to the sea

An interesting tradition that one of my students mentioned is the annual sand castle (pagoda) building at the temple.  Though not all temples hold to this custom, some families still go to build an intricate sand castle to make merit.  You can read more here.

7.  Where is the best place in Thailand to spend Songkran?

Bangkok/Chiang Mai-more funny people, anywhere- because Thai people are really happy for the long weekend, Chiang Mai (6), Silom, Bangkok (4), Temple (3), Pattaya (3), Khao San Road (2), Koh Samui, Hua Hin, Auksa road, Koh Chang, Serom road, anywhere up country

-Migration Mark

Chinese New Years in Bangkok Yaowarat

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

No shower, check, no house cleaning, check, no bad thoughts or words, check, no hair cut, (haven’t in 15 months) check, engorge on delicious foods, check … WOW, Chinese New Years in Thailand is starting to sound a lot like my daily routine… in fact, I barely have to change anything.

With the Chinese influence in Thailand, being in Bangkok, and my half Chinese American-ism, there was tremendous reason to celebrate 2010 as the year of the Tiger on Feb 14th  and 15th, 2010.

Chinese Temple Yaowarat Chinatown Bangkok

Chinatown Yaowarat in Bangkok

I took the initiative to ask a few of my English students and Thai friends some of the most important aspects and traditions of Chinese New Years in Thailand.  Many said that it is a crucial time to see family and especially visit elderly relatives.

Some Notable Traditions for Thai Chinese New Years:

  • Don’t wash hair/Don’t cut hair- you might wash away anything good for the year
  • No house cleaning- you might clean out the wealth for the year
  • No bad thoughts/ No cursing- will cause you to say nice things for the whole year and nice things will happen to you
  • Wear new and colorful (red) clothes- because you want new things during the year and a fresh start
  • Eat chicken or duck- you should simply eat chicken or duck or maybe fish because it’s delicious and it symbolizes prosperity

One of my students said that every Chinese New Years was a time when he and his entire family would gamble with small amounts of money.  Whoever won, would then be lucky for the rest of the year. Gambling however, was not allowed in his family except on this day.

Another friend mentioned that her family kept the lights on in the house throughout the night.  This tradition symbolizes a want for everything to be bright and clear the entire year.

Hong Bao is the New Years tradition that illuminated the faces of my students the most.  Give (invest) bright colored oranges to older relatives to pay respect, and then hope for a big monetary return.  Hong Bao is the tradition where the job holders or elderly give monetary gifts to the children or non workers of the family in a red Chinese envelope.   From their emotions, some of my students seemed to have done pretty well in the past.  You should normally spend most of the money given within the next few days.

Yaowarat Chinatown in Bangkok

Crowds at Chinese New Years Bangkok

On Sunday the 14th or February, I managed my way to Yaowarat (Bangkok Chinatown) to check out the festivities and more importantly partake of most things I saw.  The raod was shut from motor traffic and a stampede of humans were tip toe-ing and shoving to gain ground with aimless direction.  No one seemed to actually know where they were going, yet everyone was mingling in nonsense.

Snacks in Yaowarat Chinatown Bangkok

Snacks in Yaowarat Chinatown Bangkok

As the everlasting herded crowds were focusing on parades including the Princess, cheering to drumming dragon dances, and shopping at street stalls, my wonderful friends and I nestled into a 2nd floor restaurant to fulfill the final Chinese New Years vow; Delicious Food.

You should normally eat boiled chicken, however, duck, goose, and fish, are also acceptable  for gaining prosperity.    Dim Sum (steamed dumplings) as well as Sala Pao (steamed buns with pork inside) are also poplar menu items to munch.  To my relief Soup Number 5 is not a requirement!

Thai Lemon Snapper blah kah pung manow

Thai Lemon Sizzling Snapper

Our order was traditional Thai with Chinese influences.  The main event was a fashionable steamed Snapper swimming in boiling lemon and chili sauce (plah ka pung neung manow), with a few stunner companions consisting of Thai egg curry with squid (pad pongali plahmuk), oyster omellette on a hot plate (plasawan), stir fried morning glory (pad pak bung), and of course large bowls of steamed rice.

Yaowarat Chinatown restaurant

Peering Off the 2nd Floor at the Restaurant

Beyond satisfied and perspiring waterfalls, it was necessary to challenge the swarms and head back across Bangkok for some rest and relaxation.

-Migration Mark

How to Get From Bangkok to Angkor Wat

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010
CambodiaEntrance How to Get From Bangkok to Angkor Wat

Cambodia Border Entrance


1.  Mo Chit Station- Bangkok

Start at Mo Chit Station- Bangkok’s Northern bus terminal.  Take a bus to Aranyaprathet that departs every 30 minutes starting at about 4 am for the price of around 200 baht (US $6).  Bus takes about 4 hours

2.   Rongklua Market- Border

The bus will either take you all the way to the border or it will drop you in town and you will need to spend less than 100 baht (US $3) on a tuk tuk to the actual border at Rongklua Market

CAUTION: If you take a tuk tuk, don’t let the driver take you to a middle man to get your visa.  Go all the way to the border and get it officially so you don’t get ripped off.  Insist that the tuk tuk takes you to the border, if the tuk tuk tries to stop at a visa service, tell him to continue onwards. 

3.  Border Crossing 

Handle Thai immigration and walk through the Cambodian arch and finish the paperwork and payment of US $20 for a Cambodian Visa (have some US $ on you). You will then be lead to a FREE government shuttle bus (hassle free) which will take you a few kilometers into Poipet to the tourist taxi and bus station. 

The choice of transportation to Siem Reap is either bus or private taxi.  The bus usually costs $8 per person while the taxi costs $12 per person.  However, the buses are rather infrequent with one in the morning and one in the evening.  If you have a group, kindly finagle a taxi and strike a deal.  Joining with a few other travelers, we were able to get a taxi for 5 for US $40, splitting the cost.  You kind of need to haggle a deal  but will probably pay somewhere around $10 per person

4.  Poipet to Siem Reap

The 2 hour taxi ride will take you into the town of Siem Reap where most likely it will drop you off at a tuk tuk stop where all kinds of middle men will try to give you a free ride to a guest house in an effort to sell you a tuk tuk for the next day and make a commission on the guest house.  We were taken to the decent Green Town Guest House and accepted the offer, though you have NO obligation.  The tuk tuk driver will also attempt to get work for the next day by offering to take you to tour the temples, in my opinion not a bad offer.  If you want nothing to do with their services, kindly ask them to take you to your guest house of hotel of choice.

5.  Siem Reap Tuk Tuk

To hire a tuk tuk for an entire day of temple hopping should cost about US $12. Haggle a little and eventually reach a similar price. 

OVERVIEW: The transportation from Bangkok to Siem Reap takes approximately 7 hours and costs approximately US $15-20 with very little pain and not too much effort. 


I would recommend leaving Mo Chit bus station at about 6 am.  If you arrive in Siem Reap in the afternoon you can purchase a single day ticket ($20) to the temples at 5 pm.  This allows you to see the sunset and have the entire following day at the same cost and then maximize 24 Hours at Angkor Wat Temples.  We organized a tuk tuk for the first evening and the entire following day for $14 and had an outstanding trip!

-Migration Mark