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Showing posts from April, 2010

Thai Culture & Festivals: Songkran

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Thailand's famous Songkran festival is widely celebrated and marks the start of the Buddhist New Year. The date of the festival was originally set by astrological calculation to coincice with the vernal equinox, but it is now fixed and runs from the 13th to 15th April.

Songkran used to be celebrated only in the north of Thailand and it is believed that it was brought there by the Burmese, who adapted it from the Indian festival of Holi. It spread across Thailand in the mid 20th century and is now observed even in the far south. The festival is also celebrated throughout South East Asia. In Laos it is known as Pee Mai Lao, in Cambodia the locals refer to it as Chaul Chnam Thmey and in Myanmar it is called Thingyan.

Songkran was traditionally a time to pay your respects to village elders, including family members, friends and neighbours. People celebrating Songkran would also visit the the local temple to pray and give food to monks.

Ritual cleansing of Buddha images from household shr…

The Red Shirts in Bangkok - Penfold's update

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Unless you have been living on the moon for the last few weeks, you will no doubt be aware of the protests being held, by the Red shirted demonstrators in Bangkok and the worrying escalation in the level of tension and violence.
Last week the British government advised against all but essential travel to Bangkok and the US and Australian administrations, have issued warnings against travelling to Thailand.
This has caused widespread fear among travellers. But, are visitors right to stay away from Thailand? Or is this just scaremongering?
If you are planning a trip to Bangkok then I would say yes and urge anyone considering a visit to exercise extreme caution.
The protestors are occupying alot of the main roads and thoroughfares together with large parts of the Silom district. This has caused widespread disruption and many hotels and businesses in the area have closed.

On April 10th 25 people were killed and hundreds injured in clashes between demonstrators and security forces and on April…

Staying Safe in Thailand

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The aim of this post is to help travellers stay safe and healthy by providing them with a useful list of hints and tips.

Thailand is generally a very safe destination, but it's always wise to be aware of any potential problems before you travel.

"Forewarned is forearmed", as the old saying goes.
1) Motorcycles - The number one cause of death and injury among foreign tourists in Thailand is motorbike accidents. Thai drivers are notoriously bad and the country has one of the world's highest accident rates, with more than 13,000 people dying each year!!!

My advice would be NEVER ride a motorbike in Thailand, it's not worth the risk!!!

2) Political unrest - Long-simmering tension between pro- and anti-government groups has come to a head in the last couple of years and a number of protesters have been killed or seriously injured. Although no foreign tourists have been killed yet it pays to be a bit cautious. My advice would be to keep an eye on the news to help you avoid …

Thailand's Toilet Terror

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There has been a distinct lack of posts on Penfold's South East Asian Odyssey in the last couple of weeks....this hiatus was caused by my girlfriend and I being in Fiji. I am now stuck in Los Angeles due to volcanic activity in Iceland.....and I don't mean the crappy supermarket chain in the UK!!!! I would like to give my readers something to chuckle about with this post on Thailand's toilet facilities Most hotels, restaurants and other establishments in Thailand, that cater for foreign guests, will have a good old-fashioned, Western-style, "sit-down" toilet. What makes the experience of taking a dump, even more pleasurable, is that most of their toilet facilties will have a toilet hose, more commonly known as the "bum gun" or "jacksie jet", which in my humble opinion is the greatest Thai invention of all-time!!! It serves the same purpose, as a bidet in a European bathroom, and an example can be seen in the photo below!!!But, if you're ev…