Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Phaya Thai Palace พระราชวังพญาไท

Phaya Thai Palace พระราชวังพญาไท

From Victory Monument BTS (closer than Phaya Thai BTS), take north-west exit, walk clockwise one quarter around the traffic circle, then walk about 600 m westwards on Ratchawithi road ถนนราชวิถี. You will see the palace on the north side of the road, good view of the palace from the pedestrian overpass.

Opening times:
Every day 9-16. You can see the park and buildings, but entrance to the rooms only during guided tours. Cafe de Norasingh นรสิงห์ open every day until 19.

Guided tours:
Sat and Sun 9:30 and 13:30 (I took the Sat 13:30 tour, it lasted over 2 h, a bit long when you understand only a fraction.).
Tue and Thu 10:00 and 14:00 (written notice) or 13:00 (asked tour guide)?
Tours in English available on request in advance.

Saturday, 20.09.2014

I come from BTS Victory Monument and walk along Ratchawithee road until I see the palace. The entrance gate is closed and the exit gate is half open, and I have to step over a chain that prevents mocys from passing, making it feel like trespassing. But I have only five minutes until tours starts, and there are people around, so I go in there. 

Tour starts on time 13:30, about 30 attendees. You can enter all room, I took pictures before or after the masses were in the room. Some areas still under renovation.

Tours ends around 16:00, about 10 attendees left. Then our tourguide opens the donation box at reception and invites everyone to help counting, and she takes the small notes and coins to the adjacent museum shop to exchange into larger notes.

Afterwards have a drink and a meal in Norasing cafe. Reasonably prices and great atmosphere! 

Further reading:

Verdict: A jewel of architecture and interior design, easily accessible, free entry.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Monday, 29 September 2014

Out-of-print books about Bangkok

Out-of-print books about Bangkok

Buying new books is like going to a brothel: You enter the shop, look around, choose and pay. The next customer will get exactly the same. 

But buying old books is an exciting experience, because you never know what you will find, and they are usually cheaper than new books.

Here two of my best finds from last year:

The must see sites in Bangkok 
Essential information of Bangkok

Bangkok Metropolitan Tourist Bureau, Exim Export-import bank of Thailand, June 1999, 1st edition, 320 pages,  
ISBN 9748662594
Chatuchak weekend market March 2013, 50 Baht

It looks like there was a map, which is missing in my copy.
Names of places only in Romanization. No register (when I look for a place, I have to search the index which is sorted alphabetically by district).

Bangkok's Waterways An Explorer’s Handbook

Warren Lloyd Asia book, 1989, 94 pages, 
ISBN 9789810010119
Neilson Hays Library November 2013, 50 Baht

Interesting sites along the Chao Phraya (and a few on the canals), with map. Names of places only in Romanization. 

There is a Thai language equivalent of the latter book currently on sale. ลองเรือเที่อย (approximately: "trips by boat"), in English inaptly named "Around Bangkok" (the river cuts through Bangkok), which describes places of interest near stops of the river boat.

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Chatuchak and Pradipat gay bars update

Chatuchak and Pradipat gay bars update 

Abstract: Bars in Chatuchak / Otoko area seem to be all gone; Pradipat / Saphan Khwai area business as usual.

Saturday, 20.09.2014

Chatuchak / Otoko (Marketing Organization for Farmers) จตุจักร / อ.ต.ก. (องค์การตลาดเพื่อการเกษตร)

Take MRT to Chatuchak Park. At night, the shortcut through the park to the market is closed. I have to walk around it: southwards on Pahonyothin, then northwards on Kamphaengphet 3 (ถนนกำแพงเพชร, abbreviated as KPP). Limited illumination, watch your step! Gate 2 (main entrance of weekend market) is closed, no light or people inside (23:35; if Viva was busy, I would surely see it from main road). 

To go to Fake I would turn west on KPP 4, but there are people coming from north, there must be something, so I continue northwards. Chatuchak Green market following post. Walk on KPP 4 (between animal market and Children's Discovery Museum) to KPP 2 and south, past JJ Mall and Chatuchak market (all dark, no people), to KPP.

Everything closed (Cha-Bar Pub and Restaurant, Mixzer) and some buildings demolished. Can't find Fake, but think it was where now is a gap in the row of buildings (which is near the place where I remember it and where it is shown on googlemaps). It looks like the entire area (triangle between expressway, KPP and KPP 2) will become construction site. But south of KKP (Otoko market) everything as usual: some bars open and music when I walk past.

That means all gay bars are gone: Fake (drove past in a taxi in January, there was activity), Obama (have never been, but from descriptions must have been in the area), El Ninyo (have never been, has been closed for years, but still listed in some websites), Viva (have never been, but as this is in the weekend market area there is still hope).

Further reading: 
(Fake listed as closed, I recognize the interior)
https://foursquare.com/v/fake-club/4b46fed5f964a520462a26e3?#tipsPage=2&tipsSort=popular (Fake listed as closed)
http://talkbangkok.com/Chatuchak/p6/Bangkok-Nightlife-Guide-Bars-Clubs-Travel-Information (outdated, lists El Ninyo)
http://www.bangkokpost.com/lifestyle/gay-and-lesbian-bars/search-district/chatuchak/ (outdated, lists El Ninyo)
http://bangkokbois-gay-thailand-blog.com/2013/09/13/going-gay-at-chatuchak/ (location of Viva)

I have been to Fake once, September 2012, and shared my experience as a sidenote here:

One more “Walking ATM” incident that I had no place to report. In September last year, I went to Fake Pub (near Chatuchak Market). It was packed, there were few other Farang and few cute boys. One of the cute boys was smiling at me and invited me to his table. He was dancing in front of me and grabbing my crotch. I was thinking feverishly if I would go with him, because seeing him from close he was not that attractive any more.

Finally he asked me if I would contribute some money for their drinks. Now that got my brain spinning at highest speed. Money for drinks for a boy with whom I would not go to my room after disco? Maybe 100 or 200 Baht, for the sake of Thai-German friendship. While I was still thinking, he bursted out: “1000 Baht?”. “Sorry, cannot.” Thereupon the impression on his face changed: “Just go!” and he handed my my bottle of beer that I had put on their table. Made my day and I am still chuckling when I think back about this sudden change.

I had not consumed anything from their table and and they didn’t order anything while I was there. It was a clear case of “maybe we can get that Farang to pay for our party”. Not with me! You have to look for someone else, you little bitch!

Still makes me chuckle when I think of his reaction when I refused to contribute to his bill! One of my favorite memories of Thailand!

Pradipat / Saphan Khwai ประดิพัทธ์ / สะพานควาย

Take taxi to Pradipat Soi 20 (Saphan Khwai area), 40 Baht. Lights in ZapZap (same soi as 39 underground sauna, seen from taxi when driving past). Dinner, then look for "The Nine Spa" (http://www.9massagespa.com/ read about it recently), in the forecourt of Liberty Garden Hotel, do not confuse with Nine Spa in Sukhumvit. "The Nine Spa" closes at midnight (I am there around 1 am), no light, but one boy sitting in front of it and many shoes (there is no sign, without the boy I wouldn't have recognized it), ask the boy, he opens the door and there are two more inside, ready to serve me, but I have other plans.

Walk to Soi 20. It has the following venues, clockwise: Stax K (Karaoke), Heaven K, Behigh gogo bar, Thai massage (closed), Embassy hotel at the end of the soi, Adam K, Waterloo K, U-Turn K, Street K. All busy, staff and customers inside (as far as I can see) and sitting outside and inviting me. 

But I head for Behigh. Stay 01:05-50. Orange juice 150 Baht. 3 boys in underwear, waiter tells me there are a total of 5 available boys (2 fully clothed), and he can go with me as well. One other party (some people on a table, difficult to distinguish who is customer and who staff, and many bottles and glasses). Seems they do a slow but constant business (without the low and high season like in tourist areas). Music, aircon, light ok. Shortly before I leave, the boys dress (for closing at 2 am). I ask in one karaoke: close at 2 am. 

In Behigh, a waiter sat sext to me and entertained me during my stay. Pleasant company and there was some mutual attraction, but some facial hair and heavily tattooed. He asked me if I smoke (no) and then asked if I mind if he smokes (yes) and refrained from smoking. Big brownie points for asking! English ok (I think my Thai is better than his English, but I'm not interested in having conversation in Thai, so I keep it in English). We exchange phone numbers and Line (and wrote a few messages on Line, but I'm not sure if we will get together again, I should have asked earlier if he wants money from me, because that's totally out of question).

There are more gay places along Pradipat, which I didn't have time to go to (and was tired). 

Update 24.09.2014 about 5 6o 6 pm:

The soi with 39 underground sauna and Pahon cinema has several massage places with male staff. In Pradipat several restaurants with cute male staff. Charmming bar (double m, Pradipat Soi 17) still operates, gay bar, open from 9 pm (I asked at foodstall opposite, if I hadn't been before I wouldn't have found it in daylight). Adonis sauna (Pradipat 169/44, near Elizabeth Hotel) closed (sign removed, under renovation, will open as something different).

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Chatuchak Green market

Chatuchak Green market

I found this place by chance by following he masses when I was on the way to Fake gay disco.

(Coming from MRT Chatuchak, walking northwards on Kamphaengphet 3 road.) Minutes later, I see they are coming from a night market I didn't know about (about 200 m north of animal market and Children's Discovery Museum). This area is called "Chatuchak Green" จตุจักรกรีน, is on google maps, has a website http://www.jjgreen.com/ and is a permanent installation (most of the shops and bars and restaurants in buildings):

It looks interesting, especially the market on parking lot with vintage stuff, but I am on the way to gay bars.

There are public toilets on the map on their website, but most visitors pee in semidarkness in the area that is labelled "garden" on the map (south-eastern corner). Once you are 20 m away, just follow your nose. If watching dozens of males age 15-30 urinating in semidarkness in the open is your fetish, you will like it!

(N.b.: This is not the railway market, which used to be about 300 m west, on Kamphaengphet 6 road. I found the railway market by chance two years ago when going to Fake bar, by following a stream of people past fake bar. That area is now demolished (observation from walking or driving past in a bus on the way to Mor Chit bus station). The railway market has moved to near Seacon Square on Srinakarin road, haven't been yet.)

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC

Friday, 26 September 2014

Phra Mahachedi Chai Mongkon in Roi Et province

Phra Mahachedi Chai Mongkon in Roi Et province


(Bus from Roi Et to Nong Pok about 80 km, see previous articles label "Roi Et".)

My bus from Phon Tong (line 4557, 30 Baht, 14:08-44) stops at the sidewalk next to a stadium. There is no designated bus station. From there I ask locals for way and public transport options to the Chedi. They recommend using nearby mocy/tuktuk drivers.

I walk there and inquire price. There seems to be a problem to get to the Chedi on tuktuk, but I can't get to the ground of the problem. Finally we agree on 500 Baht for return trip including 1 hour waiting time.

The trip takes 14:55-15:29. It's only about 15 km, but it was slow. The tuktuk driver stops at the entrance gate at the main road (hwy 2136, from there it is about 5 km), but I tell him to go in (cars are going and coming). Now I realize what the problem is: his tuktuk is underpowered, and with an incline of about 5%, walking would be faster. We finally arrive at parking/market/gate. 

I take free shuttle bus (15:34-37) for about 500 m from parking/market/gate to the chedi (pointless, can easily walk, there should be a shuttle from main road!). I recommend walking on the wall, enjoy the view.

The interior decoration (several floors, some still under construction) rivals that of Versailles palace:

The spiral stairway leads to the Buddha relics:

From the base of the spiral stairways, you can go outside: 

And there is more around, miniature of Borobodur:

The whole area is encircled by a wall (designed to resemble the great wall of China), you can walk on ground level or on top of the wall:

Some spots are wet from rain, and the surface is slippery, watch your step:

I wanted to walk just a part on top of the wall, but then I realize I missed the last exit (stairs down), so I have to walk about 1 km until I can get off near the entrance gate:

On ground level (to your left side when entering through the main gate), there are toilet cubicles for a length of about 100 m, the largest public toilet in Thailand?

I spent about 2 h at the chedi and walking on the wall. There is more to see (Namyoi cliff ผาน้ำย้อย, wat, garden) but I'm tired and told the driver I would be back in 1 h.

Upon return (17:34-18:01), the driver asked if I could give him 100 Baht more, I refuse. In a Bangkok taxi, it would have cost 220 Baht (30 km) + 180 Baht (2 hours slower than 6 km/h) = 400 Baht, and it would have been faster and more comfortable, therefore 500 Baht was a generous offer.

Wait for bus, ride bus back to Roi Et (80 Baht, 18:56-20:20, the bus continues to Bangkok).

Verdict: location, size and ornamentation are spectacular, worth the trip. 

Further reading: http://roietattractions.blogspot.com/2008/01/phra-maha-chedi-chai-mongkol_05.html

Public transport:
In Nong Pok, there is limited public transport. I didn’t see any songteo or other local public transport, only big bus 289 from Khon Kaen to Amnat Charoen passing 18:08, bus 289 to Mukdahan passing 18:40, bus to Bangkok via Roi Et (18:30 schedule, 18:56 real, I took this to get back to Roi Et).

Copyright 2014 ChristianPFC