Thursday, December 8, 2011

BACK TO BANGKOK!

KEE@FSWMAG.COM
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Portraits of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand are everywhere in Thailand as the King is beloved by all his subjects.
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The King of Thailand's 84th birthday is especially auspicious as His Majesty has completed the 7th cycle of the 12-year lunar calendar.
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Long Live the King!
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Portrait of the King and Queen of Thailandand the Thai Royal Family above the fireplace, a rare sight in tropical Thailand!
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This house may be humble and poor with zinc roof but the owner's love for the King of Thailand is skyhigh!


IT IS BACK TO BANGKOK...AND AYUTTHYA AND OTHER PREVIOUSLY FLOODED PROVINCES AS THE WATERS HAVE RECEDED AND ALMOST ALL HAVE BOUNCED BACK TO NORMAL.

INDEED, ONLY TRACES OF WATERMARKS REMAIN OF WHAT USED TO BE THE WATER LEVEL TO REMIND EVERYONE OF NATURE'S FURY WHEN THE ECO-SYSTEM WAS TAKEN FOR GRANTED OR ABUSED.

The centre and commercial heart of Bangkok was never flooded due to the protection of sandbags and diversion of raging waters to flow out into the Gulf of Siam from the east and west. Suvanabhumi Airport was never affected either.

But now that the waters have receded and all the tourist places are reopened, now is the best time to visit Thailand! The prices, as expected, have plunged and tourists can expect to get bargain prices for accommodation and shopping!

So go now before the hordes return!

Retailers are eager to sell their inventory so bargain hunters are in for a dazzling time. There usual crush is also missing so there is plenty of space and elbow room in malls, markets and tourist attractions.

The most publicised flooded tourist attraction was Ayutthya, a UNESCO Heritage Site but it has been so thoroughly cleaned and wiped dry to pristine condition the casual visitor would never imagine it was once flooded up to 2 metres! You will have to scan the walls for water marks to marvel at how high the water once reached and how miraculously the temples, buildings and public places have been restored as if nothing had happened!

The Thai spirit of 'gotong-royong' came into the fore as an army of volunteers and Government staff joined forces to restore the muddied structures and plant new flowers and shrubs in the parks and gardens. The international media was stunned when State Secretary Hillary Clinton
visited a rescue centre which was decorated with potted plants literally shipped in by sampan so as to make the place 'presentable' to the Thais' honoured guest! This is surely proof positive of the Thai spirit of steadfastness and sense of hospitality!

On 4 December, Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) organised a 'Ayutthya Cleaning Day' as part of its 'Beautiful Thailand' campaign to restore tourists' confidence and also to celebrate the 84th birthday of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand.

Thousands of volunteers arrived in Ayutthya to clean and landscape the ancient city which was ransacked by Burma in the 18th century, forcing the Thai King to abandon it and moved the Thai capital south to Thonburi and soon after across the Chao Phyra to what is now Bangkok.
This UNESCO World Heritage site is full of historic buildings which mercifully remain strong and intact as the water receded, due to Buddha's blessings of course as I am a devout Buddhist.

In the morning, a caravan of 84 buses, symbolising the King's age, left Bangkok for Ayutthya for the formal ceremonies. TAT was led by a team of 150 led by Governor of TAT Suraphon Svetasreni. Though parts of central Thailand was severely flooded, Ayutthya was chosen as the 'capital of the restore and recover' campaign due to its proximity to Bangkok and the fact it was the most trumpeted casualty due to its importance as an UNESCO Heritage Site.

Last year Ayutthya welcomed 2.3 million visitors of which 200,000 stayed overnight and 2.1 million were day trippers since it is easily accessible from Bangkok.

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Thailand's first female Prime Minister Her Excellency Yingluck Shinawatra thanking the volunteers who cleaned and landscaped the ancient city of Ayutthya
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The Thai Prime Minister received a jumbo-sized welcome from a local denizen
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Cutting and trimming the dead and drowned branches so new ones can grow
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Many hands make heavy work light
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Instant gardens have sprouted
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Cracked pavements have been repaired
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No signs of floodwater damage in Wat Mahathat in Ayutthaya as this photo was taken on 4 December 2011
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Wat Mahathat looks as good as new and there are no signs of flood damage
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The famous Reclining Buddha of Wat Lokayusutharam in Ayutthya looks its usual splendid self
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The Sitting Buddha in Wat Phanancheong is as great and golden as ever!

BACK TO BANGKOK!
ALL HAS RETURNED TO NORMAL IN BANGKOK, THANKS TO BUDDHA AND KUANYIN
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Giving alms to monks near the Giant Swing in Bangkok
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Wat Arun---Temple of Dawn--- in Bangkok
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Bangkok's Skytrain is fast, efficient and cheap and yes, the sky is real and not photoshopped!
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Wat Po in Bangkok is famous for this huge Reclining Buddha with the perfect feet
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The mighty Menam Chao Phryan is back to normal now
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So is Chatuchak weekend market
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The bright lights are back in Bangkok!
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Ratchaprasong in central Bangkok was never flooded and remained bone dry throughout the devastation
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Thai cultural traditions are carefully nurtured
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Only in Thailand!!!!

The end