Blog : CULTURE

Bangkok Then and Now

Bangkok Then and Now

As we welcome the start of a New Year with enthusiasm and renewed hope, it’s good to look back and see how far we have come.

// Thailand //

Story: Samutcha Viraporn / Photo: Rithirong Chanthongsuk, Samutcha Viraporn

A lot has changed since the time of Venice of the East, for which Bangkok was lovingly known. Along came the railway system that ushered in an era of mass travel, followed by the building of many transport routes. As people’s lifestyles changed, shopping malls were mushrooming everywhere, and mass transit light rail systems were introduced. Now it’s a city of skyscrapers. See what it’s like then and now.

Built in the reign of King Rama V, the Stupa of the Golden Mount dominates the skyline above the junction of two canals, Ong-ang and Mahanak, main routes for travel by water since the early days.


Bangkok Railway Station, also known as Hua Lamphong, then and now.


Completed in 1942, the Victory Monument serves as Kilometer Zero on major routes linking Bangkok with other parts of the country. It was designed by famous architect M.L. Poum Malakoul.


The historic Mahakan Fort overlooks Ratchadamnoen Avenue with the Stupa of the Golden Mount in the backdrop.


A bustling street market opposite the Temple of Dawn is home to river view hotels, among them Sala Rattanakosin and Sala Arun.


The Giant Swing bespeaks the influence of Brahmanism on Thai society in olden days.  The swing is gone now; only the red tower remains in front of Wat Suthat Thepwararam.


Above, Silom Road in its early days. Below, the vibrant central business district is served by passenger rail transport — the elevated BTS and underground MRT. The Siboonrueng Building, a familiar sight on Silom, is scheduled for a teardown to make room for a new project.


Siam Center, then and now. The busy intersection in Pathumwan District has become a passenger rail transport hub conveniently linked to business and shopping destinations via the Skywalk.


Ratchaprasong Intersection, then and now. The area is home to the Erawan Shrine, a widely revered Brahman shrine erected in 1956.


Views from the top of the Baiyoke 2, tallest building in Bangkok from 1997 to 2016.


Back in the day, the Post and Telegraph Department doubled as the Central Post Office in Bangrak District. There’s a river pier at the rear of the building that once upon a time was a British consulate. Nowadays, it’s home to the TCDC, Thailand Creative and Design Center.


 

 

You may also like…

10 BEST PLACES TO EAT IN CANGGU, BALI

 

10 ASEAN PROJECTS WIN A+ AWARDS IN ARCHITECTURE
River Festival 2019 Bangkok / Lamphun

River Festival 2019 Bangkok / Lamphun

River Festival 2019
The Fifth Annual Celebration of Thailand’s River Culture
Illustrating the Concept of River Consonance” 

Every river has an amazing true story to tell. To celebrate our beautiful and fulfilling culture and heritage, ThaiBev is happy to support the tourism industry’s River Festival 2019 scheduled for November 9-11 in Bangkok. Now in its fifth year, the landmark event recognizes the importance of the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019. Everyone is invited to experience the charms of civilizations situated beside the river at 10 cultural heritage waterfronts along the Chao Phraya River during the three-day period. They focus on the concept of “River Consonance”. 

The Thai Beverage Public Company Limited, or ThaiBev, is assisting with this effort in close cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, the Ministry of Tourism and Sports, the Royal Thai Navy, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration, the Tourism Authority of Thailand, and a network of business partners. Together, they are able to draw on prior experience to make the fifth edition of the River Festival a continuing remarkable success for 2019.

This year, the Foreign Affairs Ministry’s ASEAN Affairs Department also joins forces. Its contribution to the “River Festival 2019” supports government policies that are aimed at making Thailand a center of cultural tourism and engaging with worldwide audiences. The show is timed to coincide with the ASEAN Cultural Year 2019 proclaimed to raise public awareness of the identity, diverse culture and heritage of the Region.

The driving forces behind this year’s celebration include Mr. Itthiphol Kunplome, Minister of Culture; Mr. Suraphon Svetasreni, President of the River Festival 2019; and Mr. Kamolnai Chaixanien, Senior Vice President of the Thai Beverage Public Company Limited; as well as main sponsors from the private sector and partner networks. Details of the River Festival 2019 and the “River Consonance” concept were given during a press conference at Wat Kalayanamitr.

Wat Kalayanamitr
Wat Kalayanamitr
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha)

The city’s main tourist attractions during the festival period include spectacular light and sound shows, retail businesses, and nighttime entertainments in outdoor venues of historic significance. The 10 truly amazing places to visit are Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Prayurawongsawat, Wat Kalayanamitr, Yodpiman River Walk, Tha Maharaj, Asiatique the Riverfront, Lhong 1919, SookSiam@ICONSIAM, and Wat Rakhang (Temple of Bells) that was built during the Ayutthaya Period.

Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)
Tha Maharaj
Tha Maharaj
Yodpiman River Walk
Yodpiman River Walk
Lhong 1919
Lhong 1919
SookSiam@ICONSIAM
SookSiam@ICONSIAM
Asiatique the Riverfront
Asiatique the Riverfront

The ornate shrines and vibrant street scenes are located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River. They are some of the most visited destinations among pilgrims as well as foreign tourists and locals. During the three-day festival, visitors can enter the five temple grounds and pay homage to the Buddha at night. Or stop and take a moment to admire the beauty of the Chao Phraya River from all 10 riverboat piers.

If you’re into music, know that 11 universities across the capital are giving performances in various genres from popular music with wide appeal to classical. They are Chulalongkorn University, Thammasat University, Srinakharinwirot University, Silpakorn University, Kasetsart University, Ramkhamhaeng University, Dhurakij Pundit University, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat University, Rangsit University, Bangkok Thonburi University, and Bangkok University Rangsit Campus.

Experience the charms of Thai culture and Thai identity at venues of historic significance on the bank of the Chao Phraya River. No better time than now. Soak yourself in the concept of “River Consonance” during the River Festival 2019, scheduled for 9-11 November 2019, 17.00-22.30 hours. For updates please visit www.riverfestivalthailand.com and facebook/riverfestivalthailand

  • Additional information

The River Festival 2019 is an annual cultural celebration, which is now in its fifth year. Data collected from previous years indicated that participating retail businesses could generate incomes for local communities amounting to more than 2 million baht in three days. Each year, the event attracted more than 200,000 visitors, both foreign and local. Exit interviews showed more than 90 percent of visitors came away impressed about efforts at fostering the progress of Thailand’s culture through greater awareness of its heritage. To sum up, it’s a festival that contributes significantly to the betterment of society and culture, as well as the future of the tourism industry.

  • Highlights of this year’s River Festival
  1. Happening Music

It’s an opportunity to come in contact with pop stars, among them Sinjaroen Brother, Praw Kanitkul, Nont Tanont and other celebs, who give concerts at Asiatique. While there, find out what the concept of “River Consonance” means to you, and what kind of music is the happening thing. Step in for a surprise. Plenty of music to enjoy both on the boat and on the piers, plus performances by the CU Band and CU Chorus from Chulalongkorn, and the TU band and TU Chorus from Thammasat. Not to mention country music by up-and coming bands from Kasetsart, Srinakarinwirote, Ramkhamhaeng, Dhurakij Pundit, Suan Sunandha Rajabhat, and Bangkok Thonburi universities. There’s also jazz and international by Silapakorn. That pretty much ensures that fun is had by all.

Sinjaroen Brother
Sinjaroen Brother
Praw Kanitkul
Praw Kanitkul
Nont Tanont
Nont Tanont
  1. The opening of Pier 10

To celebrate a very important year marked by the coronation of a new sovereign, H. M. King Rama X of Thailand, a new riverboat pier is officially opened on the Chao Phraya River. The pier at Wat Rakhang has since been renamed “Pier 10”. The new call sign coincides with proclamation of 2019 as the ASEAN Cultural Year and the fact that the ASEAN Region has 10 members. The 10-pier system bodes well for the future of river traffic in the inner core of Bangkok, which is home to the longest river bend running through the capital.

Wat Rakhang Kositaram Woramahawihan
Wat Rakhang Kositaram Woramahawihan
  1. Special Activities

To reiterate the importance of 2019 as the ASEAN Cultural Year, more VIP Cruises up and down the Chao Phraya River will be added for pleasure. Representatives of the international community will be invited to participate in various promotional activities, offering them the opportunity of experiencing the charms of Thai culture and interacting with members of the local community, from temples to schools to people’s homes. The heart of the matter is a multicultural neighborhood that’s home to three religions, four beliefs, and five ethnic groups who coexist peacefully in harmony at “Ka Dee Jeen”, a midtown area in Thonburi. The activity is cohosted by the Supatra Group.

Something of interest to the media is the “Unseen Cruise Tour”, a series of activities at Wat Rakhang Pier. Begin the day with a photo contest aptly titled “One Shot Knockout”, which is scheduled for November 10 from 07.30 to 14.00 hours. At nightfall, enjoy outdoor movies featuring two of the best of Thai cinema, น้ำตาลไม่หวาน (Sugar Not Sweet), and เกาะสวาทหาดสวรรค์ (Paradise Island) that were part of the exhibits at the Bangkok Art Biennale 2019.

The journey is incomplete without a visit to Lhong 1919 and Asiatique, two famous riverboat piers on the south bend of the Chao Phraya River. Plenty of activities and fun you can do for enjoyment. From here, you can travel on to SookSiam@ICONSIAM and take part in the celebration of its first anniversary. Along the way, collect rubber stamps as proof of having visited all three riverboat piers, and you can enter for a chance to win a “Happy Pouch” from the River Festival 2019.

The River Festival Lamphun

  • You may also like: … The River Festival Lamphun.

The best event you can’t miss is the Loy Krathong Festival, which is happening at the same time as the River Festival in Lamphun. The venue for dual celebrations is the bank of the Kuang River that’s a lifeline of this beautiful northern city.

The River Festival Lamphun offers the opportunity of experiencing Lanna culture that’s renowned for exceptional northern hospitality. During this time, the street is full of locals and visitors as the crowd gathers to pay respect to Phra That Hariphunchai Temple, home of the gilded stupa that’s the heart and soul of Lamphun town. By night the sky is aglow under floating lanterns during the “Festival of a Hundred Thousand Lights”.

What makes Lamphun famous is the rich riparian ecosystems and forests that thrive within the city. Art lovers shouldn’t miss the art market where pieces are bought and sold through fairs and exhibitions in art shops. The festive season is a paradise for those looking for good deals on local products. Be spoilt for choice when it comes to authentic northern food prepared by locals as well as up-and-coming young chefs. By and large, it’s an immersive experience to enjoy in the lead-up to Loy Krathong Night on 11 November.

Don’t miss out on it! The River Festival Lamphun is happening on 7-11 November on the bank of the Kuang River from 17.00 to 22.00 hours.

9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

9 Temples to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

Founded on the Indian Subcontinent by the Buddha around 500 BC, Buddhism is a widely followed religion across Southeast Asia, especially the Mainland. Temples and the Sangha, communities of monks, nuns, novices and laity, play a critical role in preserving good practice and his teachings to the present day. Here are 9 sacred places around the Region to visit on your long journeys through life.

/// ASEAN ///

Photo: Sam Garza
Photo: Radu Micu
Photo: Anandajoti

ANGKOR WAT

Siem Reap, Cambodia

One of the largest and most resplendent religious monuments in the world, Angkor Wat was built by King Suryavarman II who ruled the Khmer Empire in the 12th century. Originally dedicated to the Hindu god Vishnu, it was gradually transformed into a Buddhist temple around the turn of the century. The temple complex sits on 1.6 million square meters (about 400 acres) of land in Siem Reap, a province on the northern shore of Tonle Sap in central Cambodia. The enduring pride of Khmer architecture was constructed of sandstone adorned with a breathtaking richness of sculptures in bas-relief. It was inscribed on the List of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites in 1992. The ASEAN Tourism Forum in 2012 made Angkor Wat and Borobudur (in Indonesia) sister sites as part of an effort at promoting cultural tourism in the Region.


 

Photo: Gunawan Kartapranata

Photo: Jorge Franganillo

BOROBUDUR

Magelang, Indonesia

Among the world’s largest religious sites, Borobudur in central Java is on a par with Bagan in Myanmar and Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Built in the 9th Century, it was a center of Buddhism at the time the Srivijayan Empire became the first kingdom to dominate the islands of Sumatra and neighboring Java. Borobudur is representative of Javanese architecture that blends the concept of Nirvana, the final goal of Buddhism, with the native custom of venerating ancestors. Located on a highland 40 kilometers from Yogyakarta, the magnificent Borobudur temple overlooks rolling hills, lush forests and twin volcanoes. Its nine-tiered floor plan consists of six square platforms placed one above the other, three circular atriums at the top, and pagodas. They are decorated with beautiful reliefs and a total of 504 Buddha statues. Guinness World Records make in the world’s largest Buddhist temple, while UNESCO added it to the World Heritage Sites in 1991.


 

Photo: Charles Kimball
Photo: www.helpfulboytravels.com

THE ANANDA TEMPLE

Bagan, Myanmar

A sea of temples and pagodas in central Myanmar is a wonder to behold. The ancient city of Bagan was capital of the Pagan Kingdom from the 9th to 13th Centuries. During that time, thousands of Buddhist temples, dome-shaped shrines and monasteries were constructed. Among them, the Ananda Temple was built by King Kyanzittha in 1105 A.D. It’s very well preserved and accessible to visitors. Inside the most revered temple of Bagan, huge Buddha statues stand facing east, west, north and south in the corridors illuminated by natural light. The building is built of white sandstone that’s characteristic of ancient Mon architecture.


 

 

Photo: Trairat Songpao
Photo: Trairat Songpao

THE TEMPLE OF THE EMERALD BUDDHA (WAT PHRA KAEW)

Bangkok, Thailand

Located on the grounds of the Grand Palace, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha was consecrated in 1784 during the reign of King Rama I, founding father of the Rattankosin Kingdom and the first monarch of the reigning Chakri Dynasty. Inside, the Emerald Buddha reposes on an elevated altar surrounded by gilded décor. The bright green stone statute of the Buddha is regarded as the palladium of the Kingdom of Thailand. The royal temple stands embraced by dome-shaped shrines, pagodas, and religious halls. The corridors are adorned with mural paintings depicting episodes from Ramayana, a Sanskrit epic of ancient India. It’s now one of Bangkok’s most popular tourist attractions.


 

Photo: www.bjornfree.com
Photo: Thomas Schoch

THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA

Yangon, Myanmar

The historic 99-meter-tall Shwedagon Pagoda stands surrounded by a sea of 68 smaller stupas. It’s also known as the Golden Pagoda for the gilded dome-shaped structure that dominates the Yangon skyline. Legend has it that the large religious monument was built some 2,500 years ago, but archeologists put its beginning between the 6th and 11th Centuries based on evidence of Mon temple architecture. Shwedagon is regarded as the most sacred pagoda for the people of Myanmar. As gestures of respect, visitors are required to remove their shoes on entering the temple compound. From past to present, people have donated gold and gemstones that go towards restoring the pagoda to its original splendor. “Shwe” is a local word for gold, while “Dagon” is the old name of Yangon.


 

Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com
Photo: www.baanlaesuan.com

THE TEMPLE OF DAWN (WAT ARUN)

Bangkok, Thailand

One of the most ancient temples in Thailand, the Temple of Dawn is located across the river from the Temple of the Emerald Buddha and the Grand Palace. The Buddhist temple that existed on the site was originally called Wat Makok. As the Ayudhya Period ended and Thon Buri became a new capital, the temple was renamed Wat Chaeng. In the early Rattanakosin Period, the name was changed to Wat Arun as a symbol of the first light of a new day. The Buddhist temple is renowned for its colorfully decorated pyramidal structures. The tapering conical towers, known as Prangs, are adorned with a mosaic of ceramic tiles and glass that shimmers in the sunlight. The Prangs of Wat Arun are best viewed from across the river. They were on the logo of the Bangkok Art Biennale that just ended.


Loy Krathong and Water Festivals around the Region

Loy Krathong and Water Festivals around the Region

Loy Krathong is a season of festivity celebrated annually in much of the Southeast Asian mainland. For the Thais, it’s a festival of lights, and one of the Kingdom’s landmark events. The same is true for Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar. There are many different reasons to celebrate.

/// THAILAND ///

A Krathong featuring the likeness of Phya Naga, the mythical Great Serpent, in Laos // Photo: www.hotsia.com

In Laos, the equivalent of Loy Krathong Festival usually happens before anywhere else in the ASEAN. Known as Boun Awk Phansa, it is celebrated on the day of the full moon of the eleventh lunar month, or around October in the Western calendar. The occasion marks the end of the three-month-long rains retreat often referred to as Buddhist Lent.

The celebration begins at dawn when laypeople attend almsgiving ceremonies at temples across the country. The night is aglow when colorful floats made of banana leaves, flowers, incense sticks, and candles are launched in thanksgiving to the river spirit. The tradition is known as Lhai Heua Fai.

Rowboat races are landmark events in the Cambodian Water Festival in Phnom Penh. // Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photasia/
The atmosphere of the Cambodian Water Festival near Tonle Sap Lake in front of the Royal Palace // Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photasia/
Bon Om Touk or Water Festival in Cambodia // Photo: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photasia/

In neighboring Cambodia, the occasion is celebrated big time and goes on for three days. Known as Bon Om Touk, the Water Festival is commemorated with plenty of fun events hosted by communities around Tonle Sap Lake on the 14th and 15th nights of the waxing moon, and the night of the new moon. The tradition culminates in exciting rowboat races and a ceremony dedicated to memories of a waterborne battle against Cham states that are central and southern Vietnam today.

Myanmar celebrates its version of Loy Krathong based on traditional stories about King Asoke the Great and the mythical Phya Naga. The Myanmar experience, which is specifically about the public veneration of the Great Serpent, is held on the day of the full moon of the 12th lunar month.

The Loy Krathong tradition doesn’t exist in Vietnam, except for a few areas in the central part of the country.

A spectacular light and sound show in Sukhothai, the purported birthplace of Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival. // Photo: Sukhothai Loy Krathong and Candle Festival
The atmosphere of a venue for Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand // Photo: John Shedrick
A sight to behold, sky lanterns symbolize the letting go of problems and worries in people’s lives. Locally known as Yi Peng, the Lantern Festival is popular in the Northern Region and coincides with Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival. The unique tradition has been officially prohibited in the past few years for aviation safety reason and a precaution against house fires. // Photo: Mith Huang
Loy Krathong Festival in Thailand // photo: Robertpollai

As for Thailand, Loy Krathong has become one of the country’s tourism industry success stories. The festival takes place annually on the night of the full moon of the twelfth lunar month, usually around November. It is often claimed that the festival has its origin in the Sukhothai Period, but this proved not to be the case.

Written work by King Rama IV in 1863 indicated that the practice was adopted by Thai Buddhists during the reign of King Rama III. It has become a traditional veneration of the Buddha ever since. Like so, the Kingdom pays tribute to the teaching of the Buddha with light. The floating of Krathong or banana-trunk floats symbolizes letting go of episodes that debase life and the dignity of the human person.

The Thai Loy Krathong experience is seen as a chapter in the influence of the civilization of India. Brahmanism and Buddhism both spread into the Southeast Asian mainland until about 1500. Eventually the countries of the mainland became predominantly Buddhist.

Convergent evidence points to a piece of written work by King Rama III, which mentions Thao Srichulaluck, or Nang Noppamas, as a court lady during the period of the Phra Ruang Dynasty that ruled the Kingdom of Sukhothai from 1238 to 1438. The story refers to the practice of making banana-leaf containers bedecked with lotus flowers and setting them adrift in the river as a means of paying homage to the Buddha. Other evidence also refers to candle lighting and pyrotechnic displays as the public veneration, but falls short of mentioning the Krathong.

Loy Krathong is celebrated nationwide in modern-day Thailand. The exact date of the festival changes from year to year. As for 2017, the full moon of the twelfth lunar month falls on November 3. The Thais mark this important day with almsgiving and other acts of kindliness. At night they head for the river, where they launch the Krathong adorned with flowers, incense, and candles. Some ask forgiveness from the river spirit for any wrongdoing they may have committed. Others trim their hair and fingernails, put them on the Krathong along with some money, and set it adrift as a way of making all the bad things go away.

A colorful bread Krathong
A DIY block of ice Krathong in Thailand

The river is aglow with candle lights as the season of festivity culminates in spectacular firework displays. Lately loud firecrackers have banned in some areas for safety reason. As a means of protecting the environment, only biodegradable materials, such as banana trunk and leaves, are encouraged. As a result, foam sheets that were popular twenty years ago have begun to disappear, albeit not entirely. But the fight to safeguard the environment continues, which gives rise to many inventive ideas. Some people use bread, tree barks, even blocks of ice as a means of keeping the Krathong afloat for the duration of the festival. Others are seen using booklets of lottery tickets that didn’t win to buoy up the weight of the basket.

 

You may also like:

FUN FACTS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT SONGKRAN

 

JATUJAK ISN’T JUST FOR WEEKENDS

 

Souvenirs of a Myanmar Visit

Souvenirs of a Myanmar Visit

Nothing impresses visitors to Myanmar more than tea, nuts, and Balachaung. And there is more to the Land of Pagodas than “Thanaka,” the popular anti-UV facial powder. Living ASEAN introduces the three favorites that foreign tourists like to take home as souvenirs of a Myanmar visit.

/// MYANMAR ///
Story: Samutcha Viraporn /// Photography: Sitthisak Namkham, Samutcha Viraporn

 

 

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Street_food_goodness_in_Yangon_(5089715337).jpg

– Tea –

Tea drinking has long been a popular culture in Myanmar. Small tea shops with plastic furniture in vivid shades are ubiquitous across the city. Like old school cafes, they are favorite hang-outs for people to socialize or just chill out sipping tea. The modest shops in peaceful settings offer the country’s all time favorite, black tea with sweetened condensed milk. Legend has it that tea growing was initiated by King Alaung Sithu (1113-1167 AD), in the northern part of what is now Shan State. Later when the country came under British rule, Myanmar grew tea on commercial scales for exports to Britain in much the same way as India did throughout the Colonial period.

Nowadays the aromatic beverage made the traditional Myanmar way has become increasingly popular among foreign visitors. Many tourists take it home as a souvenir of their visits. For instant tea lovers, Myanmar tea comes in 3-in-1 pouches ready to be reconstituted into a cup of tea. For a premium tea experience, try tea leaves that come in sealed bags. There are many varieties to choose, from English Breakfast to Earl Grey to Jasmine to Green Tea. Two popular brands are Royal and Nagar Pyan.


 

Photo: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Hintha

– Nuts –

Laphet is Burmese for fermented or pickled tea leaves. Popular among the citizens of Myanmar, it’s a cold dish made of various mixtures of nuts and tea leaves. It started out as a condiment to a cup of tea, but eventually grew to become a salad recipe on its own. Various nuts are cooked in oil, mixed with fermented tea leaves, and seasoned with chilies and garlic. The export version of Laphet comes in boxes for tourists to take home as souvenirs. Whilst there, don’t forget to try peanut energy bars, and the Myanmar Peanut Crisp Candy. The latter is similar to Toobtub peanut snacks of Thailand. The name refers to the sound of ingredients being pummeled in the making of the tasty snack.


 

– Balachaung –

An accompaniment to hot steamy rice, the Myanmar Balachaung is made with fried shallots, garlic, ginger, shrimp and red chilies. Its tantalizing aroma comes from the fact that all the ingredients are fried crisp. It is set aside to cool down completely before being stored in airtight containers. Properly stored Balachaung keeps well for a fairly long period. It is easily transported and goes together well with Thai-style omelet that is cooked in a frying pan until firm. Versions of the crispy mouthwatering condiment are also made by many households around Mae Sot town on the Thailand-Myanmar border. 

The above have been three favorites that we have discovered on this Myanmar trip. We trust that our friends across the ASEAN find the information useful, and that your next itinerary will include Laphet, tea products, and the delicious Myanmar Balachaung.

 

Singapore PM Won’t Carry out Lee’s Order to Demolish Old House

Singapore PM Won’t Carry out Lee’s Order to Demolish Old House

Former leader of Singapore Lee Kuan Yew ordered his residence at No. 38 Oxley Road to be torn down, but current Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has refused, resulting in a family feud.

/// Singapore ///

 

 

Illustration of 38 Oxley, Singapore

In 2011 former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew openly stated that upon his death, or after his daughter Lee Wei Ling subsequently moved out, that his house  at No. 38 Oxley Road should be demolished. This was out of concern that it might become a museum, perhaps fostering a cult of personality in Singapore which he felt undesirable.

          After Lee Kuan Yew’s death in 2015, however, his eldest son and current Prime Minister of Singapore Lee Hsien Loong attempted to preserve the house. This brought about a fierce conflict with siblings Lee Hsien Yang and Lee Wei Ling, who issued an online declaration that Lee Hsien Loong was illegitimately using his position of influence in the Singaporean Government and exerting pressure on government agencies to further his personal agenda. The two said they had lost faith and had no more trust in their older brother, whom they also accused of promoting his own son’s political ambitions. Lee Hsien Yang also stated that due to this growing family rift he himself would shortly be leaving Singapore.

Picture from Lee Hsien Yang’s facebook

          Lee Hsien Loong responded that he had tried his very best to solve the problem, that his siblings’ statement had done harm to his father’s legendary status, and that he was not in any way pushing his son to be political ambitious.

          Lee Kuan Yew lived in this house from 1945 on, and the first People’s Action Party (PAP) convention was held there. In 2015 the group YouGov conducted a survey on this issue, and found that 77% of respondents favored demolition of the house, while 15% wanted it preserved.

Link: http://www.straitstimes.com/politics/home-of-former-pm-lee-kuan-yew-at-38-oxley-road-at-centre-of-dispute

 

You may also like …

WHICH ASEAN CAPITAL IS THE MOST EXPENSIVE FOR RESIDENTS?

 

3 NEW BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN SINGAPORE YOU NEED TO VISIT

 

Vibrant and Diverse Chinatowns of Southeast Asia

Vibrant and Diverse Chinatowns of Southeast Asia

The Chinatowns of Southeast Asia boast a rich history and unique charm that are sure to captivate your imagination. Check this out.

/// ASEAN ///

Binondo / Manila’s Chinatown

The ethnic Chinese community at Binondo, a district of Manila, is considered the oldest Chinatown in the world. Founded in 1594 by the Spaniards as a permanent settlement for Chinese who converted to Catholicism, Binondo had been the hub of Chinese commerce and trade even before the Spanish Colonial period. Binondo Church, the district’s landmark, was built in 1596 by the Dominicans to serve their Chinese converts to the Christian faith. Binondo became the center for commerce in Manila during the American occupation. Part of it was destroyed during World War II, which resulted in many companies moving to Makati, a new business district.

Binondo
Photo: Doods Dumaguing (https://flic.kr/p/dTm8pM)
Binondo Church
Binondo Church. /// Photo: josh james (https://flic.kr/p/9jTuG4)
Binondo Church
Inside the historical church. /// Photo: Shubert Ciencia (https://flic.kr/p/6eZezv)

 

Chinatown / Singapore

You just can’t miss Singapore’s Chinatown because it is located on a major Mass Rapid Transit line. The Chinatown MRT Station is in Chinatown, where bustling streets are lined with low-rise, colonial style architecture in vibrant pastel colors.

The district is frequented by Buddhists, who come to pay homage at the sacred Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. The holy relic is on display inside the stunning four-story shrine. The house of worship is built based on architecture common during the Tang Dynasty, the most glistening period in China’s history from 618 to 709 AD.

Southbridge
Photo: Nicolas Lannuzel (https://flic.kr/p/oU8UMk)
Chinatown Station
Photo: Khalzuri Yazid (https://flic.kr/p/7bBfJM)
Chinatown
Photo: Brent 2.0 (https://flic.kr/p/dTEemW)
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple.
The Buddha Tooth Relic Temple. /// Photo: LWYang (https://flic.kr/p/kKSgGL)

 

Glodok / Jakarta’s Chinatown

There are numerous ethnic Chinese communities throughout Indonesia, the biggest of which is located in Glodok, a western district of Jakarta. There is more to Glodok than a big electronics market selling gizmos and gadgets. The streets of Jakarta’s Chinatown are vibrant with Chinese shops, authentic cuisine, and Chinese temples.

No far from Glodok stands another thriving Chinatown called Mangga Dua. Put the two ethnic Chinese neighborhoods together, and you get one of the biggest shopping districts in Southeast Asia.

Glodok
Lindeteves Trade Centre, the landmark of Glodok. /// Photo: Everyone Sinks Starco (https://flic.kr/p/LZ1syR)
Glodok
Chinese New Year celebrations in Glodok. /// Photo: basibanget (https://flic.kr/p/7GvMG4)
Mangga Dua
Chinatown gateway at Mangga Dua. /// Photo: Jakob Montrasio (https://flic.kr/p/7RraE9)

 

Petaling Street / Kuala Lumpur’s Chinatown

In the early years of Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Street was part of a pioneer town that attracted many Chinese immigrants to the tin trade. One of them was a Chinese “kapitan” or headman named Yap Ah Loy, who later played an important role in developing the city.

Nowadays Petaling Street is bustling with rows of retail shops and restaurants, including the iconic Kim Lian Kee restaurant. It is dubbed the birthplace of “Hokkien mee,” which is a stir-fry noodle dish in Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine.

Petaling Street
Photo: Conny Sandland (https://flic.kr/p/6UxpRp)

Petaling Street

Petaling Street
A boutique hotel on Petaling Street.
Hokkien mee
The famous “Hokkien mee,” a stir-fry noodle dish at Kim Lian Kee. /// Photo: Alpha (https://flic.kr/p/6d36zC)

 

Yaowarat / Bangkok’s Chinatown

Populated by the largest number of overseas Chinese, Bangkok’s Yaowarat neighborhood is no doubt one of the biggest Chinatowns in the world. Ethinic Chinese, especially speakers of Teochew, Cantonese, Hakka, and Hainanese concentrated at Yaowarat. Together they turned the district along the Chao Phraya River into a thriving CBD and cultural melting pot. Today’s Yaowarat is vibrant with commerce and finance, and a great variety of authentic Chinese cuisine.

Dubbed the “Golden Street”, Yaowarat is home to numerous gold shops dealing in wholesale and retail business. The famous 5,500-kilogram golden Buddha statue is located here at Wat Traimit, a temple near Yaowarat Road.

Yaowarat

Yaowarat

Yaowarat

Wat Traimit
The world’s biggest golden Buddha statue at Bangkok’s Chinatown.

 

And that’s not all. There are other Chinatowns in Laos, Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Brunei, too. Since time immemorial, Southeast Asia has become one of favorite destinations among Chinese migrants looking for a new life abroad. Finding strength in number, they created new homes and countless business opportunities in foreign lands. In the process they added cultural diversity and brought economic growth to the Southeast Asian region.

Chinatown in Vientiane, Laos.
Chinatown in Vientiane, Laos. /// Photo: Prince Roy (https://flic.kr/p/7Bg1sh)
A Chinese temple in Yangon’s Chinatown, Myanmar.
A Chinese temple in Yangon’s Chinatown, Myanmar. /// Photo: William (https://flic.kr/p/jziMXQ)

Don’t forget to share your thoughts on Chinatowns in your country on our Facebook page.

 

 

X