The beautifully designed Palace of the Elephants Theatre at Phuket FantaSea
Claimed to be the “Ultimate Nighttime Cultural Theme Park”, Phuket FantaSea is Thailand’s first cultural theme park located close to Kamala Beach on Phuket island. Focusing on a motley mix of “Myth, Mystery and Magic”, Phuket FantaSea blends Thailand’s exotic heritage with a carnivalesque Mardi Gras like feel that is more Vegas than Vegas itself.
Occupying a sprawling 140 acres (or approximately 57 hectares), it features the “Fantasy of a Kingdom” show in the 3,000 seat “Palace of the Elephants” theatre, a huge cavernous 4,000 seat restaurant (Golden Kinnaree Buffet Resataurant), a Tiger Jungle Adventure, the Similan Entertainment Centre featuring carnival games, and a Carnival Village offering lots of specialty retail outlets.
There is nothing quite like a trip to Bangkok to revive, refresh and rejuvenate one’s jaded senses. From ultra-modern shopping malls, colourful street markets, health giving spas, larger-than-life shows to fabulous culinary delights, one is never spoilt for choice. Indulgence became our middle names as we soaked in the Sun – and rain – splashed pleasures of Asia’s “Sin City” during a short 3 Day 2 Night trip there.
What can one do in this city that never sleeps? Plenty of course! Let me count the ways…
After visiting the various country pavillions in the European and American zones of the Shanghai World Expo, we focused our attention on the regions closer to home. Due to the shortage of time, we could only enter the Singapore pavillion as the queues to most of the Asian pavillions were rather formidable. However, I did manage to take some quick external shots of the various Asian pavillions which captured my interest.
Here’s a brief photographic journey of some of the pavillions which we saw.
Indonesia’s pavillion looked pretty impressive in terms of size, albeit a little like a typical conference building with the flags and pillars and all.
As part of an official trip for the Networking of ASEAN Cultural Heritage (NACH), I had the pleasure of visiting Sukhothai, the old historic kingdom of Thailand, sometime in end January this year. Existing from 1238 to 1438, Sukhothai is the first kingdom of Siam, and its old capital is now a historic park which has been gazetted by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. It has a number of fine monuments which showcase the beginnings of Thai architecture and can be considered one of the cradles of Thai civilisation.
Ruled by King Ramkhamhaeng the Great, who created the Thai alphabet, Sukhothai once stretched all the way from Martaban in Myanmar to Luang Prabang (Laos) and down south to the Malay Peninsula. Its influence was larger than that of modern Thailand, and the kingdom appeared to have absorbed the styles of Khmer, Thai and Sri Lankan cultures as seen in its temples and pagodas.
A blissful retreat nestled amidst charming organic farms, the Sukothai Heritage Resort is a great respite from the urban jungle.
My family and I went for a short break recently in Bangkok during the New Year’s Eve and New Year period. Probably one of the few holidays that we will remember for a long time but not for the reasons you imagine.
Everybody who has been following the news will know that this was the exact same period of time when nine bombs went off recently hours before the countdown in Bangkok. This led to an outcry amongst the politicians, especially ousted Thai PM Thaksin Shinawatra, who violently objected to being linked to this. There is now a big debate going on about who was responsible for this spate of violence, with at least many believing that it was not the work of the Southern Muslim insurgents whom Thaksin tried hard to quell.
While we were there on NYE, we heard from the locals that the countdown party at Central World Plaza just a stone’s throw away from our service apartment at Centrepoint Langsuan was cancelled. The reason? Nine bombings calculated to sour the mood for New Year celebrations in one of Southeast Asia’s most happening party city.
Hotel front office staff, taxi drivers, restaurant owners and the like were chatting about it like it was just part and parcel of their everyday lives. According to one cab driver, “this is just part of life in Bangkok. No problem.” No wonder, considering how many hoaxes and bombings take place here regularly.
On that night itself, we were celebrating our first New Year’s Eve away from Singapore at a fancy Italian restaurant along swanky Langsuan Road (just a short walk from our service apartment). Amidst chasing after my son Ethan, having a few sips of wine (and later beer in the apartment room), and enjoying the huge T-bone steak in from of me, we were mostly nonchalant to the acts of terrorism. We even saw the fireworks going off in a few places, at Chao Phraya River and the urban city centre while sipping beer and watching movie reruns. It was only later as we gradually found about the extent of the damage that we sobered up a little.