Friday, 30 May 2014

Saranrom update: little activity

Saranrom update: little activity

Thursday 29.05.2014

Coming from Chatuchak, I took bus 8 to Saphan Phut. From there, you can have a look at Saphan Phut market (mainly clothes) at flower market along Maharat road. Walking time about 22:40 to 23:00.

On previous trips, I used to come from north, spending some time in Khao San and Klong Lot market, and now by chance found that you can go to Saphan Phut and flower market when you come from south, everything is at the right place and time.

There was only little activity at Saranrom, only about 10 boys from 23:00 to 23:50. Some boys I remember from before, one boy who remembers me from Pattaya two weeks ago (not the first boy who saw me in Pattaya and then approached me in Saranrom). Noticed some customers cruising in cars or on motorbikes.

23:45 a mocy driver stops and announces that it’s time to go home because there is a curfew at midnight. I ask a boy, that was police in civil clothes. The boys and I leave shortly after.

There was no presence of police or army and the protest site in front of Ministry of Interior has been cleared. City Walk karaoke was closing around 23:30 (official closing time now midnight due to curfew).

This lack of activity is probably due to current political situation. Will be back soon.

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Vans at Victory Monument

Vans at Victory Monument

For my recent trip from Bangkok Sathorn to Ang Thong, I did usual optimization of travel (price, time, convenience):

Closest train station to Ang Thong is Ayutthaya, that would be a three leg travel: bus or MRT to Hua Lampong, train to Ayutthaya, van or bus to Ang Thong.

Bus from Mor Chit would require double change of transport as well (no direct bus from Sathorn to Mor Chit bus station).

Fastest and most convenient is bus to Victory Monument and van to Ang Thong.

However, van stations around Victory Monument are spread over an area of about 200 x 200 meter. Sure, you can ask where vans to Ang Thong leave, but it's better to know in advance. You have to consider that it can take 10 minutes on bus or car for a distance of 100 m around Victory Monument.

A web search gave this website (which has other interesting articles, too):

which says vans to Ang Thong leave from the north-eastern side of Victory Monument (Fashion Mall). I found this information to be correct, on my return trip I found that you can go from Koh Phaya Thai as well.

The link quoted above might be not up to date, but by far the best resource I found on the net (searching in English and Thai) regarding van stations around Victory Monument.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Ang Thong province

Ang Thong province

General information

Ang Thong province (จังหวัดอ่างทอง), not to be confused with the Ang Thong Marine National Park (same spelling in English and Thai) is a province about 100 km north of Bangkok. My reason to go there was to visit the giant Buddha statue at Wat Muang (วัดม่วง), the largest Buddha in Thailand and the largest sitting Buddha in the world (but there are bigger reclining or standing Buddhas).

There is a lot of confusion about this subject on the internet. The reclining Buddha in Wat Po is the third largest reclining Buddha in Thailand. More on Buddha statues here:

The trip described in the following articles could easily be done as a day trip from Bangkok, with you own car or by public transport. I chose to do it as two nights one day because I don’t like to get up early in the morning and to get a change from Bangkok.

I recorded all expenses to show how cheaply you can travel in Thailand.

Friday 23.05.2014

From Sathorn, take bus 74 to Victory Monument (8 Baht, 12:50-13:18). Walk, arrive at the van station 13:24 and pay 100 Baht (there is no ticket, I asked.) The van is supposed to leave 2 pm, so I have half an hour to stroll in Fashion mall.

There is a fortune teller who addresses me. He speaks good English and I have nothing else to do, so I sit down and let him talk.

“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“No, I am single.”
“I can tell you when you will get married.”
“Thank you, but I don’t have time now. I am just waiting for my bus.”
“Where are you going?”

These questions clearly disqualify him as a fortune teller.

Back at the van station 13:46. The 2 pm van has left already (but the staff remembers me and I can take the next van, remember: I paid 100 Baht and didn’t get a ticket). This time I wait in the van. If you come early, you can hog a seat in the front. There are three: one for the driver and two for passengers. I take the left one, is has most space for my legs. The middle seat has little leg space, I would have to twist my legs. The rear seats are narrower than in an airplane and the view is poor.

The ride is 14:13 to 15:43. The van goes on the elevated tollway, no problem with traffic jam and good view. In Ang Thong van station (just a spot at the road 14.5931939,100.4522262= 14°35'35.5"N 100°27'08.0"E), 5 minutes orientation (GPS and map on my mobile, read files I downloaded in preparation for this trip), then walk to Ang Thong hotel (14.5941815,100.4488461 = 14°35'39.0"N 100°26'55.9"E) and check in at 16:00. Room with fan looks fine and isn’t too warm, 300 Baht per night. From the 4th floor of the hotel, I can see the head of the Buddha statue (about 8 km away), and from an open fire exit door I can get on the roof, from where the statue is clearly visible.

In front of the hotel is another van station, which has vans to Victory Monument. One of the staff is a ladyboy and seems interested in me. We immediately recognize each other as homosexual. I should have ask her/him where in town I can meet gay boys, or if he/she knows boys he/she can pimp out to me.

Have dinner (30 Baht) and a brownie (40 Baht) at the market. Walk around in town. There is a bus station, but no buses arrive or depart there any more (I asked). Walk past a mocy repair shop with a very cute boy. Someone else in the shop says hello, so I stop for a chat. Unfortunately, the cute boy isn’t interested in talking with me. They offer me a ride to Wat Muang on Saturday, but it’s not clear who will drive.

Continue stroll through the town. Find a 20 Baht note and a 1 Baht coin. Walk along the river (Chao Phraya, but not as wide as in Bangkok, with a shore and dam). 

Near Wat Ton Son (วัดต้นสน) there is a group of boys with mocys, one of them says hello and offers me a free ride to the Wat (just 100 m away). Buildings are closed. 

When I am back at the river, the boys are gone (should have waited there, as this seems to be a meeting spot). Walk back through fish market. Have never seen that many fish in my life. Buy drink 27 Baht in 7/11.

Walk past a food stall opposite the hotel, where some Thai boys are sitting and eating and drinking. One says hello to, he and another one are cute, so I sit down. They offer me beer and Gao Lao soup (gao lăo เกาเหลา). I have read somewhere before that it’s spicy, so I take only a small sample, and indeed it is too spicy for me. Some leave, then I am left with the two cute ones (Noke โหนก and his younger brother Nok นก). Beer is empty, so they ask me if I would buy some more bottles and I agree. Noke takes me on his mocy to a shop (less than 200 m away, but if Thai boys have mocy, they want to drive it). Put my arm around his abdomen (slim) and press my face against his neck (short of kissing his neck), no objections. Three bottles of Leo, 165 Baht.

Back at the table, Noke offers me to drive me around on Saturday (his day off work) and gives me his phone number (but doesn’t ask for mine, so I don’t give it to him to keep the situation under control: I can call him when I want to, but he cannot call me. I might go back to the mocy shop and ask the cute boy if he can be my driver and guide). They order non-spicy Gao Lao soup for me (without asking me, you can interpret this as hospitality, patronizing or idiocy), 30 Baht. I notice a tattoo on Nok’s ankle and ask about it. Talking about tattoos is a good way to get Thai boys to show theirs (lift shirts, you can look, take pictures and even touch). Then Nok produces a small transparent plastic bag with a tobacco like substance, and they excuse themselves for smoking and ask me to wait.

While I am sitting there, groups of Thai boys on mocys drive past, to and fro (I recognize T-shirts and caps). The faster they drive, the cuter they appear.

Noke and Nok return. Noke asks me about girlfriend and something about girl and hotel room. I tell him that I am bisexual and admit that Nok is cute. Noke insists on bringing me back to my room. In the lift he asks me, if I would like Nok to stay with me overnight, but Nok rejects this idea.

Back in my room, I take off my shirt and put it in the wardrobe (together with my backpack which contains passport and money). I want to take a shower while they wait in my room, but they say goodbye and leave. I wait half an hour for a knock on my door, in vain.

22:05 go out again to check how the curfew is observed and to see if there is any nightlife. Traffic in town is as I would expect it without curfew. Only signs of curfew are on 7/11 (closed from 22 to 5). The problem with these night walks is that you have to watch out for dogs. Even in public areas, they bark at me and sometimes follow me.

I walk past two Farang in an open restaurant. They say hello to me, so I sit down for a chat. They teach English in Ang Thong. Prices for rooms and houses to rent are ridiculously low. There is not much nightlife, and the boys drive on mocy because they have nothing else to do.

Back to my room 22:35. Expenses on Friday: 700 Baht.

Saturday 24.05.2014

Call Noke and ask him to meet me in 20 min, I will have breakfast first. But he is quicker, when I leave the hotel he is already down on his mocy. Drive to the market. Breakfast 35 Baht. Spend about one hours driving around town and visiting various relatives, finally taking Nok with us. He takes me to his local wat (Wat Tai Yan วัดท้ายย่าน with a large reclining Buddha, 20 Baht donation). He stays in town, drinking with relatives (one of them already drunk in the morning) and sends Nok to take me to Wat Muang (ride 10:28-42). Details see separate post.

Total of 70 Baht donations at the wat. Leave 11:47 (after some calls from Noke) and Nok hinting that he would like to return. It’s midday, the sun shines relentless, so I agree to have a break at Big C. We take Noke's son (about 5 years old) with us, that makes four on a mocy. 73 Baht lunch for me, 100 for them for Karaoke. Spend about one hour there. Then back to his relatives. I mention again that I would like to go to Wat Tha It (วัดท่าอิฐ), so we go all four. Details see separate post.

At Wat Tha It spend 20 Baht for flowers. Give Nok 50 Baht for petrol. Back in town 3 pm, chatting with relatives. 200 Baht for drinks, 20 Baht for Nok. If I don’t do something, we would probably spend the rest of the day there (they drinking, I paying). I tell them I would like to go to Wat Ton Son (either walking or on mocy) and Nok takes me there. There is a raft in the river where you can feed fish. Icecream 10 Baht, donation at the wat 20 Baht. There are some boys on mocy near the wat, but when I return they are gone. 

View from the raft to the shore:

Sitting Buddha in Wat Ton Son:

Sit down in a shop nearby, have a drink 12 Baht. Other boys come, but none of them is cute. Walk back via market and mocy repair shop. Chat with some of the staff, but the cute boy who works there shows no interest in me. Dinner at market 40 Baht, walk around, back to room 8 pm, watch movie on my mobile phone. There is nothing else to do.

Expenses: 972 Baht.

If you add up the ancillary expenses for the free ride to the wats, you could hire a driver for that money. So you have to balance the insight into Thai life gained by socializing with Noke and Nok and their family and friends with the slight inconvenience of some detours and following their plans instead of mine.

Sunday 25.05.2014

35 Baht breakfast, 100 van (in front of the hotel), get front seat, wait 15 minutes until departure, 9:36-11:34 Victory Monument (near Koh Phaya Thai). Return is slower because the van doesn’t use the expressway and lets out passengers on the way between Rangsit to Victory Monument. Bus back home 8 Baht.

Expenses Sunday: 143 Baht.
Expenses total: 1815 Baht.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Wat Muang in Ang Thong province (วัดม่วง จ. อ่างทอง)

Wat Muang in Ang Thong province (วัดม่วง จ. อ่างทอง)

About 8 km by air or 10 km by road (3195) west of Ang Thong town. A friend took me on motorbike, 14 min. Mocy taxi from town would cost 80 Baht. Van or Songtheo or local bus from town in direction Wisetchaichan (short: Wiset) or Suphanburi (วิเศษชัยชาญ วิเศษฯ สุพรรณบุรี) would cost 20 Baht, stop on main road (3195) and walk about 1 km. This is flat land and the Buddha statue is clearly visible from 10 km away unless there are trees or buildings in the way.

This wat has the largest Buddha statue of Thailand, the largest sitting Buddha of the world (my estimation), a Buddhist hell garden, and a wiharn covered in mirrors inside and outside (a similar one is in Uthai Thani province). You can find height between 92 and 95 meters on the internet.

View from main road (3195)

Touching the finger of the statue brings good luck.

There is a kind of window on the back of the statue. But when walking around (on the platform), I couldn't see an entrance, it might be on ground level.

Depiction of a famous battle between Thai and Burmese:


and many other statues about Chinese and Thai mythology.

Buddhist hell garden:

Wiharn. There is a museum in the basement of the wiharn, which is supposed to be open on weekends (information from internet), but was closed. I asked staff, it seems to be permanently closed.

Ubosot surrounded by lotus petals, these are not the largest lotus petals in the world (you find this wrong information on the internet), that would be Lotus Temple in India (my guess).

Further reading:

I spent about an hour at the temple complex. Could have spent two hours, but it was hot and sunny and Nok wanted to return.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC