Author

Kathleen Pokrud

Thailand and Portugal have enjoyed over 500 years of bilateral relations, and Portugal was the first European nation to make contact with the Ayutthaya Kingdom in 1511. Expat Life recently sat down with H.E. Mr. Joao-Bernardo Weinstein, the new Portuguese Ambassador to the Kingdom of Thailand. Arriving directly to Thailand in January this year from his ambassadorship in Israel, Ambassador Weinstein received his credentials from the King Maha Vajiralongkorn Phra Vajiraklaochaoyuhua in April. In addition to Thailand, he is also Ambassador non-resident to Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Vietnam.  

Multi linguist career diplomat

Ambassador Weinstein was born in Lisbon, Portugal. He graduated with a First Degree and Ph.D. in History, and Masters in Political Sciences at the University of Paris. He speaks seven languages, including Portuguese, English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Romanian. Ambassador Weinstein recalled why he chose a diplomatic career, “My German great grandfather was the Consul-General to the German empire. As a banker and businessman, he was very much involved of both diplomatic and business affairs. Our family moved to Portugal in 1880. I think I was already fascinated with the idea of becoming a diplomat since I was a 12 year old boy. I started off my first two years of working career as a professor before joining the Foreign Service in 1986”. 

During a distinctive diplomatic career, Ambassador Weinstein has had overseas postings in Austria, Cyprus, India, Italy and Germany. His first ambassadorship was in Romania (2013) and in Moldova (non-resident 2014) followed by Israel (2017).

Impressions on Thailand

Expat Life asked Ambassador Weinstein on his views of Thailand in ASEAN, “Thailand as a founder member of ASEAN is an important and responsible partner. My impression is that Thailand often acts very discreet with traditional quiet diplomacy to deal with authoritarian regimes, as opposed to more outspoken countries. It is a very interesting manner of doing things that may be, in some circumstances, more efficacious.

On the subject of similarities between Portugal and Thailand, “Portugal is a country of sea traders and explorers, with our extensive history, there are Portuguese influence in Thailand in terms of architecture and cuisine. I am very impressed with the grandiose of Thai temples. I believe that there are similarities between our two countries. A very good, and touching, example is the love of children and the culture of close family orientation.”

Covid restrictions

With the current Covid restrictions, Ambassador Weinstein has frankly admitted that it has put certain limitations to his work. “For the first two months after my arrival, I was able to meet with representatives of Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the diplomatic core and other business communities. Unfortunately, since the partial lockdown from April, meetings are limited to online. Video conferencing as the new form of communication cannot compare the effectiveness of face-to-face physical discussions. The uncertain progress of the Covid situation also dampens our ability to set goals. At this stage we focus on Consular work, trying to support Portuguese nationals living in Thailand and/or in the other countries we are accredited to, and study how best to resume our work in the cultural, business and political domains when the time is again appropriate for it.

On travelling around Thailand, Ambassador Weinstein regretted that he has not had the opportunity to travel around yet. On weekends, apart from enjoying his love of reading, “I like taking walks from our embassy to Chinatown to explore new temples or cultural attractions. I appreciated the visit to the National Museum and Jim Thompson’s House.”

Thailand as a tourist destination

According to Ambassador Weinstein, there is not a huge community of Portuguese living in Thailand, around 200. Due to the Covid situation, it has not been possible to meet up with his local community. Thailand is a desirable tourist destination for Portuguese visitors. “There is a classic Siamese style pavilion built in Jardim de Vasco da Gama, Lisbon. It was a tributary gift to Portugal from the Thai government. The Thai Pavilion was inaugurated by Her Royal Highness, the Princess Maha Sirindhorn in 2012, and represents a token of friendship and recognition of 500 years of diplomatic relations between the two countries. There are Thai restaurants in Portugal. We also see Thai investment in our country.”

On the subject of students exchange programme, Ambassador Weinstein shared, “Currently, we do not have many exchange programme for students.  This is one area that I hope to focus and improve on.”

As Expat Life closes the interview, Ambassador Weinstein shared, “Although I have arrived in Bangkok for a few months, I visited Thailand before as a tourist and very much looked forward to my posting here. Thai hospitality is well recognised and I totally agree. I have felt tremendously welcome since my arrival.”

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Hua Hin has always considered as a romantic and elegant holiday destination, and a popular seaside gateway for the family. The sentiment started off about 100 years ago when the Royal Family and affluent Thais would spend their summers. I have lost count how many long weekends spent there. I recalled my first visit taking over three and a half hours thirty years ago, with the drive passing through rows of beautiful and towering pineapple trees. Now, the three hour short drive encourages its popularity remain for Bangkokians in taking a break from the hustle and bustle of the capital for relaxing weekends. The popular Hua Hin attractions are the countless attractive seaside houses, villas and a few captivating vintage summer palaces. In addition, the newer, purpose built community malls and special themed sightseeing villages mean there is something for all generations.

Perfect weekend getaway 

According to Christian Wurm, General Manager, Hyatt Regency Hua Hin and The Barai, “With its natural unkempt beauty, Hua Hin offers just as much charm, adventure, and luxury as other Thai destinations. It is a tropical paradise with mile long beautiful beaches and a peaceful ambience making it suitable for families, couples, or friends’ vacation. Its location on the Gulf of Thailand is within easy access especially from Bangkok, so it is the perfect combination for a spontaneous weekend getaway or longer visits too. Hua Hin is more than just a break closer to home; you will feel a sense of serenity, a sense of belonging while you soak up the ambience at your own pace.” 

David Ippersiel, General Manager of Sheraton Hua Hin Resort and Spa also advocated, “For locals and expats, Hua Hin is a family friendly weekend getaway at the beach. There are a wide variety of things to do and several special tourist attractions. Hua Hin is a seaside city with a colourful royal past, a laidback present and a promising future. It is an enthralling city for every visitor.”

Old world charm

For first-time visitors, Hua Hin’s appeal lies in the town’s tantalising old time feel, best illustrated in Hua Hin Railway Station and the Maruekhathaiyawan Palace. The summer seaside Palace, often referred to as “the palace of love and hope is located midway between Cha-Am and Hua Hin. It was built in 1923 under the royal command of King Rama VI using golden teakwood from the demolished Hat Chao Samran Palace. Another tourist’s favourite is the Klai Kangwon Palace. The 83-year-old Palace was formerly the personal residence built by King Prajadhipok (King Rama VII) in 1926 on his privy purse and given to Queen Rambai Barni. 

Staycation activities

Hua Hin offers a wide variety of activities from cultural experiences and outdoor trips to culinary adventures. As a coastal town, Hua Hin has an abundance of fresh seafood, especially blue crabs and tiger prawns and these are available from street food havens to upscale dining. For eye catching natural attractions, the rainforest Phraya Nakhon Cave is certainly worth a visit. Located inside Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, its spectacular beauty is among one of the most photographed landmarks of Hua Hin. For avid golfers, there are a few classy and renowned golf courses where golfers play against picturesque backdrops of hills and lakes.

Exploring the night markets that offer food, fashion, and handicrafts offers another enjoyable experience. “Chat Chai” market, popularly known as Hua Hin Night Market, was originally built on royal treasury land. Its seven arched roofs are in honour of King Rama VII. Available daily, the market offers street food stalls, vendors selling clothes, local handicrafts, and souvenirs. Another must visit place for art lovers is the weekend only Cicada Market. Created for artists to connect with locals and visitors, Cicada Market comprises four zones. “Art A La Mode” presents casual clothing and accessories. “Cicada Art Factory” features original artworks from young artists. “The Amphitheatre” presents various entertainments, ranging from concerts to theatre. “Cicada Cuisine” is dotted with stalls selling local and international dishes. During the day, it will be amusing to try the 25B per set Royal recipe “Khao Chae” at Khao Chae Paa Auen, which serves “Khao Chae” (cooked rice served in cool jasmine flowers water), “kapi” (shrimp paste)” balls, sweetened fish and “chaipo waan” (sweet pickled Chinese turnips).

Trendy instagram spots

With social media, everyone likes to share their best and fun moments with family and friends. There are several popular “instagrammable” places in Hua Hin. McFarland House at Hyatt Regency Hua Hin is a restored two storey 19th century pavilion that has been transformed into a beachfront restaurant. The ambience is rustic and casual. The restaurant has become one of the landmarks of Hua Hin, a perfect place for a wonderful afternoon tea, lunch or dinner with excellent food. After a round of golf, Prime Restaurant at Black Mountain Golf Course is great place to relax to wine and dine. Other “insta-worthy” places include Baan Chok, a beachfront café and eatery, and Memory House Cafe. Although it is a normal cafe, which sells cakes, pastries, coffees, teas and drinks, the surrounding areas of Memory House are designed to offer the feel of calm and relaxation with the wide lawn and tall grass.  

Monsoon Valley Vineyard

Apart from seafood, fine dining and street foods, Hua Hin now offers quality vino to go with their tasty top notch cuisine. The must visit spot for new experience is Monsoon Valley Vineyard, an awesome place to visit with family and friends, especially during the harvest events. Monsoon Valley was founded in 2001 by Chalerm Yoovidhya, a wine loving entrepreneur who sought to build a robust Thai wine culture. Formerly known as the Hua Hin Hills Vineyard, the Monsoon Valley Vineyard was built on a former elephant corral, a precious land where wild Asian elephants were once domesticated. This land is mostly made of sandy soil and slate, which is ideal for growing many grape varietals.  

The vineyard’s proximity to the sea allows it to enjoy a cool nightly breeze, while the sandy and loamy soil enriched with sea shells and fossils lends our wines their characteristic flavours and freshness. In 2006, Monsoon Valley Vineyard Hua Hin had its first harvest. The Monsoon Valley Bin 9 Royal Reserve 2005 was created in honour of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej the Great and served at the Royal Palace on the occasion of 60th anniversary of His Majesty’s Accession to the Throne.

Monsoon Valley Vineyard recently celebrated their “Exceptional 2021 harvest”. With remarkable grape quality, the attention turns to creating great quality wine and adding to over their 320 International Awards secured from previous vintages, the most of any Thai wine. Monsoon Valley White Shiraz was being named “World’s best Rose” by James Suckling in 2018, beating out over 150 Rosé’s from around the world in a blind taste test. 

Suppached Sasomsin, Winemaker at Siam Winery clarified, “As a Winemaker I am very excited about this year’s vintage. Not only was it a bountiful harvest, the high quality allows me to use conventional winemaking techniques to express the terroir. This year’s grapes are incredibly balanced and with over 30 varietals bearing fruit, I’m really looking forward to creating wines with unique character. On top of our Shiraz, Sangiovese, Chenin Blanc and Colom bard varietals, I am especially excited about the quality of this year’s Merlot grapes, which has historically been very challenging to grow in Thailand. We have been experimenting with growing Merlot grapes for almost 10 years, and the plants have matured nicely, producing consistently well-balanced fruits over the past 3-4 seasons. We look forward to being amongst Thailand’s first wineries in introducing locally grown Merlot this year.” 

Today, Monsoon Valley produces 4 ranges of wines, which include Classic range primarily served in Thai restaurants around the world; Premium and Signature range served at leading hotels all over Thailand, and the Cuvée flagship range, which is made from the finest grapes from our vineyard each year. The vineyard continues to pioneer grape growing techniques in Thailand in order to prove that Monsoon Valley Thai wines can overcome the tropical climate, and assure that Thai farmers can grow great quality grapes and produce the best wines. 

The perfect venue to taste and enjoy the internationally recognised premium quality Thai wines at Monsoon Valley is to dine at The Sala Wine Bar and Bistro. Inspired by the enchanting shape of the Thai pavilion, Sylvia Soh, a former Norman Foster architect, designed this restaurant building as a place to offer information about viticulture and the science of winemaking. The design of The Sala Wine Bar and Bistro combines the local beauty of Thailand with modern aesthetics to give visitors a comfortable, yet spectacular experience. Monsoon Valley offers an impressive dining experience amid the relaxing atmosphere of hectares of vineyard. The menu was inspired by the vineyard setting, using wines, grapes, and grape leaves to create unique dishes that can be enjoyed with Monsoon Valley wines.

Throughout the year, Monsoon Valley Vineyard offers a range of fun excursions, such as vineyard tours and cycling tours, wine tastings, elephant feeding, wine safaris, and most of all the Harvest Festival held annually from March to April.

With the current Covid-19 situation, Hua Hin remains the right choice for a laid back beach town feels with fresh air and sunshine. To unplug from the everyday monotony of life, the seaside town offers suitable options of romantic escapes, family getaways, golf drives, pet-friendly breaks and spa recharges. Its popularity as a holiday sanctuary is never ending!

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Exceptionality of Austrian wine

“Small is beautiful” – that is what best describes Austrian wine, when put into international perspective. Austrian wine is one of the most interesting phenomena happening in the world right now. Wines from Austria are now highly appreciated both by wine experts and wine lovers all around the world and can be found on almost every refined wine list. Expat Life recently interviewed Günther Sucher, Austrian Commercial Counsellor and Head of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA in Bangkok to learn what is it that makes Austrian wine so special.

Wine critics across the globe appreciate that Austrian wines are exceptionally delicious and pair wonderfully with different kind of food, making Austrian wine sheer drinking pleasure. Mr. Sucher has been promoting Austrian wines in Thailand over almost 6 years, and he explained, “Austrian wines have a compact body and climate driven freshness which makes them an excellent partner for Thai cuisine. Take for example Som Tam, a dish that combines sweetness, fruity acidity and above all fiery spice, which poses a particular challenge to the wine accompaniment. Austrian wines can cope with these challenges, for instance Grüner Veltliner which is high in extract and therefore tames the incendiary spice with agility, highlights the flavour of the coriander leaves (cilantro) and proves itself a lively companion with its fresh apple toned fruit.”

Wine making dated back centuries

The diverse climates and soils of Austria provide ideal conditions to produce the world’s finest wines despite being a landlocked “Alpine” territory. The first findings of wine producing in Austria dated back to the Celts and Romans (700 BC). “Gruner Veltliner”, the Austrian flagship wine, is another good historical example. It covers 37% of Austria’s vineyards today, was created in the 10th century. Austria produces 1% of the global wine production and 30% of this production is exported. After Germany and Switzerland, the U.S. is the third biggest export market for Austrian wine.

Perfect accompaniment to many cuisines

Austrian wines offer the perfect accompaniment to an array of dishes and food styles, from Central European to Mediterranean cuisine, right through to Asian and Oriental dishes. This is due to their compact and elegant body and fresh style; the result of climatic conditions.  

Mr. Sucher advocated, “For Thai cuisine which is rich in fiery chilli, the right wine requires sweetness and extract, to lessen the searing heat. Robust Grüner Veltliner or Riesling with well integrated acidity are nicely suited, as are indigenous and full-bodied RotgipflerZierfandler or Roter Veltliner. The residual sugar and fruit of a Beerenauslese also cool the fire. At the same time a robust Chardonnay (barrique) is great with prawns, lobster or chicken in curry. Its velvety tones attenuate the hot spices and emphasise the succulent sweetness of the seafood. Generally speaking, wines should not have too much acidity or tannin, and white wines ought to have a bit of bottle age.”

Austrian wine producing regions

Wine producing region is concentrated on the Eastern part of Austria as the West of the country is covered by mountainous terrain. The biggest of the four wine growing regions is lower Austria, which covers 60% of the total vineyards. This is home to Austria’s top notch white wines, above all Grüner Veltliner but also fruity Rieslings and some more ancient varieties like the Zierfandler or Rotgipfler.

The second biggest wine growing region is found in Burgenland, which offers ideal conditions for full bodied red wines like Blaufraenkisch, St. Laurent and Zweigelt, but also delicious dessert wines like the Eiswein or Trockenbeerenauslese. The third biggest wine producing region is found in the Southern province of Styria. With around 10% of Austria’s vineyards, Styria makes fantastic Sauvignon Blanc, Gelber Muskateller, Welschriesling and Weissburgunder. Last but not least, Vienna is the fourth wine growing region. No other capital in the world can compete with the 1,600 acres of vineyards. The Danube River going through Vienna provides ideal conditions for the Riesling and other white wine varieties.

Austrian wine tasting in Thailand

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA organised the first stand-alone Austrian Wine Tasting in Thailand on March 23rd 2021, at the SO Hotel in Bangkok.

Around 150 wines from 47 leading Austrian wine producers from all wine regions in Austria were presented at this unique tasting. Mr. Sucher is extremely pleased with the growing interest of Thai industry experts in Austrian wine, “More than 150 representatives of the Thai wine industry joined our Austrian Wine Tasting, which is a great success during COVID-times. I am confident that we will find more Austrian wines in restaurants and hotels after this tasting.”

According to Mr. Sucher, “About 1/3 of the wines presented at the event were already available in Thailand, 2/3 of the wineries were looking for new partners in order to enter the Thai market. The wines were jointly presented with eight local importers and distributors (Black Forest Distribution, FIN – Fabulous Is Needed, GFour International, IWS – Independent Wine & Spirit, italasia, Napaphan Wine Cellar, Siam Winery and Wine Garage), that already have Austrian wine in stock.”

He further commented, “Austrian wine goes very well with (spicy) Thai cuisine, as well as with Asian food in general. Up to now, the availability of Austrian wines in Thailand has been quite limited. Wines from our small country, located in the heart of Europe, have been little known in this part of the world so far. Therefore, the aim of the Austrian wine tasting was to increase the number of local distributors of Austrian wine, so that step-by-step customers may find Austrian wines in more and more upper class hotels and restaurants. Additionally, the event was designated to enlarge the network of distributors that directly supply to private wine connoisseurs in Thailand.”

The event exclusively targeted professionals of the Thai wine and hospitality industry, especially importers, distributors, F&B managers of hotels and restaurants, sommeliers and journalists. The highlight of the event was the exclusive trade session and wine tasting, where wine professionals discovered the unique taste of 47 Austrian wine producers. Visitors had the opportunity to explore more than 150 different wines from all regions of Austria!

In addition, selected sommeliers of leading restaurants and importers participated in an Austrian wine master class. During this session, the participants explored a variety of typical Austrian grapes, presented by wine expert Christophe Mercier of Wine and Spirit IQ, and experienced the full spectrum that Austrian wines have to offer.

To conclude on the interview, Mr. Sucher encouraged our readers, “Whoever has not managed to taste Austrian wine in Bangkok is cordially invited to visit one of the importers and distributors that already have Austrian wine in stock. In contrast to better known wine producing countries, family run wineries dominate the Austrian winemaking scene, which is why the focus is not on mass production. Nonetheless, Austria’s wines are excellent value for money in all the profitable price bands. Wine lovers, please be prepared to be amazed by the unique and distinctive flavours that Austrian wine has to offer!”



About ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA:

ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA, with around 100 offices in over 70 countries, provides a broad range of intelligence and business development services for both Austrian companies and their international business partners. Around 800 employees around the world can assist you in locating Austrian suppliers and business partners. We organise about 1,200 events every year to bring business contacts together. Other services provided by ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA offices range from introductions to Austrian companies looking for importers, distributors or agents to providing in depth information on Austria as a business location and assistance in entering the Austrian market.






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Historical city of Sukhothai


After residing in Thailand for thirty years, I finally fulfilled my dream to visit Sukhothai. I have often been told by my Thai friends, “If you enjoy visiting Ayutthaya which is only one hour drive from Bangkok, you are going to fall in love with Sukhothai.” And, they are perfectly right. The most historically significant and splendid temple ruins are inside the Sukhothai Historical Park and nearby Si Satchanalai Historical Park. Sukhothai and associated cities, namely Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet were declared the 574th UNESCO World Heritage in 1991. Located over 400km from Bangkok with a five hours drive, this partly explains the reason for less foreign visitors without the convenient transportation. Frankly admitting that the current Covid situation has encouraged everyone like me to appreciate domestic travelling. I am totally enchanted by the rustic lifestyle of what Sukhothai offers as a quiet rural city in Thailand. Given the opportunity of a long weekend stay, one will not be disappointed! Sukhothai worth’s deserved as a UNESCO World Heritage city.

Cradle of Thai civilisation


The Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1438) was considered as the cradle of Thai civilisation, with Sukhothai city as the first capital of Siam. “Sukhothai” means “the dawn of happiness” which launched the birthplace of Thai art, architecture and language. The kingdom enjoyed 200 years of peace and prosperity until the Ayutthaya Kingdom annexed it. Under King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (1239 – 1317), the second ruling monarch of the Phra Ruang dynasty, the Ceylonese school of Theravada Buddhism was established as the state religion. Thai alphabets were documented from ancient Khmer scripts and an administrative system for the government was set up. It was marked as golden period for Siamese art and architecture.

Sukhothai Historical Park


The Sukhothai Historical Park ruins are one of Thailand’s most impressive World Heritage sites. It is a great testimony of the glorious part of Thailand. The park covers an area of land totally 70 square kilometres with 193 ancient monuments, including 60 ancient monuments inside the town walls, 27 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the North, 37 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the South, 19 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the East and 50 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the West. In terms of visiting the whole compound, the ground is divided into three separate but adjoining areas. Most visitors concentrate in the central area. I found the most amazing site in the North with Wat Si Chum. The roofless mondop building enshrines a huge Sukhothai style Buddha image named Phra Achana (translated as “He who is not frightened”). It is the largest Buddha image in Sukhothai measuring 15 metres high and 11 metres wide.

The Sukhothai style image wearing a serene facial expression occupies the total space of the mondop’s interior. At the centre of the mondop is an opening diminishing in size towards the top through which the image can be seen from the outside. Local people also refer this amiable image as “Speaking Buddha”. The architecture of Sukhothai temples is most typified by the classic lotus-bud chedis, featuring a conical spire topping a square sided structure on a three tiered base. Generally known as the Sukhothai style, these lotus-bud chedis, brick-over-stucco construction techniques present the Buddha images with a signature graceful form. Some sites exhibit other rich architectural forms introduced and modified during the period, such as bell shaped Sinhalese and double tiered Srivijaya chedi. The grounds of the historical park are so expansive and I saw so many tourists renting bicycles to joyfully enjoy the scenery at their own pace. I hope my next visit to this beautiful historical park is during the Loy Krathong festival, as it is the most important festival of the year in Sukhothai. The local guide explained that during the Loy Krathong Festival, the Sukhothai Historical Park offers exceptional evenings with performances, ceremonies, monuments illuminations, entertainment, booths of all kinds of local products and food mixed with the famous krathongs, small rafts that people launch on the pounds of the park. The night ends with a light and sound and fireworks on the pond in front of Wat Sa Si. Ramkhamhaeng National Museum The National Museum was built
for history and archaeology aspect to honour King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the King of Phra Ruang Dynasty of Sukhothai. The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum was officially opened in 1964 for over 50 years. It is located inside the Sukhothai Historical Park. The museum displays detailed exhibition on “Sukhothai: the Past and the Present.” A replica of the famous Ramkhamhaeng inscription, said to be the earliest example of “Lai Sue Thai”, the Thai letter of the alphabet, is kept here among an impressive collection of Sukhothai artefacts.

Si Satchananalai Historical Park


Less than one hour drive from Sukhothai, we spent another day to explore Si Satchanalai. With the total area of 45 square
kilometres, this historical park extends over 4 sub-districts including Si Satchanalai, Sara Chit, Nong O and Tha Chai. Its ancient monuments are entirely located in the district of Si Satchanalai. The ruins here are just as amazing as in Sukhothai and thoroughly well kept. Sawankhalok Together with Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai grew from a rural area to an urban centre. According to a stone inscription, Si Satchanalai of Sukhothai had been formally known as Chaliang. When Sukhothai was annexed and Ayuthaya became the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Si Satchanalai was renamed as Sawankhalok, which was regarded as an outer town. In 1991, UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage together with Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet designated the ancient town of Si Satchanalai. Earlier in 2019, several artists from around Thailand and the ASEAN region were invited to Sawankhalok to create street art along a stretch of road near the town. Sawankhalok Walking Street Art has drawn many curious tourists.

Sangkhalok ceramics


Sangkhalok ceramics are ancient Thai traditional ceramic ware specifically derived from Sukhothai kingdom period. The pottery is made in very fine ceramic and glazed signature green olive colour. The green exquisite pottery making has also been known as “Celadon”. There is a small museum called Sangkhalok Ceramics Conservation and Study Centre, which is worth a visit.

Sukhothai noodles


One of the popular street foods and unique to the province is Sukhothai noodles. The main difference between Sukhothai noodles and regular Thai noodles is the ingredients. Sukhothai noodles are always served with thin rice noodle with sliced roasted pork, to be accompanied with green beans, small pieces of salted turnip and ground peanut.

The taste is slightly sweet and sour because the last touch is the addition of palm sugar, dried chilli and lime. A trip is not completed without shopping for some souvenirs to take home. I picked up a few pieces of Sangkhalok ware with simple designs under their greyish blue/green matte glaze for our friends. Sukhothai is well known with the gold and silver jewellery with its exclusive design. Colourful embroidered textiles are widely available at a much affordable than in Bangkok. For many places, we will feel that one visit is enough in a lifetime, it will definitely not in my case with Sukhothai. As said earlier, I wish to experience Loy Krathong festival at Sukhothai Historical Park, perhaps in my Thai traditional outfit!

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Expat Life covered an article on “Malaysian Cuisine: Peranakan Food” in the December/January issue last year. Recently, Kelab Malaysia of Thailand (KMT) with support from the Embassy of Malaysia organised the 2021 Penang Street Food Festival at the Holiday Inn Bangkok Sukhumvit.

The official opening was inaugurated by HE Dato’ Jojie Samuel, Ambassador of Malaysia to the Kingdom of Thailand and Dato’ Bobby Tai, President of KMT.  The one day event displayed a total of 12 vendors, which specialised in authentic Penang cuisine coming together to offer their culinary highlights. The objective of the function was to promote Malaysian cuisine, especially dishes from the state of Pulau Pinang to club members and friends

Among the savoury dishes on were on offered include the island’s iconic delicacies such as stir-fried char koay teow noodle dish; mee goreng mamak (stir-fried fresh egg noodles with tofu, shrimp and peanut sauce); and chee choeng fun (steamed rice noodle rolls with sweet shrimp paste sauce). Other mouth watery signature dishes were nasi kandar (a platter of rice with side items); rojak buah (Javanese-styled spicy fruit salad); loh bak (crispy five spice meat roll); and the famous Penang White Curry Mee noodles. Dessert and beverage offerings included teh tarik (pulling milk-tea); cendol and cucur badak (sweet potato cake). Authentic local delicacies (such as nutmeg) and sauces from Penang were imported for this occasion.

Due to Covid travel restrictions, many Malaysians residing in Bangkok who have been missing their local food turned up on the day to sample the flare prepared by their countrymen. The 300+ foodies who were at the event included other international and local visitors in Bangkok and nearby provinces, who came as individuals, family and friends groups and left with bags of takeaways as well.  Many left with a satisfying stomach and asking for the date of the next Penang!

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Historical city of Sukhothai

After residing in Thailand for thirty years, I finally fulfilled my dream to visit Sukhothai. I have often been told by my Thai friends, “If you enjoy visiting Ayutthaya which is only one hour drive from Bangkok, you are going to fall in love with Sukhothai.” And, they are perfectly right. The most historically significant and splendid temple ruins are inside the Sukhothai Historical Park and nearby Si Satchanalai Historical Park. Sukhothai and associated cities, namely Si Satchanalai and Kamphaeng Phet were declared the 574th UNESCO World Heritage in 1991.  

Located over 400km from Bangkok with a five hours drive, this partly explains the reason for less foreign visitors without the convenient transportation. Frankly admitting that the current Covid situation has encouraged everyone like me to appreciate domestic travelling. I am totally enchanted by the rustic lifestyle of what Sukhothai offers as a quiet rural city in Thailand. Given the opportunity of a long weekend stay, one will not be disappointed! Sukhothai worth’s deserved as a UNESCO World Heritage city. 



Cradle of Thai civilisation

The Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1438) was considered as the cradle of Thai civilisation, with Sukhothai city as the first capital of Siam. “Sukhothai” means “the dawn of happiness” which launched the birthplace of Thai art, architecture and language. The kingdom enjoyed 200 years of peace and prosperity until the Ayutthaya Kingdom annexed it.

Under King Ramkhamhaeng the Great (1239 – 1317), the second ruling monarch of the Phra Ruang dynasty, the Ceylonese school of Theravada Buddhism was established as the state religion. Thai alphabets were documented from ancient Khmer scripts and an administrative system for the government was set up. It was marked as golden period for Siamese art and architecture.

 Sukhothai Historical Park

Sukhothai Historical Park

The Sukhothai Historical Park ruins are one of Thailand’s most impressive World Heritage sites. It is a great testimony of the glorious part of Thailand. The park covers an area of land totally 70 square kilometres with 193 ancient monuments, including 60 ancient monuments inside the town walls, 27 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the North, 37 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the South, 19 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the East and 50 ancient monuments outside the town walls in the West.  

 Sukhothai Historical Park

In terms of visiting the whole compound, the ground is divided into three separate but adjoining areas. Most visitors concentrate in the central area. I found the most amazing site in the North with Wat Si Chum. The roofless mondop building enshrines a huge Sukhothai style Buddha image named Phra Achana (translated as “He who is not frightened”). It is the largest Buddha image in Sukhothai measuring 15 metres high and 11 metres wide. The Sukhothai style image wearing a serene facial expression occupies the total space of the mondop’s interior. At the center of the mondop is an opening diminishing in size towards the top through which the image can be seen from the outside. Local people also refer this amiable image as “Speaking Buddha.

Wat Sichum

The architecture of Sukhothai temples is most typified by the classic lotus-bud chedis, featuring a conical spire topping a square sided structure on a three tiered base. Generally known as the Sukhothai style, these lotus-bud” chedis, brick-over-stucco construction techniques present the Buddha images with a signature graceful form. Some sites exhibit other rich architectural forms introduced and modified during the period, such as bell shaped Sinhalese and double tiered Srivijaya chedi.

The grounds of the historical park are so expansive and I saw so many tourists renting bicycles to joyfully enjoy the scenery at their own pace. I hope my next visit to this beautiful historical park is during the Loy Krathong festival, as it is the most important festival of the year in Sukhothai. The local guide explained that during the Loy Krathong Festival, the Sukhothai Historical Park offers exceptional evenings with performances, ceremonies, monuments illuminations, entertainment, booths of all kinds of local products and food mixed with the famous krathongs, small rafts that people launch on the pounds of the park. The night ends with a light and sound and fireworks on the pound in front of Wat Sa Si.



Ramkhamhaeng National Museum

The National Museum was built for history and archaeology aspect to honour King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, the King of Phra Ruang Dynasty of Sukhothai.  The Ramkhamhaeng National Museum was officially opened in 1964 for over 50 years. It is located inside the Sukhothai Historical Park. The museum displays detailed exhibition on “Sukhothai: the Past and the Present.” A replica of the famous Ramkhamhaeng inscription, said to be the earliest example of “Lai Sue Thai”, the Thai letter of the alphabet, is kept here among an impressive collection of Sukhothai artefacts.

 

Si Satchananalai Historical Park

Less than one hour drive from Sukhothai, we spent another day to explore Si Satchanalai. With the total area of 45 square kilometres, this historical park extends over 4 sub-districts including Si Satchanalai, Sara Chit, Nong O and Tha Chai. Its ancient monuments are entirely located in the district of Si Satchanalai.  The ruins here are just as amazing as in Sukhothai and thoroughly well kept. 

Si Historical Park

Sawankhalok

Together with Sukhothai, Si Satchanalai grew from a rural area to an urban centre. According to a stone inscription, Si Satchanalai of Sukhothai had been formally known as Chaliang. When Sukhothai was annexed and Ayuthaya became the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, Si Satchanalai was renamed as Sawankhalok, which was regarded as an outer town. In 1991, UNESCO as World Cultural Heritage together with Sukhothai and Kamphaeng Phet designated the ancient town of Si Satchanalai. 

Earlier in 2019, several artists from around Thailand and the ASEAN region were invited to Sawankhalok to create street art along a stretch of road near the town. Sawankhalok Walking Street Art has drawn many curious tourists.

Street Art

Sangkhalok Ceramics


Sangkhalok ceramics are ancient Thai traditional ceramic ware specifically derived from Sukhothai kingdom period. The pottery is made in very fine ceramic and glazed signature green olive colour. The green exquisite pottery making has also been known as “Celadon”. There is a small museum called Sangkhalok Ceramics Conservation and Study Centre, which is worth a visit. 

Sukhothai noodles

One of the popular street foods and unique to the province is Sukhothai noodles. The main difference between Sukhothai noodles and regular Thai noodles is the ingredients. Sukhothai noodles are always served with thin rice noodle with sliced roasted pork, to be accompanied with green beans, small pieces of salted turnip and ground peanut. The taste is slightly sweet and sour because the last touch is the addition of palm sugar, dried chilli and lime.

Noodles

A trip is not completed without shopping for some souvenirs to take home. I picked up a few pieces of Sangkhalok ware with simple designs under their greyish blue/green matte glaze for our friends. Sukhothai is well known with the gold and silver jewellery with its exclusive design. Colourful embroidered textiles are widely available at a much affordable than in Bangkok. For many places, we will feel that one visit is enough in a lifetime, it will definitely not in my case with Sukhothai. As said earlier, I wish to experience Loy Krathong festival at Sukhothai Historical Park, perhaps in my Thai traditional outfit!

Textile Musuem
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Bird’s Nest is known as caviar of the East for its best rare food only for royalty like connoisseur in the East. It is as precious as caviar. Initially known as Swallow Nest, it was first consumed in China more than 1,500 years ago during the Tang Dynasty. It was considered as rare royal food. Chinese traditional medicine later on confirmed benefits to health and youth after a long record of real efficacy. There are countless interesting stories about this expensive delicacy. It is a ‘must take’ food for pregnant woman and mother as well as for people recovered from sickness or operation. In China, it is usually prepared to impress inlaws or even business associates. I recalled my grandmother in spending long hours to double boil her bird nest soup. Even now, when I go for any hospital visits to friends, a basket of bird nest is generally the most appropriate gift.

Expat Life sat down with Ivy Chau-Soonthornsima, Partner from PrimaNest to learn more about this superfood and its wonders. Chinese have long believed in the visible and tangible health benefits of bird’s nest consumption. Let us explore how this superfood claims to shorten patient recovery time, boasting an “elixir” effect in rejuvenating the skin and giving a more youthful appearance.

Bird’s Nest phenomenon

Ivy explained, “Today with advance scientific technology, bird nest has been tested and proven of its benefits. There are hundreds of reports done by scientist in many countries, which finally explained the myths about Bird nest to the new generation.”

She further elaborated, “Today, bird nest benefits are no longer a myth. Modern science identifies the key ingredient in bird nest as “Glycoprotein”. This so called “super protein” is a principal substance the human body can produce, but regresses over time due to ageing and illness. “Glycoprotein” can be found in abundance in Swiftlets’ nests, which are made from the bird’s saliva. In the past, no scientific explanation can be made on the health benefits of the people who consume bird nest, as Glycoprotein was not known until its discovery, which garnered a Nobel Prize in 1994. Glycoproteins in bird nest are enriched in EGF (Epidermal Cell Growth Factor), Sialic acid and 19 other types of amino acids.”

Expensive delicacy

A good bowl of bird’s nest soup in a restaurant may cost over 1,000B.  Different grades of ready to drink bottles range from 100 to 500B.  What exactly is this bird’s nest? Ivy described, “Bird’s nest refers to the saliva produced by the Swiftlet birds, while making its nest. The saliva acts as glue, pasted to form a thin flaky wall in the nest. When the saliva comes in contact with air, it hardens and a white bird’s nest cup is formed. The entire process takes around 30 days.”  

Bird’s nest can be classified into Cave Nest, House Nest and Grass Nest. They are then grouped further into White Nest, Golden Nest and Red Nest. Cave bird’s nests are mainly harvested from natural caves in the states South of Thailand. The harvesters often face considerable danger when harvesting these bird nests. Since free, naturally living Swiftlet forms cave bird nests, some people consider them to be more valuable than bird’s nests found in houses. Thus, cave bird nests often fetch a higher price as compared to house bird nest. It is important to know that cave nest or house nest are from the same Collocalia specie thus it has the same bioactive value from the glycoprotein which is the main content.

Tips in consuming this superfood

Bird’s nest contains glycoprotein and amino acid and is rich in mineral content such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, carbohydrate, iron and iodine. These nutrients have many benefits to the body, such as improve metabolism, tissue and cell growth; and enrich vital energy. Experts have concluded that bird’s nests have three main functions in enhancing the rebirth of cells and tissues, improving the immune system and strengthening the body health and accelerate recovery from illness.

More questions to ask our expert, “How often can I eat bird nest? Can I eat too much bird nest? When is the best time to consume bird nest?”

Ivy advised, “Bird nest can be consumed daily. An average person can consume anything 3 to 5 grammes of dried bird nest. The body will discharge any excess consumption. It is best to take a spoon of bird nest in the morning when the body is fresh and the stomach is empty, ready to take full benefit of bird nest. It is also best before sleep, as the rich antioxidants will help the body to eradicate free radicals as the body heals during our sleep. Empress Dowager of China had been consuming bird nest before bedtime as a royal ritual.”

Ready to go and easy to eat

In the old days, my grandmother would buy dried bird nest. The cooking process was long with soaking in water, picking the feathers, and slowly double boiled to make the soup. Now, ready to drink bottles are stock on shelves in the supermarkets. The question is “Are manufactured bottles as nutritious as home-cooked version?” Ivy clarified, “Yes, ready made bottles contain the same nutritional value. The old way of preparing your own dried bird nest may easily result in overcooking or burnt. The “modernised” factory way is safer and more hygienic. For example, here in PrimaNest with our factory in the South of Thailand, our procedure involves handpicking the feathers by mineral water. The process is 100% pure with no addictive or preservative. The way we “de-germ” is at 105 degrees of boiling water which is not possible to do at home.”

The miracle of bird’s nest on skincare

Apart from being an edible food, bird’s nest has been applied to skin dermatology use. Ivy clarified, “To understand the benefits that bird nest can work on our skin, we need to first be acquainted with EGF (Epidermal Growth Factor) which can be found in human cells. Normally, the human body can produce EGF, but its capacity usually subsides with age or pollution. EGF stimulates cell proliferation, differentiation and development. With this efficacy there has been endeavour to extract EGF from various plants to produce a premium skincare line without realising that EGF is abundant in natural bird nest. And it is this EGF in the bird nest, which contains properties, and structural characteristics most similar to those found in human body. Bird nest extract cosmetic contains EGF and Sialic acid that helps restore skin cell from within, prevents fine lines, acne, comedones (black/whiteheads), freckles, and other types of blemishes.”

After learning the benefits of this wonder food, I shall pursue the ancient Chinese royal ritual to have a spoonful of bird nest before bedtime, and put on a bird nest facial mask to sleep!

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Top rated tourist destination in Thailand

Phuket as a resort island is probably one of the most attractive and commercialised tourist destinations in Thailand. Its strong appeal comes from the sandy beaches with clear blue water for excellent snorkelling and diving experience. Its abundance of fresh seafood encourage local and expatriates tourists to flock to the island annually for relaxation and favourable cuisine. Viewing breathtaking sunsets on the gorgeous beaches under the all year round warm climate, to be followed by the vibrant nightlife in Patong allure to all visitors. One of the latest hot trends over Instagram in Phuket is a “Floating breakfast with a view”.

Taking a family trip last December to Phuket, we were looking for a rejuvenated vacation. With our previous visits, we have enjoyed the friendliness of the southerners. The history of Phuket as a trading place has encouraged the local communities to foreigners. With this trip, instead of visiting the famous landmarks, we had the sense of adventure to explore some unbeaten tracks.

According to Ms. Nopparat Aumpa, SAVP & General Manager, Banyan Tree Phuket and Banyan Tree Bangkok, “Phuket has so much to offer, that even those that live here try something new almost every weekend, we still do not know it all! Our island has so much more to offer than the 10 attractions that pop-up on internet searches, yes those are still a must to visit, but we always recommend our travellers to submerge themselves in the local community and traditions and not just visit attractions for a photo or as a check on their list. In my opinion, it is only when you understand the local heritage that you truly understand the destination.

Scot Toon, Managing Director of Asia corporate office from The Pavilions Hotels & Resorts also recommended, “There are many different beach experiences, hidden beaches to larger bays with lots of water activities or go shopping in the boutiques at Boat Avenue in Cherng Talay, all worth coming back repeatedly for. Additionally, there is old Phuket town with beautiful galleries and local boutiques, or visit the Little Bukit Organic Farm, organic produce, goats and other farm animals for the kids to play with and a little cafe.

Cycle tours or trekking the hills, with so many places to explore, means you can’t do it in one trip.”

Arthorn Vanasantakul, Managing Director Hotel and Tourism Business from MBK Hotel & Tourism Company Limited echoed, “As a world famous destination, Phuket has so many attractions that will always entice both international and domestic visitors; beaches that are amongst the best in SE Asia; a vibrant nightlife and top quality restaurants; scenic mountains and forests. And, of course, the island is renowned for its golf courses, and our Tinidee Golf Resort Phuket and Loch Palm Residence is located alongside two of the most famous – Red Mountain and Loch Palm. So, apart from miles and miles of white sand beaches and the azure waters of the Andaman Sea, Phuket offers a plethora of activities that keep visitors entertained.”

Krating Cape (Laem Krating viewpoint) 

In Phuket, one of the new popular destinations to see the sunset in Phuket with a 360 degree panorama view is at Krating Cape. The starting point to Laem Krating viewpoint is Baan Krating Phuket Resort. The walk takes around 30/40 minutes to the final destination. The walk along the beach path requires crossing the rocks and climbing up the hill slope, hence, proper hiking shoes are highly recommended. The compensation for the trekking route is the chance to take memorable photos of the gorgeous view. We suggest going there two hours before the sunset, and then to start hiking back before the sky gets dark. There is a rock that looks like a sailboat where the locals refer as “sailing rock”. This marks the sunset viewpoint, where the Nai Harn beach, Windmill and Promthep Cape are in full view.

Pa Hin Dum (Black Rock viewpoint)

Pa Hin Dum is high up to the mountains that overlook Nai Harn beach and Yanui beach with an outstanding view. There is a dirt road that leads to Black Rock viewpoint. A sign for Nui Beach sits opposite to the entrance. Parking is available near a big rock with the painted words “Pa Hin Dum”. It takes a walk of around 20 minutes along the long trail about 200 metres to the viewpoint. As the pathway to the viewpoint is quite steep, safety hiking shoes are highly recommended.  

Hidden Rock ond

The Rock Pond is located in Kamala area. This place is a calm and peaceful spot that should be experienced with the sunset over the sea in the distance. There is a short hike down to the pond, so again proper walking or hiking shoes should be worn. To enjoy the sunset fully and taking remarkable photos, the best time is around 5pm.  Another option to appreciate the clear water and relax in the pond is to spend a few hours and arrive early at 10am. However, on the days with strong winds, the visit to the Rock Pond should be avoided as the high waves pose danger.

Big Buddha (Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri)

Pra Phutta Ming Mongkol Ake Nakiri or Ming Mongkol Buddha is one of the most famous landmarks in Phuket. The 45 metre tall white marble statue on top of the Nakkerd Hills between Chalong and Kata is visible from far away. A panorama 360 degree view of the island covers Kata, Karon beaches, Chalong Bay and more. As with all visits to other Thai temples, foreign visitors should remember to dress respectfully and avoid beachwear, shorts and miniskirts. The suggested time to view sunset is around 6pm.

Phuket Old Town

The history of Phuket Island was one of the major trading routes between China and India, with assembled from Arabs, Chinese, Indian, Malay and Portuguese traders. Phuket Old Town, for its architecture, museums, shops and restaurants is a “must see”. The Phuket Town weekend night market is popular with both locals and tourists, offering all sorts for sale from fruits and street food to clothes and old curiosities. When we wandered around the old town, the Sino-Portuguese influence is visible everywhere even until today, with construction of many large mansions or shophouses that possess interesting combination of Chinese and colonial architecture. Colourful Chinese shrines and Thai temples are scattered around the town. 

Phuket community is creative with new concepts of cafes and restaurants to events, markets or shops constantly emerging. There are always fresh delicious treats to bite into. The streets seem to evolve and at each corner, there is new street art to upload on instagram.  

Phuket’s natural beauty is undeniable. All visitors will certainly activities that suit themselves. Enthusiasts of scuba diving and snorkelling can enjoy a full day with only a short boat ride to any of the less known islands which offer perfect bays and amazing scenery.  Alternatively, lazily hanging around any hotel pool to wait for the gorgeous sunset is a pleasing option.  For me, getting up at 5am in the morning it took only five minutes to a beautiful lagoon golf course, to experience an incredible sunrise sealed for a memorable trip!

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Boom in domestic travelling within Thailand

Due to Covid-19 with the country lockdown, domestic travelling within Thailand has seen a major boom. The more popular destinations for local expatriates are the seaside resorts like Pattaya and Hua Hin, the sandy beaches of Phuket and Lanna heritage of Chiang Mai.  Out of the 77 provinces in Thailand, there are a few that deserve a visit due to their distinguished geographical features or historical significance. 

Generally referred to as “The Switzerland of Thailand” because of its high mountainous area; Phetchabun fits perfectly in the category. It is a province situated in between the Central, Northern and Northeastern regions of Thailand.  By car, it takes around five hours from Bangkok with scenic highways (Highway No. 12) and good dual carriageway roads. Phetchabun has a number of mountain ranges cut through wide fertile valleys. In addition, the area is blessed with national parks, forests, lakes and waterfalls. It is more popular among Thai domestic travellers as the province is one of the closest areas to Bangkok that offers a cooler climate to escape the capital’s suffocating city heat due to its high mountains. For more adventurous foreign visitors, Phetchabun offers an attractive option.

The land of crops and food

The very name of Phetchabun means “the land of crops and food.” The province experiences a long and prosperous history and is embedded with rich tourism potential. Benefitting from the fertility of its soil, Phetchabun has always been a productive area. It centres on the Pa Sak River basin with mountain ranges running along both its Eastern and Western reaches. The mountains and forests offer a favourable and attractive climate. It is the meeting place of three regions of Thailand, the North, the Central plains and the Northeast. “The Switzerland of Thailand” is famous for its prized fruits and sweet tamarind.

Khao Kho National Park

Khao Kho is a very commercialised park with number of villages, hundreds of resorts and other premises through out the park. Khao Kho National Park is a very popular holiday destination among local and foreigner tourists. The park is popular for it’s cooler weather, morning mist covering surrounding valleys, impressive viewpoints, a huge wind farm, temples, and various types of gardens, waterfalls and number of other attractions. The main mountain Khao Kho is 1,143 metres in height. The other surrounding national parks are Thung Salaeng Luang National Park to the west and Phu Hin Rong Kla National Park a bit further North. Khao Kho was a base from which communist insurgents conducted their struggle from 1968 to 1982. Other interesting places include various viewing points, remains of guerrilla bases, a war memorial, an arms museum, and a royal palace.

Wat Phrathat Pha Sorn Kaew

Many visitors to Phetchabun will visit Wat Phrathat Pha Sorn Kaew which was established in 2004, with Phraphawanawachiraprakarn as the abbot of the temple. It is located at Pha Sorn Kaew; the Dharma practice hall is surrounded by scenic nature and tall panoramic mountain ranges. The origin behind the name “Pha Sorn Kaew” came from the time when many of the Tang Daeng villagers saw a glass marble levitating in the sky, then disappeared into a cave on top of a mountain peak. The villagers believed the glass marble to be a sacred object, and considered the location as a sacred place. They then called the mountain peak Pha Sorn Kaew, which literally translated as “the cliff that hides the glass”. 

The original land occupied by the temple was a charitable donation by two benefactors, Phawinee and Urai Chotikhun who together contributed 40,000sqm of land to the temple to construct a Dharma practice hall for the monks and Buddhists. Later, many contributors had joined together to donate additional assets to the temple. The whole area now covers a total of 145,600sqm. 

There are three key landmarks of Wat Phrathat Pha Sorn Kaew. They are Phrathat Pha Sorn Kaew Siriraj Thamma Naruemit Pagoda, Maha Viharn of the Five Buddha and Emerald Buddha Pavilion.

Phrathat Pha Sorn Kaew Siriraj Thamma Naruemit Pagoda


The pagoda enshrines the Buddha’s relics that was bestowed by Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Kromma Luang Wachirayannasangwon, the 19th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand. The area at the base of the pagoda contains a collection of Buddha’s teachings, and Dharma puzzle images; and provides a space for Buddhists to worship.
Phrathat Pha Sorn Pagoda was constructed with meticulous detail and magnificent design. The shape of the pagoda imitates 7 layers of lotus flowers to make merit to the Buddha. The brightly coloured pagoda is decorated with beautiful patterns made from colourful tiles, painted Thai porcelain (Benjarong bowls), ceramics, pearls, beads, crystals, and other valuable materials.
When viewing the pagoda up close, you will find glorious colours and patterns that have amazing details made from various materials that combined together into a large structure. We can learn many things from these patterns, it might be Dharma principles, Buddha’s teachings, impermanence, or anything that is hidden within the artworks and sculptures in front of you. Possibilities are infinite, depending on how you define these kaleidoscopic patterns with your own unique perception.

Maha Viharn of the Five Buddha.


As seen in the Buddhist scriptures, the five overlapping Buddha images are called the Five Buddhas. The large white Five Buddha statue stands spectacularly against green mountains and white fog, creating an unrivaled scene. The base of the Buddha statue is measured 41 metres in width and 72 metres in length. It stands at 45 metres in height, divided into 6 levels. Level 1 and 2 have been arranged as accommodation for worshipers, and the other areas are facilities used to perform religious duties such as worshiping, listening to Dharma, and for prayers. 

Another important landmark is Sala Phra Yok Khiao (Emerald Buddha Pavilion). The airy pavilion for Dharma retreat is surrounded by large window panels, when inside; you could experience nature, the mountain’s lush greenery, and the flourishing garden with various kinds of fauna. The pavilion also enshrines the largest emerald Buddha statue in Phetchabun.

Best time to visit

According to Wannarak Siripanich, Managing Director of Kiri Pura Resort, “June is a good month to visit Phetchabun to experience the fog cloud.  During the heavy rainy season from July to September, visitors can encounter every morning waking up to the magnificent seas of mist and cloud.” Further added, “October is also a favourable time as it is the end of the rainy season, so the temperature starts to be cool and pleasant.  For those tourists who enjoy the cold, December and January are the best.  The temperature drops to 10 degrees in the morning.”

To conclude, Phetchabun is truly a province that befits its name.  “Phetcha” is a Sanskit word meaning “diamond” and “bun” means “perfect” which combination becomes “Perfect Diamond”. During this pandemic time of domestic travelling only, Phetchabun poses a perfect destination for a long weekend stay!

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