Peter Torjesen

 

Lumphini Park – The Lungs of Bangkok

Covered in chalky concrete, oil-polluted streets and glistening steel and glass towers, Thailand’s capital is not renowned for having many green spaces within its CBD.  However, as with many other great cities around the world, Bangkok does have its own central park and, as with some of those other cities, Bangkok’s park offers a very welcome escape from the everyday toil of big city life. Lumphini Park (sometimes also spelled “Lumpini”) is 58 hectares of green space located in what has today become the very centre of Bangkok.  It effectively sitsRead More


Pantip Plaza… Thailand’s Home of Movie and Software Piracy

Bangkok is renowned for its luxury shopping malls, with grand marble interiors, high end brands, sparkling diamonds, slick Lamborghinis, big screen tvs, awesome restaurants and enough activities to compete with an amusement park.  However, luxury shopping mall is not an accurate description of Pantip Plaza.  Instead, this five storey shopping centre is quite run-down and reminds customers of what shopping was like in Bangkok in the 1980s. Notwithstanding its dire need for a refurb, Pantip has been forgiven for its run-down state because of one big reason.  It has becomeRead More


The World’s Largest Golden Teak Structure – Vimanmek Teak Palace

Like something out of colonial times, although Thailand was never colonized, Vimanmek reminds me of an over-sized governor’s mansion, sitting resplendent in a tropical oasis.  However, Vimanmek was not designed for any governor.  Instead, it was originally built on the not-very-well known island of Ko Sichang, as a retreat for King Chulalongkorn (aka King Rama V).  It was subsequently dismantled and rebuilt in the Dusit Royal Gardens in Bangkok in 1901. As I suggested in the opening sentence, the design is very European, and it highlights the influence that KingRead More


Thailand’s Most Famous Tourist Attraction – Wat Phra Kaew and the Emerald Buddha

Paris has the Eiffel Tower, London has Big Ben, San Francisco has the Golden Gate bridge, and Bangkok has Wat Phra Kaew and the adjoining Grand Palace. These gorgeous architectural delights are clad with blinding gold exteriors, ruby red and emerald roofs, and sparkling mosaic walls. For a complex that was built in 1782, Wat Phra Kaew truly showcases the splendour and might of the Siamese Kingdom of old. Wat Phra Kaew Wat Phra Kaew means the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the main building (located in the centreRead More


The Temple of the Dawn

The name alone tantalizes the imagination, and brings out everyone’s thirst for exploring the mystic orient.  Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn, is situated just across the river from Bangkok.  It was built in the early 19th Century by the second ruler of the current ruling Dynasty (Rama II).  It has therefore been a landmark for a long time and is one of the best known Bangkok tourist attractions. Interestingly though, this famous landmark does not get anywhere near as many tourists as the attractions on the Bangkok sideRead More


The Land of “Crazy”

Thailand… land of smiles.  The culture here is very distinct from Western culture and is built around the notion of “sanuk” or enjoyment as well as conflict avoidance.  As a result, many Westerners have come here, usually on a holiday, and totally fallen in love with the country, culture and its people.  Unfortunately, the “sanuk” and face aspects of the culture can be very disarming for Westerners and the end result is that I see Westerners come to Thailand and start doing crazy things that they would never do backRead More


New Thailand Tourism Campaign Promotes Stalking

I guess the Tourism Authority of Thailand was hoping to be romantic with its latest visit Thailand tourism video.  Unfortunately, I just about fell off my chair, given that the advert clearly promotes stalking women.  Given the various negative press that Thailand has received over the last few years with respect to tourists being hassled and murdered, the pro-stalking campaign is definitely in bad taste. Okay, maybe I am being a little bit too melodramatic here, so you decide for yourself.  The video itself starts with a guy who isRead More


The Ghost of Phrakanong

Mae Nak Phrakanong or Nang Nak, the Ghost of Phrakanong, is the most famous ghost story in Thailand.  However, most Thais don’t consider it just a story, but believe it is tied to real events.  For me, the story of Mae Nak is of particular interest because I grew up in the middle of Phrakanong and witnessed the locals’ fears when unexplained creepy events took place in our neighbourhood. For those who are unfamiliar with Bangkok, Phrakanong today is a district of that mega-city.  Sukhumvit runs right through it andRead More


Tips That You Didn’t Know for Getting the Most out of Bangkok – Part Four

This one is for all you shoppers and movie lovers… where to find those hard-to-find movies in Bangkok. The old days of movies in Bangkok In the old days, everyone used to just rent pirated video tapes in Bangkok.  It only cost between 10 and 20 baht, you had the movie for a week and they even delivered your order on motorbike.  If you liked the movie, you could then pay the rental place a small extra fee (pretty much the cost of a VHS cassette) to make you a copy.  OfRead More


Tips That You Didn’t Know for Getting the Most out of Bangkok – Part Three

This week I give away my secrets for where the best toilet facilities are when you are out and about in Bangkok.  It’s all well and good to know where all the star attractions are, where to buy that hard to find shopping article, or what is the most efficient way of getting around town.  However, possibly more important than all of the above is knowing where the best places to visit are when nature is calling… and sometimes calling urgently.  This post therefore looks at the best toilet facilitiesRead More