Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Erawan Shrine - The Four-Faced Buddha - Bangkok

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The Erawan Shrine (Thai: ศาลพระพรหม, San Phra Phrom) or Thao Mahaprom Shrine is a Hindu shrine in Bangkok, Thailand, that houses a statue of Phra Phrom, the Thai representation of the Hindu creation god Brahma, who is regarded in Thai culture as a deity of good fortune and protection.

Erawan Shrine at Bangkok
Worshipers of Phra Phrom usually offer incense, candles, jasmine flowers or jasmine garlands and young coconut milk (with water in them) in their worship, usually placing these offerings before all four heads of Phra Phrom, each head representing a different aspect of the deity; it is believed each side of Phra Phrom offers different blessings. Another common way of worship is to place wooden elephant statues on the altar to honor him.

Worshipers of Phra Phrom
The shrine is located by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, at the Ratchaprasong intersection of Ratchadamri Road in Pathum Wan district, Bangkok, Thailand. It is near the Bangkok Skytrain's Chitlom Station, which has an elevated walkway overlooking the shrine. The area has many shopping malls nearby, including Gaysorn, CentralWorld and Amarin Plaza.

worshiper at Four Faces Buddha Bangkok
The Erawan Shrine was built in 1956 as part of the government-owned Erawan Hotel to eliminate the bad karma believed caused by laying the foundations on the wrong date.  The hotel's construction was delayed by a series of mishaps, including cost overruns, injuries to laborers, and the loss of a shipload of Italian marble intended for the building. Furthermore, the Ratchaprasong Intersection had once been used to put criminals on public display.

An astrologer advised building the shrine to counter the negative influences. The Brahma statue was designed and built by the Department of Fine Arts and enshrined on 9 November 1956. The hotel's construction thereafter proceeded without further incident. In 1987, the hotel was demolished and the site used for the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel.

Phra Phrom is also known to admire Thai classical music, which is played near larger scale outdoor altars, accompanied by  dancers. At The Erawan Shrine, A popular tourist attraction often features performances by resident Thai dance troupes, who are hired by worshipers in return for seeing their prayers at the shrine answered.

dancer ready to perform
Worshipers of Phra Phrom are also usually advised to abstain from consuming meat. It is also believed that worshipers have to make good on any promises made to the deity else misfortune will befall them instead of the fortune that was asked for.

Thai dancers at Erawan Shrine Bangkok
On 21 March 2006, a man vandalized the shrine and was killed by bystanders. However, two months after the incident a new Brahma statue was completed and placed in the shrine on 21 May 2006

Phra Phrom is colloquially known outside Thailand as the four-faced Buddha (四面佛, Sìmiàn fó) by overseas Chinese worshipers, especially in Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan where worship of Phra Phrom is popular.

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Monday, November 4, 2013

Chatuchak weekend Market - Everything is on here

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The Chatuchak (or Jatujak; Thai: : จตุจักร) weekend market in Bangkok is the largest market in Thailand and the world's largest weekend market. Frequently is called J.J. It has reached a landmark status as a must-go place for tourists. Its sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise will bring any seasoned shoppers to their knees. This is where you can literally shop ‘till you drop’. The local brochure says 1 in 1,000 places to see before you die.

art and home decoration stall at Chatuchak market
The Chatuchak  market covers over 35 acres (0.14 km²) and contains upwards of 15,000 stalls. It is estimated at the market receives 200,000 visitors each day. Most stalls only open on Saturdays and Sundays though Jatujak Plaza, the western section is open daily.

cool staffs at Chatuchak market
The Chatuchak Market is definitely a worthwhile experience for those looking to buy just about anything from household items, clothing, Thai handicrafts, religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, live animals, to souvenirs for folks back home. You name it and you can find it here. For tourists, there are a number of onsite companies who will send purchases abroad.

colorful flower decoration at Jatujak market
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the perfect place for bargain hunting. Brush up your negotiation skills and be prepared to walk away when the deal fails to go your way. It also helps to do a few practice runs before you actually start buying. Note that a friendly attitude and big smile are your biggest allies in securing the best possible deal. Then, you’ll either be offered a lower price or simply find the same merchandise at another stall. Although whatever you buy here is probably no longer the best deal you can find, but you can use the average price for the same item at several stall as a best deal price.

lamps and accessories stall at Chatuchak Market
You can save your time if you know exactly what you want or which stall to go to. However, many expect to be surprised and let the sights of all the goods take them through a journey down the maze of stalls. Most often, shoppers arrive with a rough idea of what they want, then are hypnotized by what they see and end up going home with more than a few extra shopping items.

gate 1 chatuchak weekend market
Alleys are number and in sections, however what they say is in the section isn't always consistent with what is there. Here is the list of stall at Jatujak market with section number .

1. Miscellaneous & secondhand clothes
2. Trees & Home Furniture
3. Trees & accessories
4. Home furniture
5. Handicraft & Miscellaneous
6. Pets and animals accessories
7. Trees and gardening accessories
8.    Arts and crafts. Clothing & wickerwork
9.    Pets and wickerwork
10. Handicraft, clothing and miscellaneous
11. Wickerwork and ceramics
12. Dried food, hiking equipment and clothing
13. Pets and animals accessories
14. Clothing, hiking equipment and leather
15. Food and drink, clothing and miscellaneous
16. Food and drink, clothing and miscellaneous
17. Food and drink, ceramic and furniture
18. Clothing, food and drink
19. Dried food, gift and benjarong
20. Clothing, gift and hiking equipment
21. Clothing, shoes and miscellaneous
22. Food and drink, clothing and miscellaneous
23. Food and drink, clothing and miscellaneous
24. Trees & agricultural equipment
25. Handicraft, antiques & collectibles
26. Antiques, dried food & clothing
27. Food & drink, book & miscellaneous

Map of Chatucak

Jatujak market map
Here is some tips:
  • Remember this is a weekend market so if you are in Bangkok on Saturday or Sunday, this makes a great shopping attraction to consider
  • A lot of stalls also have fans or even aircon, so you can strategically plan your purchases with nice free cooling. The air-conditioned JJ Mall next to it is worth checking out, lots of small shops selling interesting things.
  • Food & drinks available all over and exchange office at all entrances! Bottled water was only 10 baht so no worries there. Coconut ice cream, fried chicken, coconut water, shrimps, durian sticky rice, pineapple ginger smoothies, Wanton Noodles.....everything delicious. You can also find Chatuchak a prominent place to find skilled Thai iced tea makers practicing their trade.

Resto at Chatuchak Market
  • Be advised that if you make an offer, be prepared to pay. If you back off you will create a tense situation.
  • It is very hot in the market due to enclosed areas, due to lack of ventilation. Dress in cool clothing, and take it easy, even if you get excited about all of the stuff you can buy
  • There are many pick pockets and petty thieves watching, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. The local said theft is common here!
art and antique stall
  • Go as early as you can as it does get hot and very crowded (risking missing most shops if they are not opened) or late afternoon so at that time local sellers also joins as a street vendors and they are much cheapers in the rates.
  • When you get tired or hungry there are lots of stalls where you can sit and eat or you can go next door to the Railway Park which has lots of benches to sit on. Try foot massage for 100 baht!
foot massage at chatuchak market
  • The BTS stops right at Chatuchak and is probably the easiest way of getting there.. My favorite sections were the art area and the housewares/furniture area. Each vendor had unique pieces in these areas
  • Bring a few empty big shopping bags & and haggle away!
T-Shirt for souvenir
  • This is a place where you can't find any honey with your credit card. and it can be a long walk to the next ATM. Money changer is quite crowded so get your Baht ready.
  • Protect yourself against the sun, by wearing sunglasses, a hat and use sunscreen
  • Make sure you get a map at one of the entrances. If you venture right into the centre of the markets where you can find pets, ducks, chickens etc. it may take you a little while to find your way back without a map.

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The world’s largest aquarium of S.E.A Aquarium Singapore

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S.E.A Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium accredited by GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™. It contains a total of 45,000,000 liters of water for more than 100,000 marine animals of over 800 species. The aquarium comprises 10 zones with 49 habitats. The centerpiece of the Aquarium is the Open Ocean tank with more than 18,000,000 and 50,000 animals. It has the world's largest viewing panel, 36-metre wide and 8.3-metre tall, which is intended to give visitors the feeling of being on the ocean floor.

colorful fishes and corals
The S.E.A Aquarium has a collection of manta rays, including the only giant oceanic manta ray in captivity. It also houses scalloped hammerhead sharks, Indo-Pacific bottlenose dolphins, the Japanese spider crab, including the guitarfish, the chambered nautilus, enormous goliath grouper, napoleon wrasse, and other gentle giants of the sea

You can find over 200 sharks and uncover the of myths about these ocean predators. Sneak a peek at a moray eel in a rocky crevice or tour an underwater reef community. Discover and unfold the endless wonders of our blue planet at S.E.A. Aquarium.

Here some thematic aquarium you can find out when walking trough it.

Strait of Karimata & Java Sea
You can endeavor through the fascinating world beneath the Strait of Karimata that located on the lower-eastern side of Sumatra. It is astounded by a shipwreck with a splintered hull that has evolved into a marine habitat.

Here, you can see how squadrons of pompano, threadfin trevally and batfish and other marine animals such as goliath grouper and Napoleon wrasse seek refuge within and near the shipwreck as they cruise through the waters of the Java Sea.

From once carrying treasures across the ocean, to now harbouring the ocean’s marine life treasures, shipwrecks continue to shape the world beneath the oceans and seas.

Strait of Malacca & Andaman Sea
You can continue walking across a floor of glass to underwater journey through the Strait of Malacca and the Andaman and watch the predators and other ocean denizens swim right beneath your feet.

a floor of glass

Further ahead, you can explore the waters of Singapore and sea-grass habitats of Malacca, home to lively leopard and blue flasher wrasses.

Here, your children will find an interactive learning experience about  sea cucumber,  the knobbly sea star, pencil sea urchin and more at Discovery Touch Pool.

Bay of Bengal & Laccadive Sea
Walk further, you will discover the mysteries of the Sundarbans Mangrove, home to a myriad of endangered plants and animals found along the coast of the Bay of Bengal.  You will see mangrove inhabitants such as spotted scats, mudskippers, silver batfish and archerfish that use the mangrove tree roots as nesting and nursery areas.

Around the corner, note on curious spotted garden eels popping in and out of their sand burrows and “find Nemo” as well as white-rayed antenna gobies, long-nose hawkfish,  reef lobsters  and other jewels of the Coral Reef.

coral reef and colorful fishes
Further along, there are the Patch Reef of Brain Corals and majestic Staghorn Corals, leading to a reef drop similar to those found in the Laccadive Sea, crawling with unique fish species such as yellowface angelfish,  the queen angelfish and others.

Ocean Journey
As you make your way further, you will see indo-pacific bottlenose dolphins. You can learn the surprising facts about these speedy swimmers as they enthrall you with their underwater grace and prowess.

bottlenose dolphin at sea aquarium

You can find out too the cool marine life in the Cold Water habitats such as chambered nautilus, giant spider crab and other unique species.  There are the electrifying pulsating dances of the translucent sea jelly species too such as long-tentacled lion’s mane sea jelly, neon blue sea jelly and the larger-than-life moon sea jelly.

 sea jelly
Open Ocean
It calls open ocean since there are diverse collections of marine life here.  This magical realm is home to gentle giants of the sea including the leopard shark, goliath grouper, saw fish, mahi mahi and a squadron of magnificent manta rays.

 goliath grouper

More Tips
  • Better to purchase the entrance tickets online to avoid the long queue. 
  • Try to plan your trip at weekdays. This would prevent long Queue at the entrance
  • If you buy tickets there, show your passport  and you will receive a tourist discount
  • There is a food court in the main entrance, but there are not a lot of choices.  As you walk through the resort of Santosa, there are plenty of local and well known food outlets before reaching the Aquarium. 

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