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Archive for thailand

The White Temple

By Linda Tancs

Typically adorned in brilliant colors, there’s one temple in Thailand that breaks the mold—the White Temple (Wat Rong Khun) just outside Chiang Rai. The brainchild of artist Chalermchai Kositpipat, its ghostly, otherworldly appearance is intended to convey Buddha’s purity. Funded entirely by the artist, the structure depicts Buddhist ideals of life and death. For temple “purists,” there is an ornate, gold building next to the temple; it houses a public restroom popularly referred to as the most beautiful in Thailand.

Canal Adventures in Bangkok

By Linda Tancs

Chao Phraya River, Bangkok’s aquatic roadway, provides a leisurely and scenic alternative to touring Thailand’s capital city. A day-long teak boat tour provides an English-speaking guide along a visit to the temples, markets, an orchid nursery and even an artists’ colony dating back hundreds of years. A Thai lunch is included. Wear appropriate clothing for temple visits.

Rose of the North

By Linda Tancs

Affectionately known as the “Rose of the North” for its pristine natural resources, Chiang Mai was built in the 1200s as a walled city surrounded by a moat. Established as a center of Buddhism in northern Thailand, its centuries-old pagodas and temples belie the city’s ethnic diversity as the home of several hill tribes. Each hill tribe has its own customs, language, dress and spiritual beliefs, drawing the interest of tourists from around the world. In fact, the hill tribe trekking industry is booming, a welcome development for tribes interested in promoting native arts and handicrafts.

Upside Down in Thailand

By Linda Tancs

At the Upside Down House in Phuket, Thailand, you really can dance on the ceiling, Lionel Richie style. The directionally challenged home is a popular attraction that, it’s fair to say, will challenge your perspective. If your senses aren’t altered enough by the experience, then be sure to proceed to the garden maze behind the home.

The Paper Island

By Linda Tancs

Thailand’s southernmost island is Koh Lipe, a quiet paradise in the Andaman Sea near Malaysia.  Its name has been roughly translated from the local language to mean “paper island.” From the looks of it, that’s an apt description.  The island is flat, and its pure white beaches (three main ones) resemble a sheet of white paper. Now in low season, the good weather is coupled with low tourism (although the island in no way approaches the hustle and bustle of Phuket even in high season). Accessible only by boat, in low season the main transport hub is the pier at Pak Bara in Satun.  Don’t go there via Phuket, though; the ride to Pak Bara is about seven hours’ long. From Hat Yai it’s only two hours by taxi to the pier.

Two Heroines

By Linda Tancs

Phuket, Thailand’s largest island, is no stranger to adverse forces.  Although most might best remember the damage wrought by the 2004 tsunami, this southern province has battled against adverse influences for centuries.  For instance, during the Battle of Thalang in 1785 the Burmese sought control of this island paradise and might have won it were it not for the marshaling of troops led by two sisters.  Driving the Burmese to retreat, the two women became local heroines and were bestowed honorary titles by a grateful King Rama I.  The Two Heroines Monument is located on Krasattri Road.

The Heart of Buddhism

By Linda Tancs

Tomorrow marks the full moon day of the third lunar month.  That means that in Buddhist-majority countries like Thailand they’ll be celebrating Makha Bucha Day.  Held in honor of Buddha, the event commemorates Buddha’s sharing of his enlightenment with a congregation of disciples.  The day ends with a closing ceremony where thousands of monks light candles, chant scripts in temple grounds and perform the ritual of wien thien (circling the temple three times) in major shrines.

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