Here in Thailand, you’ll see colourful strips of material wrapped around trees all over the country. Legend has it that a female spirit, called Nang Ta Khian, or Lady of Ta Khian, lives in the trees and surrounding areas. The trees are also called Ta Khian (Hopea odorata) and can grow up to 45 metres in height, so pretty big.
The spirits, known collectively as Nang Mai (Ladies of the Tree) sometimes appear as beautiful women and people wrap the material around the trunks of the trees in order to keep the spirits happy. Also, Ta Khian trees are sometimes felled for their wood, but people believe that consent from the spirit must be given before the tree is cut down, so a special ceremony is usually carried out.
It’s not only Ta Khian trees that are used for this purpose. In February, I went to Koh Chang on holiday and there were two really tall fig trees, with huge roots, some of which were around 18 inches high, at the bottom of my friends garden, right next to the sea.
They were both ceremoniously wrapped. He suggested that I bring my own piece of protection and add to the collection around the tree.
I don’t really believe in spirits, but I think it’s a nice thing to do (maybe I do believe), but a little piece of me is still there on Koh Chang.
I travelled around New Zealand in 2008, and ended up in Auckland as part of my trip. One day I took a trip over to the nearby island of Rangitoto.
I took a boat from Auckland and the volcanic cone, which rises up to 850 feet, can be seen for miles around, it’s a sight to see from afar. The name, Rangitoto, is Maori for “Bloody Sky” and the name comes from Tama-te-Kapua, a captain of the Arawa Waka, who was badly wounded there during a battle.
Rangitoto island was created over 6,000 years ago by a series of volcanic eruptions and evidence of the eruptions can be seen across the island in the form of fields of black lava stones. And it’s these black lava stones that were quarried between 1898 and 1930 and used as building material for Auckland. It’s a very unique landscape.
On the island, there are paths, that were created between 1898 and 1930 by prisoners, that lead right up to the summit.
It was a fabulous day out, tramping the old dirt tracks up to the summit and seeing the wonderful views of the surrounding countryside and out to sea. I love exploring new places and being reminded of old ones.
Bangkok is full of wonderful surprises and, if you know where to look, you can find them all over the city. Take Sathorn for instance, some say the centre of the city, with it’s high rise office blocks, glitzy hotels and European style bars and restaurants, but it’s also home to M.R Kukrit’s Heritage Home. If you’re interested in history, this beautiful teak house won’t disappoint.
Mom Rajawongse Kukrit was born in 1911, educated in England, and was Thailand’s 13th prime minister between 1974-1975. He was a very talented artist and writer and he has over 40 novels to his name. His home represents the man he was, and it’s been left just the way it was when he lived there. There are many of his personal souvenirs and you can really see the passion he had for traditional art and literature through paintings and books that are displayed.
The house is of traditional Thai design and it took over 20 years to be completed. There are 5 beautiful teak buildings, all of which came from different parts of Thailand; the owner had them transported and reassembled. As well as the buildings, there is walled garden, a lily pond, a bird pavilion, and a European style garden with a lawn surrounded by colourful flowers, trees and shrubs.
M.R Kukrit’s home was registered by the Department of Fine Arts as “the home of an important person” and they point out that it’s not for exhibition purposes like your usual museum, rather it’s the home of a person who lived there, which, in my opinion, makes it more interesting. The other thing I liked about it was its location; tucked down a leafy lane, smack bang in the middle of one of Bangkok’s most affluent districts, but a world away from all the noise of the busy road, just one street away. 🙂
The Bangkok Folk Museum is tucked down Charoenkrung Road, Soi 43, and it’s a great place to spend an hour or so. It was built in 1937 and was the home of the Suravadee family during World War II. There are three buildings to explore; the first one is where the family lived and you can see the living area, the dining room, library and bedrooms. The beauty is that they have been kept just as they were when the family lived there all those years ago. There is a dressing table and a washing bowl, old photographs and dining sets, all of which give a fabulous understanding of how they lived their lives.
Outside is a gorgeous little garden full of leafy green trees and plants, and a pond with a fountain in the middle.
The second building is just as beautiful. It was intended to be the clinic and living quarters of a Dr Francis Christian, who was the stepfather of the owner, but he died before moving in. His medical equipment is displayed in cabinets and his four poster bed is upstairs.
The third building is full of old artefacts; old brushes, sewing kits, cigar boxes, cooking utensils, magazines, and money. It’s a real treasure trove.
Finally, a fabulous collection of photographs of Bangkok, and some of the notable people who have lived in the city.