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In a recent interview on CNN, Thailand’s new PM Samak Sundaravej, seemed to dismiss questions about the well publicised massacre of students on October 6th, 1976 as being something trivial that didn’t result in more than one death. Officially nearly 50 people were killed, the reality is quite probably a great deal higher.

Samak was Deputy Interior Minister at the time and is well known for having a hand in the massacre and attempts to gag the press. For anyone who doesn’t know what this is all about in a nut shell: the dictator Field Marshal Thanom Kittikachorn was in temporary exile in Singapore for his years of plundering from Thailand and for slaughtering hundreds of innocent pro-democracy demonstrators in 1973. Samak was sent to Singapore to persuade Kittikachorn to return to Thailand, as was the wish of the king, and he was guaranteed it would be safe to come back and that all was forgiven. Protests against his return were put down with force, leading to many deaths.

All politicians involved went on to further their careers, including Samak who also had a hand in General Suchinda’s bloody slaughter of pro-democracy students.
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Wat Suthat is said to be one of the most important Buddhism centres in Thailand and is located amongst the highest concentration of Buddhist shops and suppliers in Bangkok. Wat Suthat was begun under the reign of Rama I in the early nineteenth century and completed over a period of thirty years. It contains some excellent examples of bronze sculptures and Thai/Chinese art and one of the largest surviving bronze statues from the Sukhothai period. It is also home to the ashes of King Anand Mahidol, deceased brother of the current king of Thailand.

With Brahmanism predating Buddhism in Thailand many old Brahmin traditions and customs were integrated into Thai Buddhism and the local culture. One of these is the Ploughing Ceremony which kicks off in May from Wat Suthat, headquarters of Thailand’s Brahmin priests.

Outside the temple is the Giant Swing or Sao Ching-Cha. This relic of Brahminism was the site of a ceremony of respect for Shiva which involved brave men swinging higher and higher on the swing and trying to snatch a bag of gold in their teeth from a 15m pole. The practice was banned in the early twentieth century as too dangerous; many participants died trying to reach the bag of gold.

The swing is located at point F on the map.
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Floating Market

The most famous flosting market is the one that appears on tourist brochures and postcards around the world, Damnoen Saduak Floating Market about a 100km out of Bangkok. With all the attention this has gained over the last twenty years this market is now little more than a floating souvenir market aimed at the many package tours that stream into it’s vicinity everyday.

However, for a more authentic sample of floating Thai commerce give the floating market in Talin Chan a try. It’s smaller, still used by the locals as a serious place to pick up fruit, veggies and various other goods, and it’s closer to Bangkok.

Talin Chan Floating Market is on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River in front of the Talin Chan District Office, and whilst it does attract a certain number of sightseers and tourists it maintains its authenticity and is a still a serious local market.

Do a bit of shopping and have a bite to eat; where better to try a bowl of the famous boat noodles than floating on water? Talin Chan isn’t a major tourist location but there are things to do and see in the area. When you’ve finished at the market take a leisurely boat tour by long tail boat and absorb the scenic view of canal side Thailand.

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Videos and Photos Updated

Just added a few images on the photo page and a video on the video page showing a somewhat alternative tourist attraction.

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Thanks for question Ron. Right, as I understand it there is a separate bus to Rayong from Suvarnabhumi Airport. You need to take the shuttle bus from outside arrivals to the airport transportation centre. From there go to the inter-city counter and from there you can get a ticket to Rayong. As far as we know service is from 06000hrs to 2100hrs and will take a couple of hours.

Buses also leave for Rayong from Bangkok city, from Ekamai and Morchit bus stations. From here you can get a regular service throughout the day.

Other ways of getting from Bangkok to Rayong are car, either hire or taxi, or plane. But come on, really? Is that a journey that warrants a plane?? Expect taxi fare from Bangkok to Rayong to be in the region of 3,000 baht.

Hope that helps. [This was in response to a comment on a previous post]

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Whilst most angles are covered when it comes to Bangkok there are a few that are regularly overlooked. One of them being travel by bike.

Bangkok is a crowded and largely traffic congested city that has long been associated with some of the worst air in the world. However, it is a great place to see by bike. It can be dangerous and you would be well advised to take all necessary precautions (helmet, pads etc) but many people have reported experiencing a surprisingly courteous attitude from drivers when perched on two wheels.

Travelling by bike you will see a side of Bangkok so often missed when sat in a taxi or on a train or bus, and will be able to cover more ground than by walking. Armed with a good street map, plenty of water and a healthy smattering of sun lotion you will be ready to take on the high roads and by roads of Bangkok.

Most airlines will allow you to carry a bike if you prefer to use your own. Normal requirement is that the pedals are removed and all parts of the bike which can move are tethered with tape or string, or simply removed. All airlines follow different rules and whilst many will not charge you for carriage of a bike there are bound to be some that will.

If you’re only planning to cycle for a short time or simply can’t be arsed to take your own then you might want to buy a bike or simply rent one for the period that you intend to be in town. Most big super/hyper markets have great deals on bog standard models (Tesco and Carrefour).

Bicycle hire is possible but not that wide spread. There’s usually a few bikes for sale/rent along Khao San Road and there are one or two companies who hire mountain bikes. Spice Roads [http://www.spiceroads.com/about/bikes] offers Trek mountains bikes from as little as 280 baht per day whilst there are several other companies who offer guided tours by bike of Bangkok, or small areas of Bangkok that are of historical importance.

Another good source of information is the Bangkok Hash House Bikers here: http://www.bangkokbikehash.com/. This is a group of like minded individuals who meet about once a month for a two-wheeled jolly and a few drinks. Might be worth an email in their direction to find out more.

Happy cycling!!

Some helpful links:
http://www.bangkokbikehash.com/
http://www.spiceroads.com/about/bikes
http://www.realasia.net/BangkokBike.htm

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  • Well, the short and obvious answer is by plane. Thai Airways, AirAsia, Nok Air, 1 2 Go etc etc all make regular trips up to the north. But this is also one of the most expensive, boring and environmentally un-friendly options, all be it the quickest. Cheap deals are regularly advertised in the Bangkok Post but as a rule you might want to factor in about 1,800 baht for a one-way trip by air (generally more if it’s Thai Airways). 
  • More in keeping with the spirit of travelling is the train. Trains from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong station to Chiang Mai run about 6 times a day and take upwards of 12 hours. Fares for the slow meandering journey cost from under 300 baht in 3rd class to just shy of 1,400 baht for a first class sleeper, one-way. Trains in Thailand are not famous for their reliability or luxuriousness but they offer the chance to travel in a time-honoured fashion at an affordable rate and with some excellent views. 
  • Or, if you like the idea of the train but not squalor and you have some seriously deep pockets you might fancy a stab at the Eastern and Oriental Express. This hotel on rails is SE Asia’s answer to the Venice Simplon-Orient Express and is the only train that makes the full journey from Singapore to Thailand. Conditions are luxurious and the price tag hefty. Bangkok to Chiang Mai will set you back between US$1,370 and US$2,400, depending on how much pampering you require.
  • Competing with the regular trains, but not as enjoyable, is the coach. Coaches leave regularly from various points around Bangkok and of course Khao San Road. Prices vary depending on the company you choose and level of service you require but an air-con seat will cost you in the region of 400 baht and take slightly less time than the train. A word of warning though: Thai bus drivers tend to work long spells without a break and rely on cigarettes and caffeine drinks to keep them awake. 
  • And finally you can always drive yourself. Hiring a car and making your own way is arguably a lot more fun than jumping on a plane or sleeping on a train but costs for hiring, insurance, fuel and extra accommodation will make this option second in price only to the Eastern and Oriental Express. 
 
 

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