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Slow Life in Nan Province

Today, I’d like to take you on a photographic journey to Nan province in Thailand. I thus invite you to enjoy the peaceful and serene atmosphere and landscape of this place. Enjoy the beauty of Nan province!

Nan Province

A Buddha in Nan province (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

A Buddha in Nan province (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Nan is a hidden gem in Northern Thailand where life is still slow anf tranquil. Thus, Nan has become increasingly propular with both local and foreign travelers and the province is also known for its amazing handicrafts.

Temple in Nan province

Mythical beings in front of a temple in Nan*

Nan is located near the Laotian border and it is also in close proximity to Luang Prabang, the capital of Laos. Hence, this place is very much upcountry Thailand. Historically, Nan was once an independent kingdom. Hence, Nan’s history has been very much influenced by the neighbouring countries and in particular by the kingdom of Sukhothai.

Temple in Nan (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Golden temple in Nan*

In history, this province was an independent principality under the reign of Lanna, Sukhothai, Burma and Siam. However, in 1558, Nan was conquered by the Burmese. It was not until the late 18th century that Nan became allied to the Rattanakosin Kingdom.

Painting in a temple in Nan National Park in Nan, Thailand Temple in Nan (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Mural painting in a temple in Nan*

Amazing handicraft from Nan Painting in a temple in Nan National Park in Nan, Thailand Temple in Nan (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Amazing paintings from Nan*

Thus, Nan was a half-autonomous kingdom with its own kings who reigned from 1786-1931. Nan is also the home of many Tai Lue people and other hill tribes like the Hmong, N’tin, Yao and Khamu. About 10 percent of Nan’s population belong to the hill tribes. They preserve their traditions and customs.

National Park in Nan, Thailand Temple in Nan (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

National Park in Nan, northern Thailand*

In Nan, there are also great agricultural areas where rice and fruits also grown.

Nan is devoted to agriculture, particularly to rice cultivation

Nan is devoted to agriculture, particularly to rice cultivation*

What is more, Nan is known for its stunning national parks. For instance, the Doi Phukha National Park is well-known for its nearly 2000m high mountains. Therefore, Nan is also a popular destination for people who like trekking and hiking. Interestingly, the provincial tree and flower is the Orchid tree.

Nan is a popular destination for people who like trekking.

Nan is a popular destination for people who like trekking*

Make a wish! Have you ever seen such a starlit sky?

Make a wish! Have you ever seen such a starlit sky? The milkyway is just around the corner*

Summing up, we may say that Nan province has not only impressive and interesting cultural destinations like temples and museums but also an unique laid-back charm. Last but not least, the province also offers amazing quality cafes and restaurants for refreshment 🙂

Quality cafe for refreshment Amazing handicraft from Nan Painting in a temple in Nan National Park in Nan, Thailand Temple in Nan (photo: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Quality cafe for refreshment*

Yours, Sirinya 🙂

*All photos in this post: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66




Mueang Boran – The Ancient City

Mueang Boran (เมืองโบราณ) means literally translated ‘Ancient City’ and is accordingly referred to as ‘Ancient Siam’. It is a park and probably the world’s largest outdoor museum created by Khun Lek Viriyaphant (1914-2000) who also constructed the Erawan Museum in Samut Prakan. Visiting Mueang Boran can be compared to a Thailand-round journey within a day!

The Ancient City

At the Ancient City, Samut Prakan**

At the Ancient City, Samut Prakan**

Mueang Boran, created in the early 1970s, is also located near Samut Prakan in close proximity to the Crocodile farm, about 30 km south-east of central Bangkok, near the coast to the Gulf of Thailand.

At one of the 'Salas' in Mueang Boran*

Amazing architecture at one of the ‘Salas’ in Mueang Boran*

This museum park has the shape of Thailand and spreads over 200 acres. What is more, it features 116 miniature structures of Thailand’s famous monuments and architectural attractions of various provinces such as Prasat Hin Phanom Rung, Wat Mahathat Sukhothai, Phraphuttabat Saraburi, Phrathat Mueang Nakhon, Phrathat Chaiya and many more.

A historical Thai building**

A historical Thai building at Mueang Boran**

Apart from replicas of historical buildings, you may also encounter stunning mythical beings from Thai culture like the Naga which is the mythical snake.

The Naga-Makara - Mythical Snake and Crocodile Composite'

The Naga-Makara – Mythical Snake and Crocodile Composite*

Hence, historical structures are saved in this way and the park can be regarded as an educational area preserving Thai culture and historic building techniques. A dedicated team of local artisans work alongside experts from the National Museum of Thailand. Hence, you also find woodcarvers and other craftsmen at work there.

A woodcarver at work in Mueng Boran**

A woodcarver at work in Mueng Boran**

A craftsman at work**

A craftsman at work, Samut Prakan, Ancient Siam**

However, not all buildings are miniature, there are also some full-size replicas of existing or former sites.

Monuments from Thai history at the Ancient City*

Monuments from Thai history at the Ancient City*

The facsimiles have been created with the help and assistance of experts from the National Museum in order to ensure historical accuracy. The most outstanding structure of the Ancient City is the Grand Palace of Ayutthaya which was destroyed by the Burmese in 1767. Further extraordinary replicas are the Phimai Sanctuary in Nakhon Ratchasima, and Wat Khao Phra Viharn located on the border to Cambodia.

Replicas at Mueang Boran*

Chinese style replicas at Mueang Boran*

In the museum park, there are artificial watercourses and mountains. Sometimes you can also spot some shy red-deers that browse the green areas. Apart from the 116 monuments, there are many statues which represent famous incidents in Thai history or literature. For instance, the following picture shows the Dvaravati Buddha at the Stupa of Phra Maha That, Chaiya, Surat Thani.

I think this is the Dvaravati Buddha statue*

I think this is the Buddha Image of the Dvaravati Period, Ancient City*

The Buddha's face*

The Buddha’s face, Dvaravati Period*

Generally, the museum presents different periods of Siamese craftsmenship ranging from prehistorical times, Dvaravati, Srivichaya, Khmer to Lanna, Lan Chang, Hariphunchai and Sukhothai. The following periods called Authong, Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin are also represented there.

A re-creation at the Ancient City**

A re-creation at the Ancient City**

The landmarks are all in geographical order. Visitors of the museum receive a map in which all monuments are listed and numbered consecutively. Apart from the replicas there are also rare traditional folk arts and cultures. However, sustenance is also provided there – check out the restaurants, food and drink outlets and the Floating Market 🙂

A waterway at Mueang Boran**

A waterway at Mueang Boran**

If you wonder how to move around the large park area, you may hire a golf cart or a bicycle. In addition, private vehicles are also allowed at a fee.

Amazing sight at the Ancient City**

Amazing sight at the Ancient City**

Finally, we may claim that the Ancient City is an extraordinary outdoor museum that brings Thailand’s history under one roof. Hence, this park also helps to preserve Thailand’s rich cultural heritage.

Yours, Sirinya

(photo credit: *Amporn Konglapumnuay, ** Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)




The Buddha Image in Thai Culture

Representations of the Buddha can be found throughout Thai temple compounds. The Buddha occurs either as statue or in mural paintings. Hence, they are idealized images of the Great Buddha who lived in the sixth century BC in northeast India. He is commonly shown in either of the following four positions: seated, standing, walking, and reclining (as the following pictures illustrate). The Buddha’s hand gesture and posture refer to important events in his life.

The Buddha Image

The Buddha statue of Wednesday (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66))

The Buddha Image of Wednesday (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Siddhartha Gautama of the Sakya clan, who was to become the Buddha, was born in a small Hindu kingdom neighbouring to Nepal. First he became an ascetic before reaching enlightenment. Afterwards, he taught the truths he had learned and hence gained many disciples. He died around the age of 80.

Walking Buddha performing the gesture of Dispelling Fear (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Walking Buddha Monthon performing the gesture of Dispelling Fear (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

The Buddha put forward the Four Noble Truths concerning man’s condition and the Eightfold Path that should lead to enlightenment, perfection, absence from rebirths and finally to nirvana which is to be understood as the extinction of the ‘three poisions’, namely passion, aversion and ignorance. When these poisons or ‘fires’ are extinguished, freedom from the cycle of rebirth (samsara) is attained.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Reclining Buddha, Ayutthaya

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Reclining Buddha, Ayutthaya (photo taken by myself)

In the Reclining posture, the Buddha is also referred to as being in the ‘Sleeping Lion’s’ position which is the state in that the Buddha died. Buddha lies on the right side with knees slightly bend and the left hand on the thigh. In Buddhism, the ‘Sleeping Lion Posture’ is also the traditionally recommended mode for dying. A well-known Buddha Image in this position is the Reclining Buddha at Wat Pho in Bangkok.

Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho, Bangkok (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

For example, a Walking Buddha is the Buddha Monthon (Phutthamonthon) which is created in the Sukhothai style. The image performs the abhaya mudra, the gesture of Reassurance and Dispelling Fear. Characteristic of the period are the broad shoulders and pendant arm. The flat feet and projecting heels are part of the anatomy characteristic of a Great Being.

Great Buddha Monthon - Great Being (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Great Buddha Monthon (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

It is also important to note that there are Buddha statues for each day of the week, each in different pose. They are often lined up in a row at a temple. Many Thai people know the day and hour they were born thus paying respect to the Buddha image presiding over their day of birth.

Buddha images representing each day of the week (photo credit: chiangmai.chiangrai.com)

Buddha images representing each day of the week (photo credit: chiangmai.chiangrai.com)

The Buddha of Monday is the one preventing calamities. The image for Tuesday is in the reclining posture. Wednesday, in fact, has two Buddha images, in the morning it is the Buddha holding an alms bowl and in the evening he is in the posture of retreating in the forest. The Thursday image is meditating and on Friday the Buddha is in reflection. The Saturday statue is sitting in meditation while being protected by Muchalinda’s cobra hood. Finally, the Sunday Buddha is in pensive thought.

The Buddha's hand (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

The Buddha’s hand, the Great Buddha of Wat Muang (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

The most prevalent posture and gesture in Thailand is the Buddha in sitting position with his right hand pointing down to the earth. By doing so, he calls on the earth to be his witness that over many lives he fulfilled and accomplished himself thus being able to reach enlightenment. For example, the Great Buddha of Wat Muang is a seated image pointing with his right hand to Mother Earth. Another famous example of the seated statue is the Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit in Bangkok’s Chinatown.

The Golden Buddha image*

The Golden Buddha image (photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)

Summing up, we may claim that the Buddha image in Thai culture is very prominent and prevailing. Next time you visit a Thai Wat, check out what kind of images there are and find out which Buddha presides over your birthday 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(Reference, Carol Stratton, What’s What In A Wat, Silkworm Books, 2010)

 




Phutthamonthon -‘Buddha’s Sphere’ in Nakhon Pathom Province

The Phutthamonthon (in Thai: พุทธมณฑล) is also referred to as Buddha Monthon. This name is derived from the Sanskrit term ‘Buddha Mandala’ which means ‘Buddha’s Sphere’. This Buddha image is accordingly situated in the centre of the Buddhist park of the same name in Nakhon Pathom Province, about 40km west of Bangkok. This park was inaugurated in 1957 on 13th May, which is the Vaisakh Bucha Day.

Phutthamonthon

Buddha Monthon's shadow (photo credit: Siwaphon Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Buddha Monthon’s shadow over the park*

Officially, the statue has the name Phra Si Sakkaya Thotsaphonlayan Prathan Phutthamonthon Suthat. Literally translated this means ‘the Graceful Statue of the Shakyamuni who was of the Tenfold Power, the Presiding Buddha of the Beautiful Phutthamonthon’.

Phutthamonthon against a stunning sky (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Phutthamonthon against a stunning sky*

The Buddha statue was designed by the Italian art professor Silpa Bhirasri (also known as Corrado Feroci) in 1955. However, the statue was first cast in 1981. The Buddha Monthon which is 15,87 metres high, can be considered the highest free standing Buddha image in the world. Buddha Monthon is a ‘Walking Buddha’ in the Sukhothai style.

Walking Buddha performing the gesture of Dispelling Fear (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Walking Buddha Monthon, performing the gesture of Dispelling Fear*

This means that the image performs the abhaya mudra, or gesture of Reassurance and Dispelling Fear. Characteristic of the period are the broad shoulders and  the pendant arm ‘like the trunk of a young elephant’. The flat feet and projecting heels are part of the anatomy characteristic of a Great Being.

Great Buddha Monthon - Great Being (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Great Buddha Monthon – Great Being*

The park around the Buddha statue is well maintained and filled with amazing ponds, canals, trees, and huts for resting and relaxing. In addition, surrounding the statue are sites that memorialize the four main stations in Buddha’s life which are his birth, enlightenment, his first sermon and death.

Buddha Monthon against the blue sky (photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram @knack66)

Buddha Monthon against the blue sky*

Summing up, we may say that Phutthamonthon is a stunning Buddha image located in a well ‘manicured’ park that invites people to spend a lazy and relaxed day in a green environment 🙂

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Siwaphong Pakdeetawan, Instagram@knack66)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWkawtCGpPU




The Golden Buddha Image at Wat Traimit in Chinatown

I went to see the Golden Buddha Image at Wat Traimit in Bangkok’s Chinatown about two years ago. I was very deeply impressed by the Golden Buddha. In fact, so much impressed that I nearly forgot taking photos of the Buddha and of Chinatown itself 😉

Wat Traimit*

Wat Traimit, check out the full name of this temple*

After strolling around in Chinatown, I went to Wat Traimit Witthayaram where the Golden Buddha Image is located. Hence, across the main entrance of Wat Traimit you find the prominent Odeon circle and the archway to Chinatown.

Entrance of Wat Traimit*

Entrance of Wat Traimit*

To come back to the the Golden Buddha, it is in fact the largest Golden Buddha statue in the world and more than 700 years old. The Buddha’s official name is Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (in Thai: พระพุทธมหาสุวรรณปฏิมากร). Thus, the Golden Buddha is in the Mara conquering attitude which is the typical artistic style of Sukhothai (i.e the period from the 13th century to the beginning of the 15th century). What is more, the Buddha’s head is egg-shaped which is also a typical feature of the Sukhothai period. Consisting of pure gold, this Buddha Image is unrivalled in size, value and beauty. It is more than 15 feet high and weights about 5,5 tons. The price value is 28,5 million pounds.

Golden Buddha Image

The Golden Buddha image*

The Golden Buddha Image*

As a matter of fact, the Golden Buddha is one of the most valuable treasure of Thailand and of Buddhism. In addition, the temple also has some fine and stunning architecture to offer.

Amazing architecture inside the temple*

Amazing architecture inside the temple*

It is important to note that the Buddha was originally covered with plaster in order to hide and conceal it from invading enemies. In the third reign of the Chakkri Dynasty, the Golden Buddha was installed in the main temple building of Choti-naram Temple which is also known as Wat Phrayakrai in Yannawa District, Bangkok.

Inside the Wat Traimit museum*

Inside the Wat Traimit museum*

In the early 1930s, the Buddha was moved to Wat Traimit Witthayaram Temple by the East Asian Company. However, it was first in 1955 that people discovered that the Buddha was made of pure gold. When the Buddha was moved into the building, part of the covering plaster cracked and that was when the Golden Buddha Image was discovered!

Mythical lion guardian in front of the temple*

Mythical lion guardian in front of the temple*

Since the Golden Buddha statue was discovered very close to the commemoration of the twenty-fifth Buddhist Era, i.e. 2500 years since Gautama Buddha’s passing, the Thai news media was full of reports and hence it is no wonder that many Buddhists regarded the occurrence as miraculous.

The new building at Wat Traimit, Chinatown, Bangkok*

The new building at Wat Traimit, Chinatown, Bangkok*

Hence, the Buddha at Wat Traimit has been treasured for its historical, artistic and cultural values. When I went to this temple, my aunt gave to me a silver necklace with a small Golden Buddha pendant. I truly love this necklace and have been wearing it nearly every day since I’ve got it.

Have you ever been to Bangkok to see the Golden Buddha Image at Wat Traimit? Is not it majestic? 🙂

The temple bells*

The temple bells*

You may also want to check out the official site of Wat Traimit here for some more information. By the way, another popular Buddha Image in Bangkok is the Reclining Buddha of Wat Pho.

Yours, Sirinya

(*photo credit: Amporn Konglapumnuay)




A Day in Ayutthaya

Indeed, it’s been a while since I visited Ayutthaya in Thailand. It’s about two years by now. However, I have been deeply impressed by this place and often thought and reminisced about it.

Sleeping dog at Ayutthaya

Sleeping dog in Ayutthaya

Well, the first thoughts that come to my mind when thinking about this place are amazing temple complexes where squirrels feast on fresh coconuts and where homeless dogs rest in the peaceful shades of banyan trees and temple ruins. Hence, to me this seems to be a place of contemplation, rest and inner peace today.

Squirrel and coconut at Ayutthaya

Squirrel and coconut in Ayutthaya

Ayutthaya

The city is situated in the region Amphoe Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya (พระนครศรีอยุธยา) which is about 70 km from Bangkok. Thus, this location is ideal for a day trip from the capital.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Reclining Buddha, Ayutthaya

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Reclining Buddha

Well, let me tell you some facts about the history of this location: this place became the second capital of the Siamese Kingdom which was founded in 1350. Nonetheless, this place was conquered by the Burmese in the mid of the 18th century. As a matter of fact, it remained the capital city of Thailand for 417 years and has been registered as a world heritage by the World Heritage Committee (UNESCO) in 1981. That was when the Historical Park was declared as a “World Cultural Heritage”. It is famous for its historical temples, museums and palaces.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, stupa, Ayutthaya

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, view from the stupa,

Most prominently, I remember visiting the Reclining Buddha that wears a yellow robe. The Buddha is situated in Wat Yai Chai Mongkon (วัดใหญ่่ชัยมงคล). There is a stupa that visitors can climb and from there you have a nice view on a series of Buddha statues which also wear yellow robes.

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, stupa, Ayutthaya

Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Buddha statues with yellow robes

Returning to the Reclining Buddha’s feet you can stick some coins there, this is supposed to bring good luck to you 🙂

Reclining Buddha at Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, Ayutthaya

Reclining Buddha at Wat Yai Chai Mongkon, sticking coins to the Buddha’s feet

My next station was the palace of King U-Thong and the funny and amazing display of roosters. In particular, I remember the giant rooster in front of the palace.

Giant rooster of King U-Thong, Ayutthaya

Great rooster of King U-Thong,

In his youth, King U-Thong very much enjoyed rooster fightings. Thus, you find a large number of rooster statues displayed around this palace.

Statue of King U-Thong, Ayutthaya

Statue of King U-Thong

The next memorable sight was visiting Wat Phanan Choeng (วัดพนัญเชิงวรวิหาร) which is situated in the Historical Park. Wat Phanan Choeng is partly Thai and partly Chinese. Thus, you can find there a section with entirely Chinese statues.

At Wat Phanan Choeng, Ayutthaya

Chinese statues at Wat Phanan Choeng,

However, the most important sight in this temple is the 19meters high giant golden Buddha statue.

Great Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng, Ayutthaya

Great Buddha at Wat Phanan Choeng

The legends say that when Ayutthaya was taken by the Burmese tears flowed from the eyes of the Buddha.

Wat Mahathat (วัดมหาธาตุ) is an amazing site too. Here the main stupa is surrounded by ancient monuments and small Buddha statues.

At Wat Mahathat, Ayutthaya

At Wat Mahathat

In Wat Mahathat you also find a most famous image, namely the Buddha head that is wrapped within a banyan tree.

Buddha head in banyan tree, Ayutthaya

Buddha head in banyan tree

It seems that nature embraces and takes care of Buddha so that he endures over the centuries in spite of violence and destruction. In this context, I’ve also come across a very nice book called ‘Ayutthaya: Venice of the East’ by Derick Garnier which deals with the history of this place. I truly like to get my hands on this book soon 🙂

Finally, I’d like to say that it was great fun , in particular, because nearby you have the opportunity to feed turtles and fishes in the Chao Phraya river!

Feeding turtles in Ayutthaya

Feeding turtles in Ayutthaya

 

Feeding turtles in Ayutthaya

Feeding turtles

Happy feeding fishes & turtles!

I hope you enjoyed reading my post! Have you been to this place and what do you like most about it?

Do you know that there is also a sweet dessert speciality from Ayutthaya? It’s called Roti Sai Mai and it’s a kind of crepe filled with colourful cotton candy strands 🙂

Have a nice day everyone,

Sirinya

(All photos in this post are my own)