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Future World Heritage Sites of Bangkok.

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Did you know that the tourism sector in Thailand significantly contributes to the kingdom’s GDP? In 2015 alone, Thai received approximately 30 million visitors, which was a 20% increase from the previous year. The main attractions in Thai include archaeological sites, sandy beaches, museums, Buddhist temples, the city of Bangkok, and several World Heritage Sites.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) generally selects landmark sites on the basis of having historical, cultural, scientific, or any other form of significance and they are protected by international treaties. Internationally, there are 962 properties in the world proclaimed by UNESCO that are part of the natural and cultural heritage considered as possessing outstanding universal value by the World Heritage Committee.

Thailand is exceedingly famous for having a high number of ancient cities and historical sites from different eras in history. Some of the oldest sites date back to hundreds and thousands of years to even Neolithic times. They are of vital importance, and some of these sites have been included in UNESCO’s world heritage list.

In Thailand, these five leading heritage sites are located north and north-east of the country. They include; the Historic City of Ayutthaya, the Historic Town of Sukhothai and its Associated Historic Towns, Thungyai-Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuaries, Ban Chiang Archaeological Site and the Dong Phayayen-Khao Yai Forest Complex. Other sites have been forwarded and listed on UNESCO’s tentative list. Ideally, this means that they are to be considered and made World Heritage Sites in the future. These sites include Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan and the Great Swing, and the Architecture of HRH Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse. They are discussed below in detail.

1.    Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan
The Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworamahawihan refers to a Buddhist temple situated in Bangkok, Thailand. As one of ten similar temples in Bangkok, it is a royal temple and of the oldest and largest (covering 10 acres) in Bangkok. The temple’s construction began in 1782 by King Rama I and lasted for decades. It was finally completed in 1847 during the reign of King Rama III.  Situated in front of this temple is a welcoming pavilion for any visiting heads of state, a memorial for King Rama III and the Mahakala Fortress.

The Wat Suthat hosts the viharn, one of the oldest era buildings still in existence which hosts the most famous image of the Buddha. Moreover, the buildings long walls display magnificent mural paintings which tell stories of the Buddha’s previous lives. Some of these extraordinary paintings also depict scenes of daily life images in the Rattanakosin era. There are also artsy, carved wooden doors at every entry which contain pictures some of which were done by the second King Rama who was a talented artist and poet.

Giant Swing

2.    The Giant Swing.
Sometimes, the Wat Suthat is referred to as the temple of the giant swing. This is because of the massive red swing found in from of the temple known as the Sao Ching Chaa. This 20 meter high, teak wooden swing is a religious structure that was constructed at the end of the 18th century. It was used during the annual Brahmanic ceremonies.

During these ceremonies, several groups of young men competed against each other and tried to swing as high as they possibly could to grab with their teeth a parcel of gold coins which was attached to a 15-meter bamboo pole. However, there were too many fatal accidents reported from the activity, and this led to the swing ceremony being canceled.

The pillars of the Giant Swing are said to represent mountains while the swing’s circular base represents the seas and the earth.

Phra Ubosot Wat Benchamabophit

3.   The Architecture of HRH Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse.
Prince Narisara Nuvattiwongse is famously remembered for designing the crest for the European – style government ministries and his input in the design of some of the temples and schools in Bangkok, Thailand.

Among some of HRH Prince, Narisara Nuvattiwongse’s architecture includes the Wat Benchamabophit which is famously known for being the first temple in all of Thailand to be constructed out of Carrara marble. The Western Ministries of Architecture have described the temple as a defining example of a modern Buddhist temple. It features a great collection of Bronze images of the Buddha and represents every era of religious art in Thailand.  There is also the Wat Benchamabophit School which was constructed in Western style and the Phra Ubosot Wat Rachativas, another marble temple built combining Thai styles and the Western Culture.  

Guest Post 15.03.2017          

Eat&Buy: Borobudur & Prambanan Visit 3

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Nasi Campur, Hani's Bakery, Yogyakarta

Famous cuisine in Yogyakarta is Gudeg, made from jack fruit.  Unfortunately, I missed it. Outstanding dish I adorn is Nasi Campur. The roadside sweet I love is Klepon.

Hani’s Bakery, International Village, Jalan Sosrowijayan
Both food and beverages are recommended. They serve both Indonesian and Western. Their bakery is good too. I ordered Nasi Campur and apple pie, not disappointed.

Bludok, Jalan Sosrowijayan
This restaurant and B&B is listed in the guidebooks. Their place is a white building with terrace. Lamb dish in Chinese name is good and big portion.
Roadside Indonesian Sweets, Pasar Beringhajo

Dessert Hawker in front of Pasar Beringharjo
Selling local sweets made from flour. Klepon ball is awesome as 500 per piece.

Vai Vai Café
The most famous international café on Jalan Pawirotaman, menu is diverse compared to other restaurants. Staffs are very helpful. Bakery look nice.
Pasar Beringharjo, Yogyakarta

For shopping
Jalan Malioboro is the centre for souvenirs such as batik, wooden handicrafts and sweets. At weekend, it is very crowded.

Pasar Beringharjo
This market is large, selling a lot of things from fresh meat to fashion items. They divided into many zones under the roof.

Batik Galleries around Taman Sari (Water Castle)
We can get in Taman Sari in many entrances. It is surrounded by local communities and batik galleries. Batik at these shops look nice from creative and unique design.

Stay: Borobudur & Prambanan Visit 2

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Brand New Hostel at Backpackers Hub in Yogyakarta
Wakeup Homestay, Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta has 2 popular neighborhoods for visitors. Jalan Sosrowijayan is the backpackers centre. It is adjacent to Jalan Molioboro, the grand avenue for shopping that leads to Kraton. Another is Jalan Prawirotaman for mid-range on the south of the centre.
Lobby Area, Wakeup Homestay

My accommodation in Yogyakarta

Wake Up Hostel –
On the corner of Jalan Sosrowijayan to Jalan Kandekan

Newly opened hostel
I booked 8 bed mixed dorm for 4 nights
Cheap price, value of money
Good location and nice staffs
200m from Jalan Malioboro, shopping area
Very close to Tugu railway station
Air-con room
All day light breakfast, coffee and tea included
Adequate bathrooms
Spacious common room

Free Wi-Fi
Tour desk

While almost accommodations in this area are in the alleys and operated by the traditional way; dark rooms in local houses and very basic. Wake Up hostel is only modern style dorm that located in the backpackers centre. However, Wake Up hostel need more improvement, especially bathroom cleaning and sound proof for bedrooms. Opposite of the hostel is pub which spreading loud noise until midnight every day.

Travel: Borobudur & Prambanan Visit 1

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Trans Jogja Bus, Yogyakarta
From Denpasar, Bali to Yogyakarta, Central Java
Low cost airlines fly regularly; I travel with Air Asia for1-hr.
Tip: Avoid weekend, ticket prices much higher than weekdays.

From Adisucipto International Airport to city centre
1. Airport Green taxi, fixed price for 70,000IDR to Jalan Sosrowijayan
2. Trans Jogja bus to drop you off at Jalan Malioboro, then walk to jalan Sosrowijayan only a few metre away. This option may take a half hour or more. Ticket 3,000IDR

There are bus terminal and railway stations with connection to Jarkarta, Solo and other destinations on Java Island. Train booking can be done at the railway station but need a lot of paper filling and long queue.

Yogyakarta City
Around Yogyakarta
On foot, from Jalan Sosrowijayan to many attractions: Jalan Malioboro, Pasar Berinhajo, Vderburg, Bank of Indonesia, Kraton (Sultan’s Palace) and Taman Sari (Water Castle)

By tricycles and metre-taxis are available too. Some annoying tricycle drivers may ask you repeatedly, please keep calm and walk away.

By city bus
Yokyakarta has their city bus system “Trans Jogja”. It’s really cheap (3,000IDR) and passes some tourist spots such as airport and Prambanan. I tried it in the city routes, please study the operation carefully. Some route is one way and takes a long time to back the same bus stop. In narrow roads, buses run through but there are no bus stops for a long way.

Getting Borobudur from Yogyakarta
I book Borobudur Sun Rise Tour at hostel’s tour deck. Driver picks the passengers at 05.00 o’clock at the hotels. The group arrive Borobubur Park at 06.00 and spend 2-hr there, then back to the city around 8.30. Sun Rise option is smart, we can avoid hot sun, a thousand of tourists traffic jam and enjoy quite moment.

For self-visit, Trans Jogja 2A to Jombor station, and then take public bus to Borobudur site. Borobudur is 40km from the city.

Getting Prambanan from Yogyakarta
There are packages for Prambanan and other attractions for tourists. I pick Prambanan in the afternoon plus Ramayana Ballet at night. After sightseeing at 17.00, it is dinner time at nearby restaurant and the ballet started at 19.00 at Trimurti theatre.

Package includes shared transportation, entrance fee and show fee, dinner excluded. Ramayana Ballet performed dates are specific, please ask the tour agent for exact date.

For self-visit, Trans Jogja 1A passes Prambanan, it is 17km from the city.

Yogyakarta, Central Java

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The City that Fit for Prosper
Bank of Indonesia Building, Yogyakarta City Centre

As the base for visiting 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Central Java, Yogyakarta or Jogja is one of the most popular cities in Indonesia. City itself has a lot of prominent cultural spots and surrounded by artistic people and handicraft stuffs.
Travellers always spend a day in the city for sightseeing and shopping, mainly historic landmarks and batiks.
Kraton - Sultan Palace, Yogyakarta

Kraton (Sultan’s Palace)
Located in old town and opened for tourists visit. Kraton is consisting of many Javanese pavilions and enclosed with walls. Inside the walls, there are cultural activities performed regularly by the skillful court artists such as traditional classical music band.

When we entered to Kraton, time walked back to the old days, court servants in Javanese dress both men and women playing music, guiding tourists, guarding rooms and even reading newspaper were around.

Batik museum is the most interesting spot. It displayed collection of hand-made batiks created by Indonesian great artists. Brown is the royal batik colour for the court use. Photographs are not allowed inside the museum.

Other museums presented collection of sultans and royal family’s stuffs such as portraits, furniture, dress, and kitchen utensils.

Taman Sari - Water Castle, Yogyakarta

Taman Sari (Water Castle)
Taman Sari was the personal garden of sultans in 18th century. There are bathing pools surrounded by walls and 3-storey building.

After visiting Kraton, I walked to Taman Sari by following vague sign. I went through the tunnel to the site, not from main entrance. This way, I had to pass old town neighborhood and bird market (Pasar Ngasem). Conversation with the local was a great friendship I got from getting lost. An Indonesian guy who living in the corner of the shortcut to Taman Sari, he has to point the way day after day and he never bored. He is so friendly and happy to talk with tourists.

Vderburg, Former Dutch Administrative Office and Fort, Yogyakarta

Vderburg (Fort)
Dutch fort and administrative office during the colonial era is located on the main road of the city, not far from Jalan Malioboro. Inside the fort is museum about Indonesian independence, courtyard and old buildings in Dutch colonial architecture.

Vderburg is the plain attraction which we can spend a short time to visit or skip it. Opposite Vderburg is the governor house and nearby is the Bank of Indonesia.

Jalan Malioboro and Pasar Beringharjo (Market), please see details from Eat & Buy.