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Thailand Book Fair 2009


Thailand Book Fair 2009

Interior of Thailand Book Fair 2009 at Queen Sikirit Convention Hall

 During the 5 days when my friend and I are in Bangkok for the Wat Pho TTM lessons, we spent 2 of our evenings (20th Oct 09 and 22nd Oct 09) at the Thailand Book Fair 2009. We discovered this not-to-be-missed book feast and its details though the Paknam Web Thailand Forum, a very comprehensive and no-sleaze one-stop website with many things I will ever want to find out about Thailand. You can find out more about other book fairs at other times of the year in Thailand or things Thai at:

http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/showthread.php?t=31830  🙂

Although we aimed to sieve out only English books from the rest, 2 evenings were still not enough to enable us to completely visit every booth.

stairs to Thailand Book Fair 2009

Stairs leading to one of the entrances to the book fair.

Booth with wholly Thai books

Booth with wholly Thai literature. Somtimes, the titles of some of these very interesting-looking books can be very misleading. Although these titles are in both Thai and English translations, when I leaf through them, to my immense disappointment, the text is only in Thai. Now, I am enlightened to that English books in Thailand will have ONLY English words on the coverpages, totally devoid of any Thai words =)

Booth with educational toys/games

Booth with educational toys/games. From the very limited time I have browsing through the mechandise, it appears to me that those toys, games and books with only English text on them are usually more costly than the ones in Thai only. Some of the items which I know the cost of in Singapore, are approximately the same as in Singapore, AFTER their discount at this bookfair.

Enticements for maternal magazine subscription?

Lots of goodies that seem to me to be freebies for magazines on mother and baby. Can anyone enlighten? =)

 Here’s some details about the book fair:

1) Location: Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre, just take an escalator up from Queen Sirikit MRT station at Exit 3, and hey! here we are =)

2) Dates and Time: 15th October to 25th October 2009, 10am to 9pm. I’m not sure if it is an annual event. Interested individuals can make query at Paknam Web (link will be provided below)

3) Types of Mechandise: books and magazines in Thai (mostly, obviously), English and Chinese, secondhand, yellowing books and posters(very interesting buy if only I can read Thai), postcards on old Thailand (got myself lots of them), educational games and toys, computer software, maps of Thailand with CD-ROMs(although they are dated about 5 years ago, the saleperson apparently advertised very convincingly as many Thais bought them), stamps, and CDs, VCDs and DVDs (yes, Khons too!) 

Here are some of the more special (to me) items I got there 🙂

Postcards of Old Thailand

Postcards of Old Thailand I got at the book fair. They cost THB 7 each.

More postcards

A clearer look at some of the postcards. Some of the postcards also featured how Hua Lamphong Railway Station looked at in the old days. Quite eye-opening for me =)

An advertising leaflet

An advertisement leaflet from where I got the postcards.

4 VCDs on The Khon Performance

A set of 4 VCDs titled The Khon Performance which cost THB 590 after discount. Although I cannot understand this set and can only enjoy its sounds and dancings, I have been very captivated by Thai traditional performing arts for quite sometime now. However, from the only English phrases on the box relating to the contents of the VCDs, there are ones that mention "Dancing for blessing to the king", "Khon Ramawatan","The Abduction of Sita", "Hanuman lured the heart box" and "Sita stepped on fire". These phrases allowed me to presume that it is a khon on Ramayana.

CD and free VCD

I also got a very pleasant piece of CD on Thai traditional music, priced THB 150 aftr discount. In addition, I wa given a free VCD, which I am still trying to find time to sit through all the speeches in Thai at the beginning of the VCD , to find out what this VCD is about 🙂

Here’s the less interesting part 🙂 of how we got to this bookfair. Hopefully, this information can also assist others during the next bookfair who were located where we had been. After our Wat Pho TTM class, we walked to Tha Chang Pier (a whooping 25mins’ walk, although there were lots of attractive roadside stalls to enhance my walking experience), and paid our respects at Wat Rakang, which is a THB3 boat ride away from the pier =)
Boat ride back to Tha Chang Pier from Wat Rakang

Boat ride back to Tha Chang Pier from Wat Rakang. Took 3mins and THB 3 =)

On Bus 508

Then we took Bus 508 just outside Tha Chang Pier. It's surprisingly dark at about only 6pm local time.Bus 508 took us to National Stadium BTS (I think that's what it's called) 🙂 where we can take a BTS train to Asok station, and then transit to Queen Sikirit Station 🙂 Luckily we heed Paknam Web's advice to take BTS train instead of a taxi because on our 2nd trip on Thurs, we took a taxi (cos we had a change of mind en route to go to the book fair instead of to Suan Lum), and midway, there was a massive traffic jam 😛

On BTS on way to Asok transit station 

Interesting sign on the BTS

The image of the monk in yellow sure caught my attention 🙂 Something I never get to see on similar train signs here in my hometown 🙂

Queen Sirikit Station

Arrival at Queen Sirikit Station after about 20mins on BTS.

Queen Sirikit Centre at closing time, 9pm

Queen Sirikit Centre at closing time, 9pm 🙂

After a quick meal at the 7-11, we walked to Klong Toei market, my first (as far as I remember) experience of a livestock market, where fish are slaughtered right there and then.

***Disclaimer*** The above blog only reflects my subjective travel experience, and is not meant to be taken as a purposeful endorsement about or dissuasion against any particular orgnization or its work. Neither have I received financial benefits of any kind (prior to or during the publishing) pertaining to my blog. Linkage to other blogs on identical topics or related commercial websites also does not imply in any way my endorsement of, or agreement with, the aims, opinions or practices of those blogs and websites, and merely serve as a related online resource for further referencing. Consumers and donors are encouraged and advised to exert their own discernment when purchasing any goods and services, or making any donations in cash or kind, through any links on this blog.

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Entrance of Wat Hua Lamphong Reception

Entrance of RF's Reception. There is another door just beside it that leads into the temple, although there is another side door that connects to both temple and reception hall.

On the 2nd night (or shall we say third day, as it was about 1am when we reached), we set out to visit Wat Hua Lamphong. Actually it should be Ruamkatanyu Foundation (RF) instead, but it seemed that both my friend’s Thai relative and our taxi driver took it as Wat Hua Lamphong. The place was easy to spot the temple even at such late hours , as it is situated just along the roadside, bright lights adorned the temple all over so it looked very cheery and bright, and is also literally bustling with devotees. My main purpose of going there this trip is because whenever I travel, I will always hope to give a bit back to the host country. This trip, due to the foot massage course I am doing with my friend, there is insufficient time to visit a local orphanage or home for the elderly. Therefore, I feel an equally worthy cause will be to offer coffins to the destitute deceased on their last leg of this wordly journey. In addition, my family has also put together a bag of used clothes that are still in very good condition, but which unfortunately, we have ‘outgrown’; read: time for more exercises 🙂 😛 Actually, my friend and I are only trying our luck by lugging our collective 15kg of clothes to RF, as we do not know if they do indeed accept clothes for their beneficiaries. Anyhow, I figured that even if they do not, we can always contact the list of other welfare organizations in Bangkok.

Here’s some information that like-minded individuals may find useful:

1) Opening Hours: 24 hours. This is what my friend’s Bangkoknian relative helped us to find out (thanks to the both of them!), and apparently, his information is correct because we reached there at about 1am, and when we left, it is approximately half past one in the morning. Throughout it all, it is crowded with devotees coming and going.

2) Location: 5 mins’ drive from Hua Lamphong Railway station cum BTS station? (is this the right term for it?). I think most taxi drivers will know RF if you said it as Wat Hua Lamphong because even when we (unknowingly) told him wrongly that we were going to Wat Hua Lamphong, he immediately understood, and sent us correctly to RF.

3) Donations accepted: cash donation for a coffin (THB 500 each), and also, as we newly discovered, used clothes in good condition because from the photos on their exhibits (shown below), they did relief work for the living destitute too  

Interior of Reception Hall. Any amount if accepted and a receipt will be given. A coffin costs THB500.

Interior of the reception hall. Any amount is accepted and a receipt will be given. A coffin costs THB500.

The pink slip of paper to fill with the donor's name

The pink slip of paper to fill with the donor's name, seemingly for blessing. After writing our name, we are to paste it on the rows of coffin in the room behind the reception hall.

Signboard in the room with coffins.

Signboard in the room with coffins. Probably remains from 10 months ago.

Devotees pasting their pink paper on the coffins.

Devotees pasting their pink paper on the coffins.

A closer look at the pink slips on a coffin.

A closer look at the pink slips on a coffin.

 In the same room, there are numerous exhibits on the other relief work RF did for the financially disadvantaged community. Here are some photos.

Home of the financially disadvantaged.

Home of the financially disadvantaged. I cannot read Thai. I wonder if this is a slum house?

Food ration, perhaps?

Appears to me that this family has just received food ration from volunteers from RF.

refugee camp?

Seems like distribution of necessaries to a tribal refugee camp...

more dana

more dana

RF has huge Chinese Taoist influences, exemplified by the numerous Taoist god images in the main prayer hall, and only a couple of Buddha statues in the shrine.

Temple hall

Temple hall with many Taoist effigies.

Rows of makeshift stalls lined the pavement outside RF, from stalls selling Chinese-styled trinkets to animals for liberation such as edible snails.
Pavement outside Wat Hua Lamphong

Pavement outside RF. Stalls are still open past 1am.

Lanterns brightening the dark pavements

One cannot miss seeing RF even past midnight. Lanterns brighten the dark pavements.

 However, one question remains: Is RF actually affliliated to Wat Hua Lamphong, or do the two incidentally just happen to be close by to each other? I will appreciate it if someone can update me on this =) Hope you enjoy this blog 🙂

Other links that you may find informative: 

http://blog.tourismthailand.org/EugeneTang/?p=781

http://www.ohomylife.com/travel/bkk_hlp.php 

***Disclaimer*** The above blog only reflects my subjective travel experience, and is not meant to be taken as a purposeful endorsement about or dissuasion against any particular orgnization or its work. Neither have I received financial benefits of any kind (prior to or during the publishing) pertaining to my blog. Linkage to other blogs on identical topics or related commercial websites also does not imply in any way my endorsement of, or agreement with, the aims, opinions or practices of those blogs and websites, and merely serve as a related online resource for further referencing. Consumers and donors are encouraged and advised to exert their own discernment when purchasing any goods and services, or making any donations in cash or kind, through any links on this blog.


Bangkok – Where All Dreams Begin and Unforgettable Memories Linger…  

Wat Pho

Painting of Wat Pho within its temple grounds

Thailand has always been an exceptionally irresistable and unforgettable place for me; right from the very first moment I set foot on Thai soil (Bangkok, actually) as a self-searching teenager about ten years ago, I have immediately fallen head over heels in love with Thai culture, its street food, its wondrous sights, sounds and smells, and above all, the easy, heart-warming smiles and accompanying Wais of its beautiful people. From then on, there’s no turning back and Thailand remains a beautiful place that I will always want to go back to, again and again…  This October trip (19th to 23rd 09)  must be more than the tenth time I voluntarily find myself in Thailand again, more than half of which always involved Bangkok. Yet, each time, I always found myself discovering and rediscovering Bangkok. Each time, my emotions for its past, present and future cultural heritage and social issues strengthen and become clearer. My main aim of this trip is to take up the Thai foot massage course at Wat Pho TTM school, Wat Pho’s first and main massage school. Here are some pictures of it. =)  

Wat Pho Traditional Thai Massage School (Wat Pho TTM)   

 
 
 
Interior of Wat Pho TTM school, Bangkok

Interior of Wat Pho TTM school during a 15mins' break. Teachers are dressed in their uniform of white tops and black pants.

       

Sitting arrangements of students who take turns to foot massage and to be foot massaged fellow students, and somtimes, teachers!

Sitting arrangements of students who take turns to foot massage and to be foot massaged by fellow students, and sometimes, teachers!

Free Bag of Goodies Upon Course Registration

Upon payment for the foot massage course, each student is given a free bag containing a bottle with 120ml of foot massage cream, a 120ml bottle of foot massage oil, 50ml of foot massage cream, a porcelain bowl for containing the mix of oil and cream, a wooden stick (for applying pressure on feet), 2 towels and 8 packets of wet tissues. Essentially, these are all the items we shall need to carry out foot massage. But this bag of items is for us to bring home, as during the entire course, we use only the cream, oil and towels etc belonging to the school.

Free notebook (green) and instruction manual (pink)

Besides the free bag of foot massage essentials, each student is also given a free green jotterbook, a free pink instruction manual and a pen. Very handy indeed.

   

Certificate

Upon successful completion of the exam on the last day of the course, each student is awarded with a certificate of achievement "of Thai Traditional Massage in recognition of the fulfilment of this course with all the honours and privileges thereunto (thereupon?) appertaining FOOT MASSAGE". Students have the choice of whether their certificates are to be in English or Thai.

Here are some information on the foot massage course for those interested:  

1) Cost: THB 6500 (inclusive of all course materials), payable by cash or credit  

2) Duration of Course:  5 consecutive days (total 30 hours), 9am to 4pm daily, with an hour’s lunch break from 12noon to 1pm. Be sure, however, to turn up for your first lesson only on Monday, Wednesday or Saturday, which are the only days when Wat Pho TTM commence foot massage classes. The Wat Pho TTM-affiliated massage schools have other commencement day.Moreover, as a precaution, please email Sarat Tan from Wat Pho TTM before you go to confirm that the Mon, Wed or the Sat when you will be first arriving is an operating day, because on our last day, my friend and I heard from a fellow Singaporean mother and daughter pair that when they first arrived, the school was closed for holiday. Apparently, we also heard from them that Wat Pho TTM allowed them to condense the 30hours into 4 days instead of the usual 5 days, by fulfilling more than 8 practice hours each day. We do not know if this is a special arrangement for them due to their unique circumstances resulting from the school closure. =) Interestingly, Thais get an additional day, meaning they complete the course in 6 days, instead of the customary 5 days for international students 🙂  

Here’s the Wat Pho TTM website that offers a comprehensive list of courses, schedules and its massage schools:  

http://www.watpomassage.com/2009/index.php?lang=en  

This is Sarat Tan who answers email queries about Wat Pho TTM. I emailed him/her a few times over the one year before going and he/she answered every email. The last time I emailed him/her before going is to ensure that the school is open on Chulalongkorn Day, our last day of class.  

 watpo.ttm@gmail.com  

In the event that Sarat does not reply (never occurred to me), this is an alternative email to try =)  

watpomassage_ttm@yahoo.com  

3) Location: 5 mins’ walk from Wat Pho. If you are not sure, go to Wat Pho’s massage reception in the monastery, and the staff will give you a card/brochure with the map and verbally direct you there.  

4) Things to Bring: Nothing! =) Not even a notebook or a pen, as these will be provided. Before I went, some of the blogs on Wat Pho TTM which I read suggested that it will be good to bring a pen and notebook (which I did). However, it seems that now, the school has enhanced its learning experience and has started providing both, or those blogs are only applicable to the Thai Traditional Body Massage course. Furthermore, the instruction manual is in Thai, English, Mandarin and Japanese, so this is additional benefit.  

5) Proper Attire: NO low-cut tops or singlets (all tops have to be short-sleeved at least), NO jeans and NO long fingernails (for obvious reasons of injuring ‘clients’) . LOOSE-FITTING pants, as contrasted with jeans, allow easy rolling to above the knees, as the foot massage will comprise actions all the way to above the knees! =) It is important to wear the appropriate attire on the last day, the day of exam, when 10 marks will be awarded for polite dressing, loose-fitting pants (which means jeans are the wrong attire), and short fingernails.  

6) Food and Drinks: For water, just bring an empty bottle to refill freely with icy cold water or warm water from a water dispenser on the 2nd level. Lunch is equally convenient. Students can simply pay THB 49 for a buffet lunch in the school with all the other students from other courses (or maybe it’s THB 24, I can’t remember because I took advantage of the ongoing Kin Jay Vegetarian Festival right outside along the streets, and never ate at the buffet). A Caucasian lady in my class told me that the buffet lunch is a great way to mingle with students from other courses. If you prefer some authentic Thai street food experiences, there are also lots of stalls lining the streets right outside the school. Be warned in advance, however, that the spicy dishes are authentically Thai spicy =) No worries too if you are vegetarian and the Kin Jay Festival is over. Rub Aroon Cafe, which is situated on the same stretch as Wat Pho TTM and within 5 mins’ walk, have both non-vegetarian and vegetarian menus.This cafe’s clientele seems to be mainly the Western tourist crowd and I personally feel that the spiciness of the vegetarian dishes is more watered to suit the general Western palate. Good for those who are not used to authentic Thai spiciness; bad for people like me who are chilli lovers =) Another plus point of Rub Aroon Cafe is its cosy, cafe-typical and ‘middle-class’ ambience, for those not used to eating along the streets. It also sells Nancy Chandler maps of Bangkok, Khaosan Road and Chiangmai (I find them more comprehensive and fun than most maps), and Nancy Chandler’s activity books and postcards on Thailand.  

7) Accommodations: Wat Pho TTM has at its registration counter cards which state that Aurum The River Place can offer special discounts for Wat Pho TTM students. Before going, my friend and I did not know about this offer. Back then, our main priority is to find accommodations within walking distance to Wat Pho TTM. The only two choices we knew of then was Guesthouse 238 (which I found out online and appeared to be frequented by Wat Pho TTM’s students), and Arun Residences (which was deliciously luxurious and tempting with THAT river view of Wat Arun’s sunset). But because I’m travelling with my guyfriend and we will be taking separate rooms, it just seems too extravagant to me to take a room in a boutique hotel for 4 nights, so we settled for Guesthouse 238. Not that it is in any way a bad choice. In fact, it is one of the best guesthouses I have ever been in, and where I will certainly return to again =) Firstly, it has the advantage of its strategic position of being within 5mins’ walk from Pak Klong Talaat (24hrs wholesale flower market I always make sure I go to every trip to Bangkok), 5mins’ walk from Memorial Bridge Night Market, 8 mins’ walk from Old Siam Plaza, and 3 mins’ walk from Pahurat 🙂 Secondly, for online booking at THB 600/room/night (THB 700 for walk-ins), the rooms are all so clean and hygienic, and best of all, NO SLEAZE at all. Thirdly, the guesthouse is run by a Chinese Thai family whose mother can speak Teochew and Mandarin quite well, whose son can speak English very well, and whose sister can speak both English and Japanese. The family is extremely helpful, and this trip is our second time staying at 238. The mother helped us bargain for much cheaper prices for taxi booking to Nonthaburi during Chinese New Year, and it is also very helpful to us that she can explain to and understand us in Mandarin =) Here are some pictures of Guesthouse 238 during my Chinese New Year trip this year with my cousin and our 2 friends. All pictures shown here of 238 are by courtesy of our friend, Jason Koh =)  

Guesthouse 238

If you are taking a cab, make sure you look out for this while still on the road, which is the only telling sign to inform you that you have arrived at your accomodation. We felt that most of the cab drivers whom we used their services on both trips this year were quite clueless about the exact location of 238, so we now ask the drivers to drop us at the start of Pak Klong Talaat (where all of them know), which is an extremely easy walk from 238.

Entrance To 238

Snuggled Between the Two Walls - Home Away From Home. No Sleaze =)

Entrance To Reception of 238

At the reception hall, we can find the computers with pay-as-you-use internet access.

Cosy Cafe At 238

Tucked snuggly away from the traffic outside the walls, this cafe serves Thai and Western food, and even Chinese porridge.

Parts of 238 Menu

Food right at 238

 Here’s the email address of the daughter who takes English room bookings. She teaches Japanese so no problem too if the email is in Japanese =) Actually I wanted to post their website here but apparently, because 238 uses Geocities (which says it is closing when I try to access their  webbie), it has moved too =( Maybe this is for the better cos my cousin, friend and I seriously feel that 238’s rooms certainly look much better in reality than the grim images they are featured on their webbie =)   

tanukio@hotmail.com      

Then, here are the luxurious boutique hotels too =)  

Aurum The River Place:  

http://www.aurum-bangkok.com/index.html  

Arun Residences:  

http://www.arunresidence.com/main.htm  

8) Other Details: There are 53 steps to be performed on each foot (cum leg). The exam on the last day is closed book, so we have  to do the massage in the correct sequence from memory =) Advice is to try to understand and memorise all the steps on the first evening after class so that the rest of the days can be spent on refining the techniques 🙂 I agree with some of the blogs on Wat Pho TTM that the school is strong on techniques; it was practical work right from the start and very little theory was said. However, the manual summarises which human organ each pressure point on the feet represents. There are also rows of shops right along the street outside Wat Pho TTM that sells massage books (sadly, only written in Thai from what I see), massage tools, creams and oils – a convenience  for those intending to open shop or service their loved ones regularly. Lastly, there is the one piece of passport size photograph and a copy of our passport to be given to Wat Pho TTM to do up our certificate of attendance. Our French classmate told us that there is a photo-taking cum photocopying shop just beside the 7-11 (the 7-11 is 5 mins’ walk from Wat Pho TTM and on the same stretch), so we went there. We did not bring our own photos from home because another friend of ours who took up this course during Chinese New Year this year found our Singapore’s passport photos smaller than Thailand’s so he had to retake in Bangkok.  

Lastly, here’s a blog on Wat Pho TTM which I found useful to read before proceeding to actual registration =)  

http://bml.uoregon.edu/keitan/watpho/  

Our teachers such as Kwan (hope I spelt her name right!) are completely encouraging, helpful and responsible. Among all the massages I ever had, Wat Pho’s  foot and body massages are by far the best.   =)   

***Disclaimer*** The above blog only reflects my subjective travel experience, and is not meant to be taken as a purposeful endorsement about or dissuasion against any particular orgnization or its work. Neither have I received financial benefits of any kind (prior to or during the publishing) pertaining to my blog. Linkage to other blogs on identical topics or related commercial websites also does not imply in any way my endorsement of, or agreement with, the aims, opinions or practices of those blogs and websites, and merely serve as a related online resource for further referencing. Consumers and donors are encouraged and advised to exert their own discernment when purchasing any goods and services, or making any donations in cash or kind, through any links on this blog.

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