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15 de Diciembre
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Discovering Thailand: Amazing Chiang Rai and Vibrant Bangkok

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thailande2017 bouddha 3 CHIANG RAI

Chiang Rai is located in Northern Thailand; a small city with diversified attractions, historical, rich geography, cultural legacy and amazing gastronomy. Mostly mountainous, it reaches the seventh longest river in Asia (4,000 Km long), the Mekong River to the north and borders on both Myanmar (ex-Burma) and Laos which constitutes a tourism gateway for these countries. Before reaching the Golden Triangle, we passed by Mae Sai, the energetic trading town border of Thailand and Myanmar.

Then crossed the Sai River and walked into Thachilek on the Burmese side, here one of the attractions are the tax-free markets, packed with tourists where you can find anything you can imagine (i.e., cigarettes, spirits, iPhones, Breitling, Rolex watches, jewelry stalls including bargains for jade or rubies from Myanmar. However it is better to be with someone local to check the authenticity.

I also visited the Shwe Dagon Pagoda located on a hillside from where you have a spectacular view of the Burmese hills.  We took a rickshaw (moto taxi) to explore the town and temples, ride through small side streets. We continued to the Golden Triangle Viewpoint, a unique experience to see the borders of Thailand, Burma and Laos. Then, took a boat trip to view the splendor of the mighty Mekong River and see closer the borders of these countries. In the past, this vast land was used to grow and traffic opium among the three countries and the deal was in gold or precious stones. Nowadays, Thailand has substituted opium for cold-climate fruit, vegetable, cut flowers and even coffee harvest, there is a lot of respect to environment and have many sustainable agricultural projects supported by the Kingdom of Thailand.

thailande2017 hotel meridian 1 THE MERIDIEN CHIANG RAI RESORT

I stayed in this beautiful and peaceful resort: Le Méridien Chiang Rai Resort with chic design which encompasses traditional Lanna architecture and warm Thai hospitality. Specifically designed for the well-travelled, it is situated on the banks of the Kok River, close to the centre of Chiang Rai town and airport and one hour drive from the Golden Triangle.




What I appreciated in this hotel was its natural beauty, top services, comfort rooms, food, and the hospitality. The rooms and bathrooms are spacious almost like a suite, with modern decorations and placed around a lovely garden with an artificial lagoon. The swimming pool is special as it is strategically placed next to the river, and looked like it could flow into the river, with a great view. The pool has different levels very convenient for families with smaller children who could also enjoy the pool time without any worries.


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The food is excellent and my favourite was breakfast time: It is an interactive buffet with lots of choices, using international and local authentic ingredients from around the world. The chef changed the menu often. As a tourist, I had stomach problem and the chef came and prepared a special dish based on yogurt to alleviate my symptoms. I also went to the Italian Restaurant "Favola" which is overlooking the river and outside terrace. The restaurant offers the passion and culinary traditions of rustic, tasty and authentic Italian cuisine. The foccachia bread served with all dishes was amazing; the pizza I ordered was crispy and well seasoned and baked in a real pizza oven. I highly recommend this 5 star hotel which responds to most criteria that a traveller look for when going abroad.

For reservations, visit: http://www.lemeridienchiangrai.com/



thailande2017 palais blanc 2 THE WHITE TEMPLE IN CHIANG RAI

At the beginning, I was intrigued by the name of the temple and when I saw it, I understood. The White Temple or Wat Rong Khun is a Buddhist temple but artistically different from other temples in Thailand.  I stayed enchanted looking at its beauty and divine charm.  A local and very well known artist Chalermchai Kositpipat designed it in 1997.  His intention was to build the most beautiful temple in the world and he certainly did!

When visitors look around the temple, they can discover many Buddhist symbolisms (i.e., its layout, architecture, the ornate reliefs and mirror decorations). To enter the main chapel (ubosot) we need to go through a small bridge, which passes over a pool of imploring hands representing suffering souls in hell. From here, one cannot come back, as the only way is to go up to "heaven" through the pathway guarded by demons to the chapel. Inside, two Buddha images seem to be floating on a lotus pedestal, beautiful painted murals in various combinations of gold and other colours. Chalermchai uses images from modern culture, such as spaceships, Superman, Ultraman and even Neo from the Matrix movie to tell the stories of the Buddha's life and his teachings on these murals, creating a striking impression upon visitors.

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The mural of a demon with big eyes that have George Bush and Bin Laden inside them impressed me.  At that time, Charlermchai wanted everyone to know that those who build weapons that kill, running the environment because nothing is ever enough, are destroying our world.  "I wanted to show that eyes, as important organs, should look at each other with kindness and not with hate that can lead to war.  I also painted Superman and Ultraman to let people know that there are no heroes in our world", Charlermchai explained.

When interviewing by us Charlermchai expressed his inner reasons to have created such a temple: "My intention was to create something good for the world, I studied a lot about Buddhism and I used modern architecture, sculpture and paintings together like Michelangelo to create my work. I will spend all my life in this project, I do not need money, and my will is to leave this temple for humanity to admire". He finished inviting all Canadians to come and experience several emotions when they will see his work!


thailande2017 createur palais blanc 3

Wat Rong Khun is also compared to arquitect Antoni Gaudi's Sagrada Familia in Barcelona. When Chalermchai first conceived the idea of building the chapel, he laid out a grand plan for its design and construction but, like Gaudi's work, it will never be completed. Constructed in 1998, the temple's main chapel will not be completely finished before 2020, let alone the other structures surrounding it. When completed, Wat Rong Khun will have nine structures fully decorated.









thailande2017 bangkokBANGKOK: VIBRANT CAPITAL

It was my first time in Asia and landed in Bangkok, a very unique capital with nice contrasts. I discovered stunning palaces and temples, world-renowned floating markets but also a modern busy city with gigantic skyscrapers, attractive shopping malls and great cuisine.  It is a vibrant capital because you will never get bored here; there is no end to enjoyment (i.e., sightseeing, adventure, cuisine sampling, shopping or partying).  As soon as I got off the car into the hotel, I looked around discovering the street vendors, the tuk tuk (moto taxi) waiting to get some passengers, the colourful fruits and merchandise and the noisy traffic due to almost 750,000 cars running in Bangkok. The way Thai people greet you is special consisting of a slight bow, with the palms pressed together in a prayer-like fashion and to "thank you" they say:  Khop khun krub or kha for a lady.


thailande2017 lobby amari 2 AMARI WATERGATE BANGKOK

The hotel is well situated; in the heart of the vibrant Pratunam neighborhood in downtown Petchburi, just steps away from all the city has to offer. The lobby is a contemporary showcase of Thailand's traditional charms, with murals at the reception desks depicting scenes from the Thai way of life, illuminated wall panels at the lounge area reflecting the movement of water and lattice screens overhead inspired by the nearby legendary markets.

The hotel has 569 rooms which are spacious, ranging from deluxe rooms to the presidential suites; all of them have panoramic views of the city skyline.  There is a roof terrace which offers breath-taking city view.  Here we enjoyed the 5 to 7 p.m. cocktails and snacks before supper offered by the hotel. The Amaya Food Gallery represents "food from streets" as its menu is inspired from the street food of Asia complemented by a variety of diverse food. It is an opened style area, well decorated with four food stations: Western, Thai, Italian, Indian, and Seafood including Canadian lobster, on Sundays they offer all-you-can-eat brunch. The restaurant can receive more than 400 persons and the service is first class.  The Chefs of the hotels come from different countries, the executive chef, Mr. Fernand Roman, is from South Africa, two Indian chefs, a Sri-Lankan pastry chef and the rest are all Thai chefs.

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I had the opportunity to talk to Anna Elisabeth Rohm, the Hotel Manager, who said:  "The hotel has been opened 23 years ago, the lobby and the Amaya Food Gallery has been recently refurbished and in August we will renovate the Cascade, the lobby restaurant".  About the ownership of the hotel, Anna explained to us that the owner is Ital Thai, one of the biggest construction companies in Thailand.  They started very small as a family business.  "The head group is Onix Hospitality and we currently have 76 properties mainly in South Asia", she added.  According to Anna, the reason why tourists prefer Amari is that it serves all the 5-star facilities, it has great value for money (i.e. 2,890 bahts (US$80) paid in advance), its exceptional location, the Thai hospitality and the fact that it is owned by Thai people, it is not an international brand, which makes it a very local feel.

thailande2017 amari food gallery

Anna left a message for Canadian tourists:  "Thailand is the perfect destination to run away from the winter. You have all year around above 26 degrees, in the summer it can get up to 35 degrees. We will be pleased to welcome Canadian tourists in our hotel", she finalized.


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My experience in Thailand was enriching, and it is one my top favourite destinations. I wished I could have stayed longer to explore other regions. 

It is diverse, exotic, food is delicious, and people are really the spirit of the country.

There is space for everyone, you can come with family or alone, you will never get bored and it is very affordable.

I encourage you to visit the Kingdom of Thailand.


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