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Letters from Thailand - #9

Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Topics for this issue include:
  1. The King Changes Emerald Buddha Costume
  2. Bangkok Snow Removal Christmas Cards
  3. Update about Khlong Chong Nonsi Park
  4. The Royal Plaza Fenced Off
  5. Win a Bangkok Guidebook
  6. Christmas Tree at CentralWorld
  7. View of Wat Arun from Inn a Day restaurant
  8. Updates about King Rama IX Park
  9. Seagulls at Bang Pu Recreation Centre
  10. Interesting Tweets
  11. Bangkok Walking Maps - 6

King Changes Emerald Buddha Costume
His Majesty the King changes the costume of the Emerald Buddha
His Majesty the King changes the costume of the Emerald Buddha
As expected, His Majesty the King, briefly flew back to Thailand on Saturday to take part in an important ceremony at the Grand Palace; the changing of the costume of the Emerald Buddha in Wat Phra Kaew. This can only be done by the King or a senior member of the royal family such as the Crown Prince. This is done three times a year on the 1st waning day of the lunar months four, eight and twelve. On Saturday, the costume was changed from Rainy Season to Cool Season. The Emerald Buddha chapel was closed all day, and the Grand Palace was closed at noon.
By consulting an astrological calendar, it is easy to work out the days for the costume changes for next year:
  • Changing Cool to Summer: 18th March 2022 (แรม ๑ ค่ำ เดือนสี่)
  • Changing Summer to Rainy: 14th July 2022 (แรม ๑ ค่ำ เดือนแปด)
  • Changing Rainy to Cool: 9th November 2022 (แรม ๑ ค่ำ เดือนสิบสอง)
The change to the cool season is always done the day after the full moon for the Loy Krathong Festival. So, I can tell you now that Loy Krathong next year is on Tuesday 8th November 2022.
Costumes of the Buddha: Summer, Rainy and Cool Seasons
Costumes of the Buddha: Summer, Rainy and Cool Seasons
The three sets of costumes for the Emerald Buddha:
  • Hot/summer season (left) – a stepped, pointed headpiece; a breast pendant; a sash; a number of armlets, bracelets and other items of royal attire. All items are made of enamelled gold and embedded with precious and semi-precious stones.
  • Rainy season (middle) – a pointed headpiece of enamelled gold studded with sapphires; a gold-embossed monk’s robe draped over one shoulder.
  • Cool/winter season (right) – a gold headpiece studded with diamonds; a jewel-fringed gold-mesh shawl draped over the rainy season attire.
Source: Wikipedia
Bangkok Snow Removal
If you are looking for some unique Christmas cards or just general greeting cards to send to family and friends back home, then check out the catalogue at Bangkok Snow Removal. As the name suggests, they have cards showing well-known scenes around the capital but with one big difference. Snow! One of my favourite cards, shows motorcycle taxi drivers huddled around a fire trying to keep warm. Which I’ve actually seen here in Thailand, though without the snow. Other scenes show snow falling on the Temple of Dawn, on the Skytrain, outside a 7-11 store, and this one of the iconic Tuk Tuk with skis instead of wheels. Their shop has greeting cards, wall calendars and postcards. Last year, I bought the 15-month desktop calendar.
Update about Khlong Chong Nonsi Park
Khlong Chong Nonsi Park in November 2021
Khlong Chong Nonsi Park in November 2021
This is the latest photo of Khlong Chong Nonsi Park taken this week. The entire length of the park will be 4.5 kilometres once finished and it will go from the intersection near BTS Chong Nonsi station to the Chao Phraya River. Don’t be alarmed by the absence of trees along the road. They said they will be brought back soon, and a lot more, as they will be planting 5,000 trees and plants along this road. As you can see, they have already brought in some new trees for the middle section that goes over the canal. They are also building a sewer that will run underneath this canal to make sure the wastewater is separated. You can see an artist’s impression of what it will look like on my richardbarrow.com blog.
GPS Coordinates: 13.720719, 100.530843
The Royal Plaza Fenced Off
The Royal Plaza in Bangkok
The Royal Plaza in Bangkok
The Royal Plaza in Bangkok is an important public space that has seen large royal ceremonies and pro and anti-government demonstrations. It stands at the northern end of Ratachadamoen Avenue which links the Grand Palace with Dusit Palace. The plaza is rectangular shaped, nearly 300 metres long and 100 metres wide. The centrepiece is the equestrian statue of King Rama V which was erected in 1908. At the northern end is the Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall built in Italian Renaissance and neoclassical style. King Rama V laid the foundation stone for the throne hall in 1908 and it was completed in 1915. I last visited here in 2017 for the Arts of the Kingdom exhibition. Sadly, the throne hall, and the nearby Vimanmek Teak Mansion, have been indefinitely closed to the public. It is not known whether we will ever be able to visit these places again.
The new entrance gate to the Royal Plaza
The new entrance gate to the Royal Plaza
I haven’t been back to the Royal Plaza for several years and so I was surprised during a recent visit to see that the entrance now has a large gate and fence. At first, I thought that this would mean cars wouldn’t be able to pass through here anymore to reach Ratchawithi Road on the other side. But then I noticed an open gateway on either side and some vehicles were entering this area. So, I decided to go too. I stopped briefly at the equestrian statue to take some photos. While I was there, a couple pulled up in their car. They had garlands to pay respect to the statue of King Rama V.
I then went to the northern end of the plaza to take a photo of Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall. That was when I was approached by whom I presume were plainclothes policemen. They basically told me I couldn’t take a photo. They pointed out a soldier on guard duty and said I couldn’t take a picture of the soldier. I asked if it was alright as I had taken pictures of the equestrian statue and they said yes. I then continued along Uthong Nai Alley to the northern end. I passed on my right the former grounds of Dusit Zoo and on my left the former grounds of the Parliament building. I didn’t stop to take photos as there were more plainclothes policemen. Obviously, this is no longer a tourist destination.
Google Streetview in September 2021
Google Streetview in September 2021
If you check out Google Streetview for September 2020, you will see what the entrance to the Royal Plaza looked like prior to the building of the gated fence. If I had to speculate about the reason, and this is something you won’t see mentioned in the mainstream media, it was built to control access to the Royal Plaza. There is a law forbidding protesters to go within 150 metres of a royal palace. This new gate is 200 metres from the entrance to Amphorn Sathan Residential Hall in the northwestern corner of the Royal Plaza. This is the official residence of King Rama X. Over the last few years there have been demonstrations calling for the monarchy to be reformed and the abolishing of the lese majeste law. In the past, protesters have come very close to this area and the Grand Palace.
Win a Bangkok Guidebook
The Must See Sites in Bangkok
The Must See Sites in Bangkok
COMPETITION
Most weeks I will try to have a competition for my subscribers to win some prizes. A few weeks back, I joined with AirDeveloppa to give away three air-purifiers. If you are a company based in Thailand and have a product that you are willing to donate as prizes, then please let me know.
This week I have two copies of a guidebook called ‘The Must See Sites in Bangkok’ which was published by the Bangkok Tourism Division. I’ve been using this book myself recently while exploring Bangkok. So, I picked up two extra copies for my subscribers.
To have a chance of winning a copy, all you have to do is send an email to competition@richardbarrow.com with the subject line ‘Win a Bangkok Guidebook’. In the body of the email, you just need to copy and paste this: “I would like to win a copy of ‘The Must See Sites in Bangkok’. I live in Thailand.” As I am paying to send these out myself, your address needs to be inside Thailand. Or it can be the address of a friend or a hotel if you are not here yet. The deadline is Saturday 27th November 2021. Thanks, and good luck!
Christmas Tree at CentralWorld
Christmas Tree at CentralWorld in Bangkok
Christmas Tree at CentralWorld in Bangkok
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Bangkok with the decorations already going up around town. CentralWorld always has the biggest tree and this year is no exception. This year it is 40-metres high which, according to their press release, makes it the tallest Christmas tree in Southeast Asia. They had their lighting up ceremony on 18th November. Strictly speaking, these are not Christmas decorations but rather seasonal decorations as they are for both Christmas and the new year. Thais like adopting festivals from around the world which is why Halloween and Valentine’s Day are so popular here.
View of Wat Arun from Inn a Day restaurant
View of the Temple of Dawn
View of the Temple of Dawn
Last weekend, after a day of exploring Bangkok, I had dinner at Inn a Day restaurant on the Chao Phraya River. What made this experience special is the view of Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn. The best time to visit is at sunset. The restaurant is on the ground floor, but they have a viewing area on upper floors. You can also stay here as they have rooms.
Wat Arun lit up at night
Wat Arun lit up at night
The lights on Wat Arun are turned on shortly after sunset. The night we went, they turned it on at 6:15 p.m. But I have seen it lit up earlier which will make a better picture while the sky is still a dark blue. Inn a Day is not necessarily the best place to have a view here. There are restaurants on either side which are actually higher. Here are a few examples:
I noticed that they have also been building a new pier here which looks finished. I saw that some photographers had set up tripods here to take photos of the sunset. I am not sure what kind of view they had down there, but as it is free access, it might be worth checking out.
Updates about King Rama IX Park
Back in Issue #3, I wrote about Nang Loeng racecourse that is being turned into a new public park for Bangkok. It is expected to be opened in 2024. Last week, the Royal Household Bureau released a series of artist’s impressions of what the park will look like once it is finally finished. And it is looking really great. The centrepiece will be a giant statue of King Bhumibol Adulyadej as the park is dedicated to his memory. The present king and queen will visit the building site on Sunday 5th December at 4:00 p.m. to lay the foundation stone for the statue.
The 44.64-hectare park will have more than 4,500 trees from all around Thailand. In fact, each province will be represented with their tree symbol. There will also be a large lake which will be shaped like the Thai number nine, for King Rama IX. There will also be bicycle and running lanes, and exercise areas. The park will also serve as a water retention area, or monkey cheeks, to help with the flood problems in the capital. If you want to see some more images, then watch the short video below.
วีดิทัศน์อุทยานเฉลิมพระเกียรติ พระบาทสมเด็จพระบรมชนกาธิเบศร มหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดชมหาราช บรมนาถบพิตร
วีดิทัศน์อุทยานเฉลิมพระเกียรติ พระบาทสมเด็จพระบรมชนกาธิเบศร มหาภูมิพลอดุลยเดชมหาราช บรมนาถบพิตร
Seagulls at Bang Pu Recreation Centre
Sunset on Sukta Pier in Bang Pu, Samut Prakan
Sunset on Sukta Pier in Bang Pu, Samut Prakan
For those people living in Bangkok who want to enjoy some sea breeze, can I suggest visiting Bang Pu Recreation Centre in Samut Prakan? There is a 500 metre-long concrete pier here with a restaurant at the far end. During the cooler months, from November to March, you will see many migrant birds who come here from Northern Europe and Russia. In particular, there are thousands of seagulls. The most popular time to visit is at the end of the day before sunset. If you are coming to visit the open-air museum at Ancient Siam, you could stop here afterwards as it is only ten minutes away.
You can come here most of the way by skytrain. Just take the Sukhumwit Line southwards to BTS Kheha station which is the present terminal station. From here, it is only ten minutes to Sukta Pier. Along the way you will pass the entrance to Ancient Siam on your left, Wat Askoram on your right (there is a seaside walk that starts here), and a number of side roads on the right that lead to restaurants along the sea. I’ve added a few map links below. There is talk of extending the skytrain even further and it will pass all these attractions.
Interesting Tweets
Richard Barrow
🌳 One of the most unusual park parks in #Bangkok is the Chao Phraya Sky Park. It is 280 meters long and 8.5 meters wide. It goes down the middle of Phra Polk Klao Bridge and links the Phra Nakhon and Thonburi sides of the river.

📍MAP: https://t.co/QlHfpDV7Bo https://t.co/hRgHMUBOFC
Richard Barrow
It looks like they are going to extend the Khlong Ong Ang Walking Street. This is the view along the moat from Damrong Sathit bridge. This is looking north towards the Golden Mount. It will be a nice walk once finished.

📍MAP: https://t.co/j3Bx84Euuo #Bangkok https://t.co/W0Gg6l5Xz5
Richard Barrow
A couple of years ago, there was an art project at Pak Khlong Flower Market that had street art showing real life workers. Unfortunately most have disappeared but there are a few good ones left, worth hunting down.

📍MAP: https://t.co/ufdyZkiuv5 #Bangkok #Thailand https://t.co/tgF02DgvZo
Bangkok Walking Maps - 6
This week, the Bangkok Walking Map is for Samsen Thewet which is an area along the Chao Phraya River that includes Vietnamese and Khmer communities and religious sites. If you are doing these walks and are posting your pictures on social media, please use the hashtag #walkingBKK as I would like to see what you have discovered. In all, there are fifteen of these maps to collect. There will be another free download link next week.
FREE DOWNLOADS: 
  1. Yaowarat Walking Map
  2. Nang Loeng Walking Map
  3. Thonburi Walking Map
  4. Bang Lamphu, Wang Na and Tha Tian
  5. Sao Ching Cha, Dinso Road, and Chaopho Suea Shrine
  6. Samsen Thewet
See You Next Time!
That’s all for this week for my weekly Letters from Thailand newsletter. Thanks for reading this far and I hope to see you next week. If you like this newsletter, please suggest to your friends to subscribe to it. It is 100% free. Thanks.
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Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand
Richard Barrow's Letters from Thailand @richardbarrow

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Samut Prakan, Thailand