Saturday, May 31, 2008

Pattani:Pattani was very famous in the old days

Pattani was very famous in the old days as a town having a woman ruler. The biggest cannon, ever caste in Thailand, was been caste here and was named Nang (Phraya Tani). The central mosque there is the most beautiful one in the southern Region which is the center for Thai Moslems. Other outstanding places are Wat Chang Hai, the monastery where Luang Po Tuat lived. It is on the campus of Songkhla Nakharin University.

Pattani is located 1,055 kms. from Bangkok on the coast of the South China Sea. It occupyies an area of 1,377 square kilometers. The province is administratively divided into 11 Amphoes and 1 King Amphoe. They are Muang, Khok Pho, Mayo, Nong Chik, Panare, Sai Buri, Yarang, Yaring, Thung Yang Daeng, Mai Kaen, Kapho and King Amphoe Mae Lan. The generally the area is a low basin suitable for cultivation, bordering on Songkhla to the north, Narathiwat to the south, the Gulf of Thailand to the east and Yala to the west.

What to see and what to do in Pattani?

Som Det Phra Si Nakharin Park is a new public park located on the left side of Pattani River, in Tambon Rusamilae, 1 km. from town.

Pattani Central Mosque is the place where religious ceremonies are performed by Thai Moslems. The mosque is located on the outskirts of Pattani on Pattani-Yala Highway. It is the most beautiful and largest in Thailand.

Institute of Arts and Culture is located in Prince of Songkhla University, Pattani Campus. Collected in its museum are documents, artifacts and objects of art such as, images of Buddha, votive tablets, coins and local handicrafts. The museum is open from 9:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Pak Nam Pattani is a 3 km distance from town. There is a big fishing village. Thousands of coconut trees line the beach like in Hat Bang Nara, Narathiwat. This beach, within this vast space Songkhla Nakharin University,is suitable for afternoon relaxation.

Wat Chang Hai is well known as the wat that belonged to Luang Pho Tuat. Respected by people from all over the country, it is located on Khok Pho-Yala Road on a 1 km. access road.

Sai Khao Waterfall National Park is accessible via a 6 kms. access road branching off the Khok Pho-Yala Highway. The area is a beautiful, pleasant arboretum having a stream running from the falls through beautiful scenery.

Prasat Nang Phomhom Forest Park is located in Tambon Pithen, King Amphoe Thung Yang Daeng, 52 kms. from Pattani township. In the park, there is a small waterfall which is good to visit between November and December.
In addition, Pattani has many other beautiful beaches, such as, Hat Khae Khae, Hat Panare, Hat Chalalai, Hat Ratcharak, (all in Amphoe Panare) Hat Patatimo or Hat Wasukri, (in Amphoe Sai Buri) Hat Talokapo and Laem Tachi (in Amphoe Yaring).
Furthermore, there are waterfall, such as, Phong Phong and Aranyawariti, which are located in Amphoe Khok Pho.


Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo Fair This festival falls in February - March every year.
Chao Mae Lim Ko Nieo, a goodness believed to possess potent magic powers, is revered in Pattani and other provinces of the far south. This annual fair pays homage to her and features ascetics able to perform extraordinary feats of endurance, as well as, a lively procession of devotees through the provincial capital.

Pattani is an east-coast province in the south, adjacent to the Gulf of Thailand, with the area of approximately 1,940 square kilometres. There are two major rivers: Tani and Sai Buri. Being a civilized town in the past, the present Pattani still maintains some ruined ancient town in Amphoe Yarang. Due to its mountainous area and long seashore of about 170 kilometres, Pattani has been an important port and the centre of the administration, trading, and culture. There are several tourism resources of nature, historical ancient places, and traditional culture which have been the integration of Thai, Chinese and Islam.

Pattani is administratively divided into 12 Amphoe: Mueang Pattani, Yarang, Nong Chik, Khok Pho, Yaring, Panare, Mayo, Sai Buri, Kapho, Mai Kaen, Thung Yang Daeng, and Mae Lan.

General Information

Boundary
North: Songkhla
South: Narathiwat and Yala
West: Yala and Songkhla
East: Gulf of Thailand.

How to get there
Car
Pattani is about 1,055 kilometres from Bangkok. Visitors can use highway no.35 (Thon buri - Pak Tho) for about 90 kilometres, then turn left to highway no.4 to Chumphon for about 460 kilometres. After that, use highway no.41 or 42 pass Surat Thani, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Songkhla, Pak-nam Thepa to Pattani. The total distance is around 505 kilometres.

Bus
There are service of regular and air-conditioned buses of Transport Co., Ltd. The buses leave from the Southern Bus Terminal to Pattani every day.
For more details, call 0 2435 1119 and 0 2434 5557-8 or visit www.transport.co.th.

Train
From Hua Lamphong Station, there are both express and rapid trains to Pattani (Khok Pho) Station everyday. For more details, contact Service Unit at Tel:1690, 0 2223 7010 and 0 2223 7020.

From Pattani Station, buses and taxis are available between Khok Pho and Amphoe Mueang which takes about 29 kilometres.

Plane
There is no direct flight to Pattani. Visitors need to travel to Hat Yai (Thai Airways International provided round-trip shuttle bus (Hat Yai-Pattani) twice daily free-of-charge for passengers who make the reservation in advance). Alternatively, visitors can use regular bus or taxi from Hat Yai to Pattani for about 104 kilometres and traveling time is approximately one hour and a half. Flight information can be requested at Tel: 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 or at Pattani Office Tel: 0 7333 5938.

Festivals
Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao Fair
This fair is celebrated annually 15 days after Chinese New Year. Highlighting the event is the procession to carry the wooden sculpture of Chao Mae Lim Ko Niao-a goddess which is respected by the Chinese in Pattani. This annual fair also features extraordinary arts of endurance such as walking on fire. Before joining the festival for 7 days, participants of the fair need to be vegetarians by having no-meat food at least 7 days before the festival. Normally, the fair is celebrated widely by the people of Pattani and of nearby provinces.

Fishing Sports in Sai Buri
The event is annually held on the second weekend of May at Hat Wasukri, Amphoe Sai Buri. Due to the long coast and the great amount of a variety of fish, this sport has become very popular and exciting.


Read More

Friday, May 30, 2008

Koh Tao : Tao Island


The most famous southern province in the Gulf of Thailand, Surat Thani has several world famous islands under its territory; namely Koh Samui, Koh Phangan, Ang Thong archipelagos, Koh Tao and Koh Nang Yuan. The last two are best known among intrepid travellers as the best dive site in the gulf of Thailand.

Located around 120 kilometres from the Surat Thani coast, Koh Tao and neighbouring Koh Nang Yuan, occupy an area of almost 18 square kilometers. With mountains and rocky cliffs accounting for 70% of its land area, the island has eight kilometers of coral reefs around its coast. The island’s half-moon-shaped western coast is where most of the beaches are found.

Dotted in and around Koh Tao’s 11 bays and 10 rocky headlands are many, picturesque beaches: some long and sandy like Had Sai Ree, Had Mai Had, Chaloke Ban Kao Bay; others with smaller, rockier beaches.

Acclaimed to be the best dive location in the Gulf of Thailand, tourists tend to make diving their first priority as soon as they arrive on Koh Tao. It’s not surprising therefore that each year Koh Tao’s dive school turns out a number of proficient divers from around the world.

If you are looking for an alternative to diving, you might enjoy exploring the island, and swimming from its many beaches, or kayaking, or climbing hills to check out the vistas from numerous viewpoints. Alternatively, you can take a tour to its nearby islands of Nang Yuan, which is only 15 minute away by local boats.

Getting to Koh Tao

Despite being part of Surat Thani Province, it’s more convenient and faster to go to Koh Tao from Chumphon Province. The island is only one hour ride on a high-speed catamaran from Ao Makham Noi Pier in Chumphon - a speed boat from Koh Samui takes you around 3 hours to get to Koh Tao. Nowadays, more travelers choose Chumphon as their starting-off point.

Beaches on Koh Tao

Western Beaches
Koh Tao’s west coast is the focal point for transportation, the site of the main port of Had Mae Had, and where to find accommodation, restaurants, shops, bars, access to the Internet, and road links to all other parts of the island. This is the jumping-off point to visit all the other beaches on Koh Tao.

West coast beaches are the most popular among visitors, especially Had Sai Ree and Had Mae Had where there is greater activity than on the other, smaller and quieter western beaches; however all are great vantage points from which to watch spectacular sunsets.

There is a choice of different styles of accommodation on the west coat of Koh Tao, ranging from inexpensive cottages to fully furnished lodging houses, along the beachfront and on hillsides.

Mae Had Beach (Had Mae Had)
Situated on the western side of Koh Tao, Had Mae Had is the first point of contact on the island, and Koh Tao’s “front gate”. The beach area is the center of transportation for traveling around the entire island offering taxi-buses, rental cars, speedboats and motor launches for diving, fishing or crossing to the neighboring island of Koh Nang Yuan.

As the island’s focal point, Had Mae Had has all the facilities sought by tourists including variously priced accommodation, restaurants, shops, banks, Internet service, pubs, bars, and gas stations.

Although a port, Had Mae Had is still a fair spot for swimming, with its one-kilometer beach of yellowy-red sand. But with much of the area covered in resorts and restaurants, beach space is at a premium. At the southern end of the beach, there is a strange looking pile of rocks from where visitors can walk to Ao Ta Saeng.

This beach is a favorite spot with tourists who stroll around till sunset and then explore the shops and bars and absorb the lively, nighttime atmosphere. There is ample accommodation lined up from the port to the southern end of the beach.

Sai Ree Beach (Had Sai Ree)
Sai Ree Beach or Had Sai Ree is on the west coast, north of Had Mae Had. At two kilometers in length, Had Sai Ree is Koh Tao’s longest beach, separated from Had Mae Had by a rocky escarpment. Its red-brown sandy beach, which enjoys shaded spots from coconut trees and pine trees, is suitable and safe for swimming and sunbathing. Although this long beach attracts more visitors than others, there is no sense of overcrowding.

The hills behind Had Sai Ree contain a number of interesting viewing points. The hills aren’t steep, but visitors should take along a skilful and experienced driver.

Tourists can go by motorcycle or catch a taxi-bus from Had Mae Had to Had Sai Ree, which is about two kilometers away after a left turn to go north, at Had Mae Had junction. Visitors who rent motorcycles should take the beach route to Had Sai Ree to absorb the nature and beautiful scenery.

Yai Nee Cape (Laem Yai Nee)
Located on the northwest coast north of Had Sai Ree, Laem Yai Nee is an excellent location from which to view sunsets because the sun goes down right between the sandbars joining the three islets that make up Koh Nang Yuan. For the most spectacular results, go there between March and April.

On the way to Laem Yai Nee there’s a small beach called Ao Ta Sak where visitors can walk on the beach or take a swim. Nearby Ao Ta Ten does not have a beach and is accessible only by boat.

Chan Som Bay (Ao Chan Som)
Ao Chan Som is on the western side of Koh Tao, south of Had Mae Had. It is a small bay accessible only on foot or by boat. It’s possible to catch a glimpse of many species of wild animals along the path leading to the seaside, at the end of which is a white, sandy beach suitable for swimming and snorkeling. There are also excellent viewpoints looking over the whole bay.

Jutting out into the sea is a raft-house built by the owners of the a cottage resort for guests to relax or sunbathe, with a restaurant and drinks stand on the beach. Non-guests of the cottage are welcome to use this private beach by purchasing a 100-baht coupon for snacks, drinks and a sun bed.

Ma Muang Bay (Ao Ma Muang)
Accessible by motorboat only, Ao Ma Muang is on the north coast of Koh Tao. It is the most popular spot of the north of the island even though it is difficult to reach. The coral reefs at this spot are worthy of attention, so it’s not surprising that boatloads of divers congregate at that beach everyday.

More than just coral reefs, Ao Ma Muang has an excellent sandy beach with long stretches suitable for swimming and sunbathing. Tourists can also get across to Laem Nam Tok (waterfall cape) on the northwestern tip of Koh Tao close to the neighboring island of Koh Nang Yuan, to see the stream of water that runs from the hills down to the sea.

Hin Wong Bay (Ao Hin Wong)
The scenic bay on the east of Koh Tao. Ao Hin Wong has a rocky beach with a headland at the southern end protecting a picturesque cove. Tourists are drawn to this beach by the colorful coral reefs, second only to those at Ao Ma Muang. It’s also a place where giant clams are found. The hill to the north of the beach is an excellent viewing point to take in the entire beach and to watch the sun rise in the east.

Most accommodations on this bay are dotted along the hillside, so guests are among wonderful scenery the whole of the time.


Read More

Thai food : Khao Neow Ma-Muang



Khao Neow Ma-Muang
Sweet Rice with Mango

A favourite Thai dessert - the firm texture of the sweet rice paired with slices of fresh mango with coconut cream topping is an irresistible taste experience.

Recipe:

2 cups (1 lb/500 g) sticky rice, soaked overnight in water to cover
2 mangoes

Sauce 1:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) coconut cream
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar
pinch of salt

Sauce 2:

1 cup (8 fl oz/250 ml) coconut cream
1/2 cup (4 oz/125 g) sugar

1 12-in (30-cm) section of banana leaf
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

How to cook:

1. Drain the rice and place in an even layer in a steamer lined with cheesecloth so the rice does not fall through the holes. Steam the rice on full steam or high heat for 15 minutes.
2. While the rice is cooking combine the ingredients for Sauce 1. Remove the rice to a bowl and mix with Sauce 1 while the rice is still hot. Set aside.
3. Peel the mangoes carefully so as not to bruise the fruit. Slice in half as close to the seed as possible, then slice each half into 1/2-in (1-cm) slices.
4. Cut the banana leaf attractively and lay it on a serving plate. Arrange the sticky rice and mango slices on top of the leaf.
5. Combine the ingredients for Sauce 2 and either serve it separately or pour over the sticky rice. Garnish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and perhaps an orchid or other flower on the side

Read More

Khon Kaen

Thailand’s fourth largest city is a major northeastern center of silk production and host of an annual silk fair.

Fast-Growing City
Famous for its December silk fairs, Khon Kaen is one of Isan’s most important cities and Thailand’s fourth largest. It is growing fast, with international restaurants and hotels opening all over town.

Silk Industry
Fine mudmee silk is the main industry of Chonnabot Village, about 50-km southwest of the city. Tourists can see the whole silk production process, from cocoons to looms: one good workshop to visit is the Local Handicraft Center across from Wat Pho Si Sa-at, open from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. every day. Silk is for sale as garments or by the yard/meter both here and in shops throughout Khon Kaen. Rin Thai Silk in Namuang Road, Khon Kaen is a good silk center with affordable prices.



Festivals
Popular celebrations in Khon Kaen include the ten-day Silk & Pook Siaw (friend tying) Festival in late November/early December, during which you can experience Isan folk music and dancing, parades and local food. During the Thai New Year (Songkran) in April, the people of Khon Kaen ritually bathe the most sacred Buddha statues of their temples. This festival includes khaen pipe music and floats decorated with colorful flowers and garlands.



Temple Ruins
About an hour’s drive to the southeast of Khon Kaen, Prasat Peuay Noi is a ruined Khmer temple built in the 12th century. The structure and surrounding area contain ornately carved stonework.

Khon Kaen boasts of a lengthy history and has been the birthplace of so many thriving civilizations and cultures. This is an area where the first dinosaur fossils were found in Thailand. Once the quiet capital of one of the poorest provinces in the Northeast, it has undergone dramatic changes and is now a prosperous, bustling town. Located at the heart of the region, it is the focal point of many regional development projects, including the site of the region’s largest public university, commerce activities and abounds with beautiful, natural surroundings.

Khon Kaen is 445 kilometres from Bangkok and has an area of about 10,886 square kilometres. It comprises the districts of Muang, Ban Phai, Phon, Nam Phong, Chum Phae, Phu Wiang, Mancha Khiri, Nong Ruea, Kranuan, Nong Song Hong, Chonnabot, Si Chomphu, Waeng Noi, Ubolratana, Ban Fang, Khao Suan Kwang, Phra Yuen, Waeng Yai, Pueai Noi, Phu Pha Man, Khok Pho Chai, Nong Na Kham, Sam Sung and Ban Haet

General Information

How to get there
Car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Khon Kaen via Nakhon Ratchasima, a total distance of 449 kilometres

Bus
Buses depart from Bangkok’s Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Khon Kaen every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 for more information

Train
Regular trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Khon Kaen every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.

Air
Thai Airways flies from Bangkok to Khon Kaen every day. Call 1566, 0 2280 0060, 0 2628 2000 for more information.


Festivals
Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival
Dok Khun Siang Khaen Festival is held during April 13-15 every year at Bung Kaen Nakhon. The day starts with merit making, followed by pouring holy water on Buddha images, local dramatic arts, floral cart procession, northeastern food contest, boat race in Bung Kaen Nakhon, and shops selling a variety of products.

Silk and Phuk Sieo Festival
Silk and Phuk Sieo Festival is held annually on 29 November-10 December at the front area of Khon Kaen town hall. The main events are the display of the local silk and its contest and I-san making friend tradition called Phuk Sieo. Pha Laeng, a wonderful I-san dinner is also available.


Read More

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Thai Mango or "Ma Muang"



Peak season: April to June



All Thai mangoes are sweet, juicy, and fragrant, when ripe. However the "Nam Dawk Mai" and "Ok Long" variety are best known. They are the favourite choices as dessert fruit or as "Mango and Sticky (glutinous) Rice", a popular dessert during the peak of the mango season in the summer.

"Ma-muang Keow Savoey" and "Ma-muang Rat" are also delicious as ripe mango but Thais prefer to enjoy both of these as raw mango served with a dry salt-and-sugar dip seasoned with crushed chilli called prik kab kleua or a savoury chilli dip prepared by blending palm sugar with fish sauce heated to a caramel-like consistency called nam pla wan.

Green Keow Savoey is sweet and has a powdery texture, while Ma-muang Rat is predominantly sour with a hint of sweet.

Raw mangoes add a more delicate sour flavour to dishes and are featured in Thai salads such as Yam Ma-muang and in chilli dips.

Thai mangoes come in many other preserved forms such as delicious mango ice-cream, or pickled mango - Ma-muang Dong, Ma-muang Chae-Im or dried mango, and Ma-muang Kuan.

Those who know mangos only from the varieties found in places like Hawaii, Mexico or the West Indies may think they have discovered a new fruit in the light-coloured, delicately flavoured mangos that turn up on Thai markets between March and June. More than a dozen different kinds are grown, many of them hybrids developed in Thailand. They have become so popular among mango connoisseurs in neighbouring countries that nearly 3 million kilograms (6.6 million lbs) are exported annually.
Thais eat mangos in a number of ways, depending on the variety. Some types are traditionally served at the peak of ripeness, accompanied by a mound of glutinous rice topped with sweetened coconut milk; the light yellow Ok Rong and the slightly darker Nam Dok Mai are especially good in this way.
Other kinds, such as kiao sa woei are more often eaten as a condiment or in salads when the skin is still dark green and the flesh is white. Mangos are also pickled (Ma Muang Dong), soaked in sugar water (Ma Muang Chae-Im) salted and dried (Ma Muang Khem), or turned into jams and chutneys.
All Thai mangoes are sweet, juicy, and fragrant, when ripe. However the "Nam Dok Mai" and "Ok Rong" variety are best known. They are the favourite choices as dessert fruit or as "Mango and Sticky (glutinous) Rice", a popular dessert during the peak of the mango season in the summer.
"Ma-Muang Keaw Sa-Woi" and "Ma-muang Rat" are also delicious as ripe mango but Thais prefer to enjoy both of these as raw mango served with a dry salt-and-sugar dip seasoned with crushed chilli called Prik Kab Gleua or a savoury chilli dip prepared by blending palm sugar with fish sauce heated to a caramel-like consistency called nam pla wan.
Green Keaw Sa-Woi is sweet and has a powdery texture, while Ma-Muang Raat is predominantly sour with a hint of sweet.
Raw mangoes add a more delicate sour flavour to dishes and are featured in Thai salads such as Yam Ma-Muang and in chilli dips.
Thai mangoes come in many other preserved forms such as delicious mango ice-cream, or pickled mango - Ma-Muang Dong, Ma-muang Chae-Im or dried mango, and Ma-Muang Kuan.


Mangos are a major fruit crop in Sakhon Nakhon province in Northern Thailand, Yasothon, Si Sa Ket and Chaiyaphum in Northeastern Thailand, Ratchaburi and Chon Buri in Central Thailand, and Prachin Buri in Eastern Thailand.


Read More

Sisaket

Si Sa Ket is a quiet province on the Cambodia border with Khmer ruins scattered throughout the province.Most notable are the two ruined sanctuaries of Wat Sa Kamphaeng Yai and Noi,dating back to the 10 th century.


However, the most famous Khmer site is actually in Cambodia. Khao Phra Wihan was built over 10 centuries ago and is one of the most spectacular Angkor-period sites. Built as a Hindu temple, it begins in Thailand and rises to 600 metres with the main sanctuary in Cambodia.



After a long period of war, its wonderful craftsmanship,stairways and courts are now being restored. Thi walk to the summit is long and steep, but visitors are sure to be impressed by the size and complexity of its design.

Si Sa Ket has an area of 8,840 square kilometres, comprising the following districts: Muang Si Sa Ket, Kanthararom, Kantharalak, Khun Han, Phrai Bung, Khukhan, Prang Ku, Uthumphon Phisai, Rasi Salai, Yang Chum Noi, Huai Thap Than, Non Khun, Si Rattana, Wang Hin, Bueng Bun, Nam Kliang, Phu Sing, Benchalak, Muang Chan, Pho Si Suwan and Sila Lat.


Si Sa Ket is 571 kilometres from Bangkok. This is another province in the lower Northeast that received Khmer influence. Several interesting Khmer historical sites are in the province.

Si Sa Ket has an area of 8,840 square kilometres, comprising the following districts: Mueang Si Sa Ket, Kanthararom, Kantharalak, Khun Han, Phrai Bung, Khukhan, Prang Ku, Uthumphon Phisai, Rasi Salai, Yang Chum Noi, Huai Thap Than, Non Khun, Si Rattana, Wang Hin, Bueng Bun, Nam Kliang, Phu Sing, Benchalak, Mueang Chan, Pho Si Suwan and Sila Lat.

General Information

How to get there
Car
From Bangkok, take Highway No. 1 to Saraburi and Highway No. 2 to Nakhon Ratchasima, then use Highway No.226 to Si Sa Ket via Buri Ram and Surin, a total distance of 571 kilometres.

Bus
Buses depart from Bangkok’s Mochit 2 Bus Terminal to Si Sa Ket every day. Contact Transport Co.Ltd at Tel: 0 2936 2852-66 or visit www.transport.co.th for more information

Rail
Regular trains depart from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong Railway Station to Si Sa Ket every day. Call 1690, 0 2223 7010-20 for more information.

Air
Visitors can fly from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani and continue the trip by bus to Si Sa Ket. Call Thai Airways at Tel: 1566, 0 2628 2000.

Festivals
Pha Mo I Daeng Half and Quarter Marathon
This sport event is held on the third Sunday of August between Phumisaron village and Pha Mo I Daeng in Amphoe Kantharalak. Runners like this uphill marathon because it goes through a misty area in the rainy season.

Si Phao Thai Si Sa Ket Festival
This festival is held every March 15-17 at Somdet Phra Si Nakharin Park when the Lamduan flowers in the park are in full bloom. Shows include cultural performances by 4 tribes, which are Khmer, Suai, Lao, and Yo. There are shops selling handicrafts and a light-and-sound show about the city’s construction.

Read More

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rent a house in Bangkok

Rent a house in Bangkok

When I first moved to Bangkok, I rented an apartment like most newcomers to Bangkok do, but as I became more familiar with my new home town, I decided to be a little more adventurous and rented a house. Having lived in houses over the past five years now, I’ve found that renting a house in Bangkok not only offers more space and privacy, often it is also much better value compared to apartment living. More often than not, it is also a cheaper option (per square metre) compared to renting an apartment or condo, which are getting smaller in size these days! If you enjoy wide open spaces, appreciate some green in your life - a garden perhaps, have pets, a large family or simply want to maximize your budget, consider renting a house instead.

Another advantage in renting a house is, apartments tend to put a high surcharge on your electricity and water bills. Many apartments have a minimum charge of 1000 bht for water alone. That is a significant amount considering my water bill never cost me over 500 bht living in a house with a family of 5, and we do A LOT of washing! Electricity can be anything between 5 – 7 baht per unit compared to the actual 3.75 baht charged by the MEA. Living in a house can save you up to half your utility bills compared to living in an apartment, and believe me it is A LOT of difference!

Thailand is cheap!

As you may already know, Thailand (more accurately, “Bangkok”) is not the cheap haven many foreigners once thought it to be, especially when it comes to housing. Property prices and rental have gone up considerably and that’s the way it goes everywhere around the world. The very same 2 bedroom unit I rented 5 years ago (in Silom) has gone up by 30% in rental and hardly any refurbishment has been done to it since! “That’s ridiculous” you say and believe it or not, I agree! But hey, I don’t make the prices and if you think agents benefit from that higher commission, that’s only true when clients actually think these houses are worth the price and that isn’t always the case.

Renting a house in Sukhumvit, Silom or Sathorn.

If you are looking to rent a house in the the Sukhumvit, Silom or Sathorn area, then the very minimum rental you are looking at is 30,000 bht for a BASIC 3 bedroom house. Even then, they are few and far between in that range, and more often than not are above 15 years old, with dark parquet flooring and lots of wooden built-ins which many people find dark and depressing.

Most people prefer something a little brighter and contemporary. That would mean newer houses between 1 – 5 years old and these start around 45,000 bht. Depending on the location, size, décor, facilities etc. these can go up to anything from 150,000 – 250,000 baht per month. For that price, please do not accept anything less than a spectacular, resort-like villa with a private pool!

No, but seriously, you do get what you pay for so be realistic when it comes to expectations and budget. If you want something new and modern but lack the budget, then move further away from the city centre. Which also means further away from the BTS line. Unfortunately, we cannot have it all and something’s gotta give.

Generally, if you go further towards the end of the BTS line and beyond i.e. Mo Chit, Phayathai, Phrakanong, On Nut, Bangna, Srinakarin, Rangsit etc. prices drop significantly and you get much better deals which are sometimes worth the extra time commuting.

Is it possible to find a house for 15,000 bht?

Not many agencies deal with houses below 25,000 bht. Just search the various property website in Thailand and you will see that the minimum range for houses are 25,000 - 30,000 bht, where the search usually returns 0 - 5 results. Several reasons for that:

1) There are a lot less decent and rentable houses at < 25,000 bht than there are at say, 50,000 bht.

2) If there is, it is usually way out of town, far from any BTS/MRT station.

3) Most people want to live in town, close to the city centre, CBD or near a BTS/MRT station.

4) Apart from location, houses below 25,000 bht are usually older (thus old fashioned) and not very well-maintained, which makes it very hard to rent.

5) If a house is nice and decent with an asking rent of 25,000 bht or less, some agents mark it up!

Thus, it’s hard to find nice, decent houses at 25,000 bht or less…

Regardless, there are plenty of cheap houses as low as 12,000 bht for rent, but remember, and I stress again - you get what you pay for! And most 12,000 bht houses I’ve seen are usually in serious need of repair and maintenance, and the really nice ones are located way out in whoop whoop district.

I don’t care as long as rent is cheap. Where do I look?

Again, you won’t find any agents to help you there and finding that perfect yet cheap and nice house is undoubtedly the hardest step. It usually takes months of driving around moo baan after moo baan, which would mean having your own transport and knowing your way around.

The word “Moo Baan” translates to “village” in Thai, but the term “housing estate” would be far more accurate. These usually have a guard posted at the entrance and are situated all over Bangkok. These houses usually offer much better value than stand alone houses, and are a good place for the house hunter to start his/her search. Try areas like On Nut between Sukhumvit 77 – 103, Bangna, Rangsit, Ramintra, Phayathai, Mo chit etc.

Concerns and other issues

1) Security
Honestly, I know of many farangs, including myself who have lived in single houses and existed peacefully without any disturbances or trouble for years. I also do not know anyone who has been burgled personally because they were living in a house. Do you?
If you are considering renting a house and security is a main concern, rent a house in popular areas like Sukhumvit, Silom and Sathorn where there are many nearby apartments and condos with security. That way, you can benefit from the dense security in the neighbourhood.
Another option would be to opt for houses or townhouse within a “moo baan.” There are plenty around and majority of them have tight 24 hour security. Common sense would also tell me to explore the neighbourhood a little and have a chat with shopkeepers and a neighbour who might be willing to share some information with you. I’m sure you’ll have no problems getting a friendly neighbour to spill the beans on the house, its previous tenants and probably things you don’t need to know about your landlord. Welcome to Thailand!

2) Air conditioners
Check to see how many rooms have air-conditioning; and how old the air-conditioners are. If you are looking at an older house, chances are it will have those big, old blocks that rumble every time you turn them on. These old air-conditioners consume a lot more energy than a new one, and would greatly increase your electricity bills. It is also unlikely that the landlord will install new air-conditioners for you unless they are completely dead (even then they will always try to revive the monster before even considering replacing it), so make sure that they are serviced and cleaned before you move in or if you got a good deal on the rent, invest in some new airconditioners!

3) Water Pressure
Now this is important. Always check that there is a water pump. Then check the water pressure on the upper floors to make sure the pump has enough power to deliver a decent jet of shower. I’ve learnt from experience that size does not necessarily mean power when it comes to a water pump, and sometimes a 2nd pump needs to be installed to ensure constant deliverance of water into the house.

4) Telephone lines
Again, from experience it is in your best interest to check the phone lines to make sure that 1) you have one and 2) it is working, because some areas (and this includes many areas in the Sukhumvit, Silom and Sathorn) do not have anymore available numbers and you will have to join a looong waiting list to apply for a new one. Also, older houses above 10 years old tend to be on the old, analog system which when faulty, cannot be replaced unless the whole area is re-cabled. No telephone lines = no internet. You don’t ever want to be caught in that situation!

5) Maintenance
Houses within a secured compound will have what they call “moo baan fee” or “community fee” which goes into the maintenance of the estate i.e. security, pool and garden maintenance etc. This is usually included in the asking rent. However, if you try negotiating on the rent, then more often than not, the landlord will exclude this from the rent and make you pay for it, so check to see what your rent includes when you are signing the contract. This ranges between 20 - 45 bht per square metre. Thus, the larger your house the more you pay! I currently pay 3,500 baht per month for my “moo baan fee” (I got a 5000 bht reduction in rent, so it works out) and we have 24 hour security, a well-maintained common garden and a superb pool that is regularly cleaned, so I am happy.

At Bangkok Finder, we specialize in properties for rent. Home rental is our only business and that gives us all the time in the world to help find you that perfect house within your budget when you move to Bangkok. Our website http://www.bangkokfinder.com features hundreds of houses and apartments for rent, and is updated daily with quality rental homes. Our negotiators have long established relationships with landlords, which means you will always pay the best rate when we negotiate for you.


About The Author: Maddy Barber is founder of a professional property rental agency specializing in houses for rent in Bangkok. She has helped hundreds of expats and locals alike find their dream homes and her website www.bangkokfinder.com is updated daily with hundreds of properties, including apartments and condos for rent. It also features a popular blog packed full of useful information for those new to Thailand. Her staff speaks English, Thai and Chinese.

Read More

Ramkhamhaeng Hotels Bangkok

With various Buddhist temples, national museum and many other cultural heritages, Ramkhamhaeng can be a perfect tourist destination in Thailand. All such attractions in the place can lure all types of travelers. The national park here can be a paradise for nature lovers, while the national museum can be a great delight for history seekers.

Come to Ramkhamhaeng and enjoy all such excitements to the fullest. And when it comes to the accommodation in Ramkhamhaeng, AsiaRooms can be a trustable partner for all sorts of vacationers. AsiaRooms offers detailed information on Ramkhamhaeng Hotels, Bangkok Hotels, Thailand Hotels and enables visitors to make reservations online. Be it booking a budget hotel in Ramkhamhaeng or luxury hotel, AsiaRooms can easily arrange all types of hotels in Ramkhamhaeng. Even more, visitors can find here many Ramkhamhaeng Hotels deals at a discounted rate. So what else? With AsiaRooms, book hotels in Ramkhamhaeng as well as the other places in Thailand easily.

Read More

Veranda Resort and Spa Hua Hin / Cha-am



Veranda Resort & Spa Hua Hin / Cha-am Info

This four-star property in Hua Hin is located in beautiful, tropical gardens directly on the beach, with a number of pool villas and spacious rooms available. This is the ideal place to relax and watch the sun set. There are a range of activities on offers, including swimming, surfing and horse-riding. The Lobby Lounge is where guests can chill, use the Internet and order a range of beverages, while the Rabiang Lay is an open-air beach bar that doubles as a restaurant. It offers spectacular views of the sea and a menu of Thai-fusion seafood. On-site features at the hotel include wireless Internet, a swimming pool, kids’ club, business center and shop. Room service is available 24 hours. To reserve a room, please submit your preferred travel dates and fill out our secure online booking form.

Room Amenities
air conditioning
balcony/terrace
hair dryer
minibar
separate shower
tea/coffeemaker

Facilities
city transfers
cocktail lounge
conference rooms
morning call
nursery
restaurants
room service
safe box
valet

Sports and Recreation
fitness center
kids club
massage
outdoor pool
sauna
spa
steam room


Read More

Hotel Phutawan Resort Nakhonratchasima



The Hotel Phutawan Resort in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand situated Tesabal 9 Rd., Amphoe Pak Chong can be contacted by phone +66(0)2 4200795 or fax +66(0)2 2352414. Here it is unfortunately not yet possible to book online. This accommodation Hotel Phutawan Resort would be glad to welcome you soon.


Read More

Birds and Bees Resort , Pattaya



The Resort
Nestled in a tropical rainforest and featuring spectacular ocean views, the Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant and Resort are just 1 1/2 hours drive from Bangkok. It is situated on Hu-Gwang Bay, one of Pattaya's most beautiful and reclusive beaches, and five minutes drive from Pattaya City.

The tranquil environment makes for an idyllic hide-away for travelers and residents of Thailand alike. The complete facilities of the resort comprise 50 carefully designed rooms and suites, as well as a spectacular swimming pool and Jacuzzi, all set in a lush tropical garden overflowing with orchids and other native flowers. The luxuriant grounds with ponds and streams form a natural sanctuary for birds and local fauna, and guests reach their rooms through flower and pineapple walks.


Cabbages & Condoms Restaurant
Guests will delight in the restaurant's romantic seaside atmosphere. Tables are set under a tropical tree canopy with leaning trees lit by lanterns made from bamboo fishtraps. The terrace and the Sunset Deck and Bamboo Bar offer a spectacular ocean view and fresh sea breeze. From the Restaurant, guests can wander down to the Beachside Bar and enjoy a drink only a stone's throw from the water.

Population and Community Development Association
Both the Restaurant and Resort were created to provide financial support for the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) , Thailand's foremost non-governmental charitable organization. Money spent at our resort contributes to Thailand's rural development, education and scholarships, HIV/AIDS education and environmental protection. Our Resort is an environmentally conscious establishment and our endeavors ensure protection of the environment, by recycling wastewater for its gardens and trees.

Read More

Centre Point Service Apartment Petchburi hotel Bangkok


The capital of Thailand, Bangkok is a thriving metropolis and is a home to many business houses in the Asian continent. One of the wealthiest and modern cities in Asia, Bangkok each year attracts thousands of travelers from around the world. The colorful and vibrant city of Bangkok finely blends the fascinating historical museums with the modern skyscrapers adorning the skyline and entice travelers round the year. To cater to the diverse demands of the travelers, the hotels in Bangkok range from budget to luxurious accommodations. Centre Point Serviced Apartment Petchburi in Bangkok is a well known hotel of Bangkok. It is the modern room facilities at Centre Point Serviced Apartment Petchburi in Bangkok which enable the guests to enjoy every moment of their stay in the rooms.

Considered as the first of four serviced apartments, the location of Centre Point Serviced Apartment Petchburi in Bangkok can be cited in the heart of the city. The hotel is a revered name in Bangkok as providers of luxurious accommodation. Single business executives generally prefer either Studio without Kitchen or Studio with Kitchen apartments. The apartments are all well designed and decorated with fine furnitures and fixtures. Without kitchen Studio apartment covers an area of about 47 square meters with a bathroom and a large bed. Though the room area is the same at 47 square meters, the other type of room comes with a kitchen. Another apartment type houses 1 big living room, 1 master bedroom, a small kitchen and two bathrooms. Ideal for two people, the apartment however can also accommodate three people. The apartments are not only spacious but have arrangements to address the needs of executives. Some of the room facilities at Centre Point serviced Apartment Petchuburi in Bangkok are :

- Cable TV
- VCR and Stereo
- Safety Box
- Refrigerator
- CCTV monitoring of Visitors
- IDD line
- In-room Internet through LAN
- Pantry

With a long list of room facilities offered at Centre Point Serviced Apartment Petchburi Bangkok in Bangkok the guests can enjoy complete peace of mind and relaxation. The sterling hotel amenities and services at Centre Point serviced Apartment Petchuburi in Bangkok further add to the charm of the room facilities.

Read More

Koh Samui Villas:privately owned villa and resort-owned villa

When staying on Koh Samui, what are the main differences between booking a resort-owned villa or a privately owned villa?

Socialising: On a resort you are not isolated from other people as you are when staying at a private villa. On resorts you get to meet other relaxing holidaymakers with whom you can have a chat and share your experiences. On a resort there is always somebody up and about and a simple ‘Good Morning’ may make their day as well as your own.

Privacy: Yet on a resort, and inside your villa, you can still have complete privacy to do your own individual thing, whether you want to party every night, read and relax or just sit back and watch TV or go on the Internet. In a private villa (provided the villa is not overlooked by neighbours) you can sunbathe naked if you wish whereas at a resort this would definitely be frowned upon.

Staff: Normally at a resort there are full-time staffs on hand daily – whose job is to change the linen and keep your villa tidy and spotless as well as clean around the resort generally. This service can be arranged at a private villa but it is not automatically included.

Security: Just like a private villa, with a resort villa you will have your own set of keys so that you can come and go whenever you like. On a resort you will normally see security staff patrolling the grounds, especially at nighttime whereas with a private villa this is very hard to come by. Normally, in a private-owned villa, you are on your own on this issue.

Pools: Some private villas don’t have a swimming pool at all but where there is, it’s obviously for your private use only. Resorts on the other hand always have one or sometimes two communal swimming pools, and for those families with youngsters it’s nice to know that other guests (and staff) are around to make sure they are safe. Also the swimming pools at a resort are cleaned daily, sometimes twice a day, whereas with a private pool you will be lucky if it’s cleaned once a week.

Catering: Most private villas are self-catering – but with upmarket villas the owner sometimes can arrange for food to be prepared by a chef – although this is not cheap. If a resort has its own restaurant you can eat there if you wish – sometimes a meal is included in your booking. Or you can eat out at local restaurants or have cooked food delivered to your villa. Or you can buy produce and supplies locally and cook the food yourself inside your own villa. Please note; not all resorts have villas with cooking facilities – so double check this aspect before you book.

Cost: A resort-owned villa should work out at less cost because of the larger economy of scale where more guests or small parties and groups can be catered for. On the other hand some upmarket resorts can be very expensive owing to their location, exclusivity and furnishings. Go for low-cost *** villa resorts if possible.

Private Villa or Resort Villa?

As they say on Samui – it’s up to you!

About the Author:

Derek Taylor runs Only In Samui, the premier Koh Samui Villa resource and rentals web site

Read More

Thai food : Tom Yum Goong - Spicy Shrimp Soup

This is a hot and sour Thai soup that is great as an appetizer or as a main dish when served with rice. Its robust fragrance is sure to tempt your tastebuds.
Serves 6


Ingredients:
1/2 pound peeled shrimp
4 cups chicken stock
1 tablespoon chili oil
10 lime leaves (kaffir leaf)
3 tablespoons lime juice
4 stalks green onion
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup whole straw mushrooms
3 stalks fresh lemongrass
6 fresh Thai chilies (prik kee noo)

Directions:
1. Prepare the chicken stock in a medium to large sized pot, and then bring to a boil.
2. Add the lime leaves and lemongrass stalks to the pot, and reduce the heat to simmering. Cook for five minutes.
3. Remove only the lemongrass, and turn the heat to high. Add in the shrimp, mushrooms, chili oil, and the Thai chilies. Boil until the shrimp are done (about 2 minutes)
4. Remove from stove, you're almost done!
5. Add in the fish sauce and limejuice, and stir. Some like it more sour, others more salty. You decide on what makes you happy.
6. The most important step!!! Enjoy.

Tips and substitutions
Unfortunately, for the true taste, it is difficult to substitute anything for the kaffir lime leaves. The richness of the sour taste comes from the complement of the different citrus flavored ingredients.

I serve this soup directoy into individual bowls for each person.

If you don't like it hot, cut down on the chili peppers or do not cut them up, but leave them whole for decoration

Read More

Thai food : Som Tum (Papaya Salad)


This particular dish is from the northeastern part of Thailand (E-san). Combined with barbecue chicken, and sticky rice, it makes a perfect meal!


Ingredients:
1 fresh green papaya
5 Thai chilies (prik kee noo)
6 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
2 medium sized tomatoes, sliced thinly
1/2 cup green beans cut into one inch lengths
2 teaspoons of fish sauce
1 quart cup of tamarind juice

Preparation:
Peel the skin off of the papaya, then use a cheese grater to shred the papaya. The seeds are not used! After you have finished, sprinkle some salt onto the shredded papaya, and let stand for 30 minutes


Directions:
Now you will need a mortar and pestle. (You can use a regular mixing bowl, but you just don't get the right effect.) Combine all of the ingredients except for the tomato into the mortar bowl and mix thoroughly. Then add the tomato and briefly mix (do not pulverize the tomato into liquid- you want it to be kinda' "bruised")

Read More

Some important herbs and spices used in Thai cooking

Thai food is currently enjoying an international vogue. There are numerous Thai restaurants all over the world in large cities such as Los Angles, London, New York, Paris, Tokyo and many other. The following are some essential herbs and spices used in Thai cooking. The proper combination of all these ingredients is regarded as an art in Thailand, one that requires both skill and time. The preparation of a single sauce can take hours of grinding, tasting and delicate adjustment until the exact balance of flavours is achieved. Only then, can the true glory of Thai cooking be fully appreciated.

Basil (horapha, kaphrao, maenglak)

Horapha, kaphrao, maenglak are varieties of sweet basil. Horapha seems to be the nearest to the sweet basil used in European tomato dishes and Italian pesto. Horapha is used here as a vegetable and for flavouring. Fresh leaves are narrower and often tinged with reddish purple. It releases its aroma and flavour only when cooked and is used with fish, beef and chicken. Maenglak leaves are slightly hairy and paler green than Horapha. It is sometimes called lemon-scented basil but definitely has a peppery taste when chewed; it is very similar to Halian dwarf basil and is used as a vegetable and for flavouring.
Cinnamon (ob choei)

Form the bark of a tree, the type of cinnamon used in Thailand is of only one kind, that from the Cassia tree. It is used in meat dishes and particulary in massaman curry a garnish.
Bird Chilli (phrik khi nu)

The smallest of the chillies, of which the kind called phrik khi nu suan is the hottest. Take care when chopping them, and do not rub your eyes. Chillies stimulate blood circulation and are reputed to help prevent heart disease and cancer.

Chilli (Phrik chi fa)

Phrik chi fa are finger size, growing 9-12 centimetres in length, and ether yellow, red or green. Not as hot as the bird chilli. There is no discernable difference between the colours.
Citron (som sa)

Citron (Citrus medica var limetta) is a round dark green fruit. Its thick, very aromatic skin is much used for flavouring. Sour orange juice and orange peel would make the best substitute.
Cloves (kanphlu)

Cloves (Eugenia aromatica) are the dried flowerbuds of an evergreen tree native to the Molucca Islands. They are almost as expensive as saffron because crops often fail, they are much used in Western cooking and the oil is antiseptic. Cloves are used in massaman curry and to chew as a relief for toothache.
Coriander (phak chee)

The leaves are often chosen for decoration, with stem and roots for seasoning. Heavily used in Asian kitchens, the Thai kitchen is the only one to use the roots as well.
Cumin (yira)

Seeds look like caraway and fennel, but taste quite different and have to be heated to release their aroma. Only cumin is used in Thai cooking, mainly in the making of curry pastes.
Galangal (kha)

Resembling an upturned claw, this member of the ginger family is a pale pink rhizome with a subtle citrus flavour. It is usually added in large pieces to impart flavour to fish or chicken stock, or used in making curry pastes. Fresh young ginger can be substituted, but you will not end up with the same flavour.
Garlic (krathiam)

Thailand is literally overflowing with garlic plants. Whole cloves, smashed garlic and garlic oil are used in almost every Thai dish. To make garlic oil, chop a handful of garlic, and fry it in plenty of hot oil until golden. The oil and the fried garlics can be stored in a jar for garnishing soup and for tossing with noodles and rice.
Ginger (khing)

Resembling a flat hand, ginger has over 400 members included in its family. Always choose young fresh ginger if available. Easily grated, it is eaten raw or cooked and is used widely in many Asian cuisines. Young ginger. pounded with a little salt, pepper and garlic is good too as a marinate for chicken or beef. Ginger is acknowledged to improve digestion and to counteract nausea and vomiting.
Krachai

No English common name for Krachai (Kaempferia pandurata). The tubers of this member of the ginger family look like a bunch of yellow brown fingers. Krachai is always added to fish curries, and peeled and served as a raw vegetable with the popular summer rice dish, khao chae.
Kaffir Lime Leaf (bai makrut)

From the kaffir lime, which has virtually no juice these fleshy green and glossy leaves resemble a figure eight. Imparting a unique flavour, they can be finely shredded and added to salads, or torn and added to soups and curries. Can be substituted with other lemon-flavoured herbs, but the best option is to freeze the leaves when you can find them, as they retain all their flavour and texture on thawing
Lime (manao)

The whole fruit is used. It is an excellent source of vitamin C and is used to enhance the flavour of chilli-hot condiments, as well as create some very special salads and desserts, and adorn most dishes as a condiment.
Lemongrass (takhrai)

This hard grass grows rapidly in almost any soil. The base of 10-12 centimetres length of the plant is used, with the green leafy part discarded. Young tender lemongrass stalks can be finely chopped and eaten, but older stalks should be cut into 3-5 centimetres lengths and bruised before being added only as a flavouring agent. It is indispensable for tom yam. Lemongrass oil will sooth an upset stomach and indigestion.
Mint (bai saranae)

This mint (Mentha arvensis) is similar to the mint used for mint sauce in England and is used in Thai food as a vegetable and a flavouring.
Nutmeg (luk chan)

The nut is enclosed in a very hard brown shell. It is used in the making of massaman curry paste.
Pandan Leaf (bai toei)

Long narrow green leaves of a herbaceous plant used for flavouring and colour. There is no substitute of the flavouring and colour. There is no substitute for the flavour but green colouring may be used as a substitute for the colour.
Pepper (prik thai)

Black, white and green peppercorn types. Black is milder and more aromatic than white. Green peppercorns have a special taste all their own and are available al year round but are best towards the end of the rainy season. Used as flavouring.
Sesame (nga)

Identical to sesame seeds the world over. In Thai cooking, sesame seeds are used for oil and for flavouring. These tiny seeds are rich in protein.
Shallot (hom daeng)

These small, zesty, Thai red onions are sweet and aromatic. An essential ingredient in many Thai dishes because of their taste and appearance, they can be substituted with European shallots, small red onions or small brown onions.
Spring Onions (ton hom)

These green onions (Allium fistulosom) are used for garnishing soups and salads and as vegetables.
Turmeric (khamin)

These small, bright orange roots are used for the colouring in yellow curries. White turmeric, a different type, is used as a raw vegetable and resembles ginger. It taste only slightly peppery and has a pleasant tang.

Read More

In Chiang Rai, a Restaurant and Museum is Helping Family Planning.

In the Northern Mountains of Thailand, the non-profit arm of the PDA has opened a remarkable restaurant and Museum called Cabbages and Condoms which is helping the locals
Light years away from the mass tourism areas of Bangkok, Phuket and Pattaya, lies Chiang Rai, in Northern Thailand, where the Aka, Karen and Lisu Hill Tribes eke out a spartan existence, in many cases with one foot still in the stone-age.

Now it's alcohol, before it was Opium.
Some people believe that visiting them is exploitation, citing the fondness for alcohol that has developed in some villages, but twenty years ago the dependency was on opium. Exchanging one addiction for another may not be an improvement, but I can’t help feeling that the cash cow that is tourism can only better their life.

Non-Profit Cabbages and Condoms Outfil.
To the rescue comes a remarkable outfit called Cabbages and Condoms, the non-profit arm of the Population and Community Development Association (PDA) of Thailand, an organization that encourages the villagers to make the best use of both the cabbages which grow freely in the mountains, and condoms which the PDA supplies. It also runs the most culturally sensitive and environmentally responsible treks in Chiang Rai, contributes to community development programmes and helps preserve the culture and lifestyle of the Hill tribes. It has opened restaurants and drop-in cafes in cities like Chiang Rai, Pattaya and Bangkok, where people can pick up information about the hill tribes and enjoy some local food, like roasted duck curry, steamed cottonfish with condom salad, and Thai Green Mango salad. The small Museum in the Chiang Rai outlet is a fascinating glimpse into the lifestyle of an opium addict.

On site is a handicraft shop which sells a variety of condom related memorabilia as well as village handicrafts like woven silk, carved wood figurines and embroideries, the profits from which all go back to the villages.

Support needed for Hill Tribe people
Despite their charmingly unaffected lifestyle, life is harsh for the Hill Tribe people whose life, in many cases, is one of exploitation by smooth talking men who lure them deeper into debt.

Cabbages and Condoms tries to help but it needs support. Next time you are near one of their restaurants in Bangkok, Pattaya or Chiang Rai, drop in for a meal and buy a little something. Without the tourists to purchase souvenirs from them, the life of the hill tribes would be even harsher.

· Cabbages and Condoms, Chiangrai: 620/25 Tanarai Rd, Muang District Chiangrai 57000. (053) 719167,

Chiangrai 57000. (053) 719167,


Read More

Khao San Road

Most travellers spend their first night in a Bangkok guesthouse in the busy budget area of Khao San Road. Situated in the heart of Bangkok on the northern edge of Rattanakosin Island, Khao San is a hub of activity, home to budget guesthouses, hostels and hotels catering to all budgets and travel agencies to accommodate any imaginable travel need.

Due to the incredible demand for rooms in this area, Khao San Road has split at the seams and guesthouses have sprung up within a radius of a kilometre. The further you move from the road the better, cheaper and quieter your guesthouse is likely to be. For those who want to be within easy walking distance of Khao San Road, west Banglamphu is your best bet, though for those who do not mind a bit of walking, the National Library area is superior in terms of tranquility and guesthouse quality.

Not long ago budget guesthouses and hostels were the only option on Khao San, but there is now a reasonable supply of mid-range "flashpacker" hotels both on Khao San Road and in the surrounding area. These hotels offer many of the creature comforts missing in the budget guesthouses at a fraction of the cost of comprable options elsewhere in town.

Read More

Phuket Museum : Thalang National Museum


Location
Thalang National museum is located only 200 meters from the intersection of the MONUMENT OF HEROINES SISTERS, THAO THEP KRASATTRI and THAO SI SUNTHORN


Phuket's national museum contains ancient artifacts from Phuket's long history and exhibits detailing the famous Battle of Thalang where the Two Heroines, featured in a monument on the main road nearby, defended the island against the Burmese in the 18th century. It also has information and exhibits about daily life in Phuket, tin mining history, the indigenous Sea Gypsy culture and the island's Chinese heritage.

In the main hall is a large statue of the Hindu god Vishnu that was uncovered from forest overgrowth in Phang Nga in the early 1900s. The image dates from the 9th century A.D., showing the early Indian influence on Thai culture. There are also displays on the art, architecture and history of other parts of Thailand, including the ancient Sukothai kingdom.

Open daily except holidays 8:30am-4pm. Located just east of the Heroines' Monument on Pa Khlok Rd, north of Phuket City (Tel: 076-311025, 076-311426). Admission 30 Baht.

Read More

phuket museum:Phuket Sea Shell Museum


Phuket Sea Shell Museum
12/2 Viset Rd., Rawai Beach, Phuket 83000 Thailand.

International shell collectors would sell their mothers for even half of the remarkable collection on show at the Phuket Seashell Museum, on Viset Road, near Rawai Beach. The exhibition features more than 2,000 species, including the only left-handed Noble Volute ever discovered, giant clams, 380 million-year-old fossils and one of the worlds rarest golden pearls.

A labour of love for the Patamakanthin brothers, it has taken over forty years and visits to the four corners of the earth to bring together this extraordinary exhibition.



The Sea Shell Museum contains some of the most valuable seashells from all over the world. Many are among the most sought-after by collectors and are from Phuket and Thai waters. In addition there are also some rarities and odd shells including the world's largest golden pearl (140 karats) large sections of sedimentary rock containing shell fossils that represent the earth's earliest life-forms, and a shell weighing in at 250 kilograms!

Open daily from 8am-6pm. 12/2 Moo 2, Viset Rd, Rawai, just south of Chalong Bay (Tel: 076-381266 or 076-381274). Admission: 200 Baht for adults; 100 Baht for children.

History
Welcome to one of Phuket's most treasured collections! For Fourty years, the Patamakanthin brothers have searched the world for the most beautiful and unique seashells. Today, their collection of over 2,000 species is displayed here at the Phuket Seashell Museum. You will see one of the rarerest golden pearls, the only left-handed Noble Volute, giant clams and fossils dating back 380 million years! Shell collectors from around the world have proclaimed this collection to be one of the most extraordinary collections to be found. You haven't experienced phuket if you haven't seen the sea, the sand and the Phuket Seashell Museum!


Read More

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Ramkhamhaeng Hospital

Ramkhamhaeng Hospital (pronounced ram-cam-hang) sits at the center of one of Thailand’s largest and most respected hospital groups. With 350 beds and seven sister hospitals Ramkhamhaeng has the resources, experience and expertise to provide international quality health care at very competitive prices. This combined with a long tradition of Thai hospitality has earned Ramkhamhaeng Hospital the confidence of the people of Thailand, the Region, and the World. We also help small and medium sized companies control their healthcare costs with our focus on health and medical tourism.

Thailand has gained renown for all forms of orthopedic surgery, cosmetic surgery, cardiac care, fertility treatments and other types of specialized medicine. Ramkhamhaeng Hospital has many internationally trained doctors with world-class credentials. In this era of jet travel, computers, and the Internet, Global medicine has arrived. We offer world class healthcare in a beautiful tropical setting at a fraction of the cost of the USA or Europe. If you pay your own medical bills because it is an elective surgery or you are uninsured and don't have or can't get insurance. For more information please email
info@ramhospital.com

The hospital specializes in personalized services for all
our international visitors. Our English speaking support staff will
meet you at the airport, take you to your hotel, escort you
to the hospital everyday, answer your questions, and then
escort you back to the airport.

Read More

When is the best time of year to visit Phuket ?

You'll hear many opinions about the best time of year to visit Phuket - and, in fact, it is probably quite a personal question.
Since weather is the biggest issue for many people - just for a start - you might want to check our Phuket Weather page. Some people really like low season (summer and the rainy season) as the island is quieter and traffic is easier - and resort and hotel fare drop by 1/3 to 1/2.

Some people though are put off by the rougher seas and some beaches will have a strong undertow. It is not always safe to swim as the sea reacts to the weather. Swimming for children in particular is probably not safe unless you seek protected waters on the bay side of the island.

October to April (cold weather season in the northern hemisphere) is high season as people escape their harsh winters and flock to nicer climates. Some people suggest November to February as the high high season - when the island is at its very busiest. If you enjoy the nightlife and crowds, it's a good time to come. If you are a people watcher, it is also a fun time to just sip a beer and watch people walk by. Winter is also the time of year when the sea is much calmer and clearer and so perhaps better for scuba diving, snorkeling and swimming in the sea.

In truth, there is no bad time to visit Phuket - do your research and you'll not likely be disappointed.



The Phuket Island in Thailand lures thousands of tourists all through the year with its irresistible combination of breathtaking scenic beauty, spectacular islands and bays, renowned hospitality and excellent cuisine. Phuket boasts of a tropical monsoon climate that ensures that the place is warm all through the year except for the hot weather during April-May and September-October. The period during September-October is also the wettest at Phuket.
The best time to visit Phuket is from November to March - the period when Phuket enjoys the cool North East monsoon season. At this time of the year, the climate is not too humid, and yet the cool breezes blowing make the region very comfortable. Average temperature during this season hovers around 75ºF to 89ºF (24ºC to 32ºC). You can enjoy Phuket in its entirety if you visit the island at this time.


The hottest season is from April-May, when temperatures range from 80ºF to 95ºF (27ºC to 36ºC).

But, if you are aiming to avoid crowds and to take advantage of the low-season discounted rates for tours to Phuket, you should consider traveling during September and early October. Don't worry, there will still be some amount of sunshine in Phuket in between the heavy showers. And numerous water and land based adventure activities can also be enjoyed during this wettest season in Phuket.

Read More

pass the bad dream : Phuket after the Tsunami

"Is It Okay to Come to Phuket"


This is the question that we are frequently asked at Phuket.com
And the answer is a resounding YES!


We are not aiming at glossing over the extensive damage done by the tsunami, but we would like to present a balanced picture to help you make a decision.


Visitors will be surprised at just how much progress has been made since the tsunami. Many hotels have already been restored or rebuilt especially in the main beach areas like Kata Beach, Karon Beach and Patong Beach.

Communications and infrastructure around the island are perfectly normal as the wave affected parts of the coastline and did not reach more than 500 metres inland in Phuket Island.

What's the situation now?

It's a great time to visit Phuket with hotels offering value packages with added extras like Spa treatments and candlelit dinners just make your stay a little special…

You can take trips to the islands on un-crowded ferries, laze on pristine white sand beaches and get great discounts when you go shopping. In Patong, street vendors and markets have returned to the beach road and international chains like Starbucks have re-opened. Some hotels like the Holiday Inn Phuket remain closed for renovation, but a glance at the hotel status will show you just how many hotels are operating normally.

What about nightlife? Patong's legendary nightlife, slightly subdued, still pulsates, restaurants are open for business, Banana disco is still pumping – although a little quieter than usual for high season.


Is it Safe?

Yes. Official tests have proved that the sea is clearer than in the last 20 years (but you will see this for yourself on a snorkeling or diving trip.) The streets are clean and there is no threat of disease.

Just relax on the beach with an iced coconut and stop worrying.

Are local tours operating?
Dive trips have resumed. Divers report that the coral received minor damage and in the offshore sites the underwater coral gardens are more vibrant than ever. Fishermen report large schools of fish not seen for a few years.

You can still play a round of golf at one of Phuket's five courses, charter a sailing boat for the day to the islands, or go elephant trekking in the cool forested hills.

Should I feel guilty visiting a tsunami hit area?

Not at all. Your visit will help the local people enormously. Tourism and the local economy has been badly affected, yet people still need to pay school fees, everyday bills and get on with their lives.

You will be having a great holiday and helping enormously by contributing directly to those who need it.

http://www.phuket.com/phuket-status.htm

Read More

The Phuket Tsunami History

The State of Phuket


Simon J Hand, editor of Asia-Pacific TROPICAL HOMES and a long-time resident of Phuket, reports on the remarkable resilience of the island following Sunday's tsunami and the speed with which those areas worst hit are recovering.

It is now the fifth morning after the tsunami – which locals are calling the “Andaman Wave” – struck the beach resorts and fishing port of Phuket Island and many areas on the west coast of Thailand.

Rescue workers in Khao Lak, north of Phuket, and returning from the popular island destination Phi Phi, to the south, speak of unparalleled destruction and loss of life. It will be many months, indeed years, before these places recover.

However, things on Phuket are returning to normal at a remarkable rate. Much of the island's administrative and emergency services were untouched by the devastation along the coast and it is likely that this is one of the chief reasons why the island has been able to bounce back so quickly from this terrible ordeal.


Since the afternoon after the tsunami, I have been touring the areas of the island hit by the wave, to check on friends and report on what I have found there. Below is an area by area breakdown compiled from these reports. Artasia editors will continue to update these as the days pass and new information comes to light.



PHUKET INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

Though seawater did breach the protective wall and initially flood the runway at Phuket International Airport when the wave – in fact waves – hit, airport emergency crews quickly brought everything under control and it was re-opened by early Sunday evening and receiving flights from Bangkok, including one carrying Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra who came to personally supervise the early stages of the rescue and clean-up efforts.


I have visited the airport on several occasions since then. There are no signs of the chaos and madness some news agencies have been reporting. There is more an air of mild perturbedness and it's a little busier than usual for a high season. It's as busy with people arriving as leaving. While some of these are people here to search for lost relatives and friends and the rescue workers arriving from Bangkok and international agencies, many more are holiday-makers who have checked with their hotels and found them to be fully operational.



NAI YANG BEACH

Nai Yang Beach, just south of the airport, is decimated. I was up there the day after the wave and, along the road closest to the beach, there is not a single shop, bar or restaurant that has not been destroyed – some are simply not there anymore. However the two major hotelsCrown Nai Yang Suite and Pearl Village – set some way back from the beach – have received only nominal damage and will be back in full operation with a week or two. I revisited Nai Yang on Thursday and the clean up operation was in full swing. Some places have even started rebuilding.



NAI THON BEACH

I visited Andaman White Beach Resort the day after the wave and was amazed at the recovery. Staff from the hotel had returned the beach to its usual pristine condition. When the wave hit here staff had already removed all of the guests from the beach and they were safely back in the hotel, which is set fairly high up the hillside. The only damage was to the resort's dive centre and new beach bar – both at beach level – the latter, ironically, only having opened on Christmas Day.


I have heard reports that the new Trisara resort received only nominal damage to its beachfront buildings.



LAYAN BEACH

While there was significant damage to the beach area – with seawater surging back some 400 metres from the beachfront, there is little development on or near Layan Beach and so, fortunately, little damage except for the downing of a few electrical poles. Layan Beach Resort is set well back from the beach and received no damage whatsoever.



BANGTAO BEACH

Despite claims that it was totally destroyed in some TV news broadcasts, the internationally renowned Laguna Phuket complex, which fronts onto the centre of Bangtao Beach, has reported that only fifty of its 1100 rooms have been put out of action by the wave. One guest was killed when the water hit the resorts.


The five hotels are reporting that they will be fully operational in less than a month with damage restricted to ground floor rooms close to the beach and a number of their beachfront restaurants and pools. When I visited Laguna Beach Resort the day after the wave, many guests languished not in misery but upon sun-loungers, baking beneath the clear blue skies.


The south end of Bangtao Beach was not so lucky and took a huge hit. Bill O'Leary – an Aussie who runs the famous Aman Cruises operation from here – reported a surge of two metres plus, that did not withdraw for well over an hour. Everything is damaged, much beyond repair. To describe the power of the wave at Bangtao, after it had smashed across about 200 metres – through trees, holiday bungalows and hotels – it ripped layers of tarmac off of the road and flung great chunks of it into the shops and bars behind. Eddying waters did further destruction, eroding large sections of the waterfront and causing further property damage and loss of life. Many of the bungalow operations and hotels in this area will not be fit for tourists for several months. Some may never re-open as they are just not there anymore.


Fifteen of the bungalows at the Chedi Phuket resort were damaged, management believe they will be able to re-open these to guests in about two months. While Rydges Beach Resort had water damage to between 10 and 15 of its rooms closest to the beach that will require a weeks work to repair.



SURIN BEACH

By complete contrast, Surin Beach is back to business as usual. On the day I visited – two days after the wave hit – the detritus on the beach had been neatly swept into large piles and the quaint rows of wooden bars, restaurants and food vendors were open to a busy stream of tourists.



KAMALA BEACH

Kamala received the heaviest and most widespread damage of any of Phuket's beaches. Much of what was there isn't anymore and the central beach area – once filled with happy bars, restaurants and shops – is today barely recognizable. Only the police station stands relatively undamaged at the centre of a crushed community. The waters destroyed virtually everything as far back as the main coast road, with flooding reported in the Phuket Fantasea compound. The roads closest to the beach are still closed to traffic and crews are working hard to restore basic amenities.


Many people died at Kamala, and accurate figures are not yet available. Thai locals and some tourists, seeing the tide go out over three hundred metres very quickly, ran onto the beach with buckets to collect the fish that were flopping around on the sand. Though the wave did not come for over fifteen minutes, many were caught out on the sand when it did and were lost.



KALIM BEACH

Here there was serious damage to two major real estate offices and the local school, which sits across the beachfront coast road. There is also some damage to the road itself, but – as of Thursday this was under repair.



PATONG BEACH

Patong beach road is still closed to traffic today (Friday) as crews work hard to bring back some semblance of normalcy to this once vibrant street. There is not a single business along this stretch that has not been very badly damaged. It will be several months before all the scars have healed. The premises of major chain stores and name businesses – among the many others – that are now just shells, include McDonalds, Starbucks, Watsons, KFC, Molly Malones and countless restaurants, jewellery stores and tailor's shops.


However, by 150 metres up the famous Soi Bangla things are getting pretty much back to normal. Even the well-known Kangaroo Bar has re-opened, though bars on either side have been badly damaged. By the end of Soi Bangla and onto Rat-U-Thit Road, all the major nightclubs and restaurants are still open and busy. Standing at the Bangla Junction at midnight, just three days after the wave, you would not even know that anything had happened. Music booms, lights flash and the party is very much still hot.


We have so far not been able to make contact with those hotels nearest to the beach in Patong and are unable to comment at present on their status. However all hotels set further back, beyond Rat-U-Thit road are still fully open.


Le Meridien Phuket Beach Resort – on the small bay between Patong and Karon – has been evacuated and closed. The hotel is reporting damage to its pool and beachfront restaurants and plans to re-open by January 15.



KARON BEACH

The layout of Karon saved it from receiving the same level of property damage as other beaches. Almost all of the big hotels here are set well back from the beach and on fairly high ground. Some shops and bars along the beach road – including the small local market – received nominal damage, but as of Thursday most were under repair and the market was back in action. There was serious flooding at the stadium at the south end of Karon. All hotels we have contacted have reported that they are fully operational.



KATA BEACH

There was significant damage to the south and north end of Kata Beach, with restaurants and bars smashed into rubble. Club Med – which dominates the central stretch of the beach road – was inundated at one end but untouched at the other. For safety the hotel was evacuated. We have not yet been able to contact anyone from the hotel to confirm when it will be ready to re-open.


At the south end, the famous beachfront hotel Mom Tri's Boathouse was also badly damaged. Over 3000 bottles of wine destroyed, and the grand piano blasted 100 metres up the street. The entire ground floor restaurant and lobby washed away. I met with owner and architect Mom Tri Devakul, who was touring the scene of the damage yesterday (Thursday). He reported the hotel rooms will be open again before this weekend and that he will take this opportunity to remodel the restaurant. “It was due for a renovation anyway,” he said with a wan smile.


The Kata Thani Hotel and resort on Kata Noi Beach received damage to its ground floor and swimming pool.



NAIHARN BEACH AND ENVIRONS

At the southern tip of the island, Naiharn Beach was also badly hit but, with little waterfront property, damage was limited. The same cannot be said for Ao Sein Beach (on the northern tip of the bay and Yanui Beach, a tiny inlet at the other end. On both guest house bungalows and private homes have been wiped out. The damage to Yanui stretches several hundred metres inland.


To try to describe the power of the wave here, about fifteen metres above sea-level on the hill road from Yanui to Naiharn and about forty metres inland from the beach, the road was partially blocked by a log about the size of a small car, that I recalled had previously rested on the beach just in front of Leone's house



RAWAI BEACH

There was moderate but extensive damage along the sea wall at Rawai and several boats were destroyed. The well-known Nikita's Bar was also damaged, but was back open for business two days after the wave. The Sea-Gypsy village did not fare as well with significant damage and loss of life.


The Evason has announced that it is still fully operational, though there are reports that the hotel's jetty was washed away.



CHALONG AND AO YON BEACHES

A heavy wash ran up the lower east coast of Phuket, Chalong Bay, making a bit of a mess and leaving large chunks of boat propped up along the beach wall, but only a few light injuries. There was water damage to a couple of the beach front bungalow resorts, including Friendship Beach, but this has since been cleaned up and the restaurant is operating on an almost complete menu as of Friday. Chef Charlie says everything will be back on in the next few days. Guests were returning to there rooms just three days after the flooding.


The wave went on to hit Ao Yon hard, but caused only moderate property damage, mainly to the premises of CoralSeekers, which bases its tour and yachting operations from there. The clean up there was well underway the day after the wave hit.



PHUKET CITY

The island's business and administrative centre received no damage whatsoever. The city's fishing port was not so lucky. A huge swell roared up the channel past Rattanachai boatyard, dragging dozens of large and small fishing boats off their moorings and thrusting them into a tangled mass against the bridge to Sirey Island.


The Sea Gypsy village on Sirey was also hit hard, with many homes destroyed. One lady from the village reported to me that, fortunately – and surprisingly, considering the damage – there were no dead or missing, only a few injuries.



BEACH CLEAN-UP AND REBUILDING AROUND THE ISLAND

As of yesterday (Thursday), Royal Thai Army engineers from Ratchaburi, staff from many hotels and villagers from both seafront and inland communities had completed total clean ups of many of Phuket's beaches, including Kata, Karon and Naiharn. Others are expected to be finished before the weekend is out.


Conservative local estimates put the loss of rooms on Phuket in the low hundreds – rather than the several thousand claimed by the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Most of the hotels and resorts that were damaged are reporting very minor damage – averaging between 15 and 20 rooms each. Only a few have been completely closed down. All that we were able to contact claim that full service will be returned in just a couple of weeks. It should also be noted that damage caused by the tsunami on Phuket has directly affected less than ten percent of the island.


The weight of human loss and loss of livelihoods that it has wrought, and that which is still yet to come to light, is of course immeasurable. To all those people affected, we send out our most heartfelt condolences. We know you are many and we hope that we can be as strong as you and stand beside you in the months to come.


It is the Thai people who, in what would be considered overwhelming circumstances for many westerners, are quietly, stoically, cleaning up and beginning the rebuilding work on Phuket. It is a scene repeated up and down the coast. There are no scenes of wailing desperation, so beloved of CNN and BBC, despite the enormous tasks that face them. Where foreigners have fled the “terror”, the Thai people are still here. Despite their immeasurable losses – and that's not just a few suitcases of clothes – there are no mercy flights to whisk them away. They will be here throughout all that is to come. The Thai people of Phuket, Krabi and Phang Nga are the heroes here, for it is they who have lost the most and they will be the ones who take on the task of rebuilding the Pearl of the Andaman.


With additional reporting by Kerrie Hall, Scott Murray and Hayley Windsor

http://www.phuket.com/phuket-beach-status.htm

Read More

phuket tsunami:As of 26 December 2005 the fund has raised 27,765,006 Baht

Fortunately, spared from the major devastation caused by the tsunami on 26 December, Laguna Phuket is able to focus on providing assistance to help local tsunami victims rebuild their shattered lives, from repairing damaged homes and community facilities to regaining their means of livelihood and mental well being. These people need sustained and long-term help.

As part of our continued long-term commitment to local communities, Laguna has established the Phuket Tsunami Recovery Fund as a channel for our many supporters, well wishers and contributors to provide direct assistance to help Phuket's local tsunami victims. The Fund is managed by Laguna Resorts & Hotels' (LRH) own organisational network. Laguna Phuket will work with local authorities to determine where the greatest community needs are, and how best to achieve both maximum benefit from the funding and our objective of providing medium to long-term support to the survivors.

Objectives of the Fund
• The Fund is intended for direct expenditures for specific projects benefiting affected communities or segments thereof.
• The Fund will not make donations of money to other funds.
• The Fund is intended to support long term recovery, for example, to rebuild homes and fishing boats.
• The Fund is intended to focus on specific affected communities close to the locations of our operations instead of general usage or distribution into a wide area.
http://www.lagunaphuket.com/tsunamifund/

Read More

History Geography and Climate:: Myanmar: the Country

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is recognized by the world as the Golden Land. It is one of the earliest homes of mankind, where one can have exclusive experiences of a life-time.

Myanmar’s Golden Age dates back to the 11th century when King Anawrahta united the whole country into the First Myanmar Empire in Bagan well before the Norman conquest of England in 1066. The Bagan Empire encompassed the entire Menam valley in Thailand and lasted about 250 years, before it collapsed with the invasion of the Mongols under the leadership of Kublai Khan in the 13th century. The Second Myanmar Empire was founded in the middle 16th century by King Bayinnaung. King Alaungpaya founded the Third Myanmar Empire in 1752. It was during the zenith of the Konbaung dynasty, that the British colonized Myanmar.

Britain conquered Burma over a period of 62 years (1824-1886) and incorporated it into its Indian Empire. Burma was administered as a province of India until 1937 when it became a separate, self-governing colony; independence from the Commonwealth was attained in 1948.

On January 4, 1948 at 04:20am, the nation became sovereign, as the Union of Burma, with U Nu as the first Prime Minister. Democratic rule ended in 1962 with a military coup d'état led by General Ne Win. Ne Win ruled for nearly 26 years, bringing in harsh reforms. In 1990 free elections were held for the first time in almost 30 years, but the landslide victory of the NLD, the party of Aung San Suu Kyi was voided by the military, which refused to step down.

One of the top figures in Burmese history in the 20th century is Army founder and freedom figure General Aung San, a student-turned activist whose daughter is 1991 Nobel Peace Laureate and worldwide peace, freedom and democracy icon Aung San Suu Kyi of the NLD, now under house arrest. The third most recognized Burmese figure in the world is U Thant, who was UN Secretary General for two terms and highly respected throughout United Nations' history.

In November 2005, the military junta announced that the national capital would be moved from Yangon to Pyinmana.

Geography:
The country covers an area of 677,000 square kilometers (261,228 square miles) ranging 936 kilometers (581 miles) from east to west and 2,051 kilometers (1,275 miles) from north to south. It is a land of hills and valleys and is rimmed in the north, east and west by mountain ranges forming a giant horseshoe. Enclosed within the mountain barriers are the flat lands of Ayeyarwaddy, Chindwin and Sittaung River valleys where most of the country's agricultural land and population are concentrated.

The length of contiguous frontier is 6,159 kilometers. The total length of Myanmar-Bangladesh boundary is 271 kilometers (168.7 miles). The total length of Myanmar-China boundary is 2,204 kilometers (1,370 miles); Myanmar-Thailand 2,107 kilometers (1,309.8 miles); Myanmar-India 1,338 kilometers (831.8 miles); and Myanmar-Laos 238 kilometers (147.9 miles).

Climate:
As a whole, the location and topography of the country generated a diversity of climate conditions. Seasonal changes in the monsoon wind directions create summer, rainy and winter seasons. Extremes of temperature are rare. The directions of winds and depression bring rain, and although it is always heavy in the coastal areas during monsoon season, it seldom creates hardships.

The most pleasant season for travelers is from November to February. During this season the climate resembles a fair European summer. However, in some mountainous areas the temperatures can drop to 0 centigrade. For this time period a jacket, pullover, socks, warm pajamas are needed.

The hot season starts in March and lasts until May. During this season temperatures easily exceed 40 centigrade, even in Yangon.

The rainy season starts in May and lasts until November. However the amount of rainfall differs according to the area. And indeed, it's wonderful to travel with fewer travelers around – and after every rainfall the temperature cools down!

Generally, most of the year will have daytime temperatures around 30°C (86°F) and mid-20s (high 70s) temperatures at night. During the cool season, however, you can expect temperatures closer to 25°C (77°F) and 15°C (59°F). Coastal areas are usually cooler but more humid.

Read More

Travel-Myanmar :TANINTHAYI DIVISION:Mergui Archipelago


TANINTHAYI DIVISION:
Adjacent to Mon State to the north and Thailand to the east. Taninthayi Division occupies a long narrow coastal plain bounded by the Andaman Sea in the east, which runs to Kawthaung, the most southerly point of Myanmar and which then continues to the Malaya Peninsula.

How to get there:

Air Bagan is flying three times a week from Yangon to Dawei, Myeik and Kawtaung and there is a daily regular express coastal boat service between Myeik, Dawei and Kawthaung.

What to see:

Dawei:
The capital of Taninthayi (Tenasserim) division, is a port of medium importance and tropical seaside town. 384 miles from Yangon, it is on the eastern bank, at the mouth of a creek of same name, 30 miles from the sea in a narrow gulf.

As Dawei is in the coastal region, fisheries become the mainstay of the economy there. Sea-fish and prawn are sufficient enough not only for local consumption but also for the international market. Most local people make their living by trading in regional goods. Some have rubber, oil palm, cashew and mango plantations and they also cultivate paddy. This is a wrap-up of the simple Dawei people’s life and breath-taking beauty spots of Dawei which today boosts modern characteristics of developed cities. The well-known Maung Ma Gan Beach, which is now being developed and upgraded is just 8 miles north-west and is famous for delicious sea food.





Myeik:
According to the characteristics of port cities, Myeik is busy with small and large boats in the morning. Beside, you can pay homage the Reclining Buddha Image, the grace and glory of Myeik on Pahtet isle. At the harbors of Myeik, ships, speed boats and fishing vessels are closely quad in a long line. Relying on the sea, cold storage factories for packaging fish and prawn, ice factories and warehouses are built along the bank. The house of bird-nests is a rare and unique thing to see in Myeik. The local people are very much devoted to religion. The Lay Gyun Se Mee Pagoda in Myeik is very sublime. Its festival is thronged with visitors. During your stay in Myeik you should not miss the Beik evening Bazaar. The reclining Buddha Image in Pa Htaw Pa Htat island, which is on the other bank of Myeik, is also very sublime.


Kawthaung:
Formerly called Victoria Point, is the southern-most town of Myanmar and the starting point to explore the Mergui Archipelago. Half of the town is going up along the slope. The town is an important border point with products such as seafood, palm oil and rubber. You can observe the states of King Bayintnaung in Kawthaung which is a symbol of Myanmar Patriotism. The world's largest pearl was discovered in the Makha lauk pearl oyster exploration area in the north west of Zardatgyi Island in Kawthaung Township.
Ranong is the border town in Thailand. Visitors can take 20 minutes boat trips to Kawthaung for sightseeing and shopping. Andaman Club on the Thahtaykyun island is located west of Kawthaung. There are regular flights from Yangon to Kawthaung and Five Star shipping line operates Cruise vessel to Kawthaung.



Mergui Archipelago:
Among the geographical beauties of the Union of Myanmar, many treasures are in the depths existing beneath the archipelago waters to this day. Myeik Archipelago comprises over 800 islands covering an area of 10,000 sq. miles. Several expeditions have been undertaken to survey the undersea ecosystems and biodiversity.

Lumpi island can be reached from Myeik, about 90 nautical miles southwest, 30 miles west from Bokpyin and 60 miles northwest from Kawthaung. This beautiful island of Lumpi is totally untouched; with a rich history of maritime trade and mysticism. The modern day, Mergui Archipelago, is as it was days gone by. The archipelago is virtually isolated but you will find the islands and surrounding seas alive with amazing diversity of wildlife, flora and fauna. Parrots, hornbills, sea eagles Brahming kites and herons fill the skies. On land, the animal population includes monkeys, wild cattle, elephants, deer, wild pigs, crocodiles, tigers and rhinoceros.

Crab eating maquekes the monkeys can be seen here on the shoreline. The only human inhabitants in this beautiful area are the sea gypsies, a nomadic seafaring race. The Moken-sea gypsy-village, their life style is very simple. Their life style has changed very little over the years.

Sea gypsies have been the sole inhabitants of the Mergui Archipelago over the years and they still use the same fishing and boat building techniques which they have been using for many generations. Lumpi offers a great variety of breathtaking scenery and wildlife, with more luxuriant ever green forests, beach and dune forests, tidal mangroves, magnificent beaches and spectacular coral formation.

Forests that grow on the island have a variety of both terrestrial and marine ecosystems and inhabitants. The surrounding waters are rich in bird life, fish marine, mammals (dolphins) and marine turtles.

Salone, a group living part of the time on a few littoral area on the fringes of the Andaman sea and part of the time on their boats, wondering about among the Islands of the Myeik Archipelago in a nomadic existence that has caused them to become known as the sea gypsies. There are no more then five thousand Salons left in the world today scattered over the Myeik Achipelago as well as some parts at the Andaman Sea.


Read More