Together with our friends we travelled to Thailand for a few days in late November/early December and had a great time. We went to Chiang Mai for the lantern festival and then staid in Bangkok for a weekend. We took so many pictures that I’ve not had time to go through all of them yet – but let’s start with Bangkok, as I’ve sorted these pictures first.
We stayed in the fantastic Hansar Bangkok hotel, in walking distance to Rajdamri Road. The BTS Skytrain is five minutes away and it only takes ten minutes to walk to Siam Square. On the BTS the Chao Praya river is only ten minutes away and it takes around 30 minutes to get to the airport.
The urban suite was huge and very unique – we had an interior garden wall alive with tropical greenery, a big bedroom and living room, and an amazing bathroom with a rainshower and a free-standing bathtub. Breakfast was included, and every morning we indulged on fresh fruit, Thai dishes and fresh baked bread, sitting outside on the terrace overlooking a quiet side street. Service was amazing too and we all loved our stay at the Hansar Bangkok.
We spent our first day exploring the neighbourhood – given that we all had been to Bangkok before and knew the big sights. So we walked through the neighbourhood, towards the Siam Square and past the Central World shopping complex. The hustle and bustle of the city always surprises me, there are so many cars, scooters and of course, numerous tuk tuks – traffic is quite unbelievable.
I would be lost if I had to drive in Bangkok, compared to Hong Kong everything is so crowded and busy (not that I drive in Hong Kong, there is no space to drive in the city and it is not even allowed in Discovery Bay to drive a private car). But it does make for a nice photo opportunity.
Every day we walked past the Erawan Shrine at the corner of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. The shrine was always busy, regardless of the time of the day (it is open from 6am to 10pm). The shrine is called Saan Phra Prom in Thai and is dedicated to Brahma, the ancient Hindu creation god, and Erawan, his elephant.
The Erawan Shrine was built in 1956 as part of the government-owned Erawan Hotel to eliminate the bad karma believed caused by laying the foundations on the wrong date.
When a string of calamities held up the building of the original hotel in the 1950s, spirit doctors were called in, who instructed the owners to build a new home for the offended local spirits: the hotel was then finished without further mishap. In 1987, the hotel was demolished and the site used for the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel.
Ill fortune struck the shrine itself, however, in early 2006, when a young, mentally disturbed, Muslim man smashed the Brahma statue to pieces with a hammer – and was then brutally beaten to death by an angry mob. An exact replica of the statue was quickly installed, incorporating the remains of the old statue to preserve the spirit of the deity.
The temple is always very crowded, not just with people but with scented garlands and incense candles. You might also catch a group of traditional dancers (here is an interesting CNN article about them) performing here to the strains of a small classical orchestra – worshippers hire them to give thanks for a stroke of good fortune. To increase their future chances of such good fortune, visitors buy a bird or two from the flocks incarcerated in cages here; the bird-seller transfers the requested number of captives to a tiny hand-held cage, from which the customer duly liberates the animals, thereby accruing merit.
- The Hansar Hotel is located at 3 Soi Mahadlekluang 2, Rajdamri Road in Lumpini. Here is its website and you can call it on +66 2 209 1234. It really is an amazing place to stay
- To get to the Erawan Shrine take the BTS train to Chidlom Station and walk to the corner of the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel. You can’t miss it, there are many people here, always