Thailand is a rich tapestry

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Thailand is a rich tapestry. Club members Judith Edmonds and Ren Lexander provided a taste of this tapestry at the Sunday, February 1, meeting of the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC). Using numerous photographs, they described two trips that the PCEC facilitated recently to three provinces: Samut Songkram, Petchaburi, and Nakhon Pathom.

The trip to Samut Songkram and Petchaburi introduced the group to an interesting and scenic area of Thailand. Samut Songkram is a small province (the smallest of Thailand’s 76 provinces in fact) on the North-Western tip of the Gulf of Thailand, west of Bangkok. It is sometimes referred to as the Venice of the Orient because the capital, also called Samut Songkram, is located at the mouth of the Mae Klong River. The river runs right through the province from South to North, and several canals were built from the river to irrigate the crops.

PCEC members and guests enjoy visiting with each other in the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant pending the start of the club’s Sunday program.PCEC members and guests enjoy visiting with each other in the Amari’s Tavern by the Sea Restaurant pending the start of the club’s Sunday program.

On this trip, the group visited Wat Chulamani, a temple which dates from the Ayutthaya period and which contains the remains of a mummified monk.  The group also visited a floating market and went on a night boat trip on the Mae Klong River. They visited Khao Luang Cave, filled with Buddha statues and other items. There was a fair bit of climbing involved to get to the entrance to the cave, and 80 steps to get back down. The highlight of the cave was the effect created by a large hole in the roof which allows the sun to stream through.

The group visited Wat Bang Kung, which also dates back to the Ayutthaya period, and is famous for the small chapel that is completely enclosed within the roots of a banyan tree. Other temples visited by the group included Wat Baan Khae Noi, which features woodcarvings depicting the Lord Buddha’s history, birth, enlightenment and nirvana; and Wat Satthattam, whose ordination hall is made of golden teak with mother-of-pearl-inlay walls, both inside and outside.

MC Richard Silverberg presents the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation for their sharing the scenic beauty and interesting sights of recent trips to three provinces in Thailand.MC Richard Silverberg presents the PCEC’s Certificate of Appreciation for their sharing the scenic beauty and interesting sights of recent trips to three provinces in Thailand.

Petchaburi province is to the South of Samut Songkram. The province is home to Phra Ram Ratchaniwet, a palace built by Rama V in 1910-1916 using early 20th century European architecture.

Nakhon Pathom province is situated somewhat to the north of Samut Songkram. The group that went on this tour visited the Sanam Chandra Palace which was built by Rama VI (mostly while he was still the Crown Prince). Incidentally, Ron said, Rama VI was the first one to use the title “Rama.” The palace was built in the early 20th century and was an example of adapting European architecture to Thai styles.

Club members Sermsakdi, Roy Albiston, and Richard Smith pose with Amari Resort’s new Resident Manager Richard Gamlin (3rd from left) who had just been introduced to the PCEC members and guests.Club members Sermsakdi, Roy Albiston, and Richard Smith pose with Amari Resort’s new Resident Manager Richard Gamlin (3rd from left) who had just been introduced to the PCEC members and guests.

The group also visited the Phra Pathom Chedi, the largest Buddha chedi in the world. Built in the 3rd century B.C., and restored in the 1850s, it is 120 meters tall. A highlight of the tour was the night they spent in the Sampran Riverside Hotel. Judith described it as “magnificent” and said she wouldn’t have minded staying there a second night to have more time to explore its grounds. The tour included a visit to a lotus farm where members travelled by boat over the vast lotus field.

Members of the tour group to Nakhon Pathom Province pose before the Chali Mongkol Asana, a building on the grounds of the Sanam Chandra Palace.Members of the tour group to Nakhon Pathom Province pose before the Chali Mongkol Asana, a building on the grounds of the Sanam Chandra Palace.

Ren and Judith commented on the excellent meals they had throughout both trips. After the presentation, MC Richard Silverberg brought everyone up to date on upcoming events and called on Roy Albiston to conduct the Open Forum, where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.

For more information on the PCEC’s many activities, visit their website at www.pcecclub.org.

Tour members being paddled among the Lotus plants when they visited the Lotus farm in Nakhon Pathom Province.Tour members being paddled among the Lotus plants when they visited the Lotus farm in Nakhon Pathom Province.