In May our very own Mark Prymier travelled to Southeast Asia on our 10 day Time for Thailand group tour and in this week’s photo showcase Mark tells us about some of the highlights of his trip. Setting out from the capital city of Bangkok, he travelled on to Kanchanaburi – home to the infamous Bridge on the River Kwai. From here he went on to explore the ancient ruins of Sukhothai, meet the residents at the Elephant Conservation Centre and visit dazzling temples in Chiang Mai, and continuing on to Chiang Rai saw the famous White Temple and long-neck Karen tribe, before topping off his adventure with a boat trip on the River Kok.
1. Capital City of Bangkok
The full name of Bangkok is "The city of angels, great city of immortals, magnificent city of the nine gems, seat of the king, city of royal palaces, home of gods incarnate, erected by Visvakarman at Indra's behest". This name is in the Guinness World Records as the world's longest place name. The Grand Palace in Bangkok is the most visited landmark of Thailand and is still the official residence of the King of Thailand.
2. The Bridge on the RIver Kwai
The Bridge on the River Kwai in Kanchanaburi was immortalized by the Oscar-winning movie of the same name. This famous bridge was a part of the 415 kilometre railway constructed between Bangkok in Thailand and Yangon in Burma, and is now known as the Death Railway. It was built by the Empire of Japan during the Second World War using mainly Allied prisoners of war and Asian labourers of which over 100,000 died during the construction of the railway, hence its rather grisly moniker.
3. Railway journeys in Thailand
Train journeys in Thailand can be very exciting with vertiginous heights and rickety railway tracks. This photo was taken on the train from Kachanaburi to Nam Tok. Trains in Thailand are safe, cheap and provide a stylish way to get to your destination with stunning countryside to be enjoyed from the comfort of your seat.
4. Ancient Ruins of Sukhothai
The former capital of the Thai Empire and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sukhothai National Historic Park includes the remains of 26 temples and almost 200 other structures and ruins from the period of XIII-XV century. The best way to see the ruins in the Historic Park is by bicycle.
5. The Elephant Conservation Centre
The Thai Elephant Conservation Centre near Lampang is the only government-owned elephant camp in Thailand. This centre cares for more than 50 Asian elephants in a beautiful forest located near the famous city of Chiang Mai. Visitors can feed the elephants and get into the water with them and scrub their thick skins!
6. The Elephant Hospital in Chiang Mai
Within the centre there is also an Elephant hospital, one of Thailand's four regional hospitals. The hospital offers free treatment for elephants from all over Thailand and visitors to the centre may see elephants undergoing treatment.
7. Temples of Chiang Mai
Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is one of the holiest sites in Thailand. This beautiful temple is located on a mountain 16 kilometres outside of Chiang Mai and can be reached by climbing a set of 306 steps. It's believed that this temple was built to hold a relic of Buddha's shoulder bone.
8. The White Temple of Chiang Rai
The Wat Rong Khun, better known as the White Temple, in Chiang Rai is one of the most amazing temples in the whole of Thailand. Designed in 1997 by Chalermchai Kositpipat, a famous Thai artist, it was built as a tribute to his home town. In May 2014 the temple was heavily damaged by an earthquake and some parts have not yet been restored.
9. Meeting the Karen Tribe
The tribe of Karen (Kayan) originated in Burma but today significant numbers of "long neck" women live in Northern Thailand after fleeing the military regime in their own country. Some girls first start to wear rings when they are around five years old although today less and less women decide to follow this rather painful practice. The neck itself is not lengthened - the appearance of a stretched neck is created by the deformation of the clavicle.
10. Boating on the River Kok
Taking the boat from Tathom to Chiang Rai on the fabulously named River Kok offers a wonderful opportunity to see life on the banks of the river. It offers a glimpse of traditional rural living and working as locals catch fish in the river's waters.