Dec 27, 2012

Will the Chinese build a highspeed railway from Bangkok to Chiang Mai and to Nong Khai?

China has just opened the worlds longest Highspeed-Railway from Beijing in the north along 2298 km to the southern boom city of Guangzhou. There were a lot of international headlines around the first train on this line. And they helped to forget the big problems with Chinese Highspeed Trains as the Wenzou train collision in the not so far past.

But the Chinese Railway policy has much bigger ambitions. It is under way to create a Highspeed Railway System in Southeast Asia, linking China to Laos and Thailand and creating connections from China to Singapore.

Laos is forcing plans for a $7 billion railway link from the capital Vientiane in the South to the Chinese border in the North (passing the towns of Phonhong, Vangvieng, Luang Prabang, Oudomxay and Luang Namtha). The construction shall begin early in 2013. The line will be completed around 2014, said Laotian Deputy Prime Minister Somsavat Lengsavad at an international rail conference in Beijing. "While the exact route isn't clear, the rail line is expected to connect the southwest Chinese city of Kunming with Singapore, passing through Laos, Thailand and Malaysia", wrote

The project is financed by a 30-year loan from Export-Import Bank of China, according to China will be responsible for the construction. "Beijing is seeking to secure raw materials from neighboring countries to feed massive infrastructure investment and its manufacturing industry", wrote There is one more railway project in Laos: On December 24 a contract was signed for a US $5 billion railway line from Savannakhet to Lao Bao at Vietnam border. The construction is undertaken by Malaysian company Giant Consolidated, writes

Meanwhile preparations for four highspeed-railway lines in Thailand are going on. Funding is to come from a proposed 2-trillion-baht investment programme dedicated to new infrastructure projects over the next seven years. In November 2012 Finance Minister Kittiratt Na-Ranong said according to Bangkok Post the government is planning four high-speed rail lines to support trade and tourism within the country. The four high-speed rail lines are Bangkok-Nong Khai-Vientiane; Bangkok-Ayutthaya-Chiang Mai; Bangkok to Hua Hin; and an expansion of the Airport Rail Link in Bangkok to Chon Buri, Pattaya and Rayong. These plans are supported by a Study of Thailand Development Research Institute Foundation. And China is aggressively lobbying the Thai government to select its train and construction technology, writes Bangkok Post. Chinese Deputy Railways Minister Lu Chunfang told Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra that its construction costs average only US$20 million per kilometre compared with $81 million in Japan and $50 million in Germany. Thailand and China signed a memorandum of understanding on April 15 to conduct a feasibility study for the Bangkok-Chiang Mai and Bangkok-Nong Khai high-speed rail links. Thailands government plans to open international bidding early next year on the first phase of the high-speed rail project. Chinese government officials advising Thailand have suggested that it begins with a 54km route linking Bangkok and Ayutthaya as it would fall in line with the government's push to have the ancient capital serve as host for the 2020 World Expo, noted Bangkok Post.

Nov 29, 2012

Ganesh Himal Museum พิพิธภัณฑ์พระพิฆเนศ:
An exclusive attraction near Chiang Mai

See the location on Ganesh Himal Museum Google Map

Picture by marhas
The Gate to Ganesh Himal Museum

Ganesh or Ganesha, the elephant headed Hindu God, known by the Thai people as Phra Phi Kanet and the god of success as well as master of the intellect and wisdom, has got a Museum near Chiang Mai, the first one specialized on Lord Ganesh in Thailand. The Ganesh Himal Museum is the work of Khun Pandara Theerakanond. Born in Bangkok, he has been collecting images and paintings of Ganesh for years after receiving a Ganesh Amulet from his father. After he had moved to Chiang Mai the collection got too big for his house. In 2004 he purchased land in San Patong and began to create the museum. Actually the Ganesh Museum shows over 1000 Ganesh artifacts, collected from all over Asia.

Picture by marhas

There is a shop selling Ganesh images and paintings. The Museum is open daily from 9 am till 5 pm. In the Worshiping Hall you can join a service every Sunday at 10 am. The Ganesh Museum is located at 227 Moo 10, Yangkram, Doi Lor, San Patong. It has a website in Thai:

Picture by marhas

See the video of openchiangmai and the one by ChoongChalisa. Read more: Visiting the Shrine of the Elephant-Headed God.

Nov 18, 2012

Yee Peng Festival starts on November 25

Release of the Khom Loy, the paper ballons

Chiang Mai's Loy Kratong Festival - also known as Yee Peng - begins this year on Sunday November 25. The Grand Parade will end it on November 29. The full moon will be on 28 November. At night people around the city flock to the moat and the Ping River to float their krathongs; small floats decorated with banana leaf and flowers. "Then add a candle, three sticks of incense, a fingernail clipping, a small lock of hair and a one baht coin and float your old troubles away", writes And Khom Loy, the paper hot air balloons, fill the sky. Find the whole schedule here.

A Khom Loy release by thousands of people will be held on November 24 at the Tudongkasatan Lanna Meditation Center near Maejo University. But getting there and come back is not easy. Read Loy Krathong in Mae Jo: Really an Adventure.

Oct 26, 2012

A very special coffee from Elephant Dung or just a very big PR show?

Where is the coffee bean on this picture?

It went around the world in the last days: "Would you pay US$50 for a cup of elephant dung coffee?", asked and continued: "The big story these days is coffee made with beans that have been pooped out by elephants". Thai elephants produce the most expensive coffee worldwide. Hotels of the Anantara Group serve this coffee. And newspapers around the world have published this message eagerly.
Is this a story that can be trusted? Is it good for elephants, when you drink elephant dung coffee? Do elephants normally eat coffee beans and poop them out afterwards? Of course there is a homepage, that tries to tell you this: You learn: "Coffee beans are naturally refined by Thai elephants at the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation in Chiang Saen, northern Thailand." Naturally? Do elephants normally eat coffee beans? Try a Google Archive Search about elephants and coffee beans for example for the year 2010 - and you will find nothing. Therefore also tells you, that "in times of drought", Asian elephants are attracted to coffee plantations "as many of them are irrigated". Then they eat, what they find here - but not normally, when there are not times of drought.
So how do the elephants at the Golden Elehant Triangle Foundation get their beans? You guess it: They are fed with beans. Before the best Thai Arabica beans have been picked from an altitude as high as 1500 meters. So: What is promoted as a natural process really is a man made process.
Does this harm the Elephants? The Black Ivory Coffee Company assures: "Blood work has been completed by independent veterinarians to confirm that there has been no harm to the elephants. An elephant veterinarian is also on-site at the production site full-time." So you learn: The Elephant camp is a "production site".
And who earns the money from this production? "8% of our sales will help fund a specialist elephant veterinarian to provide free care to all the elephants of Thailand through the Golden Triangle Asian Elephant Foundation. Additional funds will also be used to purchase medicine as well as to build a new laboratory", says the homepage of
And who founded this business with elephants? It is Blake Dinkin. Before he was active in northern Thailand, he was active in Rwanda in Africa, as you can learn on The business of doing good. Dinkin, a Torontonian, has completed his MBA at the University of Geneva (Switzerland). He then went to Africa through a Canadian non-profit group called MBAs Without Borders (MWB).
And Blake Dinkin is also on Facebook. He writes there about the article Elephant Dung Coffee: World's Most Expensive Brew Is Made With Pooped-Out Beans on He says: "It's amazing how one article can lead to coverage in so many other sites. I have just received an invite to a fantastic PR opportunity." Well, this is it: A big PR show.

Feb 11, 2012

Phayao พะเยา: A pleasant lakeside, a sunken temple and spectacular birds

See the locations on Phayao พะเยา Google Map

Picture by Pseudopam
Kwan Phayao

"Thailand's unexplored North", writes Austin Bush on Lonely Planet: "Not even many Thais are aware of the northern city of Phayao". The setting at Kwan Phayao กว๊านพะเยา, the biggest lake in Northern Thailand, is attractive. The 6 km long and 4 km wide lake has been created for irrigation of the rice paddies. At the bottom of the 1.7 m deep lake sits the 500 years old Wat Tilok Aram. Visitors can hire boats to the point where a Buddha statue surfaced recently - about 680 metres from the lake's eastern pier. (Read article by Bangkok Post). Three times a year - on Makha Bhucha Day, Visakah Bucha Day and Asarnha Bucha Day - there is a candle light procession on the water, called Wien Tien Klang Nam ceremony. At the east Kwan Phayao lake empties into the Ing River, which then flows to the Mekong (read more on Along the lake restaurants, bars and parks invite for pleasant picnicks, dinners and sunsets.

Picture by Geoff_B
Kwan Phayao

Picture by Geoff_B
Thanon Don Saman

Picture by bee!

Namtok Champa Thong Waterfall น้ำตกจำปาทอง: It can be reached by taking the Phayao - Chiang Rai route. After reaching km 7 take a turn and go on for a further 16 kilometres.

Temples in Phayao

Wat Sri Khom Kham วัดศรีโคมคำ: The 18.5 metres tall Buddha image Phra Chao Ton Luang พระเจ้าตนหลวง in the Chiang Saen style is said to be more than 500 years old. Its built from bricks, covered with gold and located in a modern viharn. In the small ubosot to the south of the viharn you discover a depiction of Kala, "a creature symbolizing time who is shown in the process of devouring itself", explains Read more about the history on

Picture by Guillermo Fdez

Picture by Geoff_B

Wat Phra That Chomthong วัดพระธาตุจอมทอง: On a small hill, just opposite Wat Si Khom Kham, can be reached by a 1.5-kilometre-long uphill road. Surrounded by an arboretum, the temple offers a panoramic view of the town and the lake. More pictures of Wat Chom Thong by

Wat Analyo Thippayaram วัดอนาลโย:: A huge forest temple on Doi Busarakham, spreading across three hills. The temple was built by monk Phra Kru Phaiboon. describes it as eclectic mix of religious architecture". The first site you enter on a long old stone stairway under an impressive archway (pictures). You will discover many statues. Through the trees you see a giant sitting buddha, looking towards a very special temple.

Picture by Prinzknecht
Pagoda in Bodh Gaya style.

Picture by xiquinhosilva

Picture by xiquinhosilva

Picture by bee!
Wat Analayo

Picture by Phayao Cafe'
The huge statue of Phra Buddha Leela on one of the hills.

The whole scenery is very tranquil and peaceful. Nearby you find also a palace of H.M. The King and a housing complex for the Supreme Patriarch.

Wat Si Umong Kham วัดศรีอุโมงคำ:: The Chiang Saen-style Chedi is still in good condition. The Lanna-style Buddha statue, Phra Chao Lan Tu พระเจ้าล้านตื้อ) is very beautiful (see pictures by Udo Radlhammer and videomaster).

Where to stay in Phayao

Gateway Hotel Phayao (โรงแรม เกทเวย์ พะเยา): From 1200 Bath. 7/36 Pratu Klong 2 ถนนประตูกลอง 2. Phone +66 (0) 54 4113309. 108 rooms. See pictures on

Kwan Phayao Villa กว๊าน พะเยา วิลล่า: 20/1 Pra Sat Road. See video on youtube by Memory Studio & Civa Magazine

Phayao Grandroom Hotel โรงแรมพะเยาแกรนด์รูม: From 370 Bath. 145 Siyaekpadeng Phahotyathin. Phone Tel 054 48 4238-9.

Phayao Hotel พะเยาโฮเต็ล: 445 Phahonyothin Road (Tel: 0 544 819712 Fax: 0 5443 1973 Bangkok Tel: 0 2322 5393-4 Fax: 321 5768), 80 rooms: 680-840 baht

Phayao Northern Lake พะเยานอร์ทเทิร์นเลค 15/7 Rop Wiang Road (Tel: 0 5448 1538-9 Fax: 0 5448 1973), 76 rooms: 650-1,200 baht

Tharn Thong Hotel ธารทอง: From 150 Bath. Don Sanam Rd. Phone: +66 (0) 054 431302 55-57. 124 rooms.

Win Hotel: From 250 Bath. Phone: +66 (0) 54 48033. New hotel. Good review on See pictures by k.j

Arunathai Coffee House Homestay:

Bua Resort: Phone +66 (0) 54 841596. See pictures on

Huan Pak Chum Chai: 37/5-6 Prasart Rd., Tumbon Wiang, Amphoe Muang, Phayao.

Jumjai Homestay
: 37/5-6 Kwan Phayao Rd. Phone: +66 (0) 54 482659. Read review von

Ruen Chom Kwan Homestay: 39 Chai Kwan Rd., Tumbon Wiang, Amphoe Muang, Phayao. Phone 08-1026-2244, 08-6187-6601.
Read review on and on See pictures on

Kwan Phayao Bungalow บังกะโลกว๊านพะเยา: From 250 Bath. 11 Phahonyothin Road. Phone +66 (0) 54 481493. 6 rooms.

Wang Thong Hotel: Phaholyothin Rd.
Phone +66 (0) 54 410794, (0) 54 482472.

Wattana Hotel วัฒนา: From 120 Bath. 69 Don Sanam Rd. Phone +66 (0)
54 431203, 54 481106. 34 rooms.

Cha Lerm Sak Hotel เฉลิมศักดิ์: From 80 Bath. 38/7 Ratsamphan Road.
Phone +66 (0) 54 431063, 08 10259104. 34 rooms.

Baan Pak Siri Phan ศิริพันธ์บังกะโล: From 120 Bath. 17 Phahonyothin Road. Phone +66 (0) 54 431319. 22 rooms.

Phayao Condotel: Phone +66 (0) 54 410436, 54 481435.

Friend House เฟรนเฮ้าส์: 424 Tambon Ban Tom. Phone +66 (0) 54 481556. 12 rooms. From 500 Baht.

Song Sak สงค์ศักดิ์:. From 80 Bath. 99 Mu 2 Super Highway Tambon Tha Wang Thong. Phone +66 (0) 54 481932, 54 484867. 14 rooms.

Suan Son Bungalow: Phone: +66 (0) 54 431571.

555 Hotel: Phone +66 (0) 54 482534.

Chiang Kham เชียงคำ

Chiang Kham district is home to many Thai Lue people. The Thai Lue originally migrated from the south of Yunnan in China to Northern Thailand, particularly to Nan and Phayao, some 200 years ago.

The Thai Lue Cultural Centre is located at Wat Yuan. This centre displays colourful and elaborately designed Thai Lue fabrics in various patterns such as Lai Dok Kho Khruea, Lai Dok Kho, Lai Ma and Lai Dok Tang. Ban Tham Indigenous Cultural Centre (ศูนย์วัฒนธรรมพื้นบ้านบ้านถ้ำ) is about 15 kilometres from the district town of Dok Khamtai on the way to Chiang Muan district. It has also a large collection of native agricultural tools as well as ancient objects. Read also this German blog about Chiang Kham.

Phu Sang: A scenic waterfall on Highway No. 1093. It is fed by a hot spring on the mountain which flows into a small river before cascading over the fall.

Temples in Chiang Kham เชียงคำ

Wat Nantaram วัดนันตาราม: 75 km northeast of Phayao. Wat Nantaram is a Shan-style woodem monastery with a multi-tiered roof. It was restored by a benefactor who had the structure rebuilt from 1925-43. As it was constructed in an area where the majority of citizens are of Tai Lue ancestry, the Shan style of the structure is overlaid with Tai Lue motifs such as the sun-ray or peacock design over the front entrance. The Buddha image is made of teak wood and is done in Mandalay-style. See pictures on and by Udo Radlhammer.

Phayao Cafe'
Wat Nantaram

Picture by Indy Dheegayu
Wat Nantaram

Wat Phra That Sop Waen วัดพระธาตุสบแวน: The temple houses a 700-year-old Lanna-style white Chedi. Many visitors come to see the giant Chamchuri tree at the side of the Viharn. See Tai Lue weaving at the weaving centre. See pictures by Udo Radlhammer and on Tai Lue Cultural Festival งานสืบสานตำนานไทลื้อ is held here every year in the beginning of March. It is performed to pay homage to the guardian spirits of the kingdom. The most important ceremony is Bai Sri Su Kwan blessing. The festival presents the Tai Lue traditional lifestyle, including culture and folk knowledge. See video of Thai Lue Sword Dance and of Tai Lue procession.

Wat Chiang Baan: Picture on

Wat Saen Muang Ma (also: Mueng Ma): With superb murals of Tai Lue history. Pictures on The wat was constructed during the reign of King Rama I in 1808. The ruler of Nan during that time herded the Thai Yai people from Mueang Mang in Myanmar to Chiang Muan District and named this village “Ban Mang”. The roof of the wihan is layered into many tiers. The roof was decorated with Chofa, in the shape of a swan or Naga holding a crystal ball in its mouth. All the wooden door panels were carved. Three porticos lead into the Viharn, each of them has the shape of 3 kinds of animals: Naga, tiger and lion.

Wat Phra Chao Nang Din วัดพระนั่งดิน: The main Buddha image is placed on the ground, not on a platform as at most other temples. See pictures on

Where to stay in Chiang Kham

Bua Khao Resort บัวขาว รีสอร์ท: From 350 Bath.
157 Moo 9, Tumbon Chiang Ban. Phone: +66 08 10224745, 08 10246131, (0) 54 451089. Se picture on

Bua Thong Resort บัวทองรีสอร์ท: From 350 Bath.
205 Moo 1 Tumbon Chae Dee Kham. Phone +66 (0) 54 452831, 08 1724 5482. 15 rooms.

Chiang Kham Hotel เชียงคำโฮเต็ล: From 150 Bath. 66 Moo 13, Phi Sal Rd., Tumbon Yuan. Phone +66 (0) 54 451771. 40 rooms. See pictures by apirat.

Chiang Kham Guest House เชียงคำเกสท์เฮ้าส์: From 160 Bath. 274 Moo 4, Prasitthi Pracharat Rd. Phone: +66 (0) 54 451588 to 9, 54 416240. 20 rooms. See picture

Chiang Kham Garden Resort เชียงคำการ์เด้นรีสอร์ท: From 300 Bath. 88 Moo 2, Tumbon Yuan Phone: +66 (0) 54 451453. 13 rooms.

Chiang Ban Resort: 279 Moo 10, Tumbon Chiang Ban. Phone: +66 (0) 08-1952-2071, 08-6657-5839

Ruan Mai Phai Resort (Bamboo house): Sob Bong-Baan Huak Rd. Phone: +66 (0) 54 416091, 08-9558-4553.

Phu Sang Huan Thai Resort: Baan Sob Bong, Sob Bong-Baan Huak Rd.
Phone +66 (0) 08-1672-2062.

Phu Sang National Park Lodge: There are lodges, tent rental and tent setting area. Booking before visit: Phone +66 (0) 02-562-0760, 54 401099.

Temples in Chun

Wat Phra That King Kaeng วัดพระธาตุขิงแกง: 34 km northeast of Phayao near the town of Chun. Behind the ubosot is a large Lanna-style chedi with niches on all four directions. Read more on See pictures by Udo Radlhammer.

Wiang Lo Ancient Town - around 500 to 600 years old - is located in Lo Sub-district, 17 km from Chun District along Highway 1021. At Ban Huai Ngio there is a 12 km dirt road to Ban Nam Chun. Sandstone Buddha images were excavated here as well as various abandoned temples. One of the ancient Phrathats and temples is Wat Si Ping Mueang at a site, where the Chun River flows into the Ing River. On April 9 every year Pu Cha Phaya Lo Fair is organized at Wiang Lo Ancient Town. The aim is to pay respect to the Wiang Lo ancestors and to create folk consciousness to cherish and preserve the site. There are parades, light and sound presentations, a procession inviting the spirits of Wiang Lo’s past kings, Khantok dinner at night and more performances.

Chiang Muan

Doi Phu Nang National Park อุทยานแห่งชาติดอยภูนาง:: The park is located in Dok Khamtai District, Pong District and Chiang Muan District. Mountains with dry evergreen forest, mixed deciduous forest, and deciduous dipterocarp forest. Moreover, there are various kinds of fauna such as soft-shelled turtles, monitor lizard, and a variety of birds, especially the largest number of peacocks in the North. Moreover the park is a habitat of the last flock of Thai green peafowls of the Indo-china subspecies. The breeding period of the peafowls is from January till March. Read more and see pictures about Thailands most spectacular bird. Read more about Doi Phu Nang National Park.

Picture by Scott's View of the World
A big population of peacocks

Wat Tha Fa Tai วัดท่าฟ้าใต้: 12 km north of Chiang Muan. Read more on

Interesting lecture about Phayao:
A Hint of Paradise in Phayao: A teacher living in Bangkok visits the village of his wife.